Letter from our ceo

In 2020, a multiracial coalition took to the streets to acknowledge centuries of deep injustice and express a willingness to address systemic racism.

During this time, I heard many people say we are amid a racial reckoning. As if to suggest this was the tipping point that would trigger fundamental, transformational change. But those who benefit from the status quo, don’t want change. And they are fighting it.

In 2021, we saw a violent attempted coup by white supremacists, we saw lawmakers introducing hundreds of bills to restrict voting, and we learned that in the eyes of the law, vigilante violence by white supremacists is justified.

In many ways, I feel like there was no reckoning. Yes, there was moral outrage. Yes, some people realized racism is real and a bigger problem than they thought. But can we say the lives of people of color are better today?

Voqal was not exempt from seeing the summer of 2020 as an important moment. The global pandemic, racial unrest, and threats to our democracy brought into sharp focus our obligation to question norms and advocate for justice.

As an organization, we are shifting our own governance, management, and organizational structure to better reflect our shared values. We are reimagining how we direct our time, energy, and resources to shift power from ourselves to the communities we are serving.

And, like the national reckoning, we too are facing our share of resistance.

But we keep going because we have seen this before. This is a long-term struggle. There is no instant victory. The path to solving deep social inequities is full of setbacks and defeats and challenges. Every social, civil, and human rights movement has been met with fierce opposition by those benefiting from the status quo.

Howard Zinn, historian, activist, professor, and playwright reminds us:

“The struggle for justice should never be abandoned because of the apparent overwhelming power of those who have the guns and the money and who seem invincible in their determination to hold onto it. That apparent power has, again and again, proved vulnerable to … moral fervor, determination, unity, organization, sacrifice, wit, ingenuity, courage, patience…”

The last year has been a bitter reminder that we cannot rest. We cannot be lulled into complacency. If we want this moment to become a movement, if we want to move from protest to power to policy change, we have to continue to support the work of grassroots groups who organize in superhuman ways to save our lives, our rights, and our democracy.

In this annual report, you will read about a few of the groups and individuals who continue to stand on the frontlines, fighting for everyone to have social, economic, and political power and the resources to make decisions in all areas of their lives, without fear of discrimination, exclusion, or harm.

Previous progressive structural changes to laws, policies, and culture were the result of decades of extensive community organizing, massive public education, deliberate and sustained agitation, and inspired, broad, multiracial coalitions. This time is no different. We are in this through the end.