TJC Equity Stance
Tennessee Justice Center believes that diversity, equity, and inclusion are intrinsically valuable and necessary to manifest our mission of justice for all. As a result, we recognize our need to actively embrace diversity, advance equity and promote inclusion across all areas of our organization and among every age, gender, ability, race, color, ancestry, citizenship, religion, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, medical condition, marital status, veteran status, income or status as beneficiary of a public assistance program.
We work to achieve opportunity, security and dignity for all Tennesseans. That includes advancing the right to high-quality and comprehensive health coverage, ensuring that people have access to the food needed to thrive from birth until final breath, that our civil courts are fair and accessible, and that public programs and agencies are accountable to all members of the public. We have a responsibility to build systems that eliminate discriminatory barriers to the necessities of life, disrupt harmful stereotypes, promote health and financial equity, and support people who may be experiencing difficult circumstances.
We recognize that discriminatory barriers still exist throughout our society, including governmental, health and financial systems. While overt discrimination remains prevalent, it does not explain the full range of health and economic disparities. Implicit bias — unconscious attitudes or stereotypes that affect our actions and decisions — and structural racism produce disparate outcomes. Structural racism refers to the systems, public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms that generate and reinforce inequities among specific groups, such as racial and ethnic groups.
Every member of our team defends the fundamental right of all individuals to health and nutrition. Each team member in every role strives to approach their work—internal and external—with an equity lens.
As an organization committed to overcoming social and economic injustice, understanding the effects of racism is critical to our effectiveness. We recognize that racism is foundational to the social and economic disparities that plague our nation. Racism helps keep all poor Americans in poverty, especially those who are the direct targets of racism. We cannot eliminate poverty until we vanquish the racism that infects our political and economic systems.
We also recognize that knowing the truths of our nation’s history, including the history of our state, is critical to understanding the current reality of racism. Our mission to achieve opportunity, security and dignity for all Tennesseans therefore demands that we contribute to overcoming the historical falsehoods, omissions and misunderstandings that shape racist policies and actions in the present.
Our goal is to continuously examine public policies and systems affecting vulnerable Tennesseans, including the health care system and public nutrition and financial assistance programs, to advocate for laws and policies that counteract structural barriers, institutional power dynamics, and overt discrimination and implicit bias that create inequities. We prioritize work that breaks down those barriers and advances and enforces individual rights. We are committed to expanding and continuing our advocacy, education, and litigation work as a means towards greater equity. We seek to learn from, join in the efforts of, and build relationships with community members and organizations to lead the fight to achieve health equity. We are committed to ensuring that our clients have equal access to our services, regardless of race or ethnicity.
We also recognize that achieving our equity vision requires us to embed the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our day-to-day lives and in our organization. We are building—and holding ourselves accountable for maintaining—a work community where every team member can thrive and where diverse perspectives are voiced, heard, discussed, respected, and incorporated as we collaborate to make decisions that advance our collective equity vision. We realize that advancing our equity vision requires a coordinated and concerted effort where every team member plays a key and valued role. We believe that a diverse team that reflects the diversity present in Tennessee yields more well-rounded and effective decisions, and we seek to learn from one another and grow together in order to do our best work. Being a part of our team requires more than just conceptual agreement with this vision; it requires our commitment to proactively take action and make change.
Please see the Tennessee Justice Center website (www.tnjustice.org) for more information on our 25 year history and our ongoing work to protect and advance the rights of low-income and underserved individuals.