This is an open letter from the workforce of BACS who is on the Street 24/7/365 – doing the work to change the world as we feel it and experience it today. Writing from our own hearts and souls, we are a vibrant People, representing and supporting a rainbow of identities and cultures, using many methods and services – that some would call untraditional or radical – to uplift our community. We break the frame by doing Whatever It Takes for the people that are the poorest, most held down by The System – the Oppressed.
We see and mourn the injustice of George Floyd’s murder, of every murder, and the systemic atrocities that killed Our People. Above all, we seek compassion and accountability and we are here to demand reform and to be a part of the change. There should always be liberal chances for self-improvement, and this is the same for our system as it is for an individual.
We are gathering together – our 367 BACS staff members, our 8,000 people that we have the privilege to serve; our partners, and community members – to provide support and solidarity. We are a Black and Brown operated agency as are the people we served – and we are profoundly affected by racism, discrimination, hatred, mistrust, incarceration, institutionalization, disrespect. We are here to rise up and lift up our voices – our constituencies that can’t breathe, can’t get help, scream out with silenced voices. We are here to Rise Up.
BACS advocates for safety, wellness, and breaking down systemic barriers that hold people down. People of color persist in spite of generational trauma, and are always at risk of being tripped up and trapped by systemic issues like poverty, distinctiveness, education, incarceration, substance use, mental and physical health disparities in access and care. BACS is sustained advocacy that does not rest until there are reforms to these systems.
As we protest together we must remember to take care of one another, and to extend this encouragement and support to our housed and unhoused neighbors. As we protest, we say the names of all of those that have lost their lives to this oppression – our own constituents who died in the streets; who died in our buildings because the plight was so hard. As we protest, we cry out for the community we serve who were ravaged and stripped away from their families because of the despair and the lack of care for our Black community. The days must be over when a mother does not know her son died outside – in our streets – homeless, cold, alone, afraid.
The Dali Lama uttered, “It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.”
It is under that guiding principle that we, as BACS, can find and uphold our mission: to uplift under-served individuals and their families, by doing “whatever it takes.”
From Will Scott, BACS Housing Coordinator: “We all know what’s unraveling in our Nation, this is definitely hard but here are some words of encouragement. We want change, it starts with a transparent choice that we all have the ability to make and following through, no matter what trials, inequality, oppression, hatred we go through and regardless how long this may last, we have to remain Consistent in our approach in creating change. Micro changes even if it is just one individual at a time can eventually translate to MACRO Change…. remaining consistent not for just a week, a month, several months, a year, isn’t enough, but a lifetime of true devotion, is necessary to make Real Actual Change in this Nation and this World at that. We will Rise!”
From Brandy Jenkins-League, BACS Program Manager: “I am a poet in my own right. I embrace poetry as my way to communicate my feelings when I feel empowered, when I am suffering, when I can’t always see the light in my own path. I fuel my words in that moment in expression through poetry. One of my favorite poets rest in peace Dr. Maya Angelo. I want to share with you all this message that is so profound every time I hear her words, I RISE! As a Queen it is my duty to empowered others and continue to fight for my community of my people who reflect my “Melanted Skin”. In these times we cannot become stagnant or forget the pain and oppression that reeks through this country with our silent conversation concerning race, religion, culture, sexual orientation etc. I want us to continue to have these conversations. My great grandmother would always say “If it didn’t strike a nerve, or keep your thoughts racing then there must be no truth”.
From Jamie Almanza, BACS CEO: “We must disrupt, fight, protest for what’s right – for no person to have to ask for permission for air to survive in this Country. For no person to die outside, on cold concrete. For no person to be locked up or pulled over or to be suspicious of because of the color of their skin. For the people that get up every day to come to BACS to care for the people that society has determined are not worthy of a roof over their head or money in their pockets. For the thousands of people that BACS touches and helps and will continue to fight for – we are with you – we love you – we will do whatever it takes until we no longer have to ask for permission to help you.”
Yours in solidarity,
BACS Cultural Responsiveness Committee, on behalf of the whole BACS team
On Wednesday, June 10, 2020 – BACS held a protest – the Whatever It Takes to Bring Change demonstration. More than 500 partners, constituents, staff members, and even elected officials joined us to demand meaningful change.