Standing Together in Hope
A note from our COO
by Ebony Twilley Martin
As painful as this moment is, I know that there is hope. Hope is what carried our ancestors, and hope is what will carry us now. There is an expectation firmly rooted in me that things can and will get better. I will continue to act until we reach our belief that this world will manifest as a green, peaceful, and just society for us all.
We are in a really difficult moment. Many of us don’t have the words to express the roller coaster of emotions we have been on these past few weeks, let alone this week.
As if we didn’t all have enough to deal with as a result of this pandemic, which has disrupted our lives, we as People of Color have also had to deal with the disproportionate impact of the novel coronavirus on our people. We have watched our family members and friends die at higher rates, and we see clearly what we have known all along: Injustice. There is a significant gap in the quality of the health care that our people receive. I have seen families wiped out by this virus. Husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, all dying within days or weeks of each other.
Compounding the devastation of a disproportionate death toll is the economic uncertainty we all face. Unemployment has climbed to an unprecedented level and created uncertainty, instability, and angst, to say the least. Should we go outside to take a run around the neighborhood to exercise or to release this pent up anxiety? No. It’s not ok for us to jog. We can’t even watch birds in the park.
We saw a beautiful black woman, Breonna Taylor, who did her job as a first responder with excellence (because we are taught to be successful we must be better than average), when she was murdered in her home as she slept. And, as if we haven’t already seen it enough in our lifetime, we saw yet another unarmed black man, George Floyd murdered literally right before our eyes. There are many Georges in my family. I have a grandad, dad, and a brother all named George. I had to watch my brother, George Floyd, killed mercilessly because he was black. We were told to stop kneeling as a form of protest, while the system quite literally continues to kneel on our necks suffocating us to the point where our last words are “I can’t breathe.”
We see the protests in cities. We see police shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at the protesters at point-blank range. We watch as a police station is literally burned to the ground. And I ask how in the world did we get here?? The sad thing is, my parents and my grandparents repeat similar stories. This horrific cycle that they too lived and continue to live through. And yet, I feel there is hope. As a woman of color and a leader, I have had an active role in advancing justice in our organization. Although it has been difficult, I find encouragement, inspiration, and hope as we stand in solidarity together. As painful as this moment is, and even though I don’t have the specific remedy for this painful reality, I know that there is hope. Through the darkness, I see a crack that light continues to shine through and that is hope. I see it in my two boys, Jaamir and Josiah. I must have hope for them. Hope is what carried our ancestors and hope is what will carry us now. There is an expectation firmly rooted in me that things can and will get better. Hope requires faith, actions, and belief. I don’t have much now but I have the faith, and I will continue to act with all of you until we reach our belief that this world will manifest as a green, peaceful, and just society for us all.
As far as action as an organization, Greenpeace USA has released another statement, focusing on the violent police response to protests. We demand action to confront the racism, police violence, white supremacy, and inequality in this country. In it, we echo the specific demands of the Movement for Black Lives and call for accountability for the racist killings of Black people by police.
Our goal with this statement and other communications is to uplift and reinforce Black-led organizing. Greenpeace also encourages staff to participate in activism as part of our work and beyond Greenpeace activities. We ask that they—and you— take steps to protect yourself and others from novel coronavirus if you are going out to protest or taking on supporting roles.
This is an emotionally, mentally, and often physically exhausting time, and the impacts do not land on all of us equally. It is important to pay extra care to supporting Black colleagues and friends. It’s best not to assume what support is most helpful and support can sometimes look like giving space.
There are no simple answers to how to take care of each other—but take care of each other, we must. Practice radical kindness, compassion and empathy for one another. Take time and space if you need to. Scream, shout, pray, and act, but continue to stand together in hope.