This week our nation has witnessed relentless and unspeakable racist violence targeted at Black families. People murdered within minutes as if they aren’t worthy of the most basic human rights.
The National Network of Abortion Funds is disgusted, heart-broken, and mourning all of the lives lost in a matter of days. Our hearts go out to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We mourn as well the five Dallas police officers and the seven officers and civilians injured in Dallas, including Shetamia Taylor who shielded her four sons from sniper fire during the march. We are also mourning the death of Goddess Diamond, a Black trans woman who was murdered in New Orleans. How many more have to die before we have had enough?
Our fight for reproductive justice is not only about the right to abortion. We fight for the right to bodily autonomy, safety, collective power, and for an end to the racism that undergirds so many of the policies and practices that harm so many. Police brutality is not exempt from our concern for freedom. Our work for reproductive justice means working toward a world in which we are ALL able to live without fear of violence. It means that all who decide to become a family should be able to do so without fear and pain. And yet, what we’ve seen this week is the pain of Diamond Reynolds as she and her 4-year-old daughter watched Philando murdered just inches away from them during the most basic traffic stop. We saw a 15-year-old child sob and grieve as his mother, Quinyetta McMillon, spoke powerfully about the murder of his father, Alton Sterling, who was killed because he sold CD’s outside of a store. This violence is too common and it must end.
As we have done so many times before in the past year, we are calling for an end to violence in our nation, and abroad. Whether it is during a routine traffic stop, at a queer night club in Orlando, attacks at mosques and airports and other public places, or at a march against violence, we deplore the hatred that fuels these acts of violence. This violence is creating a crater of pain, that no one, no family should have to endure.
As actor Jesse Williams noted when accepting the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards 2016, “The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.” If you have not been paying attention, this is the time to start. If you have been paying attention and have remained silent, this is the time to speak. If you have been speaking and unwilling to take action, this is the time to act. If you have been acting, it is time to get louder. We are a multi-racial, religiously diverse, queer, straight, and gender expansive staff, and we cannot stand by and watch Black people continue to be murdered for absolutely no reason. None of us are free until all of us are free.