Earlier today, The Womxn Project responded to comments by House Speaker Mattiello saying he doesn’t know what white privilege is, doesn’t think it is real and questioning how much racism exists in Rhode Island. Click here to read our statement.
While he said this awhile back, the fact is that the culture of our General Assembly and the very real racial inequities that continue to cause great harm in Rhode Island mean that we can’t be silent while so-called leaders turn away or pretend that rampant injustice isn’t happening right here at home.
As the saying goes, if you think white privilege doesn’t exist, then congratulations you are benefiting from it. The fact is that racism exists in every system and every sector in our state. We would encourage every person elected to office in this state who is charged with advancing health and justice to a little reading.
- Hispanic, Black, and Native American children are more likely to be living in poverty. In fact, the poverty rate among Black Rhode Islanders has been nearly 3 times the White poverty rate for more than ten years
- Unemployment for Black people in Rhode Island – even before the pandemic –was approximately double White unemployment.
- Black Rhode Islanders comprise 6.5% of the population, but almost 25% of the homeless population.
- Black Rhode Islanders comprise a disproportionately large share of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections population – 30% of the DoC population, compared to 5.3 percent of the overall population.
But this isn’t about numbers. This is about the need for people with power to listen, learn and take concrete actions to help address the huge disparities in health, wellbeing and opportunities.
The Womxn Project has been doing a lot of work in recent days to push white people in our state to learn what white privilege looks like and how it IS hurting people and to unlearn our own assumptions and habits, and challenge the stereotypes that we may not even want to admit we hold. You can check out our latest calls to action to end racism as part of our #SustainingCommunity series.
We call on every lawmaker in our state to make a clear commitment to addressing racism and dismantling white supremacy!
We all need to figure out the ways we can help address racism and violence. Whether you can attend a protest or donate to a bail fund, we can all do something.
The Womxn Project has created two different signs that can easily be produced on a home printer or simply recreated with a marker and paper and hung in your window or on your door to show that you are committed to helping to advance racial justice.
This may help to start a conversation with your children or a neighbor and can be a powerful statement for folks to see these throughout our state. It does not take the place of taking other substantive actions, but is a great way to show where you stand!
Tonight, The Womxn Project will be honored at the National Association of Secretary of State Awards along with several other Rhode Island organizations. If you would like to check out the awards, they will be live streaming at 5pm tonight. Check out our events page and think about joining us.
We are truly grateful for this kind acknowledgement of the work we have done to build a strong movement for positive change, but we know that we would not be here without so many amazing partners, especially the many women of color led groups striving each day in the face of huge systemic barriers. We share this award with every group working to advance health, rights and justice in our state and every individual who has given time, money or both to help us along the way – and moving forward!
There is real work to be done. We are in this. We will not stop pushing for racial justice and reproductive justice and disability justice and economic justice….the list keeps going. We will continue to work together to be a force for change that is so needed in these difficult times. We are grateful that you will be by our side.