On Saturday, May 20, club members Linda Childs and Leah Pressman attended a Racial Justice Learning Exchange event hosted by Los Angeles 2nd District County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, at the Bioscience Center in Culver City.
The event brought together residents, commissioners and county department leaders to learn about and discuss the work of the California State Reparations Task Force.
After attendees enjoyed a Mexican breakfast and mingled in the courtyard, there was a brief presentation to the entire group on the work of the California State Reparations Task Force, who released their report on May 1. The task force’s specific recommendations will come out by July 1.
Next, hosts of the podcast Pay The Tab, Adam Radinsky and Tony Tolbert, led a discussion with Dr. D’Artagnan Scorza, Executive Director of the County’s Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, and Supervisor Mitchell.
Afterwards, participants broke out into small groups. Each group was led by commissioners or county department leaders who invited residents to discuss their personal experiences and who asked questions designed to elicit meaningful feedback as to how best to address the long-term impacts of injustices experienced in our communities.
Linda Childs participated in a group led by Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. The discussion in that group centered around healthcare, and how single-payer healthcare should be part of reparations.
Leah Pressman’s group was led by two commissioners—one from the Sheriff’s Oversight Committee and another from the Probation Oversight Committee. Participants shared personal experiences with incarceration and law enforcement and discussed changes that might address structural harms: requiring police officers to be college-educated, conducting better psychological pre-employment screening of police officers, getting police out of schools, making police officers and police departments financially responsible for settlements that result from civil rights violations, making mobile crisis response independent of police for mental health crises, and removing police from traffic enforcement. Many of the participants in the small group had police officers in their families and also had suffered civil rights violations at the hands of police.
All of the participants agreed that they would have enjoyed even more time in the discussions. After the discussions, there was a “share-out” and one representative from each group summarized their suggestions to the larger group.
One week later, on the 27th, our State Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas addressed the General Session of the California Democratic Party Convention. She called for Democratic leaders to embrace and implement the Reparations Task Force report and for California to lead the nation in confronting the shameful legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. She stood out in not simply celebrating the Party and rallying the audience to fight for its candidates but challenging it to follow through on its platform and be a force for progressive change.