VISIONS wishes to congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the projected winners of the 2020 Presidential Election, with more people in the US than ever voting at this election than ever before. We also recognize the significance of Kamala Harris as VP Elect, who will become the first Black woman and the first Asian American woman to assume this important role, and already is an important role model for countless children and young people. The VISIONS community looks forward to being a part of the efforts to heal our country, and to bring all of us across the divide to connect to one another in a meaningful way.
Our country is in the process of allowing all voices to be heard and that is something to celebrate. The U.S. is also clearly in dire need for conciliation, as we face an accounting for centuries and generations of racism and oppression.
Who is better equipped than VISIONS to bridge gaps, to bring people together in a shared dream for a more inclusive and equitable future and have courageous conversations, and to create the possibility of a better world, if not at least a better country? We know the work has to be done from the bottom-up, relationships need to be built, and connections need to be made, so that empathy can be developed. At the same time, we know that within the four levels (personal, interpersonal, institutional, cultural), we need to work on impacting from the top-down, as well.
No matter for whom people may have voted, there is pain for some in the outcome - and as we continue doing the work we do, we will help individuals and communities heal, while also making cultural and institutional impacts. We have an opportunity to rethink and refine some of the work we do to meet the needs of our clients, and meet them where they are.
I encourage each of you to use your power, your intuition, and your creativity: find ways to make yourself heard in promoting our highest civic values of participation and community. Find ways to amplify the message of resolve, celebrating all that is going right while remaining vigilant during this contentious period.
This is the time to turn up the support of each other. I look forward to us standing as a community in this historic moment, as we continue to do the work together on this long road ahead.
So, let's all take time to celebrate, and let's also continue to do the amazing work you already do.
Hello everyone, this is Elika Dadsetan-Foley. I hope this newsletter finds everyone healthy and remaining inspired and hopeful. I want to first acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I work and live, and recognize their continuing connection to land, water and community. I would also like to acknowledge that I am recording this on the traditional lands of the Wampanoag. I pay respects to the elders past, present, and emerging.
Fall is here, and in the spirit of starting a new season, I am taking this opportunity to deliver my "From Elika's Desk" at Elika's desk - in a new format. First, I want to acknowledge the continued difficulties we are all facing. The severity of various pandemics in our contry continues to increase, all while leading up to a contentious election.
Polls are showing White support for BLM is slipping, and I implore all of you to continue acting on, and recognizing, the need to do the work to affect lasting change. The work is not near being complete, and as we know, it's a long distance run, and it truly is a journey. We must continue to have difficult conversations, show up, stand up, vote.
And in the spirit of doing the work, I'd be remiss not to call attention to the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and navigating complicated emotions about this and about what comes next.
Of course, despite all of RBG's accomplishments, she was still on her journey of growing and understanding. And aside from all she did accomplish in her professional life to try and promote equality, we can honor RBG and carry out VISIONS' mission of creating and maintaining spaces where differences are recognized, appreciated, and understood, by continuing to do the work.
A Brenee Brown podcast from earlier this summer with Austen Channing Brown had a line where Brenee Brown said, her mantra is, "I'm here to get it right, not be right." To listen, and learn. And Austen Channing Brown responded that she sees the work as becoming a better human to other humans. We have a capacity to do better. And its difficult. This is a journey. It's life-long learning. And I aim to keep getting closer to getting it right in the last moment.
As for VISIONS and some updates from us that you're not reading in the newsletter: at VISIONS, we've been busier than ever. We're seeing more clients; we've heard from 410 clients since June 1st, which is over 300% increase from the same period of time last year.
We're forming more partnerships, such as our new and exciting partnership with Mediators Beyond Borders International, and we're finding ways to engage with the community, despite being virtual - or in light of being virtual.
Our Programs Advisory Council, consisting of staff, board members, and of course, our consultants, is making some exciting updates to our curriculum. Our strategic plan is also finally complete after a lot of effort by our VISIONS community for the past year. We’ve identified a few areas as program priorities, including furthering our work with youth, law enforcement/justice system, and finally, creating a Learning Institute. The already-busy team is additionally busy with brainstorming where we can make the most impact in this regard.
Our webinar series is kicking off this month, too. We’ll be addressing topics including law enforcement, the elections, and youth activism. You can see above in newsletter for dates and how to register.
We are also excited to announce that our November webinar will be a space to celebrate our 35th anniversary and will also serve as a fundraiser - we look forward to your support around this event!
This is an important month - with Hispanic Heritage Month closing out in the middle of this month, Indigenous People’s Day approaching next week, and November is Native American Heritage Month: I invite you to definitely read Ana Perez’s article in the newsletter. It's beautifully written.
And while Thanksgiving is a very complicated holiday that we need to look at with greater sensitivity, I’d like to use this moment in time to express my gratitude for the accomplishments we’ve made as an organization these past months and for all the hard work our staff, consultants, and board members put into this important work - and all of you for your continuous support.
So, to conclude: when talking about RBG earlier, I mentioned the concerns about what comes next. While there’s so much uncertainty, I feel hopeful. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that a more diverse world is a more innovative world, and with innovation, comes growth and change. I believe in the power of achieving more together - we have the power to do so, and I hope to see this as we exercise our power in November.
So, on that note - stay safe, stay healthy, engage in self-care, and please, please VOTE. Thank you.
Posters were part of an art campaign called We the People by Ernesto Yerena Montajana Jessica Sabogal and Shepard Fairey Nov. 2016
Indigenous Peoples' Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October, in opposition to the celebration of Columbus Day.
By Ana Cecilia Perez
We, time travelers, shapeshifters, protectors of human dignity, and faithful warriors, birthing a new world that centers respect for all living beings on the planet: we must not get distracted by the noise and dust that 45 is stirring up. While the US democratic experiment needs some fixing, the unrealized ideals of the pursuit of justice, of a government of the people by the people, the system of checks and balances, a free press, and the right to peaceful protest, are tools/openings that we have used to win justice. And we have been turning the tide, we have been winning!
Evidence that our collective power is changing the narratives that have held us back are everywhere – Black Lives Matter has become a rallying cry of multiracial masses in cities large and small in our country and internationally. We even won, with a conservative-majority Supreme Court, when they recognized that the eastern portion of the state of Oklahoma remains Native American land. More women of color have been elected to government at the local, state, and national levels than ever. And our beloved Squad continues to turn up the fire and plant seeds that, when mature, will get us closer to full transformation – the proposed Green New Deal and Ayanna Pressley’s clarity about “We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice” are two good examples.
In the next 30 days, we will face an onslaught of attacks aimed at taking away our power by paralyzing us with fear. Let’s not be fooled. What they are after is taking our spirit and eroding our deep faith and belief that our best days are ahead of us! Let’s not give them that. Now is the time to ground into our spiritual practices and to remember the medicine we learned from our grandmothers. We need to drop into our relationships and build intentional communities of care – expanding the unnatural and oppressive idea of the nuclear family and creating ever expanding circles of community. We need to organize!
It is also time to believe and invest in the structures of our imperfect democracy. We must understand and pressure those responsible for securing the vehicles that feed our democratic process and make sure they are doing their jobs. For example, pressure the debate commission to shut the microphones off or to grant a full hour to the candidate that honors the debate rules. Get involved to assure the electorates from your state are not tampered with. Use your power and privilege to provide safety for vulnerable voters.
But most importantly, we need to remember that we are the descendants of people who have lived through the worst moments. We are resilient and we will not give away our faith in a better tomorrow. We need to remember all that we have won and what we stand to win - a just, sustainable and compassionate country. So as we prepare to care for ourselves and our loved ones with clarity about the threats we face, we must continue to feed ourselves with hope and inspire others with hope. We cannot let them defeat us, by letting them drive us back into hiding and silence. We must speak of the world we have been building with excitement. We need to make the vision for our future irresistible!
As one of our patron saints, Harriet Tubman, said, “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there is shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
Ana Cecilia Perez is the former Executive Director of the Central American Resource Center in San Francisco and is currently an independent consultant. She has long been involved in struggles for human and immigrant rights and economic justice in Latin America and the United States. Upon completing her graduate work at UC Berkeley, She led the Cuba and Latin America Program at Global Exchange. She is on the steering committee of National Alliance for Latin American and Caribbean Communities and the Salvadoran American National Network. These are her opinions and may not reflect VISIONS' positions.
I cannot believe I've had the honor to be a part of this family for six months already. It has also been six months of our VISIONS community coping with not one, but multiple pandemics. We've reflected together; we've laughed together; we've cried together; we've checked in around our needs; we've moved forward by continuing to do the work, no matter how exhausted or angry we've felt; we've completed a strategic planning process; we've added several new staff; we've lost old ones, and, and, and...
I am also sad (and angry) that for the past few months, there have been many names added to the long list of shootings of black bodies by those “sworn to protect” them, or those who take up arms in the name of hatred. It's a daily reminder of why VISIONS does the work it does. Indeed, VISIONS now more than ever...
Many of you supported the strategic planning process over the past year, and I want to thank you so much for the time you spent contributing to this important process. We will never be finished getting your input, so always feel free to check back in. It is our sincere hope that the strategic plan conveys the spirit of our VISIONS community, bridging our past to our future, while honoring our history. We are now in the implementation planning phase, where we are creating our next steps based on the strategic plan. We will reach out for your input, as relevant, in the coming weeks.
We are also hopeful that you've been able to attend our skillshare sessions on Tuesdays, that you've been able to locate tools you can use as our ambassadors, and that you've been able to access spaces in which you can share information and ideas with one another, like our listserv and community check-ins.
I want to thank Nikki Glass and Amber Babineau for their hard work and support around navigating EIDL and CARES. It helped us feel somewhat secure in some very uncertain times. Their hard work has allowed us to be innovative this fiscal year in moving VISIONS forward.
This time has also brought some gifts, such as pro bono media relations support from SSPR, with spreading the work of our mission, as well as bringing on our new social media marketing group, AlterEgo, to help VISIONS get the word out that we are here to help others “do the work”.
We are now partnering with Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI) in hopes that we have a larger global impact on conflict resolution and peacebuilding by supporting their already-wonderful work with more learning of our DEI framework/model. We hope that all our efforts will only positively impact this current context we live in, and help us sustain the incredible work VISIONS has done for the past 35 years.
Thank you all for your efforts and passion in doing this hard work. I need to also take this time to share my gratitude for the hard work of the team who supports our work at VISIONS, sometimes behind the scenes, through all the changes of these past six months, and most often with smiles on their faces: Val, Rick, Lisa, Emma, Kaitlin, Beca, Amber, Erika, and Nikki. And we welcome our new staff: Sue and Teletha.
I hope you find some restorative time so that you can continue doing this critical work...
Here's to the next six months, six years, six decades,
Keep on, keepin' on.
VISIONS consultant Derrick Jackson was honored with a second place award last week from the Society of Environmental Journalists for reporting on the environment. Much of his package was Environmental Justice coverage.
Outstanding Beat Reporting (Small Newsroom or Circulation) - Second Place
"Toxic Injustices: Priority for Abused Communities Must Pervade Every Aspect of a Green New Deal"
"Let the Children Breathe Particulate Matter: How the Trump Administration's Polluted Policies Are Hurting Children"
"Natural Gas vs. Renewable Energy: Beware the Latest Gas Industry Talking Points"
"Asbestos, Ubiquitous and Avoidable, Is a Deadly Threat to Our Kids"
"EPA's New Water Rule a Mockery of Science and the Clean Water Act"
Judges' comments: This sharply written commentary draws the reader into serious environmental issues, including the dismantling of existing regulations and the gutting of EPA enforcement in favor of permitting. These five columns exude both science and humanity while targeting environmental disasters such as asbestos, fossil fuels and the endemic pollution of air, soil and water along with degraded wetlands. Derrick Jackson peppered his stories with poignant anecdotes about people and issues often forgotten by the media.
As many of you may know, VISIONS began in 1984 with the goal of supporting organizations, communities, and individuals in the undoing of the subtle, outside of awareness “isms” that we knew racism had morphed into. Social psychology and public health research had demonstrated that racism had not ended; rather it was showing up in different forms. We realized that most people are likely not to have been taught about how bias works in our brains. All humans have them AND in the US, some of these biases are racialized.
I have been with all of you for a third of a year now…and what a four months it has been! We’ve been working remotely from the second week of my arrival on the east coast, where being physically apart has become our new normal – so, I feel lucky to have met a few from the VISIONS community in California and Boston before we had to shelter in place…
I call myself a city country California girl. When I say this, most don’t understand and when I explain that my grandmother’s house in 2020 is on a road that still doesn’t have a sidewalk, most still don’t believe me.
As a child, I was able to experience all that California had to offer. From beaches to mountains, sunshine to snow, fishing to surfing, cows and pigs walking down my grandma’s road to seeing boa constrictors and ferrets as pets in SoCal. When my parents split and my mom moved to the city of Los Angeles, my time was split between there and a very agricultural central California. My dad worked so I spent a lot of time 18 miles north of Fresno, my hometown, with my grandma in a town called Madera.
As you can expect, with me spending a lot of time with her, my grandma Bessie helped shape who I am. She was born in 1922 in Watonga, OK and moved to Madera, CA in the early 40s. She was a country girl in every sense of the word and introduced me to so many things. As a young widow, she raised 5 kids, worked as a domestic worker, managed to volunteer as a Grey Lady in the local hospital and with the local Blind Center of Madera. She also volunteered with the Garden Club, an organization that raised money for scholarships to help African American students go to college. Ms. Bessie Lee was the first African American to be honored as ‘Mother of the Year’ in Madera on May 7, 1965. She was my inspiration.
As a young girl she taught me how to fish, how to can my own fruits and vegetables, how to make jellies and jams and how to sew. She also instilled in me the want to serve others. I was right beside her volunteering at the same Blind Center, taking seniors to the store who could not make it on their own or picking up those who needed assistance getting to church on Sunday.
My grandma taught me many things and one lesson in particular that I will never forget. One day she told me we were going for a ride. We jumped in her blue VW Bug and headed down Road 28 ½ towards Avenue 13. We made a series of turns until we ended up on the side of a road next to a field full of strange plants I had never seen before. They grew as far as my eye could see. She instructed me to get out of the car.
As I made my way to her, she took my hand and we walked down rows of these dark green, almost black stems that had these puffy white flowers. But they weren’t flowers. It was cotton. She looked at me and said “Nikki, I brought you here because I want you to know where you come from. Your Great Grandma Herma and Great Great Grandma Annie were hard working, strong women and this was their job. Today you are going to experience what they did. We are going to pick cotton.”
I didn’t flinch. I simply said “Ok Grandma,” as if I didn’t have a care in the world. As we started to pick the fluffy white “flowers”, I kept pricking my fingers from the dried hulls around the cotton. My fingers started to hurt, but I kept going because she felt this was important. We continued for another 15 minutes before she turned to me and asked “have you had enough?” I told her yes as I sucked my fingers trying to stop the pain I had started to feel from doing it “wrong.”
She told me to never forget this day and understand that I had a choice but my ancestors did not.
“You must always remember that as you walk through this life.” She didn’t teach many specifics about black history but she did teach me her story.
It wasn’t until I went to Morgan State University, a Historically Black University in Baltimore (MD), that I learned about Juneteenth. June 19, 1865, Emancipation Day, or Juneteenth, as it came to be known, is the day enslaved African Americans in Texas were told about the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation (jan. 1, 1863). This law affected 4 million Americans and the news took longer than a minute to reach Texas. But slaves were now “free”.
Free is defined as “not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes; not or no longer confined or imprisoned”. So, imagine how exhausting it must be that 155 years later, African Americans continue to “fight for that freedom” that was given to the last of the enslaved on June 19th (1865).
Fighting to be seen as human, as equal, as American while there are those that feel “what’s the big deal”, “there’s no issue”, “why are they so angry”? The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery were the straws that broke the camel’s back and pulled the scab off wounds that have never been healed, acknowledged or reconciled. The wounds are sore, pricked and bleeding, like my fingers that day with Bessie, and continue to go untreated as we watch another African American lose their life, almost like it is on a continuous loop. It reminds me of our ancestors whose hands were sore and numb and had to go back out to the cotton field and do it all over again.
Freedom, depending on the lens you wear, means many things. The word freedom, a noun, is defined as (1) the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; (2) the absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government; (3) the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
After the Civil War, the African American lens attempted to give meaning to freedom by reuniting families separated under slavery, establishing their own churches and schools, seeking economic autonomy, and demanding equal civil and political rights. But this new concept of slaves being free would not be accepted overnight just because it was now law.
Slavery in the United States had been the law for hundreds of years and the undoing of this concept would, as you could imagine, take longer than expected. White opposition to these new freedoms of African Americans was oppressive, violent, and many times lethal in much of the south.
Families who tried to exercise these new freedoms were met with firebombings of homes, businesses, and churches and stealing of land, just to name a few. One of the most notable opposition to African American freedom was the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 in the Greenwood District. The unjust arrest of a young man named Dick Rowland and his alleged inappropriate interaction with a white woman named Sarah Page, in that elevator of the Drexel Building on Third and Main Street, sparked a race massacre that ended in the burning of 35 city blocks of homes, thriving businesses and banks.
The need to keep African Americans in their place, and yet again, move that starting line, has continued to be the practice of this country. Instances like this are what pushed my Grandma and her family to move from Watonga, Oklahoma out west to California to seek a new starting line.
But if history shows us anything, we have always been a resourceful people in spite of the circumstances. We, as many of us have heard, know how to make a way out of no way. With that freedom granted in 1865, it seems that every time we start to catch up as a community, there is always that opposition waiting for the opportunity to remind us that our freedom is conditional. Reminding us that true freedom - for those who have given so much and built this country right alongside other Americans with their labor, blood, sweat, tears, and lives - has never truly come to pass.
The big deal for many African Americans is that even though freedom from slavery was proclaimed, for many, this country has never put that law into action. Never fully made good on its promise, just repackaged slavery into a new improved model and slapped a free label on it. You can walk the streets free but “we” still have the right to ask you for “your [freedom] papers”, question why you are not where you belong, define how successful you can be, grant a few of you the opportunity to become prosperous and judge the others for being inferior because they didn’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But the reality is many African American’s boots did not come with straps. Their straps were cut off and left in a cotton field about 450 years ago.
So when I think about Juneteenth and what it means to me, it’s a look at the history and reality of being an African American in this country. This day is a reminder to celebrate our history and the people who gave us our strength and wisdom but it is also a reminder to keep moving forward. A reminder to continually analyze complex issues regarding race, class, gender and other differences at the personal, interpersonal, cultural and systematic levels - which is the work we dedicate ourselves to at VISIONS.
Although we have gained some victories, we still have the war against racism to win. It’s a reminder for me to celebrate my ancestors, Bessie, Herma, and Annie, and their strength, sacrifices and struggles, and their courage despite the circumstances. And it is also a reminder that we must keep pushing forward in their honor and those who have been taken from us needlessly and know that we will get to freedom eventually. In recent weeks, it is clear we have more walking with us on the journey towards freedom, and it’s clear we will have to pull some people along kicking and screaming, but the fight to actually see progress and action on the part of those who proclaimed these freedoms on June 19th, 1865 will continue.
Nikki Glass is the Director of Finance and Human Resources at VISIONS, Inc.,a non-profit training and consulting organization specializing in diversity and inclusion. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from Morgan State University and studied Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the graduate level at the University of Baltimore. Nikki has served in nonprofits for most of her adult career. Prior to her current role she served as Administrative Manager at a spiritual development center and Deputy Director and Operations Director for a restorative justice nonprofit. She is a certified restorative justice practitioner and has consulted with various juvenile and adult detention facilities in addition to school and juvenile court systems. Nikki is a mother of a young Haitian African American, 12-year-old son and is raising him to be a kind, caring and successful adult who doesn’t have to worry about being judged by the color of his skin.
We applaud the many past and present VISIONS clients for the messages of support for black lives that we have seen from them over the past two weeks! Now is the time to let go ANY form of by-standing (avoidance of contact; denial of the significance of difference)! All of us who believe in the right of each person to a safe and prosperous life, must make our voices heard.
From our large corporate clients, to our smallest non-profits, there is a united voice - the legacy of racism that has surfaced since the 2016 election (and the exposure of the dysfunction in our congress), has been with us. We must not let it destroy the ideals built into the fabric of our country. For yes, there is a faulty foundation of exploitation of Native people and black and brown people. This foundation is being held up currently in many ways, most significantly evidenced through an unjust state-supported criminal justice system and an unfair health system.
There is also a legacy of freedom and democracy (from the Declaration of Independence):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (people) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men (people), deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
The protestors are exercising their constitutional rights. In September 1967, Martin King spoke to the American Psychological Association. On the topic of urban riots (the Watts riots), he wrote:
Urban riots must now be recognized as durable social phenomena. They may be deplored, but they are there and should be understood....A profound judgement of today's riots was expressed by Victor Hugo (over) a century ago. He said, 'If a soul is left in the darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.
I am continually inspired to keep up our fight for justice for all by the responses of the hundreds I have worked with since 1984, when as a young adult I dared to dream of a better world for my children and the communities in which all children of color grow up. As VISIONS re-invents ourselves for the next 25 years, I am proud to be in the number with so many of you.
This is a moment to move on our ideals and to realize that "we the people" will need to lead!
From the desk of our Founding Director, Dr. Valerie Batts:
VISIONS began because of a burning desire among our founders, children of the US civil rights movement, to do our part to help end the legacy of racism against black folk (and all oppressed people). We and our ancestors have been the targets of structural and personal violence since coming to these shores in 1619. 2020 finds this legacy, which resulted in our country being formed with a dangerous “crack in the foundation”, painfully exposed again! VISIONS now more than ever. I am delighted that, as our new leader, Elika, gets this! Her note below was started even before we were encouraged to share with the community about our response.
As the mother of a black son and as the sister of two deceased (before their time) black brothers, I feel this pain very personally. I see how it also impacts my daughter and so many of my black colleagues and friends. It must stop!
I appreciate when people who get white skinned privilege own it and own their role in fixing this country’s faulty foundation. Otherwise, the “house” WILL fall. In the words of Sweet Honey and the Rock, “Until the killing of black men, black mother’s sons, is as important as the killing of white men, white mother’s sons, we who believe in freedom, cannot (will not) rest!”
The struggle continues!
From the desk of our new Executive Director, Elika Dadsetan-Foley:
Being Black in America should not be a death sentence. We hear these words stated by every day well-intentioned folx, as well as decision- and policy-makers. Yet, every day, we hear about another death… and again, by an individual who has been hired to protect and serve - serve whom? It’s clear that it is not all people. This is part of why we say “black lives matter.” It is a stark reminder that these systems were not developed to serve all – they were developed to serve the white privileged. The officer in Minnesota not only failed to do his job, he also failed at the most basic level of being a decent humxn being. The violence of white supremacy has struck again, as it has continued to do so since our founding and the hundreds of years since.
I am not a black man, nor do I have a black son. I have not been able to sleep thinking about all the black families who are constantly traumatized and re-traumatized by such events. I imagine this could have been any of the black men in my life whom I love. It’s not about me - it can’t be. That is part of my privilege. I am not here to tell you that I am one of the good ones. I am not in shock - racism never went away, and in this current context, it is just as “in your face” as it ever was. Our institutions just openly allow for these behaviors again, and no one can pretend “racism does not exist” anymore. Mr. George Floyd was someone’s son. Someone’s family. Someone’s friend. He was a humxn being, and his life mattered: except it didn’t.
Having a corrupt system do an investigation into what happened does not matter…nothing justifies this murder…a police officer putting a knee on this man’s neck not for a moment, but for over eight minutes. Eight. Minutes. Just try sitting for eight minutes… it’s an awfully long time. This officer had been known for previous violence - yet kept his job. It’s the fact that our systems, and our entire country, continues to allow this to happen. Four murder charges is not enough…this is just one incident. As I write this, I hear about another injustice done at the hands of police officers against Sha’Teina Grady El in Detroit. When will it end?
White supremacy kills Black people both quickly, through such acts as we continue to see, as well as slowly. White supremacy kills on the personal, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional level.
When there are individuals who are upset about why Kaepernick kneeled, and yet they cannot embrace the horror of the structural causes of these killings, we have a major issue. As Bernice King stated in such cases, “you are more devoted to order than to justice, and more passionate about an anthem that supposedly symbolizes freedom than you are about a Black man’s freedom to live.” There is no true justice for our black brothers and sisters, especially if those of us with white privilege stay quiet, or merely just get mad. White folx cannot let their fragility get in the way.
We are living in a world that permits the murder of black men by white men in the name of law and order. White folx, we need to stop and take an honest look at our part in this - at the reactions we have to these stories, and how we respond to the overt and covert racism inside and around us, every day.
We experienced Mr. Floyd’s death and the attempted murder of Mr. Cooper in Central Park in full effect because these incidents were recorded…Christian Cooper was lucky to have recorded his encounter and live to recount the event…however, Mr. Floyd, even with cell phones recording the officers and witnesses pleading with the officers, still got his death sentence. This is not just another random act. Black people everywhere are dying by the hands of police and other facets of our government. I can only imagine what a gut-wrenching reminder this is to all who share his color of skin.
When I hear "I supported protest until it became violent" - this only perpetuates the problem we are trying to solve by allowing folx to ignore the crisis that has created this painful situation. If the same effort was put into arresting other officers and those who create hate and divide as we have the thousands of peaceful protesters over the past few days, we'd be taking a step in the right direction. I hope this is an opportunity to rethink our systems of policing - to develop space for social workers, restorative practitioners, and others better-equipped than police officers. I continue to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, and it is a reminder of why we show up every day to do the work we do at VISIONS.
Help us continue to do this important work - VISIONS now more than ever!