We, the Board of People’s Alliance and PA PAC Coordinators, write this letter in condemnation of the email written by former Nuestra Gente member Rodrigo Dorfman, and to share our plans for accountability and healing that this hurt, combined with larger systemic issues, has caused in the Durham community. Unequivocally, PA believes that no political agenda matters more than our community, and we will show this in action through short-term and long-term plans.
Nuestra Gente is an action team of the People’s Alliance. Formed in 2018 to provide members of the Latinx community with space to build power and representation within the People’s Alliance, the action team meets regularly and maintains a listserv. Recently, Rodrigo Dorfman, then a member of Nuestra Gente, sent a letter to the action team’s members using its listserv. We are aware of the letter’s contents because it has been circulating online and in various public spaces. We acknowledge that this response is not timely, which has contributed to increasing the harm this letter has caused. His letter contained broad and specific anti-Black sentiments. Neither the PA Board nor PAC leadership agree with these sentiments, and we have accepted Rodrigo’s resignation from the People’s Alliance. While it is not enough, we are sorry for contributing to the pain and mistrust through our silence.
We strongly condemn the sentiments that he shared, and we recognize that the delay in responding to the anti-Black sentiments in the letter could imply that at best we do not care, and at worst that we condone the sentiments he shared. That is not the case. The People’s Alliance’s vision is of a Durham where everyone works to dismantle structural racism and other forms of oppression… All members of the People’s Alliance are asked to subscribe to this and the rest of the organization’s vision for Durham when they join. We acknowledge that the People’s Alliance has much work to do to fulfill this mission, and we must be honest about that. This includes examining the ways that racism, misogyny, and white supremacy manifest even in so-called progressive spaces. We have much work to do to bring this vision to reality within the People’s Alliance, let alone more broadly throughout Durham. The fact that Nia Wilson, Spirithouse, and black women in general, who often model what transformative accountability and grace in our imperfect community can look like, were targeted and harmed in this letter is of particular concern. This will be addressed in our plans moving forward.
PA and PA PAC are committed to broad representation in our political spaces, and we support the candidates who share our vision of Durham and who our members choose to endorse. Support for the candidates selected by PA members is accompanied by respect and appreciation for any candidate that works hard to advance a progressive vision for Durham’s future. The PA and PA PAC are accountable to the communities in which we live, the voters whose trust we seek to earn, and our members.
Moving forward, we commit to doing a better job of fulfilling our vision for Durham and we must institutionalize this so that our accountability is not dependent on a particular person or people. We recognize that there is a lot of work ahead of us, including healing, mindset shifts, and action that supports our words. There is not a quick fix to this, but we are committed to the long-term process.
Durham would not be the same without the effort and heavy lifting of our black and brown communities. PA recognizes we have a long way to go to earn back trust that was damaged, and we commit to this and look forward to sharing our plans in the near future. In the meantime, we will work to make the changes that helps PA become an organization that truly represents and supports our whole community. We hope to do this in partnership with the Durham community, and we look forward to doing this hard work. We believe this change is possible.
People’s Alliance Board of Directors
Coordinators of the People’s Alliance Political Action Committee