Recent Roslindale Black Lives Matter Protests and WUR’s Direction Going Forward

Working backwards, actually, here are 3 photos from WUR steering group members from the joint RISE/Progressive Roslindale/West Roxbury June 4th Silent Vigil for Black Lives, which Universal Hub covered here: Hundreds turn out for boisterous vigil in Roslindale. And yes, the lower police presence as compared to the West Roxbury vigil on June 1 was noticeable. A few days earlier, on May 31, the American Legion/Mt. Hope corridor section of Roslindale had also held their own vigil/protest, complete with pizza delivered to the participants courtesy of a passing and supportive UPS driver (photos again supplied by a WUR steering group member):

Recognizing that both events are part of what is now a clear, undeniable, peaceful, determined, growing, coast-to-coast wave of public outpouring of frustration, anger, and, ultimately, solidarity sparked by the police murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day but decades and even centuries in the making, we feel compelled to do two things:

First, to pledge that the work we do going forward in advocating for a more walkable, welcoming, and sustainable Roslindale must be informed, in all ways and at all levels, by a central commitment to fight, every day and over the long haul, for a more just, equitable, and, yes, non-racist society – transportation and housing advocacy does not exist in a racism-free vacuum and we can’t ever ignore that; and

Second, to endorse the following formulation from one of our long-standing partners, LivableStreets Alliance, on the initial, but only the initial, steps we must take to make good on this pledge, specifically as follows:

How to be a White Ally 

Being anti-racist requires constant, active, uncomfortable work and self-examination. What actions can you take as an individual in your own life? Who are you talking to about white supremacy and police brutality? Are you calling in your family members, friends, colleagues? Where are you spending your money? Are you donating to Black-led organizations and supporting Black-owned businesses? If you are choosing to attend demonstrations, are you using your body to intervene and stand between police and Black protestors to protect them or de-escalate potentially violent situations?

Tamika Butler, Toole Design’s Director of Equity and Inclusion/Director of Planning for California, shares five questions for white people to hold, answer, and act on every day in her most recent blog post.

  1. Do I understand that not being racist isn’t the same as being anti-racist?
  2. Why am I so afraid to be brave enough to confront my power and privilege?
  3. What am I waiting for to decenter whiteness and realize just because I have never experienced it (or seen the research to prove it) doesn’t mean it isn’t real?
  4. What am I doing every single day to force myself to think about racism and white supremacy?
  5. What am I doing every single day to stop the killing of Black people?

If you are in a position to do so, we urge you to consider donating to these organizations that are on the frontlines of the work for racial justice in Boston:

Where We Are; Where We’re Going

To be candid, we struggled writing this, in part because so many of the statements issued in the last few days feel hollow, and statements in and of themselves don’t make change. It’s easy to call out the racist, violent actions of others. It is much harder to look inside and acknowledge your own contributions to upholding white supremacy culture.

LivableStreets is a majority-white organization, and we know we have a long way to go towards becoming an anti-racist organization. Writing a statement isn’t the real work. Working towards dismantling racism and white supremacy in everything that we do is.

We will continue to address racial equity in small and larger ways. For us this means reforming our hiring and board recruitment practices and examining our culture and communication norms. It means centering our advocacy on the most vulnerable and oppressed, not on the loudest voice in the room. And it means supporting legislation like An Act Relative to Pedestrian and Traffic Stop Data, a bill sponsored by Sen. Chang-Diaz designed to prevent racial profiling in all traffic stops.

There is much more work to be done. You should anticipate hearing more from us about these issues in the coming days and months. For now we hope you will consider taking action in one or several of the ways listed above.

At WalkUP Roslindale, we are aware of the need to look both internally – at how we’re led and structured – and externally – at the organizations with whom we partner and how we approach projects and initiatives. Like LivableStreets, we are a majority-white organization that needs to do more to make sure our own leadership reflects the diversity of our neighborhood, especially black and brown voices. We will stick with this work and we will let you know our progress going forward.

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