Freedom without justice is not freedom

Prince and I wrote this issue in honor of George Floyd and many others. It is very personal for us a Black staff to honor our community and shed light on what’s happened. - Health and Wellness Racial Equity Administrators Sara Hollie and Prince Corbett

Our work transcends beyond the walls and cubicles of Ramsey County. It spills out into the streets of our cities and neighboring cities that are impacted by daily microaggressions, biases, racism, brutality and death. Today it is not enough to talk about race and equity when Black men, women, youth and children die at higher rates of just about everything. Over policing, targeted racism and violence against the Black community has continued from slavery, to lynchings, to mass incarceration and continued police brutality and murder.

Black people carry this lived historical trauma and abuse. We carry the fear of death when stopped by the police every day. Black people are criminalized for the color of their skin every day. The Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery except in the case for punishment of a crime. This created another way to criminalize Black and Brown bodies through another form of slavery – legal mass incarceration.

Our freedom is invisible. Our justice is invisible. People not seeing our Blackness makes us invisible. We are only visible to some when we are walking down the street with a hood on, running in our neighborhoods, driving in the “wrong” place, simply being Black makes us a threat to some. Our freedom was taken a long time ago through historically racist policies such as The Fugitive Slave Act, The Controlled Substance Act, and Stand Your Ground Act. Freedom is not what many of us know, and justice is what we seek. In the words of a lifelong Saint Paul and Rondo neighborhood raised resident, Elder Mary K. Boyd, “Sticks in a bundle cannot be broken.” 

Our communities cannot be broken. We are visible. We matter. Transformation is necessary and silence cannot be accepted. Freedom from structural racism and oppressive practices, policies, processes and systems are the responsibility of everyone. This work must be intentional, and we must seek justice for those most impacted by despair, harm and death. 

We write this statement in memory and dedication to George Floyd. In memory of all the Black and Brown children, youth, men and women who have lost their lives to police brutality, lynching, slavery and mass incarceration. In the words of hip-hop artist J. Cole, “All we wanna do is take the chains off. All we wanna do is break the chains off. All we wanna do is be free.”

We seek freedom and justice for the Black community!  We Matter! You Matter! We see you!   

-Sara and Prince

If you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out to the Racial and Health Equity Administrators at: racialequity@ramseycounty.us