We are in a pivotal time. 2020 has been all but ideal since its inception, but recently, social dialogues have focused on an issue endemic to America. Even COVID-19 and social distancing have not stopped us from striving for racial justice and human rights.
In May, we added George Floyd to the list of unjust murders of innocent Black Americans by police officers in the United States. And then we added another with Rayshard Brooks. Now we hear about the suspicious hanging deaths of at least two Black men in California. All the while we remember the murders of Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray, to name a few. Within our own city, we remember Kendra James, Aaron Campbell, Quanice Hayes, and Keatis Otis, to name a few. We remember the unnecessary deaths and meaningful lives lost in the 1921 Tulsa race massacre and the 2015 Charleston church shooting--these two events are separated by 94 years in time, but united by the timeless rhetoric of hatred and anti-Blackness.
These deaths and murders should not have happened, but they did. Racism and anti-Blackness should not exist, but they do. Hatred, bigotry, and intolerance should not exist, but they do.
The history of our country, our state, and Portland itself -- the way we have defined our workplace standards, the way the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors operate -- all of this speaks to the priorities of white people who have traditionally held power in our society, and our culturally-ingrained practice of diminishing the value of Black lives.
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Portland (YNPN Portland) has not always been as inclusive, equitable, or diverse as we should have been. Despite good intentions, the reality is that YNPN Portland has perpetuated and continues to perpetuate white supremacist culture in our work.
Yes, our board is more racially diverse than ever, and for the first time in our organization’s history, we are BIPOC-led. However, an overwhelming majority of our 2019 member survey respondents identified as white, and we are still grappling with the vestiges of being a historically white-led organization that has generated content by and for white people.
We know we have made strides, but improvement is not where it ends. Accountability is where it all begins.
In honor of Juneteenth, a day of Black liberation and Black celebration, YNPN Portland is sharing out to our constituents a list of local, Black-led, and Black-focused organizations to support, and a list of historical and contemporaneous Portland-specific resources, editorials, and documentaries to enlighten us all on the historical context in which we operate, and our long struggle to make Black lives matter in this society--and yes, in our own community.
We support our local community in the war against injustice, and we work with matched vigor to work internally on ourselves. Keep supporting the work of those around you; keep fighting against oppression and bigotry; and keep hope and humanity alive as we all strive for systemic change.
We are committed to using our platform to amplify voices of Black, Indigenous, people of color, and other underrepresented folx, while also respecting and recognizing that we cannot perpetuate the tokenization of Black and brown speakers, even with the best of intentions.
Our collective liberation requires Black liberation. Stay strong-- we all have a role to play.
YNPN PDX Board