Build a Better Future - From Indivisible National

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May 30, 2020 - Message From Indivisible National

Hello Indivisibles,

Ezra and Leah here. Like so many of you, over the last few days we’ve been mourning George Floyd and watching the news from Minneapolis, feeling overcome by anger, sadness, and a sinking sense of deja vu. Yet again, we’re hearing the horrific story of a Black person murdered by police; yet again, there’s a shattering video capturing the horror. 

And we feel, like so many, the grief and anger of having seen such stories before; of having seen, over and over and over again, as clear-cut cases of police murdering Black people regularly end in dropped charges or acquittals of the police responsible. It was just four years ago in the Twin Cities that the police officer who murdered Philando Castile in front of his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter was acquitted. And we know, sickeningly, that more murders pass without nearly the same attention not because they’re any less unjust or horrific, but because they went unfilmed. 

We normally write these monthly newsletters to tell you what we’re thinking about, and the truth is that everything feels hollow right now in the face of such staggering pain and massive injustice. And frankly, what we feel isn’t the point, because we know what we’re feeling right now isn’t comparable on any level to the anger, pain, fear, exhaustion, and more that our Black friends, neighbors, and colleagues are grappling with. To everyone who’s suffering right now, our hearts ache with you. 

It’s important to say some things that we do know. We know that what’s happening right now is a pattern of abuse and violence that stretches back for generations. That this isn’t about a few bad apples in a few cities; it’s about a system that’s fundamentally rotten, designed to terrorize instead of protect. Before murdering Floyd, police officer Derek Chauvin had been subject to eighteen complaints -- all but two closed without discipline. When a system “fails” eighteen times, it’s painfully clear that it’s not actually failing. It’s working as designed -- to protect police officers as they terrorize Black and brown communities. In other words, to protect white supremacy -- together with the prison industrial complex, the latest manifestation of a system that extends back to our history of slavery.

In the wake of this horror, as protests have begun in Minneapolis and spread nationwide, we’ve seen the ways in which people, organizations, and structures assert the continued horror of white supremacy -- the brutal police responses of tear-gas and projectiles, the immediate turn to arrests, the media focus on property damage over the injustice of George Floyd’s murder and the deeper, longer crisis of lives destroyed by racism. Compare these reactions to just a few weeks ago, when overwhelmingly white “reopen” protestors with AR-15s invaded statehouses in Minnesota, Michigan, and Ohio -- and were treated with respect and caution by police. And now, Donald Trump is openly calling for the murder of (Black) protesters.

The events of this week have been a series of visceral, painful reminders of the realities that our Black friends, neighbors, and colleagues live with every day in our white supremacist society. Minneapolis demands an immediate response, but for white folks like us two writing this newsletter, these events also call for reflection on how we show up as allies. Those of us who have privilege must show up in support. We must push ourselves, and our own families and friends. That’s our job. Directly impacted people cannot and should not carry this burden alone.

What we’re reading

Indivisible has put together an initial resource on standing in solidarity with Minneapolis, which focuses heavily on local, Black-led racial justice organizations to support and amplify. We also highlight a few different resources that we think are important right now, including this Google Doc with anti-racism resources for white people, and this classic essay on white privilege by Peggy McIntosh. There are a ton of valuable essays and articles to read through if you’re looking to self-educate or just remind yourself of key ideas and actions you’ve learned about before.

One thing we think it’s important to understand right now, is that the events in Minneapolis -- and now across the country -- are taking place against a backdrop of a pandemic that has disproportionately harmed Black and brown communities. That’s not an accident -- it’s the product of systemic oppression, and the Trump administration’s response has been driven by a calculus that, quite simply, values white comfort and wealth over Black and brown lives. This piece by Adam Serwer in the Atlantic earlier this month describes what he calls “the COVID racial contract.” As Serwer writes, “White Americans are also suffering, but the perception that the coronavirus is largely a black and brown problem licenses elites to dismiss its impact. In America, the racial contract has shaped the terms of class war for centuries; the COVID contract shapes it here.” COVID reveals this reality in stark terms, but the reality was there all along. 

We hope essays like Serwer’s, along with the briefs, webinars, and trainings Indivisible puts out are helpful for understanding the moment we’re in. But education alone is not enough -- our goal is to marry an understanding of reality with active use of our privilege and power in order to affect real change. So, yes, these are the things we are reading at this moment -- but we are reading in order to act.

Until next time

We’ll close by again encouraging you to follow, uplift, and support the following organizations fighting for justice in Minneapolis:

We’re working together to build a better world at a time when everything seems to be crumbling around us. The hard times keep getting harder, for some of us even more than others. That makes this work all the more important. We believe we can build a movement based in the politics of solidarity -- in standing indivisible with one another against the forces of hate and bigotry. We’re thankful to every Indivisible member for building that movement with us.

In solidarity, 

Leah & Ezra