NOW MORE THAN EVER
Baltimore’s Economic Future Must Include Us All
In these difficult weeks, Baltimore’s communities – resident, business, nonprofit, and government – have been rising up to make a difference in the repair and “healing” of the city.
Most of these efforts have been focused on clean-up and ways to ensure that needed and immediate resources are available to those communities that sustained visible and physical damage. Our focus has now shifted to ensure that our young people have real opportunity this summer and many of our investments have deepen in an effort to pay attention to economic access – employment.
We also anxiously await the full roll out of OneBaltimore.
Associated Black Charities understands that we must focus on the immediate. We are adding our energies to these immediate activities including helping community based and faith based groups prepare to fully participate in the provision of services to “their” communities especially those related to increasing citizens’ economic outcomes.
In Baltimore, ABC will continue our research based transactional work to increase the economic outcomes for low wage earners by giving them the tools to change their future; we will continue to work with employers in STEM to change the on ramp and retention for middle skilled workers; we will continue to support professionals of color so they have voice in making a difference in Baltimore; we will help workforce providers understand the nuances of behavioral competencies as a disconnection for workers of color and we will partner to change the retention and graduation rate for students of color as they enter higher education.
However, no matter who does what in the provision of services for youth, their parents and their neighbors, especially those services focused on changing their economic outcomes, there will still be a need to address the systemic issues that are at the core of the pain in our community.
We must speak about racialized disparities and their impact on our collective economic futures. Maryland is swiftly becoming a majority-minority” state – and, in fact, is for Marylanders 40 and under. We cannot be afraid to have these conversations. And we must be better skilled at having them.
Associated Black Charities is committed to working to provide the tools needed for these critical conversations and the work needed to realize our collective futures, in the following ways:
- Expansion of facilitations around our document “A Policy Application of a Racial Equity Lens.” This document was introduced during the 2015 Legislative session and to some civic leaders. It educates on creating and supporting preventive policies — those policies that incorporate the impact of race-based systemic barriers rather than playing catch-up to remediate policies that do not incorporate the impact of these basic realities;
- Convening conversations with civic and policy leaders to move the effort forward in expanding investments in marginalized communities through a new distribution and/or redistribution of resources. In the past, policy and other efforts have resulted in a gentrification that has not taken advantage of the assets of individuals or communities. We must work to change that;
- Increasing our “Community Conversations” to provide a bridge of common understanding and common action. Baltimore is not unique in the systemic issues we face; not unique in the groups that are most detrimentally impacted by them, nor unique in too often turning a blind eye toward them. Many of us believe that systemic challenges are too large to impact; that the journey is too long; that surfacing the unfair racializations inherent in “doing business as usual” is “too divisive.” And quite frankly, many of us are intimidated because we don’t want to be called racists and/or we just don’t know where to start or how to start the conversation. For the last three years, ABC has, with its partners Aspen Institute and Baltimore Community Foundation, involved more than 100 leaders in continuing conversations about racializations and their detrimental impact on our economy. With our partner Baltimore Racial Justice Action, we are active in monthly meetings that have a multi-racial audience and that begin conversations and understandings about institutional and structural racism; and
- Continuing to work at a policy level and to support grassroots actions that squarely address racialized impacts;
Associated Black Charities has long been in these efforts; we have given voice to the words “institutional and structural racism”; we have urged others not to be afraid to have these honest conversations about systemic challenges so the core issues can be addressed and we have all intention of meeting this moment by moving forward and expanding our efforts.
We invite you to join us, our collective economic future depends upon us doing this hard work together.