Yesterday, many of us experienced a collective sigh of relief. An exhale after a long-held breath. We breathed. The collective breath was deep, knowing the work is far from over as we bury 20-year-old Daunte Wright and mourn the loss of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant.

But strength and resiliency are not lacking in our communities. Continually, we experience and witness neighbors in North and South Minneapolis show up for each other, hold each other, and acknowledge the pain and trauma these moments inflict on all of us – whether conscious of it or not.

At Urban Homeworks, we ask ourselves what it means to neighbor in times like these. Neighbor is one of our longstanding Core Values. To us, to neighbor means humbly accepting that there is ongoing work to be done on oneself and a conscientious effort to do that work. Another Core Value that guides us is Step Up, which is seeing the need and taking action. We apply our Core Values internally and to the way we landlord our rental units, develop housing and people and steward the communities that have trusted us to provide dignified, affordable housing for 26 years. As paired with our mission and vision, our values drive us to work on dignified, affordable housing while standing against all forms of racism and other oppressions that our communities face daily. We must speak out. It is our duty to stand in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed just as Jesus did when he walked this earth.

Jesus did not look away, nor did he minimize the voice or struggles of the oppressed. He acted in solidarity, as he confronted any notions of profit over people. As he developed close relationships with those the dominating society had rejected and demeaned, he modeled loving activism; he modeled Step Up, and he modeled Neighbor. He did so until the dominating culture deemed him such a threat to their way of life, to their systems of greed and oppression, that they killed him, and justified his murder for public consumption. The actions Jesus chose show us that he not only valued life of the soul, but valued the life of the body, as well. Jesus showed us with his life that the pursuit of justice is an act of care and love for the entire human being.

Do not look away as your neighbors mourn, as your neighbors grow disheartened knowing that while Chauvin was convicted on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter – police across this nation murdered 64 people since testimony began on March 29th. (See NY Times article for reference.)

Do not look away or cast blame, but rather Step Up and Neighbor with us. We cannot turn our backs when those paid to protect and serve us, only protect and serve some while senselessly murdering or assaulting others. At Urban Homeworks, we believe Jesus would not look away, turn his back, or throw shame or blame on those being oppressed. We are guided by the model of activism that Jesus demonstrated in the Bible as we stand with our neighbors and fight for their collective voices to address injustice.

At Urban Homeworks, we feel the relief of the verdict and the weight of all the work still needing to be done. We are so grateful for this incredibly resilient and compassionate community. Thank you to all those who reached out directly with words of support and with supplies and cash donations when we put the call out in preparation for the conclusion of the Chauvin trial.

Tomorrow afternoon, less than one block from Urban Homeworks, the family of Daunte Wright will mourn the young person they lost. In partnership with Brother’s Empowered, Appetite for Change, Raising Cane, and Restoration Incorporated, we will be there providing sustenance and support. We invite our larger community to volunteer and join us in this effort to hold sacred space. If you wish to help set up or distribute food, please contact Marque Jensen, our Equity and Engagement Manager, at 612.208.8104.

In gratitude for the Urban Homeworks Community, and in solidarity with all those fighting for systemic justice,

AsaleSol Young,

Executive Director

Urban Homeworks