Group Health Foundation mourns the countless Black lives that have been stolen by state-sanctioned violence. What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Tony McDade in Tallahassee has also happened here in Washington: to Charleena Lyles in Seattle, Lorenzo Hayes in Spokane, Dante Redmond Jones in the Tri-Cities, Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens in Des Moines, and Manuel Ellis in Tacoma.
Heavy in our hearts as well are the Native lives taken by police: Stonechild Chiefstick in Poulsbo, Renee Davis on Muckleshoot tribal land, Jacqueline Salyers in Tacoma, John T. Williams in Seattle, Daniel I. Covarrubias in Lakewood, and many others.
“It is infuriating that the system continues to work exactly as designed,” our board chair Dr. Ben Danielson recently wrote. “It is anguish to be re-traumatized, to relive painfully familiar events. It is the most honest of grieving. Grieving that takes our breath away.”
Building a just and liberated future starts with all of us in Washington. Group Health Foundation stands with those who are protesting police brutality and demanding community-designed solutions for public safety. Since we began grantmaking in 2019, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to fund Black-led organizations throughout the state. We are committed to showing up for them and their communities in this new civil rights era.
We are learning from organizations such as NAACP-Snohomish County who are holding local police departments accountable. They were quick to remind us that we don’t need to look far to find police brutality at home.
We are supporting the power-building of Africatown Community Land Trust and other organizations that are part of the King County Equity Now coalition. They are demanding the handover of underutilized public land for community use; an anti-gentrification fund for Seattle’s Central District; and the redistribution of police funding into the Black community.
We are backing publications like The Black Lens in Spokane, which was founded by Sandy Williams to provide “news from a different perspective.” The paper recently broke a story on Eastern Washington University’s decision to close its Office for Diversity and Inclusion, which is well loved by students and the surrounding community. EWU reversed its decision after Sandy’s reporting prompted a public outcry. Sandy also published a special edition of The Black Lens in the The Spokesman-Review to amplify Black voices in response to George Floyd’s murder. The insert included stories and poetry written by local Black writers. All this work, she described in a note to readers, was very challenging, with many emotions, but so important.
Group Health Foundation recognizes we are yet another organization offering words of support when action is what really matters in this moment. These are a few of the grantees we have supported with multiyear, general operating support within the last year. This is just the beginning for us.
While we continue to fund and deepen our relationships with Black communities and Black-led efforts throughout the state, we will carry with us James Baldwin’s words:
“I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.”
As we build our organization, we invite you to judge Group Health Foundation by what we do: who we fund, whom we hire, and whose voices we center.