Updated: Jun 7, 2020
Each morning, I run Elm Street. The epicenter of downtown Greensboro. As a Black woman in federal politics, running is necessary therapy. Admittedly, the recent images supporting #BlackLivesMatter and George Floyd, painted on boarded-up windows all down Elm, have provided solace.
But, I'm not naive.
These images feel good and look good for my city, but I'm left to wonder, do we truly embrace the principles and policies they reflect?
If we are...
1. We would no longer fund police more than we do prosecutors and public defenders. Less than 40 counties, out of 100 in NC, fund public defense. Black people are over-arrested, hyper-prosecuted, and defenseless.
2. We would no longer underfund HBCUs. It is still codified in legislation that institutions like NC State & UNCG are more valued than NC Central and NC A&T.
3. We would no longer tolerate prosecutorial immunity, and reuse to mandate data collection. We would not accept that that no one knows who gets charged, who doesn't, and why. We would immediately overturn marijuana convictions and decriminalize petty offenses that don't make us safer, but that clog our system - rendering it ineffective and unjust.
4. We would no longer allow a political system where our elected leaders do not reflect the diversity of the people they seek to serve. We would not have people's houses that do not look like us the people.
5. We would be angered by the fact that there are only four Black Fortune 500 CEOs and not a one is a Black woman. Especially considering that Black people consume perhaps more goods than any other demographic.
6. We would no longer support the NFL. Colin Kaepernick is still not on an NFL roster, but admitted racists are quarterbacking and coaching.
7. We would demand universal healthcare. We have a raging Black maternal healthcare crisis and flagrant healthcare discrepancies that pose the gravest threat to the Black community. We would have started rioting when we saw that COVID was disproportionately killing Black and Brown people - not when you couldn't get a beer or lift a weight on a Tuesday.
I love the images, we desperately need a dose of optimism. But, the paint isn't enough. The times demand earnest conversation and a deep reckoning, it is the only way to ensure that policy and principles drive the images.