Anger, rage, sorrow and deep grief fill our hearts and fill our streets. We are outraged at the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police Department officer and appalled by the inaction of three other officers who stood by watching as George Floyd endured unspeakable suffering. This happened on the heels on the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville police while asleep in her own home. Those officers have not been arrested and are still employed.
We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and to Black families and communities everywhere who have seen their loved ones and children murdered and traumatized by police violence, far too many times and far too often – while individual and collective cries for justice are ignored and silenced.
What we are seeing in the flames of the fires burning and the marchers on the streets is the people saying “enough.” Racism is the core wound of our society. A society built on the foundation of slavery and genocide can only seed a culture of violence, a culture of white supremacy, and a culture that systematically produces economic, health, political and social violence against Black Communities and Communities of Color every day.
Racism is why the coronavirus pandemic is killing more People of Color than white people. Racism is why police shootings are a leading cause of death for young Black men. Racism is why Black mothers die more frequently in childbirth.
Racism is why local cries for justice here in our community are systematically dismissed. Racism is why a confederate flag can be held up during an assembly at one of our local schools and the students and families most impacted by the trauma of that are refused even a meeting with the people in power. Racism is why our students are called the n-word at school with no one held accountable. Racism is pervasive, it happens every day right here in our community, and is traumatizing our friends and loved ones.
Here in Thurston County, it has been like pulling teeth to get white people to engage seriously in antiracism work. It’s not enough to “not be racist.” There is so much work to be done, and for change to happen, we need all of us to show up and commit to a lifelong individual and collective process of unlearning and taking action, with our whole hearts, minds and bodies. This means dismantling white supremacy culture in our systems, in our schools, in our homes, in our minds and hearts.
For our white friends, families and loved ones, we ask that you reflect on how you can honor the work, wisdom, and intuition of Womxn of Color as a practice in your daily life. It can be tempting to skip the deep and ongoing internal work around whiteness and jump to calling ourselves an ally/accomplice while simultaneously upholding racism daily through white silence, white fragility, microaggressions and larger acts of colluding with racist systems in a myriad of ways. Understanding the origin and nature of whiteness is a critical part of moving into anti-racism. Here is a powerful article by Irna L Landrum that is a starting place.
This moment can be a critical turning of the tide of white supremacy culture and systemic racism, if we work together to make it so. We are dreaming of a life sustaining society where Black Lives Matter and all Communities of Color are valued, where people are valued over property and people are valued over systems. Black and Indigenous Womxn of Color shoulder an incredible amount of labor working toward our collective liberation. We are dreaming of a new future where this reality is behind us and to make that so, we need people in this community who don’t experience racism to step up, and we also need to actively make space for the grieving, healing and collective care of Black Communities and Communities of Color.
YWCA Olympia is deeply committed to working toward the liberation of marginalized people in our community. We commit ourselves to the work of racial justice. We will continue to do the work until injustice is rooted out and all people live free from oppression.
Please consider financial support for the following work:
- NW Community Bail Fund: Link
- Ingersoll Gender Center: Link
- Justice for Yvonne: Link
- Black Lives Matter: Link
- The Movement for Black Lives: Link
- List of Black organizations supporting bailout efforts: Link