By Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Affairs, Goodwill Industries International
For more than a century, we at Goodwill® have prided ourselves in our work and our mission to help people with perceived barriers to employment overcome their challenges and gain employment. We now need to challenge ourselves as a human service provider to not only help people who have struggled to find employment, but to actively work to remove systemic and institutional racism and other barriers that prevent people from having equal opportunities in the first place. How can we be more than service providers, but also systems changers?
The pandemic, coupled with continued injustices including the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and far too many who preceded them, has put much needed attention on issues related to racism and inequity. As we recapped in last week’s blog, the virus is having a disparate impact on people of color in large part because of institutional and structural barriers, including health inequity and policies that result in people of color largely working in low-wage work and making them more exposed to the virus.
A recent analysis shared by the Coalition on Human Needs showed that if Black Americans died from COVID-19 at the same rate as Whites, 13,000 more Black Americans would be alive today. Another survey showed 56 percent of Black Americans had lost income from employment since mid-March, and that close to one-quarter reported sometimes or often not having enough to eat in the previous seven days, more than three times the proportion of White people.
We have the stories. We have the data. Now we need to put forth the solutions and move from reflection to action. Our advocates, our employees, our participants and our neighbors are exhausted. We’re feeling it ourselves. But now is not the time to take a step back. Nonprofits like Goodwill are the backbone of our communities, and our communities are in crisis. The work has to get done. Nonprofits will be needed as our communities recover and our country begins to heal. Our services will remain vital, and we will provide forums for community members to engage, collaborate and allow for diversity of thought, which can lead to the policy solutions needed as we break down these barriers.
Join Goodwill Industries International as we commit to create change, particularly as we proactively advocate for public policies that advance equity and inclusion. We want your thoughts as we embark on this journey. What are the policy solutions that you would offer? How can you and your local Goodwill play an active role in fostering the conversation and advocating for the change needed in your community? Please comment below or email us to share your thoughts. You can also tweet at us via @GoodwillCapHill and share how you will #CommitToChange.