Once again, a Black man was killed by a police officer. His name is George Floyd. He was food shopping and used a counterfeit bill. Once again, people have expressed dismay, sorrow, and anger. Once again people march in the streets to demand change. Will we see change this time?
In 2018, Jason Washington was murdered by armed Portland State University police officers as he tried to de-escalate a fight. The Portland community protested and spoke passionately for the need to disarm Portland State. Those demands went unheeded. In 2017, Quanice Hayes, an African American teen, was shot by a Portland Police officer. Protests erupted and demands were made to demilitarize the police. Independent reviewers even found officers violated their training when they killed Quanice. But nothing changed. These two recent local events are sadly part of the many murders of Black people at the hands of those we thought were here to serve and protect. Each time there is outrage, but the outrage has not yet brought about the needed change.
As we watch peaceful protests descend into chaos, we are saddened. We understand the anger and frustration. We believe in non-violence. Businesses and property have been damaged, but people are more precious than property.
In particular, violence to Black and Brown bodies must stop.
The deaths of the Black and Brown community are a symptom of a deep illness that infects the city and the nation. Racism is the source of genocide of indigenous people that let colonists draw the first property lines in the United States. Racism built the United States. Racism is part of the foundation of Oregon and the City of Portland. Racism permeates every aspect of society. It cannot be escaped. It must be acknowledged.
As members of the Portland Raging Grannies, we support communities of color, and we acknowledge that our efforts may not be enough. These recent events have caused us to reconsider the role we play in a racist society and how the actions we take will allow for a continued racist world or challenge it. To that end, we pledge the following:
- We will listen without agenda when People of Color speak.
- We will educate ourselves using the numerous resources the People of Color have already provided.
- We will acknowledge our mistakes, and we will do our best to not make them again.
- We will not be silent. We will talk with others about racism, especially White people. We will name racist actions and words publicly when we see and hear them.
- We will support Black- and African-American owned businesses.
- We will contribute financially to People of Color-led causes that further racial justice.
- We will demand that the organizations with whom we work ensure that Black and Brown people with lived experience in racism are included in conversations.
- We will advocate for People of Color-led legislation at the local, state, and federal level that addresses racial inequities.