A Message from the Executive Director
CARIE’s Anti-Racism Position
As advocates for equal rights and justice for more than 43 years, we stand with those engaged in the fight against systemic racism, prejudice, and discrimination. Over the past months, as we have witnessed horrific examples of that racism, we have been listening and reflecting, considering how to provide a concrete, action-oriented meaningful, response. We affirm what is undeniable – Black Lives Matter.
Our work regularly brings us face-to-face with institutionalized racism, bias, and discrimination directed to older adults of color. Many have lived through a lifetime of deeply embedded structural discrimination in housing, employment, education, and lending, denied the right to own a home in a neighborhood with good schools, clean air and water, and access to healthy foods.
Data starkly highlights the impact of generations of racist policies. For example, by even the most conservative measures, older Black adults experience more than twice the rate of poverty as whites leading to a vast racial wealth gap among older adults. The median household wealth of older Black adults is just $55,000 compared to $280,900 for older white adults. To address this disparity in economic well-being, it is important that we explicitly identify the role structural racism and white misanthropy has played in creating that disparity. As we continue the work we do in behalf of some of society’s most vulnerable members, we pledge to do more to name and dismantle the institutionalized racism and white misanthropy that has brought us to this point.
We are aware that there is a direct connection between the two crises of our time, one old and one new. We are seeing shockingly high death rates due to COVID-19 among Black people. In Pennsylvania alone, we have watched as 69% of the deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in long-term care facilities; many of those deaths too were Black residents.
We know that as we work with other nonprofit organizations to address problems of racial prejudice within the broader society, we must get our own house in order as well. Fewer than 20% of nonprofits are led by persons of color. All leaders in the nonprofit sector need to work to change that equation. As an organization, CARIE will offer staff training and education aimed at leadership development in general but particularly for our staff of color, and culture change; we are re-evaluating our recruitment efforts; we have established the CARIE Anti-Racism Committee led by our staff of color; and we have hired an expert to help us look objectively at ways we use experience, influence, power, and privilege in our own lives and the lives of those around us.
We are taking deliberate steps to create an environment that fosters transparency, supports open communication, and ensures spaces and opportunities for all staff to feel safe and valued and to thrive. We will use our collective influence to instill anti-racism practices within the broader systems we engage including long-term care and healthcare systems, housing, criminal and civil justice, guardianship, transportation accessibility, and the broader aging system at the local, state and federal level. We hereby commit to bring resources, talent, and energy to the fight to end racism in all its forms and wherever it may live.
Diane A. Menio