For the past few weeks, people of all ages and backgrounds have been getting out on the streets crying out for justice, shouting and affirming, “BLACK LIVES MATTER”. The death of George Floyd has awakened many to the violence of racism and police brutality, sparking an uprising calling for a radical shift in how our society operates. It seems like many in this country are finally confronting the systemic racism which has pervaded all aspects of our society since its founding, a moment which is long overdue. We have seen and felt incredible grief, sorrow, and outrage, yet I am also hopeful today.
I am hopeful hearing the voices of people on the streets who are ready to step up and take action in their communities. Masses of protesters including allies of diverse backgrounds have taken to the streets both in the US and around the world. An inspiring community garden has taken root in Cal Anderson at CHOP. Japanese Americans with Tsuru for Solidarity have come together standing in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters. I see large numbers of white people taking action both on the streets and elsewhere. I am hopeful that this time, we as a community will all commit to doing our parts to push for lasting change.
I am reminded of the words of a young activist who spoke at a vigil in Brooklyn, NY, held on what should have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday -- she said, “this is no longer about black versus white, this is about all of us versus racism”. Her words stress that we all have a role to play in this fight. As non-Black folks, we may not be the leaders of this movement, nor should our voices be centered; yet, we all have a role to play in the struggle for equity and racial justice.
In the words of Grace Lee Boggs, “you cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.” As Americans, we have a responsibility to fight for Black liberation, to confront the oppression this country was built on.
Yes, protest. Yes, donate to bail funds and organizations at the frontlines. But let’s also commit ourselves to a daily practice of unlearning and undoing systemic racism. In her address to 2020 graduates, Michelle Obama says, “we won’t solve anything if we’re only willing to do what’s easiest. We’ve got to make hard choices and sacrifices in our own lives.” We must fight for Black lives everyday. Leverage your power and influence, consider what tools and resources you have at hand. Let us all take time to reflect upon our own roles and responsibilities as we find a way forward. Below are some resources and places to begin education and action, but this is certainly only a starting point. We all have work to do.
KOBO stands firmly in solidarity with Black communities and protesters demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism. We at KOBO are each doing our own learning and exploring what we can do to dismantle systemic racism. We also welcome ideas around how KOBO can better support this movement and work to confront systemic racism.
We mourn those whose lives were stolen by racism and police violence. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Manuel Ellis, Sandra Bland, Charleena Lyles, and too many other lives have been stolen from this world by white supremacy and police brutality. Say their names. Demand justice and fight for them, so this does not happen again.
Aya BisbeeCaption: Photo from mural on KOBO at Higo storefront in Nihonmachi. Mural by @purplegatedesign, @escot_mexcal, the Murakami Family, and team. “The Japanese American community stands in unwavering solidarity with our Black, Brown and Indigenous siblings, who stood with us through the mass incarceration of our people during WWII. We acknowledge Asian Americans’ legacy of complicity in white supremacy and commit to the ongoing dismantling of it. We acknowledge that Asian American activism is deeply influenced by and in debt to Black American activism. We commit to using our strength and privilege to achieve liberation for all people.” Photo credit: Eugene Tagawa.
Donate. Fund and support grassroots organizing and power-building led by Black communities.
Local community organizations:
This working document compiles organizations to support locally and around the country doing anti-racism work.
Have difficult conversations with friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues. Start talking about race (and racism) with kids. Read books with diverse and inspiring characters to your children and grandchildren!
Support King County Equity Now and sign their petition.
Call and email elected officials to demand change. Here are some scripts to start with.
Protest safely. Join the Juneteenth Freedom March and Peoples Assembly at 2 p.m., this Friday June 19th at 22nd and Madison!
If you are not able to get out and protest, support those who are and consider donating to bail funds around the country.
Be creative! Use the tools and resources you have access to. Here are 75 more ideas
Learn. Read, listen, watch, do what you can to learn about anti-racism work and unlearn racial bias
An introduction to anti-racism resources including books, podcasts, articles, and films.
Black Liberation Reading List created by The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
We have particularly appreciated:
13th by director Ava DuVernay (on Netflix and now available free on youtube)
Whatever you do, take action, even if it’s small. We are not perfect and we will make mistakes, but the commitment to this work is what matters. Take care everyone and be safe!