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Please Help Us Address Racial Injustice Through The Basic Assurances®

Protests continue to call out the glaring racial injustices and horrific police brutality affecting the lives of Black people across the country. While the recent protests started following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, Black people in the United States have faced extensive inequalities and deep-rooted systemic racism for hundreds of years. The murder of George Floyd is just one of many examples of why systemic anti-racist reforms are needed.

We would like to take this time to reaffirm our belief that Black lives matter. The mission of the Black Lives Matter movement is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.” The global organization makes a declaration of solidarity to “affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.”

This is particularly relevant to us, as an organization who works to promote the quality of life of people with disabilities and older adults, as a recent article from The Guardian highlights that many of those who have lost their lives while in police custody – including Tanisha Anderson, Sandra Bland, Deborah Danner, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Alfred Olango, Keith Lamont Scott, and many others – were not only all Black, but also all had disabilities. In fact, the article notes, more than a third to half of Americans killed by police have a disability. This exemplifies the essential role that the disability services field can play in addressing racial injustice and transforming systems to spark meaningful change.

The vision of CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership is a world of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people. The fight against injustice and for equality is embedded into this vision. These ideals are also engrained into the partnerships we form and promote through the organizations that implement CQL tools.

While solidarity is important, we also recognize we are all obligated to take steps to dismantle systemic racism and inequity. As an organization who works with hundreds of human service organizations around the world who support hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities, we recognize we not only have an opportunity, but also a responsibility to address racism and social injustice within all aspects of service provision. It is important for us as an organization to reflect on the steps we can take to be anti-racist. This includes not only internally as an organization, but also as we support our partners to define their systems based on best practices.

While we plan to continue efforts to be anti-racist in a number of concrete ways, today we would like to highlight one such effort we’ll be making with one of our main tools, the Basic Assurances®. The Basic Assurances® is used by organizations around the world to direct and guide their quality assurances frameworks to transform their systems and practices.

We’ve been in the process of updating the Basic Assurances® for the past few months. While we have ideas about what is important based on our research, we would also like to have an ongoing conversation with our partners and our communities. Considering that the new edition of the Basic Assurances® manual will not only be used across the country and world, but will be offered as a free electronic resource for anyone who should want it, it represents an opportunity for us to promote change – it has far-reaching implications to improving service provision in ways that address inequity and promote equality.

Due to the universal application of the Basic Assurances®, it represents an opportunity to promote the equality of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and address the injustices they face. In an attempt to amplify their voices, we hope that you’ll join us in these conversations. If you are willing to share your knowledge, we ask that you complete the survey linked below, which will help inform our revisions to the Basic Assurances® and its manual specific to topics of racism, social justice, and equality.

This provides an opportunity to build strong systems and practices across human services that directly impact Black lives and reflect that Black lives truly do matter. Please help us in our efforts to transform how the field confronts these critical issues.

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Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.