by Mark Riccobono
For eighty years, the National Federation of the Blind has viewed addressing discrimination and promoting equality as essential elements of our work. Today we stand in solidarity with the black community in their fight for justice and in their pursuit of equal treatment under the law. We condemn the continued murders of black Americans including those of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Further, we acknowledge that these horrific deaths represent a vile and long-standing pattern of institutionalized racism that permeates the criminal justice system. While there are police officers that are doing good work, the fact remains that black and brown individuals are disproportionally impacted by police brutality, unfairly condemning people of color to prison cells and graveyards.
As a civil rights organization with a diverse membership, we strive to grow in our understanding of conditions that affect us. Throughout our history, we have participated in civil disobedience and honor the value that it holds to bring about social change. We are firmly committed to enacting our organizational diversity statement, which in part expresses, “We recognize that our views and convictions will be challenged, and we expect this challenge to take place in a climate of tolerance and mutual respect in order to maintain a united organization.” Recognizing that this is a time of intense grief, a time of learning, and a time of reflection, we stand with our members who are in pain and pray not only for peace but for justice. We stand in solidarity with our black members and publicly commit to do anti-racist work within our organization. We ask our nonblack members to take the time to self-reflect about ways we can participate to create an anti-racist world. With you in love, with you in justice, we affirm that #BlackLivesMatter.