As we bear witness to events, like COVID-19, that reveal the impact of racism on our society, we then have to continuously see Black men murdered again and again at the hands of police. Mind you, in the US just this year there were 88 who have experienced this fate, 1004 in 2019 and 996 in 2018. To make it plain, this must stop and this is not the first time we have demanded this (since 1619, over 400 years)
RBAC mourns with the families of the victims of police brutality. The response in our community and around the world regarding the recent injustice surrounding the appalling and senseless killing of George Floyd represents a need for change. At the same time, we also mourn with the families who have experienced loss at the hands of our own sisters and brothers, an age-old matter as well. We also mourn for families who live without fathers. While these last two points may seem off topic, they are not, because these are what we are experiencing too and they are all related. It all speaks to the fact that our public and private systems in America are in crisis. The proverbial band-aid has been ripped off and lays bare all the racial injustices of our society–which we now see for all their ugliness:
-death and brutality at the hands of the police,
-death and violence from our own hands
-too many families without fathers,
-inaccurate media portrayals
-rigged land use policies
-inadequate health systems
-underfunded education systems
-exploitative economic systems
-repressive criminal justice systems
And much, much more. This has been our experience for far too long (again, since 1619, over 400 years).
Federal oversight of the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Public Schools didn’t just come out of thin air. The Seattle Police Department is already on notice for excessive force and Seattle Public Schools is already on notice for excessive suspensions and expulsions of our black and brown children!
As we are in the local context, let’s say the names of those here in the Pacific Northwest that we have lost:
Enosa Strickland Jr
Conner Dassa Holland (Rainier Beach resident)
John T Williams
In the midst of this, we at RBAC see the overwhelming positive work done by many dedicated, bright and talented brothers and sisters. They are probably your relatives and friends. These people sacrifice and work at tremendous odds to stem the tide of these experiences. We must not let the moment discount their work. We at RBAC honor these people. Let it be said here and now WE APPRECIATE YOU! WE APPRECIATE YOU WHOEVER AND WHEREVER YOU ARE!
RBAC recently took a poll of its workers to determine what our response is to be when harm comes to our community, in whatever form it may take. Or if this harm manifests itself in our neighborhood and surrounding community-an injury to one should be a concern for us all. Of the 20 or so ideas generated these were the top ideas.
- Prayer – individually and collectively
- Continue with the delivery of our programs to our neighborhood
- Form an action team with the primary responsibility of coordinating our future responses, but include acknowledging unsung heroes
- RBAC Circlekeepers hold circles on topics needed.
This is a time for action. We will act in a way that injects hope into our situation, act in a way that makes a difference in our neighborhood and this world. This is in part what RBAC was founded to do, that is, address the critical issues occuring in our neighborhood that impact our well being. We have designed programs to this end – Corner Greeters, Farm Stand, Beach Fresh, Food Innovation Center, FreedomNet, Beach Fives, Rainier Beach Clean Crew, YATTA Rising, Community-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (CW-PBIS), Back2School Bash and Town Halls. A specific shout out is deserved here about the Southeast Seattle FreedomNet project. It’s one of the longest-standing efforts after the Back2School Bash and the Rainier Beach Town Halls. FreedomNet recruits, trains, and supports young adults and adults as citizen journalists and in setting up and managing an online information commons intended to broaden awareness of local leadership and initiatives through social media. The multiple channels these young people use include websites (www.seseattlefreedomnet.org, www.rbcoalition.org) facebook, twitter, video production, interviews, live streaming and more. These efforts are best practices to address our public safety needs, our health improvement needs, our leadership development needs, our needs to stay connected and informed. And they are working, look at the data. https://www.rb-safeplaceforyouth.com/resources/data/.
We can do this work. We will continue doing this work, we invite whoever reads this to join us. As the following partners and tables we sit at has done WaBLOC, Rainier Beach A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth, South Communities Organizing Racial/Regional Equity, Rainier Valley Communities of Opportunity, Race and Social Equity Taskforce, City of Seattle, Seattle Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Satterberg Foundation, Rainier Beach Economic Development Roundtable, Atlantic Street Center, Urban Impact and many others.
The question that we invite you to consider is whether or not you, our community will rise up alongside us and do this important work for the community that we all share and love.
The Rainier Beach Action Coalition Workforce
(Read the names as you would for those who have died. These people are about life and deserve the same reverence. The AAM designation is for the African American male RBAC worker who are more likely to die at the hands of police or not enter college than any other ethnic group.
Adonia (Ray) Adams (AAM)
Rashad Barber (AAM)
Cliff Cawthon (AAM)
JJ Conyers (AAM)
Ryan Croone II (AAM)
Gregory Davis (AAM)
Jerrell Davis (AAM)
La Tanya Dubois
Malcolm Dunston (AAM)
Davon Fuller (AAM)
Myles Howard (AAM)
Eddie Grinnell (AAM)
Josiah Marsh (AAM)
King Nisby (AAM)
Guyanthony Parramore (AAM)
Taylon Powers (AAM)
Marisol Santos Perez
Zion Thomas (AAM)
Hailemichael Yirdaw (AAM)