Power to Dismantle Racism – Ep.65

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Engaging in Civil Rights – Ep.66
November 2, 2022

Meyssa Barrett highlights panel discussions presented at the NAACP California Hawaii State Conference event dedicated to addressing social justice issues affecting the Black community.

Melyssa Barrett:  Welcome to the Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion, and equity. Each week, I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started.

Hello, everyone. This week, I just wanted to take a moment to highlight a few thoughts. I had the recent opportunity to attend the NAACP California Hawaii State Conference led by President Rick Callender, and it was an outstanding event. So, I just wanted to highlight a few things for you. We had representatives from different groups really helping us understand the propositions in outstanding discussion on reparations by representatives of the Reparations Task Force in California. And California is the first state to have formed a Reparations Committee thus far, although there are nearly a dozen other cities that have said they will provide reparations. So, I wanted to just talk a little bit about the Reparations Panel because the panel consisted of Camilla More, Reverend Amos Brown from the California Reparations Committee and the California Task Force to study and develop reparations, along with Tiffany Quarles from the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California.

So, no matter what your view is of reparations right now, I would encourage you to learn more about what they’re doing and what they are uncovering. And I’ll talk a minute about a study that they released that I was not aware of. So, maybe you are not either. But their work has really demystified the myth that California was a free state. So, their research uncovered more than 1500 slaves in California, and that was just between 1850 and 1852. And then, there was the implementation of a fugitive slave law that was more aggressive. So, on June 1st, 2022, just a few months ago, the task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans issued its interim report to the California legislature. And the interim report surveys the ongoing and compounding harms experienced by African Americans as a result of slavery and the lingering effects on American society today.

It includes a set of preliminary recommendations for policies that the California legislature could adopt to remedy those harms, but they will be issuing another report before July 1st, 2023, and that plan will comport with international standards for reparation. They also discuss some perspectives on how to determine who’s eligible. That’s certainly, I think, a question that lots of folks are asking. But it will seek to align those recommendations. And they talked about how America needs AAA, which was focused on admit, atone, and action. So, if you have a moment, please take a moment to go to oag.ca.gov, and search for reparations to get more information, download the interim report, and I would just say spend some time with it. Read it. Understand our true history. It was an eye opener for me, certainly, and hopefully it will open your eyes a bit, as well, if you haven’t been following the Reparations Committee and Task force.

The other thing is that we had an Economic Development Panel Discussion led by President Bobby Bivens of the Stockton branch of the NAACP, which also included Mario Holten from Wells Fargo, Danetta Jackson from the California Department of General Services, and Miss Click, and I’m sorry I cannot recall her first name, but Miss Click and Ms. Jackson really discussed the statewide supplier diversity certification program and the process to get certified if you are a small business in California. So, I would encourage if you have a small business to take a look at that because it sounds like the process has been streamlined. We also heard from Ben Crump who attended the Youth Dinner, really focused on ensuring that we remember the history, protect the present, and focus on the future, and gave us some great information throughout that dinner. We had another panel focused on Fighting Discrimination Through Tech moderated by Yvonne Thomas from the NAACP, Monterey County, along with Trevon Williams, who is the Senior Vice President for the NAACP, and Y’Anad Burrell. I’m sorry if I got your name wrong, Y’Anad, from Glasshouse Public Relations.

And it was really an excellent discussion on how to be successful in achieving your goals to combat hate, racism, discrimination using technology. Many of you will note the NAACP campaigns. Black women are supreme. We are done dying. This is power. Just phenomenal communications work being done at the national level. And then, I did go to a panel on Veterans Affairs that was focused on non-combat PTSD, and it was a panel led by Antoinisha Williamson, but it also included Malachi Smith and James Smith II, along with David Baryoun. And the first part consisted of a focus on how to help us advocate for our veteran community by connecting them with the right resources and specialized veteran advocates within our communities. And we had a great presentation by Mr. Malachi Smith, but then I learned of a practice around deporting veterans, which I wasn’t aware.

So, maybe some of you aren’t either. But the United States government has been deporting United States military service men and women since 1996 at an unprecedented rate. The effects of these deportations began to find notice around 2008 in Tijuana, Mexico, where a group of deported veterans gathered together to support one another. And as their profiles raised, dignitaries and supporters visited the groups in Tijuana and Juarez and expressed their indignations to their constituents. Unfortunately, those that were not geographically located next to the US borders were primarily ignored and included in the vast group of those that identify as black or African American. And so, the Biden administration has provided a plan called IMMVI, which stands for Immigrant Military Member and Veteran Initiative. I think what I got from that panel is that this appears to be more like a bandaid on a bullet hole.

And that was James’ quote, I should say. And so, it sounds like we really do need some political support to demand Congress address the issue and repatriate our exiled warriors so that we can write this wrong. They literally served our country and are then being deported to their country of origin. So, it was a very interesting conversation. I hope to get more information and maybe even have James come onto the podcast and talk a little bit more about it. But anyway, I wanted to just highlight that. I hadn’t heard about it before. But James Smith runs a support group called Black Deported Veterans of America. And so, if you want more information on that, feel free to check that out. And then finally, I just want to congratulate the Stockton branch of the NAACP on the recent Thalheimer Award that was received back in June by President Derek Johnson, presented to President Bobby Bivens.

And at this conference, President Bobby Bivens was presented with the President’s Award by State Conference President Rick Callender, along with First Vice President, D’Adrea Davie, was also awarded the Gwen Moore Advocacy Award. And the Gwen Moore Advocacy Award is presented to a member who speaks up on behalf of an issue, person, or injustice. And it was given to D’Adrea Davie, who is our First Vice President of the Stockton branch, and she recently completed a resolution regarding home ownership that has now made it to on the national agenda. So, I just want to congratulate those individuals for the work that they are doing and just make sure that people are out there doing what they can to create equity.

So, before I leave, if you are not registered to vote, please register to vote. If you are registered to vote, please take the time to vote and take the time to review the candidates in your local community, as well as the county, state, and federal level. If you’re not registered to vote, please register. If you are registered to vote, please vote. Literally, our lives depend on it. See you next week.

Thanks for joining me on the Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.