September 11, 2020
To our donors and community,
Over the past few days our heart has been heavy with accusations that we are refusing to share your donations with a therapist, and former member of this fund, Melissa Taylor. This is simply not true.
Like you, we have been saddened by the ongoing acts of anti-Black racism that is plaguing our community and impacting the mental health of so many, seemingly without any aid. It has always been our hope to mobilize and to help our community in any way we can.
The Healing Collective helped mobilize us in the beginning. We believe when services and programs are designed for Black communities, they should be led by Black community members. Three of us therapists (Susan. B., Yemi. F. and Melissa Taylor) began what was to be a challenging, yet necessary journey. We took steps to turn this fund into an official organization that would provide Black clients affordable mental healthcare long term, not just for a few weeks while Black Lives Matter was in the news. We believe our community deserves this. All three of us therapists took those steps. The three of us, aided by the Healing Collective engaged accountants, communications firms and more to pursue a website, incorporated status, bookkeeper, and the list goes on.
In June, Ms. Taylor announced her desire to exit business planning to pursue her own passions. We shared an update on our GoFundMe page announcing her exit. We accepted and understood her desire to continue on her own, and at that time issued her an Exit Letter agreeing to divide the raised funds into three equal parts, so that we could all deliver on our commitment to the community. We recommended that before the funds were split, we would deduct the business expenses incurred (with her involvement) and the remainder would be split equally.
In August, after funds were officially released to us, we reached out again to Ms. Taylor in hopes of splitting the funds and closing the matter. We did not receive a response until three weeks after that engagement, when we were issued another letter asking for additional funds.
It has been 13 days since we received the request for additional funds. We have been diligently reviewing not only her demand, but re-evaluating the start-up business expenses & projections we originally presented, and we have been considering a way forward that would not only be agreeable to all parties, but that would ensure we would all be able to serve our community.
It hurts us deeply that once again a white-led organization has instead of dialoguing with us, and encouraging dialogue among us, has publicly attempted to fan flames, shame Black therapists, and cause further discord within the Black community. The Healing Collective did not engage us in conversations at any point to uncover where there may have been disagreement, or how they could support resolution in this matter.
We strongly believe “crab mentality,” clearly present in this situation and in our community, needs to end to allow for collaboration and win-win solutions. There needs to be a better way to disagree amongst ourselves, and to promote our ends without tearing other Black community members and colleagues down, particularly as non-Black audiences judge the actions of one, and use it as ammunition against the character of the entire Black community.
Ms. Taylor was afforded three weeks to review expenses and determine a way forward that would benefit her. We have not been given the same courtesy.
Since receiving the additional request for funds we have been trying to define a way forward. If we had been given the opportunity, we would have presented a second proposal and made a middle ground suggestion with only certain business expenses deducted based on her request.
We have ALWAYS agreed that Melissa Taylor should get an equal third of the funds after business expenses were deducted. That is only fair. We trust that she is using the funds to help the community, as has always been our only goal. Based on this, we agreed to honour her original budget proposal sent at the end of August, in hopes we can all get back to the great work ahead of us.
We are owed a public apology from both Ms. Taylor and the Healing Collective.
Any petitions against us are unreasonable and unnecessary when we have always been committed to fair resolution.
Since June 11 we have:
- Hosted over 10 workshops to help organizations better understand and better respond to their clients, friends and acquaintances who may be experiencing race-based and other kinds of trauma.
- Received over 60 referrals of clients through the support of the fund
- Filed official papers to become an organization
- Launched a website that makes it easier to not only seek therapy through the fund, but to register for workshops
- Began campaigning to end the stigma in our community around seeking help for mental health services on our social media channels
- Continued to strive towards eradicating stigma, systemic oppression through our work at BMHM Canada.
As therapists and as Black women, we are committed to reducing barriers (financial and otherwise) to mental health care for Black men, women and youth in the GTA.
Nothing and no one will distract us from that mission. We will continue to work with involved parties to come to an equitable agreement and maintain our openness to third party mediation.
We hope, in future, we will be given the same platform to share our story (as others have received); the same courtesy of time to consider all aspects; and the same opportunity to engage in open and constructive dialogue.
We maintain our commitment to transparency with our clients, donors, and broader community and are here to respond to further questions and comments.
Most importantly, we continue to hear and appreciate the support and the love many of you have shown us since this journey began. Despite many hurdles, our work will continue.
Yemi & Susan,