The horrific murder of George Floyd has ignited national outrage against entrenched, systemic and historical racism that discounts Black lives in our communities, our institutions, and our country. At SPAN, as an organization committed to nonviolence and social justice, we have struggled to make sense of this moment. Our staff, volunteers, and the survivors who turn to us for support, especially those who are black and brown, are reeling with anger, pain and fear.
These are not isolated events with individual victims and a handful of bad actors. They reflect centuries of white supremacy and recent decades of racist policies and practices that have codified two systems of access and justice: one for those who benefit from white skin privilege, and one for everyone else.
This system of injustice haunts black and brown survivors of domestic violence as they wonder if calling the police will lead to a violent racist response from law enforcement, the very people who are sworn to serve and protect.
If we are white, we can say “that doesn’t happen in our community”. If we are black or brown, we know that it does.
The roots of violence and oppression, whether they manifest as intimate partner abuse in the home or racist violence in the street, thrive when power is used to dehumanize others. Upending violence and oppression can’t happen when only the injured and oppressed protest. Interrupting the pandemic of racist violence in our country demands action by white people, especially white people in power. This is true nationally; it is equally true in our local community.
At SPAN we take this awesome charge seriously. Decrying the murder of George Floyd, and of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, and Tony McDade, cannot be where our outrage as a community ends. As James Baldwin reminds us, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced”. We must listen to communities of color, heed the anger and pain of survivors of color, dismantle the legacy of white supremacy in ourselves, our institutions and our movements, and join with allies to rebuild systems of justice for all. This is challenging, urgent, and lifesaving work. Its time is now.
-Anne Tapp, SPAN Executive Director
Check out these Racial Justice Resources.