“Overcoming Obstacles to Create Community” is an initiative of the Women’s Voices’ Racial Justice Committee. Each month, we’ll provide timely, concrete ideas and suggestions you can include in your daily lives.
Jamala Rogers, St. Louis activist and founder of the Organization for Black Struggle, once advised members of Women’s Voices: “Do not support any policy that will adversely affect Black people.” This is important to keep in mind as we develop coalitions and advocate for policies and laws that will lead to social justice.
July – Pressure Leaders
- Identify leaders in the clergy, business, politics, academia, police and other groups and form relationships with them. Let them know that you will not stand for intolerance or injustice. Find your representatives, local and federal, here.
- Demand a prompt, serious police response to hate crimes. Also, demand the same prompt, serious and open response to crimes or inappropriate behavior committed by police officers.
- Demand a strong, public statement by local and national political leaders. Silence can be interpreted as the acceptance of hate.
- Encourage leaders to name the problem. Encourage them to call incidents fueled by hate or bias what they are…hate crimes.This includes crimes committed by police officers under the guise of “public safety.”
- Attend a town hall meeting with your elected representative, a city council meeting and/or a school board meeting.
- Elicit support from your elected representatives by writing them and encouraging others to do so. Host a postcard party at your home.
- Put the phone numbers of your state representative/senator and your U.S. House representative/Senator in your contact list on your cell phone. One click will enable frequent calling.
- Find out whether your community is currently using evidence-based police de-escalation training. Write to your city officials and demand it.
- Put pressure on your school board members to ensure that Black educators are hired where Black children are being taught.
- Begin to work on criminal justice reform by calling for reform of the “criminal legal system.” Write to your governor and state legislators to call for reform, including reducing mandatory minimum sentences and lower sentences for non-violent drug crimes.
- Pressure lawmakers to require that “racial impact statements” be required for all criminal justice bills. (Fiscal and environmental impact statement are already required for certain pieces of legislation)
- Attend town halls, candidate forums and other programs for political candidates and ask about their stances on ending mass incarceration, reducing mandatory minimum sentences, ending cash bail and other issues.