Open Communities is fiercely dedicated to addressing racial justice for all communities of color. We denounce and strongly condemn anti-Blackness in every form; from over-policing of Black and Brown communities, and police brutality, to discrimination in access to housing. We say the names of the victims of police brutality and anti-Black violence; George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and too many others.
As we say their names, we hold their memories alongside the reasons that Open Communities was established. As we always say, where a person lives determines everything: access to high-performing schools, jobs, healthcare, transportation, recreation, and green space. Years of redlining in our country combined with racial steering, have established neighborhoods that are starkly segregated by race. Black and Brown neighborhoods are over-policed by a police department that is over-militarized in the name of “protect and serve.” As we say the names of victims of police brutality; as we add another hashtag to the list, we know that the police do not “protect and serve” all of us.
"We know which of us feels increasingly unsafe as more police show up, and which of us are able to find increasing police presence more calming."
We know which of us give “the talk” to our children about how to behave when you’re pulled over by a police officer because your life could depend on it, and which of us doesn’t give this scenario a second thought. We know which of us will end up with an officer’s knee on our neck for 9 minutes (#GeorgeFloyd), and which of us will be treated with human dignity by police. We know which of us will survive when the police show up to serve a search warrant, and which of us will be shot 8 times instead (#BreonnaTaylor); We know which of us can go for a run in our neighborhoods without fear, and which of us will be killed in a modern-day lynching by people motivated by the same white supremacy that the system of policing was built upon (#AhmaudArbery). We know which of us will be arrested and tried fairly for our suspected crimes, and which of us will be killed by police before ever seeing a jury (#TonyMcDade). We know which of us will be violently tackled and arrested by the Evanston Police Department (#TrentHunt) for filming EPD unjustly harass another young Black man for coming from a “suspicious area” (#KevinWashington).
"Open Communities recognizes that these incidents of police brutality and the widespread housing discrimination against people of color are not isolated phenomena."
We strive to fight against white supremacy by organizing efforts to eradicate housing discrimination in all of its forms, and showing up when communities of color call out for help. We’re asking you to join us in that effort to support our clients most impacted by anti-blackness housing policies, systemic racism, and housing inequality.
To our white followers, we urge you to take a bold and courageous stand for Black lives, especially because we know that Black households are disproportionately impacted by the effects of eviction and housing discrimination. For example, in a study conducted by Apartment List of 41,000 participants, responses determined that “black households were more than twice as likely to face eviction as white households, after controlling for education”. More alarmingly, we recognize the significant factors that have contributed to the oppression of blacks can be traced to a racist housing system or policy, and because of that, we are asking our supporters to join us in the fight:
Support Black lives by helping us fund our housing justice programs that allow us to empower the folks most impacted by housing discrimination and injustice.
We are asking our white supporters to become fierce advocates by doing the work to educate yourself, to pass the mic and listen. Really listen. And invest in dismantling White supremacist systems. And finally, get really uncomfortable. Not in the “watching the news is sad” uncomfortable. But, in the “I am a racist until I am an anti-racist” and recognition of your White privilege. Become uncomfortable by acknowledging, “Nothing I have done in my life has earned me the immense privileges I have so greatly benefited from”.
Spread the word about our services and programs so we can help even more people ensnared in systemic racist housing practices.
The system will not change if we sit silently and stay complicit. We have been working in this space for more than 40 years and realize this is not enough. It’s important for us to be vocal advocates. We will not be silenced. We will not ask our supporters to do this work alone. And more importantly, we cannot abolish systemic racism without ensuring that all people have access to safe and affordable housing.
Open Communities is dedicated to doing the work. In fact, we’ve already started by assembling protestor care packages and supporting voter registration efforts. We must show up for Black lives and do better. We are working hard to educate ourselves and others. Please check out the list of resources below to learn more about the issues that are important to us.
Visit our Facebook page every week for updates.
Yours in Solidarity,