This week we are bearing witness to the life and tragic murder of George Floyd. We echo the sentiments condemning the insidious acts that have taken George, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubery, Manuel Ellis, Charleena Lyles, and too many other Black lives from this world so senselessly and so soon. We stand with the Black Community, Indigenous People, and all People of Color in solidarity, support, and love calling for justice and an end to the racism and inequity endemic to our culture and institutions.
It is an extraordinary moment deserving of our outrage. We cannot look away from George Floyd – as the Reverend Al Sharpton said in Floyd’s memorial yesterday, the violent knee on his neck is emblematic of the history of the Black experience in the U.S and must not be in vain. We are heartened to see strong and compassionate statements calling for justice in response to George Floyd’s murder from so many of our colleagues in the last week – a testament to the lifelong work of Black people that have fought for equality and waited centuries for their lives to matter. These statements are powerful, but it is high time that the magnitude of our actions far exceed the power of our words.
Governor Inslee’s Poverty Reduction Work Group (PRWG) recently released a 10-Year Plan to Reduce Poverty and Inequality in Washington state. The experiences shared from PRWG members of color combined with data showing racial disproportionality in multiple domains of well-being undeniably link the experience of poverty to our nation’s history of racism and the creation and perpetual growth of the criminal justice and corrections system. The first two strategies in the plan aim to undo the harmful effects of structural racism and historical trauma in state policies, programs, and practice and ensure Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have an equal say in decisions that have the greatest impact on their lives. The remainder of the plan focuses on the changes needed to give all Washingtonians the opportunity to reach their full potential in life, including shifting resources away from the systems that have undermined communities of color for far too long.
We cannot wait 10 years. There is no shortage of solutions – Indigenous, Black, and Brown people have been telling us what needs to happen for centuries. It is time to follow their lead and act – implementation of the 10-year plan must begin now.
How we show up as individuals and institutions in the coming weeks and months will determine our collective well-being as a nation and state. Honoring the life and legacy of George Floyd demands we hold ourselves, each other, and the institutions in which we reside accountable to a more equitable future – one in which Black, Indigenous, and People of Color can breathe safely, fully, and freely.
We are the people of color who strategized with our white allies to develop Governor Inslee’s 10-Year Plan to Reduce Poverty and Inequality in Washington state. A plan that centers racism as the core of our ongoing struggle to find real, tangible, sustainable solutions to comprehensive structural and institutional change.
We are outraged, but not surprised, that it has taken yet another act of violence against a Black man for Communities of Color to be heard. For the spark of the cry for justice to finally reach the halls of power across the nation. For our allies, some new and some old, to find a new boldness through which to speak out forcefully for change.
We stand in solidarity.
We condemn the acts of aggression and violence that have spiraled out of control in our society, where the dehumanization of African Americans and the utter disregard for the value of Black and Brown lives, has spiraled out of control at the hands of law enforcement and others. For the sake of our nation, there is an urgent need for policy reform at all levels of government, as well as other institutions, organizations and businesses that are a part of our community, to dismantle these systems of oppression immediately. This reform must reflect the acknowledgement of racism and biases that exist against People of Color and include swift action to begin to remedy the centuries old structures that exert power and control over people of color.
The 10-Year Plan submitted to Governor Inslee is a call to action. The plan took two years to build; asked communities of color what they needed; was guided by people with lived experience; and had a cross section of government entities, non-profits, and industry. The recommendations span policy, process and culture and is a start to drive change. While our plan addresses the symptoms of poverty, be not mistaken, the scourge of systemic racism and injustice impacts all people of color, no matter the economic status.
We stand in partnership with the rest of the PRWG, Communities of Color and other allies to drive forward the change that is needed.
PRWG Caucus of Color
- Governor Inslee
- Employment Security Department
Department of Social & Health Services
Washington Student Achievement Council
- Health Care Authority
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Health
- Department of Children, Youth and Families
- Partners in Employment
- United Ways of Pacific Northwest
- Washington State Community Action Partnership
- Goodwill Industries of Olympic and Rainier
- Chief Seattle Club
- NW Harvest
- Lummi Nation
- Catholic Community Services
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