An Official Statement from SMAH’s Co-founders on the Events Happening in the U.S.
For the past week, SMAH has been considering how we want to respond to current events as an organization. Specifically, the deaths of Black people at the hands of police.
To be frank, this is not a political issue. It is a human-rights issue. Entrenched systemic racism has been present in the U.S. since before this country was founded. The protests, the despair, and the rage that we are seeing now are the culmination of our government turning a blind eye for decades to the atrocities the Black community has suffered, while white people – including most of the SMAH admin team – are allowed to be comfortable in our privilege.
Going forward, you will frequently hear terms like “white privilege” and “systemic racism” from us as we address and unlearn the ugly things within ourselves that we’ve harbored for generations. Even if you feel like you are not part of the problem, if you are white, you are. We support your unlearning and your quest to do better.
By participating in SMAH, you chose to provide masks to healthcare workers and support an organization that has tried to be as inclusive as possible.
We have more work to do.
We have a lot more work to do. As individuals and an organization. Our work doesn’t stop at providing masks to our healthcare workers. Our work is, now and always, to support the Black community in Atlanta and across the nation. We must stand in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters in this fight against racism and the continued killing of Black people in this country.
Given this, we have decided that beginning on June 12th, SMAH will pause in our original mission of providing masks to healthcare workers in order to better educate ourselves about and act to address the systemic racism that is both hidden and in plain sight, about the microaggressions and overt outrages that Black people face every day. We need to do this as an organization. We need to do this as a country. It is our duty as citizens to help how we can now, where we can and on behalf of as many people as we can, just as SMAH has done since the start of the pandemic. Whether you are able to provide monetary support, organize, protest or educate, now is the time to stand in solidarity to create desperately needed change in Atlanta and nationwide.
Because our group is designated as “nonprofit support for healthcare workers,” we will need to address the current COVID-19 crisis and possible increases in cases in Black communities as a result of the protests. Sewists in this group, as well as the admin team, are currently taking individual action. Additionally, the admin team is discussing all possible options concerning collective actions we may take given our 501(c)(3) designation. If we have to start another group, we will do so.
In the coming days and weeks, our team will be providing resources and information on how to support and work toward ending the racism and violence the Black community faces every day. SMAH’s co-founders and admin team are committed to educating ourselves and doing better. If you are white, we ask for you to look deeply within yourself for attitudes and perceptions that perpetuate systemic racism and white privilege, even in minute ways. If you are white, we ask for you to be conscious of the fact that your Black friends and loved ones have lived very different and terrible realities than you have. We are asking the same of ourselves.
On social media this past week, it has been noted that none of what is happening now – the violence toward and murders of Black people and consequent protests – is new. The only change is that these occurrences are being filmed and shared for the whole world to see.
Please don’t turn away. Please stand with us bearing witness to these events. Take the time to reflect and educate yourself. Sit in the discomfort in order to do better. Check on your Black community and let them know you see and support them. Take action. Do this today. Tomorrow. Every single day for the rest of your life. SMAH will be doing this crucial work alongside you.
An update about what SMAH’s pause will entail will be forthcoming in the next few days. Stay tuned.
In our time of need, they’re stepping up.
We’re building networks in and around Atlanta — and all across the U.S. — to make sure our brave healthcare workers have the PPE they need to fight the battle against COVID-19.
Stay tuned — we’re working hard behind the scenes to bring you a new website full of engaging, helpful content.
Interested in donating materials or corporate donations?
Please contact donations@SMAHAtlanta.org.
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