To those who believe in fairness and equal justice:
We, the 2019 cohort of the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, call on everyone to make a daily commitment to work for racial justice. We are a transnational network of activists, advocates, entrepreneurs, religious leaders, scientists, public officials, technologists, and artists who have made a lifelong individual and collective commitment to ending structural racism and anti-Blackness.
The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the racial inequities harming our Black communities, exposing the structures, systems, and policies that create social and economic conditions that lead to health disparities. While the current police violence in the US, South Africa, and around the world and the incitement of even more violence by white supremacist groups in online and offline spaces - are striking reminders of the entrenchment and enduring legacy of racism. In these challenging and painful times, our cohort’s mission of inspiring creativity, connection, humanity, and community compels us to take action.
From our experiences working across issues and across geographies, we know that fighting, disrupting, and dispelling racism, discrimination, anti-blackness, and bias is an everyday practice. It cannot ebb and flow according to the latest egregious acts against people of colour in mass media. It does not begin or end with a social media campaign or public statement of solidarity. This call to action requires participants to be disciplined in the practice of anti-racism, racial justice, and racial equity, which begins with self-examination and includes a range of actions: from subtle teaching moments to spiritual practices, to charged confrontations, to using racial justice as a principle to guide personal and political choices, among others.
There are DAILY opportunities to fight racial injustice and white supremacy both actively--always challenging it when encountered by it--and passively, by supporting your preferred racial justice organisation to do its strategic and ongoing work. This particular moment calls on us all to fight even harder for resourced, empowered and transparent police accountability processes, in addition to abolishing practices of militarisation and the criminalisation of Black bodies.
Your daily actions, in addition to institutional influence, should include introspection and correction of your own biases, reading to understand historical impacts of racism, and involvement in racial equity efforts beyond a singular donation. Your interracial dialogues should hold uncomfortable conversations, those that dispel misrepresentations that dehumanize Black communities and other marginalized groups.
Compounded by the COVID-19 epidemic, silence around racial injustice is corrosive and conveys complicity with it. As we might add, so do nitpicking and hedging. If an unarmed person is dead, justice has not been served. If an innocent person is profiled and demeaned, justice has not been served. If a person is falsely accused, unjustly tried, unfairly sentenced and prevented from productive reentry, justice has not been served.
We’re inspired by those protesting for accountability and change, even in the face of a pandemic and economic depression. And now we call on our global communities to join us in this journey of self-examination and action to disrupt the cycle of oppression and violence experienced by our Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and LGBTQ+ public.
Myriad resources exist to inform and aid those who are committed to fighting anti-Black racism, including here and here. Please avail yourselves of them and take action. As the ideology and theology of white supremacy enters its seventh century of existence, it is time to bring this scourge on humanity to a definitive end.
In pursuit of liberation,
The 2019 Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity:
Cedric Brown [United States] • Jitu Brown [United States] • Zakiya Carr Johnson [United States] • Busisiwe Dlamini [South Africa] • Betsy Hodges [ United States] • Regina Holloway [United States] • Bongiwe Lenga [South Africa] • Mitchell Little [United States] • Dorah Marema [South Africa] • Nhlanhla Mnisi [South Africa] • Koketso Moeti [South Africa] • Constance Mogale [South Africa] • Elana Needle [United States] • Wilneida Negron [United States] • Lovelyn Nwadeyi [South Africa] • Tess Nolizwe Peacock [South Africa] • Kelvin Sauls [United States ] • Devon Simmons [United States] • Dylan Valley [South Africa] • Deloris Wilson [United States]