June 17, 2020 By Natalie Williams, Senior Director of Operations How can we validate and be supportive regarding racial trauma in light of the recent events? “Courage: The most important of all virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” -Maya Angelou Every day we embroider some foundation of emotions in our hearts as we progress towards healing. This is the time to march forthrightly in courage and create a landscape that creates a platform for healing from our past to shape the future. VBH is committed to recognizing that people are understandably hurting. Valley recognizes the fact that racism is a stressor that has significant negative psychological ramifications for victims of racial oppression. Contending with racism and racial trauma is a complicated course that requires mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical energy and effort. The coping strategies that people use depend on various factors, including their racial socialization experiences, racial identity development, personal experiences, collective experiences, individual characteristics, and situational characteristics. Individuals must have awareness of the approaches that they can use in situations and must also reflect on how those strategies might prompt certain responses and result in being further or less oppressed. Having your voice heard, and a space to express thoughts are essential on this topic. In saying this one way that we can provide support for racial trauma is to provide a space or outlet where people can individually offload and safely talk to someone about how they are feeling. How do we bridge the gap of inequality and diversity? Bridging the gap starts with acknowledging that there is still work to be done to improve upon diversity and inclusion. Companies and organizations must continue to strive to mirror how society currently looks, on all levels. Not only will this provide well—rounded perspective (if you have a diversely represented front-line, supervisors and company leaders), but will also serve as an example that professional progression can be attained by all (because of the model of diversity on all levels) Secondly, the use of data (input from those of diverse populations) would be necessary to create change as there are many factors that would need to be considered in creating longer-lasting progress. Finally, I believe making a conscious effort to take part in events, recruiting, and engaging communities/organizations that are built on improving diversity is necessary to improve upon understanding of complexities, create positive relations and ensure inclusion and diversity continues to improve within companies. How are you demonstrating being a positive individual in society? Self-awareness plays a huge part in where you stand and knowing how you would like to proceed. As an organization and a culture, we want to proceed down the positive path. With every positive interaction, you take you are making a move in the right direction. The more positive interactions you create the better. Notice how I said, “you create.” Positive acts can be initiated by you. You can take the lead and model positivity with every interaction you encounter. Even if you receive a negative interaction continue to be positive. You need to be a positive role model for your families, friends, clients, co-workers, or anybody else that you come across. It may be easier said than done, but when you take the positive approach just know you chose right. As more people continue or start having positive interactions with each other than change has no choice but to come. How we as an organization are committed to change We have developed a Diversity Inclusion Advisory Committee where we meet weekly to encourage dialog and discuss areas of opportunity where we can improve upon culturally as an organization. With the recent events, we understand that it is important to not only establish the committee now but to engrave it into our strategic plan and make it a top priority going forward in the future. Valley encourages engagement of the individual and system in practices that advance diversity in all that we do. Below are some ways that you as a leader, team member, or individual may help engage in learning, action, and compassion during this time and beyond. Resources for addressing racism: Resources for Engaging in Anti-Racism Work. We are Living in a Racist Pandemic. Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay – Chances are They’re Not. Affirming Black Lives Without Inducing Trauma. If you are feeling the ill-effects of this time below are some resources: Surviving & Resisting Hate: A Toolkit for People of Color (PDF). Self-Care Tips for Black People Who Are Struggling with this Very Painful Week.