You do not need us to tell you that systemic racism is entrenched in all our institutions including the Kentucky State Legislature.
But those of us who are white anti-racists in particular, have a responsibility not to play into or reenforce that systemic racism.
In a move that shines a spotlight on racism in politics, Senator Robert Stivers (a legislator who stands for an agenda that is anti Black, anti poor, anti immigrant) bill on no knocks warrants, a weaker law that is supported overwhelmingly by white Republicans, (some white Democrats and a couple of largely white progressive organizations) passed in the Senate and is on its way to the House.
But wait! What about the legislation that Representative Attica Scott introduced, HB21? Why has that not even gotten a reading? Wait! In fact no legislation introduced by Kentucky’s only Black women legislator has gotten a reading . . .
HB21 was pre-filed in AUGUST with 16 (D) co-sponsors (16% of House) introduced on January 5th, the first day of the session and has languished without even being assigned to a committee until late February. Whereas SB2 with nine co-sponsors (23% of Senate) was introduced on February 22nd and got all the way to a vote in ONE WEEK. One was introduced by a Republican white man, the other by a Democratic Black woman.
While some will argue, “well, at least we got something”, this short sighted thinking is a slap in the face of communities most impacted by the murder of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police. It undermines the leadership of Black women in particular, bypassing Breonna’s Law, which was introduced by Representative Attica Scott.
AND... in a really important development, HB21, Representative Scott’s bill, just got assigned to a committee—which is needed to get it heard. And the Kentucky Council of Churches, Hood to the Holler and other statewide organizations are going strong for HB21.
To play into erasing all the work that so many have done to move legislation that could actually have an impact forward——this undermines us all.
If we are to build a progressive Kentucky, we MUST look at HOW we win what we need, as well as WHAT we win. Short sighted political maneuvers are not the road to racial, economic and gender justice that we need.
Here is a view from one of our LSURJ leaders, and faith community friends,
Phil Lloyd- Sidle: "Kentuckians would benefit from Breonna's Law, so why isn't legislature acting?"
Ways to take action for Breonna’s Law
tJoin Hood to the Holler for a Conversation and Action with Representative Attica Scott
WHO: Moderated by Hood to the Holler with featured guest Rep. Attica Scott
WHAT: Twitter Chat discussing Breonna's Law
WHERE: Twitter! Follow Hood to the Holler to see all posted questions, and during the chat follow #JusticeforBreonna to see all of the tweets from participants. Rep. Scott will be participating and interacting with folks.
WHEN: 5:00pm ET on Monday, March 1
SIGN UP LINK (you don't have to sign up to participate, but if you sign up you will receive info about how to participate in a Twitter chat and you will receive a reminder on the day of to join so you don't forget).
Commemorate the Anniversary of Breonna Taylor's Death
Join the Caravan to Frankfort on March 2nd
No human being is free until every single one of us is free is from all forms of oppression. It is the responsibility of white people to find what our own stake is in dismantling white supremacy so that we are acting from a place of shared interest, not from a place of charity or guilt.
Redistributing a portion of the wealth that is owed to communities of color and poor and working-class communities is one way to start. Mutual aid can be a form of reparations with funds being directed to meeting material needs like access to healthcare, shelter, food, or land.
If you have the income or ability and have been less impacted by COVID-19, Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice (LSURJ) asks you to pledge to donate some or all of your stimulus check to organizations providing mutual aid or emergency funds to people most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Make your pledge here.
By Rev. Cindy Geisen, LSURJ Faith
As the child and niece of union laborers, I was raised with a heart for justice. Yet, I am a relative newcomer to the organized, public work for justice. I am learning so much - and still have so much to learn. At the end of a tumultuous, life-sapping and life-giving year, I’d like to share what I have gleaned about the multi-faceted work of justice.
Justice nudges us outward. It challenges us to pay heed to the experiences of people whose experiences differ from our own; to ferret out the histories we were never taught and the stories we never have been told; to open our eyes to the interlocking systems of injustice in which we are each complicit.
Justice moves us to action. Writing letters to legislators and editors; wielding our purchasing power wisely by patronizing businesses who fairly compensate their employees and boycotting those who do not; participating in marches and kitchen-table conversations are but a few ways to do justice in the public square.
Justice is spiritual work aimed at our own liberation as well as the liberation of all creation. Systemic racism diminishes all of us. Without for one moment equating the suffering of white people with the deep, ongoing suffering of our siblings of color, this work calls us to acknowledge that racism leaves no one unscathed. The work of justice therefore, requires us to sit with the consequences of racism…to examine the generational costs of averting our eyes from the suffering of others…to wonder how racist systems have shaped our relationships and our way of being in the world. The work of justice is, as Rev. angel Kyodo williams writes, “about allowing people the space and opportunity for discomfort so that they can touch their own suffering”…lest when people feel threatened…”they go back to the places of unaddressed suffering and… racialized behavior, like micro-aggressions, and so on, continue…”*
One of the many things I appreciate about working with LSURJ is that there are so many ways to participate in the work for justice - all of them necessary and valuable. If, like me, you are a relative newcomer to this work; if you’re wondering where you might begin; if you’d like to broach the topic of racism with your friends, members of your family, your neighborhood, or your faith community - we are here to lend a hand. Members of LSURJ - Faith will be happy to talk with you, to share ideas, resources and offer our support on your journey. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
* From Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, by Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, with Jasmine Syedullah, Ph.D,
Louisville Standing Up for Racial Justice (LSURJ) joins with countless other POC-led and other organizations working for collective liberation to strongly condemn the armed white supremacist insurrection that took place at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021.
It is particularly important for us to condemn this act, as news arises that Louisville was an organizing and mustering point for this display of hatred.
This act of white backlash is part of a deep pattern in our nation’s history when Black led struggle leads to shifts in power.
From the rise of Jim Crow and the KKK after Reconstruction to Cointelpro and the War on Drugs after the height of the civil rights movement, the attack in D.C. has deep roots. This particular attack has been in the making for years, and it was incited by many – from Donald Trump, his family, and closest advisors; to federal, state, and local government officials; to currently serving and retired law enforcement personnel; and others. We demand that all those who incited or participated in this violent white nationalist attack be held accountable for their actions.
This event was planned and orchestrated by numerous white nationalist and white supremacist groups working in concert. The growth of these groups is directly related to their fear of losing power and privilege as the nation “wakes up” to the insidious lies of institutional racism and what it really means for Black and Brown Lives to Matter.
The January 6 insurrection was an act of fear, desperation, racism, and bigotry. It must be a wake-up call to moderates and centrists who think that these groups just constitute a harmless fringe movement that can be ignored. They cannot. They must be aggressively opposed through the commitment on the part of those of us who are white, to dig deeply into organizing more and more white people for racial justice. When we fail to engage majority white communities in why joining with a multi racial change struggle benefits us too, we cede that territory and those conversations to those who stoke racism.
White supremacy systems must be dismantled by white folks, by whom and for whom they were constructed. It is critical that white people work collectively, through organizations such as LSURJ and other racial justice efforts, to fight against white supremacy in all its forms, and to work together with Black and other communities of color to achieve true justice and equity in our society for everyone.
Make no mistake: failure to speak out against racism is tantamount to complicity with that system. LSURJ is working to grow the base of white folks challenging white supremacy in all its forms. We call on others to join us.
Please join SURJ National on Wednesday night, January 13 at 8 pm ET, for a webinar on white backlash. Register at bit.ly/whitebacklash. If the webinar reaches capacity, it will also be live-streamed on Facebook.
The Louisville chapter of SURJ hosts online meetings the second Tuesday of every month at 7pm ET. Sign up for LSURJ emails to receive news and registration links for the meetings.
Jamillya Martin, Savannah Hughes, Kelly McCall and Phil Lloyd-Sidle, Opinion contributors. This op-ed was published in the Courier-Journal on November 10, 2020. Contributors included some local LSURJ members.
This past Thursday evening, Metro Council had an opportunity to boldly state it will not cater to the whims of the Fraternal Order of Police. However, it did not do so.
Rather, the tail looks like it's wagging the dog. Metro Council chose the route of no conflict and failed to take decisive action toward redressing major systemic wrongs. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the city and the FOP, approved by Metro Council on Thursday in a 16-10 vote, demonstrates we have not learned anything from the last nine months of 2020 (let alone past years) regarding police violence, misconduct and a severely deteriorated state of community relations.
The timing is bad.
The city’s whopping budget that already funds law enforcement is out of whack. We actually — as a city — pay more to the Louisville Metro Police Department, juvenile detention and our county jail, than any other aspect of municipal life. Over half of our city budget goes to law enforcement. By those numbers, one could not naively wonder if we are living in a version of a police state.
Not education, not job creation, not public health, not housing, not wealth development for Black or other poor neighborhoods, none receive the same measure of tax dollars as is dedicated to law enforcement.
We are a city that appears to want a quick fix (and a deadly one at that) to solving the deep social problems and poverty that so many are enduring. ... or dying from. And we are pouring money down a dangerous drain instead.
Unfortunately, the contract continues the hemorrhaging of tax dollars. Rather than take our time to develop a more sound contract slated for June 2021, Metro Council chose to approve a temporary contract without public hearings or a more studied approach. This not real policy but currying favor with the FOP.
As thousands in these same months have been losing wages and jobs, facing health crises and evictions and falling into greater insecurity, the city continues to open the faucets to the police. This is a structural problem: We are dedicating taxpayers’ money to a structure that does not deliver safety and well-being. Decades of research indicate individuals and communities are safe not because they have a militarized police force, but because the communities have resources.
Sadly, as well, this contract fails to deliver regarding the legitimate concerns of police misconduct. The national organization Campaign Zero has identified six key safeguards that municipal police contracts may or may not contain which address the problems of police (i.e. employee) misconduct and accountability. If a city is not careful or attentive to these six major areas, it becomes nearly impossible to hold police accountable for their actions. The six safeguards are:
Campaign Zero has made a study of 81 of the United States’ top 100 cities. Louisville is one of only six major six cities in the country that have failed to include any of these six safeguards in its police contract. Instead, we cloak our policing in secrecy.
We must change this.
We missed an opportunity with this temporary, short-term and unnecessary contract. As we deal with larger budgetary issues for Louisville and anticipate a new round of longer-term negotiations with the FOP in the new year (scheduled for approval in June), we must dedicate ourselves to a deeper and broader vision of community safety for all.
Public spending cannot keep increasing for law enforcement while diminishing the funding and commitment to the deeper issues of equality and justice and people’s suffering.
Jamillya Martin, District 6; Savannah Hughes, District 10; Kelly McCall, District 17; and Phil Lloyd-Sidle, District 9.