Jan. 15, 2013 at 9:52am

In light of  Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday this month, I want to reflect on how our COR (Confronting Organizational Racism) Initiative came to be and where it’s heading.

COR got its start in the 1980s, when JBFCS realized that there was a mismatch between the profiles of our clients and the staff who were serving them. The question arose on how staff could understand the background of our clients without reflecting that background themselves. The demographics of New York City were changing and there was a need to change the demographics of our staff as well. Feelings about race were challenging, and Alan Siskind recognized that those feelings needed to be validated and tended to.

The idea behind changing demographics comes down to mirroring and instinctually comprehending the backgrounds of those you are serving. You have to understand where people are coming from if you’re to understand where they are going. We have to know certain things about our clients, including: 

  • Their health--both physical and mental
  • What their lives are like in terms of money and poverty
  • What their employment looks like. Do they have jobs? Are they gainfully employed or under employed? Have they recently lost a job?
  • Family connections. Is their supportive or estranged?
  • Immigration status
  • Sexuality and sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Race
COR brings race to the forefront of these discussions and to the forefront of the agency, recognizing that to understand the diversity of the people we serve, we must assess myriad outside factors, and to do that race has to be among those factors. We are not done diversifying our staff. We are not done looking at race and how we deal with it both internally among ourselves and as therapists. But the fact that we recognized the necessity of looking it would hopefully make the Rev. Dr. King proud.

I highly welcome Confronting Organizational Racism Initiative and its efforts to deliver the right principles to all the people despite the colour of their skin. We are all the same, but we only differ on who we are.

Left by Kevin Right | Nov. 22, 2013 at 5:51am

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