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Rapid Response Team
The Rapid Response Team is a group of individuals in the Greater Boston area who take action against structural racism. We join protests and rallies, write letters to the editor, lobby our legislators, block foreclosure evictions, and more.
We focus on challenging structural racism—the way in which government, private and public institutions systematically give white people advantages at the expense of people of color. This web of inequity, part of the legacy of slavery, permeates healthcare, housing, employment, public policy, criminal justice, education, media, and other systems.
A good example is the foreclosure crisis, which has hit African-American and Latino neighborhoods disproportionately hard. Families of color have had limited access to standard mortgage financing due to past policies by banks that have historically denyied loans to applicants in certain neighborhoods (redlining). This is exacerbated by the scarcity of bank branches in minority communities today. Predatory lenders have filled the vacuum with high-cost loans. When banks face losses from the failure of predatory, subprime mortgages, they evict the tenants, even those who are willing and able to continue paying rent, rather than declare the loss.
Our purpose is twofold:
- To support and to stand in solidarity with individuals and communities of color who are directly impacted by structural racism;
- To improve public understanding of this still-rampant phenomenon in order to catalyze action by others.
WHAT WE'VE DONE
Actions taken by Rapid Response Team members include:
- Massachusetts Comprehensive Aptitude Test (MCAS): helped set up an organizing meeting at the State House on MCAS Reform Lobby Day (02/08), handed out MCAS reform information packets to legislators. Under the direction of WorkforQualitySchools/FightforEquity and Citizens for Public Schools. High stakes tests like the current MCAS are inherently racist because they are administered to students from unequally resourced schools and fuel dropout rates among students of color.
- CORI Reform: made calls and visited legislators, rallied at the State House, attended hearings. Under the direction of the Boston Workers’ Alliance and the Union of Minority Neighborhoods. Often containing flawed or inaccurate data, the Criminal Offense Record Information (CORI) system has kept thousands of people from getting a job or housing, acquiring loans and insurance, gaining entrance to college, and becoming a guardian or foster parent. CORI’s disproportionately affect people and communities of color.
- Foreclosure/Eviction: called and visited legislators, rallied at the State House, helped blockade an eviction, protested post-foreclosure/no-fault evictions at Bank of America, and urged bank customers to close their accounts by way of protest. Under the direction of City Life/Vida Urbana and Boston Tenants’ Coalition.
WHO WE WORK WITH
In deciding what to take on, we follow the leadership of people of color and their organizations. Because of its history of antiracist activism, CCI is in regular contact with many groups working on racial equity and other social justice issues. When CCI receives a request for supportive action, staffers review it, consulting with Rapid Response Team members as necessary. Certain key criteria need to be met:
- the request must come from a group working to address issues of structural racism; and
- people of color must be in decision-making positions within the group.
Once it’s a go, CCI staff mobilizes the Rapid Response Team via an e-mail alert.
Organizations whose work the team has supported most recently include:
- Boston Workers' Alliance
- City Life/Vida Urbana
- Citizens for Public Schools
- Union of Minority Neighborhoods
- Work 4 Quality Schools
TAKE ACTION! JOIN TODAY!!!
When you join the Rapid Response Team, you’ll be asked to make a commitment at one of three levels:
- participate in at least one action per month
- one every two months, or
- one every three months
It's your choice. Whatever is comfortable for you. You’ll also be asked to contact CCI staff to let them know each time you’ve taken action. This allows us to assess our collective impact, share stories of individual challenges or breakthroughs, and be accountable to each other. Together, we can make a difference.
Join us by contacting Janet Gillespie today!