To say that Black Lives Matter at this time is to commit ourselves to fundamentally changing the world. We see the devaluation of Black life in the state and vigilante murders of Black people, and in the unrelenting violence of the police against people rising up to demand justice. In a pattern repeated across the state, Portland’s police funding was increased by nearly 30% in five years, while critical social services were cut. We must defund the police, and condemn their show of force wherever necessary. We must reinvest in the basic human needs of our communities.
We see the devaluation of Black life in the rush to “reopen the economy” when Black people in Maine are 18 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than white people. We must end health disparities, demand work with dignity, and usher in a new economy that values life over profits.
We first published our anti-racism commitments in 2014 after a summer of Black Lives Matter uprisings against state sanctioned murder and systemic racism in this country. Our words from 6 years ago are so painfully relevant, and at the same time, our movements have grown more powerful and united. We are in solidarity with all people rising up to defend Black life, to defund police and prisons, and ensure our human rights to housing, health care, education, work with dignity, and a healthy environment.
As we said in 2014, anti-racism is not just an outcome, it is a practice.
Here is an excerpt SMWC’s Statement, Together We Will Find the Way: Our Anti-Racist Organizing Commitments, first released in December 20214. Read the full statement here.
We believe that it is crucial at this time to take a bold and uncompromising stance against racism. We must actively counter the politics of scarcity and fear with transformative anti-racist organizing which is the politics of abundance. Anti-racism is not just an outcome, it is a practice. As a multi-racial organization with a majority white membership, we don’t claim to have all the answers, but we know that we must seek them. As this anti-racist movement continues to grow in the months and years ahead, the Southern Maine Workers’ Center makes the following commitments:
Many of us at SMWC have been inspired by the organizing model and wisdom of Ella Baker, a grassroots leader of the Civil Rights Movement. She once said, “give light and the people find the way”. Organizers for racial justice are shining the light and together we will find the way. In the words of the powerful Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina: FORWARD TOGETHER. NOT ONE STEP BACK!