Under the Trump Administration these past four years, the bold advances that women have made over the past decades, particularly those of our Black, Indigenous, Women of Color, Latinx, trans, and gender non-conforming relatives, have come under threat of regressing. We know the first 100 days are crucial in setting the tone and establishing priorities for any administration. This is why during this time, the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Black Women’s Blueprint will be bringing these voices to the forefront as part of a listening and discussion series, to share the issues that matter most to us – and the issues we need the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize as part of a feminist agenda. As part of this series, we’re pulling together big ideas from these sessions for NOW’s blog Say It Sister! in order to share the changes we need to see and policies we need to fight for all-in-one place. The next step after listening is doing.
In light of the recent accounts of police brutality and heightened awareness of BLM across the United States, our second event in this series centered on the impact of systemic and institutionalized racism, while highlighting the urgent need for a dialogue to facilitate these conversations. The event featured experienced panelists such as Stephanie Morales, Founder of the “Ctrl+Alt+Del Program” which fosters the re-entry of the formerly incarcerated community, M. Adams, Co-Executive Director of Freedom, Inc., and Dr. Neal Lester, Founding Director of Project Humanities and professor of English at Arizona State University.
- Have Uncomfortable Conversations: The most important and underlying theme of all three speakers was to become comfortable having uncomfortable conversations. There is an outcry from all corners of the country to address police brutality and the need for accountability in this profession, as well as legal system reform to ensure a more equitable society. Our country, originating in roots of violence during its early stages of conception, has made small steps in comparison to the leaps that it must take to fully emulate the idea of equality across all races and identities.
- Emphasis on Education for Young People: With the light being shone on inequalities among races in police brutality, it also becomes clear there is a need to focus on educating youth. Racism is not born among people, it is taught. Therefore, it is important for parents to initiate conversations with their children, as reiterated by the speakers, about the importance of equality regarding race, the long history of police brutality towards minority groups, and an emphasis on remembering the past, as history originated from some point of racial injustice. Described by M. Adams, policing is antithetical to what one teaches their children, as he recalled personal experiences when he has taught his own children to never let someone touch their temples of bodies. Yet, the few memories he has from his youth of his father include police breaking the barriers of personal space and arresting him in their family home. Not only does police brutality affect the people who police are harming, but it impacts the families and those who bear witness to the brutality.
- Bettering the Future: The panel also strongly emphasized the need to dedicate to moving forward in a progressive manner, while not forgetting the past. While it is acknowledged that it is a difficult task to imagine the world with different reform and altered police structuring, it is a possible battle that we will be able to overcome. With the hope of a better tomorrow for minorities, there is a need for white people to stand with minorities as allies and not tolerate police brutality under any circumstances. While there is still a great amount of healing that needs to be done, there is an exceptional number of positive efforts being made daily and that will continue to be made for many years to come.
You can watch a recording of the full event here.
Check out future events in this series here.
Emily Bommer, NOW Development Intern