Are We OK?

On Saturday, my family joined a protest to show we stand in solidarity with those speaking out against police brutality and in pursuit of racial justice in America. The very public killing of George Floyd by those sworn to serve and to protect, along with the unconscionably long list of other black victims who preceded him, has demanded unification among us all to face the very real issue of racism in this country. I invite you to join me in support for our black fellow citizens by saying out loud: Black Lives Matter.

It’s important in the face of a 400-year history on these shores to acknowledge white privilege. I acknowledge that I never felt all that privileged growing up. But, I’ve learned that’s the point.  Whether we feel it or even believe it, privilege is there. It’s not so much what I have, but what I haven’t had to deal with.

On Saturday, we listened as the bell from St. Paul’s Church tolled once after each victim’s name was read aloud. So many bells. So many deaths. So much unnecessary pain, loss and injustice.

Midway, my niece asked me if I was OK. I grimaced and reached out and touched her shoulder. We are OK, of course we are OK. The greatest threat to us sitting here under a shade tree across from the New Hampshire State House and on the edge of the large demonstration is coronavirus (I was relieved as almost everyone was wearing a mask).

But are we really OK? How can we be OK when some police officers treat fellow citizens, fellow human-beings, in such a brutal way?

Change is needed. Police serve and protect. Killing people in their custody is not serving or protecting. The many good officers who live up to that basic mission need to make their voices heard and leadership felt.  I know they’re out there but legitimacy commands an honest and clear response, and real change.

In housing, we too have a special responsibility when it comes to equal justice and equal opportunity. In fact, land and home ownership are central parts of the long struggle for racial justice in this country and around the globe. We stand firmly for the importance of expanding ownership opportunities because housing security and wealth-building are essential solutions to the broader and deeper problems. In our work, I recommit myself to:

  • Increasing access to existing affordable home ownership by enhancing our training on Fair Housing so every co-op leader and membership understands the law (This poster on federal policy should be used in conjunction with your state’s poster, available in your management guide);
  • Making home ownership in secure Resident Owned Communities viable for more low- and moderate-income black and indigenous people, and other people of color by aligning with mission-based local lenders like Community Development Credit Unions, Credit Unions, other CDFIs as well as community banks; and,
  • Making land ownership viable for all homeowners in communities by expanding our footprint and services and engaging community members as leaders and owners around the powerful opportunity of owning the land under their homes.

We will continue in this mission because community-based solutions like cooperative ownership are vital; we need a country of safe, secure, affordable and diverse communities, and we need them now and everywhere.

We are inspired by an anti-racist America that provides greater freedom, dignity, inclusivity, mutual-respect, opportunity, health and well-being for everyone.

Photo by Paul Bradley, taken at the Black Lives Matter march in Concord, N.H. on June 6, 2020.