Updates

Fall/Winter 2023 Update

We are excited to share the initial insights and outcomes of this year’s strategic planning process. During our regular fiscal year review over the past few months, RMF leaders and active members studied and discussed how to best use our resources and strengths moving forward. While this is our annual process, the most important points of consensus in 2023 have come from lessons learned over many years of unrelenting and uncompromising activism.

RMF has been one of our community’s most powerful voices for fighting racism and other social injustices since it began during the Ferguson protests in 2014-2015, becoming a registered non-profit organization in Missouri soon after. Since RMF’s founding, university presidents and chancellors, police chiefs and city administrators, council members and other government officials have come and gone under criticism for their unwillingness or inability to align with RMF goals. The players keep changing, but the game remains the same.

Recent events emphasize that we still haven’t achieved the systemic changes needed to solve our most pressing problems. Police officers resign after videos of abuse and failure to follow procedures, yet police still evade public oversight. Vehicle stop reports based on race have reached historically disparate levels. We’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars bailing out individuals, while a criminal industrial complex profits by keeping our jails full. Our public school system, once a jewel of our community, is now ranked among the lowest in terms of student performance. Our unhoused brothers and sisters, many in need of mental health and addiction treatment, flee to the streets or woods as growing encampments are destroyed.

RMF must refocus and recalibrate to achieve real results. We will now be highly focused on systemic change, which we know requires a comprehensive approach. In other words, our time, talent, money and other resources will be targeted toward pulling at the intersectional roots of what’s causing our community the most despair and destruction. We understand that the roots of systemic and institutional racism are deep and intimately entwined with affordable housing, education, community violence, homelessness, school suspensions and policing – all issues that produce disparate and fatal outcomes. The intersecting branches of law, business, education, health and housing continue to collide and conspire to maintain inequity embedded in all of our public institutions.

We can’t solve our community’s problems without understanding how they are so closely interrelated, woven tightly together by incestuous hands of power in government and business. For example, government and business officials in power often try to hide public information from the public. A recent incident demonstrated the city’s insular, exclusionary and closed process for allocating more than $20 million in federal ARPA funds.

To combat these types of practices, we aggressively request records that should be open to the public and call on leaders to comply with open records rules. Accountability and transparency are foundational to all RMF efforts. Our members are often among the few – sometimes only – citizens attending, speaking out, asking questions and taking notes at government meetings and other pertinent public gatherings. We encourage media to support our efforts by giving them information and analysis. RMF members also regularly meet with individual government officials and other leaders to educate them about best practices for transformative systemic change in such areas as justice, education, health and housing.

We want you and all supporters to share suggestions or concerns directly with the RMF Executive Committee as it leads our organization through the strategic planning process. Conversations will continue and become more detailed in the following weeks. You can share your thoughts by contacting committee members at racemattersfriendscomo@gmail.com or calling 636-542-8838.

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