Becoming an Anti-Racist Organization

black lives matter protest at vermont capitol

The issue of racism and the need for racial justice is nothing new in our country or in Vermont. However, the last several months have made it impossible to ignore the fact that we have not been doing enough to actively change the inherently racist systems, policies, and attitudes we have all perpetuated for far too long.

Our work at Downstreet uses housing as a platform for essential services that deliver equity and social justice directly to the most foundational part of our lives: home. As a social justice organization, the fight for racial equity is something in which we have always believed, but have nonetheless failed to make a priority for our actions. That changes now.

When we consider the horrendous impact that discriminatory housing practices like redlining have had on our nation, just imagine what a positive difference we could make when we use housing to address racial injustice and do right by our neighbors and fellow citizens of color. We are currently working to re-evaluate our strategic plan with a racial justice lens to ensure that our mission-driven goals and work are developed with racial equity in mind. We are taking time to adjust our focus and create policies and practices with the intention of getting it right and making lasting change in our organization. We recognize that this process is a marathon, not a sprint, and we are doing our best to be thorough in our approach.

But let’s be realistic: we will make mistakes. While we will aim to always do the right thing, we know that we are far from perfect, and there will be times that we inadvertently offend or ignore some people or groups. In the words of Rosa Parks, “To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.” With this in mind, we are prepared to take constructive criticism of our efforts with grace, to learn from our mistakes, and to proceed with a strong determination to continually improve our efforts toward becoming an actively anti-racist organization.

In peace and purpose,
Eileen Peltier
Executive Director