A Message to the Bread for the City Community
Written on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 10:30 am by George Jones in Advocacy, Racial Justice
Bread for the City Community,
Over the past month our country has been battered by tragedies in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas. These shootings remind us of two difficult truths: wishing we lived in a post-racial society doesn’t make it so, and the issue of race and all of its complexities will challenge us for years to come.
In response to these recent tragedies, several Bread staff members met to discuss the trauma of the shootings – both of police officers and those at the hands of police officers. In these discussions, we sought to address one central question: What does all of this chaos and pain mean for our work in social justice?
Many of you know that several years ago, Bread for the City made the commitment to pursue our social justice work through the lens of racial justice. This meant we would first look to educate ourselves about the historic and social underpinnings of the racial tension that persists in our country. We have engaged our staff, Board members, and clients in trainings about the long history of racism in America. Through our daily work with clients and our own personal experiences, we cannot help but see how racial bias still permeates so many institutions in the country and continues to manifest itself in schools, the housing industry, and the justice system.
As leaders from both sides of the political spectrum have recognized, people of color have a different experience of American institutions than those who are white. We must all do a better job of understanding why many people of color view institutions with such suspicion. The recent gun violence has resulted in too many innocent people paying the ultimate price. But the divide in our communities and country is based on problems far more complicated than the headline police shootings. At the heart of the frustration and anger felt by so many people of color are the facts: their children attend public schools that fail to educate them; they are routinely locked out of the work force; they pay 50 to 60% of their income for housing; and they are profiled so systematically by the criminal justice system that they are far more likely to be arrested than their white neighbors suspected of the same crimes.
In our post-civil rights world, many of us have silently agreed that race doesn’t matter. Sadly, this is magical thinking. We cannot wish away a deep-seated issue like racism.
Events like those in recent weeks and those that occurred not long ago in Ferguson, Baltimore and New York City sound a persistent alarm that real work must be done to address this difficult problem.
Bread for the City invites its community of partners to join us in our commitment to help make the systems in our organization, city and country more racially just. For more information on how your organization can get involved in the fight for a more racially equitable DC, contact me at 202-386-7602.