The Black Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (BWLAM) stands in solidarity with our ancestors, our brothers and sisters on the frontlines and those moving in silence in the quest for social justice change.

To be black in America is to be an unwilling participant in a game that you do not know the rules to but must play in order to survive. The game is called Systematic Oppression. Systematic Oppression is a system filled with other systems like the legal system, slavery, white privilege, racial bias, colorism, gender bias, wealth privilege, pipeline to prison, over policing communities of color, separate and unequal, generational poverty, reparations for some, police unions, Jim Crow, governmental immunity, emergency managers, poll tax, unclean drinking water, legacy privilege, redlining, gerrymandering, segregation, broken promises (40 acres), housing discrimination, juries of no peers, lending discrimination, food deserts, institutional racism, xenophobia, racial profiling, wage inequality, Dream Act, victimization, gentrification, voter suppression, geographic discrimination, war on drugs, homelessness, devout patriotism, skeptical patriotism, white-washed public education, education discrimination, religious persecution, gun ownership, 3 strikes, mass incarceration, lack of universal health care, servitude, undiagnosed mental illness and the systems are endless.

It appears that a shift in the system is taking place not just in America but globally. That shift is being driven by a new generation of leaders who know that Black Lives Matter and are no longer going to stand in wait hoping for change, but have taken to the streets and social media to demand change. BWLAM will lend its voice, platform and resources to help those on the frontline and those moving in silence. BWLAM supports the following non-exhaustive list of demands for change.

  1. The United States Department of Justice should rescind the memo of former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which weakened future and current court-enforced consent decrees with local police departments.
    1. (a) All future consent decrees should be mandated to include both implicit bias training and reinstate residency requirements for departments.
  2. Eliminate Qualified Immunity for governmental officials who unjustifiably harm and kill citizens.
  3. Simplify the Definition of Acting Under Color of Law so that if an officer causes injury it is not automatically assumed sanctioned by state authority.
  4. Eliminate Grand Juries in Police Officer Prosecutions to eliminate the secrecy of evidence.
  5. No more local police and self-policing to ensure that there are proper checks and balances.
    1. (a) Police academies should be run by the state. Once you pass through the academy you then have to get licensed by an independent state police board made up of local citizens that are in no way connected to law enforcement.
    2. (b) In order to be granted a license the candidate must be INDIVIDUALLY INSURED AND BONDED to be employed by a local police department: similar to doctors, contractors, car dealers, repair shops, lawyers, etc. You cannot serve in local law enforcement without the proper individual licensing, insurance and bonding.
    3. (c) All disciplinary issues are handled through the independent state board and they can issue disciplinary actions that should include additional tactical training, sensitivity training, cultural training, mental health training, de-escalation training, paid and unpaid leave, termination, etc.
    4. (d) If an officer loses his/her insurance and bonding, they lose their license and the ability to be an officer.

Currently, in America, we have what social justice activist Noam Chomsky, refers to as living memory. Living memory is the ability to remember events and situations by people who are alive now. The civil unrest is unfolding daily. You are on notice that a problem exists. Our nation has to use these global uprisings to reevaluate its resources and implement change. It is a privilege to learn about racism instead of experiencing it your whole life.