Grateful for us: A Message from BISC’s Executive Director
This year has been a lot.
From the pandemic, to an economic crisis, to the heartbreak and shame of systemic racism that bred the racial reckoning that rocked our country to its core. All of this was set against a backdrop of the most significant election of our lifetime. I think about all of us and how much we’ve been through, how we’ve shown up for each other, and the word that keeps coming to mind is gratitude. Gratitude for you. Gratitude for us.
I am filled with gratitude for every single person who showed up this year — from the incredible community of state partners and leaders who work with full hearts to build political people-power — to the funders who stepped up to meet the moment — to my staff who work tirelessly to support community leaders and reimagine ballot measures as a tool for liberation — to the voters who fought to preserve our basic democratic values especially Black, Latinx, Asian American Pacific Islander, Native and young voters. Thank you for inspiring us with your stories, your passion, and for partnering with us on our journey to transform BISC.
The words of Shirley Chisholm have been on my mind lately: “I love America not for who she is, but who she can be.”
The story of America is rooted in colonialism, slavery, and the genocide of Indigenous communities. Stories told about the first Thanksgiving perpetuate a false history, stereotypes, and erase the story of Native communities. We must acknowledge the truth behind Thanksgiving and the pain many communities feel during this time so America can be who we dream her to be.
Today, Indigenous communities remain dynamic people, with a beautiful and thriving culture who were critical in the 2020 election in states like Arizona and Wisconsin. I am incredibly grateful to the Native communities, who this year partnered with BISC in our research.
November is Native American Heritage Month, which offers many opportunities to move past one-dimensional representations and bring light and awareness to Native People. In commemoration of that, I want to share Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America. Project 562 is dedicated to photographing over 562 federally recognized tribes in the US, and features an unprecedented repository of imagery and oral histories that accurately portray contemporary Native People. I have loved looking through all the beautiful imagery and honoring their stories. On this day, we can focus Thanksgiving on our common values: gratitude, perseverance, and community.
On behalf of all of us at BISC, I want you to know that you are deeply appreciated for all that you do, all that you are, and all we can be together. We send our warmest wishes for peace and health during this season of giving thanks.
Chris Melody Fields Figueredo
Executive Director, Ballot Initiative Strategy Center