To my people – the State Voices Network,
I am in pain. Black people are in pain. Our communities and country are in pain. I do not have the right words to adequately convey the sadness, frustration, anger, and hurt that I am feeling. There are no right words. However, I know that how all of us are feeling right now is justified.
The righteous rage demonstrated across the country is justified. These uprisings are more than protest; they are a rebellion against white supremacy, racialized capitalism, a democracy that is not working, and the continued oppression, torture and murder of Black lives.
“The righteous rage demonstrated across the country is justified.”
The most recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade were a match ignited on top of the over 400-years of brutality inflicted upon Black communities and felt on a daily basis. As outlined in “A Timeline of Events That Led to the 2020 ‘Fed-Up’-rising” published in The Root, we’re witnessing “a timeline of just some of the events that led up to black people across the country collectively saying,” enough is enough!
Through the pain, I still feel great hope. As lifted up by Black & Tan Hall, a collective in Seattle, WA, I have hope that we recognize that “violent protests are not the story, rather that justice seeking is the story.” Hope that we find solutions to the “root cause of Black and brown people’s pain—the structural inequity that makes us poorer and sicker—our lives under constant threat in our own community.” Hope that “we reimagine economic and social models that support us all.” Hope that white supremacy will be dismantled so we can collectively build a democracy that works for us all. Hope for Black liberation.
“I have hope that white supremacy will be dismantled so we can collectively build a democracy.”
Change is upon us. We have the power to collectively reimagine a new way of being. It will not be easy, and I don’t have all the answers. What I do know is that this is a time to choose sides. Will you be on the side of justice? I know that it is the task of white people to dismantle racism, and all non-black people to dismantle anti-blackness. Will you in the State Voices network dedicate yourselves to this task? I know that the work of State Voices and our partners is essential to protect and advance voting rights, to make sure that people are represented in our democracy, and to create the conditions to build power so everyone has a voice in the decisions that impact their lives. We must commit to all of these ideals fully.
Our work at State Voices must live and breath our new vision and purpose—to build a true multiraical democracy, grounded in building power for Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color so that we can all thrive and live in our full dignity. This means moving beyond a narrow scope of civic engagement to one that moves us toward transformation and justice. This will include our continued work to protect voters and make sure that people can and do vote. However, as Maurice Mitchell, ED of the Working Families Party said, “Voting DOES NOT replace protest. Historically, mass rebellion takes hold when official channels no longer work.”
Many of us are already expanding our work, whether that be the Liberate MKE campaign (Wisconsin Voices & the WI African American Roundtable) working to divest from police and invest in Black communities, or Minnesota Voice organizing and disbursing supplies for the community, raising funds for Black organizations and businesses, and working with partners to demand divestment from police. However, for some of us, this will be a new muscle to exercise. We must all be bold, take risks, and do the work that will get us one step closer to the liberated world we deserve.
“We must move beyond a narrow scope of civic engagement to one that moves us toward transformation and justice.”
Over the coming days and weeks, I will be organizing conversations to share what we are doing across the network, discuss the role we should play, and identify needs. I will send out information on how to support the work in Minnesota and across the county. I will organize money to get it to where it is most needed on the ground.
Over the next week, I ask you to take time to reflect each day on why you do this work, and who you are accountable to.
I am accountable to You! I am accountable to my national team that I have the honor to lead and work with every day. I am accountable to my community and those who are being oppressed – to the liberation of Black and brown folks. I am accountable to my family – my husband who walks this journey with me every day, my parents who raised me to love deeply, my grandmothers, one who grew up a daughter of a sharecropper in Tennessee, and the other a daughter of Irish and German immigrants who grew up poor in the rural Midwest.
I am accountable to building a State Voices with all of you, to be a network that we are all proud to be a part of and is reflective of the values we believe in.
With deep love and solidarity,
Chief Executive Officer