Like many of you, the staff at NAO has been following the George Floyd trial as well as the continued horror of the murders of Black men, women, and children at the hands of police who are sworn to protect, not traumatize our communities. We are asking ourselves (particularly those of us who are white and/or non-Black), our members, our partner organizations, donors, and funders to find ways to show up and actively engage in solidarity with, and in support of, Black community members and Black-led organizations.
We can now collectively exhale that accountability – at least in this one case, for the memory of one Black man, father, brother, son, and friend – has prevailed. We can appreciate the magnitude of this moment and work towards a day when accountability is no longer an anomaly for people of color.
Beyond a single court decision, let us also take time to reflect upon how entrenched practices, cultural norms, and power structures can perpetuate inequities in all of our systems. Racism is a legacy in our state’s painful history and racism still exists in Oregon today. We can and must commit to doing better.
We can’t forget Oregon’s history – before it became a state, Oregon wanted to create a whites-only region and when we did join the union in 1859, we were the only state with laws specifically prohibiting certain races from legally living, working, or owning property within our borders. Oregon was founded on racism and that undercurrent still persists in our communities today.
Let us be challenged by the fact that in this moment, we are in a perfect position to create something new together, capturing the possibilities of what an equitable and just Oregon looks like. We encourage nonprofit leaders to take time to figure out how to live out their values in tangible ways, which requires deep, systematic work that stretches beyond social media posts and emails. We believe that change will come slowly, methodically, and with intention, and that examination and shifts around our own privilege is inherent to this process. We believe that nonprofits can and will be the agents of this change by continuing to do the good and necessary work that have positive impact on their communities.
If you aren’t already having conversations within your organization and communities about systemic racism, we urge you to start to do so. Last week, the Building Movement Project sent out an email on why nonprofits should care about the George Floyd verdict – their blog contains some steps that are a good start to having conversations and other actions that nonprofit organizations should incorporate to their equity and inclusion work. You can read more about their recommendations here.
The NAO team