As many have already said over the past 48 hours, the riotous events at the U.S. Capitol were an assault on our democracy. After being incited for weeks by some elected officials, including our president, a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to violently prevent a peaceful transfer of power and deny the ratification of legitimate election results. It was criminal. It was anti-American. Tubman condemns the hateful violence we witnessed on Wednesday.
And it also laid bare—starkly visible in reports, photographs, and videos—another hard truth in American life: we are not all equal.
Last summer, in the weeks following the murder of George Floyd, we saw the response to protests against police brutality, racism, and violence all across the nation. We saw how these overwhelmingly peaceful protests, led by Black, Indigenous and people of color, were met with outsized suppressive force. And then we watched Wednesday, as rioters pushed past police barricades into federal offices, to intimidate, loot, and disrupt our government processes. They were met by inadequate number of law enforcement officers who were unprepared and, in some cases, condoned and supported their actions. The entire event was a manifestation of white supremacy and privilege, the clearest demonstration that calls for stronger “law and order” only apply to some people, to the “Other America” that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described in 1968.
Our organization is named after Harriet Tubman, and we draw inspiration from her legacy. She risked everything for freedom for herself and other people, and at Tubman, we serve with her as our namesake as we work alongside survivors on their journeys to freedom from violence. Freedom from addiction. Freedom from trauma, exploitation, and poverty. Freedom from racism, sexism, and all other forms of oppression that prevent people from thriving in our nation. We cannot operate in Harriet’s name and yet remain silent in the face of racism and inequities that still exist.
We have more work to do, as a service provider, as a community partner, and as an employer. We commit to building a more just and inclusive society, and encourage everyone to participate in democracy even as we work to eradicate the white supremacy our nation was founded upon. Our work continues, and we remain steadfastly committed to it, especially in the face of Wednesday’s events.
This statement was initiated by Tubman’s Racial Justice Collective, a staff-led group to change policy and foster internal accountability.