As someone who has chosen the role of “consultant” in the social change world, I am very aware that we are often looked to for answers in tough moments. As a Black immigrant woman, as a mom to a Black girl, as a wife to a Black man, at this moment, I don’t have the answers. What I have is a lot of grief, anxiety, and fear and pain - pain of being a Black woman in a country that does not value Black lives.
One of the issues I am passionate about is maternal justice, and what I can tell you (and what I have personally experienced) is that the disparities caused by the structural racism and bias confronting Black people begins with birth. In the U.S., the maternal mortality rate among Black women is more than two-and-a-half times higher than white women, while Black infant mortality is twice the rate of white infants. This deadly spectre of racism follows us into schools, haunts us in the streets, looms over us in workplaces. So, no, I don’t have the answers, and I am grappling with how to be and what to do and say right now.
As a thoughtful leader reminded me yesterday, when we don’t know what to do, we can 1) do the next best thing and 2) follow the lead of those directly impacted, which in this case are Black advocates, organizers, and movement leaders. So, that is what I plan to do.
- I am going to keep going back to this twitter thread by Alicia Garza of Black Futures Lab. “We gotta stop looking for easy answers and instead join the hard work.”
- I am going to take part in the Movement for Black Lives’ Week of Action In Defense of Black Lives (June 1st-5th) with daily updated actions.
- I am going to support groups like Anti-Police Terror Project, Black Organizing Project, Black Futures Lab, Expecting Justice and Essie Justice Group - just some of the Black-led groups that are doing the hard work.
- I am going to continue look to the leadership of folks like Gina Clayton-Johnson, Cat Brooks, Jay Jordan, Tinisch Hollins, Lateefah Simon, Zach Norris, Patrisse Osope-Cullors, Ben McBride, Taina Vargas-Edmond and so many others who have been doing this work for so long, often without much accolade or wide- spread support. These are some of the leaders who have been calling for us to end the tyranny of mass incarceration.
- I am going to support Asm. Kamlager-Dove’s C.R.I.S.E.S Act, which would invest in community alternatives to militarized policing and community trauma. Sign the petition.
My dear friend (and our client) Rajasvini Bhansali at Solidaire issued a love letter to the movement this week that is inspiring in its clarity: “We believe that supporting Black-led social change is key to transforming systemic inequality. We understand that social change led by Black people advances racial and social justice for all people. The struggle for civil rights resulted in advancements for women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants, and workers of all colors. We affirm that Black-led social change forges alliances that propel broad and deep societal transformation.”
My hope is that, in this movement moment, we can truly follow, support, and join the hard work being done by Black changemakers who can lead us to that radical transformation that we desperately need.