The difference between a dreamer and a visionary is that a dreamer has his eyes closed and a visionary has his eyes open. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today we celebrate the legacy of a man whose life has reached mythical proportions. His story is that of legend. He’s exalted all over the world, immortalized in statues, paintings, literature, song and prose. And admired by so many for his nonviolent ideology. All rightfully deserved, but we can’t forget that the path he took was not an easy one. Only after death was he honored, and shown the respect and dignity that he should have received throughout his life. His daughter, Bernice King, reminds us often:
In order to fully realize his dream—the most famous dream in the world- we must also acknowledge everything it cost him and his family, vow to heed his messages and warnings, and move forward with razor-sharp intent to be better.
At HealthMPowers, we take our mission—empowering healthy habits and transforming environments where children live, learn and play—very seriously. We understand that this is in direct correlation with Dr. King’s vision for a world where disparities and inequities among our children are eradicated.
We couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to honor Dr. King than by giving an update on our continued diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work. The HealthMPowers team is actively working to lift up and build upon his legacy.
Our eyes are open.
Centering Health Equity as a Mission Imperative Approach
It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
The HealthMPowers DEI team was established during the summer of 2020 and immediately began to establish a foundation for this work. We are:
- Designing a charter to center health equity as a mission imperative approach. The charter will be the basis for our work moving forward and will explicitly state our purpose, measurable goals and objectives. It will be implemented across all functions of the organization.
- Auditing and adapting resources to better serve our communities. In order to empower, we must first listen and understand what resources educators, students, families and communities need to create sustainable change.
- Revising our recruitment policy to include networking and job search sites so our team more intentionally reflects the communities we are in relationship with.
We will lift up others.
Internal DEI Initiatives
If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lasting change always starts from within. Our DEI team is working together to fully engage staff in courageous conversations about race, prejudice and stereotypes and facilitate a brave space to ask questions and inform our work. So far we’ve:
- Conducted six all-staff DEI sessions that included educating staff on the historical constructs of systemic racism and time for self-reflection.
- Created an internal newsletter, 5 Things on a Friday, featuring resources to further engage staff in between DEI sessions. Every edition includes Something from the Last Meeting, Something to Read, Something to Watch or Listen to, Something to Do and Something Good.
- Released a staff survey to provide an opportunity for feedback to inform the work. Responses included:
- Staff expressing a greater understanding of the importance of our work in the fight against racism and inequities in our communities.
- Staff engaging in courageous conversations about racism with friends and family.
- An increase in staff reflection and personal changes to be better allies to marginalized communities.
But this represents the beginning of our work and our team will continue to further education and enable calls to action among our staff.
We will keep moving.
We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
We are living through a moment that has highlighted a horrifying reality: health outcomes vary greatly depending on an individual’s race/ethnicity, income level, zip code, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ability status. At HealthMPowers:
- Two-thirds of the children we serve are members of the Black community.
- One-sixth of the children we serve are members of the Latinx community.
- The majority of the children we serve qualify for free and reduced lunch rates.
We also recognize that the disparate impact of COVID and the resulting economic uncertainty has impacted our community in significant ways. As a response, we are also looking at creative partnerships to increase healthy food access. We’ll update you soon.
We take our mission seriously and we recognize that it is mission imperative that we are intentional in recognizing and educating ourselves on all of the unique challenges faced by those we serve, and to be more effective allies in our efforts against inequality for a healthier Georgia and for a healthier America.
We are acting now.
Thank you, Dr. King.