Johnetta Elzie, a member of the core team behind Campaign Zero, talks to us about how black millennials can use Campaign Zero to be informed in time for the 2016 Presidential Election, become involved in the movement and practice self-care.
The new generations’ civil rights movement has been met with its share of critique and controversy. Recently, it's been bashed as a hate group, criticized by former Civil Rights Movement protesters, and demonized for protesters interrupting Bernie Sanders’ rally. But one of the larger conversations has been asking the movement’s organizers and protestors to produce policy recommendations.
Since the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO on August 9th, 2014, Johnetta Elzie, 26 (@nettaaaaaaaa); DeRay McKesson, 35 (@deray); data scientist Samuel Swey, 25 (@samswey) and Ferguson Commission member Brittany Packnett, 30 (@MsPackyetti) have been hard at work. Together, they formed the planning team behind Campaign Zero — a platform of policy solutions seeking to end police violence in America. Campaign Zero builds off the work of several organizations, including but not limited to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Elzie says that Campaign Zero is useful for the upcoming election because you can see where the top three democratic and republican presidential candidates stand as it relates to the tenets of the areas of reform suggested by their team in the candidate tracking documents (available for download).
Candidate Tracking Infographic via: TakePart.com
Like many young black millennials, Elzie's first time voting was for President Barack Obama in the 2008 election and she has more questions now than she did then and in 2012. She hopes to make an informed decision with the help of Campaign Zero’s tools.Johnetta Elzie. Photo: Emily Kassie via The Huffington Post
Campaign Zero’s call-to-action reads: “We can live in a world where the police don't kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.” There are ten categories of policy solutions referenced clearly throughout:
- End broken windows policing
- Community oversight
- Limit use of force
- Independently investigate & prosecute
- Community representation
- Body cams/film the police
- End for-profit policing
- Fair police union contracts
On the website, you can explore each category along with related research articles and bulleted policy solutions. In discussing Campaign Zero, Elzie stressed the importance of feedback and "engaging with other organizations inclusive agenda.” If there is something that you'd like to see added to the page, you can submit feedback online, where they keep an active log of comments as well as commentary from various publications.
When asked about ways for black millennials to get involved in the movement, Elzie encourages people to “do something out of the norm”, whether that's going to an action meeting or reaching out to an activist or organizer. She also shared that the team has collectively received emails or messages numerous times from people who wish to get involved and don’t know where to start or are unsure about organizers near where they live. She encourages maximizing the use of social media to reach out to people and broaden your network.
All the work to build a solid platform does take its toll. Self-care, while a constant challenge, is a must for those trying to create change. With steady streams of images of unnecessary, untimely and unjust cases of brutality and death, it's hard to avoid succumbing to “racial fatigue.” Elzie quotes friend DeRay, “My self-care does not look like your self-care.” Some of the ways she engages in self-care include trying to have “one normal interaction a day with someone who is not in the movement” and listening to music that she enjoys before getting involved in the movement, which includes Beyoncé and Boosie, among others. One self-care technique that many millennials can benefit from is unplugging, “putting phone down for hours not tweeting.”
Whether it’s building a much-needed movement from the ground up or dealing with the everyday hustle called life —self-care is vital. It only takes a few to change the world, but first it starts with the power of one. As we reflect on how far we've come since the night we all tuned in to updates on Ferguson, we're looking forward to seeing the solutions and research from Campaign Zero inform discussions, collaboration and action at all levels moving forward.