In Support of our Relatives in the Black Community

Last night, Portland witnessed a historic demonstration of unity as 10,000 people came together to peacefully protest against injustice. The Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) stands in unwavering solidarity with our relatives in the Black community whose grief, frustration, mourning, and justifiable outrage is at the heart of these demonstrations.

The systems of violence and oppression that have led to this untenable reality are rooted in 500 years of history. What befalls our black and brown relatives, befalls our people too. It is not well known that Native people suffer from police violence at rates on par with the Black community. And little attention has been paid to the fact that the Minneapolis officer charged with George Floyd’s murder had already been sanctioned for the death of Alaska Native Leroy Martinez in 2011. The fight for justice and liberation is a deeply Indigenous fight too.

Because our struggles are shared, NAYA’s work has long been intertwined with our sister BIPOC organizations, creating a fabric of community and action here in Portland. We work together to effect positive social change.

What then, should our communities, friends, and allies do?

  1. Support policymakers’ efforts to strengthen laws that protect our community. NAYA commends and supports Oregon’s BIPOC Caucus to bring forth criminal justice reform legislation.
  2. Recognize that community empowerment work IS social justice work and support organizations who do it. Working to lift up community—the work that NAYA does—promotes education, family strength, respect for diversity, and economic empowerment. These are essential ingredients in the movement to end systemic racism. Donate to organizations doing this work.
  3. Teach your children empathy. To simply decry looting or rioting to your children is to miss an invaluable teaching opportunity. Ask them instead to imagine the conditions that must exist for those involved to feel that such acts are the only way to be seen and heard and have their pain witnessed. Resist the urge to judge without exploring the complexities of this spillover moment in our history.
  4. Remember that we are all related. Our Indigenous ways teach us to walk through the world considering how our actions impact all our relations—and our grandchildren seven generations in the future. At such painful times as these, we call upon this teaching to ground our actions in love, kindness, and accountability.

Our communities are ready for decisive action. Allies are side-by-side us in the streets demanding it also. NAYA remains firmly committed to standing with our relatives in this struggle and we encourage you to join our efforts.

Standing in Solidarity,
NAYA Family Center