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A reflection on the events of the past week:

Posted by Jamee Greer at Jul 08, 2016 08:26 PM |

We say the names of the dead and injured, lives taken in the split-second flash of bullets – while recognizing that the forces of oppression and injustice that brought us to this moment of grief echo hundreds of years into our past. At the core of our work is the belief that nobody should live in fear that their parent, their child, their loved one - be taken from them in an act of violence. We take this moment to reflect– to better understand and organize around the many complex intersections of our identities and experiences.


Like you, we are processing the shocking and unfolding events of the past week.  We say the names of the dead and injured, lives taken in the split-second flash of bullets – while recognizing that the forces of oppression and injustice that brought us to this moment of grief echo hundreds of years into our past.

At the core of our work is the belief that nobody should live in fear that their parent, their child, their loved one - be taken from them in an act of violence. We take this moment to reflect– to better understand and organize around the many complex intersections of our identities and experiences.

Tashia Harris, Racial Justice Program Director at Western States Center, shares their response to the events of the past week below.

We know there will be more opportunities to connect you to resources that move us forward as a movement; but for this moment, we reflect.

In solidarity,

The staff of Western States Center

Kelley, Tashia, Amy, Steve, Owen, Jamee, Jackie and Angela

 

 

As this “Independence Day” week reaches its conclusion- it has once again been made inarguably clear that the degree of our freedom and emancipation from injustice is directly correlated and contingent on the identities we possess.

We are inundated with the visible proof that we live in a society that uplifts the importance of liberation, but the fine print of this notion is attached to the lack of value given to our bodies. A system that from inception- never saw bodies of color to be human beings and thereby never orienting itself to accommodate for the possibility of our freedom.

As a community, we are faced with the tragic loss of life. We are faced with the heartache felt when understanding and living within the implications of anti-blackness. We are faced with the frustrations of trying to once again figure out how to make safety attainable for our communities of color.

Components of life that should be a fundamental right for all have yet to come to fruition in many of our lived realities. Even aware of the racism we face, our preparedness still offers minimal protection when our bodies’ visibility is attached to a false and preconceived notion of criminality.

The unrelenting reminders this week of the vast spaces that racism dwells has been the catalyst for many of us to seek refuge among one another, to make space to understand and digest our pain, to bear witness to the phenomenon of our continuing resilience, and to regroup and find a way to continue on in our deliberate fight for racial justice—cognizant of the fact that we can’t stop now.

The feeling of hollowness is harrowing at times and the damage done is nearly unfathomable each and every time a life is taken away from us.

As we reflect on the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Pedro Villanueva, and begin to further understand the root causes of what led to the loss of police officers’ live in Dallas, we understand the work of racial justice is not done.  

We are forced to accept the differences of what mortality means as a person of color. We inhale and exhale with the resonation that each breath is precious and yet simultaneously in peril; we inhale shards of inequity that unjust institutions surreptitiously sell to us as freedom when we know that shackles don’t have to be visible for them to still remain intact around policy, practices, and perception.  

We must understand that racism is not new and certainly not solely present in isolated events. Racism feeds itself on both silent complicity and in vehemently abhorrent rhetoric and actions – actions dictated and driven by the motive to retain the dominant power of whiteness. As we push for racial justice, we have to be aware that racism is real, its impacts are detrimental, and we must not be quelled because our quality of life depends on the eradication of our captivity.

Malcom X once said, “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out that's not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven't even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won't even admit the knife is there.”

The fact that our oppression has not made us complacent, that it has not created innocuous reaction among communities, shows us that our continued resistance has created a home with a sound foundation. On this foundation harbors a sense of hope amidst momentary feelings of helplessness and the recognition that our movement has progressed.

In order to continue making strides in our community organizing, our collective mobilization and our solidarity work against institutionalized and structural racism, we must acknowledge our pain. We must understand the weapons and wedges that seek our destruction. And we must collectively tend to our wounds. The wounds we all own as a community, but we also understand the difference in the way we feel the pain of racism based on our personal identities.

So as tears fall during these overwhelmingly troubling times, understand that we at the Center are with you in our matched sorrow but also in our adamant dedication to racial justice work.

Despite it all: we are still here, and we continue to be so and do this work for those who are not yet with us and those who  are no longer with us.

We carry and march on, in solidarity, with you. 

-Tashia Harris

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