A NOTE FROM THE FOUNDERS OF THE INCLUSION ALLIES COALITION
(Does not represent the opinions of Inclusion Allies Coalition Members)
When we first gathered to create the Inclusion Allies Coalition last year, it was in response to a deep fear that the change in government that we were facing, and especially the change in the presidency, would create an existential threat to our belief in inclusion for all. As a rule, we have avoided getting involved in overtly political issues in service of the inclusiveness that we have tried to create with the hundreds of members of the coalition, who come from a wide range of organizations. We have instead encouraged members to use the platform as a way of speaking out, as we each do ourselves, and have focused our efforts on building collaboration among the incredibly talented group of people who have joined the coalition in an effort to share our talents, our experience, and our ideas for the betterment of the movement toward diversity and inclusion for all.
However, recent events have made it impossible for us to remain quiet. Last week our nation was once again confronted with overtly racist comments from the President of the United States who purportedly referred to Haiti and African Nations as “shitholes” (or “shithouses”, according to some reports, not that it seems all that different) and suggested that we would be better served to have more immigrants from “countries like (overwhelmingly white) Norway.” Of course, the statement was immediately followed by denials and attempts to demonize the bipartisan senators who reported what they heard. However, for those of us who spend every day working to address these issues and fighting for inclusion for all, that he made the statement is all too predictable and believable.
We have focused on issues, rather than personalities, in the hope that we can continue to dialogue and move towards our belief that all people deserve the right to be valued, treated with respect, and have equal opportunities and equal protection within our society.
However, once again, we are confronted with the reality that in the case of the current occupant of the White House, the words and deeds of the administration are the issue. This is sadly, not new news. We have a President with a history of white supremacist behavior:
- He and his father were sued by the justice department for housing discrimination;
- Employees at his casinos have publicly affirmed that he made racist and anti-Semitic comments;
- He organized an effort to demand the death penalty for the young people of color known as the Central Park Five, and refused to withdraw it even when they were found innocent;
- He became the spokesperson for the racist “Birthers” campaign to discredit President Obama by claiming falsely that he was born outside of the United States;
- He opened his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists and murderers”;
- He has put in place numerous policies that are specifically designed to target black and brown immigrants, tear apart their families and ruin their lives;
- He stated that an American Judge could not try a case because he was of Mexican American descent, even though he was born in this country;
- He has tried to ban an entire religious group of Muslims from entering the United States, based only on their religious affiliation;
- He has openly referred disparagingly to cities that were predominantly occupied by people of color;
- He has actively worked to support efforts to suppress the votes of Black Americans;
- He has called African American football players “sons of bitches” for exercising their constitutional right to protest;
- He said about the Nazis and white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville, “Some of them are fine people”;
- He has appointed the whitest cabinet and the whitest group of judges in decades
And, lest we forget, he has also mocked a reporter with a disability; has made countless sexist and misogynistic comments and attempted to backslide on women’s reproductive rights; has been accused of sexually predatory behavior by 16 different women, and was recorded on tape bragging about sexually molesting others; has attempted to ban transgender soldiers from serving, and has supported numerous anti-LGBT efforts, etc., etc., etc.
And now this.
Let us be clear. This is not about liberal versus conservative politics. We know that there are decent conservatives who do not believe in this kind of hate mongering.
This is not about Democratic versus Republican politics. We also know that there are many Republicans who do not believe in this kind of hate mongering.
This is about basic rights, civility and compassion. When the Declaration of Independence states that “all” people are created equal, our courts have been clear that doesn’t mean just all white people.
Sadly, it is obviously and painfully apparent that our President does not share that belief.
We understand that it is wearying to deal with this on a daily basis. We understand that sometimes it feels easier to turn off the news and just step away. We understand that it can feel hopeless and that we can feel helpless. Please, do not let those feelings stop you from doing what you can do every day to let your voices be heard.
And so, in our shared disgust and outrage we implore every person who believes in our mission to stand up and speak out at every opportunity. Reach out to your neighbors and co-workers, especially those in vulnerable groups, and let them know they are not alone. If you can take action at work or in your community, do that. If you can write your representatives and make it clear that you consider this behavior unacceptable, and their refusal to condemn this behavior just as unacceptable, do that. If you can join protests against individual decisions, do that. If you can write articles, blogs, tweets, or social media posts to express your concern and outrage, do that. At every circumstance, speak out. Find those reasonable people who might have voted for the president and talk with them. Talk about each issue. Listen to them: relationships matter and in fact are the primary vehicles for promoting change.
We stand side by side as allies, a coalition of people from all races, ethnicities, genders, gender identities, sexual orientations and religions to say that we will never give up this fight. It is a fight for the moral core of our country. It is a fight for decency and civility.
Tyranny grows in silence. Remember, throughout history it is not only bad people who have created tyranny, it is also the good people who stood by and did nothing to try to stop them. This is not a time to wait and see. We have seen all too clearly what we are facing. This is a time to act.
The Inclusion Allies Coalition Founders