This is a Moment of Reckoning
The murder of George Floyd broke the collective heart of this country, and now, finally, millions of people are saying the names of an endless list of Black Lives stolen at the hands and knees of police. The legacies of slavery and unfulfilled civil rights, colonialism and erasure, hatred and violence, have always been in full view. Turning away is no longer an option. Superficial reform is not enough.
We, the Family Crisis Center Board and Staff, are joining ICADV, Iowa CASA and dozens of other victim service agencies to call ourselves to account for the ways in which this movement, and particularly the white leadership within this movement, has repeatedly failed Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) survivors, leaders, organizations, and movements:
- We have failed to listen to Black feminist liberationists and other colleagues of color in the movement who cautioned us against the consequences of choosing increased policing, prosecution, and imprisonment as the primary solution to gender-based violence.
- We have promoted false solutions of reforming systems that are designed to control people, rather than real community-based solutions that support healing and liberation.
- We have invested significantly in the criminal legal system, despite knowing that the vast majority of survivors choose not to engage with it and that those who do are often re-traumatized by it.
- We have held up calls for “victim safety” to justify imprisonment and ignored the fact that prisons hold some of the densest per-capita populations of trauma survivors in the world.
- We have ignored and dismissed transformative justice approaches to healing, accountability, and repair, approaches created by BIPOC leaders and used successfully in BIPOC communities.
We acknowledge BIPOC’s historical trauma and lived experiences of violence and center those traumas and experiences in our commitments to move forward. We affirm that BIPOC communities are not homogeneous and that opinions on what is necessary now vary in both substance and degree.
This moment has long been coming. We must be responsible for the ways in which the work of our movement directly contradicts our values. We espouse nonviolence, self-determination, freedom for all people and the right to bodily autonomy as we simultaneously contribute to a pro-arrest and oppressive system that is designed to isolate, control, and punish. We promote the ideas of equity and freedom as we ignore and minimize the real risks faced by BIPOC survivors who interact with a policing system that threatens the safety of their families and their very existence. We seek to uproot the core drivers of gender-based violence yet treat colonialism, white supremacy, racism, and transphobia as disconnected or separate from our core work.
A better world is within reach. It is being remembered and imagined in BIPOC communities around the world, and it is calling us to be a part of it.
In this world:
- all human beings have inherent value, even when they cause harm; people have what they need – adequate and nutritious food, housing, quality education and healthcare, meaningful work, and time with family and friends; and
- all sentient beings are connected, including Mother Earth.
It is time to transform not only oppressive institutions, but also ourselves. Divestment and reallocation must be accompanied by rigorous commitment to and participation in the community solutions and supports that are being recommended by multiple organizations and platforms. We are listening to and centering BIPOC-led groups, organizations, and communities. We join their vision of liberation.
We have spent decades building our movement’s voice and power. How we use them now will define us in the years ahead. Let our actions show that we did not stand idly by. Let them show that we learned, changed, and will continue to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter is a centering practice for our work.