Black Lives Matter: A Call for Transformation

As representatives of a predominantly white-led organization, we at the Whidbey Institute are wrestling with our responsibility after watching a man murdered—George Floyd, a father and beloved son and the victim of yet another cruel, racialized crime. Our hearts are broken and our sleeves are rolled up. There is hard, vital work underway—the work of coming home to a deeper and better part of ourselves.

We wake again this morning to a nation roiling with the pain of 400 years of structural, institutionalized violence against people with black and brown bodies. A nation founded on the genocide of indigenous people and built by the labor of enslaved Africans. If we are to heal and manifest collective liberation, our systems and institutions must be undone and remade. Our minds and hearts must be undone and remade.

The work of becoming equitable is not the work of recruiting a more colorful community. It is the practice of deeply listening to our black and brown communities and acknowledging the harm enacted upon them. It is not the work, to use a popular metaphor, of inviting a greater diversity of people to the table, but the work of building a table from scratch—one that seats more people, holds more abundance and more creativity, and better suits the needs of a truly inclusive community. Now is the time for confronting the unexamined habits of internalized racial superiority (for those with white privilege) and internalized oppression (for those without it). The work of healing is the work of unravelling and reweaving. Of learning the truth about stories told and retold, and then beginning to create new stories together. It is the work of becoming profoundly uncomfortable as we break down the self-imposed walls of our racialized ignorance, and the work of discovering the unbounded joy that is possible when we co-create liberatory spaces. It is work that requires all of us, wherever we are on our own personal journeys. It is no less than the remaking of our society as a whole.

The Whidbey Institute calls for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, and countless others who have lost their lives to racism. We stand with Black Lives Matter. We align with their call for divestment from policing and investment in community-led healing through social services, equitable education, fair housing, abundant food, and nonviolent, restorative justice systems. We align with their call for the resignation of a president who has threatened to unleash our nation’s own military against its people for exercising their constitutionally-protected right to assemble. We support the call for a Truth, Racial Justice, and Transformation Commission.

This moment calls for each and every one of us to show up. We show up when we participate in active, nonviolent resistance. We show up when we contribute to organizers and independent journalists on the streets in Minneapolis, in Seattle, and around the nation. We show up when we support black-owned businesses.  Here’s a list of organizations to support in Minneapolis, where Floyd was murdered. For those in the Pacific Northwest, local writer Sol Villarreal has shifted his daily COVID-19 email digest to include Seattle-area updates on Black Lives Matter protests—you can click here to subscribe. We show up when we read and share books on black and indigenous history and anti-racism. We show up when we teach our children about racism.

Above all, we show up by embodying transformation. No proclamation of solidarity will replace the daily work of challenging racism and nurturing liberation in our hearts, bodies, and minds. That is our work. Today, as the cry to honor Black Lives rings through the streets in cities across the nation and globe, we commit to the long arc of evolving an anti-racist organization and we thank those who walk with us on this healing journey.

With love and courage,

Marnie, Debra, Larisa, and Barbara on behalf of the Whidbey Institute team

June 5, 2020

Social Justice