How to Dismantle White Supremacy

Barbara Smith: As I thought about the possibilities of the Hamer-Baker Plan, I realized that there are already innovative strategies that would be effective in alleviating the day-to-day consequences of structural racism. Here are some that come immediately to mind. The Nurse-Family Partnership pairs first time, low-income mothers with visiting nurses who help families get a healthy start and work toward economic stability. The Harlem Children’s Zone offers wraparound programs for children, from birth through college, assisting their families to overcome poverty and ensuring their academic success. Cure Violence (formerly CeaseFire) uses a highly effective public health model, including violence interrupters, to end gun violence. The Green New Deal recognizes that environmental devastation disproportionately affects communities of color and that interventions in these communities need to be a priority. It also would be a source of thousands of new infrastructure jobs. Medicare for All would address racial health disparities resulting from the lack of access to affordable quality health care. The severely disproportionate impact of Covid-19 upon communities of color shows the pressing need to establish health care as a human right.

Currently, initiatives that focus on inequality in specific sectors like education, health care, and criminal justice are not aligned with one another, are seldom brought to scale so that they have maximum impact, and may not operate with the conscious goal of challenging white supremacy. The Hamer-Baker Plan would close these gaps and encourage integrated approaches.

For example, if quality education were a priority, there would be an understanding that stable, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, access to excellent, affordable health care, and minimal exposure to trauma are all critical components of children’s educational success. A holistic approach could make it possible for America to have a robust social safety net for the first time, benefiting people of every background.

[…] It would be groundbreaking for Hamer-Baker to use an intersectional approach based on the fact that misogyny and heteropatriarchy are integral to the functioning of white supremacy. The plan would consistently take gender, gender expression, and sexuality into account, and create solutions to address the specific impact of racism upon the lives of women, transgender, and queer people of color. New York’s Audre Lorde Project exemplifies this approach. Founded in 1994 as a community organizing center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit, trans, and gender-nonconforming people of color, it has been centrally involved in the fight against police brutality and in coalitions for racial, gender, social, and economic justice. More here.

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