People across the country are reeling at the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to overturn Roe — and what it will mean for women’s rights, privacy, and access to healthcare, especially in conservative states. Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson is quoted, “The court has no right to coerce Black people into parenting, especially given America’s long history of criminalizing Black bodies and communities. Black people, already profoundly impacted by abortion bans and disproportionately criminalized by the legal system, are sure to face the harshest levels of prosecution following today’s decision.” He continued, “Black people’s lives are at stake. Nothing will stop us from fighting for our freedom and continuing to build power for ourselves and our families.”
In the Media
This week marked the second anniversary of Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer, which sparked global protests and a racial justice reckoning. Floyd’s murder has taken a heavy toll on the emotional and mental health of Black communities. Just 1 in 3 Black Americans who need mental health help receives it and Black adults living below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to report serious psychological distress. Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson is quoted. “In Buffalo, we see people that look like our family and we’re forced to grapple with that… Having to take care of yourself, dealing with the trauma, and then thinking about how to engage in the path forward is work that we’ve had to do for generations,” he said. “And it is work that is stressful and tiring.”
Civil rights groups including Color Of Change, Black Voters Matter, and Human Rights Watch are pressing President Biden to use his executive authority to form a federal commission to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans. Legislation calling for similar action has been stalled in Congress for a year. Republicans’ stranglehold on the Senate and looming midterms make it almost impossible Democrats will pass legislation this session. The coalition wrote to Biden, “Juneteenth is an important opportunity to commemorate the end of enslavement while recognizing much more needs to be done to create equity. The racial wealth gap remains vast, with white households having a median of $188,200 and Black households $24,100, a vestige of the legacy of enslavement—and the failure to address the exploitation, segregation, and violence unleashed on Black people that followed.”
As the racial justice uprisings of 2020 becomes part of our culture, there’s a growing business in Hollywood — consultants who help studios make sure their movies don’t raise racist red flags. In recent years, entertainment execs have given promised diversity, but are still routinely fall short. Nonprofits including Color Of Change have experts hired to review everything from casting decisions and what characters get real depth and screen time to exposing racist or sexist tropes. COC President Rashad Robinson says bringing in outside consultants is great, but it’s not a substitute for true structural change in Hollywood. “This doesn’t change the rules with who gets to produce content and who gets to make the final decisions of what gets on the air. Across the entertainment industry there is still a problem in terms of not enough Black and brown people with power in the executive ranks.”
Video shows Patrick Lyoya disobeyed an officer during an April 4 traffic stop, tried to run, then wrestled with the officer over his Taser before the officer fatally shot him in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For a number of Black men and women, actions perceived as resisting arrest during minor traffic stops lead to their deaths. Color Of Change’s Sr. Director of Criminal Justice Scott Roberts is quoted. “Looking at police culture, there is pushback on the notion that policing is rooted in white supremacy and has been a tool of white supremacy. And so there is a kind of denial of why Black people would have that fear. You’ve already criminalized the person when you’re making a pre-textual stop. Your assumption is going to be that this is only a confirmation of their guilt, that fear.” Roberts added that these dynamics have increasingly led cities, prosecutors, and police to enact policies to end stops for minor infractions.
A recent shooting in New York City’s subways has re-sparked the debate over the effectiveness of more law enforcement when it comes to preventing violence and crime in the city. NYC Mayor Eric Adams — a former police officer who campaigned on a law-and-order platform — has unsurprisingly pledged to double the number of police in subways. But Color Of Change’s Director of Criminal Justice Scott Roberts questions this approach and the dangers it poses to Black and Brown New Yorkers. “Any time we see an act of violence that draws this much attention, we often see a doubling down in security culture. We’re addicted to that as a country. It makes us feel calm for the moment. What’s frightening is we know the ramifications are going to impact the communities that are already over-policed.”
Color Of Change’s Vice President Sakira Cook writes about how Georgia’s Fulton County jails are so overcrowded that hundreds of people are malnourished and sleeping on the floor–waiting to learn their fates for minor offenses. Prosecutors have the unique power to fix overcrowding in what is, unsurprisingly, a predominantly Black area. Because of felony prosecutor Fani Willis’s inefficiency and indifference, half the jail population have not even been formally charged with a crime. Fulton County puts its residents behind bars at a rate nearly 3x other urban counties. It’s time to stop prosecuting minor offenses that pose no threat to public safety–unnecessarily costing people their jobs , their families, and their health.
Read the full article at bit.ly/3wE2slJ
Color Of Change contributes to this op-ed on how LGBTQ+ students of color will be harmed by Florida’s new ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. It will almost certainly erode the confidence of queer students and hurt their mental health. Multiple studies find students typically feel better about themselves and more supported by friends after coming out. Under ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ they’ll be forbidden to discuss gay issues at school while staff are encouraged to report LGBTQ students to their parents. States with LGBTQ+ friendly protections report less depression and isolation. And the opposite is true too. A few months in, it’s crucial we evaluate the impact of the law, especially alongside other harmful policies like the ‘Stop WOKE’ Act, which limits the discussion of race and gender in classes, furthering censoring and devaluing queer youth of color.
Read the full article at bit.ly/3wGUQig
Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson is interviewed by Democracy NOW’s Amy Goodman on the racist murders at a grocery store in Buffalo NY earlier this month. Rashad talks not just about the horror of the violence inflicted by the white nationalist shooter, but also how Big Tech could and should be intervening, instead of escalating and amplifying violence like this. He says, “There is a direct thru line between the tech industry’s lack of regulation and the anti-Black violence we saw in Buffalo.” The entire attack was livestreamed on Twitch, and even once removed from that platform, put up on Facebook, where it stayed up because execs insist it doesn’t violate their terms of service.
Watch the whole interview at bit.ly/3Ybmpf5
Color Of Change’s criminal justice team writes about what we can do in this moment to protect women and access to abortion. Now is the time to fight for reproductive freedom at the state and local levels. The easiest way to do this: ensure DAs don’t prosecute pregnancy outcomes. DAs have the power to sanction arrests and create prison pipelines for abortions, stillbirths, miscarriages and accessing types of care. They also have the power to sidestep criminalization and enforce policies that put women’s well-being first. Since they are elected officials, they report to voters like us who keep them in office. We’ve heard horror stories of women in Texas sent to jail for having abortions and women in Mississippi denied abortions for ectopic pregnancies that would save their lives. It’s time to flex our power by targeting DAs.
Read the full article at https://bit.ly/3OJF1xD
Sakira Cook, Color Of Change’s interim vice president, appears on the Laura Flanders Show to discuss the immense power of prosecutors to protect women and personal health decisions after the overthrow of Roe v Wade. DAs decide which cases to bring, what charges to make and what sentences to ask for — and whether to prosecute pregnancy outcomes or women seeking abortions in states where it’s been banned. Sakira shares what prosecutors can do, or not do, especially when it comes to implementing new abortion bans. Sakira says, “We have to hold prosecutors accountable, judges accountable, police accountable to a new approach. There is a great responsibility for prosecutors to use their power in a positive way, to divert people away from the criminal legal system, to reduce mass incarceration, and really funnel people out who don’t belong there.”
Watch the segment at
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many states have introduced laws to provide financial incentives fo citizens to report people having “illegal” abortions, even those who cross state lines for abortions. This type of legislation combined with easy-to-access, unprotected medical information, like menstruation tracking apps and geotargeted tracing around abortion providers, creates a new danger: digital abortion bounty hunters. Tech companies need to put a stop to it. They have an abundance of data on reproductive health — and they’re not doing enough to protect it, while downplaying privacy slip-ups. There’s too much at stake! We need accountability in the form of policies and promises not to collect personal health information that can be weaponized against women.
Full article available at https://bit.ly/3Ji6wgY