By: Marc Philpart, Managing Director at PolicyLink
As we end our eighth year as an Alliance for Boys and Men of Color (ABMoC), we also pause to reflect on our collective successes and renew our commitment for another year of winning real change for boys and men of color and their families. Thankfully, we have much inspiration to draw from. Amid a tense and trying political climate, our Alliance stood strong in 2018, growing and deepening our work in California and beyond, and inspiring each other along the way.
Our grassroots movement is growing in size and impact.
Through our newly established Catalyst Fund at Community Partners we strengthened grassroots movements in eight states and expanded the ABMoC family beyond California to now include Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. We’re sharing what we’ve learned over the last seven years of ABMoC work in California and building power with leaders across the country, as well as deepening our work in California by learning from wins in other states.
Our people are advancing justice through deep structural change.
We fought and won across the Alliance in 2018 on critical issues of police accountability and transparency, from the advocacy of Austin Justice Coalition to advance a new ordinance that establishes an Office of Police Oversight in Austin to the organizing of California families impacted by police terror to successfully pass a new California law (SB 1421) which provides public access to police records when officers are involved in shootings, killings, and assaults. Our partners at Next Generation Action Network, along with other local organizations, continue their efforts to reform the Police Oversight Board in Dallas. Furthermore, in Louisiana, community advocates including our partner Friends and Families of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children helped to eliminate a Jim Crow Era law allowing non-unanimous juries in felony trials through Amendment 2. Organizing around these issues is critical in order for the public to gain access to police records and create more pathways toward justice.
Our network also continued to build schools that are more accountable to our kids. Our anchor partner in Arizona Puente Human Rights Movement achieved big wins to keep kids in school in places like Phoenix Unified School District where ethnic studies will be a high school graduation requirement, and organizers at One Voice in Mississippi knocked on nearly 60,000 doors to gain insights from families and students, and bring community-school concepts to Jackson Public School District.
Directly Impacted People Are Leading the Way
The policy solutions we need lie with those most affected by systemic barriers. Across age and issue area, we know that people closest to the pain are also closest to the solutions. By centering the voices and leadership of those most impacted by systemic oppression, we are building a world where people belong, succeed, and collectively exercise power.
For example, successful campaigns to restore voting rights in Louisiana (House Bill 265) and Florida (Amendment 4) were led by people living with convictions — a model for the rest of the country. Now that the victories are secured, we look ahead with our partners at V.O.T.E. for Change, Dream Defenders, Florida Immigrant Coalition and Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, with a focus on implementation in the new year and beyond. In California, organizations led by formerly incarcerated people, like Initiate Justice and All of Us or None, are working to protect voting rights for all people, building on on these groundbreaking wins.
Looking Ahead to 2019
Transformation starts with healing.
We’ve learned that our policy work will only succeed if we begin, continue, and end with healing and a clear-eyed acknowledgement of the intersections of oppression along the race and gender spectrums as a core part of the work. Our partners at La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque are providing holistic, culturally-rooted healing and education to Indigenous and Latinx youth as an alternative to incarceration through their partnership with Bernalillo County. Instead of spending time in a state youth prison, these youth are developing leadership skills by reconnecting to the land and their culture. Similarly, in San Antonio, American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions recently established an Office for Black and Brown Unity to bridge cultural divides, heal historical trauma and generational pain, and build movement for racial justice and gender equity. This includes support for and solidarity with people of color who identify as men, are gender non-binary, and women of color in order to detoxify and organize around healthy masculinity. Healing, one of the most revolutionary things we can do, has the power to disrupt destructive cycles and facilitate positive change for our families, our communities, our state, and our entire country.
Building power on the ground, across campaigns, geography, and issues is core to our success in 2020 and beyond.
As our Movement continues to expand, we’re committed to maintaining and deepening our connection to grassroots organizers and finding alignment with like-minded networks and coalitions. Stay tuned for more to come in 2019 and let us know your wins and your lessons from 2018.