RPCV/W CALL TO ACTION: Fight Against Racism
The Board of Directors of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC (RPCV/W) is calling on its members to stand up against racial injustice and racism, reaffirm equality, and support African-Americans, Americans of African Descent, and more broadly, people of color in the United States as they fight for basic rights and dignity every second of every day.
Police-involved killings, beatings, harassment, and mistreatment, as well as the weaponization of the police against people of color, happen far too often. Just last week, George Floyd was strangled and died at the hands of Minneapolis police. Amy Cooper, a Caucasian woman, harassed Christian Cooper, a Black man, called 911 on him, and put his life at risk because he asked her to follow the rules and leash her dog. Two young HBCU students, Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim, drove home in Atlanta and were stopped by a group of close to 10 officers, their car windows were shattered, they were dragged from their car, they were tased and arrested, simply for driving home from a protest after curfew. These are just a few of the threats people of color are facing in our country on a daily basis.
It is time for us to bring home the values and skills instilled in us by our Peace Corps service. We are calling on our members, with a heavy emphasis on those of you who are privileged by the color of your skin, to take action and stand up for people of color in the United States, and together begin to dismantle racial injustice.
RPCVs are ambassadors of peace and equity and these injustices fall within our purview. RPCV/W will continue to provide our services for professional development, mentoring, community service, social and cultural activities, and creating a space for our members to share their stories and feel included and heard. With this call to action and with the creation of a racial justice task force, we are underscoring the values that we hold as a community and creating a better space for all of our members to feel and be safer and more respected.
This statement is in no way implying that many of you are not already engaged in this work. Thank you for your commitment to your fellow citizens both globally and here in the United States. This statement is a proclamation that RPCV/W is committed to creating a sustainable space where we can work together and organize our actions. The more collective we can be, to harness our privilege and ability to influence, the greater the change we can create.
So, what can you do?
Read, donate, disseminate, demonstrate. In this document, we are gathering educational resources on the many facets of racial injustice in the United States. Please read and share. Talk about what you have learned with privileged and insulated friends and family. Be actively anti-racist in your conversations, learn about unconscious biases you may have and microaggressions you may inflict. Find organizations that counter police brutality and provide financial, legal, and emotional support to and elevate the voices of people of color; donate your time or money to these organizations.
Speak up and take action. Join us in our efforts to say something, do something, and organize. Sign up for the RPCV/W community racial justice task force. On Monday, June 1 we held a Town Hall to kick off the task force and start the conversation. Contact us if you would like to receive notes from the event and hear our recommendations for organizing a similar event.
Keep it up. Help us sustain our task force, consider working a racial justice talking point into your regular advocacy efforts, speak up, and stand up, when you see racial injustice happening in front of you – no matter how micro it may be.
As we seek racial justice in the wake of violence against George Floyd, we as the RPCV/W community must stand together to create a more peaceful and secure world. Thank you for any action – small or large – that you take to ensure lasting change for our community and beyond.