These are the latest victims in a long history of tragic murders of Black people at the hands of police officers or in the name of “criminal justice” in the United States.
Racism is prevalent across our society at every turn. We see it on TV with countless videos of police killing, hurting, and intimidating Black citizens, and we know there are countless other such incidents that don’t ever make headline news. We see it play out in real time in our work, as we have witnessed how the presence of police intimidated a Black community in Richmond County at a press event when they were denied the right to testify at a public meeting on a proposed pollution-spewing, forest-destroying wood pellet mill in their own town. It’s vital that we make these connections between what on the surface may seem like separate and unrelated issues.
Over the last week, we have had conversations with our frontline community partners, board of directors, and friends where we hold space, cry, rage, and listen.
We have heard the requests of our Black allies, colleagues, leaders, and friends who urge us to stand up and speak out in the face of injustice. As a white-led organization, we understand the importance of speaking up right now, but this statement is just one step in the process of demonstrating our commitment to standing up against police brutality and intimidation directed at people of color.
We are committed to the work of dismantling racism across society.
Racism and a culture of white supremacy is at the root of all of the struggles for justice in our country. It is at the heart of injustice in the criminal system, extreme economic inequity, and health disparity as we are seeing now with the disproportionate impacts the Coronavirus has had on the Black community. Racism also lies at the heart of environmental destruction and pollution. It lies at the center of climate change and the destruction of nature. For it is a racist system that values the excessive profits of a few over human life.
A cop murdering a Black man is an example of how racist power structures are destroying our communities and our environment. Climate change is the product of a racist system. Forest destruction is the product of a racist system. Pollution is the product of a racist system. We will not solve any of these problems until we internalize anti-racism and stop exploiting Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
We can and must take a long, hard look at our values and morals as a country built on white supremacy. This means committing ourselves to becoming anti-racist and being dedicated allies devoted to prioritizing the long-term mobilization necessary to build a movement that shuts racism down for good so these things never, ever, ever happen again. And, this means continuing to educate ourselves, being open to uncomfortable conversations, and taking continuous and honest feedback on how we show up in our world as anti-racists.
The staff and board of Dogwood Alliance are all personally committed to taking individual and organizational action to continue educating ourselves and our members and taking action to end the destructive power of racism. We will continue to stand arm in arm with our partners and friends in frontline communities whose lives are at risk every single day.
It is our duty to stand in solidarity and fight police brutality and racism in all its forms alongside our Black, Indigenous, and Latinx partners.
It is our duty to be fully committed to being an anti-racist organization. It is also our duty to ensure that our white members, supporters, activists, partners, and allies join us at the frontlines in solidarity with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.