“We’re trying to understand how our ancestors brought us to this point.”
About 300 people showed up in Boulder to a community meeting organized by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) to express that they were fed up with white supremacy and white privilege, but especially with the violence against people of color.
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder was standing room only until the overflow room began to fill with more participants to hear speakers and hear about action steps.
The event began with the reading of the names of the 135 people who were killed by police so far in the nation in 2016.
Cindy who organizes with SURJ said that the group works “really hard with accountability partners to make sure that we are not causing additional harm.” Two of those groups are Black Lives Matter 5280 and Buried Seedz of Resistance that works in support of queer youth of color.
Susie who also works with SURJ said that the group approached BLM 5280 about a year ago to ask how to most effectively organize, “Black Lives Matter said, we need you to educate people. Help them to understand what they can do, what white privilege is, what racism is, what things are going on as a nation, the Denver metro community, and the Boulder community. We’ve been talking about things like, what is implicit bias, what are micro-aggressions, looking at our own white history and how we came to this place and how our ancestors brought us to this place.”
She said that the group looks at actions around policing in the Boulder community for example, and de-centering whiteness in children’s literature.
Organizers specifically wanted the City of Boulder to address policing in Boulder following the results of an audit commissioned by city council. The Hillard Heintze Report that was written as a result of the audit, found that in Boulder an African American person is twice as likely to be cited for a traffic or misdemeanor than would be expected based on demographics. Other groups such as Boulder Coalition and Alliance on Race (BCAR) also found problems with the Hillard Heintz Report’s conclusions that they say have not been resolved. Additionally, both groups outline problems in evaluating Boulder’s Professional Standards Review Panel (PSRP) which they say is not truly an independent oversight since police are involved in oversight and recruitment for the panel.
Renee who also organizes with SURJ began her presentation at the event by telling participants to,
“Center other people’s experience. Center black experience. Center brown experience. It is really hard in Boulder. It is really hard in Boulder County. We are 85-90% white. Do you now that our white statistics have gone up in the past 5 10 years? This is a really difficult place to get out of. And I really want to name this. When you talk to your friends and you joke about Boulder being really white, or when you talk about the Boulder bubble, know that that is segregation by choice. Know that that is what you have done, what I have done. We have created an affluent, well-resourced community that is absolutely, predominately, majority white. We have created a segregated culture here. We cannot continue the way we are continuing.”
Renee went on to point to some actions steps that she has taken and suggested to listeners,
“Go to your teachers. I have a 16-year old daughter at Centaurus High School. The reading lists are appalling. Go to the teachers and get people of color on those reading lists. Get women of color. Get women, get queer folks. Get queer people of color on those reading lists.
Hire people of color. When you go to workshops, get those leaders to be people of color. God we don’t need more white leadership. Do you hear me? Are you feeling me?
Film the police. I don’t care if you think this is a bubble. This isn’t a bubble. People of color here are followed, they’re harassed. They’re arrested and they’re ticketed. If you see an officer on the street, you have a phone. Film the police!
Write your Congresspeople. Talk about reparations. Do reparations in your life. Talk about it for the country.
We only have a bubble because of the legacy of slavery. Because we stole land from indigenous folks and because and we imported labor from Africa.
We are well-resourced people. You’ve got money, you’ve got houses. It is a legacy that is on the back of indigenous people, black people, and brown people.
Tithe 10% of your income to groups that are led by people of color.
Shut the hell up a lot of times!
I overstep all the time but I would rather overstep than go back to sleep.
You all are here. You’re the best we’ve got. We all have to do better. Because those 138 names. Those are people who were killed by police since January 1.
The one-year anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death was a few days ago. 810 people have died in our prisons since her death a year ago.
The police state is real. Racism is real. This bubble is bulls**t. And we need to start doing better.
Increase our property taxes and start giving away houses to people of color. We can do anything. This is a democracy. Higher our property taxes and make that reparations. A f**king million dollars for average house in Boulder? It’s ridiculous. Those property taxes need to be going to create diversity in a community that keeps getting more white. So own it.”