“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass
“I can’t breathe.” – Eric Garner and George Floyd
We will never truly understand what it is like to fear for our life because of the color of our skin. The burden of living in constant fear must be crushing.
And we are outraged about the deaths of fellow Americans at the hands of police forces. This is a persistent – far too persistent – and familiar pattern.
Most recently we’ve witnessed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. George was a father, a truck driver who also worked security at a restaurant. He had moved to the city a few years back, and recently – as with too many Blacks and Latinxs – had been sidelined from employment due to COVID-19 social distancing policies.
Breonna Taylor’s life was taken in her own Louisville home. Breonna – a 26-year-old emergency medical technician – had plans to become a nurse and start a family. Breonna would have turned 27 on June 5th.
We witnessed the death of Ahmaud Arbery outside Brunswick, Georgia. Ahmaud was a 25-year-old former high school football player out for a jog. Ahmaud wanted to become an electrician, following the in footsteps of three of his uncles, and was planning to go to school to realize that goal.
These events transpired just over the past couple of months, and it’s not a new occurrence. There are many other names and stories we could have mentioned in this email. The most recent incidents have understandably sparked protests nationwide over police policy and tactics. It’s urgent to tackle reforming them head-on, feeling the “fierce urgency of now” as Dr. King memorably put it.
So, what can we, as EEFA do?
Over the last year, many conversations have taken place within EEFA, led by the Equity Working Group and Two Brown Girls, that have helped all of us to understand our own biases and blind spots and to identify the deep-seated institutional racism that creates injustice for black and brown communities. This work has deepened the collective knowledge and consciousness around the need for EEFA to be centered on racial equity.
And now we must act. As EEFA Co-Directors, we commit to taking the following immediate actions:
- We will continue to work with the Equity Working Group in developing and applying a racial equity framework to guide decision-making in EEFA to ensure that we are prioritizing racial equity and continually assess our progress to hold ourselves accountable;
- We will lend EEFA’s organizational voice and power to groups focusing on ending systemic racism. In particular, we will look for opportunities to support groups working to reform policing policies;
- We will identify and support opportunities to help our coalition partners to further develop grassroots leadership;
- We will develop tools and resources to help you and our coalition partners to identify and tackle anti-racist policies. These will include tools to help assess the disparate impact of existing policies, including a utility scorecard that will evaluate how existing utility practices may be harming black and brown communities; and
- We will demand more transparency in housing and utility programs so that we and the public understand if resources are being distributed equitably.
These actions are important steps for EEFA to confront white supremacy and racial injustice. And we must also reach out and forge new alliances, in our states and nationally. We must ask ourselves: Who should we work with? How can we be better partners?
Now is the time to listen – and to act.
Todd and Deron