Our country is experiencing a reckoning that is 401 years overdue.
June 19, 1865.
This date marks the actual "end" of slavery in the United States.
Two months after the surrender of confederate general Robert E. Lee.
More than two years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
And more than two years of continued, free labor on the backs of those who had not yet learned of their freedom.
America was behind the curve then and we find ourselves full circle as history is repeating itself. The chains may have come off, but slavery did not end, it just evolved into a more insidious, more strategic, more covert version of its former self.
America is not free.
Not for Black and Brown people.
Not for Indigenous people.
Not for LGBTQIA+ people.
Our country is experiencing a reckoning that is 401 years overdue. The very foundation of the United States was built on racial injustice, incurring a debt that has yet to be repaid. And that debt feeds our grief which incites our mourning. Mourning for the lives lost due to senseless state-sanctioned violence, and in the struggle for liberation. This pain wears heavy on us, weighing down on our spirits as we continue to march and fight on.
Many of us are asking ourselves, and our country, "What can we do differently this time?" "How can we continue the progress sparked by the Civil Rights Movement so we are not repeating this moment in 60 years?" "What is the strategy?" First, it requires moving beyond imagining something else being possible to collective action. Now is our moment to build systems, structures, and policies created for all of us by all of us. There is, however, one thing we know for sure:
We will never be free until every white supremacist system has been dismantled. We will be free when we create systems of justice that center survivors, prioritizes accountability over punishment, and equity over injustice. Common Justice stands with our Black and Brown Employees, Clients, Families, and Communities to unequivocally condemn systemic racism and its unique impacts on all Black, Brown, and Indigenous People of Color. We commit to working to become allies and advocates for our staff and clients and broader communities of color. We recognize the unique challenges and inequities facing all Black people, and are committed to serving those needs, both directly and more broadly, within this institution and the institutions with whom we partner. Our dedication to furthering equity in justice work would be incomplete, without also dedicating ourselves to dismantling white supremacy. We invite all in our greater community to join us, as we endeavor to live into this commitment.
Given the current climate, and as we approach Juneteenth, let us take this time to rest, reflect, and recharge. And once recharged, let us remain steadfast, and ensure that our protests, our marching, our holding our leaders accountable in all walks of life, remain strong and that we never let go until victory is won and liberation is fully realized for everyone.
"We have nothing to lose but our chains." – Assata Shakur
The Common Justice Staff