Equity and Inclusion for Dundalk:

Listening, Reflecting, and Taking Action

Like many of you, the Board and staff of Dundalk Renaissance are deeply disturbed by the murders of unarmed Black men and women and other recent incidents of racism across the country by police officers and private citizens. We join the call of so many people seeking justice and an elimination of personal and structural racism in our society.

Since June, 2020, we have been looking outward to our community and have come together with a multiracial group of residents through an initiative called Dundalk Cares. We have also been looking inward at our organization. This page shares our work to date on both of these fronts. We welcome your involvement.

A Statement of Solidarity

Like many of you, the Board and staff of Dundalk Renaissance are deeply disturbed by the murders of unarmed Black men and women and other recent incidents of racism across the country by police officers and private citizens. We join the call of so many people seeking justice and an elimination of personal and structural racism in our society.

We embrace diversity of all kinds as one of our organization’s core values and believe that diversity and inclusion strengthens the Dundalk community. But clearly, supporting diversity as a value is not enough to protect our Black neighbors from harm or address historically entrenched racial inequities.

We recognize the role Dundalk Renaissance can play as a community development organization that works to improve our neighborhoods, economy, and quality of life. We seek to include and serve everyone who lives here and we need to do more to address racial disparities in housing, education, health, and economic opportunity in our community. We also need to do more to promote understanding and healing across racial and ethnic lines within our neighborhoods.

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you to address these challenges as we clarify the best ways to bring people together in the midst of ongoing social distancing protocols. As always, we welcome your ideas and concerns. Please feel free to share your perspective with our Executive Director, Amy Menzer, at amy@dundalkusa.org.

No one organization or leader will move our community forward, and we hope to join with you in this collective effort.

Issued June 5, 2020

Resources

If you are wondering where to start the conversation about race, check out the Smithsonian National Museum of African History and Culture’s resources.

Baltimore County Public Library put together a great reading list to explore systemic racism in our society.

Stamped from the Beginning is available as a free audio book on Spotify.

If podcasts are more your jam, check out Code Switch, 1619 and Seeing White. 

If your looking for a quick (ish) read consider checking out What it Means to be an Anti-racist and  The Case for Reparations.

Learn your implicit biases with this interactive tool from Harvard.


Dundalk Cares

Initiated and facilitated by Dundalk Renaissance, Dundalk Cares is a coalition of Dundalk organizations and community members, seeking a more just, equitable and inclusive Dundalk.  Spurred by the murders of black men and women at the hands of police and inspired by peaceful protests, we believe that we must act to help fight systemic racism as it impacts residents and neighborhoods in Dundalk. This group is the result of several meetings and discussions with a multiracial group of community leaders from our Focus Neighborhoods, the Family Crisis Center, Baltimore County Public Library, and other individuals who want to make Dundalk a better place for all of us to live, work and raise our children.

What We Aim To Do

  • Engage a diverse range of people, including the voices of young people, in visioning a more equitable, inclusive future for our community.
  • Build trust, educate, and elevate dialogue within greater Dundalk through conversations about race and the creation of an Anti-Racist book club.
  • Improve quality of life for residents in Dundalk Renaissance’s focus neighborhoods and beyond including the historically-African American neighborhood of Turner Station, Dun-Logan, St. Helena, Old Dundalk, Graceland Park, and Eastwood.
  • Improve police and community relationships in our neighborhoods.
  • Acknowledge and address the racial wealth gap as part of our work to increase home ownership in Dundalk through housing development, financial counseling, and policy advocacy.
  • Support small businesses in the Historic Dundalk Town Center including Black-owned businesses.

Dundalk Renaissance is also engaged in some internal work on board composition, organizational best practices, and revisions to our Strategic Plan, see below for more information.

Dundalk Renaissance is Committed:

Leaders of organizations, governments, and businesses across the country are challenging themselves in this moment, as is Dundalk Renaissance. We seek to better reflect the communities we serve, to reorient and refine our work to seek more equitable outcomes, and to assess our internal practices. This work takes time, even without a pandemic. But this is what we have done so far:

  • In December 2019, DRC Board and Staff attended a Board Diversity workshop.
  • In February, 2020, DRC hired a consultant to help us assess Equity and Inclusion (DEI) issues.
  • In March, 2020, DRC Board and Staff participated in a Facilitated DEI Workshop, took an implicit bias survey, and responded to detailed survey questions regarding organization internal practices.
  • Beginning in April, 2020, DRC staff sought support for programs that would enhance equity and respond to COVID-19.
  • In May, 2020, the Board Governance Committee began recruitment of new Board Members with an explicit objective of seeking candidates that help our organization better reflect the community we serve.
  • In June, 2020, Dundalk Renaissance staff began outreach for Dundalk Cares, to help us better address racial equity issues in Dundalk. Staff also began compiling information to create lists of local Black-Owned Businesses and Black-Led Nonprofit, Community, and Charitable efforts that we could help promote and encourage people to support financially.
  • In July, Dundalk Renaissance helped promote a Black Lives Matter march organized by local community leaders from the Turner Station neighborhood to the Historic Dundalk Town Center on social media. We coordinated volunteers to provide waters and snacks for the marchers upon their arrival in the Town Center.
  • In July and August, 2020, the Board elected 5 new Board members, who began their terms September 10, 2020.
  • In August, 2020, the Board reaffirmed a commitment to support the Dundalk Cares initiative. Due to concerns about potential impact on our funding, the DRC Board decided we needed to stay out of direct advocacy efforts for police reform.
  • In September and October, 2020, DRC staff and our newly elected board will discuss further updates to our draft 2021-2023 Strategic Plan, with COVID-19 and Racial Equity as major frames for discussion.

We know we have much more to do. Watch this space for further updates.
Please consider joining the effort through Dundalk Cares, or contact our Executive Director, Amy Menzer, at amy@dundalkusa.org.
Thank you.