Black Lives Matter
We are against racism, violence, injustice and inequality in all its forms. We stand for connection, inclusion, positivity, and empowerment. We stand for the oneness of humanity!
Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Family
Walter Wallace, Jr. should be alive today. Like so many others, he struggled with mental health – a young Black man in crisis. Instead of providing the care and support he needed, he was shot by Philadelphia police officers in the street in front of his mother and neighbors who loved him. He was the victim of a broken system.
This same story keeps repeating itself over and over again, in Philadelphia and across the country. It is infuriating and frustrating, particularly because incidents like this one are easily avoidable. Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence stands with our West Philadelphia neighbors in their grief and anger at another life senselessly taken through police violence. Failure here has many masters: the disregard given to mental health care, the poor training of the police meant to protect our communities, and the decades of normalized violence by the Philadelphia Police Department. But ultimately, this is a continuation of structural and systemic racism and class oppression that claimed the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and so many more.
In order to create a future of freedom, justice, and equality for all, we all have work to do to fight systemic racism and oppressive systems holding us back. That work begins with a solutions-oriented approach, aimed toward breaking the cycles of police brutality, racial inequality, social inequity and poverty. The policies and laws that exist in this country do not fully represent or benefit marginalized people. This has to change.
Communities must also believe there is hope. Hope is seeing young people fighting for what they believe in. Hope is witnessing so many Black, Brown and White allies coming together to say “this is not right.” These times require definitive change and immediate response. Moving forward, here is how Big Brothers Big Sisters’ leadership and staff will take action:
- Continue to prioritize conversations with city and police officials, to help citizens engage in productive outlets allowing for their voices be heard – voices that ask to bring people together.
- Work with elected officials to encourage solutions that get more fundamentally at the gaps in our systems, such as revamped and improved training and supports for police officers (including sociology, psychology, and conflict resolution), while providing the communities they serve with desperately needed mental health resources.
- Encourage our supporters and community members to GET OUT AND VOTE, as we have a duty to hold our legislators accountable for change. The November 3rd election isn’t just about a President and a Vice President; it’s about legislators and court justices that are shaping the laws of this country.
- Continue to support community leaders in their efforts to find solutions to our most challenging social justice issues.
- Continue to provide a variety of educational resources to our Bigs, Littles and their families, helping them to discuss what is happening and how to effectively deal with the aftermath.
- Continue to ignite the promise and power of hope in the youth we serve.
We have a lot of work to do. Our families are hurting. Our city is hurting. We are at a pivotal moment in history. In the meantime, Walter Wallace, Jr. will be laid to rest on November 7th. We hope that his family, his friends and the West Philadelphia community can, with time, heal from this tragic loss.