Re: Our Commitment to Promoting Inclusivity and Fighting Racism

To the Perkins Community,
Last week, with the support of both staff and residents, we were proud to put up Black Lives Matter signs across our campus. The signs speak to our commitment to racial equity and to being part of the solution and conversation to address racism and discrimination that results in disproportionately negative outcomes for Black and Brown people. Concurrent with putting out Black Lives Matter signs, we released the following statement:
Perkins’ mission to promote meaningful and sustained well-being cannot be fully realized in a world or a community where systemic racism and violence exists. Racism has and continues to traumatize generations of Black and Brown Americans. For this reason and many more, Perkins supports the work of the Black Lives Matter movement to combat and counter acts of violence, create spaces for Black imagination and innovation, and center Black joy.
 
We have been thrilled by the many positive responses to the signs and to our initiating conversations on racism and the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. We were also saddened and disappointed that last weekend, two signs in Lancaster were defaced by someone who spray painted over the word “Black.” We replaced the signs as soon as we could. Lancaster police are aware of this incident.  As discouraging as acts of vandalism such as this are we have been humbled by the many community members who stood up for Black lives and in support of Perkins’ Black Lives Matter signs. We know that these acts caused a rich local discussion and we were proud to see that many of our neighbors have since put up their own BLM signs. 
 
We also know that some members of our community see Black Lives Matter as a political statement.  To be clear, we see racism and the disproportionate killing of and negative impacts on Black and Brown men and women as a public health and human rights issue on which we are committed to speaking up and addressing through our work and actions. Black Americans who grow up experiencing institutionalized and individualized racism, and witnessing repeated violent acts against members of their race committed by people and systems in power, are experiencing trauma. Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report on the long-term harm that racism causes for Black and Brown children. It stated “Although progress has been made toward racial equality and equity, the evidence to support the continued negative impact of racism on health and well-being through implicit and explicit biases, institutional structures, and interpersonal relationships is clear. Failure to address racism will continue to undermine health equity for all children, adolescents, emerging adults, and their families.” (AAP)
 
Perkins is committed to being part of the solution by providing anti-racism trainings for staff, uncovering racism within our structures and systems, and creating broader awareness about the impact of racism. We will not be silent about injustice or complicit in allowing racist structures to persist in traumatizing Black and Brown people. We welcome and appreciate continued dialogue and constructive discussion of this important issue.
 
We invite you to visit our Online Resource page, which has a number of resources for talking to your family members, including children, about racial equity and the importance of saying Black lives matter. We welcome and appreciate continued dialogue and constructive discussion of this important issue. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
 
Sincerely,
Michael W. Ames, Ph.D.
(978) 368-6401
President & CEO