After a summer filled with protests and civil unrest, our team recently took the opportunity to get outside and host several informal dialogues with our neighbors and supporters.
These conversations were meant to bring people together to learn about our work at 180 Degrees, and our commitments to improving both our community and the lives of our staff and clients.
At 180 Degrees, we start with the premise that racism exists and has been baked into the policies, procedures, and laws of our country since it was founded. Racism can be as subtle as a person’s individual bias, or as extreme as a police stop that turns deadly. Those who were forced into slavery and brought to America spent 6-8 generations living as captives on plantations before dealing with further economic, educational, and other systemic barriers. These families were stripped of their humanity, religion, language, culture, and familial ties. The beneficiaries of enslavement were the owners of industries, farms, and others who relied on cheap labor to build wealth.
In understanding this historical context and its effects today, we find many indicators of inequity: gross family income, infant health mortality rates, home ownership rates, criminal records, and higher education – to name a few. These measures directly show the impact of systemic racism.
At 180 Degrees, we do not shy away from having these important conversations and moving from words to actions. Equity is a cornerstone of our work. Today, we deliberately seek out vendors of color when doing business. We've improved wages and benefits for our staff who confront systems of injustice every day, while helping our clients improve their lives. We have diverse voices in leadership, helping inform what the challenges are and how to overcome them.
The questions we ask ourselves in the community need to reflect the reality that people of color face on a daily basis. Only by facing these ugly truths, can we move forward as a nation.
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For over thirty years, CEO Dan Pfarr has been on the front lines of the human services community, working to lift-up youth, adults, and families in crisis. His focus on trauma-informed care helps shape the direction of 180 Degrees and inspire a team of nearly one hundred employees. As a multi-cultural organization with staff and clients who have suffered a life of prejudice and inequality, 180 Degrees continues prioritizing discussion and action against a system of racial injustice.