As a legal services organization with nearly six decades of history in the District of Columbia, Neighborhood Legal Services Program (“NLSP” or “we”) is committed to working towards a more just and equitable Washington D.C. We acknowledge the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals. We recognize the existence of systemic racial injustice and inequities. We also recognize that oppression and racism within the legal system has separated families, created housing instability and race-based exclusion from housing by design, caused multi-generational economic insecurity, funneled Black and Brown people into the criminal legal system, and prevented Black and Brown communities from enjoying safe and healthy neighborhoods and other economic privileges. The “legal systems” that perpetuate racism and oppression within the District include the civil and criminal systems along with administrative agencies. Geographically, Black communities in wards 5, 7, and 8 have been most impacted by the District’s history of racism. The majority of our clients live in these three wards, and due to multiple forms of oppression, the majority of our clients are Black and living in poverty. Our work on behalf of our clients is informed by these acknowledgements.
NLSP commits to working towards the elimination of white supremacy, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and all other forms of oppression. For the purposes of our work as a legal services organization, this commitment informs the way we serve our clients, as well as the way we treat each other. We commit to promoting equity and justice and activating meaningful change.
- We commit to centering the experience and perspectives of our clients, and to dedicating ourselves to the achievement of their goals. We pledge to support the self-determination of the individuals and communities we serve.
- We commit to actively seeking feedback from our clients and client communities regarding our work, and to responding deliberately to this feedback.
- We commit to taking every opportunity possible to uplift the voices of our clients within the public platforms we have access to rather than simply speaking on their behalf.
- We commit to using language that recognizes the inherent dignity of all of our client populations.
- We commit to a practice of law that acknowledges and fights the implicit racial biases endemic to the legal and administrative systems in our community.
- We commit to serving our clients in ways that do not perpetuate their lived experience of oppression.
- We commit to maintaining actively anti-racist offices, consistent staff training, and engagement around anti-racist principles.
- We commit to maintaining physical office space located within the communities we serve, and ensuring that we provide meeting space that is accessible to clients.
- We commit to anti-racism and anti-oppression in our hiring, recruitment, training, promotion, retention, and strategic decision-making processes.
- We commit to continual evaluation of NLSP’s internal commitments to racial equity with regard to our own staff.
- We commit to creating and sustaining a safe space for our staff through the internal and continual communication of anti-racist and anti-oppression principles.
- We commit to the creation and maintenance of community within and outside of NLSP that amplifies the voices of marginalized and underserved communities.
- We commit to re-assessing and re-evaluating our racial equity statement on a consistent basis, at minimum annually, to ensure we remain intentional and are moving forward in striving towards racial equity.
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January 28, 2022