Response to the Womanist Working Collective’s March 17th Press Release:
As we work to practice, and not simply profess, the shared values that have guided the work behind the Health Status of Black Womxn and Girls Report, we must express our solidarity with the Womanist Working Collective. Read the Womanist Working Collective statement here: https://www.womanistworkingcollective.org/single-post/wwc-s-official-press-release-choosetochallenge-iwd2021-equityoveroptics.
Our values state that good government works in full partnership with community.
Full partnership requires shared decision making and consent of all parties.
Our values state that progress only happens when we treat all people, communities, partners and staff with dignity, care, and respect.
When government demonstrates a lack of respect and does not preserve the dignity of our partners, it brings progress to a screeching halt, and sets us all back.
Our values state that we will work to dismantle racist and unjust policies and practices that impact public health.
Exclusion from decision making and tokenizing are practices rooted in white supremacy and patriarchy that must be eliminated.
Our values state that we will name our history, seek reconciliation, and be intentional.
Like most institutions and many aspects of government, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has upheld white supremacist structures and practices, exploited the labor of Black womxn, and in the process inadvertently caused harm; even in the conception of the Black Womxn and Girls Report Project. We have worked and continue to work to reconcile relationships after acknowledging this offense. We are working intentionally and diligently everyday to repair these harms.
Our values state that we believe that knowledge comes in many forms and in many places in our society.
We need to honor that knowledge and expertise by adequately resourcing our projects so that collaborators are not asked to contribute their labor without adequate compensation.
We value integrity, equity, and justice.
Which means that we will be accountable to these values in all circumstances, be fair in our approach to the work, and seek to tip the scales of justice to especially honor the vast experience, labor, and expertise of Black womxn. We recognize that performative equity and justice work is another form of racial harm.
We will try, fail, make progress, and try again.
Even as we sit in the disappointment of our shortcomings, we acknowledge how we have fallen short as government partners, and encourage our partners in City government (regardless of branch of government or department) to practice humility and learn from our mistakes.
The effort and expertise that the Womanist Working Collective brought to the Black Womxn and Girls Report collaboration cannot be replaced. Their absence will most certainly impact the outcomes of the work, which was intended to address the systemic racism, patriarchy, and capitalism that are at the foundation of health disparities for Black womxn and girls in Philadelphia.
We regret our missteps in this process and stand in solidarity with our valued partners in the Womanist Working Collective.
In the development of a report on the health of Black womxn and girls, we will continue to move at the speed of trust and follow the lead of our steering committee. We will make a commitment to change our practices and formally adopt a policy to properly resource and compensate the labor of our partners for shared work, including budgeting for the compensation of time, and practicing consent in their representation and use of emotional labor.