It has been five days since the assault on the United States Capitol in DC. As we move beyond the initial shock, horror, and uncertainty of the day, we know that many of us are facing into a realization of how this assault on the Capitol – on our nation – came to happen. We have seen the same kind of befuddlement from neighbors and coworkers after a horrific sexual assault or domestic violence homicide… and yet, the warning signs were there.
Assault does not happen out of nowhere. It starts with words, jokes, and demeaning comments. If someone objects, they are ridiculed for being too sensitive or taking it too seriously. If no one else calls it out and stops it in its tracks, it progresses to violating space – physical or virtual – then threats, dehumanization, until the logical next step is physical attack – to take forcibly what is perceived to be “mine.”
Accountability matters. When attitudes become behaviors and those behaviors escalate without accountability, words and actions get normalized.
What we say, how we interrupt, where we place ourselves – it matters. If we are to prevent horrific assaults – of any kind – from continuing to occur, we must be willing to hold one another accountable when abuse of power and the harm it inflicts is happening. As we have said before, what allows domestic violence and all forms of oppression to persist is that they are built on a foundation of cultural norms that condone these behaviors rather than condemn them.
We can all play a role in interrupting cycles of violence – including white supremacy. And we should not – we do not – have to do this alone. At REACH, we engaged consultants from the Organizational Equity Practice at Trinity Boston Connects in the fall of 2020 and we are undertaking an intensive and intentional process starting with an organizational racial equity assessment. Throughout 2021, we will provide information on this process and hope to offer opportunities for everyone to join us.
Together we will reach beyond domestic violence.