When I was asked to blog about this topic, I must confess that I was at a loss. How can I speak on addressing the issue of dismantling systemic racism as it pertains from the view of government? Is it possible to speak on the injustice and mistreatment that has impacted generation after generation of black and brown people in a 500-word blog? As I was sitting at my desk thinking about what to write, I received an email notification from Countable. Countable is a website that allows you to easily understand the laws that Congress is considering. It allows you to contact your lawmaker directly as well as notify you how they voted on bills.
The email notified me that my congressman had voted in favor of Senate Bill S. 2163, “Should a Federal Commission Study the Social Status of Black Men & Boys?” This bill would establish a Commission at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' Office. It would be charged with investigating potential civil rights violations affecting black males and studying the disparities they experience in income, poverty, education, criminal justice, health, employment, fatherhood, mentorship and violence.
On an annual basis, the Commission would produce a report addressing the current conditions affecting black men and boys. In its report, the Commission would also make recommendations to improve the social conditions and provide guidance to Congress on effective strategies to reduce the racial disparities in education, criminal justice, health and employment. The Commission's report would be submitted to the president, Congress, members of the president's Cabinet, and the chairs of the appropriate committees of jurisdiction.
The Bill has passed in both the House and the Senate and is awaiting the president's signature (see below). While this is good news, I'm cautiously optimistic that the president will sign off on this legislation.
Recently I had the opportunity to testify on a Senate Study Committee on the Educational Development of African American Children in Georgia, SR 468 (http://www.senate.ga.gov/committees/en-US/2019StudyCommittees.aspx).
The committee completed a final report with recommendations, I've asked multiple times what's next. Understandably COVID-19 has thrown a wrinkle in quite a few things but I will be interested to see if and when the governor is able to take action on the recommendations of the Senate Study Committee. While it's wonderful to have county resolutions, study committees, and federal commissions, there needs to be action taken once the results are shared with the public.
A federal commission to study issues that impact black men and boys is only as good as funding being put in place to address those disparities. Resources need to be provided to allow access to jobs, healthcare and education. For example, imagine if the Department of Education would provide incentives to local school districts to have equity & implicit bias training for all teachers and K-12 curriculum that centers around addressing racism, equity and inclusion.
Actionable + Funding = Implementation & Success
I encourage you to reach out to your legislator and thank them for supporting this bill. Should the president sign the bill, hold those same legislators accountable to
- Be a part of the Commission
- Listen and make actionable recommendations to improve the social conditions of black men and boys, (This is personal to me because I'm a wife a black man and a mother of 4 black boys),
- Support funding of the recommendations.
Let's remember that systemic racism is engrained at all levels of government. We must continue to use our voting power to elect individuals who are open to having a dialogue about systemic racism and its impact on the African American community.