Let us state clearly – Black Lives Matter.
Women’s March San Luis Obispo unequivocally stands with the young black voices at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement in San Luis Obispo. We recognize these young people as brave, unrelenting leaders in the work to dismantle the structural racism on which our country is built.
It is not just the actions of a few but the perspectives of the many that must change. Anyone listening in SLO County knows that this community is not equally welcoming to all, structural racism does exist. We see this in the blackface and nooses at Cal Poly, the racist graffiti at Grover Beach Elementary, and the videos of residents using racial slurs in broad daylight. We know this from the lack of representation in government, on boards, and in business leadership. We hear this when Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) say, “We are not welcome here.”
It takes immense courage to step up when those around you dismiss your experience and your existence as irrelevant. It takes even more courage to continue fighting for justice when the community you live in questions the peaceful means by which you fight. The arrest of young local organizers goes beyond the need for courage – it calls on each of us to act.
We must move beyond saying Black Lives Matter to acting as if Black lives matter. We must move beyond telling BIPOC how to peacefully protest, and support them in real ways when they do – even when it causes discomfort. We must recognize that when a young black woman feels the need to scream repeatedly that she is not resisting arrest there is clearly something wrong with our system. It is time for us to fix it.
Women’s March San Luis Obispo unequivocally acknowledges the danger people of color face everyday. The power structure is not balanced, and the fight for justice has never been fair. There are deep wounds from lasting oppression. Criticism of tactics is not a substitute for dismantling racism.
Rather than diminishing the work of those taking a chance to lead, let’s reflect on what work needs to be done by each of us. If we do not like the means by which change is being demanded, then we have to find our own opportunities to change the system.
As local black leaders have said, there is room for every person in this movement. Let’s engage in constructive action. Black Lives Matter, period.
Women’s March San Luis Obispo Organizers