Dear Coalition member programs, community partners, and supporters:
As an organization, the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence recognizes that oppression is a root cause of sexual and domestic violence. As such, actively engaging in anti-oppression work is vital to ending sexual and domestic violence. These principles are at the core of our organization’s mission and philosophy statements; individual and program members agree to these upon joining the Coalition and renewing their membership annually.
Acknowledging this, we would like to address a bias incident which was brought to our attention, involving several members of our community during a Coalition-organized event. This is not the first time racism and other forms of oppression have manifested in our spaces, and we acknowledge the harm this specific incident has caused. We’re writing today to reaffirm our commitment to anti-oppressive principles and practices, and invite you to join us as we continue to navigate this vital work.
The Coalition is committed to supporting those who have been impacted by violence and oppression in all its forms. We recognize the importance of holding ourselves and others accountable while improving our own processes and mechanisms for doing so with equity and compassion. This process of ongoing action and reflection is a cornerstone of dismantling systems of oppression.
As we continue to incorporate anti-oppressive principles and practices into our work, we must be led by the understanding that the dynamics of privilege and oppression are inherent to every aspect of our lives. Thus, a truly “safe space” is impossible to create. A statement that encapsulates all of this comes to us from Carpe Locus:
There’s no such thing as a safe space. We exist in the real world, and we all carry scars and have caused wounds. This space seeks to turn down the volume of the world outside and amplify the voices that have to fight to be heard elsewhere. This space will not be perfect. It will not always be what we want it to be, but it will be ours together, and we will work on it side by side.
Together, we can reach our goal of a violence- and oppression-free society, and including within our own Coalition community. It will be tough and complex work, but we can do this together by supporting and holding one another accountable. In this spirit, we invite your feedback on ways that the Coalition can more effectively center equity and accountability in the spaces we convene. Please send your comments and suggestions to [email protected]; everything submitted will be de-identified and shared with the Coalition’s staff and board of directors. As always, we invite you to reach out to your regional representative or any Coalition staff member with questions or concerns of any kind.
The Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Communities of Color Task Force and all of our Coalition members and community partners for their hard work and continued support and engagement.
The staff and board of directors of the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence