To the Emerge Oregon Community:
The photos from around Oregon of those standing up and shouting that Black Lives Matter so that all of their neighbors and community members can hear this message loud and clear have been inspiring. We feel the urgency – the long overdue urgency – in the fight for justice for Black Americans, and we are committed to helping ensure it is carried forward.
We stand with our national partner Emerge and Emerge President A’shanti F. Gholar in continuing to recruit and train Democratic women who are willing to work in partnership to bring real change. Below is her statement. It’s truly an honor to work with her and the many other Emerge leaders in states across the country who have been and will continue to fight for justice for all.
Executive Director, Emerge Oregon
Statement from A’shanti F. Gholar, President of Emerge
Today and every day, Black lives are to be respected, valued, uplifted and protected. Over the weekend, we saw thousands of Americans come together and raise their voices to protest systemic racism and police brutality. Americans of every background are demanding that our elected leaders and our society do better to safeguard the lives of Black Americans and other marginalized communities.
Structural racism, white supremacy, and anti-blackness are at the heart of what we are seeing in America right now, but so is the struggle to make our country better. While the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery sparked national and global protests in recent days, the frustration from injustice has been mounting for decades. Unfortunately, they are just a handful of the countless Black men and women who have been the victims of racist violence of all kinds since our country was founded.
At Emerge, we are committed to filling the pipeline with Democratic women leaders who will step up and be brave enough to enact real change. We need leaders who will take the concerns of Black communities seriously and fight for a more equitable future for our country. They must have the compassion and conviction to step forward and do something about it when our systems fall short. Currently, there are too many leaders who are failing our communities when it comes to these critical moments, and it’s time for that to change.
We witness these deaths over and over again on social media and in the news with the understanding that the perpetrators will face few consequences if any. And on top of all this, Black Americans have suffered disproportionately from the COVID-19 pandemic–losing loved ones and suffering unemployment at an alarmingly high rate. The pain is almost too much to bear.
It seems that only when there is an uprising do elected leaders take the pain of Black Americans seriously but each time it happens, very little changes. Over the last two months, we have been forced to adjust to a new reality, and we have had a long time to think about how our nation will look when we get past the global public health crisis. I challenge us all to truly consider how we can radically change and update government institutions and systems that Americans depend on each day. From law enforcement to the courts to state legislatures and everything in between.
We need to change every law, system and policy that upholds white supremacy and endangers the lives of Black Americans. We demand that all our political leaders prioritize ending harm against marginalized communities and put policies in place that empower them.
While we call for justice in the deaths of George, Breonna, Ahmaud and the countless other victims of police violence, we know that is simply not enough. Until our society fully acknowledges that Black lives matter in the way we build our institutions, from the way that our streets are policed to access to quality health care and the economic opportunities afforded Black and marginalized communities, there will be no justice.
I hope you will join us in the fight.