Image from the Black Lives Matter fb page.
Now is the time for white people to stand in support and solidarity with black communities calling for an end to police brutality and profiling. As per the suggestions of Showing Up For Racial Justice, members of Little Rock Collective Liberation have penned a letter expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement and an ongoing commitment to non-violent organizing within the Arkansas community.
The Boiled Down Juice is one of many places this letter has been submitted for publication. Little Rock Collective Liberation welcomes additional signatures to this letter. Since the writing of this letter many supporters have signed on in support. If you’re interested in signing on as a supporter, click on the link at the bottom of the page.
An Open Letter to the Little Rock community:
We are an intergenerational group of mostly white people who have spent the past year educating ourselves about historical and current movements for racial justice and looking for ways to support those movements. We see that oppression exists in our society in multiple, interconnected ways (race, class, gender, sexuality, etc.) and we are committed to addressing those issues in all their complexity. We are writing to express our support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and to ask others to join us in working for change from the streets to City Hall.
We were ready to release this letter before we heard the news about the tragic killing of two policemen in Brooklyn. We stand by the statement released by #BlackLivesMatter: “we know all too well the deep sense of loss that a community feels when they lose a loved one. They are in our thoughts and prayers as we continue our movement for justice.” We are working to fix a system that is failing everyone. This movement is about reforming our police departments and our criminal justice system to put an end to practices that are harmful to people of color and their communities. We will continue to stay focused on these goals despite attempts to characterize the movement as violent by those who would seek to undermine our efforts.
We in Central Arkansas have a unique opportunity to lead the state by our willingness to speak out and take action. Nowhere else in Arkansas are so many different kinds of people living and working together in the same geographic area. We can build on a long history of local struggle for an end to systemic racism, from desegregation at Central High to the opposition to I-630 to successful efforts to find a site for the LR Technology Park that would not displace working class communities. There are countless stories and many elders who can teach us about history and offer advice for this moment.
In order to move forward, we need to get real about racism in our lives. Some people think that talking about race is divisive and provocative. We believe that drawing attention to racial disparities and inequality is simply calling out reality. Though we all desire to live in a society where race doesn’t determine a person’s status or value, we have to be willing to see and address the ways in which our society continues to marginalize people of color before we can realize that vision.
Far too often the fight against racism is seen as something black and brown communities must tackle by themselves. But racism—the systematic kind that influences everything from the judicial system to the school system—demands that white people also work to solve it. Our silence has deadly consequences, and if we refuse to address systemic racism head-on, we risk perpetuating it.
Police violence towards people of color has been on the top of our minds recently. Ferguson was the spark that put tens of thousands of people in motion, but the outpouring of grief and action we’re seeing all across the country, including in Little Rock, is linked to much larger systemic issues of racial bias, a broken criminal justice system, and the very foundation of a society and a nation that was designed by white people for the benefit of white people. #BlackLivesMatter is a rallying cry for us all, a reminder that our nation and especially our system of justice have failed to acknowledge the value of black lives. We can see prime examples of the consequences of oppression playing out in our very own community, including the deaths of Eugene Ellison, Deon Williams, Bobby Moore, Monroe Isadore and others.
A recent press conference held by the family of Eugene Ellison and their attorneys shed some light on what’s happening here in Little Rock. The attorneys argue that there exists a ‘code of silence’ where Little Rock police officers are not being held accountable for misconduct allegations. The Ellison case is staggering in itself and we encourage everyone to inform themselves and to share with friends and family the details of this case so that more will help us work towards ending police violence towards people of color and the ‘code of silence’ which enables it. For more information about the Ellison case, go to the Little Rock Collective Liberation Facebook page and look at the pinned post at the top of the page.
We encourage any white person reading this who is sympathetic but has not been vocal about their stance to speak up. Stand beside people of color as they voice their demands for a truly equitable justice system. Write letters to the Department of Justice, to the Little Rock City Board of Directors, to the Mayor, and to the Chief of Police regarding what’s going on in our own community. Let your friends, family, church members, and co-workers know how you feel about these issues and explain why you think it’s important for white people to speak up and address them. Connect with Little Rock Collective Liberation on Facebook for educational articles and updates on local actions. As we continue to educate ourselves and each other about these issues, we can propel more people toward action and bring them out of the silence.
Since the writing of this letter, many additional supporters have signed on. We welcome more committed white people to share this letter and consider signing on as well.
Individuals and organizations are invited to sign on to this letter as supporters. Below is a list of those endorsing Little Rock Collective Liberation’s statement. Please contact Little Rock Collective Liberation or leave a comment below if you’d like to add your name or your organization’s name. Thank you!
Dee Ann Newell
Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice
Add your name by clicking here.