Ford School Currents: Dr. Menna Demessie (PhD '10)

December 8, 2020 0:03:21
Kaltura Video

Dr. Menna Demessie (PhD '10) of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation speaks on how Black Lives Matter is changing the conversation on race.  


This is Ford School Currents with Dr. Menna Demessie, who has a 2010

Ford School PhD. In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd,

we saw thousands of people in the streets supporting Black Lives Matter

and demanding racial justice. Have we capitalized on that moment? Yeah,

great question, and thank you for this conversation. I do believe we are

closer with every day, more attention, more protests, more people

not changing the channel when uncomfortable topics of race and racism come

to the fore is a sign of progress. This is definitely an opportunity

for elected officials to understand that what they are witnessing across

the country in regards to equity, criminal justice reform, and combating

police brutality is to change the conversation to action and to policy action

more specifically. Yes, so there are issues of healthcare,

criminal justice, education. They're all kind of tied together. How important

is BLM in moving these issues forward? Yeah, the Black Lives Matter movement

is really another opportunity to witness young people at work. For those

of us who do the work of analyzing the impact that social movements

have on policy, we understand that protest is not just protest per se,

but protest to open up avenues for more voices to be included in

our democracy. Unfortunately, young people are often stereotypically charged

as naive and inexperienced, but you can look at some of the great

actors in protest politics, these folks started at very young ages and were

able to change the political climate in ways that a lot of us

can recognize in the current Black Lives Matter movement. It's because you're

able to take a national moment, a national tragedy, like the murdering of

George Floyd on camera, by the way, by a 17 year old girl,

while we're talking about young people, who stood there with her camera

in a very scary situation and didn't put her camera down and didn't

run away, she captured that moment on film. Because of her,

this movement has also been able to take off, and so what we're

asking is to take that moment and localize it to what you're doing

in your community. For people like myself as a political scientist working

on Capitol Hill, the goal for me is that I'm working with my

like minded partners as well as others who may have a different perspective

but have power in this space, and we wanna be able to provide

policy recommendations of what Congress can do better to advance more diversity,

equity and inclusion, not just in the policies they forward, but also

making sure that their own office and their own staff

also reflects the diverse America that they will forward

in the policies they would advance. Menna Demessie, thank you very much.

Thank you so much.