Black Lives Matter Image 1
From Apple Maps 2020
Black Lives Matter Image 2
Photograph by Julien James as published in The New Yorker

New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
Commitment to Anti-Racism

June 5, 2020

“My life depends on it. My son’s life depends on it.”

In early June, 2020, Our Deputy Director, Alexandria Taylor, ended her press conference at our Governor’s office with those statements. They were in response to why it is critical to become anti-racist. She and her son represent two of the 2.6% of New Mexicans who are Black1. We at the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs depend on her life and her son’s life to be intact and safe and thriving. Without them, our efforts to address sexual violence in New Mexico are fruitless. Becoming anti-racist to the highest degree is our only hope to effectively address and reduce sexual violence.

Our Coalition’s mission is to end sexual violence in New Mexico. We understand that this can only happen if we simultaneously work to end oppression and racism: from the most subtle actions – featuring speakers of color as keynotes in our trainings, to bold actions – demanding full access for communities of color to sexual assault services. From routine staff trainings and conversations on anti-oppression to significantly supporting the intersecting needs of our communities of color.

On this very day while writing these words, it would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. The murder of this essential worker while she lay sleeping robbed her of a celebration today and the rest of her life. Why? Because the police failed to get the address right and chose to use unwarranted force. Tragedy of the highest proportion.

We speak their names – including Darnella Frazier, the 17 year old Black woman who filmed George Floyd’s last moments. Her actions led to the country wide protests that then led to the arrest of the four law enforcement officers charged with his murder. She is no doubt especially feeling the heaviness.

We remember, and we will continue to stand up and support survivors of color who were raped by the now convicted former Oklahoma City officer Holtzclaw – raping 13 Black women ranging in ages 17-57: Jannie Ligons, 57, grandmother of 12, in his police car; Sade Hill, 24 in a hospital bed; a young woman, 17 who testified she was raped on her mother’s front porch.

We fully embrace the words of a partner Coalition: ‘For a generation, our movement has over-relied on law enforcement as a primary response to sexual assault, rather than focusing on solutions that will prevent violence in the first place. We acknowledge that criminalization does not and will not end sexual violence.

We must embrace a larger view of what a world free from violence in all its forms can look like. This includes law enforcement accountability. George Floyd’s tragic murder at the hands of law enforcement in Minneapolis brings to mind the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, which did not lead to criminal charges for nearly two months, and only after a recording had been made public. It comes several months after Louisville police killed a 27-year-old emergency medical technician, Breonna Taylor, after bursting into her own apartment, and less than a year after a Fort Worth police officer killed Atatiana Jefferson as she played video games in her home. It comes just a few weeks after the five-year anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray in the custody of Baltimore police. The fact that these lives and countless others ended prematurely by those sworn to protect them, reminds us of our ongoing commitment to our racial justice work. This is a time for us as a movement, experts who are positioned to understand the many intersecting forms of trauma and violence inflicted on our communities, to continue stepping up and speaking out.’ (CalCASA)

We are committed to supporting the efforts of the Black community. To supporting the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women here in New Mexico, as they increase pressure to solve countless cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women in our state. To lifting the names of murdered trans women of color and protecting others in their community. Remember the recent murder of Tony McDade, a Black trans man in Tallahassee, Florida.

Sometimes this occurs through funding, sometimes in a press conference. Sometimes by sitting quietly or sitting out of statewide meetings to follow the leadership of our partners of color.

Our Coalition echoes the statement put out this week by the National Task Force to End Sexual And Domestic Violence: ‘The NTF recognizes the United States was founded on land taken by force through the genocide of Indigenous people and built on the backs of Black people who were enslaved and whose personhood was explicitly denied in our country’s founding documents. Racist violence is part of our heritage and inherent in our institutions.’

And finally, as so meaningfully delivered today at the Roundhouse:

“It has always been through persistent will and demands of the people and committed and bold leadership that has brought about justice in our society. Through this work, through this council, through engaging deeper in our community, it is my hope we start to have painful and difficult and honest conversations about how those in positions of power can listen to and be responsive to the demands and needs of the people in our community.

We have not to this day reckoned with the effects of colonialism and slavery. What is our commitment going to be to anti-racism? This is an opportunity to take account and look deeply into policies and practices. There is no neutrality in addressing bigotry.”- Alexandria Taylor, 6-4-2020, a member of Governor Lujan Grisham’s newly created Council for Racial Justice

1 We acknowledge the Black community has over 500 years of documented history in New Mexico, which is a significant part of our history.