Doing Our Part: The Austin Justice Coalition Story
This post is the third installment of our Pursuing Racial Justice and Equity series, which highlights the courageous and vital work happening across our Google Fiber and Google Fiber Webpass cities to fight systemic racism and create more just communities where everyone has the opportunity and the ability to thrive.
The Austin Justice Coalition ’s (AJC) roots were planted in 2015 when a bunch of people who were crazy enough to believe that we could change the world got together and we have never looked back.
Black and brown people operate daily in a system where their voices and lives are undervalued. They are inundated with unwarranted and blatant oppression, life-threatening situations, microaggressions, and other forms of racism due to the color of their skin. AJC is a grassroots organization that addresses the oppressive dynamics of institutional racism and its effects on adults, youth, and communities of color.
We transform systems and society by building community power through policy and advocacy. Through our efforts, we have improved laws and policies where we live in regards to criminal justice and building complete communities to address the housing and homelessness crisis. Additionally, we have supported and guided young people of color to be thoughtful, unbiased leaders. We try not to do it all, but over the last 5 years, we have built an ever-evolving ecosystem of solutions, knowledge, experience, and community.
Unfortunately, there is still so much to be done.
It is not that our ideas are revolutionary. We lead the charge and keep others marching with us without allowing differences to divide us. In our work, you see a cadre of white allies. If we don’t change the hearts/minds of those whose ancestors implemented the hierarchy of race, we will never truly gain reform.
There is truly something for everyone to contribute to the movement.
Since March, there has been change in a real way, and we are thankful for the many partners who have increased their engagement in our communities such as Google Fiber. Because in reality, the biggest hurdle for communities of color is getting a seat at the table.
We have been able to create a seat by listening to the community and being unafraid to be their advocate. Similarly, we created Higher Learning, with little funding, because we had a vision of a program curated specifically for Black and Brown kids that tackles the inefficiencies of our school system. We have made it to year 3 of this program.
Our hope is that the data and statistics will change in the number of people of color in jail, their ability in housing ownership, and increase rates of education attainment and professional achievement, not only in Austin, but across the country. When we see this, we are able to turn our attention to changing and transforming more systems. Often our work can seem narrow, but for us, the work we are doing can truly shift and break up what seems like indestructible systems. Our work will and can have a ripple effect. Our long-term vision is to one day dream of taking our work on a global scale. But before we can do that, our team will have to uproot the deep seeded effects of the 1928 zoning laws and racism of Austin, while tackling Texas, and America.
So when we are truly successful here, there will be more work on the horizon for us. Join us.
Posted by Chas Moore, Executive Director, AJC