The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Eyes on Eastern Europe: Alliance for Black Justice in Poland
By Verdell Wright on May 4, 2023
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, more than 62,000 people have died, nearly 60,000 people have been injured, and roughly 14 million people have been displaced. UUSC immediately mobilized its resources in support of those who were impacted by the invasion, culminating in 10 partnerships with organizations in Eastern Europe. All of these organizations are committed to helping communities facing compounding forms of oppression during this conflict—meaning we focus our resources on communities who are already facing severe oppression even prior to the invasion (people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc.). This series will highlight those partners and the work they do.
Alliance for Black Justice in Poland (BJP’s) mission is to address the inequities Black and Brown people are experiencing due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The organization has a deep commitment to Black, feminist, and queer frameworks. Since its founding in March 2022, BJP has provided transport between cities and border areas, legal advice for those opting to stay in Poland, and connected people with healthcare, safe accommodations, and other material services.
Since mass evacuations have slowed, BJP has pivoted from emergency services to providing long-term support for Black people who still reside in Poland. As of 2021, there were over 500,000 Polish citizens from 43 African countries in the region. While there are no official numbers to obtain for 2022, it is assumed that the invasion and subsequent influx of evacuees has increased the Black and Afro-descendant population even more. They hope that further collaboration with UUSC will allow them to extend their impact and reach.
BJP plans to continue its work in a few key areas. One of those ways is through ongoing community-building activities. Black people from all over the African diaspora reside in Poland. These events will showcase the diversity of cultures among them while fostering a deep sense of shared space. Food and music are commonalities between many African cultures, so picnics, talent shows, and meet-and-greets will be some of the events BJP hosts.
Housing and welfare support is another area that BJP wants to maintain. The Russian invasion and the resulting evacuation caused severe disruptions in people’s lives, such as job loss, lack of schooling, and waiting for visas as refugees. Racist institutions and individuals exacerbate these issues, creating obstacles for Black people who are already navigating trauma. With UUSC’s help, BJP hopes to continue and expand services in this area. This would include the continued hiring of a housing and welfare officer as well as addressing client material needs. This would also include figuring out what new types of aid people would need while still doing what they can to meet people’s material necessities.
BJP’s collaboration with UUSC would help the organization to boost its public profile. While they currently have an established media presence via Facebook and Instagram, the organization wants to expand. This would allow them to proactively engage issues concerning Black people in Poland. The organization currently has a two-person social media team. They intend to expand the team to include a communications and public relations expert who would engage in off-internet spaces.
UUSC is excited about the work BJP has done and will continue to do. Their partnership with UUSC is primed to help even more people of African descent navigate and thrive in Eastern Europe.
Interested in supporting the work of BJP and organizations like it? Donate to our Emergency Response Fund!
Image Credit: iStock