Demand an End to White Supremacy in Austin’s City Budget

Dear UWSA Supporter,

It has been a difficult few days as we process the events in Charlottesville, VA, where overt White Supremacist violence has left one dead, many injured and many more traumatized. White supremacy takes many forms, from avowed fascists marching in the streets, to seemingly mundane city code in our supposedly liberal stronghold of Austin. As we reflect and mourn together over the recent tragedy in Charlottesville, we hope you will join us in showing up, not only against overt, avowed fascists with guns and confederate flags, but also in efforts to dismantle institutional racism in Austin and build accountable structures that uphold justice and equity for the long haul. In this historical moment we need everyone to work where they can be effective – in the streets silencing white supremacists, inside city hall pushing for deeper, structural changes, and everywhere in between. 

In reflecting on the depth and breadth of the work in front of us, we wanted to share a statement made by Wes Bellamy, vice-mayor of Charlottesville, on Democracy Now on August 7th.  

“…And in the midst of all of this, we also got an equity package passed, which I presented in January, before we had our first vote—and it was unanimously passed—which gave us $950,000 to our African American Heritage Center, $250,000 to build onto one of the parks in the local African-American community. We got $2.5 million to public housing redevelopment, $50,000 annually for anyone who lives in public housing to get free GED training, another $50,000 to anyone who lives 80 percent below the AMI, which is the annual median income, as well as public housing, to have scholarships of sorts to go to our local community college. We got a position for black male achievement, which we’re calling a youth opportunity coordinator. So, I mean, in all, in all, it was about $4 million, basically, from funding, put specifically into marginalized communities to help bridge the gap and create equity.

All of this is about equity. We need equity, and not equality. Those are two different things. Equity is giving everyone what they need in order to have the same playing field. Equality is just giving everyone the same thing. I don’t want equality. I want us to have equity. And we’re going to push for equity in every space, whether that’s public parks, whether that’s in our city budget, no matter where it is, as long as I’m on council. And I’m going to push for it until the day I die.”
https://www.democracynow.org/2017/8/7/charlottesville_va_backs_reparations_fund_for

While confronting overt racism is an unfortunate necessity in this moment, we also remain committed to organizing against structural racism in Austin’s city policies. This Thursday, August 17th at 5:30 pm we ask that you join Communities of Color United, (CCU) at Austin City Hall. They will be leading a push for a racial equity tool for the city budget, ensuring that resources are allocated equitably to marginalized communities in the city.   

UWSA is mobilizing support for this effort by providing transportation, food and childcare, in addition to folks showing up in general support of CCU’s demands.  We need your help bringing more volunteers and many bodies – white bodies – to back up the demands of CCU. Please sign this petition with their demands for this budget cycle http://bit.ly/CCUbudget17, and then join us at city hall on Thursday to voice your support in person. If you are able to help with food preparation for Thursdays’s event please contact Ellen (ellencfriedman@gmail.com). To help with transportation needs to and from city hall or to join the childcare team for the event email us at undoingwhitesupremacy@gmail.com. There will be more opportunities in the near future to support CCU’s efforts with the city. If you can’t make it out this Thursday, know that anti-racism work is a long, lifetime commitment, and that from protests countering white supremacists to helping out at future CCU events, there will be many more opportunities to get involved.

Austin has already seen numerous white supremacist rallies and marches. Last year’s “white lives matter” event, the march against Sharia, several pro-Trump rallies, and even a rally where neo nazi’s marched in formation at the state Capitol as invited guests of a republican lawmaker are among the many examples.  The upcoming ‘Dixie Freedom Rally’ organized by the “Texas Confederate Militia” scheduled to take place in Wooldridge Square Park, is yet another of these increasingly frequent white nationalist events and could disrupt the long-planned Unity March and Concert put on by BASTA TX. There is a counter event already being organized by local groups, and we encourage you to attend as you are able. UWSA will continue to support counter protests and direct action that aims to deny white supremacists a platform, while we remain committed to diving deep and dismantling white supremacy at its roots.

We are committed to making Austin a city that is rooted in racial equity and equity for all marginalized communities. We are grateful to each of you. This is a team effort – to change everything we need everyone. Knowing that we have a network of people in Austin who share a common vision and values makes it possible to continue this difficult and sometimes dangerous work. We hope you will join us in beloved community, calling for an end to white supremacy on Thursday at 5:30 PM at City Hall, as well as in the streets and everywhere in between. 

With respect, gratitude and appreciation,

The UWSA Organizing Group

P.S. In the critical, on-going work to protect communities of color, the River Bluff Neighborhood Association is calling for support to oppose rezoning on East Cesar Chavez for more expensive apartments and continued gentrification of their neighborhood. For more information: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1v-WaqARC7mc0OmE3xWhogW0AiAX-LtGjER038XGF2vU/edit?usp=sharing

 

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