I am thinking this evening, as I do many evenings and know many of you do, of the state of our country and larger world. After listening to President Biden’s address to Congress and the nation (April 28th, 2021) I was (and am) hopeful that many of the issues the former administration’s lack of governance unearthed will be addressed. It seems a very long road. That said, there appears to be informed leadership on that road. I will say while I am hopeful, it all seems a tall order to gain the needed support across the aisle.
There is no lack in important issues to choose from. My brain continues to revisit those around needed police reform and systemic racism. These are deeply ingrained issues, that reach into the roots of our very fabric as a country and reside in the belief systems of some (more than was understood) of our citizenry. One would believe (or maybe just want to believe) that not one among us, regardless of political affiliation, would be tolerant of racism or police brutality in any form. That this could be a uniting issue.
While I was hopeful more time would be spent on these topics, they were highlighted in President Biden’s speech. His own commitment to addressing these ugly truths was made clear in his urging of Congress to pass The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which recently passed the house. He noted that most law enforcement officers serve “honorably” and that “systemic racism in the criminal justice system” must be addressed. In a poignant moment, he shared part of a tender conversation with Mr. Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter Gianna Floyd. Stating, “As I knelt down to talk with her so we could talk eye to eye, she said to me, Daddy changed the world”. He then encouraged Congress to make the right choice, stating, “After the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, we can see how right she was~if~if we have the courage to act”.
There are many things reform can address. Those identified in The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, as I understand it, address qualified Immunity and prosecution of officer misconduct, ban practices such as chokeholds, carotid holds and deadly force , provide for the discontinuation of no knock warrants in federal drug cases, prohibit racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, mandate the use of body and dashboard cameras, address militarization by placing limitations on military grade equipment, use federal funding to create community task forces on police reform and create a national registry to prevent officers who have been fired to gain employment in other agencies.
In addition, issues that maintain disparity and fuel differences in what one can achieve, must be addressed. Issues such as poverty, safe and affordable housing, food insecurity, access to quality education, daycare, and healthcare, addiction services, and familial and community violence. President Biden’s “The American Families Plan” is proposed as an investment in children and families and improving the stability of the American work force through addressing issues deeply connected to poverty and inequality. In short synopsis, the proposal addresses access to quality education for all Americans, medical coverage, expansion of in school food and nutrition programs including summer meal programs. It Proposes direct services to families (including affordable childcare, and expansion of paid family and medical leave programs), expansion of unemployment benefits, and increased tax credits for both American workers with and without children. These include, The Child Tax Credit, The Earned Income Credit, and The Child and Dependent Care Credit. The plan additionally proposes ensuring that tax loopholes are closed for those in the highest tax brackets and regulation of tax preparers. The specific loopholes addressed, are capital gains, specialized rates, and provisions to real estate investors, returning taxation of the wealthy to 39.6 % as apposed to the current 37%. (As noted, this is a short synopsis. There is lots of depth in the proposal which appears to address both directly and (over the long term) by proxy many of the issues connected to poverty, and the many inequalities connected to human rights it promotes).
While both proposals address much and if passed will likely support many changes (in terms of systemic racism, the impacts of poverty, and police reform) the deeper layered issues are ingrained belief systems and the way in which these are passed along, generation after generation. True reform, of a system built on enslavement, must include this element. When I, along with so many of you, saw the horrific video of Mr. Floyd’s last moments and former Officer Chauvin’s almost defiant cruelty it seemed two worlds, built on generations of belief, had collided. Coming together in a fatal moment where there was no protection based on place in life. Not only a power differential but a judgement of less and more value. The belief systems that allowed Mr. Floyd’s death to occur reside, hundreds of years in the making, within individuals and institutions who both knowingly and unwittingly support them. These are very difficult issues to impact. I am hopeful we can find a way.
The hopeful part of me, on hearing President Biden’s report of Gianna Floyd’s words (her father’s legacy) and the proposed efforts (contained in the above legislation) hopes a new story could be written. Maybe a story of an America that stared into its ugly roots and made genuine meaning and forward movement. A story in which Gianna Floyd will always know that her father’s life and death changed a nation.
My hope is many voices will be added to reform efforts. Including the voices of those who live in communities most impacted by disparity, community and police violence, and those who understand the impact of intergenerational transmission of belief.
It is important to again note the depth of the proposed legislation (The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and The American Families Plan) could not be presented here. Links are added in the resources section of this article, as are treatment resources, and access to institutions committed to impacting structural racism, poverty, police violence, and disparity.
As always, Thank you for reading. My deepest care to you.
Copyright Protected: © 2020 LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW . All rights reserved.
The American Families Plan: Fact Sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/28/fact-sheet-the-american-families-plan/
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1280
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255
Treatment Referral Helpline: 1 (800)662-4357
Resources: Institutions committed to ending disparity.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). https://action.aclu.org/give/now?&utm_medium=pm&utm_source=gs&utm_campaign=nat-dig-pm-dd-bpi&utm_content=gs-search-eoy-8278381197-82611000662-482504792860-aclu_20201124&utm_term=&initms_aff=nat&initms_chan=pm&initms=nat-dig-pm-dd-bpi-gs-search-eoy-8278381197-82611000662-482504792860-aclu_20201124&ms_aff=nat&ms_chan=pm&ms=nat-dig-pm-dd-bpi-gs-search-eoy-8278381197-82611000662-482504792860-aclu_20201124&cid=7014A000001Zs9uQAC&initms_aff=nat&initms_chan=sem&utm_medium=sem&initms=200114_evergreenun_sem-482504792860-82611000662-aclu-e_segmentc_ggl&utm_source=ggl&utm_campaign=evergreenun&utm_content=200114_sem-482504792860-82611000662-aclu-e_segmentc&ms_aff=nat&ms_chan=sem&ms=200114_evergreenun_sem-482504792860-82611000662-aclu-e_segmentc_ggl&gclid=CjwKCAjwm7mEBhBsEiwA_of-TCCZLcjNJIpr1Q0uuYrHy0qUE2iVALgdgR_0OnykLuVV7by-zlDyNxoCULMQAvD_BwE&gclid=CjwKCAjwm7mEBhBsEiwA_of-TCCZLcjNJIpr1Q0uuYrHy0qUE2iVALgdgR_0OnykLuVV7by-zlDyNxoCULMQAvD_BwE
Black Lives Matter:https://blacklivesmatter.com/?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=26bac8ed317e606bbf6f9a22fba2ee7e4ac84787-1619977626-0-Af_cb6MU3h7F4EjkpHWpPXPBIzSjGuIkblf8WuLPcW0t7flc4svnNEY26LAV7B9eqgUm04BWnBLlB3QcCkj-StxLxtM8uRsOl63F0QkDDhPSm3SBP04isdMAmda2GqCnV7ldYqQC8lB_RC1GnGdmt5TWY0aqKTi1Uxlx8oL1RDLijTvKZDer0yAJDK6h29ulgPQigwhBvwH0gYXHjKMtCdMN_QGTaQHopw-luZiP5aduL-WbB6E5MJj5hqa2usUEEuy2KMxzYm8rN2hBtb7w5zHtSj3ibj4aGz76esPJnWGM5-YFzHaJQrSHjI8kWoJC-r5IP_NtEUDt9A-FstSO6_O9mdFwunxdM2dnaWltq-1Gcqzl8lPIX4i_ByPNHT5VVyWy5QKKQBDi5oD7bqHYSWxq2_vNBOEvKarZtZ-BmMsSrMDx9rluvydeax9oJyNoB3imMfJgd1RRxEXEIsFMB9A
Center for Policing Equity: https://policingequity.org/
Color of Change: https://colorofchange.org/
The Aspen Institute: Civic Action: Link to Article by Christen Cromer and Azalea Millan: https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/resources-to-combat-structural-racism-in-america/
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