2020 has been a reckoning for many of us — in several ways. Sometimes it looks like we’re inching toward systemic change in America. Then yet again, we take a few steps back. It is anything but a straight line.
Jacob Blake, a Black American and Wisconsin resident, was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer who tried to detain him last week in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The officer shot Blake seven times while his children watched in terror, those memories now seared into their young minds. Seven times, and there was no deescalation.
What purpose did shooting him serve? What threat did he pose? Shoot first, not last? It happens so often that one event often runs into the next.
If you’re white, you likely won’t be next.
Take Kyle Rittenhouse for example. During a night of protest and unrest in Kenosha amid Blake’s shooting, Rittenhouse killed two people and injured a third. Before the shooting, while armed with a long gun, the police gave him water. After the shooting, he walked away from the scene of his crime with the murder weapon in his hands. He was allowed to go about his business until the next day when he was arrested — safely. No harm came to him.
We don’t wish anyone harm, but this juxtaposition is stark — very stark and very telling. Take a minute to think about it, and ask yourself: How is it possible that Rittenhouse was not questioned or arrested on the spot for shooting others?
In this country, to whom do we give the benefit of the doubt? Why is it that when a Black American is either a victim or a perpetrator of violent crime, we ask about their criminal record, but when a white person commits a violent act, we seek to justify it by talking about something in their past, their mental health or their lost potential?
For whom is the right to arm yourself a Constitutional right or a threat? Who is it that gets consistently targeted by law enforcement? Who is enabled by law enforcement? What is justice in America?
We cannot look away from this. We cannot be silent. We cannot be still.
Courtesy of @denny_ow on Instagram
Sometimes I feel the need to explain or offer words. This illustration above by Denny Ow says it all.
Founder and President
Stacey Abrams & Mitch Landrieu Kick Off Census in the South Virtual Bus Tour
We have exactly one month to respond to the 2020 Census. And the South is historically and currently undercounted. The 2020 Census will allocate more than $1.5 trillion every year through more than 300 federal programs–programs that will help us get back on track after the pandemic. It will divvy up political power, ensuring we are both seen and heard by the people we elect to represent us.
To make sure we are accurately represented across the U.S. South, EPU is partnering with Fair Count to talk about the importance of the census. In this conversation, Fair Count founder Stacey Abrams and EPU founder & president Mitch Landrieu will also kick off the Census in the South: Road to Recovery, a virtual bus tour traveling across the Deep South promoting the 2020 Census through creative, online engagement events and large-scale mobilization efforts.
Launching today, the bus tour will “stop” in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina bringing faith leaders, neighborhoods, elected officials and entire communities together to lay claim to what is ours.
The road to recovery from COVID-19 is going to be long, but we will all get there. And when we do, we need to make sure our communities have thriving local economies: fully funded healthcare in case we get sick, schools that are not overcrowded and programs for all our kids who need them.
Join us as we make sure Southerners — bearing the brunt of COVID-19 and at risk of losing money and power for the next generation — get a fair count in this year’s census.
Virtual Bus Tour Makes Two ‘Stops’ in Mississippi Delta
This week, EPU and Fair Count are “stopping” in the Mississippi Delta.
Join us on Thursday, Sept. 3 from 5–6 p.m. CT for a webinar in which faith leaders in the Delta will learn how they can engage their congregations and communities to fill out the 2020 Census.
Join us on Friday, Sept. 4 from 7–8 p.m. CT for a conversation in which Mississippi Delta residents will learn how to respond to the 2020 Census.
NEWS AROUND THE SOUTH
Election Day could mean big changes for Southern high courts [Facing South]
Alabama: On Friday, Alabama Governor Ivey issued another supplement to her state of emergency proclamation in an effort to ease burdens on municipalities that are struggling to find election workers due to COVID-19 [Alabama Political Reporter]
Florida: State-run local health departments in Florida spent 41% less per resident in 2019 than in 2010, leaving them unequipped to handle the pandemic [Kaiser Health News]
Kentucky: The local volunteer fire department in Letcher County is finding it difficult to manage the bare necessities after the coronavirus has put a halt to fundraisers [WYMT]
Mississippi: The state auditor wrote a letter to the governor and other top officials expressing concern that the state’s department of education’s use of Coronavirus Relief Funds may have violated state law and slowed down schools’ ability to buy computers for students learning at home [WLBT]
North Carolina: The striking lack of diverse leadership at UNC is exacerbating its COVID-19 crisis [Washington Post]
South Carolina: The state’s department of education, the department of social services and law enforcement have helped in locating students who were unaccounted for at the beginning of the pandemic, when students began learning from home. The initial number of students who were unaccounted for was about 16,000, but that number is down to 780 as of Wednesday [WCSC]
Texas: Harris County public health staff have been facing challenges at mobile and stationary testing sites, including battling the extreme heat, exhaustion and even at times patients in distress, while waiting in line for a test [ABC 13]
Virginia: A study by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia found that while students in rural areas of Virginia still have problems accessing broadband, about 40% of all students lacking access live in urban areas [Public News Service]
Recent News & Commentary
The Washington Post: School Leaders Fear That Stricter Lunch Program Eligibility in The Fall Could Make It Harder for Students to Eat
CNN: There’s A Movement to Get More Schools to Teach Black History & It’s Being Led by Teens
CNN Politics: With a Month Left, Judge is Asked to Give 2020 Census More Time
City Lab: How Hurricane Evacuation Can Spread the Coronavirus
ProPublica: Hundreds of Thousands of Nursing Home Residents May Not Be Able to Vote in November Because of the Pandemic
Afro Tech: HBCU Change Launches New App as A Part of Its $1B Commitment to HBCUs