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Capital B Live: Highlights from “The Power of Black Stories” Day 1

A recap of some of the most poignant moments from Day 1 of our launch event, “The Power of Black Stories”

When the World Bears Witness

In a panel discussion about the impact of police brutality on families, Gwendolyn Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, and Shareeduh McGee-Tate, cousin of George Floyd, discussed their continuous fights for policy accountability and police reform, while also fighting to honor the memory of their family members. McGee-Tate spoke about “being a part of a fraternity or sorority that [they] didn’t ask to be a part of” and sharing the collective experience of losing a family member to police brutality with other people like Carr. “But I will tell you that whenever we are together, [it] does something to be around people who are in this with us. We are fuel for each other. We are able to support each other. … It’s always going to be at the forefront for us that we’ve lost our loved one. And so we have to be very dedicated to doing everything that we can to make sure people don’t forget.” In memory of Eric Garner and George Floyd, both women have started organizations to preserve the legacy of their loved ones and uphold the fight to end systemic violence.

Reflections On Black Narratives in Organizing (Q&A with Alicia Garza)

Black Lives Matter co-creator Alicia Garza sat down with Capital B Editorial Director Simone Sebastian and talked about the enduring movement for Black lives. “The same things that we’re fighting for now are very much the things that the people who came before us were fighting for,” Garza said. This year marks 10 years since Trayvon Martin’s death, and Garza expressed that while a lot of work has been done, she feels like there is more to do. Her hope for the next 10 years is “that we are able to really pivot to thinking about and to pushing for concrete change in the form of policy and not just symbols.”

Storytelling Break

“We were the narrators of our story, for the very first time, and it felt liberating. … People were listening to us, and people were accepting us back into the arms of society.” – Yusef Salaam on how storytelling via Ken Burns’ documentary “The Central Park Five ” helped him find his voice again. 

Centering Black People in the Climate Conversation

In a conversation led by Adam Mahoney, environmental justice reporter at Grist, climate change experts expressed their frustration over the struggle of centering Black voices and solutions in the struggle. “Why are Black people predisposed to disaster, no matter where they live? It’s in the design,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, CEO and president of Environmental Grantmakers Association. “We didn’t accidentally end up in places where our homes catch fire, where we flee floods, where we have to fight for access to water whilst living in front of it. Those are zoning, infrastructure, financial, and governmental decisions that when we’re not part of [those decisions], we become the subject of the worst parts,” Toles O’Laughlin said. 

Addressing The Eviction Crisis In Black Communities

Our panel discussion began with Atlanta resident Janahya Sugick sharing her experience with eviction over the course of the last few years. She expressed how “scary” the eviction process has been and the residual effects that losing a job can have on losing a home. Sugick shared that she has gotten an eviction notice every month since May 2020 and has paid over $4,000 in fees. “What the data has shown is that Black women are more than twice as likely to have evictions filed against them as white households,” said Sandra Park, ACLU senior staff attorney. “Black women who are facing and experiencing pay gaps, lack of access to intergenerational wealth, all sorts of different economic barriers that on top of that, are now also facing eviction and the housing insecurity that comes with it.”

“Housing is a human right, and I do believe that eviction is a form of policy violence against individuals and families,” U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley said.

Community Health In the Age of Covid

“We as a community, Black and brown people, look at our health care system and see the consistent and persistent ways that health inequities are created in our health care system and internalize that. And that shows for many of us that we have a health care system that has not demonstrated its trustworthiness,” said Dr. Giselle Corbie-Smith, director of the Center For Health Equity Research. Alabama resident Dorothy Oliver shared how she fought that mistrust to get nearly 100% of her Alabama town vaccinated. “[I had one person tell me], ‘You all can just leave my house. Cause I’m not going to take it. You’re nothing but politics.’ I had a lot of resistance,” Oliver said. She, along with her county health commissioner, persisted and made it their mission to talk to people door to door to get them vaccinated. They also were able to get a local vaccine clinic. “Before we got one up here, we had to go like 40 miles,” Oliver said. “40 miles to take somebody to get a vaccination.” 

“If we’re not mindful of this moment in time, then we’re going to miss the opportunity to really fix some of the structural issues that have led to inequalities in health since we’ve been collecting data on race and health for the past 400 years,” said Corbie-Smith. 

You can watch the replay of Thursday’s conversations on our YouTube Channel. To keep up with Capital B and join in our events, you can become a member, or subscribe to our newsletter. 

This event has been sponsored by Reebok.