Say Their Names
“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” – Thurgood Marshall
The recent violent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, and countless others before, along with the seemingly disproportionate response from some governmental agencies to the resulting peaceful protests, have impacted all of us at Community Legal Aid SoCal. On behalf of our program, I want our colleagues, clients, volunteers, supporters, and community partners to know that as we say their names, we stand with you in condemnation of these horrific killings. Even as we all continue to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, we must now help our community and colleagues cope and heal while ensuring they have the legal resources and other support they need in the face of heightened tensions and added uncertainties.
Community Legal Aid SoCal, along with our partners, serve as anchors and safe harbors for our community during troubled times. For thousands of clients and their families, the services we provide support their path out of poverty. We strive to offer an antidote to injustice, prejudice, and fear, which threaten America’s long-term health more than any virus.
In our service area, people of color make up the vast majority of eligible clients. Sixty seven percent of our clients are people of color as well as 74 percent of our staff. We know that our Black colleagues and neighbors are carrying an extra burden right now. This is why we must recognize the gravity of the current circumstances.
For 62 years, we have worked hard in Orange and Los Angeles Counties to ensure equity in our diverse communities BUT WE MUST DO BETTER. We are acutely aware of the deeply ingrained societal inequities that can make doing our work difficult even during the best of times. These tragic deaths, and the disproportional effect of the coronavirus among minority populations, have laid bare many of these inequities.
This crisis is a painful reminder of how much more work still needs to be done. We grieve with and for the families and communities who are suffering during this time. We stand in solidarity with the protesters and commit to fight injustice and systemic inequality with a renewed sense of purpose. At the same time, we reaffirm our resolve to continue serving as champions for justice, tolerance, and hope.
Say their names because Black lives matter.