January 14, 2021,
Dear Neighborhood House,
Last week’s assault on our democracy was the inevitable culmination of years of division and racism.
The insurrection follows over four years of anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-Asian, and anti-immigrant messaging. The current administration and its allies passed racist policies including family separation, public charge rule, the Muslim ban, severely restricting our borders to new immigrants and refugees, and denied meaningful COVID relief to suffering Americans.
White supremacy and institutional racism were on full display last week. Rioters with Confederate flags were allowed to enter and leave the Capitol Building with little resistance and few arrests. In May, peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters were met with tear gas and a massive show of police force in many cities including Seattle and Washington, DC.
The insurrection, whose participants were intent on forcefully overturning the results of a free and fair election, is a threat to our democracy. There have been calls by some to move on, put the insurrection behind us and pull together. We want to pull together as a nation to begin an equitable recovery from COVID. However, in order to do so, there must be a full reckoning and accountability for what happened last week and what led to it.
A new chapter is already beginning. Belatedly, after years of lies, racist dog whistles, and inhumane policies, corporations are reexamining their practices, some even demanding their political contributions be repaid. Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Google and others are blocking users and platforms that incited the violence.
The Neighborhood House Board of Directors lends our voice to this new chapter by joining these calls to action.
We stand with the majority of Americans in their calls to hold accountable all who engaged in acts of domestic terror at our nation’s Capitol on January 6th and those who incited insurrection against our multiracial, pluralistic democracy in the name of white supremacy.
We urge Congress to pass meaningful COVID relief as soon as possible. Black, Brown, Indigenous, and people of color experienced disproportionate illness, death, and financial hardship due to COVID. Aid in the form of cash to struggling families and individuals, aid to state and local governments, expanded unemployment benefits, rental/housing assistance, student loan forbearance/forgiveness, vaccine distribution, small business assistance, and more will help begin the process of an equitable recovery.
We urge the Senate to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act,which would restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act that requires certain states or jurisdictions which have an established history of laws or policies which discriminate obtain advance approval or "preclearance" from the US Department of Justice or the US District Court for D.C. before they can make any changes to voting practices or procedures.
We urge Congress to pass H.R. 40, legislation that proposes to address the fundamental injustices, cruelties, brutalities, and inhumanities of slavery by the creation of a commission that recommends appropriate reparations.
On January 20, this new chapter begins. Stacey Abrams and organizers in Georgia helped Black voters fully exercise their right to vote leading to an historic election. Georgians elected their first Black and Jewish Senators. While there is much we are hopeful for, we must hold our lawmakers accountable to a full reckoning of the causes and conditions that led to this insurrection, including an overdue truth and reconciliation process for 400 years of slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, of Black people and the removal and genocide of Native Americans. Not until then, can we pull together as a nation and begin a path towards healing.
Marcie Headen, President
Neighborhood House Board of Directors
Police stand guard on Lincoln Memorial steps during Black Lives Matter protests.
(Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty images)
Trump supporters storm the US Capitol last Wednesday.
(Photo credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)