KFTC members attend Equity Summit 2015 | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

KFTC members attend Equity Summit 2015

Last October several KFTC members and staff traveled to Los Angeles, California for PolicyLink's Equity Summit 2015: All in for Inclusion, Justice, & Prosperity.  Equity Summit 2015 included interactive panels, tours, skill-building sessions, networking opportunities, and cultural activities and was attended by organizers, activists, advocates, and equity leaders from across the country. The summit focused on "forg[ing] powerful partnerships for building an equitable and prosperous nation."

Below are two reflections on the Equity Summit written by attendees Tanya Torp, KFTC Exeuctive Committe member, and Jessica Bellamy, Jefferson County chapter member. 

Tanya Torp's Reflection

I sat weeping watching the Equity Summit 2015 opening video.  All of the trauma of the racism in America, from what I have personally experienced, to the murders of unarmed black and brown people all over our country and the horrors of mass incarceration.  I felt safe.  I felt validated.  I felt alive in a room full of people who believed.  Believed that this is indeed happening to us, and did not want to bury their heads in the sand. 
As a woman of faith, one of the most powerful moments for me was when Rev Michael McBride said, "On our watch we've allowed the expansion of the prison industrial system.  Right under our noses!  We've got a lot of repenting to do.  We have not fought for our young people in the way we needed to do."
It was the "We" that grabbed me and forced me to look at my own failings in this fight.  Did I speak out enough? Did I visit those in prison? Did I fight for reform? "We"  is a powerful word. "We" are complicit.  "We" are not there yet.  "We" need to bring others along in the fight. But, there are some other great we's too.  "We" are advancing.  "We" are leading the way.  "We"are in the fight.
For me, the Equity Summit confirmed that we [KFTC] are on our way as an organization. We are not where we should be, and acknowledging that is important.  As inclusive and beautiful as our vision statement and platform work are, living that out tangibly in KFTC remains an aspiration.  Our Staff does not yet reflect our desires to be multiracial and multicultural.  Although we desire to be "all in", many of our members have not connected with the work of #BlackLivesMatter
So my commitment to equity is to educate myself and others, and to do a lot more listening to allies in the making, ushering in safe spaces for them to "get it", while feeding my own soul as well.

Jessica Bellamy's Reflection 

PolicyLink’s Equity Summit 2015 was a multifaceted training and fueling event.  Each moment was filled with social justice leaders from around the nation sharing their strategies and stories around a variety of intersecting issues.  Art, dance, and poetry were also interwoven into daily events and panels.  Artists used their skills and talents to create living narratives of struggling communities and families.  Their works invited us all to participate in a collective experience.  This experience helped us let down our defenses, opened our minds and hearts, and put us in a place of intentional listening.

Each plenary, panel, forum, etc. not only gave us insight into concepts that could be implemented in our communities back home, but also gave us tools to better weaponized our rhetoric and elicit more support from our policymakers.  These tools included: National Equity Atlas, Mapping Police Violence Project, Clocking In, Assets and Opportunity Local Data Center and ScorecardPolicyMap-Healthy Food Access Portal, and so on.

It was very important that Alicia Hurle, Jefferson County Chapter organizer, and I go to this conference because we have been working with other members to create an equity plan for Kentucky.  We have been in conversation with members state-wide to talk about sustainable development, community empowerment and support, data justice/data for the people, and more.  This summit gave us the opportunity to learn from social justice warriors from communities that face coercion, gentrification, and general pushback at a more accelerated rate than has been my experience in Louisville, KY.  The grassroots organizers, activists, data analysts, non-profit leaders, and so on have not only shown us innovative ways to purse social justice, they’ve given us valuable evaluative methods, strategies to take pilot programs to the next level, equip us with new data tools, elevated our vocabulary, boosted our network, and gave us tips on how to catalyze projects so that more cross-section leaders can work together.  I’m just sayin… this trip was crucial for the development of a strong and sustainable equity plan for our state.

Alicia and I attended several different forums separately in order to get the most out of the summit.  During lunch and after dinner we would often meet up with other members of the conference to share notes and talk about our experiences as we unpacked mentally from the day.  We had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Mercado La Paloma at 3655 S. Grand Ave in Los Angeles.  In Louisville there’s been a lot of arguing around what we’re told will be a food hub or food port, but what we’ll get here will be nothing like this great place.  The Mercado La Paloma is a large indoor market and community center that is supported by the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, a non-profit that is truly and authentically dedicated to the community around it.  They have provided the overhead necessary for a variety of amazing cultural restaurants to really thrive over the last 14 years.  I felt like I was in a dream.  Who could imagine that such a place existed in the world… and that’s the problem.  We can only do as much as we can dream and imagine.  Unlocking our potential as a state will take some steppin outside of state lines every once in a while.


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