Good morning NCLR!
It feels like just yesterday I joined you, but, if you can believe this, I just hit my 6-month anniversary as part of the NCLR family!
Even during COVID, NCLR has been working hard to protect our community. As a co-founder of the National Anti-Poverty Action Network, we continue to work to protect LGBTQ people living in poverty. If you didn’t get a chance to check out our priorities for the next administration check them out here. And we continue our groundbreaking work, which has become even more urgent during the pandemic. Several clients have been granted asylum recently, and we just wrapped up our Rural Pride summit – virtually – reaching over a hundred and fifty people through a week of programming, panels and community discussions. In short, we are still doing all the things that you love about NCLR.
But this is a difficult time, and as you’re all painfully aware, there are setbacks. Like many of you, the death of Justice Ginsburg is weighing on my heart, and the threat to her legacy is at the top of my mind. The contributions that she made to our community provided an intellectual foundation for our path to equality. The work she did to expand our understanding of gender equality was revolutionary – and her handprint is on so many of our victories. For instance, while it was Justice Gorsuch who authored the recent Bostock decision protecting LGBTQ people from employment discrimination, it was largely Justice Ginsburg who created decades of prior sex discrimination case law that made Bostock possible. Though there is a lot of uncertainty, this is clear. Justice Ginsburg would want us to fight—to push harder than we ever have, and that is what we’ll do.
It’s particularly hard in a week where we are already trying to steel ourselves to fight for justice, that we have seen it so heartbreakingly denied to Breonna Taylor. The appallingly low-level charges brought against the officers who killed Breonna Taylor this week remind us that we have so far to go. Black people in our country are not safe – not even in own homes. We have so much work still to do. NCLR has always believed that every person’s equality is tied to every other person’s ability to feel the same. This week was a reminder that none of us are safe.
And though there have been setbacks and challenges during my first six months in this position, I have experienced so much joy and motivation that is thanks to you. My wife Derah and I are new to Oakland, so we’ve been limited in getting to know our surroundings. But I’ve had a chance to have phone calls and video calls with some of you and have been able to hear all the ways that so many of you are protesting and civically engaging. We have even had some virtual cocktail hours as double dates! I’ve appreciated the restaurant recommendations — and so many book recommendations – Dora, your book on Critical Race Theory is sitting on my desk now, and Courtney, my wife has promised to get to know Lillian Boxfish at your recommendation! You all have been so warm to us, and so welcoming.
It’s a wonderful reminder that even in this difficult time, there have been some incredibly bright spots. And even though we’ve lost some of our leaders, we remember that we are their legacy. There is so much left to fight, and that’s okay, because we’ve got a lot of fight in us. And when we fight, we win.
So I’ll leave you with a quote that has brought me comfort these past few months. John Lewis left us with this challenge: “When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed”.
Let’s not let him down. We still have more to do. We are all we need.