Black Lives Matter – Our Small Steps to Inform and Engage
Natalie Walker, 7 August 2020
A few weeks ago, I took my first flight since COVID-19 upended our nation. I was with my family. I was sitting in my seat, diligently wearing my mask, with my one-year-old on my lap napping. In this rare, quiet moment to myself, I was struck by how stuffy and difficult it was to breathe while wearing a mask (praise the doctors and nurses who are doing this all day, every day). Damn COVID-19, I thought.
My mind then jumped to how hard it was to breathe at the beginning of the year during the bush fires with the entire summer air filled with choking smoke and ash. Damn the bush fires and climate change, I thought.
Finally, my mind jumped to George Floyd and his cries in his final moments, “I can’t breathe!”. I thought of all the Black Lives Matter protesters, all around the world, crying out “I can’t breathe!”. I looked down at my child, when is this type of violence against black and brown people going to end, I thought.
For me, if 2020 has a theme, it’s “I can’t breathe”.
While all of the events of 2020 that have made it difficult to breathe have left an indelible mark on my life, it’s Black Lives Matters (BLM) that has affected me the most.
It has also affected the Inside Policy team.
As a group of policy advisors and researchers who deeply care about the world we live in and our impact on it, we always wanted to do something that could positively contribute to the BLM movement.
Reflecting on my life as an Aboriginal woman in Australia, the Black Lives Matters protests all around the world, and the rising number of black deaths in custody in Australia – I agreed with my team, we have to do something.
As the owner and founder of Inside Policy, it is important to me that whatever we do it must have the potential to create real change.
So, as a team, we decided we would do what we do best – research the complex issues, distil our findings and share our insights.
We commenced our first BLM research sprint on the issue that as a team we knew least about – abolition. And we figured, in addition to us, there would be a lot of people in the community who were also unfamiliar with abolition. The purpose of focusing on abolition is to enable an intelligent discussion of the proposition that police as we know it could be abolished, or not.
Over two weeks, the team reviewed websites, literature and other publications in order to identify the:
leading organisations and thinkers both domestically and internationally in the abolition movement;
main arguments for and against abolishing police in particular
communities, governments or locations from around the world that have abolished police (or taken steps towards abolition), and
suite of changes that governments could make to policing to eliminate structural racism while ensuring all citizens are safe.
Over the coming weeks, this blog series shares the findings and insights from the team’s BLM research sprint.
We share our research in the hope that it increases an understanding of abolition and in doing so it contributes to an intelligent, evidence-informed discussion of how governments, communities and individuals can ensure that Black Lives Do Matter.
Photo credit: Andrew Mercer (www.baldwhiteguy.co.nz) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90983453