Since the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, we have been trying to figure out what to say to you about the moment we are in. As an office predominantly of white women, we are acutely aware of our desire and duty to raise up the voices of people of color. We are also acutely aware of our responsibility to speak up to our fellow white people about our role in the oppression of black and brown people.
Black Lives Matter. George Floyd’s life mattered. Breonna Taylor’s, who should have been turning 27 last week, life mattered. Tony McDade’s life mattered. Others not well known and dismissed based on circumstances, such as Joshua Beal, mattered.
The list of African-American lives taken by state sanctioned violence is too long, and it has been for too long. This has been the nation’s truth for 401 years, since the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia in 1619.
In that truth, finding the right thing to say becomes an impossibility. There is no one right thing to say.
There is a first right thing to say: Black Lives Matter.
There is also no one right thing to do. There are many things to do. It is on white people to listen and be present for the anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, justified rage, and confusion that has come forward in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. It is on white people to understand that each day that passes brings more anger, more sadness, more injustice, and few new words to express that cacophony of feelings.
It is on white people to take action to change the racist systems in which we operate. As a consulting firm to nonprofits, we are examining our own role in the creation and the demolition of the racist systems in which we operate. We will continue to examine and leverage our privilege to raise up the voices, causes, and perspectives of our black and brown comrades. We will protest and/or support protesters and organizations working for racial justice.
Last week, recognizing that we hold power as facilitators of nonprofit meetings, we changed each agenda to start by holding space for expressing the sadness and distress felt with the latest manifestation of police violence against African-Americans. We offered everyone in the meetings the chance to say personally how the trauma was impacting them and their community. As we facilitated and listened, our clients of color in particular noted that they had been in numerous meetings that same week where the subject of George Floyd’s murder was not raised. The relief and pain meeting participants expressed just to have a space to say out loud and share with peers was striking.
That is our starting place in this time that calls for renewed commitment to be working towards racial justice, and it will continue to be our practice. There is more action needed in the days ahead. We acknowledge, and are led by, many of our clients who have been on the journey to address racial justice and community accountability for many years, particularly our clients working in youth-led organizing groups, federally qualified health centers, certified mental health centers and domestic violence agencies.
We stand with everyone fighting for racial justice. We ask that you help keep us accountable to our commitment. Let’s continue the conversation, the sharing, the protesting, and the love, as we do our part to establish justice.
- Self-Care Tips for Black People Who Are Struggling With This Very Painful Week by Rachel Miller for Vice
- Anti-Racist Allyship Starter Pack–Full of resources on whiteness, racism, liberation, and police violence.
- Guide to Allyship: BLM Google doc
- Mapping Our Roles in a Social Change Ecosystem, reflection guide by Deepa Iyer, Solidarity Is and Building Movement Project
- The Fires of Grief Are Burning, a 13-min Dharma talk by Dr. Larry Ward, Director, Lotus Institute and the co-author of Love’s Garden: A Guide to Mindful Relationships, and author of the forthcoming book America’s Racial Karma. He starts with an unfinished poem and then provides 13 minutes of wisdom on the trauma African-Americans have faced for over 400 years, with insight on how we can be of service, and how we can take care of ourselves and each other, in this moment.
To say I didn’t do it in the whispers of your mind
Is an indication of your culpability.
To say to someone, “It was not me”
When in fact it was you
Animating every move with your quiet permission.
Commission is the same as omission.
There is no hiding place down here.
- Larry Ward
- Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ Center located on the South Side of Chicago, dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ individuals on the South and West sides of the city. They strive to empower, embolden, and educate each other through mutual aid, knowledge-sharing, and the creation of community-sourced resources as we build toward the liberation of all oppressed peoples.
- Chicago Freedom School supports young people to take action for justice in their personal lives and communities.
- Assata’s Daughters is a Black woman-led, young person-directed organization rooted in the Black Radical Tradition. AD organizes young Black people in Chicago by providing them with political education, leadership development, mentorship, and revolutionary services. Through their programs they aim to Deepen, Escalate, and Sustain the Movement for Black Liberation.
- My Block My Hood My City provides underprivileged youth with an awareness of the world and opportunities beyond their neighborhood. We take students on explorations focused on STEM, Arts & Culture, Citizenry & Volunteerism, Health, Community Development, Culinary Arts, and Entrepreneurism.
- Black Lives Matter Chicago: is an intersectional vehicle that values Black people and our right to self-determination. They fight for justice with families most impacted, while working to create just and equitable systems. They work to end state violence and criminalization of Black communities by deconstructing white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy.
- Know Your Rights Camp advances the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.
- Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration is a mutual-support organizing group that builds on the collective strength and power of mothers directly impacted by state and interpersonal violence, particularly those who have been harmed by incarceration. They do this through participatory community defense campaigns as well as advocacy and organizing toward an abolitionist agenda.