#bebraveblog

The Brave Coalition Supports Community Name Change

The following is Brave’s official position statement concerning the name of our Northeast Denver community.

The Brave Coalition is a Northeast Denver-based non-profit formed by women in the community following a hate graffiti incident at Isabella Bird Community School in 2016. Our mission is to build more inclusive communities where all people can live their fullest lives regardless of identity or circumstance.

According to History Colorado, former mayor Benjamin Stapleton was a high-ranking KKK member who used his position to promote Klan interests during his time in office (1923-31 and 1935-47). Contrary to popular reports, there is no documentation of him recanting his membership or white supremacist views. Nevertheless, when the time came to turn the airport named to honor Stapleton into a neighborhood, the Stapleton name was carried over. 

The Brave Coalition supports changing the name of this community as an important step to making our neighborhood a welcoming, diverse, and safe place for all. Here’s why:

  1. History matters and impacts the present. We believe that this issue should be viewed in its context: our city’s history of systemic racism, antisemitism, and homophobia designed to exclude certain people from the most “desirable” neighborhoods. From outright bans, to discriminatory loan programs, to more subtle messages, let’s end the cycle of unwelcome. This is as important now as ever, as incidents of hate are still prevalent in Denver.

  2. Symbols matter and impact hearts and minds. A name change is not equity or inclusiveness, and it should not be a substitute for those goals. But symbols do help to build the environment in which we decide who will be valued, heard, and honored. The environment in which we decide who “we” are. We love our community, and we agree with many community members that the name should reflect our positive vision for the future.

  3. People matter. We believe those who say that they are harmed by the Stapleton name, and that the community should come together and take the steps necessary to end that harm. As the proverb goes, while the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is right now. Moreover, the claimed financial sacrifice is not at all clear and shouldn’t deter people from choosing to re-name our community. While property owners are being asked to vote to pay for a name change, the truth is no one has outlined what the public costs would be, how those costs would be allocated, and why they would have to be incurred all at once.    

Recognizing that not everyone will agree with our position, we believe all can agree that property owners should be aware of the process and vote on the issue. Developers like Forest City have a powerful role in our neighborhood community association (MCA) voting, as they also pay into the MCA. However, they have commercial incentives to oppose a name change and they are not long-term community members. We shouldn’t stand on the side while decisions are made about where we live.

Changing the World, One Conversation at a Time

This guest blog is brought to you by Sara Blanchard

“You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change.” - Tim Cook

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My best friend and I have a new endeavor that is brought to you because of passion.  Passion to do our part in leaving behind a world that will love my best friend’s children as much as they love my own.

Because, you see, despite the fact that they’re both born of half-white, half-Japanese mothers, they’re very, very different.

Sure, her children show up as boys and mine show up as girls.  That’s a big difference.

But even more striking than that, is the difference in the shade of their skin.

To be fair, we are all spectrums of brown - with people who think they’re white simply having less of the brown than those who are thought of as being black in the United States.

Yet because my best friend married a black man from the south, while I married a white man from Canada, our children will have very different experiences walking through our country.

Already, her kids’ hair is touched without permission.  Already, she’s talking with them about how to respond respectfully to police officers.  Already, though we are both terrified about the safety of our children - as all parents are - the stats back up the fact that black children in this country are subject to more homicide - and more recently, suicide - than the rest of the population.  In fact, for children ages 15-24, unintentional injury is the leading cause of death.  For white children, the second leading cause is death by suicide; for black children, it’s homicide.  Yes, both are horrifying.  We need to talk about this stuff, because without understanding each other’s perspectives, there is no way to make meaningful, lasting change.

We decided to take the conversations we were having behind the scenes - conversations informed through law, history (her strengths), and psychology, human thriving (my strengths) - and blow them up into something that could be shared with you. Because conversations are a way to connect, to learn, to feel meaning in our lives, and conversations bring us together - so that we can understand each other and the different narratives that make up this nation.

We come to these conversations with preparation to tackle the topics that are in the news, topics that are happening in our lives, topics that intrigue us as we go.  There are interviews with some incredible people too - because there are some insanely cool experts out there with experiences we can’t claim to have ourselves, and want to learn about.  

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Once we know better, we can do better.  

We want to be the pebble.

Our belief is that we can learn, grow, and change, one conversation at a time.  

We call it, the Dear White Women podcast.

Won’t you come join us?  

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE  

 

“E Pluribus Unum – From Many We Are One”

This guest blog is brought to you by Rabbi Mendel Popack.

It’s a blessing to live in the USA.  

We are different. We look different. We dress differently. We speak different languages. We worship differently. We eat different foods, have different social interests and congregate in different centers. But we are all American.

American culture has been created and enriched by the thriving diversity of ethnic cultures and minority communities that have contributed so much, each in its own way, both materially and spiritually, to American life.

More importantly, we are all human beings, endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And yet, in this blessed country, the voices of anti-Semitism, bigotry and prejudice are still present, very openly, trying to frighten and intimidate us.

Where does this prejudice come from? Does it perhaps come from a sense, held by some, that because someone is different, they are less?  Can someone be less human?  Is someone’s soul less precious because they worship differently?

It’s time to focus on what makes us all the same, not what makes us different. We are all created by the same G-d, who endowed us each with a soul. We are all brothers and sisters, and at that level, no one is better or worse.

As a spiritual leader in the Jewish community, I’ve been asked, “Rabbi, how does your local community feel about the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh?” My response is, “There is no such thing as a local Jewish community. We are one community.   One people. Those were our bubbies and zaidys, our fathers and mothers, our sisters and brothers that were murdered in cold blood, sanctifying G-d’s name, just because they were Jewish.”

Dear friends, that we are one people can also be said about the USA, and indeed about the whole world.

We are one country, one human race, one people, under one G-d.
Prejudice starts when one person, or one community, or one segment of the population is singled out and discriminated against because they are different. 

The motto “E Pluribus Unum” celebrates our differences, and we should celebrate them, too. While at the core, we cherish our commonality - that which brings us together- humanity is a tapestry of many colors, and our colors - our differences - are what makes the tapestry beautiful.

According to the Bible, when Noah and his wife Naamah, the father and mother of all mankind, exited the Ark, G-d gave them a code of civil conduct for mankind, with seven pillars: Believe in G-d, Do not curse G-d or G-d’s Name, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not commit adultery, Do not eat a limb off a living animal, and Establish a judicial system to uphold this code. A central theme of these Seven Pillars is respect for all the creations in this world, which includes respect for every other person’s life and property, because we are all created by G-d.

The Jewish community recently celebrated Chanukah. The Chanukah menorah is lit at night, when it is dark outside, and outdoors in public. The public menorah has become a universal symbol of freedom and liberty for people of all minorities and faith traditions. Like in the Chanukah story, some people try to spread darkness, hatred and bigotry. The menorah declares, in the face of darkness, that hatred and bigotry will not stop us. We will continue to shine light proudly and openly, to respond to evil and darkness by adding more light, more goodness and more kindness. A little light can push away a lot of darkness.

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Just as we are endowed with inalienable rights, we are given unavoidable responsibilities, responsibilities to ourselves, to each other, and to all of civilization. We must realize that our actions matter. Let us all recommit to connecting with the people that are different from us by seeking out that which makes us similar.

Add another act of goodness and kindness every day.

Reach out to your neighbor. 

Volunteer to help a struggling community.

Welcome your classmate that just immigrated from another country.

Smile at a stranger, and say hi.

You might be surprised how similar we all really are.