247 W Lovell St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Why do we need to talk about racism? First off, when we talk about racism, we are not just talking about how we are as individuals. We’re talking about something bigger than just you and I or us in this room. We’re talking about systemic racism. It’s pervasive. It’s everywhere. When we make efforts to reform education, public safety, poverty, etc., we are able to make some progress. However, even with that progress you can always predict, without fail, who will be left behind? It will be people of color.
And you don’t have to choose whether you want to work on poverty OR to dismantle racism. You don’t have to choose whether you can improve education OR dismantle racism. You can do both. In fact, we need you to do both. We need you to fight for our babies AND fight the racism that keeps them from succeeding. We need you to fight for criminal justice reform, youth violence, fair housing AND fight the racism that keeps these systems from functioning fairly. And until we are able to talk about racism, we will continue trying the same things over and over again and get the same, predictable results. People of color left behind.
We all need to talk about racism, including White people, because racism misshapes and dehumanizes us all. White people must also join in the movement. This is not about helping, fixing, or saving People of Color. This is about White people finding their own self-interest in engaging in antiracism work in order to build authentic, accountable, and just multi-racial and multicultural relationships.
Why do we need to talk about racism? Because we don’t need what happened in Baltimore, Ferguson, Cleveland, and all over the country to happen in Kalamazoo. We will not stand for it.
Fernando Ospina and Lillie Wolff