The People’s Will Be Felt

June 2, 2020
By Yanique Redwood

Spanish translation is here.

A few weeks ago, Sagetopia, our graphic design firm offered to create a graphic for its clients as a public service during the COVID-19 pandemic. We said, “Yes” and sent them potential quotes they might use. How would we use the resulting graphic? We did not know. But, after last week’s uprisings all across America and around the world in response to the killing of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others who have died as a result of police and vigilante violence, there could be nothing more appropriate than sharing it with you today.

The people’s will be felt.

Like you, I have watched the news coverage, scrolled through social media feeds and listened to the debates. Protester strategy has become a central theme:

“Why buildings are burning is because this city, this state would prefer preserving that white nationalism and that white supremacy mindset over arresting, charging and helping to convict four officers who killed a Black man.” Tamika Mallory, Activist

“This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos. A protest has purpose.” Keisha Lance Bottom, Mayor, Atlanta

“To folks who, like me, believe in electoral politics as an avenue to contest for power for our people: Please stop responding to state-sanctioned murder of Black people and the uprisings with calls to vote this November. It’s really insulting, misguided and dangerous. If you think all it’ll take to root out white supremacy in this country is giving the boot to 45, you haven’t been paying attention.” Jonathan Jayes-Green, Founding Director, UndocuBlack

“What started as an organized and focused protest over the senseless killing of a black man basically disintegrated into chaos—libraries burned to the ground, businesses looted & defaced, cars set on fire, journalists attacked…much of this done by infiltrators and opportunists… Nothing, nothing about this honors George Floyd’s memory.” Shaun Robinson, American Television Host

“Let’s be real, “protest peacefully” really means, stay home and shut up.” Amanda Seales, Comedian and Actress

“Our rage is directed to the wrong people. We taken (sp) it towards corporate, and these businesses that had nothing to do with what happened!! It needs to be directed to the system!!! We have a million social issues we have to fix, hell within our own communities too!” Bradley Beal, NBA Basketball Player, Washington Wizards

“People are saying.. They should protest like this or demonstrate like that… We tried Taking a Knee… A RIOT is a RIOT.. It happens when the people can no longer take the BS..” Ice T, Musician, Rapper, and Actor

While many are weighing in on protester strategy, I am asking CHF’s audience to instead reflect on this graphic and ask yourself, “What is the people’s will?”

Defund the police.

Invest in the safety and health of communities.

Justice.

Freedom from fear.

The end of all forms of racism.

Then ask, “In what ways am I (and the institutions that I belong to) in solidarity with the people’s will? In the way of the people’s will?”

CHF has begun to support more community groups and other nonprofits that are working to build the power of Black people living in the Washington, DC region and dismantle the systems that harm them.

We call on our philanthropic peers to fund grassroots organizing groups that are Black-led and center the communities that are most impacted by these systems. From quality and accessible healthcare to the fight for housing, we know that police terror is not the only danger Black residents face and we must continue to do our part to support them.

We stand in solidarity with those who have had enough.

Pay attention to every word that comes out of your mouth today. Instead of debating protester strategy, ensure your words and actions are aligned with the people’s will.

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