Our Commitments to Anti-Racism

Dear Family Center Community,

We are joining the many voices of outrage and hurt that have spoken passionately and painfully about racism and the culture of white supremacy in our country. This culture of white supremacy is embedded in our institutions, communities, and families. White supremacy has also played a large role in mental health, and, as an all-white staff, we have benefitted. It has been 24 days since the murder of George Floyd, 98 days since Breonna Taylor, 117 days since Ahmaud Arbery, over 2000 days since Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and thousands more. We have been quiet for too long.

Our role as trauma informed therapists is to provide context for people’s experiences and give them voice. We know the language of trauma, the language of recovery, the importance of relationship and self-examination. Trauma informed practices anchor our work, and yet we have failed to acknowledge and take action against systemic discrimination and oppression which harm our colleagues and families of color.

We have started to examine our work, our systems, our relationships, and ourselves, in order to take clear action against racism. We’re here, stepping into the public space with heart, vulnerability, and the acknowledgement that we’re probably not going to get it right. We are committed to listening and learning, in addition to taking ongoing action.

We have a responsibility to use our professional and racial privilege in this community to engage in the challenging work of healing racial trauma. This work is not short; this work is not swift. Most importantly, this work is not done in isolation. It is important that we learn from Black mental health professionals and researchers who have been doing this work. It is important that we attend to our community about ways they have been impacted, or resources they have to share. Now is the time for us to both listen and find our voice.

We have hope. In the midst of this movement, vulnerability, connection, and action are our cornerstones of hope. We at the Family Center are committed to growing our antiracist practices; we are responsible and we must do better.

We reached out to our clients with this letter on June 19, 2020 to set our intention and break our silence. At the Family Center and agency-wide, we are engaged in the following action steps to follow our commitment to antiracist practices:

At the Family Center:
  • Over the past several years, the Family Center has hosted state-wide trainings with Dr. Hardy. A full list of trainings can be found here.
  • Our staff recently read My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem focusing on racial trauma. Our reading is punctuated with purposeful conversations in order to fully process and engage with this resource. We strongly recommend this book.
  • Our next active reading will be How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi where we will explore action steps further as a group.
  • We are evaluating our practices and specifically asking the following questions:
    • How are racially diverse families represented and engaged in treatment at the clinic?
    • How can we recruit, hire, train, and support clinicians of color?
    • How can we support business of color in our purchasing?
    • How are children of color represented in our materials (toys for CPP, books, etc)?
    • How have we, as a white staff, benefited for so long from White Supremacy and not challenged this sooner?
  • ​We are actively pursuing resources to answer and resolve these questions. For example, the links above will bring you to two Black-owned independent bookstores. We encourage you to resource your learning through BIPOC businesses.
NFI Vermont Agency-Wide:
  • We are actively reviewing and reworking policies, practices, training, paperwork, procedures which are not inclusive.
  • NFI Vermont Equity & Inclusion Committee provides outlets twice monthly for all staff with topic-driven discussions.
  • Employee Resource Group for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). The agency has contracted with Kiah Palumbo, of Vermont Department of Mental Health, to provide this group for any NFI staff who identifies as BIPOC. This group will take place on work time and leadership is encouraged to follow up with interested staff about how their schedules can accommodate participation.
  • Ongoing leadership training to focus on racial sensitivity with Dr. Hardy. This will be a small group aimed at strengthening our agency leadership and supervision skills, and building a sustainability plan that can be brought to all staff and clients. Sessions will take place weekly from the end of Sept into December.
  • Indigenous Peoples Day – NFI Vermont will be providing a webinar with Melody Walker, an Abenaki educator, activist, and artist. This webinar will be held on work time the Monday following Indigenous Peoples Day (the agency will be closed in observance of this day). The goal is to learn and discuss how mental health providers can better understand and serve the Abenaki community. The webinar is open to all staff, and will be recorded for staff who are unable to attend.

Email: FamilyCenter@nafi.com

Phone: (802) 951-0450
Fax: (802) 652-2008
45 San Remo Drive, South Burlington, VT, 05403