To our member agencies, community partners, and our most treasured stakeholders, the survivors of sexual abuse and assault, who we hope to support and whose painful, lived experiences we hope to remember and transform through our work:
Like many of you, NCCASA staff have been watching recent events unfold while feeling our own hearts crush under the weight of centuries of collective grief and rage. We are heartbroken and grief-stricken by the murder of George Floyd and other Black folx killed without justice or recourse. We have watched the protests, and seen the responses to those protests erupt into violence.
Like you, we navigate this work carrying the complexities of our own experiences -- our own identities, our own trauma, and (for many of us) our own lived experience of the very forms of violence in which we spend our entire work day, every day -- working for you (and for all of us) at the impact sites of our own personal, familial, and cultural trauma. We are experts in trauma and we recognize the traumatic impact of centuries of racist policy and behavior on the personal and systemic levels. We, with each Black life taken by police, or each policy created that harms Black lives, have seen the continued and growing inevitability of protest.
We stand in solidarity with those demanding justice and with those demanding an end to police violence against Black people, and affirm our commitment to de-escalation and sensible decarceration practices, and to community-based interventions and transformative justice responses to violence.
We recognize the role of historical trauma, and the ways in the journey to recovery from personal trauma parallels our national and cultural recovery from trauma. As Dr. King reminded us, “A riot is the voice of the unheard.” We hear that voice now, on our social media feeds, in our news, and on our streets and in our communities. We hear that voice in the voices of our Black and Brown siblings, friends, coworkers, leaders, and community members, and we see that the less their justified rage and grief are heard, the louder they grow.
We see the Black Lives Matter movement and nationwide protests that are happening daily as a response to cultural trauma. Black folx have faced historical, intergenerational, and current trauma at the hands of white supremacy. When we tell Black folx how to feel and act, we are further traumatizing this community. We hear the voice of protesters, and we are listening. We look to healing (as we do with personal trauma in the lives of the survivors we love and support and whose voices we carry with us into every meeting), and we remember that healing is sometimes messy and painful. We look ahead to a time when all people are heard, when Black lives matter and Black voices are treasured, knowing that will be when trauma has been acknowledged and the rebuilding can begin.
What will that new world we are creating be? How will our existing systems transform? What new systems will rise up from this pain and its healing? How can we learn from the past, from our ancestors, as we shape something new for the future? These are questions that we will struggle with throughout this messy healing process. For today, for now, we take direct action that affirms the safety, worth, and absolute preciousness of Black lives. We cannot afford to be silent.
Join us in caring for those that have been hurt by overt and subtle forms of racism. Add your voice to those who have experienced or fear the sustained injustice in our society by taking action against inequality. We recognize that our Black and Brown friends and colleagues are already deeply engaged in this movement, living every day with the realities of racial injustice. We cannot and will not heal hundreds of years of racial violence overnight, and invite you to join us in committing to ongoing and long-term work for racial justice. This is not a sprint that will end when the media coverage quiets down; it is a marathon, and we must be prepared to center racial justice in our work, in our communities, and in our own lives each day, in every moment.
For aspiring white allies and accomplices, here are a few suggestions:
- Talk to your family members and to your family friends. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/31/george-floyd-riots-violence-looting-words-matter-experts-say/5290908002/
- Teach your children to respect and stand up for racial justice. https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/01/health/protests-racism-talk-to-children-wellness/index.html
- Learn about white privilege, inequality, and racism. https://www.racialequitytools.org/fundamentals/core-concepts https://www.adhoc.fm/post/black-lives-matter-resources-and-funds/
- Work each day to improve your understanding, make changes in your daily life and help those around you do the same. Complete racial equity trainings. Read work from BIPoC. Decenter yourself in discussions of race; do more listening and less talking.
- Speak out on social media and help to amplify messages from people of color. Defend people’s right to participate in non-violent demonstrations.
- One way to show your support for those who are protesting is to bring them water or food.
- Remember that protests can be traumatic. If you attend a protest, remember to take care of yourself in the hours and days afterward, and reach out for help if you need it. If you are unable to attend protests, consider reaching out to friends you know who did to check in on them -- Do they need a debrief? A processing buddy? Consider what you’re able to offer.
- Urge your legislators to support reforms that will promote equality and stop police brutality.
- Put together a virtual letter writing party or cold calling party. Contact your legislators with your friends that also want to engage in activism
- Here’s a link to NCCASA’s “Engaging Your Elected Officials” page: http://nccasa.org/our-work/public-policy/engaging-your-elected-officials/
- Support Black-owned businesses and Black artists.
- Donate to Black organizations working for racial justice and equity. https://www.popsugar.com/news/where-to-donate-for-racial-justice-47519300
- Keep your cameras ready.
- Make a commitment to not remain silent. Do your research beforehand, genuinely apologize when you are told you have caused harm, listen when POC and allies are teaching you, and lean into that moment of personal growth. You will get through the discomfort.
Lastly, to all of the Black and Brown survivors, advocates at local rape crisis centers, community organizers and staff at NCCASA: We see you. We hear you. You are beautiful. Your life matters. Your families’ and friends' lives matter. You are loved.