In June, Ryene Fenner, a direct support professional, sent a letter to the management team at the agency she works with, New Horizons Resources Inc. which sparked an important discussion about racism in the direct support workforce. NADSP reached out to her to contribute to a blog/video series which shares interview clips each week.
Below is Ryene’s reflection on “What do we need to hear as field?”
Awareness doesn’t always equate to agreeance. Acknowledging that people of color are hurting, fearful, angry, etc. is important. It can be hard not knowing if you’ll live another day due to the color of your skin, yet we show up to work even when it’s hard. There are people who have that luxury and don’t think twice about the fear that people of color have. While it may be a regular day for some, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone doesn’t feel safe or respected and you should check. Don’t just assume they’re angry standoffish person, the world is in disarray and at the very least, we should be checking in on each other’s well-being. How can DSPs of color show up and work to the best of their ability if they don’t feel seen as a human first?
Along with sharing the interview video clips and related blog posts, NADSP will also be listing additional resources to provide information and guidance about anti-racist actions organizations and individuals can take to promote racial justice.
More About Ryene Fenner
Ryene Fenner is a DSP that works for New Horizons Resources. She has been a DSP since 2016. She has a master’s degree in English Literature from SUNY New Paltz and is pursuing a second master’s degree in Education, that will be completed this fall. In addition to the work, she does with New Horizons, Inc. Ryene has also created and implemented lesson plans for children with developmental disabilities for a local camp in the Hudson Valley.