In honor of Black History Month, Family Promise is highlighting our Racial Justice Council members and their efforts to ensure racial equity is addressed at all levels of Family Promise’s work.
In a perfect world, personal biases wouldn’t exist. But we don’t live in a perfect world; a fact E’tienne Easley would be the first to tell you.
“People are quick to say they don’t have biases, but that’s not true,” Easley said. “And even if you do recognize your biases, you still need to reconcile them.”
Easley is doing her part to help Family Promise community members become aware of their biases, and ultimately work to eradicate them. She’s a member of Family Promise’s Racial Justice Council (RJC), a committee working to ensure racial equity issues are addressed at all levels of the organization.
As a member of the RJC, Easley worked to create an online DEIA training tool; a project to which she commited hours of her time recording educational videos about racial biases and stereotypes that can be detrimental to the service of families at Family Promise Affiliates.
“The online volunteer training was groundbreaking,” Easley said. “I really believe we [the RJC] are setting the standard for this work into the future.”
However, her work with the RJC isn’t her full-time job. It’s all voluntary. Easley is currently the executive director of Family Promise of Greater Chatanooga (TN). Her path to becoming a Family Promise executive director began in the public school system, where she was a grant writer at predominantly at-risk elementary schools.
“I saw how a rocky home life could be problematic,” Easley said. “I wanted to approach issues with families at a deeper level, more than just making sure school life was okay.”
Today, Easley actively works to ensure that families can maintain stable housing, which will only benefit a child’s academic performance. And it’s not only in the academic arena where Easley is passionate about learning. She is adamant that all members of her community—and communities nationwide—fully embrace DEIA.
“For Family Promise Affiliates, look at your demographic and who you serve,” Easley said. “That insight alone is a reason to embrace DEIA learning and choosing to constantly evolve.”
She is referring to the fact that nearly half of the families that Family Promise Affiliates serve are Black, even though Black Americans only make up 13% of the U.S. population. Interestingly enough, at Family Promise of Greater Chatanooga, 95% of families who are a part of the shelter program are white, while 95% of families who are part of prevention programs are Black, according to Easley.
Regardless of her Affiliate’s demographics, Easley will never cease educating. That determination stems from her time in the public school system where she witnessed how biases could affect students and the types of grants she was able to secure.
“We can’t remain stagnant when there is more work to be done,” Easley said. “It starts by educating ourselves, our Affiliates, and our communities.”