Last night, we co-hosted a a virtual town hall with the Fair Budget Coalition and The Black Swan Academy to unpack the history of racial discrimination and it’s negative affects on Black and brown communities in DC, and explored what a vision for a racially just budget would look like for children and youth and their families. We were joined by experts and allies from the Consumer Health Foundation, Under 3 DC, as well as by youth organizers of the DC Girls Coalition, and MLOV.
Our Executive Director, Kim Perry, served as moderator and set the tone for the discussion reminding everyone that, “A racially just budget must begin with truth and reconciliation. The truth is that the recent uprisings sparked by the glaring injustices in the criminal justice system/police brutality are symptoms of the long history of systemic racism, oppression and intentional discrimination toward Black and brown people, resulting in economic, education and health inequities. Most systems were designed to create and uphold prosperity and wealth for whites. If we are to achieve equity and justice for all, we have to unpack this system, and rebuild it from the ground up with all people in mind.”
She went on to say, “When we released our DC Action budget priorities, this is the truth and the intention behind them. We must build and invest in systems that empower and uplift Black and brown children and families. We’re aiming to undo 400 years of systemic oppression, so it won’t be easy and it’ll take time. We are in unprecedented times, so it’s time for unprecedented actions. Our conversation tonight is one of those important beginnings.”
Yanique Redwood presented on why we need to lead with a racial equity analysis when seeking to create change. She laid out the key elements of what that approach looks like, including the need to center historical analysis to understand racialized outcomes and why we need to intentionally consider the racialized impact of any new action before taking action while centering community leadership.
Stephanie Sneed, Executive Director of the Fair Budget Coalition presented a vision for a fair, equitable and just budget for residents and families in the District of Columbia.
Kwanzaa Billy of The Black Swan Academy, along with youth leaders Carla and Myah talked about the need to end DC public schools’ contract with the police because as Myah states so powerfully, “police in schools make the facility seem like a prison instead of an educational system.”
Arlin, a youth organizer with MLOV talked about the fight for immigrant rights and why “when we talk about the budget, we need to talk about reinvesting in the people living here.”
Ronald Jarrett, Coalition Director of the Under 3 DC Coalition talked about the need to invest more in early childhood education and prioritize the needs of young people during the pandemic and called on the Council to raise taxes on wealthy residents to support these goals.
Kim Perry also presented the key findings of a poll commissioned earlier this month with our partners at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute showing nearly four out of five DC voters support raising taxes on wealthy residents to address racial inequities, including preventing budget cuts to essential services that harm Black and brown residents.
It was an important discussion with powerful testimony. Now it’s time to translate that support into action. We need you to join us and tell Mayor Bowser and the DC Council that we are counting on them to pass a racially just budget, and that means investing more in children and youth and actively working to close the divide between Black and white residents.
That’s why we’re hoping you’ll join us by contacting Chairman Phil Mendelson and the rest of the Council to tell them we need a #JustRecoveryDC, one that centers the needs of Black and brown residents. Click here to call the Chairman and find your Councilmember’s contact information.
The history of racism and white supremacy is a long and painful one, but one that also teaches us to persist. We are in this fight for the long haul, and we hope you will join us too so we can win the future our children and youth deserve.
The entire team at DC Action for Children