Earlier this week, President Donald Trump led a rally in North Carolina at which the crowd chanted “Send her back! Send her back!” in reference to an American Muslim congresswoman, whom he targeted earlier in the week along with three of her House colleagues who are also women of color. These racist verbal assaults are part of mounting continual attacks by the Trump administration on people of color, immigrants, women and LBGTQ+ individuals.

In this environment, we must boldly call out and confront systemic and overt racism, and fight for racial justice and equity through our work as health advocates. At Community Catalyst, we are so honored to work with state and local partner organizations around the country who are pushing themselves to take up the mantle for racial justice. In that vein, we wanted to share with our network the following blog post authored by Robyn Hyden, executive director of Alabama ARISE and originally published on that organization’s blog.

Robyn references in her post the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery. In a related blog post last April, Community Catalyst staffers Andi Mullin and Amanda Ptashkin, reflected on their personal experience visiting the museum and memorial. Andi’s and Amanda’s blog also speaks to their first-hand experience of the great work Alabama Arise is doing at the state level to make explicit connections about structural racism and its impacts on health, and to work toward urgently needed remedies. We encourage others to share their work on this front with us – as we all can continue to learn from each other.

⁠—Dara Taylor, Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Community Catalyst

It seems to me that we are living through a time of historic political upheaval and transformation. While we continue to push forward policies to increase dignity, equity and justice, too often we end up playing defense.

Corporations exert more influence today than ever before to suppress the people’s power to organize and access the ballot. White supremacists advocate policies that suppress the rights of black and brown people, religious minorities and immigrants, using a well-worn playbook to build power and wealth at the expense of scapegoated targets. Their tactics prevent us from creating the great society that we imagine in our vision statement.

But something is happening in Montgomery to hold us accountable to our past and to call us towards more direct action. Since the groundbreaking of the Equal Justice Initiative’s Memorial for Peace and Justice and the accompanying Legacy Museum last spring, people are coming here from all over the world to learn about our nation’s history of racial terrorism. Visiting guests are often asking us for our perspective as Alabamians about how we can grapple with our state’s historic and ongoing failures to afford dignity, opportunity and justice to all people.

Against this backdrop, our board and staff have adopted a more explicit commitment to racial equity and inclusion. We know we can’t address poverty without acknowledging how our state’s investment in racial exploitation and discrimination created policies that have built wealth for a few, while disenfranchising the many. And if we don’t have a direct narrative to address ongoing racial inequality, extremists will tell a story about race that serves their own agenda.

As a result of this framework, we hope to create more advocacy tools, data and messaging to acknowledge race and to give grassroots advocates and communities the tools they need to fight, and win, in discussions about policy where racial prejudice is too often the subtext.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments on this as we frame our work more directly to address racial injustice as a key part of winning on our agenda to increase dignity, equity, justice and opportunity for all.

To view the original posting of this blog visit Alabama ARISE’s site.