I hope that we are in the midst of a revolution in our country. I hope that finally — after over 400 years of slavery, segregation, state-sanctioned violence, and ongoing discrimination — we have reached a point where we can collectively say that Black Lives Matter while also taking concrete actions to make those words a reality.
It has been an extraordinarily challenging few weeks in our country, coming on top of an extraordinarily challenging few months. But these challenges and struggles are nothing new to Black communities. To our Black students, families, colleagues, and friends, we see your anger, pain, and frustration. And we also see and celebrate your beauty, your resilience, and your strength. We stand in solidarity with you as we collectively work for change.
To our students, families, colleagues, and friends who are not Black or Indigenous but are still people of color (POC), I know that the current moment is forcing some very difficult conversations about the anti-Blackness that is often present in other communities of color, even as you navigate the realities of racism and police violence that are also directed at you in this country. As an organization, we are providing space for our students to have those conversations and think about how they can eliminate anti-Blackness in their communities.
And to our White students, families, colleagues, and friends (and I count myself among this group), I hope we are all reflecting deeply on the ways in which we have all — knowingly or unknowingly — reinforced systems of White supremacy and institutionalized racism in this country. And I hope we are all making specific plans for how we can destroy those systems.
At OneWorld Now, we pride ourselves on fostering leadership in intentionally diverse groups of students, rooted firmly in the belief that youth have tremendous power to make positive change in the world. We know, however, that we still have much to learn in order to be a truly anti-racist organization, one in which we don’t just promote diversity and inclusion, but actively work to dismantle racist power structures that have excluded Black, Indigenous, and other people of color for far too long. As an organization that is currently White-led, we commit to prioritizing that learning, owning our mistakes when we make them, and taking meaningful actions that stem from our learning.
To begin, we make these commitments to our internal work:
Investing in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training for our staff and board.
Redesigning our Leadership curriculum to ensure all programming includes a racial equity lens.
Further developing structures to ensure that we, as an organization, are accountable to the students of color that we serve.
To reflect our commitment to the broader community, we want to follow the lead of Black-led community organizing efforts and offer our endorsement of a set of demands made by Black communities in Seattle. We also invite each of you to take similar actions. These demands include the following:
Reducing funding to the Seattle Police Department, with funds reallocated to community-led health and safety strategies.
Ending the relationship between Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Police Department, knowing that Black students cannot feel safe in schools where police officers are present.
Making underutilized public land available to Black-led community-based organizations.
OneWorld Now endorses these demands, as made explicit by Black Lives Matter Seattle – King County, King County Equity Now Coalition, and Decriminalize Seattle. We will continue to look for opportunities to support the movement, and we also encourage our community to sign on to these demands as individuals.
We all have a role to play in ending systemic racism. And in this moment specifically, those of us who identify as White or as non-Black POC have a role to play in ending anti-Black racism. My final request is for you to reflect deeply on what you want your role to be.
To a world of peace with justice,