“Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part.”
It’s often said we don’t realize when we’re living through history. The events of this week are unmistakably historic, for better and for worse.
Georgians elected their first Black senator and first Jewish senator, a culmination of the diligent, aligned work of organizers building power in communities of color, particularly Black communities, through year-round engagement, voter registration and education, leadership development, and support of people experiencing hardships such as COVID and racial violence. These groups include many of our grantee partners: ProGeorgia, GALEO, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Latino Community Fund, GLAHR, New American Pathways, Georgia STAND-UP, Partnership for Southern Equity and Women’s Watch Afrika.
We had only begun to celebrate the historic events in Georgia when domestic terrorists refocused our attention to Washington DC, where, in recent months, protesters of police brutality, white supremacy and systemic racism had been tear gassed for an unnecessary photo opportunity. It is impossible to reconcile the contrasting police response to yesterday’s heavily armed white rioters and the peaceful demonstrators calling for racial justice. Capitol police failed to hold back the angry mobs as they attacked the sacred process of transfer of power, wreaking injury and death, and forcing our elected representatives to hide under their desks in terror.
“The juxtaposition of these groundbreaking events paints a stark picture of America’s dueling realities,” said Jerry Gonzalez, GALEO’s CEO and MRBF’s board president. “Here in Georgia, we’ve worked for many years to advance our vision of an empowered, multiracial, cross-class coalition, while in our nation’s capital, America’s shameful legacy of white supremacy – emboldened by incendiary rhetoric from the very top of our government – was on disgraceful display.”
Yesterday’s domestic terrorism exposes the painful truth that our democracy was founded on centuries of white supremacy. We see the reverberating damage not only in this insurrection, but also in the rise of fascism, ongoing police violence, COVID’s outsized harms to communities of color, voter suppression, wealth inequality, disparate health outcomes, education funding and more.
While the coup ultimately did not succeed, the brazen breach of the Capitol for the first time in more than 200 years broadcasts the urgent need for racial equity and pro-democracy, transformational work happening across the South to create truly representative government. Our partners are undaunted, and so are we. As Georgia shows, with sustained investment in communities, diligence, trust and love, we can begin to envision a stronger, more inclusive democracy that works for everyone.