We can do more.
Dear Clients, Supporters, and Community Partners,
Mabel Wadsworth Center strongly condemns police brutality, racism and the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others. We are also outraged at the unnecessarily brutal attacks on peaceful protestors and support all who are fighting oppression and injustice in response to centuries of state-sanctioned racism and violence.
As a feminist organization founded by, led by and staffed predominantly by white women, we wish to acknowledge our privileges and biases. We cannot truly understand the implications of this crisis on the lives of black and brown people or speak to their experiences. But, we are willing to listen and learn.
Now, more than ever, we must lift up and amplify the voices of black leaders. Here are the words of several powerful and inspiring black women we are listening to:
Fatima Foss Graves, CEO and President, National Women’s Law Center
“I am choosing hope. It is a deliberate act. It is a choice. We have a modern-day George Wallace in the White House, so I am choosing to fight for the soul of this country. I am choosing to believe that people and institutions can change. And I’m doing that knowing none of it is fast work. You do not do this work without a measure of hope. Hope is the work of justice.”
Angela Okafor, Bangor City Councilor, lawyer and business owner
“I can’t breathe because your silence and inaction is killing me.
I love my community and I don’t want violence but it is not our place to judge people’s anger and how they show it.
Please I can’t breathe because your white privilege is causing me so much pain.
I can’t breathe. I need air. Please, I need water to quench the thirst caused by the gross injustice against my kind.
I can’t breathe until you understand that it is not okay to tell me at a job interview that I am overambitious and it is concerning.
I can’t breathe until you understand that given the same opportunity, I will thrive and our wider community will thrive.
I can’t breathe until we understand that if one of us can’t breathe, all of us can’t breathe.”
Read her full statement at the June 1 Black Lives Matter event in Bangor here.
We believe we can and should do more. While we are proud of our work to advance reproductive justice in support of local, statewide, and national organizations led by and for women of color, we must also look within. Being publicly supportive is not the same as doing the work to examine and dismantle white supremacy within our organization and out in our community. We truly believe Black Lives Matter and that we have a critical role to play as our community, state, and nation grapple with a legacy of systemic racism and state-sanctioned violence.
Your financial support of Mabel Wadsworth Center is always appreciated and essential to our ongoing work. At this time, if you are able to share that generosity, I encourage you to join me in making a donation to the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, a Black-owned clinic and the only remaining clinic in Kentucky; help them repair their broken windows (as they continue to care for patients). (Thanks to Abortion Care Network for this recommendation!)
Our hearts are broken but our minds are open. While this is a flashpoint in history, the hard work to dismantle white supremacy is ongoing. We invite you to join us in this process and we also ask that you hold us accountable to these intentions.
Andrea L. Irwin