The malicious killing of George Floyd has once again laid bare the ugly, persistent reality of racism and inequality in America.
WISCAP and the agencies that comprise our network stand committed to creating a more just and equitable society that rejects discrimination based on divisions of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status. Community Action was born of the War on Poverty and as such is inextricably linked to the civil rights movement. As great social and economic unrest consumes our state and nation, we must renew and deepen our commitment to racial and ethnic equality, recognizing our common humanity and kinship with all people.
Overcoming racism within our communities and institutions will take more than vague sentiment – it requires the active, affirmative, personal recognition of the truth of the inherent dignity and intrinsic worth of all peoples. Racism and classism ignore that truth and seek to exclude and divide. Together these forces have long cast a dark shadow over our state. Consider the grim statistics that more than one in ten Wisconsinites live in poverty and that over 18,000 children and youth in our state are homeless. Yet within these figures lay hidden some of the nation’s greatest racial and ethnic disparities. The poverty rate for African Americans, Hmong, and Hispanics is dramatically higher than that for whites. The black child poverty rate is among the highest in the nation. And African Americans and Native Americans suffer the highest mortality rates of any in our state. To be certain, the ignorance of racism drives and sustains inequity and discrimination in housing, employment, education, criminal justice, and health outcomes. It increases the suffering of so many, while curtailing opportunity and hope. And, as so many of our fellow Wisconsinites struggle to secure equal justice and opportunity, we must recognize that racism and classism diminishes all of us.
The community action network stands together with all who work daily toward a more just culture of racial equity and economic opportunity.