Houston Area Women's Center | Message from CEO Emilee Dawn Whitehurst
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Message from CEO Emilee Dawn Whitehurst

Message from CEO Emilee Dawn Whitehurst

Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters. —Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Sensei


We recently marked Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to June 19, 1865, a full two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. With a renewed focus on Black history and civil rights, as confederate monuments and symbols are being toppled city by city, we can see so clearly how our lives are shaped by history and how the struggle for emancipation is ongoing.


As rallies denouncing racial injustice and police brutality continue to reverberate across our country, two major U.S. Supreme Court decisions last week brought cheers and tears of joy and relief.  First, a landmark 6-3 decision extended employment protections to the LGBTQ community under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Then, the high court ruled in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, meaning an estimated 650,000 DACA “Dreamers” can continue to live and work in our country without fear of deportation.


HAWC is a multi-racial, multi-lingual community based organization serving survivors of domestic and sexual violence in every neighborhood across this region.  Our staff and our clients, many of whom come from communities of color, are directly impacted by the Supreme Court decisions and the ongoing efforts to achieve racial equity.


During our more than four decades of work on the front lines, we have learned that the individual struggle for liberation involves an ongoing personal journey.  The trauma that comes from abuse, whether at the hands of a political system, a loved one, or a stranger, takes a terrible, personal toll.  The healing journey can be arduous and it can be extremely difficult to achieve a genuine, lasting sense of psychological, emotional, and physical safety and freedom.


Emancipation also requires collective action. We know that a fundamental reorientation in how we invest in communities and redress racial inequities will not be achieved without ongoing joint pressure.


The Supreme Court would not have extended civil rights to LGBTQ people had it not been for decades of creative, cooperative social and cultural change efforts.  But for the immigrant rights movement and the courage of the Dreamers to tell their stories and risk deportation, the Supreme Court would not have upheld DACA.


HAWC is at its best as an agent of both personal and collective transformation. Despite the turmoil and pain, this is a hopeful and energizing time.  Let’s continue to heal together and work together to end violence.


Until it stops,

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