What we have seen over the past year has been the grieving process of a number of communities in the wake of the killings of numerous African American people-men, women, transwomen, and children-by law enforcement officers and, more recently, by a white supremacist.
This is not new. The deaths in the African American community are not more frequent now than before. We are noticing now because these communities made people notice and made their grief heard. Reactions to grief can be disparate and all are valid. And sometimes they are angry. And sometimes they are violent. And sometimes they wake us up and sometimes they lift us up.
The staff at WCSAP took some time on the morning of June 26th to watch Senator Clementa Pinckney's funeral service. It was an incredible honor to bear witness to a community's resilience in the wake of devastation. It fostered hope for the future and gave new meaning to the word grace.
However, we are mindful that once the immediacy of violence has passed, it is easy for us, especially those of us who are not members of the community targeted, to become complacent. As President Obama urged us in his eulogy at the service:
"…It would be a betrayal of everything Rev. Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again. Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on-to go back to business as usual. That's what we so often do, to avoid the uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society. To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change. That's how we lose our way again."
Recognizing this truth, WCSAP staff have recommitted ourselves to anti-racism work, and to strengthening our intersectional analysis of a dominant white supremacist culture and sexual assault, and to putting that analysis into practice. We don't have all the answers about how to do this work and we don't know exactly what it will look like, but we're committed to figuring it out and to not being silent. We will strive to be transparent with you about our process and progress.
This is not a moment in time; our anti-racism work is an on-going process and requires on-going commitment. Our recommitment now is not only due to the intersections of racism and sexual violence; it's about the larger presence of violence against African American communities.
To that end, we want to align our efforts with those of African American leaders in the movement and invite others to share their voices and experiences with us. We are asking our members to join us in this process and expect we will learn together and support each other.
We cannot allow the racist history of this country to continue to inform daily routines, thought processes, agency practices, and the delivery of victim services for sexual assault survivors.