Dear Friends, Family, and Colleagues,

The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) condemns the recent and ongoing acts of racist violence and police brutality against Black Americans.

The truth is that it is impossible to divorce the urgent work of ending sexual and interpersonal violence from the urgent work of ending racism. The same oppressive forces that lead to over-criminalization of Black Americans and excessive force used against them by law enforcement also contribute to disproportionately high rates of sexual violence against Black people. The murder of Black Americans by law enforcement should motivate all of us—especially those of us working within the anti-sexual violence movement—to demand and work for justice and meaningful change.

At times like this, we often see folks lamenting that the criminal justice system is “broken.” We’d counter: for something to be broken, at one point it would have needed to work properly. Our nation has a history of racism in law enforcement, particularly against people who are Black. We recognize that our legal system is defined by systemic racism and a failure to deliver justice, and we commit to engaging in the anti-racism work that is needed to create more equitable pathways to justice.

NJCASA supports the right to protest our flawed legal system. We see how our leaders use language like “very fine people on both sides” to discuss some protesters, and language like “thugs” and “looters” to describe others. We see how some protesters are allowed to enter government buildings with a weapon and walk away unharmed, but others are met with violence and force. These racist double standards are unacceptable.

To our community members who are Black: we see you. We hear you. We at NJCASA commit to working against the structural racism and white supremacy that pervades our systems and our society.

To our white community members, we encourage you to lean into discomfort in the days and weeks ahead. Elevate the voices of the Black community and have hard conversations with your white friends, colleagues, and relatives about how you can challenge anti-Blackness and support anti-racism work. Rethink the social norms that have led us here. Since #MeToo went viral, we have talked a lot about the difference between consuming stories with details about sexual violence for entertainment versus for action for the greater social good. This is no different. Seek out education with the intent to do better in the future. A few examples to get started include:

Finally, we encourage folks to follow along with organizations who have spent years working to advance equity and end systemic racism. Fill your social media feed with activists and experts in the field, including:

NJCASA is committed to continuing to identify ways in which the anti-sexual violence movement can advance the work of dismantling systemic racism and inequities in all their forms. We are thankful we get to do this work in New Jersey – a state strengthened by its diversity and its resolve.

In solidarity,