On August 19, 1995, Virginia Organizing was born in Charlottesville, Virginia. One of the goals we committed to at that very first meeting was dismantling systemic racism in Virginia.
We’ve made a lot of progress since then, but last weekend, 22 years later, the world saw Charlottesville invaded by white supremacists who came to terrorize, hurt, and even kill its residents. It was ugly and very destructive. They came because they’re so afraid of change that they’re willing to terrorize people to prevent it.
We would like to express our sympathies to the families of those who were killed and to the many people who were injured.
Yesterday, more than 700 groups all over the world held vigils to express solidarity with Charlottesville, and many people have asked what they can do to fight back against white supremacy.
Our chapters are at work all over Virginia — every day — fighting for the civil rights of people of color and other groups who are affected by discrimination. We fight non-violently through the democratic process, taking on effective campaigns.
We ask you to join us and do at least one thing — today — that will have an effect. And please make a commitment to do as much as you can every day. Hate has no place in this world.
Virginia Organizing differs from some organizations in that we seek members of affected communities to lead the way. When we engage with racist institutional structures, people of color lead the way. This kind of organizing is what gets the job done, as in Portsmouth, where the chapter convinced the school board to change its Code of Conduct to prevent discrimination. Our local leaders did some great community organizing that will reduce school suspensions that disproportionately affect students of color and students with special needs.
We would like to suggest some things you can do to help us — and help your own community:
* The University of Virginia, which was once an owner of hundreds of enslaved people, has hundreds of low-wage workers who are people of color. Contact UVa President Teresa Sullivan and the Board of Visitors and tell them to pay a living wage to all of their employees.
* Tell our U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives (202-224-3121) to stand up against proposed U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development cuts. These cuts would prevent local governments from improving public housing. Oppose proposed changes to minimum rents, proposed changes to rent calculations that would increase rent from 30% of annual income to 35%, and the proposed elimination of utility allowances.
* Urge your Commonwealth Attorney’s office and courts to avoid revoking driver’s licenses as a consequence of owing court costs, and to make driving without a license a ticketable offense, rather than a criminal one.
* Donate to an organization or non-profit of your choice that supports racial justice in our town or yours.
* Help those who lost their voting rights to get them back. Contact Harold Folley at (434) 984-4655 x231 to work on this campaign.
* See this “Dismantling Racism Checklist” on our website for more ideas.
Thank you for taking action to dismantle racist systems,