WNYCOSH’s mission for more than 40 years has been defending the right to a safe and healthy work environment and to improving the working conditions of all workers. Workplaces are not exempt from racism, and systemic racism affects the work that black workers are given, and the protections and training that they are offered. It is up to all of us to examine our own biases, and the way we address and dismantle the structures of racism that are present within our workplaces and society. We need to be actively anti-racist in all of our work, and to bring that with us into the workplaces we enter.
During the COVID-19 crisis, we have all seen which workers are truly essential, and many of those workers are black. Black workers have fewer opportunities, less training, and fewer workplace protections. In addition to inequities in the workplace, black workers are not safe on their way to work, or in their homes, community, grocery stores or even in the streets. Standing for workers’ rights and worker protections means standing against police brutality and systemic racism. We cannot make real changes without addressing the root causes of these issues. More than 400 years of racism and violence have brought us to this moment, and we cannot look away and we cannot stop fighting for real and meaningful change. In recent years this oppression been caught on camera over and over again, exposing profoundly racist policing practices. Police departments can–not solve this problem by rooting out a few bad apples or requiring a few extra hours of mandatory training. They must rebuild a culture that rejects racism instead of protecting those who use their authority to abuse and kill members of our community.
We stand in solidarity with all those doing the hard work to move our community forward to a more equal and just place for all people. WNYCOSH is committed to addressing systemic racism in our community, and to being actively anti-racist in our work and lives, whether that is by increasing language access, developing culturally appropriate programming, or looking at our own organizational cultures to ensure that we aren’t contributing to institutionalized racism. This work is ongoing, and we welcome suggestions and feedback on how we can continue to improve.
We encourage you to support organizations in our community who have been working to address these issues, including the Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition and Black Love Resists in the Rust. A list of many of the black-owned businesses in Buffalo can be found here. Other anti-racist resources can be found here.