“Race is not a risk factor. Racism is. LGBTQ identity is not a risk factor. Homophobia and transphobia are.”Yeshimabeit Milner, Data for Black Lives
Three days ago, Breonna Taylor would have turned 27 years old. It’s been a painful and necessary reminder of the fact that there have been no arrests or any kind of accountability or justice for her killing nearly three months ago. As we have been listening, reflecting and remembering her and so many other Black lives that have been robbed, we want to publicly acknowledge and elevate the voices of those fighting for justice and systemic changes toward Black liberation. We stand in unwavering solidarity with Black communities and reaffirm our commitment to shatter white supremacy at all its intersections.
As Black voices have painstakingly expressed time and time again, the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Monika Diamond, Tony McDade, Iyanna Dior, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Maurice Gordon and countless other Black people are rooted in the long-standing, still thriving legacy of white supremacy. Their deaths are a mark of the systemic oppression, orchestrated violence, and willful injustices perpetrated against Black communities on individual, interpersonal and institutional levels for centuries, which compound intergenerational trauma and harm in visible and invisible ways. Their deaths reflect our collective failures to secure justice, push systemic reforms, and dismantle white supremacy.
In the necessary push to do more and do better now, we must collectively invest more time, energy, and resources to focus action around root causes. The United States that we know today is built on protracted, deeply ingrained legacies of structural violence, stolen lives, and stolen land. As such, the injustices we are witnessing today are systemic; so too must our solutions.
A system designed to produce certain dynamics will continue doing so until the structure of that system is changed. And we can only do this by collectively moving beyond only talking about systems change and spending more time being about systems action for anti-racism. The dismal failures of our system magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic serve to remind us that systems must transform and that systems can transform. Between our enduring pandemics of racism and COVID-19, we see how multiple crises intersect in ways that are fatal for Black people at dangerously disproportionate rates, validating the persistent message that we cannot effectively address one pandemic without addressing the other. It’s time to collectively step up like never before. No more empty, symbolic platitudes. No more bandaid fixes. Our focus must remain on police brutality and also on deeper manifestations of systemic racism such as mass incarceration, housing, health, education, climate, economic access, employment, and immigration.
As an organization devoted to the foundations of systemic action and inclusion, we must and will fight harder to put our words and values into practice. We must and will continue to examine inherent biases and privileges and work to shift the ways we may be inadvertently neutral on anti-Blackness, racialized violence, and inequity. We must and will continue to listen, learn, and do more to demand accountability and build cross-racial solidarity. We must and will continue to unlearn and transform toxic power dynamics and help create a better, relentlessly equitable future.
Similarly, we urge our community and particularly non-Black-led organizations and institutions to continue investigating what their recent solidarity and anti-racism statements look like in action and follow through. No one organization or leader alone can win the fight against systemic racism and white supremacy. Our constellation of efforts thus far have not been enough and so we must all do better together.
Silence is not acceptable. Neither are words without appropriate, sustained action. Justice and systemic equity must be our only acceptable outcomes.
From our work on collective systems transformation, we know this is neither simple, easy, nor quick. Systemic action is challenging. But it is possible and essential. And today, the calls for genuine systems change rings louder than ever. It’s time we answer it together and hold ourselves accountable for what moments like these demand.
If you’re interested in learning more and need assistance finding resources or opportunities to engage, feel free to contact us via email or Facebook. We can help find local organizations near you and guide you toward some of the many incredible resources curated by Black leaders.
Likewise, we continue to approach our work with humility and a commitment to continuous learning. Please contact us if you’d like to share any feedback with us.