Ozone House stands in solidarity with the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement. Ozone House will continue to take action using our collective voice and position. As we recognize Independence Day we know that we cannot all be truly free until we have equity, equality and justice for ALL.
At Ozone House, our primary responsibility is to support young people impacted by housing instability toward leading lives full of love and health. We do this work with a deep and ever-evolving understanding and analysis of the disparities that leave certain youth more vulnerable to housing instability at the outset, and the way those disparities will continue to impact their lives as they move on. Of course, there is no way to support young people on these journeys without our amazing staff and volunteers. We have to be able to take care of each other to do the work; and, we need to take better care of each other. As we write this, cities across the country are enraged, grief-stricken, and crying out for breath and life inside a brutal and racist system and society. Ozone House is committed to taking better care of each other. This statement is rooted in accountability, transparency, reciprocity, justice and love. What that means is that we will take action, not just offer words; we will communicate fully, not obfuscate; we will mess up, not pretend this work is easy; we will seek to heal and repair our mistakes, not gloss over them, and we will remind ourselves always of the deep and abiding love we have for one another and the work we do.
Let’s begin with the truth: in the United States, the land on which anyone stands was stolen from indigenous peoples and then cultivated, built upon, and shaped largely by the unpaid labor of enslaved Africans. Our history is one of broken promises to indigenous peoples and a failure to make reparations for chattel slavery while building and coalescing the power of whiteness. In 2020, in the face of a global pandemic overwhelmingly killing Black Americans, centuries of grief and rage are spilling into our streets. George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis Police Officer while three fellow officers looked on, and a crowd begged him to stop while a 17-year-old girl took the video. This is what we have wrought, and there is no more time to procrastinate the healing, repair, and transformation necessary to dismantle white supremacy.
Ozone House acknowledges that Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) and queer and transgender (QT) staff, youth, and volunteers are owed the resources and support to hold space together, take time to grieve and mourn, and access healing practices individually and collectively. Ozone House further acknowledges that this is urgent for our Black staff, youth, and volunteers right now. We are working actively to identify and support these avenues of repair. On May 31st, 2020, Ozone House instituted a policy providing all Black staff five (5) additional days of paid time off to utilize how they need, as they need to take care individually and/or collectively. Further, Ozone House acknowledges our staff policies and procedures require an overhaul as it relates to the work and values in this statement, we will begin this process in late July. These are not the only steps Ozone House will take. As we identify more, we will communicate with transparency.
All Americans are wounded and traumatized by white supremacy; and our institutions have strategically been built to maintain white supremacy. To work toward racial healing is to create pathways and opportunities for healing practices for our BIPOC staff and Board and for white folks to hold white folks accountable for dismantling white supremacy and reimagining whiteness without supremacy. This work cannot be done by non-white people because the locus of power is white supremacy. Ozone House is committed to engaging its white staff and Board in accountability practices to dismantle white supremacy and to supporting BIPOC/QT staff and Board in practices to heal from white supremacy. For now, we plan to engage with a program call ‘interrogating whiteness’ for our white staff; and with specific healing practices and supports such as the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective and the Center for Harm Reduction Therapy to facilitate healing for all staff. Further, we have created specific opportunities for our BIPOC staff to hold space together and for our white staff to delve more into ally-ship. Our plans are unfolding in real time—again, as we identify more, we will communicate with transparency.
We imagine a country rooted in justice, interdependence, abundance, and collective care. We imagine a country that addresses harms through acknowledgement, repair, and healing. We imagine a country where our work is no longer necessary. This place is a long way off, and sometimes looks to be further rather than closer, especially in a time of great uncertainty like we are facing right now. What we do know is that the work to dismantle white supremacy, repair, and heal is critical to our vision, and it cannot wait any longer.