Facing Race 2020 Coverage: Creating a New Inevitable

It’s nothing new to say that 2020 has been a year. With uprisings from both nature and people, there is no doubt that this year has been one of transformation. Painful and slow, the world is birthing itself into a new era. Part of that, speaking only as an American, is to see the culmination of a fascist government when it comes full force against a pandemic. Following the recent election, with Biden winning the presidency, we can all collectively heave a great cleansing sigh of relief, right?

Well. Not exactly.

Of course, you should definitely take a breath. It’s been a terrible 4 years and the past 8 months especially have caused a deep physical and emotional trauma that we are going to spend years healing. And while I am completely behind the concept of self-care, being gentle with yourself, and allowing yourself the space and permission to do both, the work is not done. Let this breath, let this moment lead you into the next actions that need to be taken because the current regime isn’t going down without a fight and even when the transfer is done, the status quo is not good enough to be going on with.

This is where Facing Race 2020 comes in. A conference geared with centering BIPOC people and looking ever forward to what is next on the agenda, this is an amazing space created towards cultivating the shift that politicians and pundits love to promise and seem to fall short of delivering. This year, the conference is being held in an entirely virtual space, in deference to the COVID pandemic still sweeping the country. I was honored with the ability to attend and see what amazing magic is being conjured towards creating a better tomorrow.

On day 1, I had the pleasure of attending “Making Police Abolition Inevitable,” hosted by Sheila Nezhad (MPD150 & Reclaiming the Block) and UyenThi Tran Myhre (MPD150), wherein they speak on the concept of abolishing the police system entirely and putting in place community programs and measures that would take away the need for policing. This has been a goal that has come up many times, but most recently took the mainstream again in May following the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the subsequent protests. The conversation in the months after that had detractors scoffing with questions of what to do when there is a mass shooter, or a violent outbreak of some kind. On the surface, these can be considered good faith arguments as there are dangers to consider, but thankfully this panel sought to answer those questions.

Starting with the history of policing in the U.S., which, contrary to popular belief and intense marketing, was not created to “Protect and Serve.” In fact, the police, as known today, evolved from slave patrols, union busting, and gatekeeping Native people from their lands. This may not come as a shock to anyone reading this blog, but for those arguing for the police, or for police reform, this may be quite the surprise. This leads into the thesis brought forward by Nezhad and Tran Myhre, which is that you can’t reform a system that works as intended, which is to oppress marginalized groups under the orders of those with more resources and power. There is no reform, only abolition.

Of course, the hosts are quick to assure that there is no overnight process when it comes to abolition, just as there was no overnight process to create the current oppressive systems. That through strategies such as coming up with ways to reallocate funds from the police departments and into community programs designed to build a stronger and healthier place for people to live and thus eliminating the need for most, if not all, policing in general. This can only come from new community programs, which can only come from pushing and convincing local representatives of their worth.

The nonprofit MPD150, which has done the research to do an intensive performance review on the Minneapolis Police Department over their 150 years of existence, has many resources on what can be done to make these ostensible dreams into a reality. A lot of this means shifting the narrative away from the fallacious “Officer Friendly” and more towards the reality of the damage policing has done to BIPOC communities. When that can be done, then the real work begins. A lot of this, on the surface, may seem like unobtainable tasks. However, listening to these speakers as well as reading the intense discussions in the chat, I find myself excited for a world where people can be held accountable without the threat of violence. This more than anything else, is what makes Facing Race an amazing event that everyone should attend. After living without it for years, I am finding myself feeling hope again. And hope is a precious commodity that, in the right hands, can change the world for the better.

For more information on Facing Race, MPD150, Reclaiming the Block, and police abolition, you can go to the following resources:

https://facingrace.raceforward.org

https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/

https://www.mpd150.com/

https://www.interruptingcriminalization.com/

https://m4bl.org/

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