“We’re at a tipping point from generations upon generations of abuse and trauma,” Devin Del Palacio says on today’s episode of the Our Future Now podcast.
Co-hosts Natalie Mebane and Jonah Gottlieb are joined by Del Palacio and Anthony Rogers-Wright. At the heart of their discussion — where the world finds itself in relation to systemic racism, as well as the critical need for police reform, along with righting environmental and social injustices.
Today’s guests have strong ideas about how the world’s population has arrived at this point and what to do about it. Del Palacio is a member of the Governing Board of the Tolleson Union High School District, chairman of the Black Council for National School Board Association, chair of the Black Caucus of the Arizona School Boards Association and vice president of the NAACP’s Arizona Chapter.
Rogers-Wright is a national racial and climate justice advocate who has used his expertise in policy analysis and community organizing to bring about environmental justice, affordable health care access, income inequality and civil rights for LGBT citizens.
As the discussion evolves, the co-hosts and guests take a look at the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as responses on the local and federal levels. Is enough being done? And what can we do to help?
Below is a guide to key points in the podcast:
- At 2 minutes 30 seconds: Rogers-Wright talks about when Floyd told the police officer that he couldn’t breathe that in many ways it was a metaphor for the black experience in America from lynchings to environmental racism that has the community living in toxic areas that cause asthma. Black people literally can’t breathe in our country.
- At 3 minutes 40 seconds: Del Palacio talks about how COVID-19 has also forced people to confront the disease of racism that has afflicted America since its inception, because many of the things that distracted them were unavailable (e.g. sports, concerts, etc.) due to the shutdowns. He says we have reached a tipping point where many white people are realizing they have a role to play in changing things in profound ways.
- At 5 minutes: Gottlieb talks about how the demands for racial justice go well beyond policing reform, which is why the National Children’s Campaign endorsed the Movement For Black Lives’ Week of Action that was sweeping in its demands for change.
- At 5 minutes 55 seconds: Del Palacio talks about how the entire system needs to be uprooted because when it was designed it wasn’t built for black people. In fact, it was built to negatively impact the lives of black people.
- At 6 minutes 20 seconds: Rogers-Wright talks about how a lot of pressure is being put on the environmental movement to up their game to confront the systemic racism that impacts black and brown people with projects like the Keystone Pipeline. We must reinvest in communities that have been neglected and mistreated. While defunding the police might not poll well, the reality is their budgets continue to increase while violent crimes continue to go down and other important priorities remain underfunded.
- At 8 minutes 30 seconds: Mebane talks about how defunding the police is about taking those large budgets and reinvesting them into preventative measures like dealing with people who have mental health issues. The militarization of the police is a clear example of excessive spending that needs to end, especially since those heavily armored pieces of equipment are often used against protestors instead of our enemies aboard.
- At 10 minutes 10 seconds: Del Palacio talks about encouraging people to research their local budgets for things like schools and the police funding and to determine if those large line items align with the priorities of the community. Maybe if you open a school you can close a prison. For example, Arizona spends $4300 per pupil and $21,000 per inmate. They have private prisons that need to have 90% occupancy rates, which means they are creating a taxpayer-funded system to profit off incarceration.
- At 11 minutes 30 seconds: Rogers-Wright talks about how the criminal justice system also includes courts where public defenders are underpaid and overworked, which forces them to make terrible deals, often for people of color. Massive transformation is needed to fix a system that is fundamentally flawed. That is why examples like Camden, New Jersey where the entire police force was successfully disbanded and started again from scratch, which should give hope to those that say big changes can work.
- At 13 minutes 55 seconds: Del Palacio talks about what could be done with schools in Arizona if they enjoyed the type of huge budgets that are given to police departments. Underfunded school districts attract fewer people to live in them and fewer businesses to operate in them, so in many ways investing in schools helps improve communities. It also matters if you get young people involved on school boards who have a real vision for change and improvement. Education is the one tool we can use to change our society for the better.
- At 15 minutes 30 seconds: Rogers-Wright talks about the policing reform bill that has been introduced by Congresswoman Karen Bass. He points out the parts of the bill that don’t go as far as activists want. For example, the issue of reducing funding is never addressed, there is no oversight of how the money is being spent, and there is no prohibition against the military training the police.
- At 16 minutes 50 seconds: Mebane talks about how the bill includes an anti-lynching provision, which was necessary because Senator Rand Paul objected to it as stand-alone legislation by arguing that murder is murder, so the bill was unnecessary. He fails to understand that lynching is also domestic terrorism designed to instill fear in black people.
- At 18 minutes 15 seconds: Rogers-Wright talks about meeting with Congresswoman Bass to discuss these issues and while he thinks much more must be done than is included in the bill, he commends her for advancing the reform agenda.
- At 20 minutes 30 seconds: Del Palacio talks about how his great, great grandfather was a slave and how disgusting it is that we are still debating something like lynching after all these years. He points out that people must reach out to their political leaders at all levels of government to demand change.
- At 23 minutes 10 seconds: Rogers-Wright talks about how the Minneapolis City Council passed a resolution to create a transformative model for cultivating safety in the city, which is the type of reimagining that needs to happen. Minnesota is also adopting another approach that is starting to happen around the country, which is standing up to police unions who have been a huge impediment to any sort of reform.
Resources for This Our Future Now! Racial Injustice Episode
More about this week’s podcast can be found at the National Children’s Campaign blog.
To donate to the Black Visions Collective visit: https://www.blackvisionsmn.org/
Learn about the Movement 4 Black Lives at: https://m4bl.org/
More Our Future Now Podcasts
PODCAST: Senate’s Stall of HEROES Act Will Hurt Education
PODCAST: Exploitation of CARES Act Could Harm Families
PODCAST: COVID’s Impact on Environmental Health and Our Health, Too
PODCAST: Teens Fight For Family Members on Frontlines #YourWorkersMyFamily
PODCAST: How COVID-19 Is Harming College Students
The Our Future Now Collaboration
Our Future Now, a National Children’s Campaign Podcast is co-hosted by Jonah Gottlieb and Natalie Mebane. Gottlieb and Mebane are also co-founders of NCC. Gottlieb, a high school senior from Petaluma, California, is also the captain of One Planet Living and the co-founder and president of Global Awareness. Mebane is the Associate Director of US Policy for 350, an international movement looking to end the use of fossil fuels while promoting renewable energy.
Our Future Now is a collaboration between Parentology, the National Children’s Campaign and Goal 17 Media.
The National Children’s Campaign (NCC) is a national nonprofit organization that amplifies the voices of America’s 74 million children and youth, making sure our nation’s political leaders prioritize issues –health, education, climate and environment, child welfare, gun violence, child immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, and youth civic engagement — that matter to those who are too young to vote.
Goal 17 Media is a media network producing podcasts, videos and documentaries that inspire individuals and contribute to the common good.