It’s not enough to say we are heartbroken by the events that led up to the BLM protests and that continue to harm and harass people of color. It’s not enough to post supportive memes and click “like” “sad” or “angry” on social media posts that make statements about the injustices that have disadvantaged one group of people in favor of another group. It’s not enough to pray for peace or healing.
But when you’ve had enough, how do you follow through with actions that truly enable durable, systemic change?
Indivisible Lambertville/New Hope believes our communities are stronger when all voices are heard. As activists, we endeavor to fight for fairness and equality. Often that means educating ourselves and our constituents about the experiences of others who may live next door but are a world apart from our daily lives. Frequently, it’s making people aware of government actions or proposed legislation and urging them to contact elected and appointed officials. And sometimes, it’s taking that fight into the streets.
Millions of people have taken and are taking the fight for equity for Black, Indigenous and/or People Of Color (BlPOC) to the streets of towns and cities – not only in the U.S., but in countries across the globe. As the chain link wall went up around the People’s House in Washington, others joined the process of tearing walls down.
We heard voices of pain and anger. We heard cries for the freedom to live like those who take their freedom for granted every single day. We heard strength in songs and poetry, and saw joy and pride in moments both large and small.
For the most part, however, we have been observers even as we applaud your victories. So we commit to learn what we don’t know. We were shocked and motivated when our Civil Rights action group opened our eyes to the New Jim Crow, to Witness to Innocence, to community leaders working against racism and preserving black history in our own backyards. But it’s not enough – there’s so much more to do.
As a community-driven organization, we offer our platform to people and groups that will speak to us about hopes, needs and solutions. We commit to listen, discuss and collaborate about what we need to do in our homes, communities and on the larger stage to build a more just and equal world.
We commit to examining our role in white supremacy and engaging in anti-racist work. It is our desire to be good allies. For those individuals and organizations already engaged in this work, we ask that you point out our blind spots. Call on us and call us out – we will show up for you and amplify your voice with our passion and our energy.
For BlPOC in our community who have thought ILNH is too white, too middle class, too same in its make-up; we agree. While equity and inclusiveness are core to our mission and our values, we believe that our efforts have not sufficiently represented those values. We are committed to learn and assess and explore how our privilege and lack of understanding prevents BlPOC from feeling that ILNH is a place they can comfortably call home.
So while we have missed the mark, please know that today we commit to try harder and to do better moving forward. We want to be clear: You are valued here. Your ideas and perspectives are important for us to build the organization we strive to be. Let’s create the community that may not exist today, but can when we work together and authentically live our mission and values.
To all: Please join us. We need to do the hard work of building understanding, of tearing down chain-link fences that shut people out and of creating spaces that are safe for everyone. Because if there was ever a time when actions need to speak louder than words, it’s now.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, information, organizations that want to join hands. Visit our website to learn more about ILNH’s mission and values, read our newsletter and learn more about our organization.
Indivisible Lambertville/New Hope Leadership Team
Liz McGill Peer