Two years ago today George Floyd was murdered. While we watched in horror, we also committed that we must be part of the solution in addressing racism and systemic injustices in our communities. This work has been slow, and whether in the city of Minneapolis, at the Capitol or in our communities so much still remains to be done. This Washington Post article, and this interview on NPR illustrate some of the important systemic issues in this anti-racism work.
Right now, communities are hurting. It’s been a difficult 11 days for many of our community members in the wake of the terrible racist attack at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. On Saturday, May 14, a white gunman shot thirteen people, killing ten and injuring three. Eleven of the thirteen people shot in the attack were Black and the shooter was specifically targeting Black shoppers and employees, describing himself as a white supremacist.
One day later, members of a Taiwanese church in California were murdered while attending services.
And as we write this, we are learning of another most horrific act of violence on children in a predominantly Hispanic community in Texas. Motives remain unclear, but again, members of our community are experiencing unfathomable pain due to violence.
Traumatic events and acts of violence like those in New York and California targeting Black and BIPOC communities have ripple impacts. The people killed or injured in Buffalo and Laguna Beach were doing ordinary things – working a job, shopping for food for their families, worshipping together. Members of our community, in particular our Black Community may feel unsafe or alone, especially if we carry on as if nothing happened.
In an article for Pew Research, amongst other revealing data, John Gramlich shares that over a third of Black Americans worry daily or near daily that they might be attacked or targeted because of their race. About 20% of Asian Americans expressed this same fear. Fear doing daily things – like going to the store, church, school or running errands – because of their race.
The Minnesota Elder Justice Center has placed Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-racism as a priority in the organization. We continue on in this most important work. Together, we want to express anger and sadness for the senseless loss of life due to pure evil and hate. The violence impacts us all, but especially our Black and BIPOC community members, team members and clients.
We do not have all the answers. We will continue to learn, and make changes within our organization’s culture to ensure we are actively working to be an anti-racist organization. We are still in the early stages of our DEI and Anti-Racist journey and commitment, but we are committed to creating a culture that is welcoming, safe, and inclusive of all people.
Why should an elder justice center make statements about things that aren’t about elder abuse? When do ‘we’ say something, and when do we stay quiet? How do we know what to say?
These are questions that have been asked to us, and that we’ve asked to each other. They are conversations we continue to have as part of our organization’s growth. As a victim-centered advocacy organization, it’s always our responsibility to call-out and denounce racism, hate, violence and systemic oppression.
We have much work to do to achieve our goals and it requires active effort from all of us. We encourage us all to support each other; check in on one another, be empathetic of others’ experiences, give people space when it’s needed but don’t shy away from difficult conversations. We are committed to being a safe space for those of us who need support, and a brave space where we can all have difficult conversations.
Amanda Vickstrom, Executive Director Gil Acevedo, Board Chair
Minnesota Elder Justice Center Minnesota Elder Justice Center