On Monday, May 25th, George Floyd was murdered. And since Tuesday afternoon, Urban Homeworks staff and community has been in collective grief, anger and despair. We apologize for our silence. Our silence was not out of confusion or lack of need for justice or disinterest in getting ourselves involved or taking a stance. Our silence has been reflective of a deep pain and exhaustion from the continuous disregard for Black lives by police, and the continuous apathy and silence by too many of our white-bodied brothers and sisters.
Disease shows symptoms, and our society has a disease. It’s a deeply rooted disease that produces symptoms that are not the people that fall victim to their deadly violence. The symptoms are the actions and fear behind people’s eyes not able to see the humanity of the person in front of them, on the ground before them, under knee, or heel of their gun. The symptoms are systems like the “invisible hand” that exploits certain people while making others blind to the very exploitation from which they benefit.
George Floyd was no symptom of the disease we carry. George Floyd was a man. Joyce Thomas, a former co-worker of George and colleague of ours at UHW, said he had a “big and giving heart.” He framed one of the homes UHW built. He was strong, able, healthy, and a contributing member of our community. George Floyd was what makes us great. He was not a symptom—he was a victim.
We understand that the first step in a 12 step program is “to admit powerless over addiction and that life has become unmanageable.” Our society has an addiction that is killing people. It has an addiction that creates a mindset and worldview that gave space for George Floyd’s murder by the people we call on to protect and serve every single member of community. Our community life has increasingly become more and more unmanageable. We cannot keep killing one another and resemble anything like “community.”
Just as we honor George Floyd by saying his name, in that we see him and in that we recognize his murder, we must also name the disease that took his life – white supremacy. Pretending it is something else prevents healing and progress away from the disease. It is a disease we all carry because it is the way in which we have each been socialized. But it is the responsibility of white bodied people, to destroy the disease that our white-bodied ancestors created. We need to work our recovery. It’s not only the disease that killed George Floyd, it is the disease that has murdered countless other Black, Brown and Indigenous bodies. It is also the disease robbing each and every white-bodied person of humanity, whenever we passively participate or allow these murders, whenever we look away, knowing our daily lives do not have to reflect pain or grief or despair because the police generally keep us safe. It’s a disease that is also killing us. We must name it because without doing so, we will never heal and the violence and destruction it causes will never end. We must change. We must take action.
At Urban Homeworks, we work every day to “perpetuate the hope of Jesus Christ through innovative community development.” The Jesus we understand in that statement screams “wake up!”… “open your eyes! There are people imprisoned and dying and you refuse to see them!” Innovative community development in the way of this radical lover puts us squarely in the face of the hate of white supremacy. We see one another. We must exorcise the demons of supremacy (of any kind, but in this country, it’s of the white kind) or the blood of innocent people, like George Floyd, will be forever on our complacent and complicit hands.
UHW friends, supporters, and fellow members of the community, let’s not get confused by the symptoms and let’s be bold enough to attack the disease itself. And the symptoms must be remedied NOW: police must be held accountable, violence against black and brown bodies must end (physical, psychological, economic, academic… all of it), we must abolish the systems that were created to perpetuate white supremacy and continue this violence. All of us, collectively, must use our voices and demand this abolition. We cannot continue to silently accept our broken and biased systems which have manifested this disease and caused so much harm. The Hope of Jesus Christ will then be made more and more manifest rather than a “hope deferred,” yet again.
May George Floyd be the last to fall victim to the symptoms of this insidious, addictive, disease. Our hearts, condolences, and sympathies go to George’s family and friends, and all that have experienced violence at the hands of police officers. The time for change is now. It is time to act.
(see action commitment below)
It is time to act. We white people (like the three of us writing this call to action) must research and continue to seek to understand the BIPOC reality that has been spoken of and protested about for generations, then subsequently paid lip service to, ignored or brushed aside without real systemic change. Communities of color have been trying to educate white America for too long. We must do the hard work ourselves now to grapple with the pain and trauma that has been inflicted on BIPOC communities and turn that into action. We will continue to do our work and ask you to do yours too. Here is our call to action:
- Get Smarter. BIPOC members of the community have paid the race-education tuition for non-BIPOC for too long. Read, Google, learn, YouTube, study, assess. We will invite UHW constituents into the self and social developmental process of learning about the history and current realities of white supremacy and racism through events, resources, dialogues, and trainings. Here are a few to get started with:
- Anti-Racism Resources
- Robin DiAngelo’s Work and Resource List
- Take the Equity and Diversity Certificate Program at the University of Minnesota (which includes the Intercultural Development Inventory as one of the tools)
- Get Up. Stop the harm: We will show up and actively participate in fighting against the things that disproportionately harm black and brown bodies: Police brutality, mental health caused by trauma, predeterminants of health, housing, education, and nutrition. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Advocate for the arrest and charging of all 4 officers in the murder of George Floyd
- Sign on to this petition
- Follow the Civil Rights Investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. Vote and show up for meaningful change.
- Respond to calls to action that fund education, housing, and workforce/career investments (UHW will be sending more of these out as a part of our call to action)
- Support the legal rights for those who risk their lives to call out the injustices in our society
- Sign up, Show up, and Donate with SURJ-TC (Show Up for Racial Justice – Twin Cities), or find your local chapter at: https://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/
- Opinion: What Role Should Whites Play in Black Lives Matter?
- Opinion: How to be a good white ally, according to activists
- Change the rules. Change the people, policies, procedures, and practices to fight violence and promote justice:
- Vote at all levels of government; research and support candidates who have actionable policy proposals around equity
- Contact your local and state representatives, advocate for policies around police accountability, education reform, employment & housing equity.
- More to come on specific policy changes, and when it does come, help us show up and change the rules.
Please come together and help us pursue and spread the Vision of Urban Homeworks as “Neighbors raising their collective voices to address injustice and overcome the barriers that perpetuate inequity”.