The exponential harm and horror occurring in African-American communities, aka Black America, now is both infuriating and numbing. So many people have lived their entire lives with little to no hope in the “system” known as the American Dream. To most Black Americans, the term is really code for all that does not apply to them. On May 31 -June 1, 1921, the Tulsa race massacre occurred – an event of shocking scale that destroyed 35 square blocks of what at the time was the wealthiest Black community in America. Today, 99 years later, the news is still filled with heartbreaking reports of murder, injustice and racism.
We mourn the death of George Floyd and countless others who have died at the hands of police without justice.
We mourn the death of NYCHA residents who have died due to COVID-19 and who pre-pandemic already faced severe health and economic disparities.*
Green City Force is committed to fighting for economic, environmental, and social justice for low income Black and Brown young people in New York City. We stand as an anti-racist community and organization, in solidarity with people of color in this country and across the world.
For the past 10 years, we have been focused on our mission to train young leaders to power a green and inclusive economy, through service. The graduates and Corps Members of GCF are more important now than ever as we consider the change we as a society so urgently need, the just economy we envision and who we need to lead it. The fight for economic and environmental justice is a fight for racial justice. The pillars of our organization – Service, Training, Sustainability and Justice – acknowledge that systemic change is required for change to happen. We cannot build an equitable, regenerative, and sustainable Green City without uprooting the systems of oppression that have devalued and harmed Black lives for 400 years. It is this history of slavery, and its enduring legacy, that requires that we affirm that Black Lives Matter, and call for an end to systemic oppression and the lack of accountability for the murders of Black people by those who are supposed to serve and protect.
The issue of systemic and violent racism has always been urgent. We decry racism in all of its forms, and we have a moral obligation to address and undo racism through and in our work. This includes:
- Creating pathways to sustainable careers that are accessible to communities that have been historically marginalized, particularly Black youth
- Amplifying the voices of young people of color as the experts on designing and adopting sustainable practices in their own communities
- Transforming public housing communities through national service initiatives led by young people of color
- Prioritizing the safety of our staff, alumni, Corps Member communities and the NYCHA communities we serve
- Creating safe spaces for learning and dialogue, self-care and healing, and encouraging safety in all forms of anti-racist mobilization
- Hold ourselves accountable to creating leadership and advancement opportunities for Black and Brown people at all levels of the organization
- Dedicate staff and financial resources to equity, inclusion, and diversity— prioritizing this work, including ongoing spaces of learning, training and professional development opportunities
- Build a board of directors and staff who are reflective of the communities and committed to doing the work of undoing racism
- Call for investment, not divestment, in programs for young people over policing and mass incarceration
In the Green City we are working towards, there is no place for racism, and Black lives and leadership are valued and central. This is the future we are working towards, together.
This work is ongoing and sustained action is needed. Things you can do right now include supporting Black-led/founded nonprofits and businesses and those working for justice reform in our NYC ecosystem: Inner City Green Team, WeAct for Justice, Common Justice, Exalt Youth, Project EATS, Harlem Grown, BlocPower.
Learn from Black thought leaders on an equitable green future, and our history: Energy Democracy: Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions by Denise Fairchild and Al Weinraub; Farming While Black – Leah Penniman; The Green Economy – Van Jones; and The 1619 Project, curated by Nikole Hannah-Jones.
Fill out the Census so your voice can be counted. And register to vote.
In service and solidarity,
The GCF Board of Directors and Leadership team:
*6/5/20 Update to our previous posting:
We mourn the NYCHA residents who have died due to COVID-19 at a rate of 19%, compared to the New York City death rate of 8%.
This NYCHA data was sourced from:
Feedback from NYCHA confirmed that the stats of NYCHA deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the previous posting did not calculate death rate compared to the overall population. The following assessment from the Department of Health aligns with NYCHA approved messaging which is as follows:
The Department of Health also carried out an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on residents of NYCHA. As of May 11, the findings showed that the degree to which residents of NYCHA have been affected by COVID 19 is proportionate to their representation of the city’s population (approximately 4.4%). Overall, there have been 943 NYCHA residents who have died due to COVID-19 who had a lab-confirmed test. An additional 298 passed away who did not have a lab-confirmed test but had probable COVID listed as the cause of death. There have been 7,818 cases of COVID-19 among NYCHA residents.