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Moment of Truth: Statement of Commitment to Black Lives

Banner that reads "Black Lives Matter" covered with post-its of varied colors and writing that is too small to read.
Photo from WSCADV annual conference, 2017

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, 46 sexual assault and domestic violence coalitions, including WSCADV, signed on to the following statement.

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 their names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery – 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 undersigned sexual assault and domestic violence state coalitions 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. We stand with the Black Women leaders in our movement, for whom isolation, risk, and hardship are now particularly acute. And we are grateful to the Black Women, Indigenous Women, and Women of Color – past and present – who have contributed mightily to our collective body of work, even as it has compromised their own health and well-being.

This moment has long been coming. We must be responsible for the ways in which our movement work 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 and support the following:

The undersigned coalitions agree that the above actions are both aspirational and essential. While timing and strategy may differ across communities, states, and sovereign nations, we commit to supporting and partnering with BIPOC leaders and organizations. We commit to standing in solidarity with sovereignty, land and water protection, and human rights. And we say resoundingly and unequivocally: BLACK LIVES MATTER!

The Coronavirus pandemic, unchecked and increased police violence, political and economic upheaval, and stay-at-home isolation have produced the “perfect storm.” We have a choice to make: run from the storm or into it. We choose to run into it and through it. We choose to come out the other side better, whole, loving, just, and more human.

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.

Affirmed by:

Alabama Coalition Against Rape

Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault

California Coalition Against Sexual Assault

California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

CAWS North Dakota

Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin

Florida Council Against Sexual Violence

Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault

Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence

Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Jane Doe Inc. (Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence)

Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc.

Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence

Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence

Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence

New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault

New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence

New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc.

New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence

North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence

Ohio Domestic Violence Network

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence

Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Violence Free Colorado

Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance

Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault