We at Camp Fire Columbia stand in solidarity with the movement for Black lives. We are outraged and devastated by the continued police murders of Black lives, and the injustices Black communities face every day. As a youth focused organization who values equity, inclusion, and has committed to antiracism, we won’t be silent. We stand in solidarity with our Black youth, staff, families, and community members and promise to act to end racist violence and injustice, because Black futures matter.

Equity at Camp Fire means that we believe all children, and in particular children who have been impacted by the generational trauma of racism should have the opportunity to find and pursue their passions. We’ve vowed to examine how privilege, oppression, and history affect the practices of our organization, and apply that learning to our work to create meaningful change. Simultaneously, we understand our organization has been complicit in perpetuating the very systems we are committing to dismantle. Racism and anti-blackness are not something we point to in others unless first we reflect on how those are present in us. We must do better in holding ourselves accountable. Camp Fire Columbia has underserved our community’s Black population. Some of the ways our complicity manifests are in the demographics of our Before & After School and Camp staff, and the families we serve. The scarcity of black representation is not happenstance, but an alarm call that we must reform our hiring practices, our work environment, and our agency culture to better support and uplift Black voices and experiences.

We acknowledge that we have already made a commitment to do this work and have allowed the pressures of day-to-day work and business as usual get us off track. This is not an excuse, but a recognition of misplaced priorities. We know that working toward racial equity will require reflection and persistence it also requires us to make commitments and follow through on those commitments. Camp Fire Columbia commits to:

  • Implementing screening practices for all new hires that center equity and the knowledge, skills, and abilities to promote more equitable outcomes regardless of the position they hold;
  • Establishing shared demographic data, disaggregated by race, for our staff, families, and board members so we can better ensure we are at least representing the communities we serve;
  • Ensuring that all Camp Fire Columbia staff receive training on anti-blackness, de-escalation, and racial equity;
  • Designating Juneteenth as a paid holiday for Camp Fire Columbia to honor and celebrate Black excellence and liberation;
  • Reconvening and empowering our equity committee to hold us accountable to these commitments.

In addition to our internal commitments, Camp Fire Columbia is reviewing our programs and values, deepening relationships with partners who share our goals, and developing policies that will shape our growth and work as an organization with our anti-racist commitment in mind.

As an organization that works deeply in partnership with schools and promotes positive youth development, we call on school districts across Oregon and beyond to listen to Black youth and follow suit with Portland Public School’s action by divesting from law enforcement in schools and directing funds toward resources that elevate student success. We believe in the power of youth voice.

We call on our elected officials, you, and ourselves to stand with Black communities, amplify Black voices, and take actions to support Black lives. As a historically white organization, we recognize that we must return power, resources, and agency to the Black community to determine the path to liberation and freedom that works best for them, not what we would create or envision. Our country was built by and on the backs of enslaved Black people and we have never repaired or healed that original wound. This movement gives us an opportunity to seek justice, healing, and a reimagining of who we can be as a society.

Just as we have seen our public leaders take immediate and bold moves to flatten the curve of COVID-19, we must do the same to eradicate racism and white supremacy from our foundations, policies, and practices. To our community, we stand with you and will continue to partner with you as we belatedly reorient ourselves to dutifully and humbly follow in the liberated paths created and maintained by Black folks for centuries. True liberation is only possible when complete Black liberation is a reality. Let’s stand together to speak out against racism, to promote understanding, and become stronger, kinder, more inclusive and more respectful people.

A collaborative statement developed in partnership between Camp Fire Columbia’s Black and non-Black POC staff and its Indigenous communications manager and white CEO.

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