On Reparations, Resources, and Relationships

I hope this finds you and your family and friends healthy and doing as well as is possible under the circumstances. I want to invite you into some of our personal and collective commitments at the Climate Disobedience Center to participate in the creation of a more just and equitable world.

The COVID-19 pandemic brings into sharp focus many of the ugly truths about racial inequities embedded in our institutions and systems, including a dramatic racial wealth gap that raises barriers to access educational, nutritional, healthcare, housing, and other critical resources. This wealth gap compounds the disproportionately high rates of chronic disease, incarceration, and environmental injustice experienced by people of color, particularly Black, Latinx and Indigenous people.

In this moment of global uncertainty, we can contribute to building the future we envision by beginning or deepening practices of radical solidarity. And we want to invite you to take a concrete action this week.

We wrote a few weeks ago, when the pandemic felt like it was just getting started in the US, about showing up for each other in local mutual aid work. We hope you’ve found meaningful and useful ways to be connected, even if that means allowing yourself to receive help from others. 

Reparations

Today we want to encourage you to think beyond meeting immediate local needs. We invite you to join us in concrete acts of reparations. Starting this week, many of us are receiving Economic Impact Payments from the IRS in the form of direct deposits or paper checks for $1200. Some of us will not receive these funds, including higher income households, young adults (especially students) who are claimed as dependents on a tax return, and undocumented people. 

We join many others to proclaim that this is an opportunity to move the wealth generated through colonization and slavery back to those from whom it was originally stolen.

If you do receive these funds, we invite you to discern whether you are called to move (or return) those resources to projects led by Black, Indigenous, and undocumented people. If your income is high enough to exclude you from receiving these funds, we invite you to begin or deepen a commitment to making reparations real. We mourn that so much of our society was created and is sustained by extraction of resources (including labor) from people and the land. 

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While it is painful to acknowledge this legacy of theft, slavery, and genocide, at the Climate Disobedience Center, we take seriously our commitment to tell the truth about ourselves and our world to the best of our ability. And the truth is that, as a team of white people, we know that we cannot expect to contribute to racial healing until we participate personally in returning some portion of what has been stolen. We also know that the five of us don’t have the power to shift interlocking systems of domination through our own actions, but we believe that together, our broader community can shift our approaches to resources, power, and relationships.

“Attempts to repair the damage that has persisted over centuries represent a wildly incomplete work-in-progress. Nonetheless, we are called to do something now to address the legacy of genocide, theft, kidnapping, rape, and so many other forms of brutality and dehumanization, knowing our efforts are only a small part of what forms an adequate solution. We expect and embrace the idea that our methods and understanding will change as we move forward, growing and transforming collectively.  We will continue to turn to the leadership of those most impacted, and we lift up and offer the gifts that emerge within the network.” - excerpt, Yet To Be Named Network

I will be moving the funds that come to me to Ekvn-Yefolecv, an intentional ecovillage community of Indigenous Maskoke persons who, after 180 years of having been forcibly removed from traditional Alabama homelands, have returned for the purpose of practicing linguistic, cultural and ecological sustainability. Leif sends resources to the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, which is fighting to end cash bail in Philadelphia, and until that is accomplished, post bail on behalf of those who cannot afford to do so, especially Black women. Tim and Jay are returning funds to Wicuhkemtultine Kinship Community And Learning Center, an Indigenous led community in Wabanaki territory. Tim is also returning funds to the Restoration Urban Farm, a black led urban farm for formerly incarcerated people in Pawtucket, RI, and Jay is also sending funds to Soul Fire Farm, an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm in upstate New York. As part of a community of trainers and social justice educators, Emma is sending resources to the Judith C Jones Fellowship for Trainers of Color through the organization Training for Change.

We’ve collected more information for you to learn about these projects (and how to support them) here. In this document, you’ll also find a link to Soul Fire Farm’s Reparations Map for Black-Indigenous Farmers, which may connect you to projects closer to where you live. 

We would love to hear from you about your own relationship to reparations. We know that the projects we lift up here may not be the ones closest to your homeplace or to your heart. 

We offer our own commitments as a form of transparency, mutual accountability, and encouragement; and we invite you to support these efforts or others to which you have some connection. We trust you to engage this invitation and to determine what response is right for you and your family or community. Let’s do this.

Stay safe, be the change, and keep your dissent muscles in shape. Let’s focus on giving our consent freely to the projects that seek healing and restoration, and let’s be ready always actively to withdraw our consent from actions and policies that promise to divide and silence us.

Fierce Love,
Marla (for the Climate Disobedience Center team)

 

 


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