Show cover of Antiracist Voter

Antiracist Voter

The murder of George Floyd created a moment of reflection and rededication to racial equality. But moments are ephemeral. Americans have a notoriously short attention span.  How do we maintain momentum so that the moment becomes a movement? How do we translate the demands of protests into the domain of policy?  Antiracist ideas are activated in antiracist policy, especially in local elections. We focus on criminal justice, economic justice, environmental justice, education, housing, health, immigration, and voting rights. We talk about problems, but we don’t stop there. We talk about solutions. Who is getting it right?


Can Truth and Reconciliation Work in Minneapolis?
Joy Marsh Stephens talks about the Minneapolis Truth and Reconciliation process.  We know the statistics. There are opportunity gaps in education. By the fourth grade, 50% of all Minnesota children reach reading proficiency, only 31% of Black children are reading proficiently. Minnesota enjoys an 83% high school graduation rate overall, but a 67% graduation rate among Black students. There is an income gap. The median household income among White Minnesotans is $71,415. But the median income among Black households is $34,879. The poverty rate for White residents is 7%, while the poverty rate is 28% for Black Minnesotans. There’s a housing gap. Black home ownership is 22%, about half the national average. Black renters are cost-burdened. 29% of Back residents pay 30 to 50% of their income on rent. And another 27% of Black residents pay more than 50% of their income on rent. And there is a criminal justice gap. Although Black folks only make up 19% of Minnesota’s population, they account for 66% of the use of force by police. Minnesota has a deep history of racial disparities from slavery to redlining, to mass incarceration. So, how do we move forward in a way that accounts for past acts, examines current structural racism, and envisions a better future? There are models that work. A key example of that is the Truth and Reconciliation commission. These commissions were used in South Africa after apartheid, and in Canada, in the wake of the damage caused by Residential Schools. Now, that model is being put to the test in Minneapolis. Joy Marsh Stephens is the Director of the Division of Race and Equity in the City of Minneapolis. She stopped by to talk about the Truth and Reconciliation process in Minneapolis. About Joy Marsh Stephens: Joy Marsh Stephens directs the Division of Race and Equity in the City of Minneapolis. Since joining the City in 2015, Joy has focused on growing the capacity of City staff to integrate racial equity into everyday decision-making, business planning, inclusion activities, and policymaking. Joy partners closely with cities, counties and state agencies across the nation that are also committed to advancing racial equity. Through the federally funded ReCAST Minneapolis program, Joy leads a coalition of staff and community members in reversing the harm of systemic racism through trauma literacy, building resilient communities and shifting systems towards more equitable outcomes. Joy comes to the City of Minneapolis with over 20 years of experience leading large-scale systems change initiatives in multiple sectors including financial services, healthcare, education, and government. Most recently, Joy led domestic and international systems integration and acquisition projects at the enterprise level for UnitedHealth Group. She enjoys an active public life as well, having volunteered in leadership roles in numerous nonprofit boards, schools and other community groups with a focus on driving racially equitable policy at the municipal and state level for over 15 years. Joy holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Learn More About Joy Marsh Stephens and the Truth and Reconciliation process: Joy Marsh Stephens on LinkedIn: Division of Race and Equity:
21:21 11/2/20
The Most Powerful, Invisible Position in the State, with De’Vonna Pittman
A complete transcript of the interview can be found here: Want to be an antiracist voter? Educate yourself, and then vote all the way down the ballot.   Who is your County Commissioner? Go ahead. Think about it. I’ll wait.   There’s a good chance that you have no idea who your county commissioner is. And yet, in Hennepin County, Minnesota, the county commission controls a $2.5-billion-dollar budget.   Criminal justice, economic justice, environmental justice, education, housing, health, and voting rights all begin with local governments.   Despite the importance of local elections, only 30% of eligible voters vote in local elections. In many local elections, voter turnout can be in the single digits. And, though 60% of eligible voters vote in presidential elections, many voters don’t vote all the way down the ballot, skipping local candidates and ballot initiatives.   Today, we’re going to meet one woman who wants to use the office of County Commissioner to deal with some of the disparities in our community.   De’Vonna Pittman is familiar with the issues in Hennepin County. She works as the Disparity Reduction Coordinator for the county. She is also active in her community. She founded the Minnesota Black Author’s Expo. And, she is a candidate for the Hennepin County Commission, District One.   A complete transcript of our conversation can be found below.   Learn More About De’Vonna Pittman:  De’Vonna Pittman’s campaign website:   De’Vonna Pittman on Facebook:   De’Vonna Pittman on Twitter:   De’Vonna Pittman on Instagram:  
21:22 9/6/20
Your Voting Rights, with Jorge Vasquez, Advancement Project
You can find a full transcript of the conversation here: Voting should be safe, simple, and exercised by every citizen. But, what happens when it is not? Pop quiz! When is the 2020 US election? If you said, Tuesday, November 3rd, ding, ding, ding, you’re right. I would have also accepted the answer, today, September 18, or any day between September 18 and November 3. Let me explain. In most states, you can request an absentee ballot today. When your absentee ballot arrives, you can go ahead and vote. In Minnesota, early, in-person voting starts September 18. You can vote in person at your county election office. And, some cities and towns offer in-person absentee voting. Check with your city clerk's office for more information. So, important question, what’s your plan to vote? When will you vote? How will you vote? How will you get there? Who else will you take with you? Voter Suppression is Alive and Well The 15th Amendment was passed in 1870. It says simply that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” When combined with the 19th Amendment recognizing women’s right to vote, it should be clear that every citizen has the right to vote. Seems simple, right? But it has never been that simple. After the passage of the 15th Amendment, states put up new barriers to voting from literacy tests to poll taxes. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 authorized the federal government to enforce the right to vote, but it did not end voter suppression. For example, voter ID laws disproportionately affect black and brown voters. Nationally, around 25% of Black citizens of voting age lack government-issued photo ID, compared to only 8% of Whites. Laws that ban ex-felons from voting disproportionately impact Black and Brown voters. One out of every 13 Black votes lost their right to vote because of a felony conviction, compared to one out of every 56 non-Black voters. How do we protect our right to vote? What steps do we need to take to make sure our vote is counted? What do we do if we encounter problems when we are trying to cast our vote? Today’s conversation is with Jorge Vasquez, the Director, Power and Democracy Program at Advancement Project National Office. Advancement Project is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Learn More About Jorge Vasquez, Advancement Project: MN Secretary of State, Elections and Voting: Advancement Project: Advancement Project on Facebook: Advancement Project on Twitter: Advancement Project on Instagram: Advancement Project on YouTube:
29:15 9/5/20
A Solution to Undocumented Immigration, with Laz Ayala, Illegal the Project
For extended show notes, see We don’t have an illegal immigration problem. We have a systemic illegal employment problem.   Picture this. It’s June 16, 2015. Lazaro “Laz” Ayala is standing in his living room. The speaker on the television is saying “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”  Laz, a successful businessman in southern Oregon, feels the sting of those words. Laz arrived in the United States as a 14-year-old boy, driven from his home by civil war in El Salvador.   The words on the television are dehumanizing for all immigrants. This is an important concept. When a class of people are dehumanized, it excuses a host of behaviors, from separating families, to locking babies in cages.   The words weaponize race as a tool to divide Americans. They are a threat, not just to some Americans, but to our democracy.   Laz waits for the response to come. He waits for community leaders to act. He waits for celebrities to speak out. Someone has to do something.   Laz waited for a year. Then he realized that he is someone. He has to act.   He recognized that his business could suffer. With the state of the debate over undocumented workers, he even worried that he might lose his life. But he pushed ahead.   He wrote a book to tell his story. The book is Illegal: One immigrant's life or death journey to the American dream. He made a documentary film, allowing other immigrants to tell the story from their perspectives.   And, realizing that it would take an engaged community to make a difference, he launched an organization, Illegal the Project.   Learn More About Laz Ayala and Illegal the Project:   Illegal The Project:   Book: Illegal: One immigrant's life or death journey to the American dream:   Film:  Report: Undocumented But In Demand: An Assessment of the Labor Crisis and Illegal Employment System in the US:  
29:36 8/31/20
Racial Wealth Inequality and Black Asset Poverty, with Dr. Lori Latrice Martin
Extended shown notes and a full transcript can be found here: The term systemic racism is redundant. Racism is systemic. It is a multi-level, multi-dimensional system of oppression.   On average, White families have a net worth of $171,000. The average Black family’s net worth is about one tenth of that, or $17,150. White families tend to have more assets, which can unlock opportunities such as education. Generally speaking, White families have the ability to absorb a greater financial blow such as an unexpected repair bill, healthcare costs, or loss of income.   Why is that?   Dr. Lori Latrice Martin takes us through the causes of the wealth gap and the consequences of racism. Dr. Martin is professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Louisiana State University.   Dr. Martin has published and edited more than 20 works on racial wealth inequality, Black asset poverty, and race and sports. Her latest book, America in Denial: How Race-Fair Public Policies Reinforce Inequality in America, is scheduled for publication in May 2021 with State University of New York (SUNY) Press.  In this conversation, Dr. Martin traces wealth inequality and Black asset poverty through racist policies from the exclusion of Black people from the GI Bill, to slavery. Learn More about Dr. Lori Latrice Martin:   Dr. Martin’s LSU profile:   Dr. Martin’s Twitter profile:  
32:15 8/29/20
If We Want Better, We Have to Vote for Better, With Alberder Gillespie, Candidate Congressional District MN-04
For Alberder Gillespie, the time is now. Alberder Gillespie is running for a seat in Congress, representing Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District. She’s been involved with the Democratic–Farmer–Labor (DFL) party for more than 17 years. “It was my job to get more Democrats elected,” Alberder explains. “I can say now that there are Democrats in the Minnesota Senate, and our two State House Seats. I was involved, so much so, that I was inducted into the DFL Women’s Hall of Fame.” Alberder’s qualifications include: Inductee, Democratic–Farmer–Labor (DFL) Women’s Hall of Fame Former Leader, Girl Scouts of AmericaFormer Family Ministry CoordinatorFormer Board Member, Parent Teacher AssociationFormer Member, School Board, South Washington County SchoolsFormer Chair, Senate District 53Former Chair, Senate District 56Former Director, Sixth Congressional DistrictFormer Member, DFL State Central CommitteeMember, Presidential Advisory Board, University of MinnesotaBoard Member, South Washington Education FoundationCommissioner, Minnesota Amateur SportsDirector, Fourth Congressional DistrictGraduate, Purdue UniversityFounder of Black Women RisingAnd of course, Candidate, United States House of Representatives, Minnesota Before the 2016 election, Alberder formed an organization called Black Women Rising. “I’ve been in this party for a long time. We’re always talked about how we could not get diverse voices at the table. That did not mesh with what I was hearing when I was out in communities.” Alberder spoke with several leaders, including Toni Carter the first Black county commissioner in the state. “I told her that I know there are all these women of color who have all these skills. They want to run.” Carter challenged Alberder to bring these women together. Alberder gathered thirty women together in her home. “I asked the question, how many of you are considering running for office? About 90% of the hands went up. And then I knew. There needs to be a structure, a way to support, guide, recruit, and train these women so that they can be successful.” In 2016, Alberder ran for a state-level House office. “People had been asking me to run for years. I like recruiting, training, building capacity, building a farm team, and expanding our base. I’m a strategist. “I ultimately decided to run, because I didn’t see the change I wanted to see. Because I wasn’t seeing the change, I thought, ‘Maybe I need a seat at the table.’” “I was being asked before 2016 to run for Congress. But there are the boundaries and lines that are set for us.” Alberder was not elected in 2016, but she had built a coalition of activated voters who are still engaged today. She’s running in the primary for a seat currently occupied by Rep. Betty McCollum. Betty has been in office for 20 years. In 2018, she won the primary with 91% of the vote, and the general election with 66% of the vote. So, why run against the incumbent? “My decision to run for office is not about Betty. I’m running for something. What pushed me to run in today is the same thing that pushed me to run in 2016. But, it’s more urgent today. “Because I’m on the inside of all of this, I can see the policies that are not being promoted. I can see the impact on the community when we ignore their issues. “For me, what we saw in May with the murder of George Floyd, that was not new to me.” Learn more about Alberder Gillespie: Alberder Gillespie Campaign Website: Black Women Rising:
17:33 8/10/20
In Minneapolis, Police Training Wasn’t Enough, with Jesse Jannetta, Urban Institute
For full show notes, see Without accountability, trust is impossible. Picture it: A police department that dedicates itself to trust-building reforms. They partner with the best thought leaders in the country. They train all sworn officers in procedural justice. Procedural justice is the way police interact with the public, and how those interactions shape the public’s views of the police. All recruits receive the same training. They created a full-time Procedural Justice Unit. They weave procedural justice throughout the department’s training efforts. They train all officers on implicit bias. Implicit bias creates automatic association and stereotypes with groups of people. Implicit bias can have a strong influence on policing. They engage in reconciliation work. The police department holds on-the-ground listening sessions between the Police Chief and influential leaders from the community. They hire Community Navigators to liaise between marginalized communities and the police department. All of this might seem like the perfect formula for police-community trust-building. Yet, this happened in Minneapolis, MN, the site of the murder of George Floyd.  Learn More about Jesse Jannetta and Urban Institute: Jesse Jannetta on Twitter: Urban Institute: Jesse Jannetta’s blog post: It Wasn’t Enough: The Limits of Police-Community Trust-Building in Minneapolis: The National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice Key Process and Outcome Evaluation Findings: 
30:39 8/9/20
Husniyah Dent Bradley, Candidate, MN House District 63B
Husniyah Dent Bradley was raised in South Minneapolis, in Minnesota House District 63B. She went to Minneapolis Public Schools - Standish Elementary School, Bancroft Elementary School, Folwell Junior High School, and North Community High School. Husniyah graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, with a B.S. degree in Chemistry in 1997. She worked as an Analytical Chemist for several years before pursuing a graduate degree from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in 2004. During law school, she interned with Minneapolis City Councilman Paul Zerby’s office, where she updated the rules for the Civilian Review Authority Board. She also interned at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. After graduation, she worked for 14 years at Thomson Reuters. Her political activity continued as she organized for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and worked at Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.   Today, she works at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Career and Professional Development. In November 2019, when Representative Jean Wagenius announced her retirement, Husniyah decided to run for the seat in Minnesota House District 63B. “I am running for office because I have experienced our state’s disparities firsthand,” Husniyah says. “I envision a state where everyone can be treated justly. “I want to lend my voice to the policy that pertains to education, transportation, the environment, and criminal justice, among other issues. I will be a voice that brings the perspective of the community to legislation to make our state great for everyone.” Husniyah is one of 40 Black women running for office in 2020. She is associated with Black Women Rising. The mission of Black Women Rising is to leverage Black Women’s organizing skills, leadership potential, and political power to influence and positively impact our community. Learn More about Husniyah Dent Bradley: Website: Facebook: Black Women Rising:
18:15 8/7/20
How to Move Beyond Allyship, with Dawn Johnson, White Elephant Consulting
Awareness of racism is the first step. Dawn Johnson helps White women to move from awareness, to ally, to an accomplice, to activist. Dawn Johnson describes herself as a leader, speaker, coach, motivator, and “a dope-ass black woman entrepreneur.” Through her company “White Elephant Consulting,” she works with White women who are ready to support Black women. The Only Black Woman in the Room In her corporate career, Dawn often found herself as the first Black woman to step into a role. “I was the only Black woman in my company, in the very beginning,” she explains. “I got shipped to Minnesota after my 90-day training. The office was full of White guys and one older White woman. “They had no idea how to talk to me, how to engage me. I knew that showing up Black in a majority-White space – I had to get up to speed quickly. There were no mentors for me. I was thrown into the fire. “I had a huge territory. My job was to go to small towns in Wisconsin, the upper peninsula of Michigan, Duluth, Superior, and all these small towns. I had to sell hot dogs to White guys, and meat cutters. Many of them had never had a conversation with a Black woman. I felt like a damn pioneer. Because of how I’m wired, I had to get over it. I had to see people as people.” But she was not treated as an equal. “It was like ‘You’re funny. You’re articulate. You’re so pretty and thin. How’d you get this job?’ There was this constant question of ‘How the hell are you here?’” Dawn found that she had to continuously explain her credentials and justify her presence in White spaces. “Every day, I had to get up and give myself a pep talk that I am worthy and excellent at what I do. “It took me 22 years and time away from corporate America to process the trauma of all that I endured.” White Elephant Consulting Dawn eventually left her corporate career. She took some time to heal. “This is three years into my healing journey,” she says. “and my entrepreneurial journey. I had no idea until I removed myself from it, how damaged I was.” John C. Maxwell trained her as a trainer, professional speaker, and coach. “The life coaching aspect really spoke to me. I use my experiences to help you to connect to things you have blocked that are preventing you from being your best you.” Dawn launched her coaching career at the beginning of 2020. “And then there was this thing called a pandemic that hit,” Dawn says. “And shortly after that, there was the murder of George Floyd. That completely changed the world. It triggered in me a desire to educate White women.”   Dawn pivoted and launched What Elephant Consulting. “I take my experiences as a Black woman into corporate America, into small businesses, with individuals to talk about the white elephant in the room, which is race. “I believe that women lead change. Life comes through women. If I can connect heart-to-heart with White women, I can create change in them so that they can move forward in their allyship. “I have been moved in my work to align with White women so that White women can hear Black women speak. They can listen to our stories and be moved by our stories. They can be activists. They can amplify us as Black mothers. “We are in a time of awakening—Minnesota wok up the world to what we’ve always known. “I want the ‘woke’ White women to move from just being woke, to ally, to an accomplice, to activist.” Dawn offers opportunities for White and Black women to connect through forums, retreats, and, of course, virtual formats. Learn More about Dawn Johnson and White Elephant Consulting: Dawn Johnson Website: Dawn Johnson on Instagram:
37:48 8/7/20
How to Reform the Police, with Seth W. Stoughton
After every tragic death at the hands of the police, America rings her collective hands. Speeches are made. Policies are proposed, debated, and defeated. New leadership is appointed. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. The problems are often blamed on a few bad apples. However, there is a saying, culture eats strategy for breakfast. A bad culture will beat a good cop every single time. But, here’s the big question. What actually works? What are the proven methods and strategies to hold police departments accountable, and to root out unwanted behavior? This is an urgent question. As federal, state, and local governments struggle to pass meaningful legislation, we need to understand what works. How do we actually fix America’s Police? That’s a question explored by Seth W. Stoughton, Jeffrey J. Noble, and Geoffrey P. Alpert in a recent article in The Atlantic. The Big Problem with Police Accountability In the United States, there are more than 18,000 police agencies. Most of these agencies, around 15,000 are financed and managed by a city or county. No one city, county, state, or federal government controls the social contract with community being policed. No one agency sets the legal framework, administrative processes, or the budget. To change policing, each level of government, from local to federal, has a role to play. What Reforms Should be in the Federal, State, and Local Bills? In their article, Stoughton, Noble, and Alpert propose a raft of legal reforms at the Federal, State, and Local level. At the federal level, they suggest that Congress focus on three objectives. End qualified immunity.Pass legislation to further encourage better data collection about what police do and how they do itAllocate resources to support police training, local policy initiatives, and administrative reviews. At the state level, they recommend five objectives: Strengthen laws that govern the use of both deadly and nondeadly force.Amend law-enforcement officers’ bills of rights and the laws that govern the collective-bargaining rights of police unions.Do a better job of certifying and, when necessary, decertifying officers.Pass broad sunshine laws regarding police records.Reduce overcriminalization by rethinking their approach to criminalization. And, they provide five suggestions for local interventions: Implement, follow, and audit, early-warning or early-intervention systems.Incorporate industry best practices and generally accepted principles into agency policies and training.Replace the “read and sign” approach to training with more effective training processes.Ensure that first-line supervisors, including corporals, sergeants, and lieutenants are providing adequate supervision.Require transparency in the aftermath of high-profile incidents. You can find the details in article “How to Actually Fix America’s Police” in The Atlantic. Learn More about Seth W. Stoughton and Police Reform: Article: How to Actually Fix America’s Police: Book: Evaluating Police Uses of Force: Seth Stoughton at University of South Carolina School of Law: Seth Stoughton on Twitter:
29:59 6/17/20
How Do You Dismantle Systemic Racism?
The time to act on systemic racism is now. The stakes are high. Do you know what to do to achieve racial equality in the United States? Most of us don’t. I don’t. But I want to know how. And I want to act. But what are the solutions? There’s a saying in the recovery movement. You’re only as sick as your secrets. The United States has kept systemic racism a secret for too long. It’s time to talk about our shared national shame. More importantly, it’s time to do something about it. The levers of power rest mostly in the hands of white folks. So, it’s up to us. We must get engaged and stay engaged in the struggle for equality. Let’s be clear. I’m not going to get this conversation right. I’ll have the wrong words, tone, or timing. You can be sure that I’m going to say something stupid. I’m even worried that this post is virtue signaling. But this isn’t about me. This is about the original sin of the US constitution. It’s about the continuing harm that began with ripping people from their homeland to become slaves in our land – in my land. It’s about the privilege I swim in, unaware. It’s about the perpetuation of discrimination, white fragility, and racism, both large and small. This is about justice, not the kind that seeks retribution, but the capital-J Justice that lifts all lives up to see one another as children of God. This is about doing better. Moral Outrage is the Easy Part I am outraged about systemic racism. As a Minnesotan, I feel shame and embarrassment at the racial gaps in our state. According to the US Census Bureau, in Minnesota, White households make nearly twice as much income per year ($73,027) compared to black households ($36,849).27.2% of black Minnesota residents are below the poverty line, compared to only 7.4% of white Minnesotans. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, In 2019, unemployment among white Minnesotans was 3%, compared to 5.5% of black residents.Since March 2020, 21.1% of those filing for unemployment were white, while 40.6% were black. If you aren’t outraged by this, you aren’t paying attention. But here’s the problem with outrage. Constant outrage leaves us feeling powerless, hopeless, and cynical. It deprives us of the energy we need to create real and lasting change. Moral outrage is the easy part. It’s the cheap parlor trick. But when you add moral courage, it sparks your moral imagination, which becomes a moral compass that guides a movement. There is a better way. When we move beyond talking about problems and explore solutions, we have hope. It lifts us up. We are energized to make a difference. Here is My Commitment First, I am educating myself. It is not the job of my friends to teach me about the harm of structural racism. That’s my job. Second, I’m using my privilege to amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Again, this isn’t about me. Starting this week, I am launching a third podcast and website, Antiracist Voter. You can find it at The purpose of Antiracist Voter is to help us all to vote as if Black Lives Matter. We provide resources and information to help us all to do better. Between now and the 2020 elections, we are talking about: The racial achievement gaps, especially in Minnesota.Causes of those gaps.Solutions.Legislation to implement those solutions.Who is supporting these solutions at every level of power? We talk about solutions. Who is getting it right? We cover criminal justice, economic justice, environmental justice, education, housing, health, voting rights, and more. You can find out more at, or your favorite podcast app. 
08:31 6/15/20