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Silent for Too Long: Communities Suffer as Black Lives are Lost

This week’s response to the recent police shootings and protests is written by Ali Mailen Perrotto, Contract Liaison at PCAR, with collaborative additions from Kayla Houser, Outreach Coordinator at PCAR.

Sometimes it is a blessing to be disconnected. I spent a few days this week so immersed in work and life that I had no idea that two more shootings had taken the lives of Black men in North Carolina and Oklahoma until Thursday afternoon. I was shocked and dismayed when I finally tuned back into reality. Again?! Not again! It was a crushing reality check. These most recent killings happened amidst the sustained trauma our communities experience from ongoing exposure and bearing witness to police brutality against Black communities. 

Our entire community suffers when Black lives are lost to police violence. We can do better. Individually, in our communities, and within the anti-sexual violence movement--We have to do better. It is our obligation as social change activists to ask hard questions and support how our movements are interconnected. We have to explore the years and years of violence, hatred, and oppression that have created these harmful systems. We must acknowledge that the killings of Keith Lamont Scott and Terrence Crutcher are not just the result of an individual police officer’s actions, but are the most recent addition to a long list of victims of the larger systemic and historical treatment of Blacks in the criminal justice system and with law enforcement. We need to take action.

One of our local rape crisis centers, the YWCA of Lancaster, released a powerful statement in response to these shootings. Their words ring out, grounding us in our ethical responsibility to talk about racism.

“Our nation is grieving again, this time for the families of Keith Lamont Scott and Terrence Crutcher, and the communities of Charlotte and Tulsa. As a predominately white organization with a very bold mission of eliminating racism, YWCA Lancaster is stepping forward to say that the white on black violence that is sweeping our nation is unacceptable. We believe that as a community, we’ve been far too silent for far too long. Silence perpetuates hatred, racism, violence, sexism and bigotry. Our individual and collective silence is the great teacher of today's children, forcing them to listen to those who ARE speaking up. And it's often those who speak the loudest that have the most damaging message.”

The YWCA’s call to action includes an invitation to join in an intensive workshop on anti-racist analysis. Kayla Houser, Outreach Coordinator at PCAR has participated in this 3-day long intensive workshop with other social justice activists and human-service organizations and called it “an appreciative and trauma-informed space to explore our capacity to becoming an anti-racist organization by meaningfully exploring the root causes of racism, how it becomes ingrained in our systems, and  the actions to dismantle oppression in our organizations.”

You can be a part of the conversation. You can learn how to talk about this with others in the community so that collectively we can form peaceful solutions. Join the conversation in your community.

Racism and violence are real and pervasive in our nation. We will need every single one of us to solve this problem. Join us in saying #BlackLivesMatter. Join us as we pursue Help, Hope, and Healing in our grieving communities.