Monday, June 8, 2020
By Kyra R. Greene, PhD
Dear Friends of CPI,
I am Black and I am Kyra. In my heart, I am also Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, because I have sent my child to be with people who loved her and assumed that would be enough to keep her safe. And, I am Breonna Taylor, because I have been a Black woman who went to bed in her home and assumed that I would be safe until the morning. And, I am Aumerie Johnson, because I have waited near a La Mesa trolley station to meet up with friends and assumed that I could do so without having to explain myself to the police. Every day, I get up to fight for the right of every human being to have the freedom to walk safely, the freedom to sleep peacefully in a bed protected from the elements, the freedom to provide for the basic needs of their family without stress and fear. Every day, I fight for the freedom of every person not just to survive, but to thrive.
And I know that I am not alone. Our communities are suffering during this crisis, but we are still fighting for a better future. We are tired, but still fighting to be free.
At CPI, I have the honor of leading a diverse and passionate group of people each of whom is dedicated to advancing racial and economic justice. We recognize that equity for all communities requires correcting for past discrimination and oppression.
For years, we have uplifted the importance of the City and County budgets and brought focus and accountability to how our elected officials invest our public dollars. For years, we have been fighting for People’s Budgets where our tax dollars build and maintain systems that meet the needs of ALL Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and Indigenous people, but especially the needs of low- and moderate-income people, of immigrants, of queer folks, of people with disabilities. We know that a system that ends oppression and marginalization will be a system that meets the needs of us all.
I lead an organization that is about both being led by the voices of the impacted and about making policy decisions guided by empirical data. Right now, across whatever screen you use, the evidence is in that more policing is not the route to public safety. Quality housing for everyone including Black people, good jobs for everyone including Black people, transparent and just government that serves everyone, including Black people; these are the paths to safety and stability.
The evidence has been clear for years, yet, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed an FY 2021 City of San Diego budget, where 37% of the general fund ($566.6 million) would go to policing and he proposed adding an additional $29.2 million from the CARES Act. The CARES Act is funding meant to address the impacts of COVID-19, impacts that have disproportionately fallen on people of color. Meanwhile, he proposed cuts to departments that protect workers and no money to provide tenant protections even though we know that housing affordability, fighting housing discrimination and avoiding displacement are huge concerns among people of color in San Diego, challenges that have become more acute during the COVID crisis.
The Mayor’s decision to invest our money in policing is not race-neutral. There is no justification for funding policing over everything else. We should not take money that can be used to protect tenants, workers, and small businesses in working communities and communities of color to spend it on violence.
If you agree with us that in the immortal words of Fannie Lou Hamer “nobody’s free until everybody’s free,” then you know our fight for a People’s Budget is more important than ever. We cannot afford the existing system financially or morally. We need our money for people not for teargas, tasers, tanks, and rubber bullets. We need money to care and provide for ourselves and each other, not to inject more fear and anger into the world.
We have long said that a budget is a moral document, and we’re now in a moment of extreme moral clarity.