Recognizing that there are many voices and perspectives in this field, this is a living document open to input and amendment as needed. We appreciate the work by various organizations and other groups before us in developing developed statements and platforms in this area. This effort acknowledges the intersectionality of experience, oppressions, and possibilities across the platform as a whole.
Addressing Systemic Inequality
Criminal Justice System
The existing criminal justice system is a failure. There are continued disparities in the way cases are handled on the basis of race as well as in the sentencing for similarly situated defendants.
- Prosecutorial and Judicial Bias and Misconduct
We need to adopt strategies to address persisting issues of prosecutorial and judicial bias, which at times rises to misconduct depriving people of color due process within the legal system. We need to increase recruitment and retention of people of color as prosecutors and judges across the country. We need to adopt meaningful reforms that reduce unnecessary racial disparities in sentencing and across the criminal justice system as a whole.
- Public Defender Funding and Support
Public defenders provide a needed service to those navigating the criminal justice system. To have access to meaningful assistance of counsel, we need to make sure the Public Defender offices are adequately funded and staffed.
- Drug Sentencing/War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is a failed strategy that has exacerbated conditions in Black and Brown communities. We need an approach that addresses the root causes of the drug trade and provides alternatives. We also need to remove marijuana from the Schedule of Controlled Substances and decriminalization of non-violent drug crimes. Dismantling the prison industrial complex is key.
Furthermore, we need to increase access to
- Jobs and training programs
- Traditional and vocational education opportunities
- Utilizing drug courts and diversionary programs for low-level offense
- Law Enforcement operations, engagement, and oversight
We must address the disparate treatment of Black and Brown peoples by law enforcement at all levels across the country. We have to provide institutional safeguards through civilian oversight and other community accountability measures. We need to reevaluate training methods and the culture of silence within Law Enforcement agencies. The above the law gang mentality must be broken up and a community service focus impressed upon all who “protect and serve.”
- Juvenile Justice
Research into adolescent brain development shows the need to treat young adults differently than mature adults in the criminal justice system. Raise the Age legislation which extends the age of juvenile jurisdiction through 20 is a preventative measure to remedy American Mass Incarceration.
We need to provide meaningful educational opportunities from early childhood and beyond. Eliminating financial barriers to public education is a priority. We need education policy changes and action in the following areas:
- Equitable funding for Early childhood opportunities
- Abolish reliance on property taxes as a mechanism for funding public schools
- Provide for meaningful opportunities for academic engagement across the curriculum and not just “teach to the test.”
- Provide wrap around supports for children to ensure optimal success at all grade levels
- Free college for all (adopted by reference from other areas of the platform)
- Include funding for traditionally underrepresented students regards of whether they attend an HBCU or PWI
- Provide for increased technical/administrative support and funding for HBCUs
Although there is a platform plank to address this area specifically, we cannot talk about racial justice without economics. The American system of capitalism was built on a racist system of property, ownership, and wealth creation. Inequities in a race often lead to inequities in economic access and opportunity.
Across the country waves of development have taken hold ushering “economic prosperity” and opportunity in many Urban neighborhoods. However, these efforts often displace existing residence with little consideration in the process. We need decisionmaking and planning to engage residents and communities and provide community support and resources for meaningful participation. Gentrification as a whole needs to stop, and black and brown communities reserved as their placement in historical development. Furthermore, we need meaningful and sustainable opportunities to deconcentrate poverty in urban areas as well as address issues of housing access and affordability.
Healthcare is a human right and should be available to all free and clear. Providing healthcare for all will address the disparities in health care cost experienced by race. We also need a meaningful commitment to increased investment in community health as well as training for those who will serve our communities.
This presidential election cycle, is the first without the full protection of the Voters Rights Act. We need to protect the right to vote and put in place measures that effectively counter attempts to restrict our access to the ballot box. We must also restore voting access to felons.
We support adoption of Congressman John Conyers’ bill for a detailed study into reparations (H.R. 40) that not only considers the Reparations is a debt owed to those whose labor was stolen, and the opportunity was subverted. Reparations are also owed for the crimes and atrocities committed against Black individuals, communities, and business post-1865.
Reparations further include returning the land to its native inhabitants. We demand that all corporate entities, such as Wall St., J. P. Morgan insurance, South Carolina Rice, etc. that acquired material gain and power at the expense of brown bodies, fund these communities at a percentage that allows community control and development to forwarded by the people who live in the underserved areas.
Safeguards for continued Advancement
In addition to addressing the longstanding issues and disparities that impact underrepresented communities, we must look toward developing safeguards that maintain and promote progressive action. It is not enough to pass a law or win a case. Racial justice work is an ongoing endeavor that requires emphasis on support for strong community and local decision making. There must also be efforts for targeted economic investment that is both meaningful and sustainable.
Moreover, we incorporate by references Sanders’ Platform Committee members’ amendments regarding ending the occupation and illegal settlements in Israel. We must end the human rights atrocity that persists in Gaza and surrounding areas.