The Movement Matters: ‘What’s in it For Us’ podcast explains how protests are shaping policy

“Protestors got us in the streets to demand what we wanted,” says host Dr. Christina Greer

ST. LOUIS, MO – JUNE 14: Protesters take to the street to protest against police brutality on June 14, 2020 in St. Louis, Missouri. Local activists organized a peaceful protests centered around youth being involved and allowing their voices be heard. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
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In his first State of The Union address as president, Joe Biden spoke directly to trauma of Black Americans in the wake of last summer’s protests following the murder of George Floyd. Biden urged the nation’s top lawmakers to do more to “deliver real change and reform,” and said that state and local law enforcement leaders need to step up. 

Political scientist and What’s In It For Us guest host Dr. Megan Ming Francis says there are lessons to be learned from the challenges that beleaguered the Obama White House. She also shared that President Biden’s speech last Wednesday, which was a noted departure from his typically centrist views, was largely impacted by the organizers and movements pushing for change.

“He [Biden] has switched, but again, I think that part of that switching must be attributed to the movement, whether that’s around labor, whether that’s about the economy, immigration and of course, Black Lives Matter,” said Francis. 

Delivering the Republican rebuttal was lone Black GOP Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina. Scott drew swift and sharp criticism after decrying claims that America is a racist country, while detailing his own experiences of discrimination. 

Senator Tim Scott
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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“Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country,” said Scott. The senator also claimed that his colleagues across the aisle are more interested in a problem than a solution and that people are “making money by pretending we haven’t made any progress.” 

“On the one way hand, you’re gonna lay out all the ways this country has been racist to you individually, [while] never making an institutional argument. Never asking why it is that your grandfather couldn’t read, never asking why it is that ya’ll were raised in a one-room shack, never asking why nobody ever got a good education,” said Greer. 

Francis echoed the sentiment, saying too often the public discourse on racism focuses too heavily on the impact and experiences of individuals and not the mechanisms of a larger system. 

“This is a story of how individually we cannot rid of [this country of] racism because racism is structured into our institutions as a society,” said Francis. “Any individual plans going forward cannot get out something that is actually institutionalized.” 

Protesters calling for justice in the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. by Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies march Thursday in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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The hosts also unpacked another story making headlines this week, but maybe not for the reason you think. A horse named after Breonna Taylor won the Kentucky Derby Week Race last week, raising several eyebrows and earning the ire of both hosts. The horse is owned by Sam Aguilar, an attorney who represents the Taylor family. 

“For this family to think that they’re honoring this ‘resilient and beautiful’ woman by naming their horse after her talks to the racism we experience that is like the air that we breathe,” said Greer. “Then you’ve got Tim Scott talking about ‘magical boot strapping,’ but in order for you to pull yourself up by your boot straps you have to own boots first, and most Black people don’t even get the opportunity to own boots.” 

With so much going on, theGrio continues to ask, “What’s In It For Us?”

You can catch new episodes of What’s In It For Us every Wednesday on Apple Podcast, Spotify and Stitcher. 

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