Community Response to Racial Injustices
May 28, 2020 edited June 24, 2020
Dear ComMUSICation Community,
We hope this letter finds you as safe and well as we celebrate mid-summer and Juneteenth in times of crisis.
Police brutality happening within a community I called home for five years hit much closer to home the systemic racism that is police brutality. But as Governor Walz said recently, "the anxiety, grief, pain that we may have felt [as white people] is a lifetime for our black and brown residents." I'd like to add "generations" to this quote, as this racism is systemic and institutionalized. And these are ComMUSICation children, family, and other community members who live with this racism daily. Black children who have dreams and families DO matter. Did you know the state of Minnesota has some of the largest racial inequities including criminal justice, education, housing, and healthcare? While CMC strives to ensure our black and brown youth have the same opportunities as more privileged white children, for whom the system benefits, we need everyone’s help to ensure these systemic injustices cease and we uplift the voices of our CMC youth and families.
A large part of CMC’s mission is community. I know I’m not alone when I say the community we have witnessed the past week is stronger than ever, whether it be ensuring our neighbors are safe, having our basic needs met, or helping to clean up our communities. Our children need us right now, especially those who have to live under the oppression of institutionalized racism, and whose voices sadly aren’t and have never been heard by our police officers, government and, more importantly, the American society at-large. CMC’s mission is to empower all young people, but how can one feel empowered when they fear for their lives in a country that has historically let them down?
CMC is actively trying to help dismantle this institutionalized racism and say NO MORE. CMC’s Board has created a racial equity task force that involves our young people and their families to decide what proactive steps we will take to ultimately change and incorporate them into our strategic plan for years to come. While our full response is still in the works, our core values will certainly be upheld: intentional, inclusive, community-based, and collaborative. Rest assured, it will be a response that shows CMC is not just reacting to current events in a non-racist way, but rather in an actively and unabashedly anti-racist way, educating ourselves and addressing these systemic injustices at an organizational level.
Our Action Steps
CMC has put together a list of anti-racism resources to share with you, our community, to help educate everyone (ourselves included) on the hard truth of systemic racism that predates our country’s history. It can be found in the Take Action tab on our website and will be updated. We welcome you to share your resources with us by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Programmatically, we are working on adding a song composed by the youth to address racial equity and a phrase to the Creed to begin each rehearsal and help center youth in why they’re here. We are also dedicating time in each board meeting to discuss and reflect upon one of the resources in our Take Action tab with teaching staff.
I’d like to share the timeless work, “Ella’s Song” written by one of my favorite groups, Sweet Honey in the Rock. The lyrics read: “until the killing of black men, black mother’s sons, is important as the killing of white men, white mother’s sons.we who believe in freedom shall not rest until it comes.”
This fight is beyond uncovering the police brutality pervasive in Minnesota and throughout American history, and beyond any one of us. But we must fight for justice so that one day a generation can see this song realized.
Let us march on ‘til victory is won!
Sara Zanussi, M.A.| Founder & Former Executive Director