After over four hundred years of racial injustice on this land, the time for a “conversation” about race in America is over. Now is the time for concerted action in support of racial justice. Bloomfield Development Corporation (BDC) fully supports and stands in solidarity with the protests occurring in Pittsburgh and across the country in response to the ongoing horror of unarmed Black Americans murdered by police officers in communities across our nation.
Pittsburgh has a long, painful history of police violence against Black citizens. During the mid-nineties, a series of murders by local police officers led to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into the policies and practices of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, resulting in a lawsuit and eventual consent decree against the city in 1997. That same year, Pittsburgh voters responded by creating the Citizen Police Review Board through a successful petitioning campaign and ballot referendum. However, police violence against Black people in our region and city continues to this day. Over the past five years, the city has increased the police budget by nearly $38 million, an almost 50% increase, leading to the increased militarization of the police force. The ongoing protests in the city must be understood through this context.
Social change means a lot of things to a lot of people, but for a community development organization, it should mean disrupting systems of inequality and building new systems that allow everyone an equal opportunity to succeed. Pittsburgh has shown its inability to make progress on racial justice before. It must make drastic changes now.
BDC re-affirms its commitment and dedication to fostering a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community. We are constantly assessing our community process to ensure that it is accessible and equitable; we championed farmers markets as essential food access points for low-income families and worked to help markets in the county be able to open with on-site sales during the COVID pandemic. We celebrate Pittsburgh and Bloomfield’s Black-led organizations, such as True T (https://truetpgh.com/), Level Up (https://www.leveluppgh.com/), and Few of a Kind Store (http://fewofakindstore.com/), that are creating spaces in the neighborhood and doing meaningful work for the community.
Over the coming days and weeks, BDC will assess how it can increase its support for the cause of racial justice with specific, tailored actions. We plan to engage in diversity and anti-racist training for our staff and board to uncover and address our personal and organizational biases. We are actively pursuing funding to extend this education to the community as well. We will apply a racial lens to every project and decision and build a public accountability structure. BDC also calls on residents of Bloomfield and Pittsburgh at large to examine and address their own biases, both conscious and unconscious, and to take action to fight racial injustice on an individual and institutional level.
BDC, its board members, and staff are supporting the protests by donating to 1Hood Media, a collective of socially conscious artists and activists who utilize art to raise awareness, and the Bukit Bail Fund, which has been posting bail for protestors incarcerated at Allegheny County Jail. We also encourage residents and business owners to do the same and support local Black owned businesses by patronizing them or supporting the Pittsburgh Black Business Relief Fund through Inventrify.
Please also read Pennsylvania House Bill 1664, written by local State Representative Summer Lee, which would raise the bar on a police officer’s justified use of deadly force. If you agree with the bill, call your state representative and senator and express your support. Call Mayor Peduto and your city council member and implore them to support investments that improve racial equity, like affordable housing and public transit.
Now is a time for white allies to listen to Black voices and to learn from them. Only then can we dismantle structural racism that has plagued our country since its founding.
Black Lives Matter.