Building a Movement: Part 1 of 4

Do We Really Value Equality?

By Dustin Washington

The dreary and rain filled Northwest winter months provide a lot of time for me to reflect on the state of our world. I often find myself in front of my fireplace or at a coffee shop pondering who we are as a nation and who we could become.

In 2012, it is clear to me that our nation is not living up to the principle of “and justice for all.” We as a nation have not yet found the collective will and courage to eradicate the evils of systemic poverty and systemic racism.

In America today, 27 million workers make less than $8 dollars per hour, child poverty has increased by 18% since 2000, and at the current rate it will take African Americans 581 years to reach economic parity with Caucasians.

By 2017, we will have more African Americans incarcerated than were enslaved at the height of slavery in 1863. We as a nation are 5% of the world’s population but incarcerate 25% of the world’s prisoners, and we spend 6 times as much on incarceration as we do on higher education.

These statistics call me and should call you to question the fundamental nature of our values and our level of developed compassion as a people. It has been said that “I cannot be free until all others are free’. The great spirits are calling each of us to work for a greater freedom grounded in equity and care for our brothers and sisters. Political modernity will suggest that we must accept the world as it is, but I must argue that we can create the world our ancestor’s dreamt of, if we organize. A new world is possible.

In my next blog post, I will discuss some of the principles of antiracist organizing and what we ought to advocate for…. Stay tuned.

About the Author: Dustin Washington is Director of the Community Justice Program at AFSC and Core -Trainer with the Peoples Institute NW.

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