JUSTICE FOR BLACK COMMUNITIES
James Baldwin once wrote, “The truth is that this country does not know what to do with its Black population now that the Blacks are no longer a source of wealth.” Whether killed for jogging by white terrorist vigilantes, or killed in their own homes by militarized police, imprisoned at a disproportionately higher rate, denied loans for farming, or denied the right to take part in the democratic voting process, Baldwin’s words are vindicated every day. Black lives are perpetually dehumanized by U.S. society and forced to exist in a proverbial Apartheid state. Pursuing a Regenerative Economy requires a society committed to anti-racism, and a transformation in how we view and value the lives of Black people. For this to occur, the U.S. must embark on a massive truth and reconciliation initiative that addresses everything from symbols of hate, in the form of confederate statues and street names, to acts of hate that place Black lives at risk. In addition to these demands, we should engage with the comprehensive Vision for Black Lives platform by Movement for Black Lives. The dream deferred has since exploded; it is time for the nation, and the world, to wake up collectively.
This is one of the Policy Planks of the United Frontline Table’s toolkit A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy. The policy planks are one of three tools in the kit, together with series of Strategy Questions and the Protect, Repair, Invest, and Transform Framework. Make sure the check out the section on How to Use This Resource to Enhance Your Work and the Working Definitions.
Policy Stances and Priorities
End Mass Incarceration and Capital Punishment
Black families, to great measure, are disproportionately separated through the carceral system. Black men and women are more often held in jail with untenable and inequitable bail requirements and often receive legal support from an underfunded and overwhelmed public defense system. We must divest from, and reject, privatization of prisons. We must end cash bail and invest in stronger legal support for our communities. We must make our families whole through transformative justice approaches and by freeing Black folks who have been disproportionately jailed for non-violent offenses.
The nation is built on continental displacement of persons and commodification of bodies, violent extraction of labor and infliction of physical, emotional, and mental abuse, resulting in multigenerational trauma to Black Peoples. We must find pathways to repair, reconcile, and move forward through transformative justice processes that are legal and equitable remedies to heal communities spiritually, physically, and economically.
Reinstatement of Voting Rights
A Regenerative Economy requires deep democratic processes and the ability to vote for what matters. Policies must allow for communities to have a say in how resources flow into a community and how projects are developed. Therefore, policies must reinstate protections under the Voting Rights Act and expand voting rights to all incarcerated, and formerly incarcerated, people without fines, fees, or new day “poll taxes.” Invest in better voting infrastructure in Black neighborhoods to ensure everyone has a right to vote.
Equitable Access to Housing, Jobs, Healthcare, and Education
Black people have been redlined, credit-checked, discriminated against, and ignored when soliciting services and goods necessary to thrive and survive. In particular, Black trans, queer, and gender non-conforming folks have felt the deep burdens of marginalization and isolation in the extractive economy. Policies must establish mechanisms that maintain justice and equity as part of the implementation of access and care..
Invest in Community-Governed Infrastructure
Make and expand direct investments in Black communities, cooperatives, food sovereignty programs, Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), arts, cultural, and spiritual programs, land trusts, and other socio-economic programs to create thriving communities.
Build Community Governance and Oversight Over Local Institutions and Economies
Recognize that Black cooperatives have long been a model for deep democracy in action and central to the success for economic health of Black communities. Unfortunately, too many local economic and political institutions—such as policing, courts, school boards, chambers of commerce, and others that directly impact the day to day lives of communities—have ignored the wisdom of Black cooperatives, resulting in the lack of true community input, oversight, and accountability. Any federal or state investment that utilizes local institutions as implementers must recognize the legacy of Black-led cooperatives and require community-governed mechanisms moving forward.
Divest from Extraction and Invest in Our People
Advance a massive divestment/reinvestment package–starting with defunding and demilitarizing police– designed to foster the trajectory toward a Regenerative Economy rooted in equity that values community and environmental well-being above all else, and that leaves no one behind. Moreover, past and cumulative harms associated with militarization and mass incarceration must be redressed and repaired to create robust justice mechanisms.