June 16, 2020

To our clients, providers, service partners, supporters and our larger community and nation –

AccessMatters condemns the police brutality and anti-Black violence that led to the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Dreasjon Reed, Manuel Ellis, David McAtee, and Rayshard Brooks, and the anti-Black racism that led to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, and the threat to Christian Cooper’s life. We recognize that these events are just the latest in our nation’s long history of racism, police brutality, and violence against Black people. And we see a direct link between anti-Black racism and violence, and our work in sexual and reproductive health care.

Access to contraception and abortion have frequently been politicized and weaponized in the U.S. in ways that negatively stereotype, exploit, dehumanize, and attempt to control Black people. And too often, sexual and reproductive rights movements have centered the desires and experiences of white people. At this pivotal moment, we lift up BIPOC-led reproductive justice organizations across the country, including New Voices for Reproductive Justice (newvoicesrj.org), who make clear that the idea of “choice” rings hollow unless all people have safe housing, clean air, job security, adequate wages, secure health care coverage, affordable childcare, and freedom from violence and threats of violence – particularly at the hands of those whose job it is to protect.

AccessMatters is committed to:

  • Looking in the mirror at our own organization
    • Examining our employment policies, recruiting, onboarding and retention practices, staff development supports, salary and benefits structure, and performance review practices to identify and eradicate those that perpetuate racism and uphold white supremacist culture;
    • Funding a facilitated space, on an ongoing basis, for Black staff to process their experiences in safety and solidarity;
    • Funding a facilitated space, on an ongoing basis, for non-Black staff of color to process their experiences in safety and solidarity;
    • Funding a facilitated space, on an ongoing basis, for White staff to examine and work to address their roles in perpetuating anti-Black racism and white supremacist culture.
  • Focusing an antiracist lens on our programming
    • Examining each of our programs anew with intentionality about our impact on Black and other oppressed and marginalized communities;
    • Developing or deepening relationships with clients and community partners to ensure our programs are shaped by, not for, those they are intended to serve;
    • Continuing our trainings to help healthcare and medical providers recognize the impact of implicit bias and racism on service delivery and health outcomes;
    • Increasing our efforts to support legislation and grantmaking to address and eradicate the impact of racism on Black maternal health;
    • Leveraging fees from more well-resourced clients to offer free or low-cost trainings and other capacity-building services to community members and organizations with fewer resources.
  • Amplifying the voices of BIPOC staff and partners
    • Regularly soliciting and sharing the experiences and ideas of BIPOC staff in a manner guided by them to avoid inappropriate emotional labor;
    • Financially supporting a BIPOC-centered race equity initiative at AccessMatters to examine and help address the racial impact of internally and externally facing policies, practices, and programs;
    • Seeking with humility to expand partnerships with BIPOC-led and BIPOC-serving agencies in the community;
    • Supporting the leadership and amplifying the voices of BIPOC-led partner organizations, including through support of BIPOC-led coalitions and collaborations.
  • Ensuring organizational leadership is equipped to effectively support antiracist work
    • Expanding trainings at our board and senior management level to ensure governance, coaching, and supportive supervision occur through antiracist and trauma-informed frameworks;
    • In recruiting new board members, being explicit about their personal commitment to being antiracist and their commitment to moving forward AccessMatters’ antiracism work;
    • Continuing race- and trauma- focused coaching for our senior management team.

As a white leader, Melissa acknowledges her unique power to advance or thwart antiracist efforts at AccessMatters. She personally commits to the work of continuous antiracist learning, including listening and being in dialogue with BIPOC staff and partners in a way that does not impose emotional labor; participating in an anti-Black racism leadership group and a non-work anti-racism discussion group; continued anti-racism reading, training and conference participation; contributing financially to antiracist causes; and continuing individualized anti-racism/trauma-informed executive coaching.

This list reflects the ongoing efforts of BIPOC staff and consultants who have provided significant labor to raise our awareness of the impact of racism in our work, and to ensure that our work moving forward is done through an antiracist lens. We intend for this list to evolve as we grow in our work, we invite feedback, and we commit to reporting on our efforts and progress at least annually. In an effort to ensure our statement is reflective of the sentiments of those staff most directly impacted, AccessMatters welcomed feedback from Black staff on the content of this letter and list, and we acknowledge the emotional labor involved in accepting or declining that offer.

Each of us has a role, and we pledge our commitment to continuous work to be antiracist in our thinking and in our doing around care that is central to every person’s bodily autonomy and overall wellbeing.

Melissa Weiler Gerber                           Tiffany Canady                          Sara Woods

President & CEO                                      Board President                       Board Vice President & President-Elect

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