Statement of support for Black Lives and Defunding the Police

Preface: We acknowledge the following statement is coming late during a time when
genuine solidarity and swift action are vital. We apologize for the harm our silence may
have caused.

Historically, Pizza Klatch has failed its Black community across the board, from
the staff to the youth we serve. Current events have seen continued violence against
Black people globally with an uprising in support of defunding the police. The deaths of
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Elijah McClain are all stories that
have been circulating social media in recent weeks. They lost their lives to police
brutality and white supremacy. Nina Pop, Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, and Tony
McDade are Black Transgender people who have also lost their lives recently, and
these stories have historically gained less attention. The violence enacted against them,
whether through police brutality or another means, is transphobia and transmisogynoir
in action. Both are white supremacy and therefore should concern the well-being of the
LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

Between the parades, the parties, and the corporate sponsorship, it is sometimes
difficult to remember that we owe Pride to the strength and direct action of the LGBTQ+
community, especially trans women of color, in rising up against oppressive forces,
particularly the police. The Cooper Donuts Riot of 1959, Compton Cafeteria Riot of
1966, Black Cat Riot of 1967, and of course the most famous Stonewall Riots of 1969,
are all testaments to this. It is impossible, and a huge disservice to our community, to
celebrate Pride without acknowledging that all of our rights stem directly from fighting
racism and the police state. We can not separate LGBTQ struggles from the struggles
of Black and Brown POC–they are not separate issues. Not only do so many people
share these intersecting identities, but they also share the same root of white
supremacy and colonization. This year, Pride is not canceled: Pride is being celebrated
in the same way it began.

Pizza Klatch is celebrating Pride this year by rethinking the ways in which we
uphold white supremacy in our work and our workplace through decision making,
unequal placement of value on labor, and how we would like to move through rebuilding
the organization with anti-racism at the core. We stand in staunch solidarity with the
protestors both locally and worldwide who have given momentum to the movement of
Black Lives Matter and the initiatives to defund the police. Standing up for one’s self and
rising in solidarity for your community are both invaluable virtues we wish to instill in the
youth we work with. Separating the values and culture we would like to see for our own
workplace from the work we do and the spaces we hold for our youth is disingenuous at
best, and completely ineffective at worst. It’s a reality we must work together to change.
Our efforts thus far to counter racism have been lackluster in that they never
moved beyond the training room. Anti-racism isn’t a concept that’s been fully adhered to
within our workspace, and it has hurt our staff of color. White supremacy is a poison that
must be challenged deliberately with vigorous intention and consistency. If not careful, it
seeps into every facet of what we do. We’ve been doing a disservice to our youth of
color by not holding klatches as explicitly anti-racist spaces. This will continue no longer.
It’s time we step up and defend our values through clear boundaries and mutual
agreements between staff, board members, volunteers, youth, and the community at
large. Discussions around intentional anti-racism within klatches will be essential, and
resources created specifically to the benefit of our youth of color will be in order. We
acknowledge that more efficient training and workshops are important but don’t ensure
an anti-racist culture. We must ingrain our values into policy, daily behaviors, attitudes,
and actions if we are to be successful with our intentions.

We are currently not living in the world we want for our youth, so we must do
everything we can to fulfill our commitment to them. This includes centering our work
around their well-being and enrichment in ways we have never before done. While
holding space for youth to be themselves and encouraging them to find their voices, we
need to make sure that no youth has to battle white supremacy alone. This means
facilitating anti-racism among our facilitators and youth in a way that prioritizes the
safety and well-being of POC will be key. Too often spaces meant for LGBTQ+ people
are unsafe for POC. BIPOC voices and needs will be centered.
For Black/Brown/Indigenous People of Color, as well as trans, disabled, and
queer folx, protest is and has always been Pride in action. The Movement for Black
Lives, like Stonewall, is an assertion of the right to dignity, the right to belonging, and
the right to safety.

Signed by the Staff of Pizza Klatch
Jay, El, Sofia, Eyota, Never, dylan

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