Statement of Solidarity
This is an exceedingly heartbreaking time. Our Black communities are grieving because institutionalized racism is literally making it impossible for people to breathe. White supremacy is the common thread connecting unspeakably horrible incidents: from the police officer taking George Floyd’s life, to the three other officers standing silently by, to the police officers opening fire unannounced on Tony McDade two days later, to the day in March when police officers stormed with a no-knock warrant into Breonna Taylor’s apartment, to the arrests—months later—of the armed men who chased Ahmaud Arbery down on a tragic day in February. White supremacy is behind the recent Central Park incident, in which a woman called the cops and weaponized her whiteness against a local birder who had simply asked her to leash her dog.
Police kill: Black and Latinx communities and other people of color are disproportionately targeted in public space and in the privacy of their homes. These deaths are a terrifying betrayal of justice, and they must stop. There are related betrayals of justice, too. We see them in the ways that—by action and omission—actors within the legal system and police unions have protected and perpetuated police and state-sanctioned violence. We see them in the ways that protestors are treated and talked about: how armed protestors of shelter-in-place are tolerated in state capitol buildings, while police in riot gear spray tear gas and fire rubber bullets at protestors who simply and desperately want systematic police murders to stop.
There are still more betrayals of justice submerged beneath the surface of what seems like a vast and silent iceberg. White supremacy is at the root of why our Black communities and all our communities of color are suffering a disproportionate share of COVID-19 infections and fatalities. It is why racial disparities exist in health outcomes, from preterm birth to premature mortality. It is why the net worth of a typical white family is about ten times more than that of a typical Black family; it is why more than 50% of homeless families across the United States are Black. It is why we don’t talk about these things as urgently and purposefully as we should; it is why they are realities and not history lessons, never to be repeated.
Poverty kills: it often kills more quietly and insidiously than outright murder, but it devastates communities of color just as systematically as state-sanctioned violence against them. These things that kill—police murders, poverty—are part and parcel of a structural devaluation of Black lives across our public life. In the era of COVID-19, our partners at Hospitality House and the California Preterm Birth Initiative have called out: “Racism is the pandemic.” We cannot un-see the racism that COVID-19 has laid bare.
This roiling moment in our nation’s history is a moment of reckoning for us all. Will it be a moment of incrementalism, or will it be a movement towards large-scale transformation? Will we reform white supremacist systems to make them less racist, or will we, in the words of Audre Lorde, dismantle and rebuild our systems in the image of safe, inclusive, multi-racial, and anti-racist communities.
Compass Family Services stands in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and with Black families and communities in the Bay Area and beyond. We resist with them and we roll up our sleeves as allies and partners with them in the work of anti-racism. As an agency with a white executive director, we are mindful to use the power and privilege that comes with whiteness to end rather than perpetuate white supremacy. Our senior leadership team is partnering with our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging workgroup to explore specific actions and strategies our agency will pursue across programs and departments to bring a racial justice lens to our work with homeless families.
The COVID-19 public health crisis has revealed our fates as profoundly interconnected. So are the solutions: public investments that put resources directly in the hands of impacted communities; public processes that hear their input and build on their ideas and needs; and public systems that intersect to lift people up rather than keep them down. We need public budgets that reflect public priorities such as schools and social services, and we need public values that value families and the work we have called “essential” throughout this pandemic.
There are no words to express our outrage, or the empathy and solidarity we hold for the grief, rage, and trauma that Black communities across our country are experiencing right now, and have lived with all their lives. But we will not be silent, and we will not give up the fight.
For more context about what we’re reading and how we’re reflecting on white supremacy and racial equity, please refer to the following resources: