Protecting Our Democracy And Expanding Participation - United Ways of California

Protecting Our Democracy And Expanding Participation

Friday, January 8, 2021

We were horrified to witness inexcusable acts of violence and criminal behavior Wednesday as domestic insurgents attempted to prevent the peaceful transition of power set forth under our Constitution. This was a violent assault against our democracy, and all those who carried it out or incited it, including the president and high-ranking national and state officials, including some from California, must be held to account.

Though we are shocked, we should not be surprised. This organized, seditious political violence is the culmination of years of hateful rhetoric intended to stoke division in America, primarily along racial and cultural lines. The mob’s scream of resentment and entitlement, that they are real patriots while “others” are not, is rooted in white supremacy; this truth is seen in the stark contrast between the treatment of peaceful protesters calling for racial equity last summer – beaten with batons, fired upon with rubber bullets, arrested en masse – while white rioters were allowed to approach and then storm the Capitol relatively unchecked.

Rather than feeding rancor and hate, our communities need bold leadership that seeks to forge unity, rather than to divide, as we fight to beat the coronavirus pandemic, rebuild our economy and get kids back to school and people back to work. Throughout our history, United Way has worked to bring communities together, to bridge gaps to find common ground to drive substantial positive change. When so many resources are targeted at driving us apart, we must do even more to bring the full scope of our diverse voices in expressing our view of the common good.

That is why we are committed to expanding participation in democracy and voting rights, working to remove obstacles such as racism, marginalization, and power imbalances. We, as a people and a nation, must honestly grapple with our history of structural racism and address it head-on. At our core as Americans resides a force much more powerful: hope. It is time to focus on the principles that stem directly from this hope, of community, respect, and fairness that knits our country’s very foundation together. We are not perfect but every day we must strive for a more perfect union.

We stand in solidarity with all those who share the goal of making America a more just and inclusive nation, and stand ready to work with Congress and the Biden/Harris administration to strengthen our communities.

Peter Manzo

Pete Manzo is President & CEO of United Ways of California, which improves health, education and financial results for low-income children and families by enchancing and coordinating impact and advocacy work of California’s United Ways.

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