Pongo Poetry Project’s Race, Equity and Social Justice Committee’s purpose and values statement was formally adopted by the Board of Directors in 2021. We could not have developed this document without committee chair and board member, Christian Hawthorne, who wrote the first draft and the other committee members who collaboratively finalized it. Developing this statement is one step in Pongo’s journey of becoming an anti-racist organization. The values provide the organization with a lens through which we will examine our programs, communications, policies, and culture as we grow and move forward. We intend to learn what we need to improve, and take action that will genuinely move the needle toward systemic change that creates a more just and equitable organization.
Pongo will continue to show up in support of the youth of color with whom we write, and the volunteers, board and staff who support them. We approach this important work with a spirit of generosity, compassion, and determination. I hope you will join us on our journey. Please read our purpose and values statement below.
Pongo’s Race, Equity, & Social Justice Committee is committed to leading the charge on removing institutional oppression and systemic racism by providing guidance, resources, and recommendations that actively support a holistic approach to anti-racism, equity, and social justice within our organization, our outreach, and across the communities that we serve, by focusing on the following areas:
• Confronting racial injustice, inequality, and inequities;
• Providing meaningful anti-racist education; and
• Addressing bias in ourselves or wherever it may present itself.
These objectives will be met through internal programming, activities, and policies, external awareness, and coordination and collaboration with other organizations.
Our values will guide the work of our Race, Equity, & Social Justice Committee and thereby cultivate an intentional, inclusive and equitable culture that permeates through every facet of our organization, allowing us to serve our communities in a culturally competent and respectful manner.
• Justice – We understand that the harm of racial and cultural injustices is inflicted beyond the individual victim of injustice.
• Equity – We acknowledge, investigate, and evaluate complex systems to understand and improve systemic structures that contribute to disparities between races.
• Equality – All people are created human and should be treated with respect and dignity.
• Empathy – We appreciate, acknowledge, and work to understand everyone’s unique experiences without judgment.
• Inclusion – Our organization is a brave space that encourages our staff, volunteers, and participants to be comfortable showing up as their authentic selves.
• Action – We understand that being non-racist is not enough to dismantle institutional racism, and in order to be change agents, we are committed to being anti-racist activists.