In 2013, we saw the rise of the Black Lives Matter protests in response to the decision to acquit George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Since that moment, Gen Z has come of age where we participated in marches across the nation and used our voices to support efforts for policing and criminal justice reform. So many of us felt empowered and that we could change the world quickly.

With all the protests and social justice actions, we are still not close to the real reforms of our police departments and criminal justice system that we all want. Earlier this year, the United States Senate failed to reach an agreement that would allow the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to pass and become law. The authors of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Senator Cory Booker (NJ) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA), had tried for months to negotiate an agreement with Republican Senator Tim Scott (SC) but made no real progress. As NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. President and Director Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill said in her statement from September 22, “The decision by negotiators like Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) that addressing the issue of qualified immunity – a key demand of those seeking to ensure a chance to obtain accountability for unconstitutional policing – was a “red line” he would not cross, doomed the effort to craft a bill that would be responsive to the demand and meet the moment.”

The failure to successfully move this important legislation sends a clear sign that there is still significant work to do in our political system to get enough elected officials into office that will support justice in reforming our police departments. At the same time, the recent incident with Judge Odinet should make Generation Z step back and discuss what a real win in police and criminal justice reform looks like. Will we truly achieve justice by passing important legislation like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act if we have individuals serving as judges across our nation like Judge Odient? Can we trust judges, district attorneys, and others to fairly enforce any law if they have racism built into their characters and viewpoints?