We Can No Longer Stay Silent on the Topic of Racism
June 2, 2020
We at Operation USA are deeply saddened by current events here in the United States, and we stand in solidarity with all those who are hurting in the wake of George Floyd’s death and in the face of insidious, pervasive, systemic racism. This week, we witnessed the outrage firsthand at our own front door on Beverly Blvd here in Los Angeles as destructive rioters and looters overtook the area. Though frightening to experience—and while our condolences go out to our neighbors and friends in the local business community who have suffered losses and damages—we choose to focus on the important message of the far more numerous peaceful protestors, and our deepest sympathies remain first and foremost with all people of color who for generations have seen their families and communities torn apart by the violent effects of entrenched racism in our society and in our country’s institutions.
As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, we are not an advocacy group lobbying government for change, and we remain impartial on political causes. But we can no longer remain silent on the topic of racism. It is our duty as Americans, and as humanitarians, to acknowledge the significant toll racism—and its underlying causes and symptoms—takes on our country, to leverage our platform to denounce racism at every opportunity, and to consistently amplify the meaningful voices of people of color who have been silenced and ignored for far too long.
After forty years in the field as a disaster relief organization, we are all too familiar with the plight of marginalized groups here at home in the United States, especially during times of uncertainty. In all corners of our country, people of color are plagued by deeply-ingrained biases and prejudices in their everyday lives. Consequently, they are also disproportionately impacted by disasters— including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has stolen many more black lives than white. The “reasons why” are abundant, and we are committed to doing a better job of highlighting those stories and helping you understand in the days and weeks to come. For now, we encourage all our supporters to be proactive in seeking the historical narratives and information that led us to where we are today, and to willfully engage in the ongoing dialogue around racism in our country so that we can all help build a better future.
We thank all community helpers who have stepped up in the last week to enable these peaceful protests to occur, to keep our communities safe, and to help our local businesses clean up and rebuild. To the movement leaders and community organizers who have worked tirelessly to harness the energy of angry Americans in a positive and peaceful way in order to effect social change, we salute you. To those out on the streets participating in protests, we admire your efforts, and we implore you to remain peaceful, stay safe, and remember that the fight against racism will require all of us to remain committed for the long haul.
As we work diligently to help combat the spread of COVID-19 and to bolster marginalized communities across the country in the wake of the pandemic and other disasters, we also call on members of the public who have the means and desire to help to familiarize with those organizations hard at work in the fight for justice and equal rights, and to donate to worthy groups in cities across our country. We encourage the support of food banks (such as World Harvest) and clinics (such as Clinica Romero) operating in communities where systemic racism is a contributing factor to everyday food insecurity and healthcare obstacles. We also encourage donations to civil rights groups like the NAACP, the ACLU, The Innocence Project and Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative, which are always working to effect change within our legal and criminal justice systems. If you are interested in directly supporting the ongoing protests, we recommend researching bail funds and other localized efforts within your own city or state, of which there are many.
There is so much work to be done. For more than four decades, Operation USA has been committed to helping communities where disasters have destroyed already marginalized lives and livelihoods, and we’ve remained engaged with those communities long after attention has waned and other aid groups have moved on. Today, we turn over a new leaf as we take the first important step in openly acknowledging the role racism plays not just in disaster relief, but in our society at large, and we commit to doing our part in the fight for true equal rights and justice. We hope you’ll join us.
The OpUSA team