BIPOC CALL TO ACTION
The following speech was read at AKINE's August 1st 2020 Rally and Protest, sharing a call to action from and for the BIPOC (Black, Indiginous, and People of Color) community of Easthampton.
AKINE is working to to transform historically racist institutions that have disproportionately affected marginalized groups such People of Color and people of lower socioeconomic status.
"I am here representing the black and brown majority within Easthampton in a call to action for a better, more engaged and safe community. Para mi gente hispana—sabemos que esta lucha es también nuestra lucha. Necesitamos unir nuestras voces en este movimiento histórico. No se trata de un solo grupo o identidad--esta lucha es de todos.
We live in a predominately white space where we want to believe that these things will not happen here. But they are happening in our neighboring towns and cities so we cannot assume that this will not happen in Easthampton—especially as our community becomes less white.
We call for intersectional change. Anti-racism requires us to acknowledge the need for accessibility across all barriers that currently prevent individuals from participating and feeling safe in their community. We need to represent and reflect the growing diversity within Easthampton.
We call for city government, councilors, and the education system to be cognizant about not speaking for us or making decisions without our voice at the table. We ask that you commit to learning about and understanding the foundations of race equity and how they apply in an institutional context. We ask that you hold yourself and your peers accountable at the individual and institutional level as we move towards dismantling the racism that currently informs our city structure as much as it informs the foundation of the United States.
We call for the city of Easthampton to empower and support black and brown owned businesses through continued anti-racism training and establishing a welcoming community.
We call on the superintendent, school committee, and the school equity steering committee to ensure that there is expanded investment to recruit teachers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Acknowledging that it is important for youth to see themselves in the content they interact with, we call on the director of curriculum to ensure that Black and Brown representations are accurate and that they address contemporary issues by committing to a complete review of the curriculum. We need to make sure that our education system emphasizes anti-racism, ethnic studies, and Black and Brown leadership and representation, while also acknowledging a history that is not just white history.
We call the community to engage and critically examine existing data and direct correlations between failures of education and rate of incarceration. We ask you to acknowledge the school to prison pipeline. We ask for the disruption of this pipeline and for a school environment that is a safe place of learning where students are not criminalized for mistakes but rather are encouraged to learn and thrive.
We call for our fellow neighbors to engage the community by attending city council meetings and joining working groups. We ask that you join A Knee Is Not Enough so you can also be a part of the conversation and participate in more dialogues and training.
These calls to actions are for everyone that lives in Easthampton. By working together towards a goal of anti-racism and anti-oppression, empathy, and acknowledgement of our past we can move forward into imagining and creating a safer environment for us all."