June 10, 2020
George Floyd. Manuel Ellis. Tony McDade. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Nina Pop. We say their names and the names of so many other Black people murdered because of the color of their skin.
We see and hear the pain and rage of their families and friends, and members of Black communities around the country, who are mourning the loss of their loved ones and calling for an end to white supremacy.
As a white-led social justice organization, we apologize for our silence. Our own white supremacy culture and white privilege led us to the incorrect conclusion that the world would know where we stand. But we have a responsibility to educate ourselves, speak out, and act.
We stand in solidarity with those protesting the structural racism that leads to violence against Black people and vast inequities in all areas of life – education, housing, employment, health, safety, criminal “justice,” and more.
This is not just an issue of police brutality, and it is not a new issue. Racism permeates every aspect of our society and has done so for more than 400 years. The recent murders of Black people and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) have magnified the effects of systemic racism and white supremacy. We cannot look away, stay silent, or go back to “normal.”
At the Public Justice Center, we use legal tools to advance social justice and racial equity, in order to dismantle systemic racism in our laws, policies, and institutions. Our mission to build a just society is predicated on achievement of racial equity. We cannot achieve that mission without listening to and amplifying the voices of Black people and taking our lead from Black-led organizations fighting against racism.
We know we must do more to call out racism in all its forms, whether in the Public Justice Center, in other institutions, in our relationships, or within ourselves. We call on our white staff, donors, partners, and community members to face our racist history and present, to acknowledge our own role in upholding structural racism and to fight for its demise, to learn how to be authentic co-conspirators, to support and work with Black people to tear down the structures of oppression, and to support the agency and power of Black communities. For your own learning and reflection, we recommend resources from Baltimore Racial Justice Action, Showing Up for Racial Justice and Both/And.
We also urge you to support Black-led organizing groups who are fighting for change. We invite you to join the PJC in making a donation to Organizing Black, a Black-led organization in Baltimore and a leader in the local protests. Organizing Black is leading the call for an end to white supremacy and the reimagination of justice for Black people and communities.
We have much work to do. Let this moment be an urgent reminder of the necessity of deepening our commitment to anti-racism and striving to embody it in our lives together.