Bloody Weekend in Chicago: Last week’s PoliBlerd starts off with a record setting week in Chicago, Illinois; and unfortunately it’s not for the weather. During the fourth of July weekend, 10 people were killed including 7-year-old Amari Brown. Brown was shot as he was watching fireworks on Chicago’s west side.
Reports have been rising throughout the week on one of the most gruesome weekends on record. The current toll is an additional 55 people wounded by gunfire. One can only hope that the renewed attention to violence in Chicago will lead to successful policies that don’t included excessive police violence.
Eight is Enough: You may have seen the hashtag, #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches continued to trend on Twitter this week. In the past two weeks, since the horrifying shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, at least eight black churches in the south have caught fire. Although not all the churches has been directly linked to arson, many believe that these are acts of hate and qualify as hate crimes. The US Department of Justice is currently investigating.
And then the flag Came Down: As you may know, this has been a very emotion filled couple weeks after the tragic deaths of 9 African Americans in Charleston, SC in June. Their deaths were declared an act of domestic terrorism and the suspect is now in police custody. Since the shooting, several movements have pushed for the eradication of symbols of racism and aggression against people of color, including the removal of the Confederate battle flag .
Just in case you been under a rock or missed high-school American history, the Confederate battle flag was flown during the US Civil War and was later used by White Supremacists groups like the Klu Klux Klan to intimidate African Americans in the South. Although some southern states argue the “heritage” of the flag, it clearly has been the symbol of violence and oppression. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed into law a bill to remove the battle flag from the state Capitol on Thursday. If only we could get Texas to stop erasing racism and slavery from its history, perhaps we could feel like real progress is being made.
Freedom to Choose: Also this week, a group of Congress members led by Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California introduced the EACH Woman Act —standing for Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance. Its main aim is dismantling the Hyde Amendment, which since 1976 has stipulated that Medicaid cannot pay for abortions.
The bill would restore coverage for abortion services to women enrolled in insurance plans and programs offered or managed by the federal government, including Medicaid, Medicare, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Indian Health Services, and TRICARE, the federal health care program for military families.
This bill and others have been under steady attack, as various forms of abortion bans have been introduced and passed throughout the country. At the end of the day, whether you are pro-choice, pro-life or indifferent we can all agree regarding the autonomy of our bodies. Without the ability of all women to make and afford decisions necessary for their own lives and health care, or society is prohibiting women from leading self-determinate lives. Besides, if medicaid in certain states covers viagra, who are we to prohibit the women from using the same coverage for abortion? Double standard much?
Addressing the invisibility of girls of color: A new report released this week addresses a long ignored issue of the sexual abuse to prison pipeline for girls. The comprehensive report shows that girls of color are disproportionately affected. According to the report, released by the Human Rights Project for Girls, the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality and the Ms. Foundation for Women, 82 percent of girls in juvenile detention centers have been sexually or physically abused according. The worse part is that many of these girls have been incarcerated for issues related to their trauma or abuse while perpetrators are rarely found accountable .
The report, titled “The Sexual Abuse To Prison Pipeline,” says that detention centers often increase trauma for girls who have previously been abused, with 88 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system residing in facilities without licensed professionals as mental health counselors.
Currently, girls only make up 14 percent of incarcerated youth, but those numbers are rising. This is especially true for girls of color. Nationally, African-American girls constitute 14 percent of the general population but 33.2 percent of girls detained and committed; Native American girls make up only 1 percent of the general youth population but 3.5 percent of detained and committed girls.
Even if you aren’t a wonky report person, this report is a must read.
A. Angélique Roché is an attorney, educator and communications professional who nerd is strong. Currently she is a small business owner and works for a non-profit focusing on empowerment and social justice in addition to policy and advocacy work. Angelique has previously served as a legislatively aide for the United States Senate and held various positions on local, state and national campaigns including campaign manager for Nina Turner for Ohio Secretary of State, making her the first African-American woman to run a statewide campaign in Ohio.
With a lifelong commitment to the empowerment of women and girls, Roché founded The Washington Middle School for Girls Civic Engagement Program, an externship giving young women from a middle school in Washington, DC the opportunity to engage in hands-on afternoon civics classes at the U.S. Capitol. The externship allows students to learn about the democratic process while interacting with congressional staff and representatives from various administrative agencies. The program is now in its fourth year.
In addition to being a contributor to Black Girl Nerds, she is a freelance writer previously appearing on Blerdology and writing for the advocacy group, MomsRising.Org. Roché is a board member of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University, where she also serves on its faculty. She is a member of the board of directors for the EnVest Foundation, which is dedicated to educating and inspiring millennials to support nonprofit organizations and is part of the founders circle for Higher Heights for America.
Why Black Girl Nerds? Check out Angelique’s introductory post to the site, originally post in 2012