May 18, 2022 Blog
The Alliance Launches Statewide Black Chapter
The phrase “representation matters” has become a common cliche, but to its core, its meaning is consequential. Representation DOES matter, especially when it comes to public policy. Ensuring that various communities are represented in public policy work has been the driving force for my political organizing career since my days as a youth organizer in my native country, Namibia. I have made diversifying and growing the Alliance volunteer base a priority, because gun violence affects various communities in different ways.
The Alliance is a policy powerhouse that advocates to end the gun violence crisis in our communities and to promote a culture of gun ownership that balances rights with responsibilities. Gun laws, like any other law, should be equitable, and the conversation around gun policy should center diverse voices, including those most affected by gun violence. This is the idea that inspired the founding of a Statewide Black Chapter of the Alliance. It is an exciting project in that the Field team and I tasked ourselves with inviting the Black community to be part of the important policy work that the Alliance is committed to doing every day.
The initial recruitment effort focused on reaching out to community-based, Black-led organizations. While we knew that there were many community-based, Black-led organizations in Washington, this journey gave us an opportunity to learn about all the various grassroots groups dedicated to social justice. The Field team also had the chance to share the history of the Alliance, our legislative victories throughout the years, and the steps the Alliance has taken to show its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA).
The purpose of the Statewide Black chapter is to ensure that Black communities in Washington state are centered in gun violence prevention policies and programs. The Alliance seeks to continue investing in a future where Black neighborhoods are safe from gun violence in all its forms, to support and elevate Black leaders who are trusted messengers in Black communities, and to raise awareness about gun violence and its impacts on our Black LGBTQ communities and especially Black trans women. The Chapter’s activities, among others, involve holding monthly organizing meetings, encouraging Black communities to recommend potential candidates for Alliance endorsement, and participating in policy advocacy during legislative sessions.
We have so far partnered with 10 Black-led organizations, and the initiative to found the Black chapter has been well received and appreciated. I am excited for the contribution that the Statewide Black Chapter will make and for the opportunity the Alliance has to interact with the Black community in our gun violence prevention advocacy efforts. The recruitment is ongoing, and we invite more Black leaders in Washington to join! There is a lot of GVP work that needs to happen, and our CEO Renee Hopkins and the whole Alliance team are ready to listen to the Black community about gun violence prevention and to discuss health and community-based approaches to address this epidemic.
To learn more about the Statewide Black Chapter, please reach out to me at [email protected]
– Nelago Nuunyango is Field Organizer at the Alliance.