#EndWhiteSilence

EndWhiteSilence

by Diane Siegle Ore

"As a white Jewish American who has benefitted my entire life from white privilege, one of the things I can do right now is to protest the treatment of people of color for whom there is NO privilege. Sure, I can donate money, read books, watch films and documentaries, and take classes, yet none of those things will bring back Breonna Taylor, George Floyd or any of the many victims of police violence in our nation. That is why I am here today. By being here at this place, at this moment, I am showing physically that I want to End White Silence.

For three and a half years, Bend the Arc Jewish Action in Champaign-Urbana has been asking elected officials to open their eyes to the violence being visited upon our brown Latinx community— children in cages and deportations of hard-working members of our community. We have begged them—“treat your neighbor as yourself.”

Long before now, we should have also demanded that our legislators, city officials, and all people in places of authority open their eyes to what our black neighbors face every day—the daily potential for state-sanctioned violence that our elected officials and people in places of authority have, either explicitly or implicitly, condoned towards our black community members. Once again, we beseech you—“treat your neighbor as yourself.” More importantly, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

As Jews, we cannot sit idly by and watch with horror as police officers use excessive and sometimes deadly force on our black neighbors. The color of a person’s skin should not dictate how one gets treated in Minneapolis, let alone in Champaign-Urbana. And yet, as we have seen with our own eyes, it does. 

To be silent is to be complicit. I, for one, refuse to be silent anymore. I refuse to be complicit by turning a blind eye any longer to the injustice that has been so invisible to us as privileged white people.  And so, we say:  "No more chokeholds. No more kneeholds. No more life-threatening violence towards our black neighbors for minor infractions like walking away or questioning authority."

Stop blaming victims of police brutality for their own treatment at the hands of those who have been trained to subdue people with violent, harmful, painful, and deadly submission techniques.

Require that police be trained in de-escalation tactics. Require them to treat the black community the same way they treat the white community.  Re-prioritize your budget away from police in order to put more money towards mental health resources, sexual assault survivor resources, mediation, housing, food accessibility, and education.

Do all of this in the name of justice and righteousness.

May it be so."

 


Letter to Urbana City Council sent inconjunction with the vigil:

"To the Mayor and City Council Members of the City of Urbana,

This public comment is submitted by the Champaign-Urbana Chapter of Bend the Arc Jewish Action. 

This evening, community members from Urbana and Champaign continue to line the sidewalk across the street from the Urbana City Building and Urbana Police Department speaking up against systemic racism, police violence, and police murdering black people. Our vision is racial and economic justice for people of color.  We recognize that this action is symbolic since the City Council session is happening online, but we feel it is important to bring people together, to stand together, and to stand up for racial justice - not just across the United States, but also right here in Urbana. 

Our message from Bend The Arc:CU is this.  Now is the time to take bold action to dismantle systems of white supremacy that are endemic to our society.  

We are concerned and dismayed that victims of police brutality continue to be blamed for their own treatment at the hands of police, who have extensive training to subdue people with violent, harmful, painful, and deadly submission techniques, and yet seem to be so easily triggered into using excessive force.  

It is time to re-prioritize the city's budget to put more money towards community-based solutions, including mental health resources, substance abuse treatment, sexual assault survior resources, mediation, housing, food accessibility, and education - all outside the purview of policing. 

We look to build bridges and partnerships to demand real change to the racist mentalities that exist within law enforcement, public education, and the workforce in Champaign-Urbana.

We look forward to a future where all black and brown members of the community are treated equally, where white people listen, and where the seeds of racial and economic justice are sown and begin to grow."