The Black Lives Matters Movement will be noted as a movement that caused the re-awakening of America’s social conscience. It took the public execution of a Black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to once again disclosed that deadly and excessive use of force has become a standard practice in Black citizen and police encounters all over America. This and other deaths have ignited one of America’s largest Social Justice Movements. Now is the time to examine and begin to fix injustices across the board.
Criminal Justice Reform
A peaceful future depends on whether America is ready to change. Law enforcement must undergo a transformation; this will be one of the most important factors to a future without protests and disruptions. Criminal Justice Reform can no longer simply consist of policies that rest on bookshelves; they must lead to changes in practices and agency cultures.
Moving forward, we must end unequal justice as a standard for policing Blacks and other minorities in this country. There needs to be uniform policing policies all over the nation and there needs to be video metrics routinely captured as evidence, to document whether, or not, police are using humane practices. In absence of this we will continue to have every policing organization in America deciding how to dispense Justice. The video documentation can happen with dashboard and body cameras. We have the technology, let us use it. Cameras have unmasked the evidence and has shown over and over how the police have mishandled Black citizens. The sports industry has made the use of video metrics to get performance improvements for decades. This is evidence that this approach works and can bring the best out in policing organizations, too.
Economic Justice is another area in which the Black community have long waited for ̶ to have equal justice. Due to lack of access to contracting and other economic development opportunities Black businesses have had a very difficult time getting sufficient access to opportunity to start, maintain and grow enough businesses in Dane County. Steps need to be taken to evaluate the entire ecosystem for minority businesses development. There needs to be innovative space and dedicated resources to establish an effective Black business incubator in Madison.
Moving forward there should be greater access to “C Suites” and corporate board rooms. If there will be significant changes in the private sector, it will only come if corporate leadership makes it happen. Similarly, greater access to upward mobility in government and nonprofit organizations must come from their executive leadership. A fair amount of success is happening as it relates to getting Blacks into entry level professional positions. But, the bar must be raised and there is a need for more success in advancing Black people into leadership positions. Dane County must stop the “brain drain” and make efforts to retain the young, bright Blacks that graduate from the educational institutions here. Many want to stay, but they do not see bright futures here.
Equity in Health Care
The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the glaring disparities that Black people face in health care. Locally, we hear stories from community members who have indicated that their families cannot get access to health care or they feel like they have not got properly diagnosed. Additionally, in Wisconsin, Black people are experiencing a disproportionately high rate of infections and a high rate of death from the COVID-19 virus.
The crack epidemic reminds many of us that Black medical issues do not get the same urgency as issues faced by other groups. The opioid epidemic shows that race does matters. Since most of the individuals effected by this epidemic were white, it has been flagged as a priority health epidemic.
To achieve equity, after the Black Lives Matter Movement, health issues that are impacting Blacks must matter and be a public health priority and not criminalized. Often when Black people have mental health episodes, it becomes a police encounter. More resources must be directed toward training, recruiting and developing Black mental health providers. There is a need for more culturally competent professionals in this area.
The future of our children has never been more at stake. Although there is the desire to rush back to school, there should be no rush to put our kids back into these broken systems before we improve them.
The current crisis may present an opportunity to fix these systems that are not currently the most effective for Black children anyway. In the meantime, we must make sure that our children can receive effective educational instructions at home. Just sending children home with a tablet is not enough. The parents need instructional support. They are not certified teachers and they need all the help that they can get. Also, due to the three months of interruption of face-to-face schooling, students have a dire need for instruction for the remainder of the summer, or they may fall further behind. We can show that Black Lives Matter by reimagining how to support students and parent, so that the disparity gap does not widen.