“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
-Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
In the wake of the senseless murder of George Floyd, our communities and nation have experienced an explosion of outrage, frustration, and grief over the racial divisions that continue to plague our country. African Americans live with the daily knowledge that they could be stripped of their safety, security, and lives for no other reason than skin color. It is understood that this blatant disregard for life is not an anomaly. Honest dialogue is critical to fighting injustice wherever it exists.
New Jersey Association on Correction is an anti-racist social justice organization. This means that we not only believe in the equality of all people but that we work to end racism where it exists, which is virtually everywhere- in people, institutions, and systems. Our programs are a manifestation of our values. African Americans are disproportionately negatively impacted by the criminal justice system, domestic violence, sexual assault, and HIV/AIDS as a result of the intersectionality of poverty, race, and oppression that still permeates American culture. The COVID-19 pandemic, in which African Americans have died at a rate of more than twice that of any other ethnic/racial group, has given us just one more example of the catastrophic destruction caused by racism.
Through our daily work, we strive to help African American clients and others gain access to housing, health care, and other critically needed resources that they are systematically and unfairly barred from due to conditions rooted in poverty and oppression. We provide therapeutic and cognitive-behavioral intervention to help reduce the trauma of experiences endured.
But we know it is not enough. We expend most of our energy treating the ravages of racism. We as an organization are looking at how we can best attack this insidious and detestable enemy before it has a chance to wreak havoc on the psyche and safety of those in its path. Our recent strategic planning process that involved input from a wide sector of stakeholders from around the state resulted in the goal that we working on today of amplifying our role as an advocacy force in the primary prevention of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic violence perpetration; addressing systemic racism in policing, sentencing, incarceration & bail; and access to subsidized permanent housing.
NJAC was founded in 1961 and three years later became a Community Action Agency at the peak of the Civil Rights Movement; rooted in the ideal of equal opportunity, justice, and freedoms for all. We have not wavered in the last six decades in our commitment to ending injustice in all of its forms. Racism of any sort is not tolerated in our organization.
We reaffirm our commitment to ending racism and being a champion for equity.
Angel M. Perez