Advocate Stories, Freedom from Violence, News

An Urgent Call from Ann Warner, WREN CEO

by Ann Warner on Apr 16, 2021

This week began with news of yet another murder of an unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright, by police in Minneapolis, followed by protests in his community and the heartbreaking appearance of his anguished mother and family on national television. We are now learning about the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old child, Adam Toledo, by police in Chicago last month. Although Daunte and Adam’s lives were unique and precious, the incidents and circumstances were devastatingly familiar.

Within days, we saw incidents of anti-Black violence erupt right here in Columbia, SC. A white man physically and verbally assaulted a young Black man in a residential neighborhood. A white couple attacked an interracial couple driving through our streets. A white woman left a hateful, racist voice mail message with Senator Mia McLeod, ranting about how white women are living in fear of Black people. As a white woman leading a women’s rights organization, I completely reject and condemn these actions and statements. They are rooted in fear, hate and ignorance, and they perpetuate anti-Black racism and violence.

It is incredibly disturbing to see this surge in public acts and statements of anti-black violence around the country and here in Columbia. Is this really the kind of community we want to be? If not, we all have to do better. Fellow white people, if you are disturbed, embarrassed, or angry about these incidents, it’s time to speak up and condemn them. We can’t just leave it up to our Black leaders and community members to call racism out when it so glaringly obvious and so devastatingly harmful. Our actions have to go beyond words. While Black people are the ones who suffer the most harm, we bear the responsibility for fixing it. It is long past time for us to step up and do the work to dismantle the structures and institutions that perpetuate white supremacy, violence, and injustice.

You can start this journey by learning how to identify white supremacy in yourself and in the institutions you support.  I encourage you to recognize this harm for what it is, then call it out. This is an urgent call to action that we can and must do better, starting now. People’s lives are at stake. Learn more by engaging with this resource from Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, ChangeWork, 2001.

As part of the Southeastern Alliance for Reproductive Equity, WREN has participated in a white working group with partner organization, Healthy and Free Tennesee (HFTN) in Tennessee. Building off our successes and learning from our challenges, we wanted to open up a structured space for white people and people with white privilege working or associated with a reproductive health, rights, or freedom organization in the Southeast to learn, process, and take action to dismantle white supremacy. Beginning in June, we will meet monthly for a facilitated conversation about the Me and White Supremacy workbook.  Learn more about the opportunity here and sign up here.

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