For 25 years, EarthLinks has espoused inclusivity – finding connection in all things, from our cosmic connection to all other matter to our interconnectedness to all things on our planet -- human, animal, plants, soil. EarthLinks has always worked to illuminate and celebrate our interconnectedness, starting with environmental school programs where students from wealthy and poorer schools learned in tandem, where care for our earth was not limited to a white person’s issue.
Since 1996, EarthLinks has worked with folks experiencing homelessness and economic poverty. EarthLinks is aware that people of color make up a disproportionate amount of the homeless population, with Black people representing 40% of the homeless population, while only representing 13% of the general population. Black people experience economic poverty at a rate that is 2.5 times more than white people. Homelessness is a complex issue. There is no one definitive cause, nor is there one definitive solution. But having a criminal history and debt will disqualify you from nearly all so-called “affordable” housing opportunities – and incarceration rates of Black people are 6 times that of white people over the last 38 years. The “rules” set by many systems keep out those experiencing homelessness and poverty, disproportionately affecting people of color.
Systemic racism causes these disparities. We stand with our community members in expressing without hesitation that Black Lives Matter. We must all take steps to analyze our part in creating these injustices, and participate in their dismantling. In these days of protests and COVID, where we hope light is finally shining on the systemic inequities we have created, EarthLinks stands in hope that true and lasting change for the better is on the horizon.
At EarthLinks, we incorporate the voices of our participants at all levels of the organization. Led by our inclusivity committee, we have adopted an inclusivity blueprint and are actively training in trauma informed care. But we can do better. We commit to analyzing our activities and decisions with a racial equity lens, and reviewing our recruitment and hiring practices to ensure the representation of diverse voices. We pledge to incorporate changes that address our own injustice swiftly and thoroughly. We promise to continue listening and learning to show that all are welcome at EarthLinks, the community took two months to paint a mural with imagery and words that encapsulate the message we want to send. Numerous participants have expressed their unique vision through this collaborative work. You can find the mural on the 13th Avenue side of EarthLinks attached to the fence.