We at Women’s Advocates stand with Black, Indigenous, and all people of color in grief and outrage over the murder of George Floyd. We mourn the loss of this innocent man, criminally cut down in the prime of his life. We recognize Mr. Floyd’s death as one of countless brutalities against Black people across 401 years of white supremacy on this continent, and one of many state-sanctioned deaths at the hands of police. We are aware of the trauma this murder rekindles in the lives of Black people all across this community and country as they are forced to relive those earlier crimes and atrocities.
Through our tears, we look first in the mirror. It’s true that domestic violence crosses all boundaries of race, culture, and socioeconomic class. But Women’s Advocates’ storied history in the movement to end domestic violence is also a history of mostly white organizational leadership serving predominantly Black victim/survivors. That fact demands of us a heightened level of accountability, humility and empathy. We promise to remind one another of this and hold ourselves to account in the challenging times to come. We are committed to healing ourselves and our organization and have begun the internal work to get there. We hold with reverence our duty to protect, care for, support and celebrate the lives and stories of domestic violence victim/survivors, and to offer a safe space for healing.
We turn our gaze outward as well, to our community and especially to those who have been harmed by the interlocking oppressions of systemic racism, intergenerational trauma, white supremacy and poverty, as well as the acute traumas of physical and emotional violence. Our mission charges us with supporting, serving and advocating for victims as they navigate the healing process. We envision a community free from violence, where all are safe and can live productive and healthy lives. In this work too, we will hold ourselves and our community accountable.
We commit to advocating for change in our community, the kind of change that will someday make our domestic violence shelter a historic relic of a dark past. We commit to leveraging our voice, our power and our privilege to advocate for justice and equity, while continuing to educate ourselves and hold space for the pain and anguish of our BIPOC sisters and brothers. We urge you too, to do what you can – donate, volunteer, get educated, get engaged, raise your voice. You can get started here: https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/minneapolis/how-to-support-the-black-community-in-minneapolis or at the website of our valued community partner, Community Stabilization Project http://www.communitystabilizationproject.org.
As Executive Director, I’m aware that I speak from a place of privilege as the titular leader of an organization encompassing more than 40 staff members and countless victim/survivors of violence, with a range of identities and lived experience far deeper and broader than one individual can represent. I commit to creating space to lift up and share diverse voices from our broader collective in the coming days and weeks.
Work for change, make change, be the change. Our community, our legacy, our mission, and the memory of George Floyd demand no less.
Estelle Brouwer, Executive Director, Women’s Advocates