Our fight against white supremacy

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January 12, 2021

Dear Friends and Supporters,

 

Last week, we watched white supremacists occupy the United States Capitol. Incited by a racist demagogue and fueled by the cowardly rhetoric of Republican leaders, a mob of insurrectionists flooded the building in an attempted coup. The Capitol Police and federal law enforcement failed to anticipate pro-Trump extremists as a threat, a departure from the scenes of last summer when peaceful protestors were met with stunning police brutality across the nation. 

These events were a stark reminder that a new year, or even a new presidency, does not wipe the slate clean. The forces of racism and white supremacy that were on display at the Capitol continue to threaten our communities and our democracy. They are not merely an external threat to our institutions—the insurrectionists who occupied the Capitol have allies in power. They were encouraged by shameful politicians who affirmed that the election was rigged and turned around to condemn the violence they themselves had fueled. They must be held to account.

Out of so many depictions of hatred, one image has stuck in my mind: an insurrectionist supporter holding a Confederate Flag in the hallways I walked down when I was a staffer on Capitol Hill years ago. The picture says: “This is our building. This is ours.” It is not. While for many years—and indeed many centuries—white supremacy dominated our government, today we know that the future belongs to those fighting for justice.

The events of last week cannot undo the progress so many have worked hard to make. In Georgia,  brilliant, steady work to mobilize voters resulted in record turnouts of immigrant and Black voters. We are privileged to be part of a movement of tireless grassroots organizers and advocates who are advancing a vision of racial and economic justice. Bold, transformational change at the national level will not happen without upward pressure from our communities on the ground.

How do we hold this complex moment—the joy of building power in Georgia and the rage and fear instilled by last week’s events? At Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (ALC), we know well that the road to justice is long and winding. And while some days it feels like one step forward, two steps back, we know that continued movement is even more vital during difficult times. 

This moment demands we recommit to a bold and courageous agenda to rid our country of white supremacy and strengthen our democracy. ALC’s work in the courtroom and communities is never abstract for our lawyers and community advocates—it is in direct service of these goals. While the occupation of the Capitol was horrifying and striking in its blatancy, we are all too familiar with the traditional tools of white supremacy. We see the effect of socio-economic disparities, mass incarceration and police brutality, and a racist immigration system on our clients and community members every day. And every day, we fight to dismantle these systems of oppression. 

Thank you for being on this journey with us to create a brighter future and a better tomorrow.

 

Sincerely,

Aarti Kohli

 

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