June 4, 2020
Today, for the first time in a long time, I woke up with a newfound sense of hope for my community and the liberation of black people.
After a week of intense emotions, protests, and conversations following the death of George Floyd, I was finally provided with not only relief, but a way forward.
On the evening of Tuesday, June 2, 2020, an historical and monumental event happened at the Capitol at downtown Boise. About 5,000 people gathered for the Black Lives Matter Candlelight Vigil to honor those who have lost their lives at the hands of state violence and fellow citizens.
Organized by black women and non-binary activists, including the Idaho Coalition’s Tai Simpson, as well as Tanisha Newton, Bukky Ogunrinola, Whitney Mestelle, Jessie Levin, Leta Harris Neustaedter, and more, the event focused on mourning and healing in community and centering black voices.
“I share pain, grief, and outrage across my identities. Systemic racism was the engine that built this country on stolen land that racism to this day acutely affects Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. In our work to end racism and oppression in our country we call for strong leadership, we demand action from policymakers, and we encourage non-violence, powerful protests to stand for justice, a demonstration that we are all related,” Tai Simpson commented.
Bukky gave an emotionally charged and moving spoken word poem about police brutality in response to “The Hate You Give”. It was so raw and impactful that myself and others were moved to tears—even those that had heard it before. Her words reflected my anger, sadness, and confusion on the blatant disregard for black bodies.
From there, the event moved to grieve the black lives that were cut short due to senseless and racist motives by law enforcement and citizens. We were provided tea candles to hold as Jessie said each black person’s name, followed by a collective repeat of the name and a moment of silence. Some of these names you would probably recognize, some probably not. As she started to say the names, I held my head down, feeling the tears stream down my face. I felt overwhelmed about the fact that we were here, in this moment in time, during a pandemic collectively mourning so many black folks that were killed. Additionally, that the names we said were only scratching the surface of how many black people had really lost their lives over the years. But as I thought about each individual and said their name, I started to sit up straighter, hold my head higher, say their name louder. This was a compelling moment, and I knew that the least I could do to honor these black folks was to say their name with as much power I had left. I would want them to do the same for me.
The last name we said was George Floyd, the catalyst for the movement and the wake-up call to the black community that we can no longer let this blatant disregard continue to happen. It’s time for real change. We yelled his name several times, fists in the air, and I felt a weight lifting off of me. The collective mourning process is necessary, yet often underrated and underperformed.
The vigil ended with someone singing, “We are so tired,” and I felt that deep in my bones. But she also told everyone, before they leave, they needed to commit to doing one thing, whether that was a conversation they were avoiding or to have that hard conversation. The message was loud and clear—do not leave here without a plan to disrupt the system.
In an overwhelmingly white state where a very small percentage of the people that attended the vigil are black, it is amazing to see the amount of support. At the same time, there is much to be done in Idaho regarding anti-racist and oppression work.
We can hold multiple truths; that white survivors view the police as a form of protection and that people of color view the police as a form of harm due to historical trauma and racism. Here’s the thing: we cannot end gender violence without disrupting other forms of violence. They all stem from the same systems rooted in oppression; for this work to be successful, we must be intersectional and accountable to all marginalized groups.
Because, at the end of the day, my liberation is your liberation.
Three Things to reach out to me for:
To Our White Friends,
We need a critical mass of white people to join in a radical awakening to interrupt white supremacy. We need to reconnect to our spirit and our humanity, the deep knowing that human beings are interconnected to one another and to all living beings.
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and the thousands before them are rooted in generations of white supremacy and the resulting state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Our collective white ancestors fostered and benefitted from these conditions of white supremacy since the colonization of this country. If you are able to claim whiteness, you and your ancestors have participated in the trauma and violence used to enforce white supremacy.
We are inviting white people into an interactive conversation on Wednesday, June 10th for two hours. We will address the impact of white supremacy and illusions of separateness. We will engage in small interactive conversations on prompts:
If these questions resonate with you, we invite you into the conversation.
Kelly Miller, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence
Ed Heisler, Men As Peacemakers
Karen Tronsgard-Scott, Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
Kristen Zimmerman, Kristen Zimmerman Consulting
Aimee Thompson, Resonance Network
Wednesday, June 10th
1 PM PT/2 PM MT/3 PM CT/4 PM ET (2 hours)
The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence invites you to join one or more of the book discussions for advocates this spring on a selection of books that can inform your work! We will purchase the books (paperback, e-book or audio book if available) and mail it to your home or work address. The books and the dates for the discussion are listed below:
Sign up for these books here!
Considerations for Advocates Serving Non-Citizen Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence
June 8, 2020 | 1:30-3PM MT
This webinar will discuss cultural, sociological, and economic barriers among non-citizen victims of partner/family violence to seeking help experienced by legal advocates among their clients who must share intimate information with them.
To register for this webinar, please email Molly Kafka at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reminder that shipping for all material orders made by Programs on the Idaho Coalition website store is FREE of cost, please use the below coupon for all orders.