Bridges extends our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of George Floyd as we continue to mourn for Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and more recently Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. These names do not include everyone who have lost their lives due to police violence and without real change, unfortunately, this list is not final either.
This mourning comes at a time when communities of color are disproportionately experiencing health, social, and economic harms from the health pandemic. A study by amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, found that counties with higher black populations account for more than half of all Covid-19 cases and almost 60% of deaths, despite Black Americans representing only 13.4% of the American population, according to the US Census Bureau. We also know that people of color, especially Black women, are more likely to be denied services and not be taken seriously when seeking care for their health. This is increasingly occurring in this pandemic.
Bridges’ mission is to cultivate communities free from violence as we support victims and survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. We recognize that our country has a 400 plus year history of violence against people of color through the enslavement of Black people, mass incarceration, and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. We understand that all forms of violence are integrally connected. We reject all forms of oppression and the systemic racism that maintains the power imbalance in our society, but we must challenge ourselves to do more. We must reflect on our power and White* privilege and ask ourselves what actions have we taken that challenge the systems that perpetuate racism? What steps have we taken to work towards racial justice? In our work to eliminate gender-based violence, we must also advocate for the end of systemic racism and other structures that allow for this violence to continue.
We encourage you to reflect on your own privileges and biases, educate yourselves on the issues, and to listen to Black and Brown communities. We must continue to say their names and that Black lives matter.
*Bridges as an organization has been/is predominantly white. We feel it is important to acknowledge this and acknowledge our privilege as an organization.