Philadelphia and the country at large are grappling with the consequences of centuries of racial discrimination and inequality, catalyzed by the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We say unequivocally that Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with the black community, we stand against police brutality and we support protest as a form of bringing about long overdue change.
The history of the League of Women Voters as an organization and the history of the women’s suffrage movement in this country is steeped in racism. LWV Philly commits to doing the work of learning from this history, advocating for anti-racist policies at every level of government and amplifying the voices who have been marginalized.
We have failed to support our fellow board members of color. We need to do better and we hold ourselves accountable for this failure. We are proud of the Black women in our organization who are leading the fight for a better democracy.
Here are tangible actions white Philadelphians can take today to start to do the work:
1. Educate yourself on the history of racist policies in the United States, including those within the women’s suffrage movement. Below are just a few resources on this topic.
Celebrate Women’s Suffrage, but Don’t Whitewash the Movement’s Racism
Weekend Read: Challenging the whitewashed history of women’s suffrage
When the Suffrage Movement Sold Out to White Supremacy
2. Do the work of being anti-racist. Many activists have already compiled resources. Here is just one list:
Do the work: an anti-racist reading list by Layla F Saad
LWV Philly will be hosting a conversation on June 30th discussing the book, How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. Details to come. Consider purchasing the book from a Philadelphia-based, Black-owned bookstore or purchasing it on audiobook from Libro, the proceeds of which support an independent black-owned bookstore of your choice. A list of Philadelphia Black-owned bookstores is available here: Philadelphia Black-Owned Bookstores You Can Shop at Now
3. Advocate for better policy. We believe in the power of women to create a more perfect democracy. We practice this belief through encouraging informed and active participation in government. Campaign Zero has a clearly outlined, evidence-based policy platform for ending police violence in the United States, which includes demilitarization, limiting use of force, and increasing community representation. LWV Philly endorses this platform:
4. Amplify the voices of Black activists who have been and continue to lead in this space, such as:
And many more.
Racism has been a part of this country since before its founding and racism has been a part of the women’s suffrage movement, including the League of Women Voters, since its beginning. At the local, state and national level, we are committed to doing the crucial work to be better: