local actions: DC Neighbors for
Why is Racial Justice Important?
Even in a progressive city like Washington, DC, structural racism and internalized white privilege are woven into the fabric of everyday life. We saw this first hand when a black mom in our mostly white progressive neighborhood was arrested and hauled off in handcuffs for playing music at a party in her own home. Some neighbors couldn’t see this arrest as an act of racism. Although DC’s police chief ultimately apologized for the arrest and promised more police training on noise ordinances, the stark fact is that our neighbor would never have been arrested if she were white. This reality moved us to act.
As residents of an affluent and mostly white area of the city, we believe we have a responsibility to use our power, show our support and work as allies to local groups fighting for racial justice. The need is urgent. A recent report found that Washington, D.C. has the greatest “intensity of gentrification” of any city in the nation, with black residents being displaced from their neighborhoods at an alarming rate. Issues of this kind demand our attention and action.
What is DC Neighbors for Racial Justice Doing?
DC Neighbors for Racial Justice is a multi-racial group of residents from Northwest Washington, DC and nearby neighborhoods fighting for racial justice in the city and beyond. They are committed to both educating themselves and taking action on issues created by a white supremacist culture, including a racist criminal justice system, displacement, lack of affordable housing, and the systemic racial inequity in our city.
Additionally, the non-black members of our group meet regularly to learn about systemic anti-black racism in America, uncover their own internal biases, and become better allies and organizers. By educating themselves, non-black members have intentionally created a space where the responsibility does not fall on black participants to teach them about issues such as the legacy of slavery, unconscious bias and white fragility.
What Can You Do?
Sign up to learn more and take action by emailing Jean Simons at firstname.lastname@example.org or Alexandra Bailey at alexandraOMB@gmail.com. For information on participating in our non-black education group, contact Alison Burns at email@example.com or Marge Coffey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are committed to supporting local groups already doing anti-racism work. Our first initiatives focus on preserving and building truly affordable housing in DC because gentrification and displacement go to the heart of racial justice issues here. We’re working with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and OneDC to fight the displacement of residents at Brookland Manor. We’ve also raised funds, and marched and supported lobbying efforts by other local grassroots groups including Black Lives Matter DC and Stop Police Terror Project DC.
The work of our non-black education group is ongoing. Participants have discussed many topics, including: why certain suburbs and DC neighborhoods are so white, the criminalization of gentrifying neighborhoods in DC, unconscious bias, white privilege, intersectionality, how to be a good ally, and white fragility. We are now starting a new multi-racial discussion and dinner group focusing on delicious food and facilitated conversation around racial justice.
Here are some excellent books on racial justice in the U.S. More information coming soon…..