“For to be free is not merely to cast off ones’ chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela
We are in the midst of a historical reckoning. The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery –as well as so many others whose names we will never know – have created a groundswell of action around the world. We must raise our voices to protest and condemn institutionalized racism and law enforcement violence. We must act to dismantle racism.
VillageReach was founded on the belief that where you live or the color of your skin should not determine whether you live or die. Yet here in the United States, where VillageReach is headquartered, a history of systemic racism has created large disparities between white and Black Americans. Disparities in death rates from COVID-19 is merely one of many recent examples of this.
Racism is a public health issue. It always has been. And while so many of us in the US reckon with our history, we have to reckon with the history of colonialism that continues to be present in global health.
As an organization that works in Africa, we recognize how we have a long way to go to dismantle this combined history of racism and colonialism. We know that organizations led by people of color receive less funding. We know that investments made in health care for a high-income country are called ‘unsustainable’ by donors when made for a low-income country, even when it is absolutely the right thing to do to save lives. We know that our own leadership needs to reflect – not just in representation but also in voice and power – the diversity and collective strength of our primarily African team.
We are committed to continuing our work to realize our value of Diversity and Inclusion. We will make ourselves accountable and take concrete actions. We will do this by reviewing our own policies and practices while maintaining open dialogue with our staff and Board of Directors about where white supremacy and institutionalized racism shows up in our organization and in our work.
As Nelson Mandela so eloquently states, “Our own freedom is not sufficient unless it enhances and secures the freedom of others.” We are willing to do whatever it takes to stay true to our convictions.