Futurewise stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and protesters across America rising up to fight police brutality and demand health, safety, and freedom for the Black community. As our country confronts the racial injustice and violence of our law enforcement and criminal justice systems, we urge our elected officials to respond to the urgent demands of the families whose loved ones have been taken from them and of the protesters who have taken to the streets.
We also want to acknowledge and condemn the ways in which land use policy has been intertwined with police violence against Black communities and wielded as a weapon of white supremacy. The segregation of our communities through zoning laws, redlining, and housing discrimination denies Black communities fundamental access to housing, jobs, and education. This geographic segregation also facilitates a segregation of experience with police violence and incarceration that disproportionately burdens Black communities. Racism in US land use policy extends from these harmful practices of today back to the forced removal of indigenous people from their lands and the plantation system that undergirded slavery. We affirm our commitment to continue educating our staff, board and supporters about this racist history and present reality, and integrating this understanding into our work.
Futurewise was founded 30 years ago as an accountability organization for Washington State’s Growth Management Act. As a historically and currently white-led organization, for many years we did not fully confront the ways that systemic racism intersects with our mission and our work, even when some of our staff, board members, and partners urged us to do more. We recognize that we have been late in calling for land use policies that center racial justice and we are now late in calling for an end to police violence against Black communities, violence that long predates the recent, tragic death of George Floyd.
In 2016, Futurewise made a commitment to critically examine our impact, role and responsibility in the work for racial equity. We came to this decision after learning hard lessons from the ways we had broken trust with partner organizations led by and serving communities of color. Those experiences motivated us to join the Puget Sound Racial Equity Cohort, a group of nonprofit organizations that were also grappling with the challenges of centering racial equity and dismantling systemic racism. Our participation in this cohort provided the impetus to conduct racial equity trainings for our staff and board, add a focus on racial equity to our organization’s strategic plan, and create a standing committee of staff and board members to hold ourselves accountable to these goals.
In the next three weeks we are dedicating all-staff meetings and joint staff-and-board committee meetings to further develop our response to police violence against Black communities and systemic racism generally. During this time, we will identify how we can support specific policy demands from Black-led organizations in our communities. We will explore new ways to incorporate racial justice into existing projects and workplans. We will report back on our progress in July.
Through the rest of the year, we will continue to refine our internal systems to prioritize racial equity in our work. We will continue the work of our racial equity committee and hire a consultant to help us develop an organizational framework for anti-racism. We will complete a critical assessment of our current Racial Equity Toolkit—a tool that helps staff ask and answer justice- and equity-focused questions before beginning a project. As this work moves forward, we will report on our progress to hold ourselves accountable. To our supporters and allies who have long been engaged in racial justice work, we are grateful for your leadership and are prepared to learn from your example. For those who are new to this fight, we encourage you to join us in educating ourselves and acting in solidarity with our Black leaders and community members.