Report Finds Black Girls are Subject to Discriminatory School Disciplinary Action in Kansas, Massachusetts, and Alabama

WASHINGTON, DC, September 2, 2020 – Three members of the Appleseed Network, a non-profit network of independent organizations in the United States and Mexico working towards social and legal justice, today announced the release of their comprehensive report, “Protecting Girls of Color from the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” the final product of a year-long research project examining disparities in school disciplinary treatment for Black girls in Massachusetts, Alabama, and Kansas. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, an international law firm, served as pro bono partner throughout the project. 
 
The report is part of the Network’s extensive efforts to dismantle the complex school-to-prison pipeline, a continuum encompassing the steps that drive children out of school and into the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.  Understanding how states approach school discipline is key: disciplinary policies including suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests may act as “gateways” to the criminal justice system later in their lives. 
 
The report’s findings illuminate a stark truth: girls of color, particularly Black girls, are consistently disciplined at a rate much higher than their white peers. Often, discipline is incurred more or to a greater extent by Black girls than their white peers for similar behavior. The findings also emphasize the significant change needed in school district disciplinary policies and data collection methods in order to protect girls of color from being funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline by means of excessive school discipline.
 
“This research helps to shine a light on one of the many ways that systemic racism continues to play out in Alabama,” says Akiesha Anderson, Policy Director at Alabama Appleseed. “The data irrefutably shows that Alabama’s public schools discipline Black girls more harshly than their white counterparts. As state leaders continue to grapple with criminal justice reform, the school-to-prison pipeline and its impact on Black girls should not be left out of the conversation.”
 
Key findings in the report include:

  • Across Alabama, Kansas, and Massachusetts, Black female students are roughly 5.2 times more likely to be disciplined than white female students.
  • In Alabama, Black girls are roughly 3.7 times more likely to be disciplined than their white female classmates
  • In Kansas, Black girls are roughly 6.2 times more likely more likely to be disciplined than their white female classmates.
  • In Massachusetts, Black girls are roughly 3.9 times more likely to be disciplined than their white counterparts.
  • State level data that is disaggregated by race, gender, and ethnicity is not widely available. The data also do not account for multiple forms of discipline and do not typically state the cause for discipline.

Policy proposals include:

  • More state and federal legislation mandating the consistent collection of data on school disciplinary action and ensuring databases are publicly accessible, cross-tabulated, and disaggregated to account for age, gender, race, and ethnicity.
  • More transparent data and incident reporting is a key step to further advocacy aimed at making schools safe environments for all students.

Deb Silva, Executive Director of Massachusetts Appleseed and a key partner on this project, said of the report, “It demonstrates the devastating impact that the intersection of gender and racial discrimination is having on Black girls in Massachusetts schools, and the indisputable need to include our classrooms in the ongoing dialogues about systemic racism currently sweeping the country. The school-to-prison pipeline is very much alive in Massachusetts, and this report is an important step forward in our work to advocate against the unjust school discipline policies that target and punish girls of color and promote a more inclusive and supportive vision of education.”
 
“The report exposes a dramatic imbalance in our school system and highlights the continued need for us to investigate and eradicate systemic racism at every level of our society.  It is impossible to ignore the lifelong consequences that such a disparate school discipline system has on young people of color,” says Mike Fonkert, Campaign Director of Kansas Appleseed. “We must do better.”

Willkie Farr & Gallagher worked with representatives from Alabama Appleseed, Massachusetts Appleseed, and Kansas Appleseed to collect and analyze federal school disciplinary data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection database, as well as state-level data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The report analyzes data available for five discipline categories: in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, referrals to law enforcement, and school-related arrests.

About the Appleseed Network
Appleseed is a network of 16 justice centers across the U.S. and Mexico working for a more just, inclusive, and hopeful future for us all.
 
For more information, please contact:

Alabama Appleseed
Carla Crowder, Executive Director
205-305-0735
carla.crowder@alabamaappleseed.org

Massachusetts Appleseed
Deb Silva, Executive Director
617-482-8686
deb@massappleseed.org

Kansas Appleseed
Mike Fonkert, Campaign Director
mfonkert@kansasappleseed.org

Action Alert

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 93% of tenants facing eviction from their homes did not have lawyers, while 70% of landlords had representation. While the eviction moratorium ending October 17th protects many of these tenants for the time being, it is estimated that as many as 15,000-20,000 new evictions could be filed when the moratorium ends. Unless we take action, thousands of families – a significant majority of which are likely to be from communities of color – will be thrown into Housing Court on their own. Without any form of legal representation, these families are significantly less likely to remain in their homes. Action is needed now to protect these renters.  

A statewide Right to Counsel pilot program would allow non-profits to provide full legal representation in eviction proceedings for both tenants and landlords whose incomes do not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level. We now have two different opportunities to advance such a Right to Counsel pilot program within the legislature.  

  1. Senator DiDomenico has filed Amendment #175 for the creation of a Right to Counsel pilot program within S.2842An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth. This bill was debated in the House yesterday (Monday, July 27), and the Senate will start to debate its version of the bill tomorrow (Wednesday, July 29).  
  2. Senator DiDomenico also filed S.2785An Act promoting housing stability and homelessness prevention through a right to counsel pilot program in Massachusetts in response to the COVID-emergency. This bill was reported favorably out of the Housing Committee and is still in Senate Ways and Means. We need to get it to the Senate floor. 

How You Can Help

  1. Call or email your Senator and ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor to Amendment #175 within S.2842. Send this fact sheet. Find your Senator here or with this list of Senators
  2. Contact Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues to report S.2785 to the Senate floor. Call Senator Rodrigues’ office at (617) 722-1114 and email him at Michael.Rodrigues@masenate.gov and his staff attorney Jacob.Blanton@masenate.gov.  

You can send Chair Rodrigues a message like this:  

_____________________________ (who you are) and __________(why you care). We are bracing ourselves for tens of thousands of evictions when the eviction moratorium expires in October. Tenants are terrified of being evicted. 93% of tenants face eviction without legal representation. Alone – they are unable to navigate quick-moving deadlines and complicated court procedures. These procedures will be even more complicated as the court goes virtual. Providing legal representation is essential to housing stability. Providing lawyers for vulnerable tenants saves the state money. Providing lawyers prevents housing instability at a time when we need to keep people safe and housed. This is urgent. Pass Amendment #175 and Pass S. 2785. 

The legislative session may end this week! Time is of the essence and we need your voices now!  

 

 


Our Response to COVID-19

From developing and sharing accessible legal resources in areas of urgent need to advocating for equitable policies to support those hit hardest by COVID-19 – there’s work to be done. Learn more about steps we’re taking to aid our most vulnerable communities during the pandemic and how you can help.

Our Response to COVID-19

 

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Action Alert

It’s our last chance to act!  

The Police Accountability Bills from the House and Senate have been sent to a six-member Conference Committee for reconciliation. We need your help to make sure the final Police Accountability Bill protects young people.  

Our School Resource Officer (SRO) Priorities:  

  • Adopt Sections 50 & 51 of S.2820 which require a public vote by school committees – rather than the decision of superintendents and police chiefs – to annually assign SROs to schools. These sections also require public reporting of arrests and mental health student support spending for a district to qualify for an SRO.  
  • Fix the error in Section 50 which can be read to require school committee votes, not in traditional school districts, but in charter schools, which don’t have school committees. This was a technical error from Senate Ways and Means, and we need to fix it by adding “by public vote of the relevant school committee” to the first sentence of Section 50. 
  • Avoid the new model MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) process in House 66, and instead use the current Model MOU from 2018 as the baseline for all school districts, while keeping the transparency requirements from Section 66 of the House bill. 
  • Ensure that whatever qualified immunity provision the bill adopts expressly applies to SROs and amend c. 71 s. 37P(f) accordingly. 

Our Juvenile Justice Privacy Priorities:  

  • Adopt Section 49 of S.2820 to keep school administrators from sharing student information with federal law enforcement databases, while removing the “germane to an incident or activity” standard and removing the requirement that the aforementioned databases be “designed” to track gang affiliation.  
  • Adopt Sections 59, 60, 61, & 71 of S.2820 to expand eligibility of juvenile expungement by allowing expungement of non-convictions, replacing the one-case restriction to a 3 to 7 year waiting period, and maintaining a list of ineligible offenses only to those with a felony conviction. 

The legislative session may be ending this month, which means we need your voice TODAY. 

 

What You Can Do

  1. Email your senators and representatives using this template, and tell them you support the priorities of the Coalition for Smart Responses to Student Behavior in addition to the expansion of expungement. 
  2. Be sure to attach these four attachments to your email: Amendment #88’s list of co-sponsors, Amendment #1’s list of co-sponsors, the Coalition’s testimony in support of the above provisions, and additional testimony from the AFT-MA, MTA, and BTU  in support of the school committee provision vote.
  3. Because elected officials get a lot of emails, follow-up with a phone call.  
  4. Click here to find your legislators’ emails and phone numbers. 

 


Our Response to COVID-19

From developing and sharing accessible legal resources in areas of urgent need to advocating for equitable policies to support those hit hardest by COVID-19 – there’s work to be done. Learn more about steps we’re taking to aid our most vulnerable communities during the pandemic and how you can help.

Our Response to COVID-19

 

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Action Alert

The House has introduced its police accountability bill, H.4860!

 
As the legislative session comes to a close, it is essential that we use the momentum of nationwide protests to fight for racial justice and police accountability within our schools. With your help we secured a number of provisions within the Senate police accountability bill S.2820 to limit the prevalence of School Resource Officers (SROs) in schools. 
 

Unfortunately, H.4860 does not include many of these essential provisions. When it comes to school policing, H.4860:  

  • Maintains the requirement that chiefs of police assign SROs to each district
  • Rejects the Senate language that would require a school committee vote to assign SROs to each district
That’s why we need your help. Call your legislator today and ask them to co-sponsor Amendment #1 to address these critical issues!  
  • Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa’s Amendment #1 places the decision to assign SROs in the hands of school committees by annual public vote. If a superintendent wants school resource officers each year, they have to inform the school committee and explain: 1) How much it will cost, 2) How much funding currently goes towards mental and emotional health support personnel, and 3) How many school-based arrests and referrals there were in the previous year. 

Read H.4860

Amendment #1

Fact Sheet on Amendment #1

Time is of the essence! The House will vote on amendments – and the bill itself – as early as Wednesday!  

What You Can Do

  1. Email your representative TODAY and ask them to co-sponsor Representative Sabadosa’s Amendment #1. You can say: By requiring a school committee vote, Amendment #1 gives parents, students, educators, and communities a necessary voice in deciding whether to place police in schools. As your constituent, I urge you to co-sponsor this amendment and vote for its adoption.
  2. Make sure to share this fact sheet from the Coalition for Smart Responses to Student Behavior as well!  
  3. Because elected officials get a lot of emails, follow-up with a phone call to ask whether the Representative will co-sponsor Amendment #1.   
  4. Click here to find your Representative’s emails and phone numbers. 

 


Our Response to COVID-19

From developing and sharing accessible legal resources in areas of urgent need to advocating for equitable policies to support those hit hardest by COVID-19 – there’s work to be done. Learn more about steps we’re taking to aid our most vulnerable communities during the pandemic and how you can help.

Our Response to COVID-19

 

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Action Alert

The House is currently working on police reform! We need your help to secure the safety of the young people in our schools!  
 
Earlier this week after an all-night session the Senate passed S.2820, the Reform, Shift + Build Act. Now the House is evaluating its own police accountability bill. 
 
Massachusetts Appleseed has been working with the Coalition for Smart Responses to Student Behavior to advocate for the removal of mandatory School Resource Officers (SROs), and for greater public accountability when police come into contact with students. You can find the letter we have signed onto with this coalition here.  
 
Our first priority:  
  • Remove School Resource Officers from Massachusetts Schools. There is a simple legislative change your Representative can enact that would achieve this goal and keep schools safe. The definition of a “school resource officer” (SRO) in G.L. c. 71 § 37P(a) can be amended to include: A school resource officer shall not be located on school grounds but at the local police station and shall be charged with serving as the primary responder to calls from public schools. 
Legislative priorities from S.2820 we want included by the House:  
  • Senator Boncore’s Amendment 25 “Training and Certification for School Resource Officers” requires specific training for SROs on a host of important topics, to be developed in consultation with experts, and to be required before an officer can be assigned as an SRO. 
  • Senator Jehlen’s Amendment 80 “School Committee Approval of SROs and Data Reporting” puts school committees – not superintendents and police chiefs – in charge of annually approving school policing by vote, and requires that the district and police department comply with the reporting requirements of school-based arrests to qualify to have an SRO. 
  • Senator Jehlen’s Amendment 108 “Protecting Students from Profiling” strengthens existing provisions of S.2820 on information sharing by prohibiting Massachusetts school staff and school police from sharing student information to the Boston Regional Intelligence Center and other gang databases. 
  • Section 59-61 of S.2820 (initially filed by Representatives Decker and Khan in H.1386) “Expanding Expungement Eligibility” allows multiple cases on a juvenile’s record to be considered for expungement – rather than only one, which is current Massachusetts law – and reduces the list of offenses never eligible for expungement. 

Read S.2820

Read Our Testimony

What You Can Do

  • Email your Representative TODAY and ask them to support the priorities within amendments 25, 80, and 108, and section 59-61 of S.2820. Be sure to attach the Coalition for Smart Responses to Student Behavior’s testimony and Massachusetts Appleseed’s testimony to your email! 
  • Because elected officials get a lot of emails, follow-up with a phone call to ask whether the Representative will support these priorities.
  • Click here to find your Representative’s emails and phone numbers. 

Thank you for working with us to improve this important legislation and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline!

 


Our Response to COVID-19

From developing and sharing accessible legal resources in areas of urgent need to advocating for equitable policies to support those hit hardest by COVID-19 – there’s work to be done. Learn more about steps we’re taking to aid our most vulnerable communities during the pandemic and how you can help.

Our Response to COVID-19

 

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Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice commends the Trial Court for Emergency Administrative Order 20-10, issued on June 24th 2020, which takes effect on July 13th and temporarily eliminates bans on the use of cell phones and other personal electronic devices (“PEDs”) inside all Massachusetts state courthouses. Our 2018 report, Cell Phones in the Courthouse: An Access to Justice Perspective, examined the disproportionate impact courthouse cell phone restrictions have on self-represented litigants and low-income court users. 
 
As that report demonstrated, many self-represented litigants need to use cell phones within the courtroom to display evidence, conduct legal research, or access language translation services. In addition, many court users require their cell phones to coordinate aspects of everyday life, such as ensuring proper childcare, obtaining transportation, or communicating with employers. Our report found that without access to these resources through their cell phones, self-represented litigants are placed at an even further disadvantage compared to litigants with attorneys. To fully correct the unintended consequences of these cell phone bans, Massachusetts Appleseed recommended that the Commonwealth adopt a universal permissive policy that allows cell phone use in courthouses statewide.
 
The Court’s Order temporarily eliminating all cell phone bans is a significant step towards that goal and has the potential to greatly expand access to justice in Massachusetts. We are extremely grateful to the Trial Court for this essential progress, but we urge the Trial Court to make this temporary change permanent in order to further increase self-represented litigants access to justice.

 

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Action Alert

For years Massachusetts Appleseed has been working to bring an end to zero-tolerance school discipline policies, school arrests, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Amidst the wave of protests against police brutality, now is the time to demand more. Over-policing in Massachusetts schools disproportionally impacts Black and Latinx students, who are significantly more likely to be arrested at school than their white counterparts. School Resource Officers (SROs) are meant to protect our students, but instead many SROs actively place our students in danger. On December 3, 2018, a Springfield Massachusetts school resource officer assaulted a 14-year-old high school boy, grabbing him by the back of his neck and pushing him against the side of a school hallway. Subsequently, the officer filed a false incident report. We cannot allow this to go on any longer. We need change now.
 
Tomorrow the Massachusetts Senate will be voting on S.2800 An Act to Reform Police Standards and Shift Resources to Build a More Equitable, Fair and Just Commonwealth that Values Black Lives and Communities of Color, known as the Reform, Shift + Build Act.
 
This legislation:
  • Requires the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to report out the number of mental health counselors and school resources officers
  • Limits school personnel from disclosing student information to law enforcement, and subsequent entry of that information into shared law enforcement databases
By providing us data on the current number of counselors compared with school resource officers in Massachusetts public schools, this legislation will allow us to more deeply understand the practical solution of replacing SROs with mental health counselors. In addition, this legislation takes important initial steps to limit the ability of school administrations and SROs to share incident reports with local law enforcement.
 
This legislation is a solid foundation for dismantling the over-policing in Massachusetts schools. However, amendments are necessary to truly achieve our goal.
 
Amendments we support:
  • Senator Boncore’s Amendment 25 “Training and Certification for School Resource Officers” requires specific training for SROs on a host of important topics, to be developed in consultation with experts, and to be required before an officer can be assigned as an SRO.
  • Senator Jehlen’s Amendment 80 “School Committee Approval of SROs and Data Reporting” puts school committees – not superintendents and police chiefs – in charge of annually approving school policing by vote, and requires that the district and police department comply with the reporting requirements of school-based arrests to qualify to have an SRO.
  • Senator Jehlen’s Amendment 93 “Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline” prevents students who have been merely accused of a crime from being excluded from school without any real due process, and clarifies the type of student behavior that would rise to the level of being a danger in the school to justify expulsion and suspension.
  • Senator Jehlen’s Amendment 108 “Protecting Students from Profiling” strengthens existing provisions of S.2800 on information sharing by prohibiting Massachusetts school staff and school police from sharing student information to the Boston Regional Intelligence Center and other gang databases.
These amendments require increased training for SROs, place the power to approve SROs within the community, provide students due with process in future disciplinary action, and keep school administrators from sharing disciplinary information with state and federal law enforcement such as the Boston Police Department, ICE, and the FBI. 
 
These measures represent an essential step in supporting the grassroots movements led by young people in Boston, Springfield, Worcester, Framingham and across the Commonwealth advocating for the removal of SROs entirely.

Click Here to Read S.2800

Click Here for Amendments

What You Can Do

Time is of the essence! The Senate will be voting Tomorrow!

  1. Contact your Senator TODAY and ask them to support Amendments 25, 80, 93, and 108.
  2. Because elected officials get a lot of emails, follow-up with a phone call to ask whether the Senator will support these amendments.
  3. Click here to find your Senators emails and phone numbers.

Thank you for working with us to improve this important legislation and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline!

 


Our Response to COVID-19

From advocating for increased support for youth experiencing homelessness, to sharing multilingual resources to help immigrant and Limited English Proficient families withstand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – there’s work to be done. Learn more about steps we’re taking to aid our most vulnerable communities during the pandemic and how you can help.

Our Response to COVID-19

 

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Action Alert

Amid record levels of unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Massachusetts residents are struggling to pay rent and afford basic necessities. The statewide eviction moratorium prevents anyone from being forced out of their home for now, but if the Governor does not extend the moratorium, that protection could end on August 18th – flooding courts with eviction cases. According to landlord organizations, as many as an estimated 15,000 new evictions will be filed.

As part of the response to the tidal wave of evictions expected to hit when the moratorium lifts, Senator Sal DiDomenico has filed emergency legislation to establish a statewide Right to Counsel pilot project. The bill, SD 2971, would protect low-income renters and owner-occupants facing eviction in areas of the Commonwealth hit hardest by the pandemic by establishing projects statewide, within each of the Housing Court’s six divisions.

As a member of the Massachusetts Right to Counsel Coalition, we know that without a lawyer, many tenants do not know how to protect themselves in and out of the courtroom from the threat of eviction. This bill is an important step in ensuring a fairer, more balanced process, preventing homelessness, displacement, unjust evictions, and creating a path to housing stability in the wake of the pandemic.

SD 2971 Fact Sheet

What You Can Do

Time is of the essence!

  1. Contact your Senator & Representative TODAY and ask them to co-sponsor SD 2971 Emergency Right to Counsel Pilot.
  2. Check whether your Senator and Rep co-sponsored Right to Counsel bills earlier this year. If they did, thank them for their earlier support when you ask them to co-sponsor SD 2971. 
  3. Use the starter email below which includes links to the fact sheet and information about the Coalition.
  4. Because elected officials get a lot of emails, follow-up with a phone call to ask whether the Senator or Rep will co-sponsor the bill.
  5. Click here to find your Senator and Representative emails and phone numbers. 

Sample Language:

My name is _______ and I am a Massachusetts resident from _____________. I’m contacting you to ask that you co-sponsor Senate Docket 2971, a statewide right to counsel pilot program to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. It is urgent that we advance this bill quickly to avert the coming eviction crisis. Landlord organizations estimate 15,000 new evictions will be filed when the eviction moratorium ends. 

Over 90% of tenants face eviction without legal representation, while 70% of landlords have lawyers – an imbalance that may be felt even more when the moratorium ends. Massachusetts needs a comprehensive eviction prevention response that includes full legal representation in eviction cases to stabilize people’s housing. 

Over 130 organizations have joined together to support a right to counsel in MassachusettsI hope you will join with others to co-sponsor SD 2971. Please see the fact sheet with more information about SD 2971. Thank you for all of your work to keep Massachusetts residents safe and housed.

Your name ______________

Organization/Contact Information

 

Thank you for supporting low-income and unrepresented tenants and taking quick action to expand access to justice!

Resources

SD 2971 Fact Sheet

Find Your Legislator

Did Your Legislator Co-Sponsor a Right to Counsel Bill?

Growing List of Supporters for Right to Counsel

Join the Right to Counsel Coalition


Our Response to COVID-19

From advocating for increased support for youth experiencing homelessness, to sharing multilingual resources to help immigrant and Limited English Proficient families withstand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – there’s work to be done. Learn more about steps we’re taking to aid our most vulnerable communities during the pandemic and how you can help.

Our Response to COVID-19

 

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America is hurting. The unjust murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others have sparked a national movement to hold our leaders accountable for the insidious racial inequality that penetrates both consciously and unconsciously throughout American society. People across the nation are fighting to overcome generations of pain caused by white supremacy, racial injustice, police brutality, and a broken criminal justice system that penalizes Black citizens at disproportionate rates. This is increasingly obvious as we are suffering through a global pandemic that is impacting communities of color at far higher rates than white communities due to the inequities these communities are forced to endure. We continue to see the over-policing of Black communities and the unjust use of force against Black citizens. Segregated schools and segregated educational opportunities reproduce inequality and racial disparities. These societal issues entrench racial injustice in our schools, neighborhoods, and jobs, which ultimately lead to the violence perpetrated against innocent people such as George Floyd.
 
Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with Black voices and Black-led movements across the country who are organizing and mobilizing citizens to fight for justice for all.  We share a common belief that change is necessary. In addition to calling out injustice, Appleseed actively works to find local solutions to national issues and make change happen at the state and local level through our 16 Centers across the country. Our Centers work tirelessly to fight racial injustice and transform our system into one that eliminates structural inequality in our society. We work to integrate schools, improve prison conditions, reduce jail populations, expand social safety net programs, increase access to basic services regardless of one’s country of origin, equalize access to healthcare, increase affordable housing, afford all people the training and education they need to compete for better jobs, fight unfair policing, and change unfair laws.  
 
For example, here are some of the projects our Centers are working on to improve the lives of people in historically marginalized communities:

This is only a small selection of the broad array of projects our Network works on every day. Please see below for a list of our affiliate Appleseed Centers with links to their websites, social media, and their latest work, press statements, or publications.
 
Additionally, we support those who are exercising their right to protest against racism and we strongly condemn the use of needless force by law enforcement against peaceful protesters. We encourage our supporters to check out the following resources on anti-racism shared by our Kansas Appleseed Center:

“Resources and Tools Regarding Racism & Anti/Blackness (& How To Be a Better Ally)”
“Anti-Racism Resource for White People”

    Appleseed Centers:

Alabama Appleseed – Twitter: @AlaAppleseed | Facebook: @AlaAppleseed

Chicago Appleseed – Twitter: @ChiAppleseed | Facebook: @ChicagoAppleseed

DC Appleseed – Twitter: @DC_Appleseed | Facebook: @DCAppleseed

Georgia Appleseed – Twitter: @GaAppleseed | Facebook: @GeorgiaAppleseed

Hawai’i Appleseed – Twitter: @HIAppleseed | Facebook: @Hawaii.Appleseed

Kansas Appleseed – Twitter: @KansasApple | Facebook: @KansasAppleseed

Louisiana Appleseed – Twitter: @La_Appleseed | Facebook: @ LouisianaAppleseed

Massachusetts Appleseed – Twitter: @MassAppleseed | Facebook: @MassAppleseed

Mexico Appleseed – Twitter: @AppleseedMexico | Facebook: @mexicoappleseed

Missouri Appleseed – Twitter: @MissouriApples1 | Facebook: Missouri Appleseed

Nebraska Appleseed – Twitter:  @neappleseed | Facebook: @neappleseed

New Jersey Appleseed – Twitter: @NJ_Appleseed | Facebook: NJ Appleseed Public Interest Law Center

New Mexico Appleseed – Twitter: @NMAppleseed | Facebook: @new.appleseed

New York Appleseed – Twitter: @AppleseedNY | Facebook: @NYAppleseed

South Carolina Appleseed – Twitter: @AppleseedSC | Facebook: @AppleseedSC

Texas Appleseed – Twitter: @TexasAppleseed | Facebook: @TexasAppleseed

In solidarity, and on behalf of the Appleseed Network,
 
Sarah Pacilio
Network Manager
Appleseed Network

 

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Here we are again, joining others throughout the world in grief, outrage, and, perhaps most perniciously, recognition over the tragic extrajudicial killing of yet another Black person, George Floyd. This, as we continue to mourn for the unjust losses of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people who have died needlessly at the hands of law enforcement in this country. We stand in solidarity with those engaged in protest. And as these protests increase in their intensity, it is crucial to refocus our attention to the violence that is wielded against Black communities every day.

The callous violence exhibited by those officers in the videoed moments of George Floyd’s murder is haunting and shocking. Yet, these officers’ actions fit comfortably within this country’s long-existing history of racial injustice. Their actions are rooted in the same myth of Black inferiority that justified slavery and thrived in the wake of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, lynching, redlining and segregation, the school-to-prison pipeline, the war on drugs, and countless other anti-Black policies – the presumption that Black people are untrustworthy and dangerous, that Black people as a whole are not equal, less capable, less deserving, less good, less human. It is no wonder that these deaths continue to occur.

This long-standing racial fiction has resulted in institutionalized racism and racial injustice in policies that impact every facet of life – social welfare, education, housing, employment, transportation, and city planning. If Black children are undeserving, then why invest in their education instead of handcuffing them for meaningless infractions? If Black families are untrustworthy, then why ensure that they do not experience homelessness and food insecurity at such disproportionate rates? If Black people are unequal, then why guarantee that the outcome of legal cases that threaten eviction, heavy fines, or imprisonment are based on merit, and not resources? These myths make it easier to look the other way. But, make no mistake, discriminatory policies that exclude Black students and families from educational opportunities, justice in the courts, and critical resources are violent. The chronic underfunding and devaluing of communities of color is violent. The disparate impact COVID-19 has had on Black communities is violent. Looking the other way does not make the destruction go away.

Massachusetts Appleseed’s work to change policies that marginalize, impoverish, and punish communities of color exists within the context of racism’s long, violent legacy; our commitment to promoting access to justice and opportunity is also a commitment to identifying and rooting out the destructive myths that perpetuate these policies. In this charged moment, we urge our lawmakers, policymakers, and leaders to turn away from a return to business as usual. It is clear that talking is not enough. Acknowledging is not enough. Instead, take this time to reimagine our future – one in which our systems support and protect the full humanity of every person, and in which our policies and institutions fulfill America’s most foundational ideals of fairness, justice, and equity.

In solidarity,

Deborah Silva
Executive Director
Massachusetts Appleseed

Melanie L. Todman
Chair of the Board of Directors
Massachusetts Appleseed

 

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