Wednesday night, after returning home from two back-to-back community vigils (either led or supported by Communities United for Restorative Youth JusticeElla Baker CenterAnti Police-Terror ProjectRestore OaklandYoung Women’s Freedom CenterUrban Peace Movement) to commemorate the Chauvin murder trial verdict and deaths of Ma’Khia Bryant by the Columbus Ohio Police and Mario Gonzalez, an Oakland resident, by the hands of the City of Alameda Police, my heart felt like a chasm and the tears wouldn’t stop. It was just one month ago we organized with Asian Pacific Environmental Network a vigil to commemorate the deaths of 6 Asian women targeted and murdered in Atlanta by a white man. 

What I am feeling and what I keep hearing from folks is we don’t even have time to grieve. We try to hold space for each other and then we are hit with more tragic horrific news – Ma’Khia Bryant, Mario Gonazlez, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Roger Allen, Angelo Quinto, Indianapolis, Atlanta, the over-policing of Black bodies at Lake Merritt, and the increased violence in East Oakland, and, and, and… 

The list feels endless. This set in the larger stage and backdrop of the pandemic and climate crisis is like a heavy anvil and many of us are feeling like we are drowning in collective sorrow. 

So, I sat down to write. I found this picture I took on a late night walk and wrote. I offer this poem and photo as a gift for you like a candle in the night or compass through the darkness.
Our hearts are hurting while our minds are trying to make sense of it all. Our hearts feel the pain in our chest and we want to rage, burn, and smash it all – metaphorically and physically. But if we only lead from our hearts all we’re left with is rage and no systemic change. Our minds know the violence is rooted and operationalized through the systems of oppression we live under – white supremacy, misogyny, and extractive capitalism. But if we lead only from our minds then we lose our principles and can’t be held accountable for our impact. In either case, we can’t see beyond what is right in front of us or end up straying from our purpose – to create a world where we can all thrive and be well. 

We must find a place where our hearts and minds meet so we can ground ourselves in our vision and hope in order to steer ourselves with clarity and purpose. Our hearts tell us we must, can, and do take care of each other. We see this everyday with mutual aid and alternatives to policing programs. We know where the city administration prioritizes spending our tax dollars. Our policies like qualified immunity, lack of protections for low wage workers, lack of truly affordable housing, inequitable tax structures, and disinvestment in parks, schools, and city infrastructure tell us what parts of our systems we need to fix. 

Our hearts and our minds must meet. We must prioritize refunding, restoring, and reimagining our budget to reflect not only a Just Recovery but a budget that will move us Beyond Recovery that not only helps us all thrive but does this by centering on the experiences of those most negatively impacted by our systems.

In solidarity,

liz suk
Interim Executive Director