I give thanks to those with the courage to step out of their comfort zones to work to end racism. Whether calling out microaggressions, interrupting structural racism in policing or confronting the many other ways that racism manifests itself, the Riverton Peace Mission congratulates you for your bravery that helps overcome the challenges of undoing racism. From my experience, I identify four challenges to addressing racism in the community. First is fear by the victims of racism to act. If they speak up, file discrimination complaints, or ask for assistance, there’s a fear of being labeled a troublemaker and targeted for retaliation, to only make matters worse. It could be fear of being arrested for a fine that they cannot afford to pay. It could be fear of loss of prestige, privilege, or a job for rocking the boat. The fear is real and not unwarranted. Another challenge is white settlers who fail to acknowledge that racism exists. They are blind to it and how they benefit. When problems of racism are brought to their attention, while wearing their white supremacy hats, they propose solutions that only perpetuates racism. The third challenge is related, and that is a lack of understanding about racism. Ignorance about racism in itself is not white supremacy but is when people refuse to take time to learn about it. The fourth challenge is focusing on the symptoms of racism, instead of focusing on racism as a root cause. Addressing symptoms is easier, so I understand the temptation. Sometimes we need to put energy, time, and resources into passing out band aides to just get to tomorrow. But if that is all that we do, instead of the needed surgery, the societal disease of racism continues. Riverton Peace Mission’s answer is community organizing so we collectively stand strong together for power to demand needed changes. Our response is to educate people about racism and collect the data to document it. Our solutions are truth-telling, learning our rights, opportunities for healing, and changes that end bordertown violence and lead to community harmony.
Right now, we are working with interested community members to plan our upcoming Summit for Our Unhoused Neighbors which will be happening in March. To give your input and find out ways to help, please join our second planning meeting happening January 31 at 1pm over Zoom.
Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build relationships. Do justice. Chesie Lee