What is the Black Lives Matter Policy Agenda? Nearly 35 students took a break from their busy academic schedules to find out. On November 10th, students, academics, and community members spent a lunch session at the LBJ School with Dr. Peniel Joseph and Dr. Michele Rountree of the School of Social Work to discuss the Black Lives Matter Policy Agenda. This was the first meeting of the CSRD’s “Black Policy Symposium”, a monthly meeting aimed at unpacking the policy implications and practicality of the black policy agenda.
This past year, the Black Lives Matter movement took off like never before in the wake of the elections. From the slayings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling to general protests around the country following the election of President-elect Donald Trump, the movement has continued to play a central role in the political conversation.
A large part of growth of the Black Lives Matter movement has been the adoption of their policy platform “The Movement for Black Lives”. The document makes up six different policy agendas: Ending The War on Black People, Invest-Divest, Reparations, Economic Justice, Community Control and Political Power. The specific policy demands range from securing a guaranteed minimal income for people of color to ending the privatization of the criminal justice system through policy, prisons and parole services.
The November 10th Black Policy Symposium focused on the “Invest-Divest” and “End The War on Black People” sections of the document. These two sections focus primarily on reforming the criminal justice system and investing in education, health and safety while divesting from military and police control in black communities.
After a brief introduction from Dr. Joseph and Dr. Rountree, they opened up the discussion to students. The questions and comments ranged from exploring the practicality of public-private partnerships in healthcare reform to how police departments would practically implement implicit bias trainings for their officers.
“In evaluating the healthcare system, we have to truly rethink the community exchanges put forth by Obamacare,” said film composer Chris Burfict commented. “Now that we have President-Elect Trump, we are going to have to seriously reconsider what’s possible and what’s not.”
The upcoming Black Policy Symposium meetings will continue discussions on other sections of the Black Policy platform, including Community Control and Economic Justice. The meetings hope to produce actionable steps to supporting the Black Lives Matters policy agenda, and create constructive criticism where necessary.
“What’s striking when you read these policy areas is just how little has changed in the last 40-50 years,” said CSRD Founder Peniel Joseph. “As we continue hosting discussions, we hope that we can start to understand why that is, and how we can move forward to support communities of color.”