Racism and oppression: all of us are agents of change

On May 25, 2020 George Floyd, an African American family man and community activist, was murdered by a Minneapolis Police officer while other officers watched without intervention. George’s death is not an anomaly. Rather, it is the result of deeply integrated and deadly prejudice that plagues too many public and civic institutions and policies.

To Our Black and Brown Families, Colleagues, Neighbors, Teachers, Supporters, and Friends:
Your lives matter. You deserve to hear it said without hesitation or caveat. Racism and oppression are real and present in Minnesota and across our nation. We are stricken with grief, while hopeful with every fiber of our being that the rawness of your pain and courage this week and always will have purpose and will inspire change that is profoundly overdue.

To Our Community of Autistic Adults, Teens, Children, and Families:
Whether or not you have experienced first-hand the intersection of race and disability, you are powerful allies and agents of change. As a community, you, too, have experienced the frustrations of systems that were not created for your success. You know fundamentally that behavior can communicate what words cannot. You know how important it is to make space for the oppressed to contribute and to lead – nothing about us, without us. You know that awareness is only the beginning, and that acceptance, equity, and true appreciation are the most righteous goals we can pursue together. You are important and are an integral part of our evolution into a Minnesota that feels pride for and values all people.

To Our Colleagues in Advocacy, Education, and Service:
There is so much work to be done. May we all be reliable to inspire, inform, and lead by example, showing that services and supports can be delivered in a way that recognizes our students, recipients, and activists as wholly comprised of their culture, history, strengths, and traumas. Leaders and colleagues in policymaking, the tragedies of 2020 have laid bare dangerous inequities that cannot be ignored. More than ever, we need to learn, collaborate, innovate, and change. These efforts cannot be made in vain.

To All Minnesotans:
We at AuSM have hope that community will heal us. Our community relishes belonging, openness, courage, and justice, and we call you to pursue them authentically. With love and resolve, we offer our support to George Floyd’s family and to every black and brown individual and family, autistic or otherwise, that has been living with disappointment, fear, and injustice. We are stronger together in creating a better society for all.

Ellie Wilson
AuSM Executive Director

(Photo Credit: St. Paul Pioneer Press)

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