On Sunday, Jan. 17, 2020, as part of Anti Police-Terror Project’s Reclaiming King’s Radical Weekend, Black women will engage in an online healing ceremony for Oakland.
We are Oakland’s mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, grandmothers, spouses, partners and elders whose hearts are shattering. We are artists, advocates and organizers. We are Black women.
Every bullet that steals one of our own also steals a piece of our soul. For months, we have waited for a response from city leaders that has not come. Our collective grief has turned to collective rage and a collective determination to insist the violence stops today.
We grieve these tragedies and long for freedom from institutions and systems that perpetuate violence. Despite attempts to divide our movements, we remain firm that all violence is state violence.
Whether it be police or one of our own who steals a life; it is the state that creates the conditions that facilitate blood running through our streets. It is the state who benefits from our communities existing in perpetual chaos. It is the state that withholds the resources, supports and services from our communities that could stop the violence, heal the trauma and forge a pathway toward safe communities.
We are tired of waiting for the state.
We are a collective of women who lead, live and love within the Black community of Oakland, CA. This King weekend, we join the collective dreaming of Oaklanders for a city where humanity is held sacred, communities are free from violence and Black people can breathe.
Why We Wail
Oakland lost more than 100 people to gun violence in 2020. At the time we are writing this letter, two people have already been shot and killed. Our city’s response? A press release from the Oakland Police Dept. criminalizing our young people and a call for more money for a failed police agency that is failing us at every turn.
The 2018 Oakland Equity Indicators Report shows that Black youth ages 16-24 are out of work or out of school. The report demonstrates that African Americans in Oakland have the lowest median household income compared to other groups, at $37,500. They state, “African Americans were most likely to be living at or below the federal poverty level (26.1%), compared to 21.9% of Latinos, 15.0% of Asians, and 8.4% of whites.”
When you starve a community of the resources it needs to thrive; efforts to survive perpetuate violence.
While the City annually allocates almost 50% of our budget to the Oakland Police Dept., Black bodies and communities pay the price. Our budget model perpetuates violence on Black Oaklanders by failing to legislate for equitable access to housing, healthcare, education, public safety, economic sustainability; everything we need to create safe and healthy communities.
The carceral system then punishes individuals and families who fall through the cracks of broken systems, leading to a wide array of generational traumas.
All violence is state violence.
There can be no peace without access to healthy food. There can be no safety without housing. There can be no healing without trauma support. There can be no joy without whole family units. There can be no success without educational and economic opportunities.
We reject the notion and the practice of mass criminalization to safety. We refuse the idea that the city does not have the resources to REfund our communities with supports and services that have been stolen. We reject your morally bankrupt priorities.
We call into existence a healing balm for Oakland. We demand support services for families and communities traumatized by violence. We offer ourselves up as healers, counselors, spiritual advisors, sisters, friends and community members. We extend love, support and compassion to our young people. We see your humanity. We extend prayers and resources to the mothers who have lost children.
What We Demand: A Black New Deal
The new Oakland City Council must correct the social inequity that is the root of all state violence.
Whereas, the Oakland City Council has the power and responsibility to address the social inequities and consequences that stem from state violence through reinvestment in schools, housing, and mental health services,
Whereas, the people of Oakland require strong leadership from all city departments to configure a budget that reflects the value of human lives over profit by reinvesting funds from over policing to mental health and trauma support services,
Whereas, housing is a human right for all people regardless of their ability to obtain wealth,
Whereas, the City of Oakland must support all workers and residents during this pandemic with additional protections for employees, including paid sick days and other support for working families,
Whereas, Oaklanders demand access to clean environments that support sound physical and mental health including but not limited to: clean water, hygiene stations, free public transportation, rezoning of areas to protect family neighborhoods,
Whereas, COVID-19 has impacted all corners of our city, we demand our officials embody a public health perspective when addressing the short and long term consequences of this crisis,
Therefore be it resolved that this City Council commits itself to a Black New Deal that includes a complete transformation of how we do “public safety” in Oakland; fully funding good jobs, quality education, mental health supports, housing for all, quality education, healthy environments and equitable opportunities to thrive with a particular emphasis on repairing the damage done to Black Oaklanders through decades of neglect and racist policies and practices.
Our tears and grief wash clean the ill response of this city. Our love for our children ushers in a new day of peace. Black women have always, and will always, provide the healing balm to our communities. We cannot wait for the state to bring peace to our streets; not so long as it continues to benefit from our destruction.
Sunday’s event will livestream from the Anti Police-Terror Project Facebook Page from 1:00-3:00 p.m.
With deep love for our city and our people,
Pastor Cherri Murphy, Dr. Crystallee Crain, Cat Brooks, Ashara Ekundayo, Amara T. Smith, Tonya Marie Amos, Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, Mizan Alkebulan-Abakah, Clarissa Douthard, Carolyn Johnson, Chaney Turner, Falilah Bilal, Margo Hall, Nehanda Imara, Regina Evans, Tasion Kwamilele, Tonya Love, Jadyn Polk, Venus Morris