How You (Yes, You) Can Help Dismantle Systemic Racism

 

The hashtags are trending, the memes are flying, and people are getting into fierce comment wars on social media about racism. As a black person myself, I am overwhelmed by all of this but also grateful to be witnessing this long overdue shift in our country.

In addition to donating, protesting, and raising awareness on and off-line, there is another important piece to anti-racism work that you and I can be doing—and that is supporting public policies that help dismantle the systems that disregard and devalue people of color, especially those in the Black community. 

Initially, I felt that the world of political activism was intimidating. I myself have completely avoided it until a few months ago, but given the current circumstances of the world—with the renewal of the Civil Rights movement, and the continuing pandemic, which is still killing Black people at a higher rate than any other race, I could no longer stand by while people in my community are hurting.

If you’re truly wanting to help dismantle a racist system, it starts with supporting policies that will help those in the Black community get the social and economic justice we’ve long been denied.

There are two policies right now that will most likely be voted on this Thursday, June 18, 2020. We’re not sure if they’ll pass because there are several legislators that are still undecided. The two policies are AB 3216 and the Paid Family Leave Trailer Bill. Let me break down what these two bills would do if passed:

AB 3216 is a bill that could provide:

  • 7 paid sick days to all workers during a public health emergency.

  • 12 weeks unpaid, job protected leave to those who can’t go to work for COVID-19 related reasons.

  • Right of recall to workers who were laid off in industries such as hotels, events, and airport hospitality (meaning a laid off worker will have the right to be rehired in whatever jobs are available at their former employer).

The Paid Family Leave Trailer Bill could provide:

  • Job protection to those who take Paid Family Leave.

  • Currently, 40% of workers can be legally fired when taking Paid Family Leave because there is no law protecting them.

  • If you didn’t know, most employees pay into the Paid Family Leave Program through a mandatory tax deduction, but most people don’t take this leave they pay for because they’re scared to lose their jobs.

 

So, where do you come in? 

In order to get these bills passed, we need to put pressure on the legislators who are sitting on the fence, and who don’t want to change the system that is failing to value and protect the millions of people who are struggling, many of whom are the Black and Brown frontline workers we rely on every day to keep our economy going. 

One of the best ways to let your legislators know that you support AB 3216 and the Paid Family Leave Trailer Bill is by calling them. It’s best to call a legislator that you are a constituent of, meaning you are a resident of the area they oversee. 

To figure out who you should call, go to http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/.

Below is a call script to help you. Writing out what you’re going to say takes some of the pressure off. It only takes roughly 5-10 minutes, but it can literally be the reason a legislator votes yes rather than no on a bill that affects millions of people.

Call Script:

Hello, my name is [CALLER NAME] and I am a [CITY/TOWN] resident. I’m calling today to ask [REPRESENTATIVE] to support AB 3216 and the Governor’s Paid Family Leave Trailer Bill. This is important to me/my family/my community because (as a caregiver, as a parent, as an airline worker, as a person working with youth, etc.) paid sick days/job retention/paid leave are something we need for our health and economic security in the best of times and, with COVID-19, it’s absolutely critical to us and to the economic recovery of the state. People of color, especially those in the Black community, are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than any other race, according to the CDC. AB 3216 and the Paid Family Leave Trailer Bill is a way to protect our workers, especially the most vulnerable in our communities. Please vote yes on these bills.

Here is a list of legislators who are sitting on the fence right now and need to hear from us:

Once you make a call, be sure to send me an email us at info@workfamilyca.org or tag us on social media @workfamilyca and use the hashtag #advocateforBIPOC so that we can create a wave of activism and let our legislators know that we will not return to the way things were.

It’s time to change the system. It’s time that we live in a country that values and respects all people. If we want to dismantle a racist system, we need to start by uprooting and changing the policies that keep that system in place. I hope you will join us in this work!

 

Picture Source: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes


 

This article was written by Mia Hemstad and was originally posted on her website here.

Mia is a wife, mom, writer, and activist. She is the communications manager at the California Work & Family Coalition. Mia lives in Southern California and is a proud American of African and Mexican descent.

Contact: mia@miahemstad.com

Personal Instagram: @miahemstad

miahemstad.com

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