What you do is who you are.
I believe that is particularly true in this moment. We lament the murders of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery. We cry out together in solidarity for restorative justice. But what are we going to do, individually and corporately, to dismantle more than four hundred years of systems upon systems that have deeply institutionalized racism in this country? We can say that black lives matter, but until black lives matter is true of the lived experience of every American, there’s urgent work to do.
Groundswell works in the energy sector, and our mission is to build community power. No matter where we look – when we analyze who bears the greatest energy burden, who pays for pollution with their health and life, or who is the least likely to prosper from new sources of clean energy – the answer is always the same: Black people, black families, and black communities. And that is because the foundations of our energy systems were designed to devalue black lives, not to sustain and uplift them. Papering over the cracks with solar panels won’t fix it. We have to go deeper.
Nathaniel Smith, Founder and CEO of the Partnership for Southern Equity, called for a “revolution in values” in a recent speech, and I wholeheartedly agree with him.
Systems produce outcomes according to the values on which they’re founded. Only by accepting responsibility for what has been perpetrated against black people since 1619 right up until today, transforming our values, and building new systems will we be able to redeem our times.
I say this with humility. Groundswell is a relatively small nonprofit organization – “small but mighty” as we always say. Our staff and board have published a statement of values that elevates equity, and we are working together now on a multi-year strategic plan that specifically prioritizes serving people and communities – rural and urban – that have suffered from disinvestment and institutionalized racism. Serving people in love and in respect of their individual beauty, power, and authority is fundamental to who we are and what we do. We value transformative change and we get things done, and we hope you will know us by the work that we do.
With gratitude and in solidarity,