By Jessica Mathews /

A local agency has issued a statement on racism, community action and how it will be a catalyst for change.

The Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency says amidst these trying times where families are coping with overwhelming grief, fear and economic hardships; they continue to face another more insidious epidemic - racism. The Agency says they’ve heard personal stories of community members of color having to make tough decisions to survive the COVID-19 pandemic all while continuing to endure racism’s ongoing adverse impacts.

OLHSA officials say now is the time for change and the time to do more than think about uncomfortable topics. In partnership with community members, officials say OLHSA is here to be a voice that raises awareness and addresses the individual and systemic causes of poverty. To address equity and be a community voice of change, OLHSA says it will have a specific internal focus. That involves continuously educating on local and national issues that impact under‐served, under‐resourced, and under‐represented communities including racism, health disparities, economic injustice, and environmental justice; participating in implicit bias training as an agency; reviewing internal policies to root out supremacist viewpoints/practices and move toward eliminating any of those policies/practices from the organization; and ensuring OLHSA’s board remains diverse, inclusive, and equitable.

OLHSA also announced it will have various external concentrations. Those include advancing work as an anti‐racist agency and advocate for those affected by racism and consistently support community leaders, activists, public and private sector stakeholders, non‐profits, and organizations that are working to address complex issues that will help communities, families, and individuals heal from the trauma of racism and inequality.

Finally, OLHSA urges the community to take action to support individuals impacted by racism in different ways. Officials suggest taking personal responsibility for racial equity – get educated on racial equity personally and professionally, be committed to taking action to be an ally for those impacted by bias, and model racial equity at all times. More information can be found through the provided web link.