CooperationWorks! Statement on Charlottesville

The events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, have left us heartbroken and sickened. It is difficult to make sense of the violence that was, and continues to be, perpetrated by white supremacists. CooperationWorks!(CW) extends our deepest condolences to those most affected by this violence and to all those hurting from these events. We especially hold in our hearts Heather Heyer and her family.

CW is the national organization of cooperative developers and, as with many of our partners and allies, we believe that thriving, cooperatively-owned enterprises are the bridge to a just, resilient democracy. CW is committed to promoting racial equity within our organization and throughout the cooperative movement, and our economy as a whole. We embrace the core tenets of cooperation – inclusivity, democracy, and equality. Yet we recognize that the co-op movement—and CW itself—has often fallen short in realizing this vision, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. CW acknowledges that a centuries-long history of institutionalized racism, exclusionary economic policies, and systemic violence against people of color have created vast racial inequity that must be addressed and overcome for CW to realize its vision of a just, democratic, and sustainable economy.

In short, it is easy to think of white supremacy as simply representing the bad behavior of a rotten few, but we recognize that the poison of racism pervades our society. The tragic events of Charlottesville should remind all of us of the importance to rededicate ourselves in our cooperative development work to truly uproot structural racism and inequality.

The very first of the Cooperative Principles mandates open and voluntary membership without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination. The third Cooperative Principle embraces equality through democratic governance. These and other cooperative values stand in stark opposition to those espoused by white supremacists this weekend. CooperationWorks! stands with our members, partners, and allies in working for racial equality and justice. We hope that you will too