Racial Equity Collaborative.
Read the pledge. Sign the pledge. Act with us.
Equity Means Action.
We, the undersigned, are not-for-profit leaders, artists, organizers, consultants, lawyers, poets, parents, comadres, tíos, cousins working together, fighting for racial equity, racial justice, and equitable investment in Chicago communities.
“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”
We define racial equity as both a process and an outcome. It is the future we want to see, and the reimagination of everyday practices required to get there. You will know it by the fundamentally different style of engagement required to enact it. It is achieved when one’s racial identity no longer determines one’s life outcomes. To shift life outcomes, we must shift decision-making power to those who are most impacted by current and historical inequities.
“A revolution that is based on the people exercising their creativity in the midst of devastation is one of the great historical contributions of humankind.”
Grace Lee Boggs
Our work to define and build consensus and action around racial equity in Chicago has uniquely prepared and equipped us to see this moment — the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, anti-Black police brutality, and subsequent uprisings against systemic patterns of racially-based injustice around the world, including here at home — with an uncommon dual lens: skepticism and possibility.
“Strong people do not need strong leaders.”
We have all read the equity statements. Let us be clear: toothless statements can only harm the movement. History will only remember words that tie to transformation. We cannot simply stand in solidarity. Acting together is what brings that change.
The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it - no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.”
We have witnessed so many of you — also nonprofit leaders, artists, organizers, consultants, lawyers, poets, parents, comadres, tíos, cousins — call out your own organizations and others, take to the streets and the suites to call for real, radical change. Having spent lifetimes grieving, chanting, singing, teaching and fighting alongside Chicago’s Black and Brown organizers and activists, we have learned that what we need most is each other.
But what does sustained equity in action look like? It starts with a liberated vision of society. Activist and organizer Mariame Kaba recently wrote in a NYTimes Op Ed, “People like me who want to abolish prisons and police...have a vision of a different society, built on cooperation instead of individualism, on mutual aid instead of self-preservation.” The current awareness and demand for an abolitionist framework is just one example of the power of grassroots organizing to shift our understanding of what’s possible, and to embrace a collective radical imagination. In Chicago, where Kaba lived and organized for many years, we are clear that our readiness and willingness to work together to find equitable solutions for local challenges causes ripple effects throughout the entire ecosystem.
Each of us started this journey asking ourselves questions. We still use these questions to inspire three key actions in relation to our personal, institutional, and community work: acknowledge history; shift power; and embrace accountability. Today, tomorrow, and until we are all free, we ask each other, and we ask you to:
Acknowledge history: How has systemic and structural racism shaped historical and current events?
Shift power: How do we shift power to groups that have been historically marginalized or harmed?
Embrace accountability: How do we set up systems of accountability that value numbers and narratives?
If you've been wrestling with questions like these in the context of your individual, community or institutional work, we need you in the work to come. Your action may take many forms. We’d like to offer you a place to start, an opportunity to collaborate in committing to making meaningful change, together.
To join Just Action Racial Equity Collaborative and begin building your Just Action Toolkit, sign on to our virtual pledge here.
Because this has changed us
Will continue to change us
But we have trained for this
We who know the power of a we
We who will not let the fists of policy
Beat the faces of the invisible
We know how to link arms across this city