The Road Map Project Community Leadership Team (CLT) is excited to unveil the Black community statement of love, a living document that reflects the care and love that is Blackness. In addition to addressing the history and rich record of Black exuberance and accountability, the CLT highlights their commitment and calls for action and deeply valued Blackness. 

 On Blackness: A Joyous Community Statement of Love, Accountability and Resilience 

The Community Leadership Team (CLT) and the Community Center for Education Results (CCER), supported by communities in the Road Map Project (RMP) region, would like to address anti-Black racism in this official statement. Our statement centers Black lives and the lived experiences of Black people in our region with the strong and proven belief that focusing on the love for our Black communities leads us to combat white supremacy and white supremacy culture as a whole, and combat racism faced by our Indigenous, Latine, Asian and Pacific Islander siblings. This living document, created by majority Black women, asserts that this value of Blackness is everyone’s commitment and responsibility. This document is ever evolving based on the needs, wisdom, knowledge, and legacy of our communities. 

Black communities in our evolving neighborhoods have always held a strong legacy for uplifting and centering our dearly loved Blackness. Since the 1960s, when Seattle and surrounding neighborhoods forged a strong connection to the Civil Rights Movement – our communities have remained commited and diligent in creating a world where esteemed Blackness would not only be tolerated but celebrated. Our legacy has been, and will continue to be, equity, antiracism, and reclaiming our narratives for generations to come. 

Our Black communities and organizations have done invaluable groundwork to continuously care for our Black siblings. This showcase of esteemed Blackness has been the driving force behind our survival and thriving in this region. Works from the Central Area Youth Association (CAYA), and the Central Area Chamber of Commerce have set the foundation for recent organizations to carry the torch of Black care. Organizations and initiatives like King County Equity Now, Black Student Success Forum, the Office of African American Male Achievement, the Black Future Co-op Fund, and many more have done unfaltering, invaluable labor to ensure that Black voices are heard, amplified, and included. One notable example (among many) is the AfricaTown Community Land Trust – an entire Block in Central District transferred to Black ownership for Black communities is a monumental development. Additionally, our Black youth continue to do diligent work to ensure their thriving futures–from telling ours/their stories to creating youth-led healing initiatives across the Road Map Region. In a region where the tendency is to avoid addressing anti-Blackness, our people and organizations are combating anti-Blackness and uplifting our dearly loved Blackness and Black Excellence. 

Addressing anti-Blackness does not only stop at recognizing the history and the important work of our communities. It is imperative to intentionally acknowledge the repairing needed as well as the effects of anti-Blackness on Black people past and present. Reparations, to us, is a moving target. It starts with healing systemically, individually, and as a community. There is no monetary amount that can truly ever repair the harm done historically, so it is important to defer to communities furthest from justice and most impacted by the harm for what reparations look like. Additionally, reparation is not a destination, rather a continuous practice. We ask people in positions of power to intentionally involve our Black parents, youth, and community members in decisions that affect them from the very beginning of the process. There is, and has always been, expansive input from parents, youth, and educators on steps to take to make this region just for our people. It is invaluable to see our Black community members for the experts they are. Reports like In Their Own Words, Inequity by Design, and Our Rising Voices highlight clear steps people in positions of power must take. Countless grassroots efforts from our Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asian and Pacific Islander siblings have shaped and guided us before and through the COVID-19 pandemic – it is time to identify and fully support them. We all have a role to play.

A Call to Action

District leaders – actively seek, prioritize, and champion strategies from Black parents and Black youth in your decision making. 

Educators – recognize that sometimes adults play a role in the systems that keep our Black children from thriving. Continue to do the work and fight for our students. 

Philanthropists and funders – seek and accessibly fund grassroots, Black-led organizations and initiatives equitably and with them at the decision-making tables. 

State-level professionals – assess all consequences, unintended or otherwise, of your actions, policies, endorsements. Start with the people furthest from justice. Start with Black. 

Data professionals – prioritize the qualitative and nuanced stories of our communities over quantitative data. Share and communicate this data in a way that is accessible to the communities represented. 

Non-Black centered/led organizations – continue to educate yourselves. Identify your anti-Blackness and where it stems from. DO. THE. WORK. 

This is not an exhaustive list of asks. As community leaders and Community Leadership Team members, we are positioned directly in communities where we constantly hold each other accountable to this work. We will continue to uphold and practice the legacy of our cherished Blackness. Until Black people are served right, we will never truly have equity and an equitable education system. Additionally, engaging all the communities within the Road Map Project remains a challenge, so this is only the beginning of continuous actions needed for educational equity. 

The Community Leadership Team commits to and invites you to do the following: 

Start with race. Begin with Blackness and champion our stories, support our initiatives, and create a space where we love Black people more than we hate white supremacy and its systems. We will fight for the support of projects, programs, and initiatives that contribute to the joy and thriving of our communities. Real change happens for everyone when we start with Black. 

• Starting with our own CLT members, we will continue to center and build trusting relationships with our Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander siblings and learn about our respective communities. 

Broach the nuances of our experiences within and between racial groups and how they play out in this work and affect our lives. 

Be present and invested in discussions, projects, programs, initiatives within the Road Map Project region, through the Community Leadership Team and through our individual endeavors. CLT members will co-develop a community discussion guide and organize community gatherings in their respective communities to dive into anti-Blackness.

Continuously push against the status quo for equitable change. A notable example of this is the Road Map Project Rapid Resource Fund and its growth to focus on and prioritize Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander grassroots community engagement initiatives. Additionally, the change from funder-established funding priorities and guidelines to community-established funding priorities and guidelines. 

Celebrate the wins – big or small. This work is hard and if our base is love, it is important to celebrate strides made toward a just world. 

Champion self and community care – “We’ve been lovers on a mission, so let’s take an intermission.” – Solange Knowles. 

In Community, 

The Road Map Project Community Leadership Team 

Note: This statement was previously called the Beloved Blackness Statement. After publishing the first draft of this working document in early 2023, we learned that the incredible Dr. Brinell Anderson owns the trademark to the term Beloved Blackness TM. Out of deep reverence and respect, we have retitled our statement and are doing continued work to ensure we repair any harms from our affinity and connection to the term without proper attribution. Please continue to breathe life into this statement with corrections such as this. We receive these awakenings with love. In our previous statement, we referred to beloved Blackness in a front stoop, talking about community way. We continue to actively engage our statement to ensure we don’t usurp a concept that Dr. Anderson speaks of in ways powerful and potent to her life work, while remaining true to the words and love we gleaned from our truly beloved Black communities when working in partnership on our statement of joy, commitment, and resilience.

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