We, the board and staff members of PRAB, have observed the events of the past several days, and find this to be a sobering, sorrowful moment in our nation’s history. Our hearts break for George Floyd and the countless Black men and women across our country who have died at the hands of law enforcement. Our hearts also break for Black community members, whose lives are endangered by engaging in basic daily affairs. We simply cannot stand in silence while they are subjected to harmful policies and actions. They have been treated unequally and have received greater punishment, and this must stop now.
We stand in solidarity with the Black community and in its call for social equality. We acknowledge that Black community members have unique life situations, and our society should adjust its institutional services and resources and use their assets to ensure they provide equity to this community. We recognize the fear they feel about their rights and safety. We already have seen the negative emotional impact on young people, who have witnessed violence and have even questioned the viability of their hopes and dreams.
We believe that everyone must work together to ensure justice, equity, and safety for Black community members. Thus, we as a collective voice call for the following changes in our society:
- Uphold the law
- Protect and serve all people equally
- Require counseling and training for officers, ensuring they implement their learning and not be satisfied with just their participation in these activities
- Diversify the police force, which may prevent future killings of Black community members
- Have ZERO tolerance for abuse of power, excessive force, racial profiling, etc.
- End racial profiling within the police force
- Hold officers accountable for abusing their authority, including stripping their badges, charging them like civilians, and removing their benefits for felony convictions
- Engage in community safe haven programs and other effective community policing strategies
- Provide alternatives to policing, such as mental health response teams
- Institute a community complaint review board and equip it with subpoena power
- Create partnerships with community members to develop appropriate strategies that address their issues in a responsible and respectful way
Community Institutions (including PRAB)
- Speak with Black community members and listen to their issues
- Provide meaningful guidance and support them
- Recognize their assets and contributions to our society
- Include their representation in decision-making processes
- Engage them in making meaningful institutional and community change
- Provide them physical and mental health services
- Help them know their human and civil rights
- Increase sharing of information and resources to ensure their improved quality of life
- Increase opportunities for black staff members to plan and lead cultural programming for the broader public that shares the black experience and can educate and further unite us (i.e., art, poetry, spoken word, storytelling, book club, dance performances, speaker series, etc.)
- Provide cultural sensitivity training for staff, educators, students, and parents with follow up to ensure implementation
- Listen to each other and acknowledge the pain of our fellow community members
- Strive to achieve equity for Black community members
- Be partners in their life’s journey
- Speak out about their needs
- Promote and advance high-quality education and health services in Black communities
- Reject discrimination toward the Black community by all races, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, creeds, etc.
We at PRAB support diversity and embrace the mosaic of faces in our institution. We serve people of all nationalities, racial and ethnic origin, and religious and political affiliations. We reject discrimination because of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or physical disabilities. We do not tolerate racism by any means. Everyone is welcome here!
We believe that the community responses are just the beginning. We cannot stop now. We must make changes for our children and future generations. We must come together to reflect and discuss actions we can take for the betterment of all. Who will we be in this moment? We are all one community. We call on everyone to be active participants in bringing about meaningful positive change for everyone, particularly our Black brothers and sisters.
Partners in Your Life’s Journey,
PRAB Board, Staff, VISTAs, Interns, and Volunteers