Thoughts on the PCHR hearing last night

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I attended the hearing last night organized by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR). I am grateful to all who testified and am humbled at the courage they displayed. I also heard loud and clear the call to stop looking to people of color to be the only ones pointing out, explaining, and coming up with solutions to racism and discrimination. As a community member and one in a leadership position, I take this very seriously and am willing to do the work personally and in my organization.

For obvious reasons of not violating private information I cannot address in public issues of personnel grievances, not even acknowledge whether they took place, and/or were or were not addressed. But I do want to address Mazzoni’s service delivery and practices. Over the years the organization has developed, adapted, and changed approaches and services to be in sync with the changing issues concerning and facing the LGBTQ community. To achieve our goal of reaching those most at risk for HIV – for example - we employ many methods: internet, venue outreach, mobile unit, events, convenience of hours, and more. In the past we have worked with the Ball community, for example; more recently we sponsored other social gatherings to create safe spaces for individuals to be better informed and get tested. And yes, the end result is making sure that people know their status, and receive the support they need. So, yes, we do care.  And, no, we don’t always do things right. If we have failed in any way we need to be held accountable and we will address and rectify every issue to the best of our ability so that we do better going forward. We understand that this work must be ongoing, that it will take a sustained and sincere effort by all of us to bring about change – and as one of the speakers pointed out last evening, it is incumbent on those of us who have privilege to use our privilege to bring about change.  Our work is about making progress, while we may not always achieve perfection.

Thank you to the Human Relations Commission for providing the forum, and to all the individuals who had the courage, and the faith in our community, to share their experiences and perspectives.  

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