(HOUSTON, Texas) -- Those interested in anti-racism work may want to sign up for one of Black Lives Matter Houston’s latest events. Black Lives Matter: Moving from Ally to Accomplice - Where are you on your journey? will take place on September 30th via Zoom from 7 pm to 8:30 pm and will be conducted by community activist Brandon Mack.
According to the event page, the session will include facilitated discussion and small group work and address ideas from previous sessions. Prior session attendance is not required.
The Black Lives Matter movement has swept through the United States over the past few years, with more than a bit of controversy surrounding its existence. Ashton P. Woods founded the Houston chapter, which was created in the wake of the shooting of Mike Brown, according to the Black Lives Matter Houston (BLMHOU) website.
What does BLMHOU do exactly?
According to Mack, BLMHOU advocates for the dismantling of systemic oppressions through a variety of methods at the national, state, county, city, and school board levels, which include:
- The defunding of police and abolishing police practices with the substitution of other methods that invite more community engagement and input.
- The removal of police officers from Houston schools because they contribute to the disproportionate punishment and criminalization of Black and Brown students within K-12 environments.
- The equalization of funding of public schools and especially schools with predominantly Black and Brown populations, which often have fewer resources and less funding which leads to unequal educational outcomes.
According to the Officer Involved Shootings Archives on HoustonTX.gov, nine people were killed in HPD officer-involved shooting incidents in 2020, the majority of which are Black.
Teaching others to be anti-racist
BLMHOU hosts education sessions like Moving from Ally to Accomplice to show people how to be anti-racist when interacting with individuals, communities, organizations, and other settings.
“Through anti-racism at the individual level, it can lead to [the] transformation of communities, which contributes to the dismantling of systemic oppressions,” Mack says. “One can start to become anti-racist by first recognizing that racism is a fundamental problem within our society. Our system of government and many other systems such as policing were inherently created from a racist standpoint that did not view Black people as being equal. That has translated into how our government and systems function with respect to Black communities and devalue[s] Black people. Recognizing that fundamental problem is a way to start counteracting that by challenging how these systems currently operate and implementing new behaviors and practices that are equitable, equal, and inclusive and that value, instead of devalue, Black people.”
Distinction between ally and accomplice
“Allyship is too passive, and we are beyond the need for passive associations,” Mack continues. “Someone who is an "ally" only says they are in support of a marginalized community or marginalized communities. Allies show up to rallies, protests, and marches, but that is where their support ends.”
On the other hand, Mack states that accomplices speak out about needed changes at the risk of their privilege and comfort and put their bodies in front of marginalized people at events because their privileges afford them protections that marginalized people do not have.
Working with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas
According to Denise Treviño-Gomez, Missioner for Congregational Vitality and Intercultural Development for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, Together Episcopal is a new website of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas that focuses primarily on dismantling racism and learning how to have difficult conversations.
“The website hopes to meet people where they are in their learning, from those that are well on their way in this work to those that have never had a conversation about racism, to everything in-between,” Treviño-Gomez says. “The Episcopal Diocese of Texas deeply values connection and relationships with our communities outside our church walls.”
Similar hopes for Houston
While Mack and Treviño-Gomez had different responses for the impact they envision for Houston, the similarities are noticeable. Mack hopes this event will bring together people who want to be action-oriented in moving society toward valuing each other more, whereas Treviño-Gomez had this to say.
“Our hope is that those that attend the workshop will walk away with a new or renewed commitment to living into what God has called all of us to do: to love our neighbors and work towards peace, justice, and equality for all. When we can put our energy into practicing love as a verb, full of action and humility, we can achieve great things in our own communities.”
Correction: A previous version of this story listed one organization as Together Episcopal, which is a website. The correct organization name is the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. The last paragraph also includes an attribution change.
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