BLACK LIVES MATTER

A letter from our President & Executive Director, Matt Pritchard

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to you in the midst of a pandemic that has disproportionately harmed communities of color and in the wake of a series of brutal and senseless examples of anti-black violence. As we mourn Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and too many others, I am reaching out to you in solidarity of feeling the terrible weight of anger, fear and sadness. 

At HomeStart, I’m privileged to lead an organization that is dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness for all of our most vulnerable and at-risk neighbors. Doing this work, I constantly reflect on the fact that our country’s history of racist housing policies have created deep structural inequities in access to housing and experiences of homelessness. 

I believe in HomeStart’s mission because I know that we are committed to finding solutions that break the cycle of homelessness and housing crisis. But we cannot truly solve this crisis unless we strike at the root of the problem. Since racist systems are at the root of the problem, and if we are going to fulfill our mission, we must address this problem. We must recognize that there can be no housing justice without racial justice. 

I heard Scott Woods’ words for the first time this week and agree:


 

As a white man, I’ve benefited from systems at the expense of others. Not by choice, but because that’s how the system works. No matter how much I learn about how to be an anti-racist, I fall short. It’s a never-ending battle, and it’s a battle worth fighting. 

To my Black and Brown colleagues and friends: I see your pain and your anger. I stand beside you in solidarity. I will not be apathetic in my commitment to justice and anti-racism.

To my white colleagues and friends: There is no room for apathy. Calls for justice are not enough. We must actively and vocally and humbly listen to those who continue to be systemically silenced. Justice is needed for ALL people. 

As we collectively grieve, I’m thankful to be on a team committed to such excellent and necessary work; work that challenges the very inequities we’re discussing. Housing equity will take years, decades, perhaps but let us not have that level of patience. We can do better.

With love and solidarity, 
Matt
 


“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. 
Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations
go to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. 


Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another.
Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. 

So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

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