This week we heard a verdict that delivered some justice to George Floyd’s family, to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities in the U.S., to Minnesotans of all races and creeds, and Black communities worldwide. Shortly thereafter, we were barely unable to exhale when we heard of the violent taking of the life of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who called the police for support only to have her life taken at their hands. I know I speak for the AFF staff in sharing that we, like many of you, are holding complex emotions amidst overwhelming grief…for George, Ma’Khia, Daunte, Adam and for the countless others across generations who we’ve lost to police violence.
I want to lift up George Floyd’s family — nothing can ease your pain. Our deepest condolences and desire for healing and repair. I want to lift up Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old Black girl who shot the videotape that documented Derek Chauvin’s brutal murder of George Floyd.
I want to lift up the Black Lives Matter movement, countless organizers and allies who took to the streets, and the folks in community who made it their business to demand justice — all with the purpose of honoring George’s memory, deepening their personal commitment to the fight for racial justice and bravely dismantling white supremacy one interaction at a time.
I want to lift up people-power and acknowledge those who saw injustice, and spoke out against it with their bodies, through their organizing, their art-making, their donations, their work at the polls, their prayers, their love and their truth-telling.
I want to lift up the jury — six white and six Black/People of Color — who together were able to ensure that accountability at the hands of our legal system could be realized. It was not that long ago that juries let off George Zimmerman, Daniel Pantaleo (who killed Eric Garner) and countless others (police and civilians) who haven’t been held accountable.
It was painful to explain to my children as we awaited the verdict that just a few short decades ago, unpunished deaths of Black people were social events called lynchings in our country. They were filled with joy and celebration for some white communities and terror and deep pain for Black and Indigenous and People of Color communities. At their young ages, my children were skeptical but more hopeful than I was for justice. To this day, the rage and sorrow I felt 30 years ago for Anthony Baez and Amadou Diallo as a young girl in the South Bronx — the lesson that I lived in a place that allowed unpunished police violence — was imprinted in my being forever. This week’s verdict is held amidst the memories of countless incidents of state-sanctioned violence against BIPOC communities. Grantee partners like Movement for Black Lives, Make the Road NY, Communities United for Police Reform, Live Free Campaign, Young Women’s Freedom Center, among so many others, have the track record to prove that this demand for justice continues to be a long road.
I wish I could feel a sense of gratification about this verdict, but all I feel is deep grief and loss. Our current justice system can’t undo the harm and loss of life. It can’t prevent future harm or police violence. It won’t bring back George, Daunte, Adam, Breonna, Ma’Khia, Anthony or Amadou. Only an altogether different system of community safety and care — the abolition of punitive systems like police and prisons — can deliver justice, safety and a guarantee for a deep regard for human life.
I send you all solace in the grief and strength for our collective fight. I send my deepest sympathy and bittersweet acknowledgement to our Black, Brown and Indigenous family. Our lives have intrinsic value. It is in moments like this when our connection, conviction and organizing — our songs, prayer and ancestral music — come to lift us out of the abyss.
Now is the time for philanthropy to deeply resource BIPOC-led frontline organizations that are advancing abolitionist strategies, healing justice and long term power building for BIPOC communities. It is time to open the floodgates of resources that have historically been locked away and fund well beyond the IRS-required 5 percent. People’s lives are literally on the lines — BIPOC-led organizations need robust resources to turn the tide and powerfully defend communities while building the community-based safety alternatives that render prisons and policing obsolete.
- The Daunte Wright Senior Memorial Fund
- 612 M*A*S*H
- Black Table Arts
- Documenting MN
- George Floyd Global Memorial
Be on the lookout for updates to this blog post about action steps philanthropy and communities can take as directed by our movement partners.
In hope and justice,
Manuela Arciniegas, Director