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Domestic Policy Corps, Policy for the People, Environmental Policy Association stand in solidarity with Black lives

June 10, 2020

Domestic Policy Corps, Policy for the People, and the Environmental Policy Association, three Ford School student organizations, have released statements of solidarity with the Black community and the movements for Black lives. We share them, unedited and unabridged, below. Learn more about Ford School student organizations »

A message from the Domestic Policy Corps

Dear Ford School community,

Two indisputable facts must always be remembered. Two indisputable facts must always inform our understanding of our country and our motivation to change it.

First, Black lives matter. To deny or to undercut this truth is synonymous with supporting structural racism.

Second, this country—from its institutions to its policy-making process—is continuously shaped by white supremacy, the history of slavery and Jim Crow, institutional racism, and intentional, often violent efforts to stifle the voices of Black people.

Domestic Policy Corps (DPC) condemns the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade — all of which occurred at the hands of police forces designed to be a method of state-sanctioned, racist violence against the Black community. We condemn the modern-day lynching of Ahmaud Arbery, which was committed by White racists who understood that our criminal justice system is designed to protect them and erase Black residents like Mr. Arbery.

These murders follow a long pattern of police and White people killing Black community members with little to zero accountability. This includes the murders of Eric Garner, Tarika Wison, Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and many, many, many more.

We have learned about some of these victims, with their murders flashing across social media feeds and television screens. However, the cold hard truth is that there are so many names we do not know. So many names that died on their loved ones' lips as they mourned their fallen family members, names that never landed on an Instagram feed.

Racism permeates our society far beyond policing. When we say institutions are forged by white supremacy, white privilege, and institutional racism, this undoubtedly includes the Ford School and the broader University of Michigan. It includes the schools and colleges we attended as children and young adults, the health care systems from which we seek care, the housing markets in which we and our parents participate, the local and state governments that oversee our hometowns, and the U.S. criminal justice system from which our White community members have often sought protection.

Notably, the institutions that perpetuate structural racism and white supremacy include many of the places we wish to work in our professional careers.  

In this moment, we call on the Ford community to stand in solidarity with our Black community members, at home and across the country. Standing in solidarity includes protesting police brutality in the streets and at the dinner table, donating to organizations that seek racial justice for Black lives, supporting Black activists, redistributing financial resources to Black businesses, and constantly reflecting on ourselves and how we as individuals can choose to oppose anti-Blackness and inequality.

As future policy professionals, we must commit ourselves to changing institutions by breaking down these layers of oppression and fighting for a more just world. Standing in solidarity is not a passive act nor is it one that can be confined to a couple of weeks or even one summer. We must dedicate ourselves to a lifelong commitment, one that we act on every single day. Standing in solidarity means fighting for racial justice, confronting the white supremacy that guides every institution in which we find ourselves, and being willing to make personal sacrifices to advance this cause.

While our degrees will provide us the social capital to sit at the decision-making table, no degree is a substitute for the vast expertise held by the communities we will be tasked to serve. Part of standing in solidarity as policy professionals includes listening to these communities — particularly communities of color — and collaborating with them to implement policies that respond to their needs and equip them with the resources to thrive.

Our call to action builds on the calls issued over the last few weeks by our peers in the Student Affairs Committee, International Policy Student Association, Students of Color in Public Policy, Policy for the People, Environmental Policy Association, and Women and Gender in Public Policy. Harnessing the collective power of these groups and the Ford School community at large will be critical as we work together to ensure that this conversation grows and results in concrete action.

We at DPC know we have work to do. We will be standing in solidarity by committing to:

  • Hosting programming that interrogates how various domestic policy sectors perpetuate inequality and identifies solutions to make public policy more just
  • Centering speakers of color and speakers of other historically oppressed identities in all programming
  • Conducting broad outreach to both the graduate and undergraduate community to diversify our membership and our partnerships on programming
  • Building a more intentional, long-term relationship with Michigan public K-12 schools to empower all students in knowing they have the power and skills to serve as policymakers in their communities

In solidarity,
Domestic Policy Corps (DPC) Executive Board 


Standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: A statement from Policy for the People

We, the leadership of Policy for the People, want to acknowledge that the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor were murder; that they were produced by the systemic racism that is fundamental to policing in the United States; that sensitivity and bias training is inadequate to prevent police—current and former—from killing Black Americans; and that the outrage in the streets across this country is a natural and necessary response from a citizenry continuously denied justice and humanity.

We imagine you have read many paragraphs similar to what we have written above. Many of these messages have been written out of a necessity to respond with confidence and assure an unsure audience that we are in this together. But have they told us anything? What happens after these statements of solidarity are made and the concerns of Black residents fade from the front pages of newspapers and the primetime hours of television stations? What we are feeling now is human, and not easily resolved with steady, calm words. We urge our white readers to remember that verbal shows of solidarity are meaningless unless coupled with action and a commitment to anti-racism.  

It is, however, important to further acknowledge that what is happening across the U.S. and the world right now is not only in response to another string of horrendous murders of Black people by police. What is happening now is a demonstration of the people expressing lost faith in a government that consistently fails to do right by its people, especially its Black citizens. It is a demonstration by people who know that Black people have not been considered equal members of this country since the days when they were enslaved to build this country.

It is a product of a slow and inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has disproportionately impacted communities of color and has further siphoned tax-payer dollars to the wealthy while leaving communities to suffer both plague and record unemployment alone. It is the product of a political culture that would rather arrest and kill a man for allegedly trying and failing to use a fake $20 bill at a corner grocery store than provide that man with the financial means to meet his needs after he lost his job in a pandemic. It is a product of the realization that, under a government completely unwilling to help its struggling, working-class population survive, a government that is all too willing to actively promote the murder of our country’s Black civilians, anger may be the only tool there is left to show those with political, physical, and economic power that they live by our good graces and not the other way around.

We invite you now to harness your sorrow and your anger. There are marches across the country that you can join if you are able, but there are other ways to support as well. If you are interested in participating in protest actions in Detroit please reach out to Eli Gold.

The selection below is specific to Southeastern Michigan, but similar organizations and possible actions exist in every major hub of protest, and we encourage you to seek out those in whatever region you call home:


A message from the Environmental Policy Association

In Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail, he discusses the call often heard from those in power to wait - to wait for an Administration to act, though it has no intention of acting; to wait for a better time; to wait for justice.

But as Dr. King’s experience shows, we cannot wait. Not for another day, not for another moment, and not for another Black life to be taken. After hundreds of years of violence, oppression, and exclusion, it is time that the United States recognizes: Black Lives Matter. 

We, the Environmental Policy Association, are angered and outraged by the horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others, as well as the incidents of police violence and brutality occurring throughout our nation in response to peaceful protests protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. These injustices are playing out against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, a public health crisis that has unveiled and compounded the ever-present inequities of our economic, housing, health care, food, water, criminal justice, and education systems. 

Most often the issues of environmental degradation and climate change are framed as technical issues requiring only policy and scientific solutions without addressing their inseparable social and economic dimensions. But the very same economic, political, and legal systems that create and perpetuate racial inequality and violence, both here in the United States and globally, also underlie our deepest environmental crises. The same companies, markets, and even governments that exploit labor everywhere also exploit nature by resisting important regulations, engaging in unsustainable extraction, habitat destruction, air and water pollution, and the mismanagement of harmful waste streams. Because political institutions and economic systems are structured today by the racism of both the present and the past, the negative impacts of this environmental degradation and climate change are also disproportionately felt by marginalized communities. 

Communities of color and low-income households are more likely than their white and/or higher-income counterparts to be exposed in daily life to harmful pollutants in the air, water, and soil, to have basic rights like access to clean water taken away, and to live in places where underinvestment in infrastructure and planning leave people most vulnerable to extreme weather events. When we say as an organization that we support environmental justice, that means we acknowledge these interconnections and vicious cycles, and actively seek to address and eliminate the social and economic inequalities that at once destroy the natural environment and place our most vulnerable communities at greater risk.

While we know that merely writing these words is the easy part and concrete actions are much harder, expressing the historical and philosophical underpinnings of the specific actions we are committing to is critical. We also recognize the decades of white supremacy and systematic oppression that make our University's stand against this most recent display of racism long overdue and inadequate. To that end, the Environmental Policy Association pledges to commit to working towards dismantling the structural racism in which our country and our institution was built on. 

That is why we will commit ourselves to the following actions: 

  • Today, June 10th, the EPA supports #ShutDownSTEM. We support this grassroots movement that aims to “transition to a lifelong commitment of actions to eradicate anti-Black racism in academia and STEM.”
  • Educate ourselves on ways we can be allies, deepen our understanding and knowledge, increase awareness of the structural and institutional racism that Black Americans experience, and offer support to Ford School and University of Michigan organizations that address issues of racial justice.
  • Use our purchasing power to support businesses owned by people of color for our events.
  • Collaborate with new organizations to further enhance and diversify the voices highlighted through our events, especially those that have been excluded historically.
  • Further commit to incorporating issues of environmental climate justice into existing programming and develop new work on the intersection of environmental degradation, climate change, and their impacts on vulnerable communities.
  • Hold ourselves accountable and commit to securing and encouraging a diverse pool of candidates for every executive board position and for our membership.

For us, this is the beginning. We will continue to work towards increasing our collective knowledge as an organization so that we can stand alongside our Black peers as informed allies and advance the work of activists to eradicate anti-Black racism and environmental injustices. 

In Peace and Solidarity, 
The Environmental Policy Association