SEIU 1021

A statement from SEIU 1021 President Joseph Bryant


A statement from SEIU 1021 President Joseph Bryant:
Brothers, Sisters and SEIU Family,

I sit down to write this with a heavy heart, a grieved soul and sheer anger running through my veins as I watch the video of George Floyd being murdered by the police. It is yet another of many disturbing illustrations of how unbridled structural racism in this country means that a Black person cannot jog, drive, stand in front of a store, play with toys or even bird watch without facing death or the threat of death.

As a country, as a society, as human beings we find ourselves at a crossroads. We must decide if we continue down the road of pain, devastation and oppression for some or pave a new path of justice and equity for all.

We are at a moment in history as centuries of systemic and structural oppression have climaxed in another wave of racially fueled violence. The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are the result of hatred stemming from the disease known as racism. Just like the disease Covid-19, which has also disproportionately devastated the Black and other communities of Color, it needs to be eradicated. Racism needs to be wiped from the earth with the same tenacity that we are fighting to rid ourselves of Covid-19. The cruel irony is that at a time when many Black and Brown workers are risking their lives to save the lives of millions of people by providing health care, clean environments, and other life-saving services, black lives are being taken for just being.

As a union that unites 60,000 working people across race and other backgrounds and identities, we must continue to actively dismantle structural racism and fight for justice and dignity both in and out of the workplace. The racism that drives calling the police on a bird watcher, a child selling water or a group people having a bar-b-que at the lake comes from the same racism that can lead to the egregious killings that we have witnessed over the past few weeks. Structural racism manifests itself in all facets and systems of the United States’ society; if we want to build a better and different future for all people, Black, Brown, API and White, it is the duty and responsibility of all Unions and Union members to tenaciously fight for racial and economic justice, as our fates are linked. We are all Sisters, Brothers and Family.

We must channel our sadness, pain and anger to demand the change we need and be the change that we desire. I am going to look to each and every one of you to continue and expand the fight for justice in your communities, be a part of the solution and to partner with those who support the movement for justice. I know that many of you are already deeply involved and are actively working to dismantle structural racism and creating a humane infrastructure and a new society – you are recognized and, in this moment, asked to do more.

We must win justice for those slain at the hands of the police and vigilantes and demand that systemic change happen in our lifetimes before more lives are lost. We also must fight for those who are dying from a virus that does not discriminate, but an economic system that does.

For George Floyd. For Ahmaud Arbery. For Breonna Taylor. For Trayvon Martin. For Mario Woods. For Oscar Grant. For Philando Castile. For Alton Sterling. For Tamir Rice. For Michael Brown. For Eric Garner. For Freddie Gray. For Walter Scott. For the countless others. For the health of our nation, dignity of our world and for our children’s future.

Stand with me in solidarity with Minnesotans who seek change and fight with me to pave a road and society that provides justice for all.

In Solidarity – Joseph Bryant