Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, Inc. stands in solidarity with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Steve Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks and the millions of Black people who have lost their lives or loved ones and live in constant fear of the violence upheld by White supremacy. These cold-blooded murders and public lynchings have rightfully sparked a long overdue global shift that is evident in the massive protest movement that is now bigger than any single city.
We know that these are not isolated events but a culmination of 400+ years of racialized terror against Black people — and just as many years of courageous resistance. For over half of the United States’ history, chattel slavery was legal. Even after emancipation, Black people have experienced denial of reparations, public lynchings, segregation, community disinvestment, mass incarceration, barriers to government resources and ongoing disenfranchisement. Their continued efforts to build prosperity have been violently suppressed by policies like racial covenants and redlining or by fire as in Tulsa, Rosewood, Chicago, Philadelphia and in countless cities across the country.
We also know that this oppression has always been met with acts of resistance. From Reconstruction to the Black Panther Party to the Combahee River Collective to the Movement for Black Lives, visions of Black liberation have charted the course for the liberation of all people. In resisting and healing from multiple oppressions, Black artists and thinkers have created works that transform culture and politics, yet rarely receive the credit they are owed. While Black movements for equality and dignity against systemic racism have been sabotaged and many of their leaders shot down or imprisoned, their legacy is one of beautiful resilience that bears honoring beyond words
It would be a dangerous mistake to believe that the violence of racism is isolated to the past or distant cities — when in fact it continues to exist within our own communities. Redevelopment projects in the Fillmore and West Oakland dispossessed thriving Black business and cultural districts, creating impacts that are still felt today. Rampant real estate speculation and policies of gentrification have forced the displacement of far too many of our Black neighbors for decades. Since 2009 when Oscar Grant was murdered by a BART police officer at Fruitvale Station, an estimated 242 people have been killed at the hands of police in the Bay Area alone. We must not forget Alan Blueford, Derrick Gaines, Mario Woods, Jessica Williams, Mario Romero, Jared Huey, Kenneth Harding Jr., Raheim Brown, Derrick Jones, Erik Salgado, Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, Luis Gongora-Pat, Sean Monterossa and too many others. Their lives require us to question our complicity in allowing such a system to continue.
We can no longer ignore or minimize the ugly truths of our nation’s history. And creating long overdue changes requires fearless self-reflection and the resolve to lean into uncomfortable conversations.
It is our obligation to our future generations and our Black community members at work and home to respond to this call to action. The phone has been ringing. Off the hook.
Rainbow is answering the call with the creation of our new Uprising Committee. The Uprising Committee’s mission is to educate our workers and surrounding community about the issues directly affecting the advancement and self-determination of Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities locally and globally as well as organizing to disrupt these inequities. We will uplift and provide support to Black-owned businesses, especially our fellow cooperatives. We will review our hiring and operations processes to prioritize the advancement and empowerment of Black workers in our Co-op. We will continue dialogue to promote healing in our community by facing the injustices we are part of, and supporting those in our community directly impacted by institutionalized oppression.
Going forward, we hope you join us.
—The Worker-Owners of Rainbow Grocery Cooperative