One Humanity

It has taken me a while to write this statement on behalf of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. The delay is not a reflection of the organization and our values. Honestly, I didn’t know where to start.

This is an enormous moment in the history of our nation. The moment requires all of us to stop, reflect, and act. We must dismantle the racial inequity that has stained our country since its inception.

As a white woman, I know I live with significant privilege. And my two sons, ages 9 and 5, are a daily reminder of this. They are kind, energetic, caring, and love to play outside with other kids in the neighborhood. But the world doesn’t offer them the same privileges it does for me and many of their friends.

Because of how the world reacts to their black skin, my husband and I have to set different rules to keep them safe. For example, they aren’t allowed to take a single step off our property when they are playing with Nerf guns. This may seem like a minor example in the whole scheme of the racial issues we are facing, but I share it with you because of two reasons. One, kids should never be limited in their freedom to play and express themselves because of the color of their skin. Second, having space where kids feel safe and secure is vital.

Decent housing provides the foundation from which all kids grow and thrive. Affordable homeownership provides the best opportunity for households to build wealth. The reality is that our nation’s history of redlining and other discriminatory housing practices has excluded people of color from achieving the American Dream for far too long. The disparity is sobering. According to the most recent census, black homeownership rates are the lowest of any racial group in our country at just 41.6%. (For comparison, the white homeownership rate is 68.1%.)

I have spent the majority of my career working at Habitat for Humanity because I believe deeply in its values and impact. Habitat is more than a housing nonprofit; it’s a vision of a world where we share one humanity. Habitat for Humanity was born on a farm in south Georgia on the theory of radical inclusivity, at a time when inclusivity was seen by some as an existential threat. It is a vision of a world we still fight to build every day… and one that will only be possible if we work together.

Last week, my family joined our neighbors in a peaceful protest and march in my neighborhood. My son duct taped a sign to his bike that said, “My name is Theo. I am your neighbor.” We are all neighbors in one way or another. Our humanity is bound together. We need to break down the systemic and institutional racism that hurts each of us, but especially those who have been marginalized so that others can walk with privilege.

I am asking for those who look like me to be allies for our neighbors and children of color. For those of you who are black and brown, please know that I stand with you. Habitat Metro Denver stands with you. Our mission is to build equity through stable and affordable homeownership by bringing the community together. It is more important than ever before. Together, we must speak out, act and demand better of ourselves and our leaders. Join us.

Thank you for taking action and being a part of the solution.

In partnership,

Heather Lafferty