We write this statement with a heavy heart grieving Black lives lost to violence in our community, our country and around the globe including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop and countless more. We see and hear the anger of our Black neighbors and generations of families who are targeted by unnecessary police force. As a community organization, we need to reaffirm that Black Lives Matter and ensure that our programs and initiatives reflect this from top to bottom.
We also write this statement empowered to do better by prioritizing Black voices on our board, in our committees and throughout our work. We’ve set the task for our Committee Chairs to come up with actionable steps we can take to overcome discrimination and to implement methods to address implicit biases, better de-escalation tactics and displacement to name a few. To hold ourselves accountable, we will be sharing our actionable items with you in the next month.
We’ve listed out a few ways to take action on support of Black lives in our neighborhood:
1. Learn about your neighborhood. Our neighborhood has a deep-rooted and rich African American history. We encourage you to learn more about the legacy of Black historical figures and institutions by reading Evergreens, written by SOSNA's previous Executive Director, Andrew Dalzell. The book is free but we ask you to contribute-what-you-can
100% of proceeds will be donated to Christian Street YMCA (the first African-American YMCA in Philadelphia and fourth in the country. Today, their wellness programming supports the mental and physical health of neighboring Black communities), Marian Anderson Historical Society (preserves the staggering life and home of Marian Anderson, one of the most internationally acclaimed singers and advocates for Black singers and artists in the twentieth century) and ODUNDE (an annual celebration of the African diaspora started in 1975 by Lois Fernandez, is the largest African celebration on the east coast filled with vendors, performances and a spiritual offering).
Fill out this form and we will deliver you an Evergreens book.
2. Get civically active.
Write to your Councilmember about the importance of the FY21 budget going to Parks & Rec, Streets, Education, Libraries, the Arts and other City services. Templates and information available here.
3. White neighbors, have difficult conversations with your family and friends. We recommend a few of the resources below to educate yourself and talk to your friends, coworkers, children and family members about what we can all do to be anti-racist:
WEB PORTAL: "Talking About Race" by National Museum of African American History & Culture helps people - including kids, explore issues of race, racism and racial identity.
READ: Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad (book; Join Pam from Baby Wordplay for LIVE readings via Zoom. Stay tuned for details.)
READ: How to be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Fendi (book)
READ: Books for kids about race (NYT)
LISTEN: 1619 (podcast)
**NEW** LISTEN: Seeing White (podcast)
**NEW** LISTEN: Uncivil (podcast)
WATCH: 13th (Netflix documentary)
WATCH: When They See Us (Netflix show)
4. Buy Black. We’ll be sharing a list of Black-owned and Black-led businesses and nonprofits in our neighborhood to buy from. UPDATE: Here's a list of Black-Owned Philly Restaurants.
5. Donate. We’ll be donating to local organizations in our neighborhood mentioned above but some Philly-based and national nonprofits need your help today including Black Lives Matter Philly, Philly Bail Fund, Black Visions Collective, Campaign Zero and Philly Lawyers for Social Equity. Here's a more extensive list of local organizations put together by PHL Assembled.
There is a nation-wide sentiment that many spaces feel unsafe for Black bodies. This month, our volunteer Committees and Board will begin the collaborative process to evaluate our current programs and initiatives to do better throughout our whole organization and move towards community safety that supports and heals, not disenfranchises and displaces. We will circle back to our community for input within the month after the Board has a chance to research, convene and discuss.
SOSNA's Board of Directors & Executive Director