USA Politics The World Policy

Here’s why your right to bear arms means nothing to me

Trigger Warnings: Gun violence, Death.

In the United States, the mass shooting crisis continues to increase at an alarming rate. While many of us believed the pandemic had put a pause on shootings, The New York Times reports “the shootings never stopped”, “they just weren’t as public.” In 2020, there were 600 mass shootings, compared to 417 in 2019. And, only four months into 2021, 157 mass shootings have occurred. This averages out to be more than one mass shooting a day.

The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shootings as four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator. The FBI defines mass murderers as people who have killed four or more people in a single incident at a single location. In 2017, the U.S comprised only 5% of the world’s population and yet experienced 31% of the world’s mass shootings. In addition, gun violence kills an estimated 30,000 people each year.

Mass shootings are not a new occurrence in the U.S. One of the first mass shootings was in 1949 when Howard Unruh murdered 13 people and wounded three more in what has become known as his 20-minute “Walk of Death.” In recent weeks, mass shootings have resulted in eight people (six Asian and Asian American women) killed in Atlanta, ten people killed in Boulder, and eight people (four Sikh people) killed in Indianapolis.

These hate crimes and targeted attacks against people of color aren’t a new occurrence either. In fact, how the U.S. continues to uphold white supremacy and bigotry has further fanned the flames of the mass shooting crisis. I would argue the roots of this crisis date back to the inception of the U.S. In 1524, a string of bloody clashes between the Pilgrims and the indigenous Wampanoag set the tone for how future Americans would handle “disputes.” To this day, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that came about after early English settlers killed thousands of Native people during King Philip’s War (1675-76).

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the U.S. continues to use violence and war as a solution. This has led the U.S. to prioritize its military—the U.S. is the top military spender in the world—over its people, creating a legacy of unchecked violence that continues with mass shootings.

As a country, we should never become desensitized to the loss of human life. This is a simple concept for many who have taken it upon themselves to protest women’s rights and legal abortion—but the same presence cannot be seen lining up to advocate for the children who have been brutally murdered by mass shooters in schools like Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and so many more. What’s even more frustrating is that many of the perpetrators of mass shootings are arrested peacefully, while Black and brown people of all ages are murdered by law enforcement every day for reasons flimsy in rationale but solid in systematic racism.

It’s also hard to watch other countries quickly mobilize to protect their citizens. Immediately after the Christchurch mosque massacre that killed 50 people in 2019, New Zealand voted unanimously to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons. In the ’90s, Australia cut the total of its gun deaths in half after implementing a buyback program that purchased and destroyed 600,000+ automatic and semiautomatic weapons.

In Canada, a 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia, which killed 22 people, led Prime Minister Trudeau to ban 1,500+ makes and models of military-style assault weapons. In addition, the federal government introduced “red flag” laws, established new firearm offenses, and encouraged municipalities to ban handguns through local bylaws. A buyback program is also in the works. Japan has strict laws for obtaining firearms, which include mandatory classes, passing a written test, and achieving at least 95% accuracy on a shooting-range assessment. Citizens also have to pass a background check and mental-health evaluation at a hospital.

The United States should have rushed to implement similar legislation after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people, or the 2016 Pulse massacre that killed 49 people, or the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that killed 32 people. Instead, the U.S. has chosen to cross its arms over its chest like a petulant child and double down on the Second Amendment. Many pro-gun advocates cite the Second Amendment, which outlines the people’s right to keep and bear arms, as reason enough to block any gun reform. Varying interpretations of the Second Amendment have been one of the major obstacles in passing new gun regulations.

In 2021, President Biden began to take a firmer stance on gun control by directing the Justice Department to stop the spread of ghost guns. He also urged Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, pass “red flag” legislation, and support violence-intervention programs. It will be interesting to see whether Congress passes this legislation. But I’m not holding my breath.

Guns have become nuclear to American identity, and I’m tired of it. History is supposed to educate us on how society should evolve. Just because something has been a certain way for so long, doesn’t mean it should remain that way, especially when there are so many flaws in the system. U.S. government leaders need to be writing, pushing, and passing gun reform and bans—especially if they believe in truly serving the people of the United States.

People are dying. Is the right to bear arms more important to you than human life? I can already hear the responsible gun owners starting to speak, but we’ve all heard you speak ad nauseam, and I’m done.

If you’re really a responsible gun owner then surely, you’ll have realized that something has got to give at this point. Surely the responsible thing to do is remove guns from the equation—because nothing else we’ve done thus far has protected people.


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USA Latin America The World

The US is an active contributor to oppression in Colombia

The people of Colombia have put themselves in a perilous situation for their dignity.  And many have lost their lives protesting against newfound and old injustices. The country’s government has proposed a new tax plan in the middle of a pandemic when 27% of the population lives in poverty. In rural areas, the poverty rate has risen to 36%. Combined with the egregious poverty rates, the unemployment rate in Colombia also doubled between March and June of 2020 due to the pandemic. The unemployment rate has exceeded sustainability: 16.8% of the population has been left destitute and without employment. Informal workers are also struggling: many are unable to work due to government regulations. The economic situation in the country is dire and the state is submerged in various economic pitfalls: the state of Colombia is currently 20 billion dollars in debt. The tax plan would raise food prices and further burden the working-class population.

Colombians were outraged by this development and began protesting President Ivan Duque’s conservative economic project. The protests have evolved to echo grievances against the Colombian police force and government, including forced coca eradication, healthcare reform, and the rights of informal workers. Adding to the growing list of human rights abuses, the police have engaged in violence against the protesters: 1800 cases of police brutality against protesters have been documented.

The United States of America supports Colombia in times of tyranny and brutality. The American government supports Bogota’s forced coca eradication campaign, and in turn, supports their war on drugs. In 1970s, President Nixon declared a war on drugs in an attempt to eradicate the illegal drug trade and the US began to extend its efforts on a global scale and reached Colombia. The American government has provided Colombia assistance in the political eradication of coca farms. The relationship involves mutual interest: $391 billion dollars is invested by the foreign government in technical and institutional efforts to destroy the plant and other services, including land reinstitution.  Coca farms in Colombia are targeted in an attempt to stifle the production of cocaine. Drug trafficking groups acquire their product from plantations across the country. Many farmers in Colombia cultivate the illegal plant in the absence of viable alternatives.  Other crops do not yield the same amount of profit as coca. The government has offered to find substitutes for the illegal crop, but the promise has not materialized.

The U.S continues to uphold Colombia as an important trade partner, neglecting human right abuses in the country: a mutual partnership between the two countries developed in the last decade and the Colombian government has become an ally to the United States. Their relationship was consolidated in 2012 with the birth of The U.S. Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA). THE CTPA allows for investment opportunities and eases tariffs. The U.S. government can export goods and foster a mutual trade alliance under the CTPA.  The United States is Colombia’s largest trade partner and has steep ties to the manufacturing and mining sectors of the country.  For the United States, Colombia also serves important interests in Latin America: the country is America’s third-largest trade partner in the region. The good trades amounted to $29 billion and service trades amounted to $11.7 billion in 2019.

The Colombian people have a history textbook filled with woes against the Colombian government.  The Colombian government has engaged in violence against different political factions, including right-wing parliamentarians and left-wing groups.  In the midst of the Cold War, farmers were inspired by communism and took up arms against Bogota-sponsored parliamentary groups. But the government entities were not upheld solely by Bogota, the U.S government also supported their political endeavors. The first violent confrontation between the two opposing sides occurred in Marquetalia, Tolima in May of 1964. The left-wing factions would later develop into the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia( FARC). The battle of Marquetalia had no conqueror. The farmers retreated to mountains and forests after their communes were destroyed and later established their political prowess as FARC. Many communist factions formed in later years, including the National Liberation Army.

Political repression permeates Colombian politics in 2021. The government promised peace when it signed a deal with FARC in 2016  and an end to the five-decade-long conflict, however, the declarations lay flat on ink: 300 human rights advocates have been killed since the government seduced Colombians into a false sense of security. It is unclear who is responsible for the killings: ex-fighters blame the state and the government blames the guerrilla groups.  Bloodshed between FARC and the Colombian government does not end with communism. The government was  lso in a battle with FARC over control of coca farmsAfter FARC disarmed in 2016 following the peace deal, different drug trafficking groups maintain authority over thousands of coca fields in the country. Through the lack of transparency, citizens of Colombia testify to being targeted based on false assumptions that they support the narcotics trade.  The world has forced Colombians to fight  for freedom of expression.

The United States government is culpable. America has supported the Colombian government unconditionally. Politicians have remained silent on the ongoing protests and the repercussions Colombians have faced for protesting their right to equity in all spheres of life. Colombians seek freedom in all realms of life:  the economic sector, the right to peaceful protest, and the right to safety.  All nourish the well-being of humanity.

The U.S. can help by ending technical and institutional efforts to eradicate coca and end the war on drugs.   The American government can also pressure the Colombian government to adhere to the demands of the people. External influence in Colombia is essential to saving lives.

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Immigration Coronavirus The World Inequality

The fight for labor rights is far from over this International Workers’ Day

Another International Workers’ Day may be upon us, but I’m not sure global migrant workers will feel like celebrating this year. Despite migrant communities’ key role in many economies, laborers around the world continue to endure unsafe working conditions that make many vulnerable to exploitation. In addition, the global pandemic hit migrant workers harder than most, with COVID-19 exacerbating safety issues while also disrupting key labor markets and population mobility.

Migrant workers make up a majority of temporary, seasonal, or informal employment opportunities that are crucial to global industries like agriculture, construction, shipping, in-home care, and more. Many of these jobs are considered “unskilled” labor, a term that has been used to keep pay low and underscore the importance of these jobs.

The global pandemic forced many countries to reexamine which jobs are necessary to the functioning of society and the economy. The jobs migrant workers fulfill were predominantly deemed essential, and yet conditions remain inadequate for migrant communities around the world.

In Europe, migrant workers were acknowledged as essential to farming and the food industry. This allowed some laborers to cross borders closed to most. However, their status did not inspire employers to improve working conditions. Instead, many laborers continued to face inhumane working conditions, low wages, and overcrowded living corridors.

In 2020, migrant workers accounted for 93% of Singapore’s 58,000 COVID cases. Predominantly South Asian laborers live in cramped dormitories that house tens of thousands of people throughout the country, which has accelerated the spread amongst the country’s migrant workers and even taken a toll on their mental health.

Canada and the United States also have robust migrant worker populations. In 2020, much of these populations endured severe risk of contagion, wage theft, inadequate housing and food, lack of PPE, unsafe work conditions, and racism and xenophobia. In California, an agriculture and farming hub in the U.S., workers had to contend with COVID outbreaks and a grueling wildfire season made worse by climate change.

Some communities have used social media to draw attention to their plight. In the Gulf, domestic workers, a majority of whom have migrated from Africa and Asia, are calling their employers out via TikTok videos that detail how they are overworked, sexually harassed, and discriminated against. Some in-home care workers are also unable to leave their job or the country without permission from their employers, which can make workers more vulnerable to abuse. In fact, there are 24.9 million people around the world trapped in forced labor, including 16 million people in private sectors like domestic work, construction, or agriculture.

Activists, global nonprofits, and other advocacy groups are calling upon governments to make lasting changes. Some experts have demanded more legislature around legal systems of migration. This includes work visa programs that actually protect migrant workers from employer retaliation, deportation, and workplace abuses. Work visa programs are also ways to implement wage, housing, and healthcare reform so that laborers are compensated fairly. And, of course, the application process for any visas should be made more accessible to workers.

In the U.S., President Biden did not renew a ban on H-1B and other temporary work-based visas put in place by the Trump administration to prevent migrant workers from entering the country. In addition, Biden increased the number of seasonal guest-worker visas available this year by 22,000. Typically, there are 66,000 H-2B visas available to workers. These efforts join Biden’s ambitious immigration overhaul, which includes the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 to increase legal immigration and allow all undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship, amongst other initiatives. However, this legislation hasn’t passed yet.

Despite the pivotal role migrant laborers play in global economies, many communities continue to face exorbitant abuse in working, housing, and living conditions. It seems obvious that radical reform and changes need to be made in order to ensure migrant workers receive basic human respect. With how far the labor movement has come to protect the rights of workers, there is still much to be done to protect the rights of all workers. And that is what International Workers’ Day reminds all of us this year.


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USA Editor's Picks Activism Race The World Inequality

The jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murdering George Floyd

A landmark verdict was reached today in the Derek Chauvin trial. The jury has found Chauvin guilty on all counts, including second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Following the verdict, bail was revoked and people across the United States watched as Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was escorted away in handcuffs.

Arriving almost a year after the murder of George Floyd, the verdict is being lauded by some as justice for Floyd and his loved ones. While we will have to wait eight weeks for Chauvin’s sentencing, the verdict is a small victory in the fight against police brutality.

Police officers are rarely prosecuted in the U.S. Convicting police officers of a crime like murder is even rarer. Since 2005, courts of law have convicted only 35 officers of a crime related to an on-duty fatality. Chauvin’s verdict could signal a turning of the tide. Officers let off the hook thanks to social and legal protections, such as the blue wall of silence and qualified immunity, will now face the consequences of their actions

Already, we’ve seen this accountability take shape in Chauvin’s trial. Specifically, 45 witnesses testified, including the Minneapolis police chief. Witnesses also included law enforcement officers who broke with precedent and denounced Chauvin’s use of force.

“It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” the police chief said of Chauvin’s actions during the trial.

Historically, police officers have actively protected each other, which has become known as the blue wall of silence. This has made it more difficult to investigate those who have broken the law. The testimonies given in Chauvin’s trial could dawn an era in which stricter accountability of police forces isn’t wishful thinking, but a requirement upheld by all who don the badge.

Following the verdict, many activists and advocates doubled down on ending qualified immunity. Qualified immunity protects police officers from lawsuits that allege the official violated a plaintiff’s rights. Typically, qualified immunity is what makes suing police officers nearly impossible. Colorado and New Mexico are a few states that recently banned qualified immunity as a way to implement police reform.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years of jail time. The trial of Chauvin’s peers—Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao—will start on August 23.

While this is a day of justice for many, the landmark ruling does not conclude a long history of systemic racism. Nor does it signal an end to police violence against Black and brown people. 

Since the testimony of Chauvin’s trial began on March 29, at least 64 people—half of which were Black or Latino people—have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, including Daunte Wright. And, as the country awaited the verdict on Tuesday afternoon, a 15-year-old girl was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio. Ma’Khia Bryant joins Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and more on a too-long list of police violence victims.

At a press conference following the trial, George Floyd’s family cited these recent victims as reasons why they will continue to protest.

“We have to protest because it seems like this is a never-ending cycle,” said Philonise Floyd, Floyd’s brother, according to The Wall Street Journal. “I’m going to put up a fight every day, because I’m not just fighting for George anymore, I’m fighting for everybody around this world.”

President Biden and Vice President Harris called the Floyd family after the verdict was announced, with POTUS stating, “Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there is some justice.”

While justice has been served, there is still much work to be done, especially by the white community. According to a tweet from Alex Moe of NBC News, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi turned Floyd into a martyr, stating, “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice.” Comments like Pelosi’s make it sound like George Floyd had a choice in being murdered when that couldn’t be further from the truth. This minimizes the systemic problems in the U.S., namely how white supremacy and racism have been upheld by law enforcement for hundreds of years, resulting in the deaths of countless Black and brown people.

How many more Black and brown people have to die at the hands of the police before real change occurs? This problem isn’t new. In fact, it’s almost 200 years old. What’s new is holding the police accountable for the violence they enact on communities of color. But will the same accountability occur for the latest 65 victims of police violence?

Maybe it’s time to seriously consider what abolishing our current policing system looks like, and build community care networks in its stead. Because again I ask, how many more Black and brown people have to die at the hands of the police?

USA Immigration The World

Biden is now President, Democrats are now in charge — but we still have a massive crisis at the border

If you thought the Biden Administration would be the southern border’s saving grace, you might have been disappointed these past few months. The crisis persists, perhaps more so because of the fact that Biden has repealed Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy, which allows the unsupervised influx of migrants to pour in.

Now, I’m not saying that immigrants should be turned away when they are waiting to be processed into the country, or that they should be prohibited from entering at all. In fact, repealing the Remain in Mexico policy allowed migrants to finally leave violence and disease-ridden refugee camps, but it does not solve everything. Because Biden has loosened the immigration policies of the former administration, more immigrants than ever are seizing the opportunity to come in. 

But what awaits them is not easy. 

Biden has allowed immigrants to enter…and hasn’t done much else. 

Yes, the notorious Matamoros refugee camp has been emptied after MPP’s (Migrant Protection Protocols) immediate expulsion policy was revoked, but another camp has replaced it in Tijuana across from San Diego’s border, filled with more than 1,500 inhabitants since February. 

Although Remain in Mexico has been reversed, it not mean that vulnerable asylum-seekers have been welcomed to the United States with open arms. Thousands have even had their cases denied, leaving them with nowhere to go.

And now it’s Biden’s problem.

His administration did mention shortening wait times to process asylum seekers, but did not provide specific details or protocols.

The question remains: Why hasn’t Biden addressed whether or not denied applicants can appeal to re-open their case? Not to mention that being permitted to wait on the U.S. side of the border does not give refugees a sanctuary; border towns can be very unforgiving. 

For all the good that came from the Biden administration revoking MPP’s policies, such as the way many overcrowded refugee camps have emptied, there remains the problem surrounding minors, perhaps one of the strongest driving forces behind Biden’s humanitarian concerns at the border. He reversed a health order enforced under the Trump Administration that automatically turned away migrant children, but this seems to have backfired. 

More than 9,460 unaccompanied minors have flooded the border, contributing to violence, kidnapping, and human trafficking. 

Despite Biden’s March 13 announcement to send the Federal Emergency Management Agency down there, these children have filled Border Patrol detention centers. Remember the cages? These centers are no better.

And what about the migrants that Biden is turning away? COVID reasons were cited, but migrants exposed to the virus don’t have access to proper treatment on the other side of the border. If COVID was such a concern for Biden, why not stop all international migration, including air travel? Why target migrants at the southern border, who are most vulnerable as they flee the violence of their home countries, whose governments do little to fix the problem and leave all their issues at America’s doorstep. Those who have been expelled feel deceived by the current administration, who everyone thought would be the answer to the border crisis. Turning migrants away because of the pandemic is in keeping with Trump’s Title 42, part of the MPP program Biden swore to abolish entirely…but clearly did not. 

You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Biden. If you’re going to tackle a crisis, it must be handled through to the end, not halfway. 
Right now, the Department of Homeland Security says that the border is closed. So after all the raving against Trump’s anti-immigration policies, Biden’s new laws keep many migrants who hope to enter the country in Mexico.

The media praises the current administration because of the near closure of refugee camps, the heart of the border’s humanitarian crisis, like the one in Matamoros. But no one is talking about the camp in Tijuana, where migrants who don’t qualify for asylum sleep in makeshift tents without food, shelter, and proper medical care. 

Addressing the camp issues, and seeing them cleared out, does not fix the broad, intricate problem that is immigration at large.

If you’re going to tackle a crisis, it must be handled through to the end, not halfway.

Lawyers for Good Government attorney, Charlene D’Cruz told The Texas Tribune, “There’s too much chaos in an already very chaotic system. We need more transparency about what’s going to happen next and who is going to be included.”

Transparency is something this administration lacks when it comes to immigration, even when you consider how many people were allowed into the country since Biden took office. He must come up with a better plan for processing asylum-seekers, especially considering the way desperate migrants come here through dangerous means.

Right now, it has not been cited why some asylum-seekers are permitted entry and why some are not, or what categorizes someone as “vulnerable” and therefore eligible to cross the border.

Aren’t all of these people vulnerable? Aren’t they all fleeing gang violence, sexual assault, disease, and COVID-related unemployment? 

With the immigration crisis still very much a concern on our southern border, I wonder if it is still a priority of the new president now that he is in office, and no longer has to worry about pulling at our heartstrings on the campaign trail. Now that many have left the desolate refugee camps, will Biden see the rest of the job done, or take a pat on the back and forget about a people still in dire need of help?

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USA Race The World Inequality

Daunte Wright’s murder in Minnesota is another reminder of the broken policing system

If all eyes weren’t turned to Minnesota before the trial of Derek Chauvin began, they are glued to the state now. On Sunday, April 11, officer Kim Potter shot and killed Daunte Wright, 20, when Wright was pulled over for a traffic stop. It happened in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis just ten miles away from the Hennepin County Courthouse where Chauvin’s trial is being held. 

The officers in the incident flagged the vehicle because of an expired registration tag (or air fresheners hanging from his mirror), but when it was discovered that Wright had an outstanding gross demeanor warrant, the officers began to make the arrest. Bodycam footage of the incident shows a scuffle ensued when Wright tried to get back into his car during the arrest. In order to subdue him, officer Potter shouts, “Taser! Taser!” while allegedly reached for the taser, but seized her gun instead, shooting Wright in the chest. As Wright drives away, Potter can be heard yelling, “Holy shit, I just shot him!” 

He died at the scene. 

Among the Black community, particularly in the grieving state of Minnesota, frustration is not enough to describe the reigning emotion. In Brooklyn Center’s diverse community, where people of color account for more than half of the population, this rage must be tenfold. 

Potter was placed on administrative leave after the incident, but just before 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, she voluntarily turned in her badge, saying in a letter to city officials, “I have loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately.”

Police Chief Tim Gannon, who addressed the public during yesterday’s press release and alleged that the shooting was an accident based on what we see in the video, has also announced his resignation on Tuesday. 

In the chaos that grips Minnesota and the Brooklyn Center Police Department, it is not hard to see why the police chief stepped away. There have been two nights of vigils in the memory of Daunte Wright. Along with the grief comes the anger. 

Moments after Wright was pronounced dead, BLM protestors gathered at the scene. A crowd of 100-200 people marched on the Brooklyn Center PD headquarters. Some protests were met by the National Guard in Brooklyn Center, which was already in Minnesota to guard the courthouse where Chauvin is being held. Riots erupted in Portland, Oregon, where crowds turned violent. Approximately 20 businesses were broken into at the Shingle Creek mall. Governor Tim Walz imposed a 6 A.M. curfew on Monday to try and maintain order, but he shared the state’s frustrations in a press conference. 

[Image description: Police meet protesters near the Brooklyn Center PD.] Via The Minnesota Reformer.
[Image description: Police meet protesters near the Brooklyn Center PD.] Via The Minnesota Reformer.
“Our time was made clear last May, in Minnesota, our time to get one shot at fixing that was there,” the governor told reporters. “And in the midst of this trial that the world’s watching the situation repeated itself yesterday.” 

Hearing this from leaders in Minnesota is all well and good, but how do they intend on fixing the problem of police brutality? Whether or not Daunte Wright’s murder was accidental has yet to be proved in a court of law, but the incident reveals an inherent problem when police apprehend suspects. 

Among the Black community, particularly in the grieving state of Minnesota, frustration is not enough to describe the reigning emotion.

Potter has been a veteran of the force for 26 years; one would think that such a fatal mix up between a gun and a taser would be impossible. Shouting “Taser! Taser!” before deploying the device is part of officer training, which Potter followed in the bodycam footage…only it wasn’t her taser she withdrew. 

So how well are officers really being trained? When will the problem end? When will the system stop failing minorities? Brooklyn Center mayor Mike Elliot called Wright’s death “unfathomable”, but in today’s age of police brutality and racial tensions, how unfathomable is it really? When will leaders take action instead of simply paying lip service to mourning parents like Aubrey and Katie Wright? 

The alleged accident calls to mind the death of Oscar Grant in 2009, who was killed by former Bay Area police officer Johannes Mehserle, who killed Grant while he was laying on a Fruitvale station track. Mehserle, who was convicted of manslaughter, told authorities that he’d meant to deploy his taser and not his handgun

Despite the closer connection Wright’s death has to that of Oscar Grant’s, the murder case in the front of our minds is that around Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd in May. With protests sparking all over Minnesota, Judge Peter Cahill only partially sequestered jurors on the case, citing that if jurors feel there is a threat to their safety it might influence their decision on convicting Chauvin, who faces charges of second and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter. Jurors have already been designated to be sequestered once deliberation begins.

George Floyd and Daunte Wright died 10 miles and less than a year apart from each other.  I wonder when we will see a break in the cycle that leaves Black people dead on our streets. 


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USA Health News LGBTQIA+ The World Policy Inequality

Transgender youth in Arkansas can’t access gender-affirming health care

One week after the General Assembly of Arkansas proposed a bill that would outlaw gender-affirming health care for minors, Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed it. The decision, coming from a conservative Republican governor who has offended the LGBTQ+ community in the past, was viewed as one of their strides achieved in the past few years.

Historically a red state, Arkansas has ever been a friendly place for LGBTQ+ people. Hutchinson only made it less so when he approved other anti-trans bills which involve sports and other health care. For example, just last month he signed off on a bill that targets trans health care in a different way by permitting doctors and other medical workers to voluntarily deny LGBTQ+ people treatment based on morals or religion (as long as their needs are not an emergency). 

Doesn’t this violate the H.I.P.A.A oath? What morals keep doctors from treating their patients? People are patients first, regardless of gender identity.

So with all these battles in mind, when Hutchinson vetoed the anti-gender affirmation bill, Arkansas’ LGBTQ+ community almost saw victory in their grasp.

This triumph only lasted one day. 

The General Assembly overrode Hutchinson’s veto making Arkansas the first state in the country to make health care illegal based on gender identitySo much for making strides. 

The bill makes it a felony to provide gender affirmation procedures to transgender minors. This was too extreme for Hutchinson, who told NPR on April 6, “This puts a very vulnerable population in a more difficult position. It sends the wrong signal to them.”

Gender affirmation is more than just physicality; it’s mental health. The vulnerability that Hutchinson cited among the transgender community, particularly among minors, involves high rates of suicide and depression. Gender is an essential part of identity, and gender affirmation can allow transgender youth to express this. Members of the transgender community who struggle with identity can control how they view their world, as well as how others view them, with the certain surgical or hormonal procedures involved in gender-affirming health care.

Access to these procedures was already difficult to come by for much of the transgender youth in this country. Harassment, discrimination, outright denial, or the sheer lack of experienced professionals are some of the major obstacles that prevent trans people from obtaining their identities. In Arkansas, if some had the opportunity to take home reversible puberty blockers, it’s gone now. Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT and HIV Project, told NBC News that the bill is “the single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature.”

Despite Governor Hutchinson recognizing the bill as lacking compassion toward Arkansas youth, he was never an ally. In an interview with “State of the Union” on CNN, he defended the recent bills that address another aspect of anti-trans life: sports.

“I did sign the protection for girls in sports which says biological males cannot compete on a girls team,” the governor told CNN. “To me, that’s a fundamental way of making sure girls’ sports can prosper.”

Much can be said about the latest bill’s steps to deny access to affirming gender. Right down to its very name, the law is problematic. HB-1570 is also known as Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE). How can gender-affirming health care, which decreases suicide rates among minors, be classified as “experimentation”?

The LGBTQ+ community is still fighting for their issues to be taken seriously. Beneath the layers of society, the bill, its terminology, and its harsh punishments, resides a lack of acceptance. It stretches beyond the borders of Arkansas. Recently, anti-transgender legislation (in regards to access to sports and health care) has been under consideration in 28 states, which exemplifies the way this is a problem society faces at large. Under the umbrella of sports-related issues alone, over 60 anti-transgender bills have been considered across the country. LGBTQ+ activists fear that anti-trans bills will harm athletes and limit their access to health care. 

The ACLU had condemned the bill as ostracizing transgender youth. “This has been a significant part of my work at the ACLU for the past six years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Chase Strangio told CNN in another interview. “There have never been this many bills targeting trans youth voted out of the committee and then making it to the floor.”

When political leaders abandon a vulnerable community, it is left within their hands alone to assert their rights, worth, and presence. As the LGBTQ+ community comes under attack once again with the recent legislation being pushed across the nation, it is important to remember this now more than ever and to consider how to align yourself as an ally for this community. 

Amidst the shame and ostracism transgender people in Arkansas endure because of this bill, groups like Northwest Arkansas Equality and the American Civil Liberties Union Arkansas showcase their resilience. Both groups advocate for LGBTQ+ rights within the community, provide health, wellness, and social resources, and create a space for people to feel safe and accepted. With Arkansas the first state to ban gender affirmation, the message of these organizations is more important than ever.


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USA The World Policy

Are monetary reparations enough for Marijuana users in New York?

Marijuana users in New York can finally breathe. New York became the fifteenth state in America to legalize marijuana. This marks a significant change: formerly, the use of cannabis was authorized only for debilitating diseases such as cancer, AIDS, and epilepsy.  The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation act will allow individuals 21 and over to possess up to three pounds of cannabis and sustain up to three marijuana plants in their home.  The state is also allocating 43% of profits garnered from the distribution of marijuana towards minority groups in an attempt at reparations. A new program has been created that caters to the well-being of racialized individuals: licenses will be issued to distributors that will allow them to sell cannabis to retailers.

The program will prioritize minorities, as communities of color are cannibalized by the system. In 2018, The New York Times found that Black people were arrested on minor marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white, non-Hispanic in the city of New York. They also discovered Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people. New York has become a role model for the rest of the country to prevent these atrocities from clouding the future: it is the first state to implement a form of financial reparations for marijuana-related charges.

As early as 1914, New York sanitary laws included cannabis in their list of banned drugs. Prior to the enactment of the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act in 1932 and the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, national policies banning marijuana ceased to exist. These laws were marred by racism: a doctor at the Manhattan Detention complex advocated for the rehabilitation rather than arrest of marijuana “addicts,” and identified jazz players who often used cannabis before their performances in his argument. New York continued to wage war against marijuana users throughout the 20th century: in 1951, 41 000 pounds of marijuana were destroyed. John E. Gleason, the Sanitation Department General Inspector formed the “White Wing Squad,” and their purpose was to crack down on pot farms. The history of marijuana in New York is consumed by corruption.

The bill will also expunge criminal records for those who were convicted of possession of marijuana. Still, the question remains: are monetary reparations sufficient? Imprisonment can be traumatic. There are currently no mental health services in place to help people deal with the unique consequences of imprisonment and structural racism. Black people are charged with possession of marijuana at higher rates than their white counterparts. Mass incarceration hinders Black men: it affects their mental health. Black men who experience imprisonment are 14 times more likely to experience depression than free Black men. Previously, New Yorkers could face up to a year in prison for low-level charges related to possession of marijuana.

The outcome of imprisonment can be stifling: the time separated from loved ones takes a toll on a jailed individual’s well-being. They lose their relationships with many people and the loss of genuine human connection seeps through every interaction. Unsurprisingly, inmates experience feelings of profound loneliness after they are locked up. Imprisonment also strips individuals of their sense of identity. The prison environment is also extremely degrading: the quality of food, shelter and the treatment by prison guards all culminate into a mind-numbing experience.

Many people in jail are also exposed to various forms of physical and verbal violence. Both factors lead to anxiety and depression and inmates have no way of enduring their situation: there are barriers to receiving adequate care for these enfeebling experiences. Convicts  are left to fend for themselves; mental health services are often isolated from the rest of the world because of costs. 60% of youth with major depression did not receive any mental health treatment in 2017-2018.  People cite lack of insurance and cost of care as their main reasons for not receiving care: the majority are in a precarious situation. This leads to a tumultuous situation and a continued cycle of depression and mental illness.  The cycle needs to end:  policymakers continue to neglect mental health at both the national and state level: people whose lives have changed fundamentally because they were arrested for the possession of marijuana have not been fully compensated.

The American legal system is influenced by indigenous views of restorative justice. The indigenous view of restorative justice centers the victim. The meaning of social reparations includes community: society should be involved in the victim’s healing. I believe this includes mental health. True equality for the victim (in this case, those jailed for the possession of marijuana) can not manifest unless they can cope with what they endured in jail. They are owed freedom from their thoughts, anguish, and worry.  Healing includes spiritual, emotional, communal, and mental well-being and our justice system should continue to evolve, and our meaning of equity should expand to be truly holistic.


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Here’s what you need to know about the ongoing fight to unionize Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama

Last week, 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, voted on whether to unionize. If a majority vote in favor of unionizing, this will be a historic win for workers in the United States. Even if the union doesn’t pass, The New York Times describes the recent efforts in Bessemer as “the most significant unionization effort in Amazon’s history.” 

Over the last few decades, progress has occurred at a rapid pace. There have been new innovations intending to transform all walks of life. Amazon has largely been at the forefront of this change, introducing technological advancements to many of its operations across retail, grocery, entertainment, and more. However, as Amazon continues to expand, its employees are drawing attention to the cost of this aggressive advancement: workers’ health, wellbeing, and dignity.

As the second-largest private employer in the U.S., Amazon’s growth has helped to create thousands of jobs. The behemoth has also been applauded for paying its workers above the federal minimum wage, which at the time of publishing is $7.25; most Amazon employees start at $15 per hour.

Bessemer warehouse workers are arguing that compensation is still too low in light of the grueling conditions they endure while at work. 

AP News reports that Bessemer Amazon employees work on their feet for 10 hours a day and only receive two 30-minute breaks. At a Senate hearing, one worker testified that people are punished or even fired for taking more breaks than the allotted two. This has prevented warehouse workers from using the restroom a “normal amount,” according to Vice—which echoes complaints by Amazon’s delivery drivers, who often have to urinate in bottles to meet quotas.

Reveal investigated a “mounting injury crisis” at Amazon warehouses. After obtaining company records, Reveal found that injuries have increased over the past four years, with Amazon failing to hit its internal safety targets because of its rapid rate of production. Vice adds that during the pandemic, Amazon failed to properly protect its warehouse workers, resulting in almost 20,000 workers testing positive for COVID-19. 

In addition, Bessemer workers say they do not feel valued or respected. Many have noted that they are monitored throughout the day in order to ensure productivity goals are met. This surveillance on top of what  TIME describes as a “punishing pace of work,” has created low morale as workers feel dehumanized and disposable. 

The culmination of both the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic has brought to light employers’ responsibility to respect, protect, and listen to their employees. In addition to fairer compensation, many of the Bessemer workers who voted in favor of the union simply want to feel dignified in their workplace and have their complaints heard by Amazon. Vox reports that 80% of Bessemer Amazon employees are Black, with Amazon’s “overall front-line workforce disproportionately composed of people of color,” leading union organizers to also focus on issues of racial empowerment and equality. 

Historically, big businesses have discriminated against workers of color, often paying BIPOC less than their white counterparts. In the South, unions have long supported racial empowerment and equality, with sanitation, steel, and mining unions, to name a few, championing for Black workers’ rights during the Civil Rights Movement between 1954 and 1968. Unions are also who we have to thank for creating the framework of today’s work conditions. CNN lists weekends, 8-hour workdays, better pay, health care and retirement benefits, and banning child labor as the results of unions tirelessly working to protect workers and advance their interests.  

However, not all employers and employees support unionizing. Business Insider spoke to two Bessemer employees who voted against the union. They asserted that Amazon already provides what a union would, such as decent pay and benefits, and that a union would not be able to protect workers against termination. 

Amazon is also opposed to the union, preferring to speak with its employees directly on workplace issues. The company has taken an aggressive approach, including a PR campaign and papering employee bathrooms with anti-union rhetoric.  

While Amazon is doubling down on its treatment of workers, Vox notes that Amazon could be more worried that a union would “upend the speed and agility of warehouse operations; typically, the faster Amazon pushes warehouse workers, the quicker the company can get orders out the door to customers.”

It’s also important to note that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO,  continues to amass billions of dollars in wealth, while his employees do not. Brookings reports Amazon has “shared little of its astonishing profits” with its workforce. Specifically, Amazon earned an additional $9.7 billion in profit last year while Bezos added $67.9 billion to his personal wealth—and yet the company chose to end its $2 per hour pandemic wage increase.  

March 29, 2021 was the last day for Bessemer employees to vote on unionizing. After months of advocating, lobbying, and organizing, the results of the vote are expected to arrive any day now. No matter the result, many labor experts are expecting the efforts of Bessemer Amazon workers to inspire other warehouses, with Vox predicting a possible reshaping of the future of warehouse work in the U.S. 

However, the question remains: what is the price of progress? How far we are willing to go in the name of innovation must take into account individuals. It is people who make up a company, and it is people who are helping to drive digitalization. Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, remind us that the price of progress cannot and should not be people’s lives, wellbeing, and dignity.

If we sacrifice that, what will remain?


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Why the anniversary of MLK’s assassination is so important this year

Today marks the 53rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination at the hands of James Earl Ray. At a time when the nation is watching the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, King’s legacy is as relevant and potent as ever.

Although more than 50 years apart, the deaths of King and Floyd sparked public outrage that resulted in nation-wide protests, rioting, and mourning. It is no secret that, for many aspects, Black America still battles the same issues as it did during the Civil Rights Movement. Yet, there is chilling irony in the fact that the anniversary of King’s murder falls during a time when his values are being re-iterated, praised, and debated now more than ever before. 

On April 4, 1968, King stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee when James Earl Ray’s bullet pierced him in the neck. At age 39, King had revolutionized what it meant to be Black in America, having earned the Nobel Peace Prize four years before his death and inspiring millions across America to question Jim Crow’s societal norms.

As the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King and his team were in Memphis that spring supporting a sanitation worker’s strike, a visit that had been part of a larger plan to march to Washington D.C.for the underprivileged. The effort came to a screeching halt, causing racial tensions to explode yet again in the ensuing riots. Then, like today, King’s message of peaceful protest and equality rang out above the chaos. 

Fast forward 52 years later to May 2020. America had not learned from King’s work, sacrifice, and ultimate assassination. The Black Lives Matter movement had been boiling beneath the surface since 2013 when George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. In the following years, more Black Americans would die at the hands of police brutality, such as Eric Garner (1970-2014), Breonna Taylor (1993-2020), Alton Sterling (1979-2016), Tamir Rice (2002-2014), and many others.

[Image description: Martin Luther King Jr speaks before a crowd on August 4, 1965.]
On May 25, all of the grief and rage from losing so many Black lives amplified. The world watched in horror as George Floyd could be heard chanting, “I can’t breathe” over and over. For the following three months, millions of people protested systemic racism, their voices echoing through the streets: “silence is violence”, “I can’t breathe”, “no justice, no peace”. The slogans of the Black Lives Matter movement echoed King’s Letter from a Birmingham jail quote, “justice delayed is justice denied.” Once again, King’s legacy illuminated society after a Black man’s death. 

Both the death of Martin Luther King and George Floyd sparked mass protests, but that is not where the eerie similarities end. Both BLM and the Civil Rights Movement were driven by the youth. Both were born out of the gut-wrenching violence against Black Americans, particularly by the police.

[Image description: BLM protestors displaying their BLM slogans.] via RollingStone
As someone born in 2000, decades after the end of the Civil Rights Movement, the emotion behind this movement was only something I read in textbooks. It was foreign to me because of two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t live through it like some of my older relatives and secondly, I am not a person of color. I am, however, old enough to recognize history repeating itself. In the context of Black America in the 21st century, and not even considering the countless tragedies during Jim Crow, Floyd’s murder is part of a dark cycle that took the lives of Tamir Rice and Eric Garner early on in the BLM movement. So it’s no longer difficult to capture the rage of a similar revolution, even if it was more than 50 years ago. 

Today, we are four days into Derek Chauvin’s trial. He is charged with second and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. If convicted, Chauvin faces up to 40 years behind bars.

It’s crucial to acknowledge the tragedies endured by Black America throughout the decades and to know that change comes with remembering our history so that it stops repeating itself. As we watch the trial of Derek Chauvin unfold, the impending verdict hovers over a scarred America, especially today.

USA Activism Economy The World

There is nothing heartwarming about lemonade stand fundraisers

In 2019, a lemonade stand made national news. Two sisters – 13 year old Hailey and 11 year old Hannah – from North Carolina used proceeds from their lemonade to pay off student lunch debts in their school district. They raised over $25,000 and paid off 62% of the debt. Television networks played the segment as a heartwarming way to end a broadcast. But why do these stories get placed in the category of “county’s oldest resident celebrates birthday” or “lost dog returns home?” It’s great to see children take initiative, but why is there a lunch debt that needs to be paid in the first place? Contrary to what we might want them to be, these stories are not feel-good send offs, but evidence of a system that needs massive reform.

These sisters saw a need, and it was brave and noble of them to step up and fill that need. They helped to relieve a huge burden from a number of families, and that act of kindness deserves praise and recognition. However, it is critical to address the fact many mainstream news outlets ignore: the notion of a “lunch debt” was invented. These fundraisers are presented as children going the extra mile to help people, but coverage fails to question why the system acts in such a harmful way in the first place. If a family has trouble affording food for their children, forcing them into debt is not a viable solution. Providing school districts better funding for the express purpose of supplying meals for students in need does more to improve these students’ well-being and academic performance than leaving the problem up to two children to try and solve.

The United States is one of the richest countries in the world; it should not be the responsibility of two children to provide people with food.

The lemonade stand fallacy goes deeper than school districts. Across the country, local papers cover children selling lemonade to pay for a family member’s cancer treatment. In 2019, three kids from Maine – Dominic, Antonio, and Sofia – moved from rental home to hotel between periods of homelessness as their mother battled leukemia. In August of 2019, they set up a lemonade stand to raise money to buy a house for their mother. With about $1,000 under their belt, their aunt clarified they’re just hoping to get enough for a rental and a few months of utilities. Across the country in New Mexico, nine year old Angel Reyes raises money to pay for his grandfather’s medical bills after the removal of a nine inch tumor left him unemployed. In Michigan in 2018, six year old Emerson sold lemonade and sweet corn from a neighbor’s farm to pay for her own brain cancer treatment.

These stories leave no doubt that kids are capable of amazing things, but it is also a stark reminder of the failures in our system that such mass fundraising efforts have to be implemented just for people’s survival. When news networks play cheerful music over scenes of pitchers pouring out bright yellow lemonade, they overlook the bigger issues of wealth inequality, homelessness, and our country’s astronomical healthcare costs.

Lemonade stands that get news attention often make huge strides towards their financial goals, but not everyone can be so lucky. There are over 250,000 medical campaigns launched on GoFundMe every year, but only so many kids with lemons and paper cups. For the small percentage of people who have successful fundraisers, the kindness from strangers can feel like a miracle. But for the countless campaigns that do not receive attention or never make their fundraising goal, there is much less to celebrate. But why must people rely on the unpredictable nature of bake sales or crowdfunding campaigns to receive life sustaining medical attention?

As every intro economics class teaches, there is no such thing as “free lunch,” both literally and metaphorically, but letting the consequences of that truism fall on our most vulnerable populations is a cruel reminder that our constitutional right to life has a price tag. The world is not fair; therefore it is the responsibility of government to make it better. Homelessness and the unattainable costs of healthcare are things that do not have to exist. Diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s are unavoidable, but the all too common situations where people go into debt, even lose their homes to pay for treatment are.

So what is the solution? How do we relieve children of the burden of making up for the shortcomings of capitalism? It will not be a short or easy road, but it is a necessary one. It starts with presenting these lemonade stands as what they truly are: acts of desperation when capitalism, when society, when our governments have failed to uphold their foremost responsibility: to ensure the wellbeing of all its constituents. We should not have to rely on lemonade stands and GoFundMe pages to supply our fellow Americans’ basic needs. The awareness that the current news segments provide are a start, but we have to start being honest about the state of things if we ever want to enact positive change.


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Monique Coleman’s HSM story reveals a larger pattern of hair discrimination in the workplace

For stories of Black history and excellence, check out our Black History Month series. Celebrate with us by sharing your favorite articles on social media and uplifting the stories, life, and work of Black people.

On January 26th, Insider published an interview with Monique Coleman in recognition of the fifteenth anniversary of High School Musical.

In the interview, Coleman revealed that her character in the film, Taylor McKessie, actually wore her signature headbands because the onset crew didn’t know how to style Black hair. Coleman’s heartbreaking disclosure thereafter sparked discourse on social media surrounding the unique hair discrimination and lack of representation Black women in Hollywood, and other non-visible industries, have long endured.

In the article, Coleman stated, “The truth is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front.” As a result, she suggested they “incorporate headbands into her character [to] just make that a part of who [Taylor] is.”

Taylor McKessie was many Black girls’ favorite character within the Highschool Musical franchise, myself included. She is smart, witty, supportive, ambitious, and subverted stereotypical narratives Hollywood tends to place on Black female characters, especially within predominantly white casts. So learning about the hardships Coleman had to bear on account of her hair was disappointing but unfortunately not surprising. The reality that Black women’s hair is all too often not accommodated in the workplace is nothing new. 

In fact, this very same conversation of the lack of necessary accommodation for Black talent on sets has happened before. Vice wrote an article in 2019 discussing discrimination towards Black hair in Hollywood when model Olivia Anakwe took to Instagram to publicize that while she was working a photoshoot, there wasn’t a stylist on set who was familiar with styling her natural hair. Anakwe then had to go through the trouble of finding anyone on set who could, even if they worked in other departments. 

Afterward, a slew of Black female celebrities like Natasha Rothwell and Gabriel Union shared their experiences of also having to manage their own hair on production sets, showing solidarity with Anakwe, and raising further awareness about the issue on social media.

Similarly, to corroborate Coleman’s experience, many people dug up videos or tweets of other high profile Black female actresses like Riverdale’s Vanessa Morgan and Ashleigh Murray, and Hamilton’s Renée Goldsberry who have openly discussed the not-so-secret occurrence of Black women having to do their own hair because stylists on film sets cannot correctly style Black hair.

Adding insult to injury, Hollywood sets often act as if they’re starved of choice when it comes to finding Black hairstylists who can do hair for Black talent. With all the skilled Black hairstylists at the disposal of production studios, it’s a deliberate choice to opt-out of hiring Black hairstylists in lieu of white ones. Ultimately, forcing Black cast members to manage their own hair for filming, while other non-Black cast members don’t, is an act of aggression.

In recognition of the ongoing diversity happening within mainstream American media, Coleman further stated in her interview, “We’ve grown a lot in this industry and we’ve grown a lot in representation and we’ve grown a lot in terms of understanding the needs of an African American actress.” Luckily, we are moving in the right direction regarding Black hair in Hollywood. See: Insecure and This Is Us.

However, Black women are still having to navigate through hair discrimination in Hollywood. Not to mention, Black women in other industries, especially ones that are not in the public eye, often suffer in silence. Aimee Simeon perfectly sums it up in an article for Refinery29 stating, “Not even Coleman’s success as part of such a popular film series exempted her from having to find a solution to make her feel more comfortable with her look, a position that far too many Black women are put in on big-budget TV and film sets.”

Black women elsewhere with not as much fame, money, or status as the women mentioned throughout this article are likely to go unheard regarding whatever accommodations they need to effectively do their job or they may be too afraid to speak up.

Thankfully, Coleman has brought this conversation to the forefront again, so non-Black creators and employers can be made aware of this ongoing problem. So, what many predominantly white industries and companies must learn is having diversity in itself is simply not enough without accommodation. Representation means nothing if Black women are made to feel uncomfortable, othered, or outcasted from the rest of their co-workers. 

Given the long history of Black people being shut out of white-collar or high profile workplaces, employers have to care enough about their Black hires to satisfy whatever circumstances are necessary to accommodate Black folks into the workplace. Understandably, first, that means being made aware of the unique circumstances we may face or white employers may unknowingly perpetuate.

Discussions like the one Coleman and many other Black women have sparked on social media are the first steps towards creating equitable work environments across all industries. But, as Simeon concludes in her article, going forward progress towards equity in Hollywood and other workplaces “shouldn’t always fall solely to the hands and ideas of Black talent.”

For stories of Black history and excellence, check out our Black History Month series.

[Image Description: An illustrated graphic featuring several Black women with the text saying Black History Month in capital letters] Via The Tempest
[Image Description: An illustrated graphic featuring several Black women with the text saying Black History Month in capital letters] Via The Tempest

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