Dear Astraea community,
Nina Pop. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Ahmaud Arbery. David McAttee. James Scurlock.
We will not stand silent in the face of such violence. As Black people, we face daily attacks on our dignity, safety, and basic survival. For over 40 years Astraea has stood in solidarity with Black movements and communities in the United States, and today we stand united in our grief, anger, and outrage. These are not isolated incidents but part of a much larger and coordinated strategy to enforce white supremacy at the expense of Black life. We condemn the racism, discrimination, policing, transphobia, and state violence that would have Black people erased.
Today and everyday, BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Our people are resilient and powerful. Demonstrators are rising up and fighting for an end to state-sanctioned violence and police brutality, taking a stand for Black life. As a queer feminist funder based in the United States, we owe our existence to the civil and human rights activism of the Black, Indigenous, People of Color, trans, and queer movements that have come before us. We are reminded this June that Pride month itself began as a riot against policing led by trans women of color, for our collective liberation. These are our foundations, the legacy on which we build to ensure Black liberation.
“Anti-Black racism and white supremacy are the bedrock of every single social injustice we aim to address. Be it housing, education, wages, gender justice, civic engagement, LGBTQI freedom, immigration, hunger, poverty, culture, you name it. My call to philanthropy: Fund racial justice. Fund the hell out of it.” wrote Astraea Board Member Will Cordery in Nonprofit Quarterly on Monday.
We are called to show up radically and compassionately at this moment. We call on every single person, including all in philanthropy, to do the same.
- Center abolitionist work and divest from police and prisons
Our vision for liberation is grounded in prison abolition, and aims to transform the very conditions of white supremacy that lead to oppressive, anti-Black, violent systems of policing and incarceration. Now is the time to divest from the police and prisons, and invest in building safe, healthy and thriving communities where we are accountable to each other. Many Black and POC-led grassroots organizations that Astraea is proud to partner with uphold an abolitionist vision of liberation, challenging the state’s reliance on policing and surveillance to resolve conflict, and building alternative forms of safety. They are the future.
- Resource healing justice, collective care and repair work
Integrate and uphold abolition, healing justice, and holistic security as values that sustain life, safety, and wellbeing. Many queer, trans, two-spirit, Black, Indigenous, People of Color communities and organizations are creating interdependent networks of care so that they don’t need to rely on the state for safety. Support that work.
- Honor and protect Black trans and LGBQI lives
As we mourn the violence against Black people across the country, we are reminded that Black trans people are killed at disproportionate rates. In 2019, the death toll of trans people—made up mostly of Black trans women—was so high that the American Medical Association declared it an epidemic. Just in May of this year, we lost Nina Pop, a 28 year old Black trans woman in Missouri and Tony McDade, a Black trans man in Florida to transphobia and brutal police violence. Say their names.
- Give at the grassroots, including in solidarity with protestors
Fund Black-led organizing in your community. Support Black-owned businesses. Contribute to bail funds across the country to support the release of protestors defending Black lives. Many of Astraea’s grantees play critical roles in this ecosystem of liberation; please support them and connect with them in any way you can. Our role as a funder and as community members is to ensure that we are building power at the grassroots.
Struggles for Black communities—especially Black trans, and gender non-conforming (GNC) people—and LGBQI communities are intersectional and interconnected; anti-racism is essential to our collective liberation. Many of Astraea’s U.S. based Black trans and GNC-led grantees are on the frontlines doing this work, while also responding to the needs of their communities as a result of COVID-19, a crisis that has disproportionately impacted Black, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Indigenous communities.
- Movement 4 Black Lives is calling for a week of action from June 1st to June 5th, in defense of Black lives. Sign their petition to Defund the Police.
- The Audre Lorde Project, Communities United for Police Reform, and NYC Anti-Violence Project will be holding a “Know your rights with police during COVID-19” tomorrow, Wednesday, June 3.
- Black and Pink are bailing out Black trans, non-binary, LBQ people and people living with HIV from prison, and working to abolish the prison industrial complex.
- TGI Justice Project continues to ensure that Black and Brown trans women and GNC people have access to care, shelter, and support.
- The National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network are mobilizing healers to support organizers and provide mental health resources during the COVID-19 crisis.
- SisterSong’s North Carolina bail support fund protects community leaders, members, and activists protesting and demanding justice and advocating for police accountability.
- SONG (Southerners on New Ground) and BYP100’s Durham chapter has been organizing on the ground, and pushing for decriminalization and divestment from the police.
- Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is co-organizing NYC protests, providing online copwatch training, and sharing out critical resources during this time.
The work of anti-racism and the abolition of white supremacy will not happen overnight. We must dream beyond dismantling “whiteness” and towards systems of material, emotional and spiritual repair, towards joyful struggle, and towards true liberation where all people have dignity, safety, security and life. Beyond this moment of collective grief and outrage, we commit to listening to and learning from Black social justice activists and educators, and to resourcing the Black-led movements working for radical change and healing justice.
Standing side by side in grief, strength and solidarity,
Interim Executive Director