We write to you as a token of gratitude, a cry for help, and a hope for a brighter tomorrow for us all.
Ypsilanti, we thank you from the deepest parts of our souls for being leaders in thought, in spirit and in action. We thank you for paving the way for grassroots organizations to grow, to flourish, and ultimately to walk alongside you in the fight for justice, for equality … for our lives.
We want you to know that your voices are heard, your indignation is felt … and your actions. Your actions are opening eyes, hearts, and minds across your nation and ours.
Your actions are breaking silence and societal barriers as they unite us under one purpose—building a better world. Building a world where equality and fairness aren’t a distant dream but an all-encompassing reality across your nation, ours, and beyond.
We are standing with you. You may not have known, but we mourned when you mourned for Aura Rosser.
You may not have seen, but we wept when you wept for Trayvon.
We marched for Michael Brown.
We grieved for Sandra Bland.
For Eric. For Akai. For Laquan.
For every one, young and old, who has been robbed of the opportunity of life itself by a system that has since its inception failed to see the value, the innocence, and the exquisite beauty of black life.
I’ll be honest—the movement is quiet in Ottawa. We have no major collectives centered around civil rights, no unified groups standing against racialized police violence or systemic racism, no active organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
In November of 2014, we held a small but significant vigil for Michael Brown, and another in July of 2015 for Sandra Bland. A couple dozen of us attended; we were sworn at, ridiculed, called some of the most disgraceful words known to man, but this did not stop us; if anything, it reaffirmed what we already knew—that change cannot just be a desire anymore, but a necessity.
We grieved with Ferguson, with Waller County, with every black North American whose hope for a brighter future … for life … was continuously shattered by our justice systems. We shared moments of silence for the hundreds of black men and women who have died at the hands of a system built upon injustice and inequality. We wept with diminishing faith in the possibility of real change. With the knowledge that soon, another black life would become another hashtag.
But, we also stood strong in our belief that love and respect will always take us further than hate.
We reminded one another that no one has the power to shame us out of caring about fellow human beings.
We vowed to continue fighting the good fight and refused to stop until black citizens in our nation and in yours can freely walk down the street without fear of being killed for walking while black.
Until black citizens can drive across town without fear of getting arrested or worse, for driving while black.
Until every black mother can let her children play outside without the constant threat of death at the hands of a trigger-happy police officer racing through her mind.
Ypsilanti, we love you, we are for you and we are with you.
We see so much value in the power of connection to a broader community of like-minded individuals and collectives like you.
It’s our desire to continue to challenge the status quo, to refuse to bow down to white supremacy and gentrification, to amplify the voices of those who have been silenced for far too long.
We are young, we are old, we are men, women, children, black, white, straight, LGBTQ, students, friends. We are humans, and that alone is enough for us to recognize the fundamental power of linking arms and standing united under one cause.
We’re here and we’re ready to do what is right and what is so desperately needed. Please, continue leading us with grace and kindness and humility in the fight for human rights. Let us walk alongside you as activist sister cities. Let us lift each other up and stand on each other’s shoulders, pushing towards one common goal of a better tomorrow.
We love you, Ypsi, and we salute you.
Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory. —Franklin D. Roosevelt