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We Are Standing Up and Speaking Out

We Are Standing Up and Speaking Out

We at CPEHN, condemn the violence that was committed last weekend by white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This year has been deeply troubling as white supremacy and hate-based violence has been on the rise. We mourned in February when Srinivas Kuchibhotla was murdered in Olathe after racist epithets were hurled at him and we were shocked once again when Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche were killed in Portland after intervening when anti-Muslim remarks were being yelled at two Muslim women. As a nation, we continue to feel the wounds of overt and institutional racism and its impacts on the health of our communities.

Over 25 years ago, CPEHN’s founders came together to create a unified voice for communities of color amid challenging times and potential opportunities. While we as a state and nation have made important strides towards improving systems and dedicating resources to heal our communities, it’s events like those in Charlottesville, Olathe, and Portland that again and again reminded us of the forces that seek to create barriers and harm communities of color, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and other marginalized communities. In these times, we need strong leadership to stand up and speak out against white supremacy and hate. And we have experienced that time and again. Even though the President of the United States demonstrates a stunning endorsement of racism through a lack of condemnation of these events, ordinary people across the country have taken a stand and continue to show us hope. The people in Charlottesville who had the courage to peacefully demonstrate against white nationalism in the face of violence provide us with great inspiration, and we particularly honor Heather Heyer for her bravery.
Last weekend, as I scrolled through Facebook and saw the angry pictures of white faces and fiery torches in Charlottesville, Virginia, I felt shame and anger. A heavy cloud sat over me as I played with my son Max and wondered how would I explain to him what happened since I knew he would see it on TV at some point. As a leader of an organization, a mother and a wife, I often just want to protect people, my family, my son, my staff…I know that I can’t. I can only try to listen and work to create a space for people to feel safe, to share, and to feel.

In this statement, I also asked staff to share in their own words their revelations and reflections in the face of these tragic events. I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to them for their words and thoughts.   

Aviva, our Events and Communications Coordinator shares:

Yesterday, while overlooking Lake Merritt and listening to Tegan and Sara’s So Jealous, I re-read Greg Rucka’s Batwoman: Elegy. I let the words of the protagonist Kate Kane, a fellow Jewish lesbian, sink in. When her step-mother criticizes Kate for wearing a tux to a gala and “trying to draw attention to yourself,” Kate responds, “No, just making sure I don’t stay hidden.”
Now, more than ever, these words resonate. There have been many moments when I have been afraid. Because of the color of my skin. Because of the way people may perceive me. Because I’m walking down the street holding my girlfriend’s hand. Now, more than ever, I am working to navigate my need to stay loud with my need to protect myself. Protecting my physical safety. Protecting my emotional safety. Protecting my mental health.
There are other ways to stay loud. I stay loud by finding pride in my identities. I stay loud by celebrating the diversity around me. I stay loud by making sure I don’t stay hidden.

Stella, our Senior Manager of Community Advocacy writes:
Growing up in an Asian-American immigrant family, I was always told that my role as a woman was to steer clear of conflict, serve others first, and be silent. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with the instinct to sometimes fall back into how I was raised instead of how I want to live my life.

I haven’t been able to sleep much this week, not just because the violence deeply affected my psyche, but because I have been thinking about the many people who may still feel their voices are not valid, or not important enough to make a difference. I feel like we need to challenge ourselves, not just to speak up about systemic racism and sexism when it can be difficult to do so, but to make the space for everyone to contribute to this fight in all the different ways we can. 

Let’s keep up the message that we will NOT permit racism, hate and violence in our country and to our people. Thank you to our health, equity, and social justice leaders for speaking out. Thank you to the thousands who are joining marches around the state to stand up against hate. Let’s continue to stand up and speak out against hate.
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