We join the country in mourning the losses of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other people of color who have been unjustly killed across our nation. Our country needs healing. But healing will only come with racial justice.
In addition to taking care of yourself and your loved ones, today we are asking you to do three things: listen, learn, and then vote.
First— listen. Listen to the Black and Brown leaders and members of your community when they speak. Remember that many people are struggling with enormous pain and despair, so we urge self-educating instead of asking Black and Brown people to work for the benefit of your learning. (If you need somewhere to start, we recommend “New Era of Public Safety: A Guide to Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing” with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and “Racism 101” with Showing Up for Racial Justice.) When listening, minimize questions to a simple, “Is there anything I can do to help you today?”
Second— learn. Read our recent statement highlighting AAUW’s stand against racism and this Washington Post article by 2016-17 AAUW American Fellow alumnae Keisha Blain about the problematic history of policing in this country. Systemic racism is firmly rooted in the United States— from police brutality to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. Then talk to your family, children, and friends. Talk to them about how today’s injustices mirror our own country’s shameful history. Saying “Black lives matter” is important and needed. This is an historic moment that requires your vocal support.
Third— vote. And make sure everyone is able to access and exercise this important right. Our democracy works when everyone can fully participate, but people of color often experience discrimination at the ballot box. With a pivotal election ahead, persuading policymakers to expand voting rights is a powerful way to support marginalized communities.
Change begins with understanding and ensuring that all are being heard.
This can be a difficult experience. But it’s incumbent on all of us to do the hard work. We at AAUW also acknowledge as an organization that we have work to do. We invite you to join us in learning and supporting this work towards long-term and lasting change.
AAUW is a powerful and positive force for change— let us truly listen, learn and ensure everyone’s voices can be heard.
In solidarity and strength,