In 2020, Penny Lane staff across all sites, founded the Racial Justice Committee (RJC). The staff-led committee began its efforts in 2020 with the Institutional Racism, Equity and Social Justice Employee Survey to gauge systemic racism and marginalization within Penny Lane Centers.
One of the 2020 findings that is highlighted today, was the need for Penny Lane to provide training and ongoing support on cultural humility, diversity, unconscious bias, antiracism, microaggressions and other topics. The RJC developed the Diversity Beyond the Basics (DBB) training course as a crucial step to reconcile the gaps between the organization’s expressed values and the experience of working within our programs. The DBB course was rolled out to all Penny Lane staff in the beginning of 2022. Its success can be measured in our 2023 Institutional Racism, Equity and Social Justice Employee Survey results.
In April 0f 2023, staff were asked to complete the survey and Penny Lane had 93% completion rate with 415 respondents. A comparative analysis was completed with the data from the 2020 and 2021 surveys. We are very pleased to find that the data indicates noticeable improvements in understanding, comfortability, and workplace perception of racism, to name a few.
Read full report here.
The survey is one of the ways Penny Lane staff can input to help the RJC identify strategies to continuously demand structural change at Penny Lane and within the communities it serves. While we have seen marked improvement, we also recognize that there is still work to be done in order to create an environment that is truly heart-centered and equitable for all.
We would like to share some of the things that we are currently working on to further our Equity & Inclusion efforts . . .
What is happening in France? Apart from the regular collection of tourists there is a new group that have taken to the streets, but not to admire the magnificence of the Eiffel Tower or visit Mona. This is a group of protestors. On Tuesday, June 27th Nahel Merzouk, was killed by a police officer in a suburb outside of Paris. Nahel was a 17-year-old young man of Moroccan and Algerian descent.
Shortly after nine in the morning on Tuesday Nahel was fatally shot in the chest, point-blank, at the wheel of a Mercedes car for driving off during a police traffic check.
"Police violence happens every day, especially if you're Arab or black," said one young man in another French city calling for justice for Nahel.
But the family's lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, said this was not about racism, but about justice. "We have a law and judicial system that protects police officers, and it creates a culture of impunity in France," he told the BBC.
This shooting was the third fatal shooting that occurred during a traffic stop in France in 2023. In 2020, there were three deaths, followed by two in 2021, and 13 in 2022. The victims were often people of Black or Maghrebi origin, leading to allegations of systemic racism within the French police.
Since Nehel’s death there have been a have been several protests, sparking a ban on demonstrations in some cities, travel warnings and reigniting a debate on over-policing in marginalized communities.
Here in the US, we are watching the news and seeing the fires burning and violence erupting. These are frustratingly similar scenes which have taken place in our cities throughout our country. It is heartbreaking to see that this violent prejudice continues to take place in other parts of the world and that police officers continue to act without fear of consequences. We recognize the issues we face here in America, but now we are seeing that geography does not exclude you from hate. Regardless of the language that is spoken our young men of color continue to be victims of police brutality. It’s so hard to imagine this taking place on the streets outside of the Louvre or Notre Dame, but here we are in 2023 fighting for justice for Nahel and the marginalized communities that he represents.
So, I ask the question, when will the world come to value all lives and stop perpetuating hate? This leads to anger, ruins lives, and kills. Isn’t it time to stop this madness, both at home and abroad for Nahel, for Breonna, for George and the countless others who we have lost?