Opportunity for Meaningful Change 

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Harry C. Alford and Kay DeBow

Beyond the Rhetoric

By Harry C. Alford & Kay DeBow

George Floyd’s murder has brought America’s attention once again to the systemic racism that informs policing, prisons, banking, housing, healthcare, and education.

The protests are not just about the pain brought on by the murder of George Floyd. They are about the pain brought on by 400 years of lynching, oppression, and discrimination. And yet, anti-brutality protests continue to be met with brutal force by police in cities across the country. To the police, unarmed Black men are the defiant slaves in the antebellum South.

First established in South Carolina in 1704, the origins of American policing descended from slave patrols. Slave patrols were organized groups of armed white men who monitored and enforced discipline upon Black slaves in southern states. It is evident that American policing was designed to control the behaviors of Black people—and it still is today.

In the U.S. Black men receive longer sentences for the same crimes, and an unarmed Black person is 3.5 times more likely to be shot by the police than an unarmed white person. The police should not be held accountable and brought to justice only when a video appears. We need a bridge to heal and dismantling of how police operate.

We are demanding transformative change to eradicate the systemic racism that has persisted since the inception of policing. Below are our recommendations to city officials and local communities for police reform in America:

  • Eliminate the doctrine of quality immunity.
  • Ban chokeholds and put duties in place for officers to report another officer committing an unauthorized use of force.
  • Demilitarize and De-unionize police.
  • Divert funding to departments addressing social determinants of health.
  • Hire more police officers who reside within the respective cities they work in.
  •  Re-examine who they are hiring.
  • Introduce empathy and implicit bias training to reduce and end racial profiling.
  • Require recertification for cops every year as doctors are required.
  • Implement independent investigations and community review boards to assess and report police brutality.
  • Create local registries of complaints.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce was incorporated as The National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc., in 1993. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization dedicated to the economic empowerment of African American communities.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce® is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity within the United States and via interaction with the Black Diaspora.

We pledge to continue to support racial justice, combat racial injustice, and promote economic prosperity. Together, we have an opportunity to make meaningful changes. If you wish to contribute, then act now by donating to one or all three of our programs by visiting www.nationalbcc.org.

Our advocacy is dedicated to the principles of the Civil Rights Act – particularly Title VI which enforces Affirmative Action. When the current administration unrolled the Cares Act and stated that Affirmative Action should be ignored, we cried “Foul!” This is in violation of settled law and cannot be tolerated. Title VI is precious to the making of our future and we must not falter in protecting it.

Let us give thanks that our economy and constitution are strong and so resilient, despite the worst pandemic in our recent history that has killed over 100,000 American lives and millions more around the world plus the fact that millions have lost their employment. Furthermore, since the George Floyd rioting over 2 million more jobs have gone up in smoke and shattered windows. The American economy is bouncing back at a record pace that has shocked most experts.

If we just stay together and keep our faith in the Lord and the principles that our dear nation was founded on, we not only will survive – we will thrive! It reminds us of that great American poet who proclaims that “We are too legit to quit.” Yes, it is Hammer Time indeed.

Within the short term we will be the strongest economy in the world and growing at record pace. Let the naysayers cry their blues, we got joy to sing about and ideas by the thousands to provide further growth.

The words of Dr. Dwayne T. Frederick of Howard University are most appropriate not just for the fine institution he manages but for our entire nation:

We get that they have a job to do, it is a tough job to keep an HBCU open. But there is still an obligation to the values that have sustained us for 150 years.

Yes America, we still have an obligation to our values and to the future for our business owners and the up and coming new generations of the children who belong to the greatest nation on Earth. GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ® Ms. DeBow is the Co-Founder, Executive Vice President of the Chamber. Website: www.nationalbcc.org; Emails: halford@nationalbcc.org.

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