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Saturday Featured Organization--The Southern Poverty Law Center

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Ok, so what does an organization like the SPLC have to do with emergency  management? Before you press 'delete', consider this line of logic:

  • Affluent members of our society are more able to withstand disasters--are more resilient--than members mired in poverty. The affluent component also has greater influence in society, governance, government influence, budgetary allocations, etc.
  • This disparity has real consequences to real people that we in our field of service are sworn to serve and protect. Check tomorrow's post for resources that will talk about the association between emergency management and poverty.
  • Some political perspectives are more empathetic with the plight of the impoverished than others: we've explored this in the past in a few posts:
  • There are organizations that by their very mission statement make obvious sense when it comes to researching how to best serve and protect the public: these would include FEMA, the American Red Cross and similar.
  • There are organizations that by their mission statement contribute immeasurably to our profession in ways that are not obvious--and one of these that we would not normally consider would be the SPLC.

The SPLC mission statement:

The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.

Is this applicable to your emergency management work? How could it not be? In a disaster, you're obligated to serve ALL members of our society, not just those with any given skin color or economic status. Statistics indicate that segments of our citizenry are in fact underserved. So it is YOUR obligation to make sure that doesn't happen--and the SPLC is an excellent resource to use to determine whether or not you're looking at all the right indicators. They will encourage you to:

  • Ensure that racist, hate, and extremist rhetoric does not influence your decision-making process with respect to how best to do your job.
  • Ensure that the rights of children and the elderly are adequately considered in your response planning and execution.
  • Ensure that immigrants are not unfairly stereotyped and denied basic services as a result.
  • Ensure that our LGBT citizens are similarly treated in a fair and equitable manner in accordance with their citizenship and constitutional rights.
  • Ensure that economic justice principles are applied during all disaster response and emergency management situations.

I think that you can see that this organization is a valuable resource to all emergency managers. Use it well.

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.