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5 Politicians on the Black Lives Matter Protests and What Comes Next

From California to Vermont, women candidates are full of plans for big, systemic change.

By Caitlin Abber

Earlier this year, we launched our Ready to Run program, which loans M.M.LaFleur clothing to any woman running for office. We were overwhelmed with the response and excited to clothe so many dynamic and inspirational female candidates. 

Now, a few months later, much about the political landscape has changed. Covid-19 has ravaged lives and the economy, and the brutal murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has sparked protests in almost every state, creating a long-overdue conversation about race and racial injustice in our country. Now more than ever, we are in need of politicians who are ready to address these issues head on. 

We spoke with five candidates from the Ready to Run program about what they hope comes out of the protests and what they will do to advance racial equality in the communities they serve.


State Senate, Vermont

Kesha Ram  

“I feel like even police have been saying for a long time that they cannot be the nation’s social workers, they cannot deescalate every conflict. They cannot solve all of society’s problems. So let’s give them an opportunity to have more of that support in this country from real mental health counselors, social workers, and folks who can help them deescalate. Early childhood education is probably the best investment we could make if we really want to bring down crime. And so we just have to look much longer term at what helps a community. And it’s mostly going to be things that reduce poverty and give kids a fighting chance to build opportunity for themselves and a life for themselves.”

State Senate, Georgia

Kimberly Jackson

“I knew when I was five years old that being black made things harder. I think at five, I probably would have said being black was bad. And so, my real hope that comes out of this is that black children will grow up in a world where they know that they are loved and where they have a fighting chance to thrive.

I ran a Freedom School, which is like a summer school program for children who live in the inner city. I had 100 little brown and black boys and girls that I cared for. Those are the faces, those kids are the people that I’m running for, quite frankly. I am running with their images in my mind—with their stories, with hope for them, with hope for their schools to be improved, with hope for them not to be afraid.

I am really hopeful that real change will happen now. I think this is probably the most hopeful that I have been in a long time, that people will actually step up and say, ‘We want to do better for each other.’”

County Central Committee, Assembly District 53, California

Jasmyne Cannick

To me, complaining isn’t a strategy. I want to see real change—real legislation that ensures when someone dies in the manner that George Floyd did, there are consequences. Police officers benefit from an extraordinary amount of protection—including qualified immunity, which makes it nearly impossible to sue them in civil court. That needs to change.

What we demand is that those police officers who—recklessly and with no regard for human life—kill Black and brown people face the same criminal charges any civilian would in the same situation.

From state to state, county to county, it’s time to remove the decision on whether or not to prosecute police officers involved in disputed police killings out of the district attorney’s office, and create an independent prosecutor’s office. That’s what I want to be a part of making sure happens.”

 

State Senate, California

Jackie Fielder

“We need to unseat politicians who have a long record of standing by police who have murdered Black and brown people. As long as they’re in power, we can’t demilitarize the police, we can’t ban rubber bullets, tear gas, tasers, and all military-grade gear, and we can’t hold police accountable. We need elected officials with long records of standing by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and not just when it’s politically popular. We need to defund our policing and prison systems, and reinvest in healthcare, education, and affordable housing.”

State House of Representatives, South Carolina

Donna Brown Newton

“I hope that the protests will shed a light on the injustice in this great country of ours. For over 250 years, Black Americans have been treated as something less than human beings. All Americans deserve fair and equal justice without prejudice. It is unfortunate that it has taken the death of so many unarmed black men and women by police for the world to realize what has been long known.

If elected I would continue to use my voice to express what I see as systemic racism. Racism comes in all forms, such as basic quality of life concerns as in my community with the need for public wastewater. We have to level the playing field when it comes to pay inequality, redlining, and definitely ending the school to prison pipeline that affects the Black community on such a high level. The school district needs a better system of funding public schools to ensure that no matter your zip code, you will receive the same opportunity for the best education available.”

 

Caitlin Abber

Written By

Caitlin Abber

Caitlin Abber is the Brand Editor at M.M. LaFleur, and an award-winning writer and content creator. Over the last decade she has held senior editorial positions at MTV, Women's Health, Public Radio International, and Bustle, and has bylines at InStyle and OprahMag.com.

See more of Caitlin's articles
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