Together We Will Find the Way: Our Anti-Racist Organizing Commitments
Southern Maine Workers’ Center December 1, 2014
Events of the last several months have made us all too aware that outward expressions of systemic racism are worsening, both in Maine and nationally, as deeply held attitudes about race are brought to the surface. The rhetoric of our most recent election has sown suspicion about new Mainers, encouraging people to question who belongs here and who deserves basic human rights. The outcomes of November’s election indicate that these racist and xenophobic messages have found traction with many people in Maine. The lack of indictment against police officer Darren Wilson demonstrates that justice continues to not be served in Black communities who face dramatically disproportionate levels of police and vigilante violence. The murder of Mike Brown has come to symbolize the problem of the widespread disregard for the value and potential of Black lives in this country–including here in Maine.
Resistance has always arisen out of oppression. A movement is rising up, building on a powerful and continual legacy of organizing, and we who believe in justice are being asked to join it. The chant Black Lives Matter is echoing from Oakland, California to Ferguson, Missouri to Portland, Maine. These voices join the those of the Dreamers who dare to believe that Migration is Beautiful and that those without documents should be able to live in this country without fear. These are just two examples of movements that are resonating so strongly in this moment. Every day and everywhere communities of color are leading the way in organizing for the human rights to housing, health care, education, work with dignity, healthy environment, and the ending of mass incarceration and police brutality. The Southern Maine Workers’ Center is honored and humbled to work alongside these struggles.
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 majority white, multi-racial organization, 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:
- We will act in solidarity with people of color led organizing in Maine and across the nation.
- We will organize around issues identified as priorities by people of color in our membership and communities.
- We will prioritize the leadership of people of color within our organization.
- We will organize white people into a movement for racial justice and collective liberation.
We are grateful to Black, Latino, and other people of color and immigrant leaders in Maine and nationally who are courageously championing this essential work. Organizing provides hope. It offers the opportunity to create community based in love and principles from which to push back against injustice. 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!