Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!
Health, Poverty, Action, Social Justice Access. Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. “Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social workers aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone, particularly those in greatest need.” National Association of Social Workers. “Social justice encompasses economic justice.
From its inception until today, America has been a racist, sexist, patriarchal, caste-like society as defined by the White “founding fathers” and sustained by subsequent generations of privileged White men. As such, it has been the structural enforcement of systemic discrimination, not “biological destiny” that contributed to no woman having served as President of the United States and only one known Black man to have done so.
White men do not systematically earn higher salaries than all other men and women because they have an “inherent acumen” for functioning in a capitalistic society. Rather, many White men and their successors benefitted in extraordinary ways from doing things such as  stealing the land of Indigenous Americans;  profiting for centuries from the free labor of enslaved Africans;  suppressing the right to vote among women and people of color; and  implementing immigration policies and practices that benefitted particular groups of Europeans.
Periodically, scholars articulate theories that, in an earthquake fashion, severely shake the foundations of the world view on which the American White, male, racist, patriarchal, sexist, and caste-like society is based. When the theories sufficiently rattle these oppressive foundations by exposing the evils from which they were built, then one political response is the “dumbing down” of the theories.
Herein, “dumbing down” refers to the deliberate oversimplification of liberating theories in order to appeal in a simplistic fashion to those of low intelligence and/or education. Dumbing down is also a sloganeering, propaganda-like way to attack the scholars who articulated the theories as well as the content itself in order to defend the White, male, racist, sexist, patriarchal, and cast-like American society. Those proselytized are told that they must act against the evil scholars and their theories in order to achieve glorious goals such as “make America great again;” “restore traditional values;” and “maintain the moral fiber” of America.
We witnessed “dumbing down” decades ago when “Feminist Theory” was articulated. In response to the valid critiques of the various ways in which patriarchy, sexism, and homophobia oppressed women and others, “dumbing down” took place, for example, by labelling “feminists” as  “anarchists” who were determined to “destroy family values;”  “bra-burning” women who hated men; and  radical women who wanted to destroy the “sacred” institution of marriage. “Dumbing down” critics of feminism decried notions such as “women’s and men’s ways of thinking.” And woe unto the “feminists” who declared that not only was a “woman’s place” not limited to a male-dominated home, but a woman’s place was wherever she wanted it to be.
“Dumbing down” of theories that critique the “White male powers that be” is not just a matter of simple ignorance on the parts of the perpetrators. Rather, what is also operative is what Martin Luther King Jr. perhaps had in mind when he stated, “There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” as evidenced, for example, by a school board that sought to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) because it would make children feel rejected, sow divisions among the students, and cause some students to believe they were victims of oppression because of their color (See, The Pilot, May 11, 2021). As noted in the article, “Few speakers addressed the tenets of Critical Race Theory directly…”
Worse than sincere ignorance is deliberate lying about CRT for political purposes as was the case when Ted Cruz, a Harvard Law graduate, stated, “Let me tell you right now, critical race theory is bigoted, it is a lie, and it is every bit as racist as the Klansmen in white sheets.” Whereas Cruz has every reason to be aware of CRT’s basic tenets, others in the forefront of “dumbing down” CRT such as POTUS 45, Marjorie Taylor Green, and their propagandized followers have probably never read a paragraph of the voluminous scholarly CRT literature written by distinguished intellectuals such as Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado.
Those who have read a minimal amount of CRT literature know that CRT consists of undeniable basic propositions such as  racism has been and continues to be a systemic factor that impacts our educational, economic, legal, political and social systems in ways that contribute to race-related disparities in health, wealth and all other critically important indices relating to quality of life; and  as advanced by Kimberle Crenshaw, intersectionality is an analytic frame whereby multiple factors such as race, sex, religion, caste, and gender can be used to account for advantages and disadvantages in American society.
Instead of a “well-informed citizenry,” we find ourselves in the presence of the “dumbing down” CRT with one diabolical outcome being a new “lunatic fringe” that seeks to ban the teaching of CRT from public schools as well as throughout higher education. Indeed, “Banning CRT” might well become the “MAGA” slogan for forthcoming elections at all levels of American society. Sadly, some of those seeking to ban CRT are as ignorant as those who hated “Obamacare” but, at the same time, signed up for benefits from the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, “dumbing down” CRT can be as negatively impactful as in the case of the deadly consequences stemming from ignoring the science associated with the Coronavirus.
Regardless to whether it is simple or sincere ignorance and/or devious politically-inspired, essentially the “dumbing down” of CRT is a desperate attempt to maintain the caste-like society that was built on the foundations of Indigenous American genocide, the American holocaust of slavery, and ongoing racist, sexist, patriarchal policies and practices. As these horrendous foundational walls are attacked, of course those who benefitted most from the oppressive system are screaming the loudest. However, as in the biblical story “when the priests blew the rams horn, the army shouted, the walls came tumbling down, the people charged straight in, and they took the city,” the articulation of CRT is but the latest intellectually- inspired “blowing of the ram’s horn” that will help Americans tear down the walls of oppression. Therefore, folks must “stay woke” regarding the “dumbing down” of CRT lest they be duped by “wolves in sheep’s’ clothing” purporting to defend American democratic ideals.
Jack L. Daniel
Co-founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban View
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
July 21, 2021
Message from Allegheny County Common Pleas President Kim Berkeley Clark
As a former prosecutor, lawyer and judge, I take pride in the American system of justice, including the Constitutional protections that all citizens are afforded. I still have faith in our justice system and I am particularly proud of the justice system here in Allegheny County. We are well-respected throughout the United States and we are never satisfied with doing things the way we have always done them. We continue to work to improve our system of justice by making data-informed decisions, by implementing best practices and by working collaboratively with law enforcement and other stakeholders.
Notwithstanding my pride in our justice system, recent events, including the overdue acknowledgement and celebration of Juneteenth National Freedom Day, and the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, have led me to the decision that the Court must consciously and publicly address the waning public confidence in the justice system amidst the growing and compelling evidence that persons of color are at a greater risk of death or serious bodily injury at the hands of the police and are more likely to languish in the child welfare and juvenile and criminal justice systems than white persons.
These concerns raise questions of whether the justice system in America, including Allegheny County, is actually fair, whether the citizens perceive that our system of justice is fair, and whether, despite our best efforts, the American system of justice is replete with racial and ethnic disparities or operates under the cloud of systemic racism.
While judges have a duty to uphold the law and, in many cases, impose sanctions and consequences on those who violate the law, we have an equal duty to promote public confidence in the judiciary as an independent and unbiased institution. This means that Allegheny County Courts must be at the forefront in addressing these issues. We must undergo an ongoing and critical evaluation of how justice is administered in Allegheny County. It means we must openly acknowledge and address our flaws, rather than rely on the powers and privileges that may allow us to turn a blind eye to them. Please understand that our history is calling us to work collaboratively and inclusively to make positive changes in the justice system that will benefit all citizens.
Engraved above the front entrance of the United States Supreme Court Building, is the phrase “Equal Justice Under Law”. The words stem from the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which was adopted on July 9, 1868, in the wake of the Civil War, and which, among other things, granted citizenship to former slaves. This phrase has shaped American jurisprudence and is considered the gold standard of justice.
Despite the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, our history has demonstrated that justice has not always been equal for many Americans, particularly for racial and ethnic minorities, women, persons with disabilities, those who do not fit into what society has decided are traditional gender roles, and those living in poverty. What we need to do is ensure that we develop a justice system that not only promotes equality, but ensures equity.
To truly achieve justice, the proverbial scales of justice must be balanced. We must take into account the uneven playing field on which racial and ethnic minorities, those who do not squarely fit into traditional gender roles, other disadvantaged persons, and the poor enter the justice system. The public must see members of our local judiciary and court staff working with urgency to attain this goal in equal solidarity with them, with other justice-related institutions, and with each other. The Fifth Judicial District must rise to this generational challenge.
To the hundreds of dedicated civil servants and servant leaders of the Fifth Judicial District, please know that as I acknowledge these pressing questions, I also acknowledge the sacrifices you have made in the interest of serving the public as well as the stress and trauma that many of you endure in your positions. We are fortunate to have judges and staff, police officers, lawyers, victim advocates, and others who are dedicated to public service, who are committed to justice, who demonstrate a strong work ethic, and who possess a keen sense of fairness and respect for humankind. Our Court has been working hard to address the issues of racial and ethnic disparities and systematic racism in the justice system. Some examples of this are:
We have made progress, but the struggle is ongoing. We are committed to collecting and examining the data to identify disparities throughout all divisions of the justice system and will continue to examine our processes and procedures that might contribute to racial and ethnic injustice.
It may be difficult to know where to begin in the quest to create a system of equal justice for all. Consequently, I propose that in order to achieve a system that is both equal and equitable, we begin with a thorough and critical examination of our own mission to the public that we serve. We must have a mission that sets forth the Court’s responsibility to the public and we must evaluate everything that we do in light of our mission.
The mission will conspicuously appear on our website to remind the public that they have a right to justice that is free of bias and that the Court is firmly committed to addressing and eradicating ethnic and racial disparity, implicit bias, and systemic racism in our system of justice. Accordingly, I have asked a diverse group of citizens in Allegheny County and staff of the Fifth Judicial District to assist me with creating a mission for the Fifth Judicial District that truly sets forth our responsibility to all members of the public that we serve.
I am proud to serve as the President Judge of the Fifth Judicial District and thankful for the opportunity to work with judges and court staff who are so deeply committed to public service. In the near future, I look forward to presenting the new mission for the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania.
We will continue to examine our processes and procedures to demonstrate our commitment to equal justice under law and to keep us squarely on the path that will enable us to reach this goal. We will do our best to earn and keep your respect, and to hold ourselves accountable to the public that we serve.
I would like to thank the following people for their input, contribution to, and review of this message: Chris Connors, Angharad Stock, Lisa Herbert, Melinda Sala, Judge Mik Pappas, Lisette McCormick (Interbranch Commission of Gender Racial and Ethnic Fairness) Elizabeth Hughes (ACBA President), and the Administrative Team for the Fifth Judicial District.
“…Well, the only person talking about love thy brother is the preacher
…Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration
Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to my nation
… Fear in the air, tension everywhere…”
When it comes to police killing Blacks, the realization of justice demands that we not be victims of gaslighting, i.e., “…a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories…” (Jennifer Huizen, July 14, 2020). For example, gaslighting would have succeeded if police murdered a Black person(s) and, subsequently, Blacks and others accepted the excuse that the police officer(s) were confused when they committed their heinous crimes. Consider the following “balls of confusion.”
• In 1999, Bronx resident Amadou Diallo was unarmed but plainclothes police officers were allegedly confused when they fired 41 bullets into Diallo. This so-called confusion took place as Diallo, age 22, stood in a well-lighted area.
• In 2014, a Cleveland police officer, Timothy Loehmann, arrived on the scene and, within minutes, shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice because Loehmann claimed he confused Rice’s toy gun for a real gun.
• In 2018, Dallas police officer Amber Guyger murdered Botham Jean while he was in his apartment eating ice cream, after she supposedly confused his apartment for hers.
• In 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman was guilty of no crime when confused Louisville police officers Brett Hankison and Jonathan Mattingly and Officers Myles Cosgrove executed a “no knock” warrant at the wrong home; broke down her front door; awakened Ms. Taylor from her sleep; and murdered her with eight shots.
• In March 2021, a Chicago police officer Eric Stillman was supposed to be confused when he shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo, after Toledo had raised his hands without a gun in his hand. Gaslighting the public, Stillman was said to be confused as he made a “split-second” decision, notwithstanding the fact that the gun in question was on the ground a few feet from Toledo.
• In April, 2021, Daunte Wright, a 19-year-old, was killed by police officer Kimberly Potter during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Officer Potter Wright said she confused her Taser with her Glock. Coming to her defense, former Brooklyn Center Police Chief, Tim Gannon, attempting to gaslight the public by telling reporters, “This appears to me, from what I viewed in the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright."
It would take a tome to tell the extent of allegedly confused cops killing Blacks and, therefore, we can only take momentary solace in the guilty verdict for the vicious cop who murdered George Floyd.
One convicted cop does not aggrieve centuries of police killing innocent Blacks. Woke folks must remain in control of their faculties by remembering “…Black people in America are constantly at risk of state-sponsored violence and death. Police still exist to uphold White supremacy and have been empowered by laws and the courts to inject themselves into Black life for any reason, no matter how minor – even expired registrations. And as long as police continue to act as this occupying force and mechanism for social control in Black communities – horrific acts of police violence will be commonplace…” (Paige Fernandez, Policing Policy Advisor, National Political Advocacy Department, ACLU).
We must never forget the fact that today’s police abuse of Blacks is rooted in the South where “Slave Patrols” were created to “(1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules. Following the Civil War, these vigilante-style organizations evolved in modern Southern police departments primarily as a means of controlling freed slaves who were now laborers working in an agricultural caste system, and enforcing "Jim Crow" segregation laws, designed to deny freed slaves equal rights and access to the political system…” (Gary Potter, 2013).
Regarding contemporary Minnesota and alleged police confusion related to deadly choke holds, note that W. Lehren and Andrew Blankstein indicated that as of June 1, 2020, Minnesota police had used “neck restraints” 237 times and that three-fifths of the victims rendered unconscious were Black. One victim was “…a 17-year-old fleeing from a shoplifting incident. Another involved a traffic stop where the suspect was deemed "verbally non-compliant." Historically, lest we forget, “neck restraint” is a euphemistic term for the extreme tactic previously known as “lynching.”
No amount of “diversity and inclusion” rhetoric/workshops/sensitivity sessions/virtual meetings, etc. will change the forgoing systemic pathology. A million public pronouncements full of pathos post the finding of guilt regarding the murder of George Floyd will abate the modern modes of murder of Blacks by police. What is needed with all deliberate speed is a complete reimagining of what it means to serve as a police officer. Hopefully, many more convictions of confused cops will serve as a catalyst for this endeavor. If this does not occur, then the May and June 2021 nightly news will be filled with efforts to gaslight ongoing killings of Blacks and, once again, we are likely to experience a long, hot summer.
“If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!”
Jack L. Daniel
Co-founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
April 27, 2021
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark announce that the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has again awarded Allegheny County a $2 million grant to continue its efforts in collaboration to rethink the criminal justice system, safely reduce the county jail population, and eliminate racial inequities. The grant is part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, a $246 million national initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.
The Safety and Justice Challenge is supporting local leaders in Allegheny County and across the country determined to tackle one of the greatest drivers of over-incarceration in America – the misuse and overuse of jails. The county was first selected to join the collaborative Safety and Justice Challenge Network in 2017 with funding for a targeted project focused on building data dashboards to monitor key indicators in the criminal justice system. Since receiving the Safety and Justice Challenge grant in 2018, the population of the Allegheny County Jail is down 36%.
“We’re grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for its ongoing support of our efforts. Its continued funding of our collaborative efforts has allowed us to continue focusing on this important issue,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “While the pandemic slowed our progress in some areas, it also showed clearly that our collaborative efforts can be quite impactful when it comes to the overall population of the jail. We look forward to doing even more to improve our criminal justice system.”
Allegheny County was one of 15 jurisdictions selected for additional funding based on the promise and progress of work to date. This new round of funding will provide Allegheny County with continued support and expert technical assistance to strengthen and expand strategies that address the main drivers, and resulting racial inequities, of local jail incarceration.
Building on Allegheny County’s progress to date is especially critical as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustices against Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color reinforce the need to transform how the system operates. The response in Allegheny County to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a 77% reduction in jail bookings and the rapid review and release of people being held in the jail, demonstrated the ability to achieve a significantly smaller jail population without compromising public safety. People released from the jail at the start of the pandemic had lower recidivism rates than those released during the same time period in the previous year, and court filings for new criminal offenses have consistently remained below pre-pandemic levels.
“We are proud of the progress we have made in the past two years to safely reduce the Allegheny County Jail population. Incarceration should be reserved for those who have committed the most serious offenses and pose a risk to the safety of the public,” said Judge Kim Berkeley Clark, President Judge of the Fifth Judicial District. “The continued support of the MacArthur Foundation will advance our goals of eliminating unnecessary incarceration and ensuring a more fair and efficient criminal justice system for all.”
In partnership with the Courts and the District Attorney’s Office, and including departments under the executive branch, Allegheny County has developed a comprehensive plan for additional strategies and initiatives over the next two years to invest in a safer, more effective, and more equitable system. Key strategies to achieve this goal include:
· Preventing unnecessary arrest and incarceration of people in crisis due to substance use, mental illness, or homelessness;
· Implementing a revalidated pretrial assessment and supervision plan to reduce bookings at first appearance;
· Implementing Court efficiencies to reduce length of stay in the jail;
· Completing a community-informed redesign of the physical structure of the jail to reflect a significantly smaller census and optimize the space for rehabilitation;
· Partnering with the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics on a research project to identify drivers of racial and ethnic disparities throughout the criminal justice system and implement solutions; and,
· Engaging community members in the development of additional strategies.
Five years after its public launch, the Challenge Network has grown into a collaborative of 51 jurisdictions in 32 states modeling and inspiring reforms to create more fair, just and equitable local justice systems across the country.
“We must confront the devastating impacts of mass incarceration by a system that over-polices and over-incarcerates Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people,” said Laurie Garduque, MacArthur’s Director of Criminal Justice. “Over the past five years, the Safety and Justice Challenge has safely reduced the ineffective and harmful use of jails, while learning that jail population reduction alone does not undo the racial inequities perpetuated by an unjust system and our nation’s history of systemic racism. We are committed to supporting cities and counties as they reimagine a definition of safety that is inclusive of all communities and makes meaningful progress towards our goal of ending racial and ethnic disparities in jails.”
Several of the nation’s leading criminal justice organizations will continue to provide technical assistance and counsel to Allegheny County and its partners, and the other jurisdictions involved in the Challenge: the Center for Court Innovation, Everyday Democracy, Nexus Community Partners, the Institute for State and Local Governance at the City University of New York, the Justice Management Institute, Justice System Partners, the Pretrial Justice Institute, Policy Research, Inc., the Vera Institute of Justice, the W. Haywood Burns Institute, Urban Institute, and Bennett Midland.
More information about the work underway in Allegheny County can be found at www.alleghenycounty.us/safety-justice-challenge/index.aspx as well as on www.SafetyandJusticeChallenge.org.
After the May 2020 death of George Floyd and the waves of protests that followed, Pitt Business faculty member Paul Harper was moved to use his position to expand understanding of racial justice—both among business students who will be tomorrow’s leaders, and among colleagues in the field.
He’s been the driving force behind a new course at Pitt and an upcoming series of presentations by top business scholars that examine issues of racial justice at the intersection of business and society.
“Since the murder of George Floyd, there has been a consistent effort by people who are looking for a moral evolution. I am heartened by that—and young people are at the lead,” Harper said. “I want to have these conversations. These are the people who are going to move this world forward.”
As one of a very few Black business school faculty members nationwide, he “felt a personal responsibility to step forward and show leadership,” said Harper, a clinical assistant professor of business administration in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business whose research and teaching are focused on business ethics, international entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship and inclusive innovation.
A deeper understanding of racial justice is increasingly important to business students’ success, he said.
"Corporations are not immune to changes in public sentiment and the desire for social justice. The choice of which social issues a corporation ought to address, what constitutes the basis of moral duty and how that moral obligation is to be met falls under the intellectual purview of business ethics,” said Harper.
“For corporations and the schools that are tasked with training their management and leadership ranks, the strategic implications are clear: As much as this is about Black and white, about good and bad, and about right and wrong, it is also about winning and losing,” said Harper.
“Moving forward, corporations will need new leadership who are trained to understand, recognize and affirm calls for social justice emerging from the stakeholder ranks, and there will be fierce competition for the alumni of those schools who can provide that kind of strategy and business ethics training," Harper said.
Over the summer, Harper developed a new course to address the questions of structural racism, justice and capitalism. Race and Business Ethics was offered for the first time in fall and is again being offered this spring term through the College of Business Administration.
“The last thing I want to do is have students leave unprepared for dealing with the awakening giant of race consciousness,” he said. “You’re seeing a moral reckoning going on here. I couldn’t see how any quality business school could proceed without that.”
While business schools traditionally have addressed race in the context of interpersonal relations, Harper’s course takes a much broader perspective, starting with how U.S. business as an institution has been complicit in the racial exploitation that brought the nation to this point in its history.
Events that have made news headlines in recent months can be viewed through a business lens, Harper noted: Sports teams are grappling with whether players should be allowed to protest, as well as with the significance of racially-tinged team logos and branding. Prestigious financial institutions that benefited from the slave trade are being forced to examine their history and contemplate steps for moving forward more equitably. And universities are having to wrestle with the ways they have been complicit in the creation and maintenance of the systems that propagate and legitimize racial bias, he said.
These ethical questions are at the same time all business problems.
“The study of racial justice and business is not something that’s been done, but that is really the battleground. These questions relate to the brands you purchase, the teams you cheer on, the corporations you aspire to work for,” he said.
“If we take these issues dead-on, there’s the opportunity to have a high impact. That’s the place where change will be made.”
Beyond the University, Harper was named co-chair of a new Racial Justice Committee of the Social Issues in Management (SIM) Division of the Academy of Management (AoM). AoM is the preeminent international professional association for scholars of management and organizations.
If we take these issues dead-on, there’s the opportunity to have a high impact. That’s the place where change will be made.
He is the lead editor of an upcoming special issue on the topic of racial justice in the Journal of Business Ethics, the top journal in his field, and recently co-authored a virtual special issue that focused on the role of the corporation in eradicating structural racism.
Harper is continuing to leverage his expertise and his unique perspective with the launch of a new AoM SIM Division Racial Justice Web Forum that examines racial justice at the intersection of business and society.
Pitt’s Katz School is the lead sponsor of this free five-part series that features top business scholars from around the world.
The presentations are of particular interest to business professionals, but registration is open to the public.
The first online forum, “Racial Justice and Business Schools,” is set for 11 a.m. on Jan. 22. Harper will be among the panelists who will examine the role of race in business school curricula and research valuation.
Other events in the series are:
Racial Justice, Social Theory, and Business Ethics, 11 a.m. Feb. 12; Racial Justice and Business Technologies, 11 a.m. March 5; Racial Justice, History, and Business Ethics,11 a.m. March 26; and Racial Justice and Sustainability, 11 a.m. May 7.
In times of emotional turmoil, many people may not know exactly what to say to help calm the feeling of loss, sadness, anger and fear. But today and all the days going forward, none of us can remain silent when it comes to the continued loss and suffering experienced by our friends, neighbors and co-workers of color, as well as others who are the victims of racism and social injustice.
We must have honest and open conversations around equality and racism in our country. It is heartbreaking and gut-wrenching to see our fellow citizens from the black community continue to experience inequality and racism, and, collectively, we must raise each other up as we work toward solutions. We must never forget George Floyd and the many others who have experienced abuse and senseless deaths.
Pittsburgh has thrived as a travel destination because of the diversity of our neighborhoods and the amazing arts and cultural scene that reflects the talents of artists from different race and backgrounds.
As one of the largest industries in Allegheny County employing more than 43,000 employees, we have a powerful voice and a responsibility to ensure that our employees, neighbors and visitors are treated fairly and with respect.
We promote Pittsburgh as a welcoming city to visitors from around the world. ‘Pittsburgh. You are Welcomed Here.’ is more than a tagline, but a commitment to ensure that not only do our visitors feel welcomed, but, most importantly, that all our residents are welcomed, valued and are afforded the same dignity and respect.
While it is important for us to speak out, it is equally important for us to listen. We are receiving thoughtful, deliberate and heart-felt messaging from these protests. We must listen.
At VisitPITTSBURGH, we will actively engage with our community partners in equity and inclusion efforts, ensure we represent Pittsburgh’s diversity in our story telling, support our black and minority business partners and celebrate the region’s black and minority community members.
We aim to ensure that our voice is part of this community dialog. While we do not have all the answers, we are here and willing to do our part.
President and CEO
Jerad Bachar, President and CEO
Gwen’s Girls and the Black Girls Equity Alliance releases a new report, Understanding and Addressing Institutionalized Inequity: Disrupting Pathways to Juvenile Justice for Black Youth in Allegheny County.
Local data presents a stark picture of the ways Black children are disproportionately arrested
and cited at school, often for minor offenses.
For the last four years, Allegheny County, Juvenile Probation Office (JPO), Allegheny County
Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police have engaged with
the Black Girls Equity Alliance, providing and analyzing data and discussing the practices that
contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.
“This report specifically opens up an educational dialogue about system response to African
American youth and Minority groups. I would ask that each partner takes this report back to
their agency and have "real conversations." Then we can help each other come together with
solutions,” Kimberly Booth, Assistant Chief Juvenile Probation Officer, Allegheny County.
“This report makes it clear: Pittsburgh’s schools, like its other institutions, are racially biased against Black students,” said Kathi Elliott, CEO of Gwen’s Girls and convener of the Black Girls
Equity Alliance. “The over-policing of students doesn’t make our schools any safer – many of the arrests, referrals or citations are for minor incidents considered disorderly conduct, such as being loud and disruptive, swearing, or making obscene gestures. Black students engaging in
typical teenage behavior are treated as criminals and that record follows them for years. It’s time to focus on solutions. We are looking forward to collaborating with the many system leaders to implement policies and practices that support our students and not criminalize
• Pittsburgh Public Schools police are the largest juvenile justice referral source for Black
girls in Allegheny County.
• The majority of arrests made by Pittsburgh Public Schools police are for minor offenses
that are not safety related. In 2019, 54% of PPS police’s arrests of Black girls and 42% of
Black boys ultimately resulted in a criminal charge of disorderly conduct, a highly
discretionary charge that is frequently affected by racial biases.
• Students with disabilities constitute a large proportion of Pittsburgh Public Schools
students referred to juvenile justice by the Pittsburgh Public Schools police.
• Black youth are 10 times more likely than White youth to be referred to juvenile court
for failure to pay fines.
The report concludes with recommendations for schools, law enforcement, judges, policy
makers, funders, and service providers.
Source: Gwen's Girls
Presenting Breonna Taylor for Vanity Fair’s September issue, “The Great Fire.”
Five months have passed since police killed Breonna Taylor in her own home, a violent crime that our September issue guest editor Ta-Nehisi Coates ascribes to a belief in Black people as a disaster, as calamity. “I don’t know how else to comprehend the jackboots bashing in Breonna Taylor’s door and spraying her home with bullets, except the belief that they were fighting some Great Fire—demonic, unnatural, inhuman.”
Coates chose the "The Great Fire" as the theme for the issue, which assembles activists, artists, and writers to offer a portrait of hope in a world where the possibility of a legitimate anti-racist majority is emerging for the first time in American history. “Something is happening,” writes @tanehisipcoates, “and I think to understand it, we must better understand the nature of this Great Fire.”
For his cover story, Coates tells Breonna’s story through the words of her mother. Also in the issue: an oral history of the historic days after George Floyd's death; a portfolio of creatives and visionaries who capture the spirit—and urgency—of the moment; director @ava DuVernay's conversation with revolutionary Angela Davis; and much more. Read “The Great Fire” at the link in bio now. Painting by Amy Sherald (@asherald).
The City of Pittsburgh remains committed to fighting housing discrimination, despite recent actions by the Trump Administration to roll back fair housing rules.
The Department of Housing and Urban Redevelopment stripped protections from Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) regulations, which are meant to reduce residential segregation, housing discrimination, and unlawful housing practices that were borne out of systemic racism.
Despite this move by the Trump Administration, Mayor William Peduto and the Commission on Human Relations (CHR), with the support of the Fair Housing Partnership of Greater Pittsburgh, remain committed to reducing discrimination, and will continue to enforce AFFH regulations as they have since 2015.
“This is just the latest move by the Trump Administration to reinforce generations of systemic racism plaguing our communities, in which government housing policy is used to negatively impact black people by not allowing the same opportunities that other neighbors have,” Mayor Peduto said.
“With rising rents nationwide, a shortage of affordable housing, and new housing instability created by COVID-19, we must create just and equitable housing opportunities in order to provide safe housing as a human right, available to all and free of discrimination,” CHR Executive Director Megan Stanley said.
The new rule increases the risk of segregation and harmful practices rooted in systemic racism, as practices like redlining continue in Pittsburgh and other communities around the nation. It comes as the Commission has adjudicated 25% more housing discrimination complaints than the previous year, which shows the City needs more, not less, protections and policies in place to reduce unfair housing practices.
CHR has partnered with CREATE Lab on Earthtime visualizations on the need for AFFH in Pittsburgh and is now extending these efforts into City Planning and public engagement.
It also formed a AFFH Task Force, which released a report on fair housing this spring.
Source: City of Pittsburgh
Mayor Bill Peduto committed to Fair Housing and reducing discrimination.
In the last several weeks, POISE has been approached by a number of Black-Led Organizations, Activists, and individuals inquiring if the Foundation has a Fund that supports Black social justice and equity efforts in light of current events concerning police violence, social injustice and systemic anti-Black racism.
In 2018, POISE Foundation created the Human Equity and Justice Fund (HEJF) in the wake of the killing of Antwon Rose in Pittsburgh, PA and the shootings and beatings of numerous other Blacks, including high school children at the hands of the police.
The purpose of the Human Equity and Justice Fund (HEJF) is to provide immediate financial support to organizations and movements that are on the frontlines responding to crises that significantly impact the Black community.
In light of the recent killings of Blacks across the country by law enforcement, racial disparities across education, income and employment and the extreme disproportionate manner in which COVID-19 is affecting African Americans both at home and throughout the country, POISE is proactively opening up a grantmaking program today through the HEJF. Grants will fall into two categories:
Rapid Response Mini-Grants
These grants will provide immediate financial support up to $2,500 to support Black-led, Black-serving organizations and movements that are on the frontlines responding to a crisis that could not have been anticipated which significantly impacts Allegheny County’s Black community.
Racial Equity Seed Grants
These grants will provide programming support up to $5,000 for Black-led, Black- serving organizations that are advancing youth-led social change, and community-based intergenerational collaborations and programming within the racial justice space.
For more information about the HEJF, including details about how to apply for a grant and eligibility criteria please visit our HEJF website page at: www.poisefoundation.org/hejf
Mark S. Lewis, President and CEO of POISE Foundation commented:
"We are in a moment where our country recognizes the inhumanity that has existed for centuries cannot continue. We also recognize that moments fade. We need to ensure that this moment becomes a movement with no end until human equity is achieved. This fund seeks to support both this moment and building capacity for the movement."
POISE Foundation is actively fundraising for the HEJF and hopes that individuals and organizations from throughout the country who are concerned with promoting equality and social justice will strongly support this initiative by making contributions to the HEJF at: https://poisefdn.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=1140
POISE is coordinating its HEJF fundraising campaign right now in association with Black Philanthropy Month 2020 that starts on Saturday, August 1, 2020 and continues throughout the month. Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), observed every August, is a global celebration and concerted campaign to elevate African-descent giving. More information about BPM is outlined below.
Most recently, important funding for the HEJF has been provided by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation and McAuley Ministries. A list of Individuals and Organizations that have recently donated to the HEJF are outlined on POISE’s website at: www.poisefoundation.org/contributions-to-the-fund-hejf
Source: POISE Foundation
On Tuesday July 28, 2020 Pittsburgh City Council finally passed five pieces of legislation sponsored by Council members Rev Ricky Burgess and R. Daniel Lavelle to reform the Pittsburgh Police. Those five pieces of legislation include:
Rev. Burgess says “We can cannot ignore the large national outcry from protests including Pittsburgh residents about the unjust deaths of unarmed people of color like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We must implement fundamental police reforms and significantly fund evidence based violence reduction social service programs. The best way to improve public safety is not just additional police officers but rather by increasing the community’s confidence in the police. It is time to have an open inclusive conversation about the future of policing in this country and here in Pittsburgh”
Councilman Lavelle says, “During these times it is critically important that we not only acknowledge the voices of those marching in the streets but also provide a legislative platform for them to directly engage in the governance and policing of our city. The idea that more policing can solve a broad range of community problems is misguided. What our communities need, particularly communities of color, is more direct investment in things like: affordable housing, better education, counseling for trauma and addiction, youth development, workforce development, and public transit.”
On June 30, 2020, the SSA Board of Trustees voted unanimously to discontinue the use of the Indian as Shady Side Academy's mascot and the name of its competitive teams, effective July 1, 2020.
Statements on the Changing of Shady Side Academy’s Athletic Mascot from SSA’s President and Athletic Director
Shady Side Academy President Bart Griffith Jr. ’93:
“Shady Side’s administration fully supports the trustees’ decision to discontinue
the Indian as the Academy’s mascot, and we look forward to leading our
community through the process to select a new mascot in the coming months. As
a proud alum and someone who appreciates both the history and continued
evolution of Shady Side, I believe we have a unique opportunity to establish a
symbol that more fully unites our community and assists in building upon the
already strong spirit of the school.”
Shady Side Academy Director of Athletics Gene Deal:
“I am confident our administration, faculty, students, and parents will embrace
this challenge with respect and kindness. This is an opportunity for us to come
together as a community and embrace a larger vision. I am excited for our
student body to have a mascot that we can all rally behind and cheer for at our
athletic games. I predict this will elevate our school spirit to a new level. Onward
NFL clubs today adopted new procedures in diversity, equity and inclusion. In approving a resolution and other rules changes, league officials will implement wide-sweeping workplace reforms to increase employment opportunities and advancement for minorities and women across the league.
"We believe these new policies demonstrate the NFL Owners' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the NFL," said Pittsburgh Steelers owner and chairman of the Workplace Diversity Committee, Art Rooney II. "The development of young coaches and young executives is a key to our future. These steps will assure coaching and football personnel are afforded a fair and equitable opportunity to advance throughout our football operations. We also have taken important steps to ensure that our front offices, which represent our clubs in so many different ways, come to reflect the true diversity of our fans and our country."
The resolution changes the current Anti-Tampering Policy by establishing a system that prohibits a club from denying 1) an assistant coach the opportunity to interview with a new team for a bona fide Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator, or Special Teams Coordinator position; (2) a non-high-level/non-secondary football executive from interviewing for a bona fide Assistant General Manager position. In either case, a contract could not be negotiated or signed until after the conclusion of the employer club's playing season; and 3) requires all clubs submit in writing an organizational reporting structure for the coaching staff with job descriptions for any coach who is a coordinator or co-coordinator within that structure. The resolution also requires that any dispute regarding whether the new team is offering a "bona fide" position will be submitted promptly to the Commissioner, whose determination shall be final, binding and not subject to further review.
The resolution was put forth by the Workplace Diversity Committee, chaired by Rooney and the Competition Committee, chaired by Rich McKay (Atlanta Falcons). The league also announced expansion of Rooney Rule requirements and implementation of enhanced diversity policies.
The enhancements to the Rooney Rule include changes both on and off-the-field. Clubs will now be required to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coach vacancies; at least one minority candidate for any of the three coordinator vacancies; and at least one external minority candidate for the senior football operations or general manager position.
For the first time the Rooney Rule will also apply to a wide range of executive positions. Clubs must now include minorities and/or female applicants in the interview processes for senior level front office positions such as club president and senior executives in communications, finance, human resources, legal, football operations, sales, marketing, sponsorship, information technology, and security positions. The league office will also adhere to these requirements.
"The NFL is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I believe is critical to our continued success," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognize, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more. The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league."
Comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion plans will be implemented at all 32 clubs and the league office to include education, training, and universal data collection. Additionally, an advisory panel, with input from the Fritz Pollard Alliance, will be convened to promote ideas to foster an inclusive culture of opportunity both on and off the field.
In other steps, for the first time, all 32 NFL clubs will host a coaching fellowship program geared towards minority candidates. These fellowships are full-time positions, ranging from one to two years, and provide NFL Legends, minority, and female participants with hands-on training in NFL coaching. While positions at each organization vary, these programs help identify and develop talent with the goal of advancing candidates to full-time coaching positions through promotion within.
Additionally, the NFL has two long-standing fellowship programs focused on increasing the pipeline for minority coaching and player personnel candidates– the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship and the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship.
The NFL's Workplace Diversity Committee is comprised of owners and executive personnel to include: Chair, Art Rooney II (Pittsburgh Steelers); Michael Bidwill (Arizona Cardinals); Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons); Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens), Kim Pegula (Buffalo Bills), George H. McCaskey (Chicago Bears). E. Javier Loya (Houston Texans); and John Mara (New York Giants).
The NFL's Competition Committee consists of two owners, two club presidents, two general managers, and three head coaches: Chair, Rich McKay (Atlanta Falcons), Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens), Stephen Jones (Dallas Cowboys), John Elway (Denver Broncos), Mark Murphy (Green Bay Packers), Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints), John Mara (New York Giants), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins).
The policy changes were developed in consultation with the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which advocates for diversity and job equality in the league.
White supremacy is a long-rooted destructive social determinant that contributes significantly to disparities in education, health, housing, wealth, and, in general, quality of life. When addressing this Revelations-like “Beast,” we must understand that institutional statements about Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Inclusion are just statements unless oppressed people force institutions to also proactively pursue equity and social justice. Otherwise, we witness appalling things such as the Rooney Rule being adopted in 2003 when there were 3 Black Head Coaches and, in 2020, there are 3 Black Head Coaches.
Because of its ability to regenerate, White supremacy deserves responses as rigorous as those made to Covid-19, i.e., systemic interventions by all societal sectors. Regarding Blacks’ responses to White supremacy, this article was stimulated by my colleague, Dr. Curtiss E. Porter (Chancellor Emeritus, Penn State Greater Allegheny) who wrote, “I am concerned about this generation’s response to White Supremacy… It appears to me, that they think ‘words are enough,’ which I will generalize in the headline ‘Dear White People.’ They are brilliant in articulating the vectors and intersections of racial substance, thought and action, such as the negative outcomes posed by micro-aggression but, in the end, it appears, that much is directed toward some ‘great white ear’ which will hopefully respond munificently.”
In the spirit of Sankofa, a backward look was taken to recall what “brought us thus far” and, based on current circumstances, discern implications for today’s fight against White supremacy. This brief reflection confirms, for example, that “Freedom only comes through persistent revolt, through persistent agitation, through persistently rising up against the system of evil.” (Martin Luther King Jr.) As corroborative evidence, consider two significant periods during the war against White supremacy.
1663-1865 The African Holocaust in America, also known as slavery, remains one if not the worst example of inhumanity --one that produced such excruciating suffering that “ride-or-die” folks were needed in the pursuit of freedom. The horror produced by demonic White supremacists led to people who  leaped from slave ships into the seas;  conducted more than 250 slave rebellions;  implemented work slowdowns by breaking tools and setting fire to crops;  killed newborns rather than let them grow up as slaves;  served as “House Negroes” but spied on masters in order to help “Field Negroes” plan attacks against the master; and,  fled from plantations. These were the proverbial “desperate times that required desperate measures,” including the fact that it took the bloodiest American war to end slavery.
1954-1980 Immediately after the Civil War, there were continued bombings, burnings, lynchings, and shootings of Blacks. Jim Crow laws were passed to enforce racial segregation. Racism became institutionalized. For more than a century, by law and in practice, Blacks were subjugated second class citizens. Therefore, the Civil Rights Movement was driven by a sense of urgency as well as commitment to a wide array of direct actions undergirded by Martin Luther King Jr’s exhortation “…that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Accordingly, instead of simply hoping that White leaders would respond munificently,  Black students confronted and made demands on historically White institutions of higher education;  Black national organizations won a series of key court cases;  Black community activists boycotted, marched, sat-in and made demands on local governments, schools, and businesses;  Blacks, by way of urban insurrections, exploded like a “festering raisin in the sun;” and  Let us not forget that Dwight Eisenhower sent troops to Arkansas and, later, Lyndon Johnson sent troops to Alabama.
Blacks’ direct action was supplemented by a plethora of efforts to raise “race consciousness,” i.e.,  to move from an inferior and subservient self-concept as a “Negro” to a proud and self-assertive “Black” mentality; and  to gain “Black power” which included Blacks doing for self as well as taking their rightful places in public spaces, e.g., to freely attend public schools as well as build Black owned and operated schools; to work in corporate positions as well as become entrepreneurs; to be fairly covered in the White-owned press as well as create Black newspapers; and to dine at any public restaurant as well as own and operate restaurants.
2000-2020 “Diversity and Inclusion” replaced “affirmative action” but did not significantly advance “equity and social justice” for Blacks. During this period, members of the “talented tenth” became the first Blacks to occupy various managerial, political, and staff positions; Black students gained a significant but token presence in higher education; and more Blacks escaped the worst of poverty. However, by 2020, disparities were growing like a lethal virus as evidenced by widening gaps in Black home ownership, health, educational achievement, and wealth. This scenario reminds one of when more than 40,000 Blacks got back on the White folks’ buses instead of also building upon the transportation system they developed during the Montgomery boycott.
Regarding Blacks’ addressing White supremacy, I have a dream that, one day, the very best Black student-athletes, other students, faculty, administrators and staff will choose to take their talents to several leading historically Black colleges and universities and turn them into externally verified world class colleges and universities. I have a dream that there will be more OWN channels, Tyler Perry Studios, Black law firms, Black banks, Black construction companies, Black grocery stores, and, in general, an exponential expansion of Black entrepreneurship.
In my dream, Blacks will deal with the full implications of Carter G. Woodson’s statement, “The education of the Negroes, then, the most important thing in the uplift of the Negroes, is almost entirely in the hands of those who have enslaved them and now segregate them.”
I dream of White supremacy withering on the vine when  Blacks become the largest active voting block and Black elected officers are multiplied significantly;  Black civic organizations, churches, and families regain their critical importance;  Blacks’ undying love for their people is wed to sustained systematic actions;  the most talented and highest achieving Blacks constantly speak truth to power instead of being muzzled by “30 pieces of silver;” and  the struggle against White supremacy is joined by all people purporting to endorse freedom, justice and equality.
Jack L. Daniel
Co-founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
May 13, 2020
“I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and he would be free’
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
A plea, that upward to Heaven he flings-
I know why the caged bird sings.”
-Paul Laurence Dunbar-
Wearily we watch as “Black babies face double the risk of dying before their first birthday” (see Gaby Galvin, August 1, 2019). Tragically, Black teens have the highest probability of becoming a homicide victim. The most gifted Black child’s life can be halted when a wanton bullet finds its deadly mark. Black men know that jogging while wearing a “hoodie” and a Covid-19 protective mask could contribute to them being murdered. Like Sandra Bland, days after a traffic stop arrest, a Black woman can be found dead in a cell, or, as with Breonna Taylor, be aroused from sleeping and murdered during a “botched” police raid.
Far too many Black lives are ones in which hopes are routinely dashed; excruciating pain is daily delivered; spirits are constantly broken; and life is like trying to breath inside a stifling vault. For no other reason than being Black, these harsh things and more are strapped on Blacks’ backs and, in turn, contribute to the rapid rise in mental illness among Blacks (See Cordilia James and Petersen Pedersen in the Wall Street Journal, July, 21, 2020).
More than a century after Dunbar wrote the above poem, my father-in-law (Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr.) experienced what all highly accomplished Blacks know, i.e., that “doing the right things” does not provide him/them with a pass to escape the deleterious fate of being born Black in America. He did his undergraduate work at Tuskegee; earned his law degree from Yale; served as an army officer during World War II; was a NAACP Western Region general counsel; and, while assisting President John F. Kennedy, he agreed to take part in an inspection of military troops stationed in Japan.
While in Japan, a Japanese citizen sought to understand the extent of White American racism by asking, “Mr. Colley, if you go to Mississippi, will they also put dogs on you too?” My father-in-law said, “Yes, if I go to Mississippi, they’ll put dogs on me too!” For the rest of his life, Colley Sr. reminded himself and others that neither his Tuskegee and Yale degrees nor his many distinguished trial lawyer accomplishments would prevent “dogs from being put on him too” ---that Malcolm X spoke truth when he asked and answered, “What do Whites call a Negro with a PhD? A Nigger!”
Recently, I had a reminder that “dogs could be put on me too. The rear deck of my home is about 15 feet from the water that feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. An armed White police officer walked past my home many evenings and spoke to me as I sat on my deck. His seemingly friendly “hellos” caused me to have a lapse in judgment, but I was reminded of who I was when I went down to the boardwalk to fish.
As the White officer approached, I said “Hello,” and he said, “Excuse me, do you live here?” I said “Yes” and, pointing to my home, I added, “I speak to you from that deck behind us when you pass by each evening.” He said, “Oh and, by the way, you have to move your stool off the boardwalk. There are no chairs allowed on the boardwalk.” Noticing the gun strapped on the officer’s hip, I knew being a Black man was in play, not “Dr. Jack L. Daniel, the emeritus Vice Provost and Distinguished Service Professor.” Hence, I said nothing and moved my stool.
After the officer left, I thought about what could have happened had I gotten angry, jumped up and asked, “How can you ask me if I live here when, after so many evenings, you passed by my home and spoke to me?” In minutes, the story could have become, “After fearing for his life, officer accidentally shoots angry man who was breaking the law on residential boardwalk,” followed shortly thereafter with “#Jack L. Daniel, say his name.”
If you are Black in America, then you don’t drive your car; walk down the street; barbecue in a public park; enter your own apartment late at night; fall asleep in the reception area of a dorm hall; attempt to cash a check with “Dr.” in front of your name; or engage in any normal activity without the nagging realization that you could become a fatal statistic. You can’t be stopped at a red light without the possibility of a White male throwing lighter fluid on you and setting you on fire as was done recently to a Black woman in Wisconsin. Even in death, as was the case for Congressman John Lewis, racist derived inhumanity was put on full display when, in their “tributes to John Lewis,” Republican Congressman Marco Rubio and Senator Dan Sullivan mistakenly posted pictures of themselves and Elijah Cummings.
Notwithstanding the woes of being Black in America, we of good faith will continue to do as John Lewis commanded, i.e., “get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America.” We will do so because we know, as John Legend sang, “One day when the glory comes; It will be ours, it will be ours; One day… When the war is won; When it's all said and done; We'll cry glory, oh glory.”
Jack L. Daniel
Co-Founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
July 29, 2020
Civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis.
Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today announced the release of DHS’ first Racial Equity Report. The report details ongoing efforts underway by DHS and its partners to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion through this work in order to be a partner in correcting systemic racism and inequities.
“After the last year, we’ve learned more than ever that it is not enough to speak an opposition to racism and a commitment to equity. Black Lives Matter – but this is not just a value. This must be a call to action for all of us to use our privilege and our position to try to make the world a better place for everyone,” said Secretary Miller. “DHS has an incredibly broad reach that gives us the opportunity to impact people and these social determinants of health across their lifespan, and we are committed to not letting this opportunity slip away.”
DHS serves more than 3 million people directly through its programs, but its reach extends much farther. As the public assistance agency for Pennsylvania, DHS administers Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which help Pennsylvanians access health care, purchase groceries, heat their homes in the winter, and cover other essential needs. DHS also oversees Pennsylvania’s child welfare system and licenses long-term care facilities, behavioral health and intellectual disability/autism service providers and residential care providers, and child care centers and early education programs across Pennsylvania. This reach – both through direct services and licensing and quality oversight – allows DHS to influence Pennsylvanians across their lifespan.
The report covers work in health equity, economic justice, early childhood education, child welfare, and juvenile justice. DHS is also looking to promote this work within the organization, where leadership and staff have participated in training and educational opportunities as an organization to broaden a collective understanding of topics like equity, racism, privilege, trauma, and intersectionality as it relates to the agency’s work. The report details an overview of Pennsylvania’s work in this space and relevant data where available, opportunities for growth identified, ongoing work, and next steps to help bring this work to fruition. The report is meant to establish a starting point for DHS and its partners to guide efforts moving forward.
“My hope is that by releasing this report, we can begin a conversation that will improve our work on behalf of the people we serve and help encourage others within our systems to be a part of this journey. This report is our commitment to making DHS an actively anti-racist organization where we can start to do our part to reverse centuries of inequity that many still experience every day,” said Secretary Miller. “We will seek to be an active ally in this work. The more than 3 million people DHS serves, our nearly 16,000 employees, and the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a whole deserve this.”
“The Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs commends Secretary Miller and the Racial Equity Steering Committee at DHS from moving beyond rhetoric and acknowledgement to measurable and meaningful action,” said Jalila Parker, executive director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs. “Working to dismantle institutional racism and discriminatory practices is uncomfortable work that needs to become standard and comfortable in today’s diverse society. We are committed to supporting Secretary Miller and DHS in this work.”
“The DHS Racial Equity report takes a closer lens of the alarming systemic racism that face our communities and is an issue that can no longer be ignored. According to census data there are approximately 1 million Latinos residing in Pennsylvania, and this data is likely to grow with the 2020 Census,” said Luz Colon, executive director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs. “We are dedicated to join forces and identify the gaps of services and lead the fight for justice, equity and create opportunity for the Pennsylvania Latinos. Together we will stand strong to address systemic inequities to live a better tomorrow.”
The full Racial Equity Report and an abbreviated summary are available here Opens In A New Window
Source: PA GOV.
Teresa D. Miller is Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
DICK'S is the first sports-related company to support the LISC impact investment fund
DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc., the largest U.S.-based, omni-channel sporting goods retailer, is investing $12.5 million in the Black Economic Development Fund to fuel minority lenders and anchor institutions and businesses as part of an effort to close the racial wealth gap.
DICK'S is the first sports-related company to invest in the fund, which is managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national impact investor that has invested more than $22 billion to promote economic opportunity in urban and rural communities.
With investments from DICK'S and other corporate investors, LISC expects to raise more than $100 million for the fund by year-end. Investments will include deposits in Black-owned banks and financing for minority businesses, charter schools, affordable housing projects, and athletic facilities – all designed to support economic development in communities of color.
"DICK'S started as a small business with just two stores in upstate New York, so we understand the critical importance of access to capital," said DICK'S Sporting Goods Chairman and CEO Ed Stack. "We're pleased to be able to take action and help Black-owned businesses get the resources they need to grow and continue to be an essential part of communities."
LISC announced the fund this summer, encouraging corporations to make investments that are specifically designed to improve economic opportunity for Black Americans and, at the same time, boost the national economy as well. The racial wealth gap has cost the U.S. economy an estimated $16 trillion over the last two decades.
"One of the most exciting aspects of this fund is that it offers companies like DICK'S, which already have strong philanthropic commitments, an opportunity to also invest their assets in ways that help promote inclusive growth and opportunity," said George Ashton, managing director of LISC Strategic Investments, the organization's fund management and venture capital arm.
"This isn't charity," he explained. "It is a treasury strategy that directs corporate funds to businesses that fuel broad social and economic benefits. This investment strengthens the American consumer base, builds up our communities, and makes our economy work better for everyone," Ashton said.
DICK'S Sporting Goods Chairman and CEO Ed Stack