We are deeply disturbed, saddened, and angered by the ongoing racism, violence, and police brutality against black people in the US, and the emboldening of white supremacy by the Trump administration. The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade, are not isolated incidents. They illustrate the long history of systemic and systematic anti-blackness in the US and the ingrained racism, discrimination, and violence against black people. Racism, colorism, white supremacy, and fascism are by no means endemic to the US alone. The white supremacist racist leadership in the US finds company in other fascist governments around the world. We condemn police brutality, racial profiling, and state-sanctioned racism against black people. As a South-based feminist alliance, we stand in transnational solidarity with those protesting all over the world.
Injustice, inequality, discrimination, and violence on the basis of race and colorism are perpetuated in all aspects of public and private life including education, health, employment, politics, and even within the same movements and institutions that claim to fight against violations of human rights. Black people are forced to navigate systems, structures, and spaces that perpetuate oppression, most recently illustrated by how black communities in the US and worldwide are disproportionately bearing the burden of COVID-19. We know the numbers: a black woman is 3-4 times more likely to have a pregnancy-related death than a white woman, black adults are 5.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults, black men receive on average 19.1% longer sentences than white men convicted for the same crimes, and black youth are terrorized and traumatized. However, these are not just numbers; these are lived realities of black people every day in the US. Lived realities of structural, institutional, individual, interpersonal, and internalized racism that continues to be denied and erased by those in power. We see such structural inequalities repeat across our countries on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, caste, citizenship status, etc., where the exercise of violence and power on indigenous, brown, and black lives has been normalized most often by the state and in liaison with corporate elites.
When such structural inequalities result in death or threats to life, it is a violation of human rights including the right to live a life free from violence and discrimination. It is also a denial of reproductive justice. Each time a black person is killed or is threatened with violence, black mothers and parents are being denied reproductive justice. Reproductive justice is, among other things, the right to parent your children in safe and sustainable communities without the fear that your children will be subject to violence and hurt, or killed. Freedom from violence is reproductive justice. Black feminists from the US were pioneers in defining and adopting an intersectional and justice-based approach to reproductive rights. The Black Lives Matter movement is creating momentum around the criticality of acknowledging the leadership and agency of black women, and black queer and trans people. Yet, recent cases like the murder of Black Lives Matter activist Oluwatoyin Salau and of trans women, Riah Milton and Dominique Fells showcase the massive failure and negligence of institutions and systems set in place to “protect” and “support” black, queer, and trans women.
Institutional racism and violence lead to significant negative impacts on sexual and reproductive health and rights for black womxn. This is exacerbated in the criminal justice system where black people face profiling by the police, disproportionate stops, and searches, higher rates of incarceration, longer sentences, and worse health, economic and social conditions, and lives following incarceration. Incarcerated black womxn experience multiple challenges to their reproductive rights; limited access to abortion and contraception, irregular services and care during pregnancy and birth, restrictions in visitation rights with their children, etc. The broader inequities and violence within the criminal justice system have significant social and economic impacts on incarcerated people, parents, their families, and the wider communities, resulting in a failure to realize reproductive justice for incarcerated and non incarcerated womxn.
We welcome and support the much-needed discussions ignited by the Black Lives Matter movement. We particularly stand together with all those who are speaking out about structural and systemic racism embedded in institutions, organizations, communities, and various other facets of society. This includes the racism and discrimination faced by black women and black queer and trans people in women’s’ rights, feminist, gender equality, and SRHR organizations and movements. RESURJ began as a response to the overwhelming domination of Global North feminism and white leadership in advocacy spaces. Our south politics and feminist accountability have always been rooted in acknowledging, confronting, and addressing the ways in which younger feminists from the South are marginalized and tokenized in advocacy spaces. We applaud the bravery of those speaking up about past and present injustices in the feminist, gender equality, and SRHR movements and are having difficult conversations in order for all of us to be able to weave stronger structures of resistance together.
The wave of solidarity and grief must sow towards the ongoing collective organizing and action of local grassroots groups who are at the forefront of the struggle against oppression and injustices lived by BIPOC. We express our unwavering solidarity and we march with all people including activists and organizers across the US and the world, taking to the streets demanding justice and accountability for police brutality against black people and an end to impunity.
We are with you today, and every day as dismantling racist, misogynist, neocolonialist, capitalist, and patriarchal power structures can only be done through sustained activism, the taking of the streets and holding accountable and voting out corrupt, racist politicians. The demands and voices for an end to systemic racism happening in the US are echoed on the streets from Brazil, to Lebanon, Chile, India, Mexico and elsewhere where racism, prejudice, discrimination, violence, and inequality is practiced and replicated by those in positions of power thriving in oppressive systems. We must continue to operate through collective action and cross-movements solidarity and care for each other while listening, unlearning, and strengthening the struggles with all our rage and creativity to design a new reality.