The Cleveland APL’s mission is to foster compassion and end animal suffering. Although we are a humane society that was formed in 1913 to protect animals, those first two words, foster compassion, do not apply to animals alone. Everything we do to help and protect animals relies on the kindness and compassion of people, people whose lives are precious regardless of the color of their skin. People who matter. We can’t help animals without valuing and respecting the lives of people … all people. We can’t value and respect the lives of all people until we fully respect the lives of black people. Black Lives Matter.
Since the killing of George Floyd, we have witnessed and shared the frustration, anger, hurt, and rage of black people who are beyond sick and tired of not mattering.
The United States has a history of systemic racism that enables discrimination, protects the violation of human rights, and silences so many voices. Black people have been fighting for hundreds of years to get justice from an unjust system. Now is the time for that change.
While LONG overdue, conversations about the need for white people to speak up and be better allies for the black community are coming to the forefront. We must deal with racism once and for all. It will take people of all races and backgrounds to stand in support of black people who have been treated unjustly.
Four ways that the Cleveland APL and our white and non-black team members of color will stand in support of black team members and our black community, now and in the future.
Recognizing white privilege
Understanding white privilege is critical to understanding how race and racism can impact the trajectory of one person’s life.
White privilege means having greater access to power and resources than people of color in the same situation do. Privilege can be unearned and unintentional, but it still exists.
It is critical for white people to have uncomfortable conversations about race so that they can recognize their white privilege and understand how the color of their skin alone may have provided them with benefits and privilege that black people and other people of color have been denied.
The real work of being an ally comes in the form of educating yourself on the things you need to personally learn and unlearn in order to be a better advocate. We have shared several resources below, but this is not an exhaustive list.
Understanding that silence is complicit. Be an ally. SPEAK UP!
It is important to share with each other, across races, that you care and that you are aware of what is going on. Be an ally. Speak up!
It is important for non-black employees, colleagues, and leaders to say something, even if it isn’t perfect. There may not always be a right thing to say because people process things differently. Regardless, we must be open to learning and being better. Silence will never lead to change. Be an ally. Speak up!
Non-black coworkers and leadership must be vocal when they witness instances of bias, racism and injustice in their immediate workplace and community. For example, if you overhear an insensitive comment, or if you’re in an environment where the work of a black colleague is constantly overlooked, do not turn a blind eye to the situation. Be an ally. Speak up!
The role of an ally is about speaking up when another person or group may not be able to or feel comfortable doing so. As an ally, if you see something and it makes you feel uncomfortable and you notice that it’s making your colleagues feel uncomfortable, then it is crucial for you to speak up and talk about how this behavior, this conversation, this action is inappropriate. Don’t be afraid to have difficult, uncomfortable conversations. Speak up!
Finally, the Cleveland APL and its entire team must provide our black employees with a supportive work environment in which it is safe for them to speak up when they experience racism or other racial bias in our workplace.
Hiring, promoting and supporting black employees and professionals
The Cleveland APL has always, and will always, strive to be a diverse and inclusive workforce. It is a fact that diversity provides numerous, critical, benefits to an organization.
- Ensures a variety of different perspectives, skills, and experiences
- Leads to increased creativity based on different views (different perspectives)
- Higher innovation rate
- Faster problem-solving and better decision-making
- More impactful programs and services
- Better employee engagement
- Reduced employee turnover
- Diversity in the workplace is right, is healthy, reflects the community, is human, and fosters asocially responsible organization
The Cleveland APL is proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Employer – and, as such, the APL will not discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or gender, sexual orientation, or sexual identification.
What does being an EEO employer mean?
The basic EEO definition is the idea that everyone should be treated fairly when they are considered for various employment decisions (including hiring, promotion, termination, compensation, etc.). This means, for example, that anyone competing for a position at an organization should have the same chances of succeeding if they have the same qualifications for the job.
TO ALL OF OUR TEAM MEMBERS, BUT ESPECIALLY OUR BLACK TEAM MEMBERS,
we recognize that you could be going through a very hard time right now. If you need to take a day off, then please talk to your supervisor about scheduling a day off.
Resources about racism (there are many, many more):
Recent study by McKinsey & Co. – Closing the racial wealth gap.
Racial wealth gap – Black executives address the racial wealth gap.
Urban Institute – Racial inequity when buying home and renting apartments.
United States Sentencing Commission (criminal justice system) – Black men who commit the same crime as white men are given prison sentences that are, on average, 20% longer.
Extensive anti-racism Resource List (written and visual) – Taking action to be actively anti-racist
Literature that unpacks systemic racism and white privilege:
- How to be an Antiracist (Ibram X. Kendi)
- Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor (Layla Saad)
- Talking About Race (National Museum of African American History & Culture) – Online portal to help individuals, families and communities talk about racism and racial identity.
- Free Racialized Trauma Course – We cannot help ourselves even begin to heal racialized trauma if we do not acknowledge that it exists.
Resources about supporting diversity in animal welfare:
Recognizing and Dismantling Racism in Animal Rescue (The Sniff for Dog People)
CARE (Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity)
REFERENCES: Courtney Connely, ClassicalyCourt, June 3, 2020 and Kimberly B. Cummings, Career Development Coaching, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Diversity & Inclusion, June 2, 2020.