Beginning Action Steps Toward a Better Arm In Arm and a More Just Society
The senseless death of George Floyd and so many other Black Americans before him has again painfully illustrated the urgent need for a more just society in which all Americans stand against the systemic discrimination of Black Americans and all marginalized peoples. Arm In Arm stands with all who have suffered racial discrimination and we emphatically reject any system which serves to entrench the privilege of one group above another simply because of their race, color, or religion. In the fulfillment of our mission of offering food, support for housing, and vocational training to those in need, we all too often hear first person accounts and witness some of the traumatic hardships marginalized people or people of color endure too often: the frequent stares of suspicious store clerks; being taken advantage of by unscrupulous landlords; intimidation, violence, and physical and sexual abuse by those in a position of power; fear of separation from their families because of their immigration status; and fear for their own personal safety and the safety of their loved ones. Many of the neighbors we serve wonder if the American dream can really be personally realized.
Knowing that change begins at home, we commit ourselves to taking the following initial steps to be agents for positive change towards a more just and equitable community:
The staff and Board of Directors of Arm In Arm are committed to educating ourselves on the history and experience of Black Americans and the history and reality of racial discrimination and brutality against these Americans in our nation’s history. With gratitude to groups who have prepared educational materials, we will offer these materials to our partners and commit to incorporating these materials in staff and board tutorials as required racial sensitivity training. Already we have begun open discussions on race, inequality and injustice among staff and board members and we will continue to prioritize this in a regular way. Click here to see some of the resources that have been shared among our staff.
We are committed to increasing diversity in the composition of our Board of Directors. Specifically, we look to recruit to our board this year at least one Trenton resident, one former client, and add to our Board additional people of color committed to our Mission over the next several years.
We will create a staff committee who will help us fulfill our commitment to educate our staff, clients, and stakeholders on issues regarding racial injustice and discrimination with a specific focus on how the experience of our clients give rise to food, housing, and employment insecurity.
Though we are not an advocacy organization and are committed to serving all humans with equal dignity and respect, we will nevertheless encourage members of our community to act, in accordance with their individual consciences, to seek out ways to be part of positive social reform that would help address the root causes of food, housing, and employment insecurity. We understand that these reforms require the best efforts of a diversity of experts, but we support the efforts of our elected officials of any political party to make these reforms a top priority, for the betterment of Black Americans, of those who have been marginalized and of all people.
In the spirit of promoting transparency, trust, and cooperation within the specific communities we serve, Arm In Arm leadership will continue to seek concrete ways that we might be a bridge between the neighbors we serve and our local government and law enforcement officials to end racial discrimination and to make our communities places where people, especially those most historically marginalized, might thrive. Arm In Arm recognizes, and is grateful to, law enforcement personnel who endeavor to serve our communities without bias so that the members of our community might live more safely. As a part of this community, we support any reforms that would better realize an end to the tragic miscarriages of justice and institutional violence epitomized in the deaths George Floyd and so many other Black Americans
Whatever our respective ethnic, religious, political, or social backgrounds, the movement towards reform is a just and a necessary one in elevating our common humanity. We commit ourselves, an imperfect community of caring people striving to become better together, to stand in solidarity with the members of our community who have been marginalized and subjected to racial discrimination, and to strive to work towards the realization of a truly just and equitable society.
Nicholas J. Valvanis
Chairperson, Board of Directors
Arm In Arm
David R. Fox
Arm In Arm