To the Editor:
Black Lives Matter. This doesn’t mean that Black lives matter at the expense of anyone else. Instead, it opposes actions since before the birth of our nation that have dehumanized Black Americans. The phrase Black Lives Matter should not sound radical or incendiary except to those who are somehow threatened by awareness of the great societal injustice we have not yet resolved. What world have we created where acknowledging someone’s humanity can become a divisive, partisan statement?
Many ask: what can we do next after protests in over 2,000 towns and cities in 50 states and worldwide? For those seeking productive action, first, let’s listen. Listen to the people protesting in the streets now, and to those who have been protesting for generations. We can better educate ourselves. There are volumes of work by Black writers – search beyond the surface of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and read Fred Hampton, Angela Y. Davis, James Baldwin, the Black Panther Party, Ta-Nehisi Coates.
We can put our money and our time where our hearts are. Donate to the Philadelphia Bail Fund, spend money at Black owned businesses, volunteer for causes led by Black Americans and those addressing systemic racism, support arts and music by Black artists. We must hold our elected officials accountable, not only at the ballot box but as vocal constituents. The Governor, members of the General Assembly, district attorneys, magistrates, mayors, township supervisors, and school boards all make critical decisions and can play a role in overcoming the tragedy unfolding repeatedly on our streets.
Most Americans, who polls today show recognize the tragedy of systemic racism, surely do not want to repeat the mistakes of generations before us and miss this opportunity for true change. We offer this statement knowing we are not perfect, and that we have miles to travel on our path to understanding justice and equity. We hope you will choose to act together with us.
Action Together NEPA Board of Directors
Alisha Hoffman-Mirilovich, Lisa Napersky, Jessica Steward Brittain, Barbara Richel, Amanda Cook, Jay Notartomaso, and Dwayne Heisler