OneRouge Community Check-In - Week 121
This talk is a continuation of our Equal Pay Series - Part IX in alignment with the driver of ‘High Poverty Rates & Low Wages for Single Mothers’ featuring:
Andrea Boyles (Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Belonging in the Tulane University School of Liberal Arts)
Renee Antoine (Executive Director, Governor’s Office of Women’s Policy)
Nia Weeks (Founder/ED CitizenSHE, Co-Producer Detangled, Lecturer - Office Of The Dean XULA)
Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!
Quick Links: Notes, Zoom Chat, Community Announcements
Pepper Roussel: Good morning. Y'all thank you for being here. The big question on the table is pay equity is not a thing. Why? And so that's part of the conversation that you were walking into and hearing just a little bit about where is it possible?
Where is it not? And we have amazing women who have not only done extensive scholarship, but who lead organizations who are leading the way in pay equity. And I'm really super excited for this conversation today. As a matter of course, I just, I introduce or give you the, give the folks your name and allow you to introduce yourself so that you show up in a way that is most appropriate for you on this morning.
With that said going in alphabetical order we'll start with Renee Antoine.
Renee Antoine: Hello. Good morning, everyone. Renee Antoine. And I do serve as the executive director for the office of women's policy within the office of the governor. And it is great to be here and be a part of the support and conversation regarding equal and equitable pay equity for everyone. Thank you.
Pepper Roussel: And Dr. Boyles, thank you for joining us again this morning. Congratulations on your new role.
Andrea Boyles: Thank you. Good morning. I appreciate being invited. I am Dr. Boyles, Andrea Boyles. I am recently more recently associate. Dean of equity, diversity and belonging in the school of liberal arts at Tulane university.
I am also a sociologist. So I guess the scholarship aspect of what I do, I am an associate professor of sociology and African studies and more specific to gender equality or inequality. I am also a delegate to the UN for the social and economic council, more specifically CSSW, which is the commission on the status of women.
Pepper Roussel: Look at me walking in tall cotton today. So thank you so much for being here. I wanna start with Louisiana help me understand the landscape open question. What is the landscape of pay for women, for black people, for anybody who crosses the intersection, whether it be Latina, Asian, Native, Black women who are earning money in the state, what does it look like for them to support themselves in their families? How much money are they making in comparison to the standard? Which seems to be a white man.
Andrea Boyles: Okay. If I could start off I like to, I guess just the educator in me, I like to just first tackle the fact that by and large women continue obviously to face wage disparities. And when we think about that, we can think about that intersectionally. I know that I was supposed to send some I think, articles ahead of time. So I apologize for that, but I hope that folks understand what intersectionality is. And the idea that by virtue of not just being female or a woman that folks faced these various forms of disparity, but it is about being where those where female, the female identity meets. It overlaps, it intersects having an interactive effect with race as well as class and a number of other things, social identifiers, that is something very specific that was developed intersectionality, that paradigm, the way of understanding and thinking about that was specifically developed by Kimberlee Crenshaw. And another theorist. In fact, Patricia Hill Collins, who talks about it is a matrix of domination. The idea behind that was to help us to have an understanding of the fact that there are overlapping identities for women of color, particularly that cannot be separated one from the other. So for example, if I used myself, I can't get up in the morning and experience just being black, that is happening in concert of me also being a woman that is happening in concert of also my social class and what that might mean. And I'll give it a couple examples and then I'll be quiet. I just wanted to just set the foundation for how we might think about it, even as it relates to Louisiana. So for example, it's important because people would otherwise conflict these identities and not really, and truly understand what inequality means as people experience them in these layered ways every day. So people might say women gain the right to vote in 1920. No, not really. White women gain the right to vote in 1920, black women of color did not come into voting rights until the civil rights movement. It would've been. The voting right to 65. So those kinds of things people would generally say things like I, I had a conversation the other day with someone about rape, and I had to flesh that out intersectionally, rape is difficult oftentimes for women to, to even prosecute, to even bring people to justice is even more so for black women women of color, black women historically have not been deemed as rap bull in this nation. So there's an intersectional component. Again, when we talk about wage more specific to today's topic, Wage disparity. People often say things like generally speaking, wage disparity for women looks like, maybe 65 cents or give or take, women earn on average compared to men nationally. And so then the, when we factor in intersectionality, no, not really. That's on average for white women. When we start accounting for intersectionality, meaning the overlapping and the interactive effects of race then black women earn even less. And then women of color, other women of color like Hispanic or our Latinx sisters will earn even less. So we can get down to almost 40% 40 and 50% compared to every $1 that a man earns. So those kinds of things I think are very important. As we start thinking about intersectionality and I'll get out the way. I just wanted to just throw out some Some basic things and foundational information to think about why it matters that were very clear and specific about thinking about these things, particularly as it relates to black women and women of color in general. Thank you.
Pepper Roussel: Drop in knowledge bombs this morning. Thank you, Dr. Boyles. I appreciate the foundation. Because I think often we don't as we begin conversations, we don't start with a clear foundation. So thank you, miss Antoine. Are there some things that you can add to. .
Renee Antoine: Yes, certainly. And also to set a strong foundation for the conversation is around generational wealth and expectations of citizens for the state. And we know that specifically in the Southern states, because they were predominantly slave states, there's been generational disparities around pay. Let's remember, 30, 40, 50 years ago it was expected that only men would be the head of households and only men would be acquiring wealth for their future families, specifically Caucasian, European descendants, it was not ever expected for Louisiana to see the strong migration of black women coming into the workforce. Attaining more educational. Aspirations and therefore needing to climb up the career ladder. Now circa 2022, after we have experienced one of the most highlighting portions of our lifetime because of the COVID pandemic, we see that our paid gaps were always there and now they're just really more broad in our community. And so I wanna start by saying that for the office of women's policy, a primary function of our office is to really serve as a connector between nonprofits state agencies, federal agencies, educational institutions we look at data stats and programs that serve women throughout the state in particular, the most vulnerable populations. And we are finding that this generational lack of education is really more pronounced in minority populations in particular black communities. Why is that? What expectations were not set as high as I mention. Decades ago. And so now we're seeing that black women are less likely to negotiate salaries in the workplace. They're less likely to research salaries. They are being taught that, Hey, as long as you're getting in the door that's enough. And so we are less likely to actually be bold and courageous and want to actually have conversations around the elephant in the room, which is how much are you making comparison myself. There's also a lack of progress around STEM, science, technology mathematic type careers. A lot of women are going into careers that wouldn't naturally even pay as much compared to their black male or white male counterparts. And in some instances, white women as well. We also know there's implicit bias when it comes to human resources. We know that there was some studies conducted in the last five years that were significantly very disparate. When it came to names, black historical names on the resume were not called nearly as much as European names where there's a male name or female name. So what does that mean for the pathway for women in Louisiana? We know that if you have a historically black or minority name. If you come from a zip code that doesn't have access to resources, that would be able to educate you and set you up to have education around careers, around schools, right around nutrition resources that you are already going to be basically a pilot project for a lack of economic growth, which means a lack of workforce development, a lack of educational development, and then therefore having a shorter lifespan here in the state as well.
And so it's not one common cause. And so my purpose is to educate. Our local community and our state and even our nation on multi-sectorial approaches to this issue, knowing that we're having this conversation today, but the policies that we're going to put in place are going to impact generations to come. And so we're really trying to prepare for 10, 15 years down the road, because this didn't just happen today. And so oftentimes I tell our legislator body that really we need to be trying to practice for our grandchildren, great-grandchildren because we would need some really unprecedented loss to take shape and to take place right now, or to see we need to change.
And so I'm more interested. And programs and initiatives that combine citizen impact and citizen advocacy because in lieu of laws not being equitable, for minimum wage, for equal pay, I want to be able to equip citizens with the resources that they would need to fight for themselves. And so what does that look like for your career pipeline? So are we having career coaches in schools, right? Predominantly black communities that go into schools at the elementary stage and say these are careers that you might be interested in. Here are some career coaches. Here are some shadowing opportunities. Here are universities that are both local and abroad that you might have interested in here are scholarship opportunities for those, with your background right now, that's not really happening in the very equitable way. And that's why it's no surprise that when we're, 20 years later when these kindergartners step into the workforce. You're like, I only know how to do this one job. I don't know anything about trades. The policy and research commission, which I run through the governor's office. We recently had a presentation from construction workers in the new Orleans area. They literally cannot find any females that have a background in construction right now. So a lot of our gender roles are really based off, I think, pipelines that we put women and men to at a very young age. And so our expectations of them are already very, quite different. Black, white, Hispanic, Latino Native of American, et cetera in Louisiana. Unfortunately, black women are at the very bottom right next to Hispanic, Latino. And so my job, as I mentioned before is to make sure we're taking a non-traditional approach. Policy is great, but I need policy to turn into action. That's the only thing that we're going to be able to digest and understand the very equitable way in the next five or 10 years. And so I'm really wanting to make sure that we have not only career and investment transparency when it comes to, do you know what a 401k is in middle school? Do you have a bank account? Are your parents investing in your college education, your trade education, in your neighborhood, is there a bank that's located there? Have you ever take a visit? So I'm really wanting to do some tangible exercises and trainings for citizens. They can take back their own knowledge about their life, because you're gonna need more than policy. You're gonna need more than public health. You're gonna need everyone to really come together. I have a unified approach to this. And I'm so excited that our current governor is very focused on women issues right now, compared for equal pay and for household sustainability. We know that households in Louisiana are predominantly staffed by women, single women. And so if we take some of the ideas from the forties and fifties, whoever's the head of household supposedly should make the most money. Now we have over 50% of Louisiana households that look that way, right? So you would think that compared to your dependents, you should make more, but that's just not the case. I digress, but I also want to make sure that we are aware of online education, online degrees, right? Working multiple shifts, having education at nighttime, et cetera. And so I think it's gonna be a pipeline approach to making sure that we have a roadmap for what black women can do to increase salaries now, before their future generations as well.
Pepper Roussel: Y'all are just giving me the life this morning. Thank you so much for bringing your full selves to this Friday morning call. I'm gonna take a quick step back and welcome Nia Weeks. Nia, I'm gonna allow you to introduce yourself and show of course you show up, however it is that you feel most appropriate today. And then I want for you to, to chime in on this question about citizens taking control and policy. What is it looking like at the state, if around sharing income information? Is that something that's possible? And if it is do you know whether it's happen?
Nia Weeks: I have to sincerely apologize for my tardiness. I am not in Louisiana at the moment I am in Los Angeles, California. So it is 6: 51 for me and I overslept just a little bit. So I apologize for that. My name is NIa Weeks. I'm the founder executive director of Citizen She and Citizen She United, which are 501(c)4 and 501(c)3. That work as sister organizations getting Black women across our state civically engaged. I'm also the co-founder of Detangled, which is a multimedia platform production company. And we utilize storytelling as our method of getting moving policy and getting things changed. If you all are familiar with the crown act that recently passed through our state legislator, we are the first in the deep south to do and we were able to do that successfully by utilizing film, to educate allies and community and organized community. Ooh, economic inequity. Can I use growing up language pepper. It's some bullshit for our people. And the reality is that we live in a poor state, right? So across board, we haven't been able to really figure out some AOUS ideas of making sure our people got coins. Real I say it all the time. We can legalize marijuana, Pepper. I'm looking at you. We legalize marijuana. We can have coins for fully funded stuff. Wouldn't that be amazing? And so we have poor people in our state trying to make ends meet consistently. And we live in a creative state, right? And so we have creative people come up with ways to make ends meet, however, Pepper. And I both know during like criminal law, like navigating with people that do that work, we're criminalized for trying to figure out how to survive. Our homeless population is consistently criminalized in a way that just with their court cases, it's difficult to dig themselves out of an impoverished state. One thing I would always say is you could always tell municipal court. I was a public defender for three years in Orleans parish. And I could always tell when someone would come in, that was newly homeless, they would come in with a trespassing charge. They would come in with an indecent exposure charge, which is usually them having used the bathroom outside, cuz they can't go inside cuz they get the trespassing charge and you see these charges. Kind of line up and then you see them, a couple months later with 64 charges, a few thousand dollars in fine. And the only way that they can get out of that is either pay the fine or do time in jail, prevent them from getting more work. And so we literally our, even just that, that one area, we create a, an impoverished way of navigating for people who are already impoverished. So we also know that we are an incarcerated capital of the world. So the reality is that more people have criminal charges hanging over their head, navigating criminal cases, which are financially disastrous for people socially disastrous for people. And that's where we are. So across the board, as a state we, before we can even get to policy around pay equity that we have even come up with a way for people to even get to a point where they're able to apply and get jobs, that'll allow them to get paid, something more than minimum wage. So like I said, I navigate with mostly Black women and Renee I appreciate you, you bringing up the fact that, most of our households in this state are led by single folks for black community. 68% of Black households are led by women due to multiple reasons, but are led by women and the pay gap that exists for Black women in our state. It fluctuates between 42 cents and 47 cents to every dollar that white men make. And and we have the largest wage gap in the. So our Black women in our state make less money than anywhere else in our entire country. And they're also the ones leading most households in our, in our state. So what does that mean for when we were talking about pay equity and paid transparency? And the reality is that when we talk about equal pay, when we have conversations around this paid transparency, the reality is that most women of color are doing shift work. So they don't really care as much about pay equity. They don't care as much to know what their counterpart is making, because they're very clear that nobody's making. Me. And so there's a, another caveat in there. When I was doing work with people who are joining, if you all have heard of the fight for 15 that five for 15 was so long ago, even though it's just a couple years ago that five for 15 should actually fight for 25 fight for 30, but it was a, a desire to increase the amount of money made. According to minimum wage, cuz that's where most of our people lie. And so having people and I'm often tapped to bring the Black women to the forefront around pay equity and pay transparency. But I'm like, it is so hard to do that when you also don't have people showing up around the specific wage gap that Black women face. And so for me as a lawyer, as a professional, yeah. I wanna know. Yeah. I wanna know. So I can go fight for my salary in that way. But most of the people that I advocate with, they're not in a position, they don't hold jobs that allow them to fight for that kind of pay equity. In that way. They're trying to hold on to whatever job they got and they will do whatever it takes to hold on to that job. And more than likely that job is not. Give them more than the, what is it now? 10. What is it? What's the minimum wage. Cause we follow federal minimum wage. We don't have, I'm sorry, isn't it? Seven 50. Yes. So 7 25. Thank you. So that's what they're, that's what they're fighting to hold onto. And so to ask them to, and try to educate them on the importance of knowing what their counterpart made they haven't even gotten. They're just trying to ensure that the job that they have pays more than what it's paying now across board because they have, like I said, they have shift work. They're running the restaurants and there are culture bears, right? People come to new Orleans to eat our food, listen to our music, right? Every other industry benefits from these frontline workers. And so all of us should be spending our time and our energy and resources ensuring that these frontline workers that cuz we couldn't have. Louisiana, I've gone. The states, anybody been the Utah, I've been the states that don't have a big tourism, Wyoming, no offense, anyone who's there, but they don't have big tourism. They don't have people flooding there because of what they eat and how they move and really celebrating the heartbeat of who they are. But we don't have a policy realm around ensuring that we're preserving them and their ability to enjoy their life as well. Because I get into the point sometimes where I get frustrated with fighting for equity in a way that's ensuring that people's humanity is held. Fighting for people to enjoy the time that they have here and money allows people, not just to make sure they eat, but they wanna eat the crawfish tooth and the shrimp Creole, for the, they wanna eat, do culinary too. And the fight for equity is more than just a fight for survival. It's a fight also for enjoyment and sustainability of a good life during the time that we're here. So that's my soapbox and I will hop off.
Pepper Roussel: Thank you for bringing us to church this morning. I've got a question in the chat that is asking about the labor movement and what do y'all, Dr. Boyles, Ms. Antoine Ms. Weeks, think about our collective expectations as workers, the role of the labor movement in the south and in pay equity. I dropped the question down at the bottom. And just in case you were reading while I was talking on mute. So what do y'all think is the role of labor movement in the south and pay equity?
Andrea Boyles: I will just say this. think it's important for us to also understand the fact that there is pay inequity. That is deliberate. It is not coincidental. It is deliberately structured that way. It's always been that way. And and one of the things I've often highlighted, or at least before with you all this group particularly is that you have to maintain impoverishment in order to have upper class, in order to sustain the upper class in order to sustain a middle class. So these layers are created, they are white male, mostly affluent created. And so when we think about labor movements and things like that or at least labor rights in the south and beyond it, it's about sustaining the upper echelon, which are mostly white affluent, politically positioned men. It's about making decisions and creating policies, not ones that benefit the folks at the bottom. More specifically women, Black women, particularly it's about sustaining and maintaining the status quo. And so the labor movement is dragging and slow and has been in many respects at least to the degree that people are able to. Real change substative change in their every day. And so this is why there continues to be this fight, whether we're talking about or thinking about, the 15, dollars or whether we wanna think about, as me pointed out, we should be thinking about 25, but yet people are still making scraping a barrel in service jobs. That is all very deliberate. And so gerrymandering all these, I'm throwing all these things out here, these redistricting lines I'm trying to, in other words, get us to think about, there are layers of maneuvering that is deliberately happening so that people, so that industry in and of itself, whatever that means and looks like, which tends to be disproportionately existing compared to the north and more rural in the south, but it is the idea of dragging deliberately dragging one's heels. So that folks are not able to even politically mobilize in a particular way to fight for these issues to fight, for increase, to fight for a quote unquote movement. And and so I think that's, as we think about, making these changes and making changes that are substantively felt in people's everyday black women and women of colors every day, we ought to think about all these decisions as they are situated within a broader context, a broader political context, a broader political context that wants and works every day to maintain systems and labor markets, even where there is even in female dominated industry where there is a heavy population, it is still male situated male situated in the fact that even when men come into those spaces, they are quickly tracked way above and before women into supervisory and management level positions. So even if we start thinking about the ways in which these, labor opportunities are segregated and those kinds of things, even when we think about, folks working and suggesting that they're gonna have, policies and practices more often than not, it's about checking boxes. It's not about making sure that actually plays out in real time. It's checking boxes to say that we're considering it. We're thinking about it. We understand, we know that this needs to happen. But as that is the case, we still see things taking place. More recently, like Roe V Wade and all kinds of things, what does that have to do with it? It has a lot to do with it. I'm just throwing out medical situations and all sorts of things that, again, intersect in very real desperate ways for women of color black women, particularly and those that are standing on the front frontline, especially of the service.
Nia Weeks: First of all, Dr. Boyles, I just, I'm not gonna sit here and pretend like you don't have that bomb ass hairstyle going on right now. So I just wanna start right there. Cuz that is beautiful. But there has also been like there and I think there needs to be a legitimacy around how people organize in a very intentional way, despite all the things that Dr. Boyle has just pointed out. So there is a labor type of movement happening. It's just not structured in that way oftentimes. And so if, Toya acts, who's a local activist here in new Orleans, she's organizing the hustle movement. And I see so much of. Support around the inequities that are happening to workers in our city, in our state really being infused in the mutual aid culture. And so it's really been really incredible to watch how these supportive mechanisms are being put in place because policy is not responding to the actual needs of people, and the organizing around policy. And labor movement today is not so different than labor movements historically, where, you could lose your job. And you could lose your ability to hold on to that small semblance of resources that you have by trying to create something that is organized. I think in New Orleans, we only have one hotel that's unionized, I believe. But come on New Orleans, one hotel gets unionized, right? I remember even in the legal profession, when the Southern poverty laws center are unionized, I was like, whoa, they're unionizing. It was a big that, so the Southern poverty laws center, one of the most respective legal agencies in our country, if those lawyers had difficulty and pushback from unionizing, imagine what our sanitation workers and our, and I, and the restaurant workers are navigating and they ain't got time to fill out all that paperwork. They ain't got time to hold no meeting. They can, they, we got the time off that I have. I'm not doing no labor meeting to talk about what my boss doing and ain't doing, but I will be able to figure out what the other group of people similarly, situated, how we can watch each other's kids. I'll be able to figure out how we can organize that everybody can eat. I'll be able to figure out how we can pull our resources and send that baby to college. That is mutual aid. And when we talk about mutual aid and we have a hustle culture in our state, go to Jazz Fest. It's one of my favorite things in Jazz Fest to walk around the city and see all the hustles that are happening. You got water over here, somebody selling plates over there, cause it's expensive for the plates in there. Some, you even got the people that get you in there. You know what I'm saying? I don't know. No one in New Orleans that pays full price or no Jazz Fest ticket. And so getting in that gate, that's a hustle, right? We live in a hustle culture and our people are incredible. I am so proud to be from this state, regardless of all the craziness that we navigate through. I am so proud to be from a state of people who really love each other, that much, who really care for each other that much. Who really find ways. To hold each other up. We are at the bottom of every list. Good. And we're at the top of every list, bad, except for the crown neck. Cuz we're the first. But we are, that is, the reality statistically of where we sit, but people bum rush to come here. People fall in love with everything because of the people that exist here and the way the people have figured out how to take care of other people. And so like when I think about union, cuz we I realize that people that I navigate with ain't got no time for no union. They don't, they really don't. And even though we know that's a way to move forward, the reality lives doesn't allow that to be true. But when you look at mutual aid, when you look at hustle culture, when you look at the work that Toya is doing, you're like bra that's so dope. It's so creative. It's so on point what is actually needed for our people to actually be able to survive financially, miss Antoine, you'd come off, mute a while. yes. Did to those comments. And also with that policy piece, we all know that elections have consequences. And the reality of our state and our nation is that if you walk up to the average citizen right now and ask them who their state representatives are, who their house representatives are, who their council members are, they won't know. And there are things that are impacting the average citizen every day that they actually could have a role in, but there's no education. There's no awareness. And there's no buyin for that process. And let me tell you as a. Newer person to the policy world, but not a new person to the public health world. It's a completely different language. It's a com completely different path to navigate when you are sitting in session and you have the opportunity to go up and testify for different bills and resolutions that are going to come to pass. That is your opportunity, not only to lend your voice, but to also call out those who are sitting on the benches and ask them for accountability and that's not happening often enough in my opinion. And so I think a lot of the opportunity here is to educate the community on the process of law making, because oftentimes we're like, Hey, we don't have any positions. We don't really have any roles to play. We don't have Any type of, grit in the game, but actually you do because the lack of action, that inaction is still going to cause someone else to come up and win. And so I would encourage you all to look at, to look back at some of the archives ons dot la.gov from this past session for in particularly the labor. An industrial Senate committee, when we went to talk about equal pay for women, when we went to talk about raising them minimum wage, when we talked about increasing wages for tip employees, look at that session see, who said no. See who said, yes. See what their reactions were to, to the idea of making sure that everyone was rising up together, but in particular, the most vulnerable populations. And you will see why the phrase elections have consequences, come back to mind because those are open meetings. Anyone can come and give their experience and their narrative. And we're not seeing that enough from the political standpoint, right? If enough people came into room and actually prepare testimonies and background. I do think that the, at least the opportunity would be there to hear a different perspective, because those who are actually at the top, they know where they stand. They know where they want, they're doing what they need to do for their constituents. And so I think that, especially in terms of minority communities, we need to be a bit more unified when it comes to the voice that we have, because the power of the collective it's magnificent if you have it right. But we have to have that collective first in order to actually move in synchronization with each other. And right now we're siloed being transparent. A lot of us are very siloed when it comes to education, workforce development, health, you name it, we're all doing our own thing. And they're not, I can tell you that the top 5% of the state they're talking to each other, they're having these conversations. They're figuring out what they want things to look like five, 10, and 15 years from now. So it's time for us to do that too, but that's gonna take someone saying similar to this group, Hey, what are our issues? Where can we really come together? Where does our power really lie? Because I the, what is it? The squeaky wheel gets the action. We have to be louder, and right now we're not, that's just being transparent. We're not loud enough. We need to be louder and we need to know that the power really is in our hands. If we recognize that we have that power. And I would like for the average citizen to know what their role is and how they can impact that on a larger scale. And I'd also like to say that in reference to the union conversation, the adverse citizen also won't know what a union. Being transparent. They won't know that history of how we got here today of women's rights and black rights, the civil rights act and whatnot. They're not really going over that in the school system anymore. So as Dr. Boyles mentioned earlier, this is not by happenstance. The system was created in this way. So how do you redesign that system? How did you dismantle those silos? We start by having these conversations today and then we actually put our words into action so that when we have these administrative changes, every four, eight years, we're not starting from scratch. Cause oftentimes that's also, what's happening. We're starting from scratch every single time and there's no se succession planning at all. And so obviously that's not gonna help anyone, especially in the deep south, if the same leaders are saying the same things every year, that's not helpful for the narrative. So we have to change that narrative, but it is our narrative. We've seen other things change. We've seen a crises change in other countries and other states. And so it's time for us to change it. Here as well. And I know that we have the ability and the education to do so if we have that one voice and not 15 different messages going across sessions and things like that. So I, I appreciate that question.
Pepper Roussel: Yes. To all of that. I wanna take a quick moment to recognize. Thank you. Those of you who've spoken before on this topic for being here with us today. I wanna make sure that we get all the questions. So if you have any and have not asked them, please drop them in the chat while you're doing that. I wanna circle back to something that was mentioned earlier, and this is a paraphrase given my own spin on it. Black women have always worked. However it is that you wanna take that however you wanna feel about it, whether they got paid for it is a whole different conversation, but it sounds like in order for Black women to be paid, more, better equities, not a thing that we need to start looking at. Not only collectivizing our voice, but changing who our leaders are in legislature who are having these policy discussions who are leading long term, so that we do have a better opportunity for not only Black women individually, but also Black families to be able to support themselves. Is that an accurate assessment of what it is that we need to be doing going forward.
Nia Weeks: Yeah. Yep. Yeah, double this on that one. So when we look at the history of the criminal justice system in this country we start with Black women and the criminalization of Black women's labor. And so with newly freed slave. And so I'm not even going back to, the roads that were paid outside on what was the old body road right there by the the African American museum. All them bricks were made by Black women's hands, just so you know. But when the newly freed slaves are allowed to go, actually made. Black women that slaves would go and sell goods and services. And goods and services just like their white counterparts in areas around the city and recognizing if we make this illegal for them to do, if we create policies around the way they're doing their work, then we can re incarcerate cuz the 13th amendment says you are no longer a slave unless you are incarcerated. So how do we creatively incarcerate persons so we can get our slaves back. And so it was the women that were the ones who were first out there throwing themselves out there to. That they were the ones making, they could make bread. They weren't that the men weren't being hired in the same way. To do that labor as work. But women were like, I got stuff, I make stuff. I do stuff just like my white counterparts that are supposed to be we're both supposed to be free. So we gonna do the exact same things. And the Black women were arrested for that. And so like during that time the you can look in the increase of people who were incarcerated were Black women, former slaves. And so Black women's labor has always been criminalized, demonized put in the most detrimental way. And one thing that I always say. Black women win. We all win, right? Because we make sure our community's taken care of. I mean that too, but we are always, we are such at the lowest totem pole when it comes to policy inequity, Renee, I really appreciate, you discussing, showing up for session and showing up for city council. And the honors is on us that are in spaces of power. Cuz even though we live in a space where Black women. The equity is not there a lot. We got time. We had got time to do this hour long conversation on a Friday, right? When there are so many women, so many people who don't have the time, regardless of what the desire is, regardless of a need for change, they don't have time to sit, drive to Baton Rouge drive and sit there on city council if they gotta make the choice. But in driving to Baton Rouge, which they, they don't have the gas, the money or the time off for, or go visit their incarcerated child that weekend. Which they don't have the gas resources to do that. They gonna put them coins together, go visit their incarcerated child that we've shipped off somewhere. If they don't have the resources to to feed their family the way they need you, they don't have the resources, make sure that they pay their fines and fees in court. So they're not rearrested, right? That's where people's mind. And the position is in the immediate detriment that's happening to them. And so the desire to participate civically, to restructure that change, it's nothing, the desire is not there it's that they ain't got no time or resources for that. So the honors is on us that do have the time to think outside the box and come up with creative ways of making sure that their voices are heard and participate. One thing that we're gonna be starting and try to start that last session is doing social media cause that's where they all, I'm tell you all the kids learn everything on the tax and on the Instagrams. Putting together a policy platform where they're able to discuss and testify from their home on social media and tagging all of our legislators the day before the bill is heard. And so it's I know you heard it. It may not be on record the way we need to be on record, if we're gonna do a lawsuit. And that's where the other space for us that do have the time we are all tired and we are all frustrated and we are all in a space where we're like, when is this gonna end? This fight for humanity is gonna end. But the reality is we don't even have time to be tired right now. We have to show up at the maximum of where we sit. And so if we know that our counterparts and the people that we advocate with, can't show up in that way, we come creatively with a way for them, for their voices to be heard. And then all of us have to show up and not just for the bills, that directly impact us in that way. But all the labor, all the housing, all of the the health, we should be well versed in what everybody is doing and have a strategy on how we can tackle it. All right. We should be there around legalization, right? Lots of reason for legalization. But cause also, mental health getting into the bullshit I'm telling y'all I'm in California. It's great here. Went to Toronto, phenomenal. Walk in the room and just watching people flourish in that way too. And I just, will say that the policy piece and the inability for most of us to navigate with people through the policy piece is something that is very real Renee. I appreciate you bringing that up. And it also will just add that we just gotta be creative in how we do that so much.
Pepper Roussel: Yes. The all about the decriminalization of self medication, cuz you can't put people in traumatic situations, lead them there, continue to retraumatize them. And then when they do find some sort of a way to preserve their own mental San, their own sanity lock 'em up for trying to take care of themselves that.
Andrea Boyles: Yes I wanted to hop in. I appreciate even earlier Nia mentioning the hustle. One of the things that I talk about in some of my work is that black women have always been other mothers and community, other mothers. So we have always galvanized, we've always been the ground swell from the very start. We work as a collective. And so oftentimes. That is not readily known or understood because Black women due to intersectionality, often face erasure and invisibility. So our work, our groundswell work, what we do, whether we are doing that in a paid kind of labor position or a nonpaid neighborhood organizing door to door position, it often goes invisible. And so what it looks like oftentimes more often than not is that there is no effort or no, or any movement. The truth of the matter is always been that we are the leaders of the progressive movement. But even in that, it is this overwhelming throw everything against the wall to see what sticks for the sake of maintaining white patriarchy and maintaining white patriarchy in the spirit of. Classism and all these other isms that we can tack on. And so there is a fight to the finish right now. This nation is increasingly black becoming more black and brown and at some point in the near distance there it is the unraveling whiteness. And so what we have right now is all sorts of maneuvering. And so while on one hand, folks are fighting, let's say for, decriminalizing, men broke turns up right now. We got Black women in an additional situation of criminalized people. Let's say we folks are fighting on one hand to deal with educational inequality. Then we've got. All these bannings and things like that. That's now playing out right. Banning of Black books, banning of black history planning, these politics, these political games cast disparity on education. So you can't even be empowered in that sense. Then, then if we think about it from the political perspective, trying to get folks out to vote, okay, then there's a game, about making sure that folks are disenfranchised even more so there's been over hundreds of legislations that have been passed across the nation to ensure that folks, black folks civil rights, voting rights are rolled back. So there's from every angle. There is a very deliberate, white fight to keep black folks even in the galvanizing that we're doing to keep us at bay. But I am hopeful and I am, thinking that yes, we get to the ground level. We continue to educate, but even in an education, it's about understanding that is not in action on our end, per se. It is the power and the position, the already dominating position of white, mostly affluent men that continues to set things in motion to where you're fighting from every angle and people are mentally and emotionally exhausted. And yet we stay the course. And so I think it is incumbent. I will say this, and then I'll be quiet. I've spent quite a number of years, in fact, much of my work in civil rest. And so fighting from the ground level, whether fighting in the streets or either fighting from, a cushiony carpeted office. What I understand to be true is that allies must step up. And when I say allies, meaning it is already an effort, a collective and a continuum in the black community. But when we think about power people who are already racially and by virtue of gender situated and power that say they are allying with us in our community, they must step up. They must it is going to take that and not pandering, or, these soft cushiony sort of rubs here and there. No, there is a, there is enough rattling of the status quo. And so when we have friends, quote unquote in those positions and that have the benefit of racial privilege and economic privilege and all those kinds of things, it is also very incumbent upon those folks to make good on what they say versus
Pepper Roussel: Amen. So I think that is an amazing place to begin to transition. We are just shy of nine 30, so a couple of things, one today, we are gonna go into a little bit of overtime and that means that after the call and that's after the community announcements, anybody who wants to stick around, especially our speakers, if you have the time and you wanna be here is wanna say, we're gonna capture some thoughts about today's call and put that in some marketing materials so that we can get more people to participate and expand the table. Folks will be here with us. The second thing is that I have seen a whole lot of talk in the chat. What I wish I was there with y'all to date. There are SK, I'm gonna put you on a spot. Did you wanna come off mute and ask any question or or share some feedback on this whole idea of mutual aid that is resonating with you?
SK Groll: So I'm a big fan of mutual aid, both in terms of the resources, it gets directly to people and also how engaging in practices of mutual aid continue to help me unpack the things that have been ingrained into me. Help me unpack the way that like we are all taught to hustle or to grind, or to look out for ourselves and our families and to work individually, how that's talked to. From a very early age and at all levels of institutions. And so I think mutual aid for me is also a practice of self, of trying to change myself so that I can better engage with other people and better engage in community. But I think the limit that's coming up in my brain right now, and people smarter than me who have been engaging in these practices longer, probably have some good insight, but like where is that balance of like mutual aid, really being able to swell up and work in our systems.
And so that's where I think the question of like labor movement or collective action and like a more organized way comes in for me. But at the point that we are able to engage in mutual aid practices and engage, able to engage with our neighbors and community members in such a, an intentional and broad way.
Then we are able to get to like mechanisms of institutional change or societal change. And I'm just trying to like really envision what that tipping point is. And I'm trying to, I'm trying to understand it and imagine it. So that we can get to that. And not just have mutual a B an individual practice, right?
Like reparations are not an individual practice. They are a systemic and a societal thing. What does it mean to have really robust, like social support on a collective and sustained level? That's not just driven by individual actor. And so that's what's turning around in my brain right now, which is neither a question nor like a really strong insight, but it's just, I was called on and that's what I'll share.
So I'm really what I will finish is a big gratitude to all the speakers today. Thank you so much for being here and for everything that you put into this space, into your work as a whole.
Pepper Roussel: Will echo that sentiment. Thank you. Thank you. Each one of you for being here today are speakers who were dropping knowledge from the instant. You opened your mouths. Thank you so much black women for showing up and being who you are in or out of your professional roles that you are true to self at all times, especially here. If ther