The Inclusive America Project mourns with Americans everywhere as, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black people have lost their lives to racism and police violence. In our mourning, we acknowledge the many terrible injustices Black Americans have faced on American soil, from slavery to segregation, Jim Crow laws to police brutality, and so many other factors that have been part of the system of oppression of Black Americans.
In the streets across America, we have witnessed an unprecedented multi-racial, multi-religious coalition of people showing up in solidarity and affirming that Black lives matter. As 19th-century Jewish activist Emma Lazarus, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dr. Maya Angelou all put it, “Until we are all free, none of us are free.”
Addressing anti-Black racism cannot and should not be separate from our work promoting religious pluralism in the United States. As a community of scholars, clergy, educators, funders, and leaders who believe that faith leaders can be powerful witnesses for justice and that faith communities play a critical role in a strong and enduring democracy, this moment calls on us to examine the ways in which we are perpetuating racism and learn the ways in which we can be advocates for anti-racism. On behalf of the Inclusive America Project, we state with humility that we have much to learn, but we are committed to be part of the change. To begin this work, we commit to:
- Learning as a team on how best to improve our approaches to equity and accessibility through anti-racism trainings. We also hope to make these trainings available to our network and part of our ongoing programming efforts.
- Exploring and sharing concrete steps to center the Black American religious experience in upcoming events and programming. Related to this, we commit to ensuring racial diversity on our panels and in our events. A first step in this commitment is a pledge that we will not host an event featuring only white speakers or presenters.
- Supporting research and writing on the intersection of religious pluralism and anti-Black racism.
We realize that these steps are only a start, and the process of seeing real change for Black Americans is a long one that requires all hands on deck. During these challenging times, leaders like you have demonstrated the vital role of faith communities across America. Often operating at the frontlines, you have provided emotional, intellectual, and social support to your communities. We ask you to step up with us now to address the scourge of racism.
This is not a one-time statement, and we hope it will not be a one-way communication. We want to hear from and learn with you. Please share with us your thoughts, your needs, and the resources you are finding helpful in this moment.