From Fannie Lou Hamer to Stacey Abrams, Black womxn organizers have historically had one of the biggest impacts on transforming our communities and improving the social outcomes of our neighborhoods. In the last year in Seattle, there is no doubt Nikkita Oliver (they/them) has served as one of the community’s north stars as we look for solutions for eradicating police and State violence and building a community that we want to live in. In this pivotal moment in U.S. history, where more people have joined the fight for Black and Brown Liberation, Lola’s Ink journalist Jenna Hanchard was in conversation with Nikkita Oliver to talk about their leadership and imagining a future where someday they could just fade into the background.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity
Jenna Hanchard: What does Black Liberation look like, smell like, taste like, feel like?
University of Washington (UW) students Josh Williams, Cassidy McGee, Alyssa Kearns, Sandra Li, and Dionica Sy were placed in a project group for their two-quarter Foster School of Business course called “Creating a Company Class,” which began last September. After witnessing a 2020 packed with various social movements sustained by community organizations, they chose to create a book called Nourish, a collection of short stories, photos, and recipes from 10 local Seattle organizers.
(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
PubliCola has obtained a copy of the King County Equity Now (KCEN) work plan for their public safety research project that’s intended to lay the groundwork for a participatory budgeting process next year. About $30 million of the $1.5 billion general fund budget is supposed to be allocated using participatory budgeting — a process that enables the public to vote on which projects and priorities they want to fund — next year.
The Seattle City Council finalized a $3 million contract with Freedom Project Washington, a nonprofit that offers programs inside and outside prisons to help with reentry and prevent re-incarceration, to fiscally sponsor and oversee KCEN’s research last week. With the contract finalized and the work plan submitted, Freedom Project Washington now has access to the first $1,250,000 of that total. Freedom Project Washington is allowed to subcontract with other groups to conduct parallel research. Currently, though, KCEN is the group’s only subcontractor.
After Seattle City Council voted yesterday on the 2021 City budget, partners in the Solidarity Budget coalition hosted a live Facebook-streamed teach-in event to share perspectives and analyses of the close-to-official City budget. Mayor Jenny Durkan has said she will sign the budget into law next week.
At least 50 cars and 200 people formed a city-wide protest and caravan on Labor Day to press City Council members to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto of council-approved reductions to the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) 2020 budget.
(This article was originally published on The C Is for Crank and is reprinted under an agreement.)
When Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced her decision to veto the City Council’s midyear budget rebalancing package on Friday, she specifically called out an ordinance appropriating $3 million for the council to contract with community-based groups to create a “roadmap for future equitable participatory budget processes related to public safety” by gathering public input to shape the City’s public safety budget priorities.
Council member Tammy Morales, the sponsor of that ordinance, has said that the research would be the first step toward “participatory budgeting,” a process some cities use to guide public spending, often by allowing residents to vote on how to spend a designated pot of money (a federal grant, for instance).
I am the daughter of the first Puerto Rican police officer in the Seattle Police Department (SPD). He was hired when law enforcement organizations began fully implementing affirmative action hiring during the early 1970s, shortly after SPD did away with their height requirement. His police academy class was the first to train alongside women, all three of them. I was raised around Seattle Police officers and do not believe all cops are bad, and as an adjunct professor for the Criminal Justice Department for Seattle University, I know the institution of policing is problematic.
When we talk about “public safety” many people imagine law enforcement officers. Police respond to calls for assistance, the thinking goes. They investigate crimes and protect property. But public safety means so much more. And a law enforcement system that is rooted in white supremacy can’t keep the public safe.
The community conditions that keep us all safe don’t rely on the police. Those conditions rely on a shared ability to thrive. Community safety means greater housing stability, affordable medical care, food security, opportunities for good-paying jobs, high-quality childcare.
When communities of color endure generational poverty, it’s because our patterns of neighborhood investment are also rooted in white supremacy. It’s time to end these patterns.