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A Note From Embark on Racism and Our Values

Alex Stavros
June 1, 2020

Hello Embark families, friends, partners, students and teammates:

It is hard to find the words to express how we feel while this is all so raw. So many emotions – anger, pain and sadness, as well as compassion, empathy and hope – and many of them all at once.

The senseless killing of George Floyd is the latest in a series of horrible events and responses that reinforce the need for real change in our society. The world does not feel safe. This fear is the antithesis to Embark Behavioral Health’s mission of creating joy and healing.

At Embark, we define joy as the product of a shared experience. Joy is a state of the heart, it is enduring. A foundation of generosity, gratitude and humility sets the stage for the deepest form of joy that comes from otherness. One of the most wonderful things about joy is that it can be experienced even in times of pain and suffering. We often find deep meaning, as well as personal and spiritual connections during those times.

Let us search, together, for that meaning and those values now. Because we cannot forget the historical trauma and generational racism that is underlying all of this.

Embark on Racism and Our Values

As we at Embark Behavioral Health strive to fulfill our core purpose of creating joy and healing generations, our core values are just as essential and relevant as they have ever been. I want to reflect briefly on Embark’s Core Values and their connection to what is going on around us.

To help heal will require us to open ourselves to others and seek to understand rather than seek to be understood. We must ask good questions and listen hard without judgment or advice. Allow the other person to feel and express their emotions,  then accept and validate them. True empathy has a way of teaching us about ourselves. Practicing empathy allows others to be heard, even when what they say or feel runs counter to our own beliefs and opinions. Empathy requires us to put aside our differences, however great or small, and allow ourselves to connect on an emotional and intellectual level.

Similarly, we need to reflect on service at the most basic, human level. Listening without judgment, being a source of compassion and love rather than anger and fear. It takes courage to serve in this capacity, selflessly and without defensiveness and ego. Embark’s culture is one that accepts and loves all people and accepts the varying emotions that different events can cause different people. Let us be there for each other so we can be there for our employees, the families and students we serve.

It is a betrayal of trust that has been the flashpoint in the most recent protests and riots we are witnessing now. That trusting relationship, between the Black community and the officers who are expected to protect and serve them, – and the broader, underlying break in trusting relationships in society at large – has been rocked, once again, to its very foundation. Building that trust will be a task that falls not only to officers in states like Minnesota but to every one of us. The foundation of that trust must come from an authentic, deep, sincere connection with those who are in pain.

Growth will come from our efforts. Now more than ever we all must be the catalyst for, and the embodiment of, the change we seek to effect in the world. This growth must start in our hearts and minds. We need to consider our own values and what we each own. We should not stay silent around hate and racism.

“Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.” – James Baldwin

We all need to understand the anger and despair that comes from the ongoing pain of institutional racism. We have a responsibility to do the work needed to ensure we are not perpetuating, even if unconsciously or unintentionally, that oppression. What unconscious bias do we carry? What unearned privilege do we have? What unique access do we get? How do each of us contribute to the system that furthers institutional racism?

We need to raise awareness of the institutional racism that is inherent in our criminal justice system, education system, in our therapeutic programs, and in our society. We must protest and show solidarity in this fight for justice. But that is not enough. Ultimately, we need results. For that, we need a better response. We all need to do more. Embark needs to do more.

We all need to rise above the divisiveness and polarization that has come to characterize all aspects of our culture. Know that despite what media might portray, there is solidarity, and people are coming together. In times like these, we need to sit with the darkness, but without losing sight of the light.

The opportunity to grow reminds us of how, at our treatment programs, we compassionately and continually nudge parents – despite the anger, fear, resentment and trauma – toward objectivity with their child and family; we try to facilitate perspective on behavioral and emotional development and help maintain unconditional positive regard (true unconditional love) for their child and family. Our core values are empirically stable constructs – they are universal and not contingent on who is just or unjust, right or wrong.

To our Black communities, families, friends, students and teammates: We support Black lives. Together we stand with you. Today, and every day. You are heard. You are seen. You are valued at Embark. We are with you, standing against injustice and systemic racism.

“Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant because it’s always still in the air.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Together, let us stay vigilant, continue shining that light and clean it up wherever the dust lands.

With love and respect,

Alex

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Written by Alex Stavros

CEO

Embark Behavioral Health

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