A letter from our Executive Director, Yasmeen Hassan.
Right now, I am mourning for the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the hundreds of others who have lost their lives to an unequal and racist system. I am mourning for their families, their friends, their communities. But I am also mourning for the millions of Black Americans who have lived their entire lives in the shadow of white supremacy, who wake up in a country where institutionalized racism pervades every aspect of American life and too frequently manifests itself in the murder of Black men and women by the police.
Access to justice is a right, not a privilege. When the justice system doesn’t work for every person, it is broken. Right now, the American justice system is broken. Not only do communities of color–particularly Black communities–lack adequate access to legal services, they are also targeted, harassed, and murdered by officers of the law. At Equality Now we fight for access to justice for all women and girls, but success is meaningless if the justice we are fighting for excludes Black and Brown people. Dismantling racism must be part of our fight.
As a feminist organization, and to be true to our values of inclusiveness, integrity, tenaciousness, and perseverance, we have to hold ourselves accountable–both internally and externally–to understanding intersecting forms of oppression. We must never lose sight of the fact that the fight for gender equality is deeply intertwined with other movements that demand humanity and dignity for all people. Historically, the mainstream Women’s Movement has not done this well. Too often, it has silenced Black voices and experiences while amplifying those of White women. Repeatedly, Western feminism excluded non-white communities and leaders to the detriment of equality. We must acknowledge these past failures and commit to dismantling the systems of oppression that impact us all.
While the United States has a unique history of systemic racism, it does not have a monopoly on brutalizing Black and Brown people. The legacy of European colonialism means that indigenous communities have been oppressed for the benefit of white wealth around the world. Black Lives Matter is not only a rallying call in the US, it rings true across the globe. Black lives are degraded and endangered everywhere–through violence; the denial of resources, services and opportunities; and international trade that exploits communities of color at the individual, communal, national, and continental level. We must remember that this is a transnational struggle that involves us all.
By listening, learning, and reflecting, together we can act to build an inclusive future that respects the inherent dignity and freedom of every person. To help in that process I have included a list of resources and organizations that I have drawn upon for insight and inspiration. Thank you for doing the work to dismantle racial oppression and for standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
ORGANIZATIONS TO SUPPORT:
- A Long Walk Home
- The Audre Lorde Project
- Black Women’s Blueprint
- Black Visions Collective
- Girls for Gender Equity
- Southall Black Sisters
- The Runnymede Trust
BOOKS TO READ:
Consider purchasing from a Black-owned bookstore local to your area.
- Roadmap for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism and Advocacy for All by Elisa Camahort Page, Carolyn Gerin And Jamia Wilson
- On Intersectionality: Essential Writings by Kimberlé Crenshaw
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
- Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
- Rock My Soul by bell hooks
- This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell, Aurelia Durand
- Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
- How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea Ritchie
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad