In the last couple of weeks we have watched our community here in Richmond and across the nation fill the streets to cry out for justice.
As an organization we feel compelled to respond. But what is the appropriate response? Here is what we do know, this work is important. Eradicating systemic racism should not fall solely on the shoulders of the oppressed; it requires those that built the system to dismantle the structures they have benefited from. It means years of work, not days.
What do we seek?
- Accountability for the numerous deaths of unarmed Black men and women at the hands of police
- Changes in the justice system to ensure fair sentencing and address the disproportionate sentences handed down to Black Americans
- Economic opportunities knowing that Black Americans have never been given equal access
- To commit to using our buying power to shop and support minority owned businesses
This work is not accomplished through a hashtag, social media post, or any other performative activism. This work takes many years of dedicated and consistent service. For 12 days and nights Richmonders have protested in the streets; protesting against 400 years of inequities. One day the protests will end but the need for equity work will not. It is our job both personally and organizationally to continue to be steadfast in our mission.
Boaz & Ruth has been in the Highland Park community for seventeen years. For us this means continuing to listen, learn and respond. We aim to connect across race, economic, and geographic divides of our city. We recently went through the process of creating a strategic plan to guide us for the next 3 years. In everything Boaz & Ruth does we strive to listen to the community voice of Highland Park residents. We aren’t providing dignity for people, they already have it. We aren’t rebuilding people’s lives; they are. We are simply coming alongside individuals to provide support, resources and training. Do we get it wrong and make mistakes? Unequivocally yes. Will we keep trying? Without a doubt.
We believe that Black Lives Matter. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Marcus David Peters all mattered. And the many other names we may or may not know. In the midst of a global pandemic our brothers and sisters are willing to put their health and safety on the line to have their voices heard. We are calling on our supporters, volunteers, and friends to lean into their faith as we listen, learn, and act based on the voices we as a society have for so long ignored. As Desmond Tutu said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Let it stand, we chose the side of the oppressed.
Yours in service,
Megan Rollins, President/CEO
Elizabeth Harkless, Chair
Ryan Rinn, Vice Chair
Gina Elbert, Secretary
Donna Wheeler, Treasurer
June Operations Update