Dear IWC members and supporters,
I write today with a heavy heart over the death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers. For some of us, his death was a terrorizing reminder of how little Black lives matter in the face of state violence. For others, it was a shock to the insular lives they had been living, sheltered by the white supremacist culture they cannot or will not recognize. For still others, it was business as usual.
The killing of Black men and women has become far too normal in U.S. society. Floyd’s last cries for help have become all too familiar. “I can’t breathe” were also the last cries of Eric Garner, who lay gasping for breath while being held down by a police officer in the New York City borough of Staten Island in 2014.
As we mourn the deaths of Black men killed at an unacceptable rate by the U.S. police, we must not forget that Black women are also dying during encounters with the police or while in custody. June 5th would have been the 27th birthday of Breonna Taylor, a 27-year-old emergency medical technician from Louisville, Kentucky. On March 13, she was killed in her own home while she was asleep during a “no-knock” warrant by undercover police officers.
The system of justice is failing miserably when ordinary citizens have to revolt so that officers of the law – who are sworn to protect and serve their communities – can be held accountable for killing a man in what amounts to a modern-day lynching.
The outrage over George Floyd’s horrific murder has ignited nationwide protests and re-ignited centuries-long conversations over racism. Outside the United States, demonstrations in solidarity have sprung up in many countries around the world.
As an international women’s organization, we are calling for an end to systemic racism and racial violence everywhere. Standing up for women’s rights means standing up against all forms of inequality, including discrimination based on gender, race, class, age, disability, sexuality, or immigrant status.
I remember the words from “Ella’s Song” by Sweet Honey in the Rock (an African American vocal ensemble of women): “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” I pray and hope that you are already finding a role in the service of justice and systemic change in your own communities.
May we all be moved to work to dismantle racism everywhere! May you be lifted up to do the work that must be done now!
Rev. Addae Kraba, President, International Women’s Convocation