Uniting the States of America: Tackling Jim and Jane Crow through Law
For the third year in a row our country faces pandemic-related stress, economic uncertainty, and continued attacks on civil rights and women’s rights. Our country is entrenched in deep-seated divisions that threaten BIPOC communities. The looming shadows of Jim and Jane Crow fall over us daily as we process the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the sustained attacks on voting rights, critical race theory, and more. But we also know that we can push back on those who seek to halt our progress through legal remedies and grassroots advocacy. We will not let our dreams of a truly United States, one that offers opportunity and equity for all, be thwarted.
This year the National Organization for Women (NOW) will host our fourth annual Racial Justice Summit under the theme Uniting the States of America: Tackling Jim and Jane Crow through Law. Throughout the event, we will feature a keynote on Critical Race Theory and hold engaging discussions on the insidious effects of voter suppression, removing barriers to BIPOC wealth, and raising awareness of missing sisters and loved ones. The event will feature dialogue between notable thought leaders, Congressional members, constituents, and stakeholders of all different backgrounds regarding racial justice.
Keynote: Not up for debate: Critical Race Theory
Opponents of Critical Race Theory have co-opted the term to use it as a dog whistle and rallying cry for those who seek to maintain racial inequality in this country. Anti-CRT zealots seek to suppress discussion about systemic racism, deny historical realities and halt racial justice. They seek to strip our institutions of all diversity and inclusion efforts, race-conscious policies, and educational outreach. Join our keynote speakers to hear how to authentically represent racial inequality despite silencing attempts.
Panel 1: Take it to the Polls: Fighting Voter Suppression
The essential hallmark of a fully functioning democracy is the ability of its citizens to elect their own representatives. However, in the United States, voting rights for BIPOC communities have consistently been under attack. These attacks ranged from poll taxes and tests in the Jim Crow south, to modern methods such as voter registration obstacles, voter ID laws, and decreasing early voting ballot drop boxes in communities. These attacks from anti-equality forces have silenced voices in BIPOC communities, as well as in the LGBTQIA+ community, persons with disabilities, women and low-income populations.
This panel will look at how potential laws like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act would combat voter suppression laws and highlight the next steps that grassroots activists can take to end these barriers to democracy and ensure voter equality for future generations.
Panel 2: Means to an End: Barriers to BIPOC Wealth
The pandemic has dramatically highlighted the large wealth disparities in the United States as BIPOC households suffered disproportionately from the often-devastating economic impact. But even pre-pandemic Black households held a fraction of the wealth of white households.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the median White family in 2019 had $184,000 in wealth while the median Hispanic family had $38,000 and the median Black family had $23,000. Wealthier communities also have more political power in our country, which leads to policy makes who cater to their needs. It becomes a vicious cycle of economic injustice.
The racial wealth gap is not due to personal negligence, as is so often portrayed in the media. Rather, it’s a result of hundreds of years of government policies that sought to keep all communities of color from thriving. In other words, the system isn’t broken, it’s working exactly as it was designed to centuries ago by wealthy White land-owners.
Our panelists will dive into the barriers to BIPOC wealth and what legislative and administrative policies are needed to finally eliminate these disparities once and for all
Panel 3: In Their Honor: Bringing Awareness to our Missing Sisters and Loved Ones
While the disappearance of young white women often gets round-the-clock media coverage and ramped-up police involvement, Black, Indigenous and women of color go missing every day with scant attention. For example, 710 Indigenous women have been reported missing in Wyoming, the same place where Gabby Petito’s body was found, over a 9-year period. Yet none of those women received the media or law enforcement resources that Petito’s tragic case did. Additionally, when missing and murdered BIPOC individuals are covered by the media, it often focuses on false narratives about violence and crime in BIPOC communities, rather than on the missing women themselves.
Our panelists will dive into how this racial bias has devastating impacts on victims and their families in communities of color. We will look beyond just the role of law enforcement to see how our society must focus on violence and misogynism against women in order to prevent kidnappings, assault and murder, not just punish the perpetrator after the fact. We will also look at the circumstances surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women and the links to the Natural Resource Extraction Industries.
2023 Racial Justice Summit Registration coming soon!