DISCLAIMER: This blog comes from a cis-white woman who is not an Austinite but a recent transplant from "The Biggest Little City in The World" aka Reno, Nevada.
Regularly contribute to the organizations doing the work. I rotate donations as much as I can from each paycheck to these organizations:
SIGN LOCAL PETITIONS
Successful police reform has been successful in other cities through petitions and protests.
If you are unsure about what police reform would mean here is a great graphic from Campaign Zero.
LOCAL LEGISLATION TO KNOW
1928 Master Plan https://undoingracismaustin.org
My basic hope is Santayana’s: to learn from history. Austinites new to the city as well as those who have lived here all of their lives, must remember our past. Through remembering we will avoid repeating our mistakes and replicate our positive actions. The declarations of the 1928 Master Plan to create a Negro District, should never be a surprise to Austinites. The knowledge of what was intentionally done 90 years ago should help us avoid harming members of our community today and tomorrow... The foundation of my service on city council is to encourage citizens to engage their local government. I hope that knowing what our city was capable of doing 90 years ago will arm and alarm all Austinites to monitor the actions at City Hall. - District 1 Council Member Ora Houston, 2018
Present Land Code Revision: Code Next
This code was originally proposed in 2018 but was stopped after so much backlash and public disapproval including a lawsuit. In 2020 this code to change to land use is back. This is a pivotal time to be paying attention to ensure cities do not continue creating segregated neighborhoods either by race, income status or type of housing. I couldn't find updates since April 2020 and it seems the bill is on hold due to COVID-19.
Austinites should understand a land use plan is important. CodeNEXT will shape Austin’s future, just as forcefully as the 1928 Master Plan shaped our city. CodeNEXT is not some mysterious plan drawn up by consultants and staff. We must be aware of what consultants are proposing in 2018 – proposals that will shape the future of our city, just as Koch & Fowler did in 1927. CodeNEXT requires our careful inspection and our understanding of its consequences. Commemorating the 1928 Master Plan should motivate all Austinites to assess and judge CodeNEXT’s land use plan.
The more polluted our environment the shorter our lifespan. The 1928 master plan moved industry to the East side of Austin as well as making that a segregated section of the city. This pollution is still present to this day and people living in this area have a shorter lifespan than wealthier areas by 10 years. Click here to use the tool.
There has been legislation passed to clean up this area of the city from environmental contamination but that comes at a time when this area is now largely being gentrified. In addition to fighting for clean up we also need to help preserve and keep the residents who have been and want to stay in this area in their homes.
SUPPORT LOCAL BLACK OWNED BUSINESSES
Again, I reiterate that as a white woman, I do not intend to take away from or say that I know the emotional and physical turmoil of the black people in my community. I can say that I understand my privilege and will hold myself and others responsible for demanding a more equitable society. I admit, I have learned a lot of new information the last few weeks about my community, in-person and through social media, and am committed to being active and vocal about changing it.
Originally, I moved to Austin to attend The University of Texas at Austin. Through my courses at the College of Education and serving on the Climate Change Revision Committee for the City of Austin, I quickly learned of the city's past and the deep rooted segregation that has divided Austin for decades. This history was at the forefront of thought in finding ways to undo the harm that comes from segregation and creating initiatives to restore these communities.
Knowing this, the systemic oppression, racism and violence toward BIPOC nationally is not something that should come as a surprise. The brutality from Austin police department toward Mike Ramos, Brad Levi Ayala, protesters and countless others, in conjunction with the constant irreverence from the U.S. President shouldn't be a surprised either. The upcoming election in November has Joe Biden as the leading democratic candidate yet he is so far from what America needs. Our country fails us, the government is disconnected from the people, the police are militarized and has historically done more harm than good. It is a time to act.
Be more active in your local community to help to create a place that is safe for BIPOC. Live intentionally and undo covert white supremacy. If you are white it is your job to find where you need to work today and moving forward. On social media and off, actively undo white supremacy.
- Ashlee Bushee, FA Co-founder