racial justice and a way forward at msv
Connecting Communities | July 2020
The Marillac St. Vincent community, like much of the country, is still reeling following the murder of George Floyd and the many other unjust deaths of unarmed Black people in the U.S. by police and racist vigilantes. Through that grief, staff have been having daily conversations about this painful and difficult reality.
Those conversations surfaced two urgent questions for MSV: “how do we become better advocates for racial justice?" And, "How do we promote a more inclusive work environment as we carry out our Mission?”
Ravaughn Jackson, a high school senior and youth leader at MSV, has seen positive change in the past several years he's been part of the MSV Community, “It has gotten a lot better just in the time I have been part of MSV," he says. "I believe that there isn’t enough representation for people of color in positions of power, but I feel like we’ve been working up to that. I feel like our voices are heard but I think there is room for improvement.”
High school senior and MSV youth leader, Ravaughn Jackson, volunteering with friends to do cleanup following the recent unrest in their neighborhoods.
Hope Junior Program Manager Deanna Hallagan, who oversees the neighborhood after school and summer program, believes that being more intentional with how MSV engages in activism against racism must become a bigger priority. “We can’t go back to normal because normal was not great for a lot of people," she points out.
The teens in Hope Junior have shifted the focus of their summer project to focus on getting out the vote in their community through grassroots marketing campaigns, creating video content, and developing a podcast centered around advocacy initiatives. Hope Junior will also partner with a guest artist to create a mural in East Garfield Park to promote peace and equality.
For MSV CEO, Peter Beale-DelVecchio, internal diversity and inclusion, building equity within our programs, and being a public voice for systemic change are equally important as the organization moves forward. “We do a very good job of helping individuals to be empowered to advocate for themselves," he notes, "but the next question is, how do we use our platform as this large community organization with a broad reach, to effect systemic change and use our platform to advocate for Black lives?”
“we can’t go back to normal because normal was not great for a lot of people.”
- Deanna Hallagan, Hope Junior Program Manager
As staff work through the labor-intensive process of safely reopening the centers after three and a half months of closure due to COVID-19, Beale-DelVecchio sees an opening for MSV to approach these big-picture social justice issues, “we’re coming upon a great opportunity, as we re-engage on our strategic planning process, to identify areas of growth within the organization.” Strategic planning at MSV was put on hold as attention shifted to COVID relief efforts, “this current moment will most certainly affect the way we plan for the future so that we can go from simply being allies, to being accomplices in anti-racism."
For youth like Ravaughn, MSV’s way forward will have a lasting impact and he hopes to be involved in the decision-making process, “I think we should form some kind of youth council that attends meetings with leadership, because they don’t really live our lives. They see our lives being lived but not through our eyes and I think hearing from youth of color and us having a voice at the table could really help.”
As Marillac St. Vincent commits itself to create long-term, sustained change, we look forward to reporting back to our clients, staff, volunteers, and supporters on what steps we will take in forthcoming communications. Be sure to subscribe to the Connecting Communities newsletter and share your thoughts and feedback by emailing email@example.com.