Open letter regarding Black Lives Matter demonstrations
We are individuals in positions of leadership and influence at research institutions, foundations, universities, and public service organizations. Our organizations are not affiliated with any political party.
We are living through a nationwide uprising against police brutality and white supremacist violence, which is being met with yet more police brutality and white supremacist violence. This comes amid a global pandemic that has attacked the lives and livelihoods of communities of color more broadly, who are disproportionately more likely to suffer from co-morbidities associated with poverty, who have been disproportionately denied access to necessary healthcare, who are disproportionately likely to be essential workers, and whose workplaces are disproportionately likely to be hazardous. It comes, as well, in the context of a globalized "pandemic" of militarized supremacist ideology, in which systemic violence against people of color within the United States also threatens international accountability for US violence and imperialism.
We believe that members of the professional classes whose voices are by default treated as authoritative by the media can be useful in directing attention to the voices of Black people and communities directly harmed by police brutality and white supremacy. We believe that the gatekeeping roles many of us hold must be used to affirm the leadership of those at the center of this movement, and that we must actively push back against attempts to dismiss the perspectives of the Black people and communities at the core of this movement as invalid or uninformed. We commit to amplifying the work of Black and Brown scholars and activists, and to resist the appropriation of their ideas and messages.
We hope that the participation of scholars, policy analysts, attorneys, business professionals, and others with signs of status and privilege that are legible to police and media can mitigate violence against demonstrators without this privilege.
We believe it is the responsibility of those sympathetic to these uprisings to counter polarizing race and class stereotypes in media representations of demonstrators, and that to do so means actively resisting attempts to undermine this movement.
We therefore affirm that:
1. We stand in solidarity with demonstrators. We believe that Black Lives Matter, and that police and white supremacist violence must end.
2. We will do everything in our power to enable our colleagues, subordinates, students, and affiliates to participate in the ongoing demonstrations. We call upon our organizations and other organizations to make room for participation by allowing for flexible leave, schedule shifts, and deadline extensions.
3. We will make every effort, however the current crisis resolves, to ensure that support for demonstrators, participation in demonstrations, and arrest in the course of demonstrating will not be used adversely in decisions within our organizations around employment, promotion, funding, partnership, or other support.
4. We recognize that this is a moment of intense grief for many, and that existing networks of support are strained, especially for those whose families and communities are most directly affected by police and white supremacist violence. As such, we call upon our organizations and other organizations to provide unconditional paid leave to affected employees who request it during this period.
5. We recognize that white supremacists habitually target the employment of those who express public solidarity with the aims of the Black Lives Matter protests. We therefore pledge to stand in solidarity with our own employees in the face of cynical and bullying threats to deny them their livelihood in order to shut down their free speech.
6. We recognize that while it is important to react to this current moment, it is equally important to do the necessary and introspective work of evaluating how to improve our institutions and communities to make them racially inclusive and equitable. We call upon leadership at our organizations and other organizations critically assess how our culture, practices, policies, and norms contribute to the anti-black racism and violence, and we commit to publicly sharing and initiating corrective action.
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