A little over 100 people gathered at South County High School in Lorton yesterday to participate in a rally for the empowerment of black women. As speakers from a variety of walks of life spoke, it was powerful how many women told their personal story of having their value diminished by others based upon both their race and their gender. With that being said, it was also important to note how every single speaker mentioned there’s a path forward with making sure everybody has the opportunity to thrive.
One woman who spoke was Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who was one of the first black women to attend VMI and is running to be the first black female governor in the entire country. During her speech, Jenn spoke about how the current movement isn’t just about justice, but demands accountability.
“We are not marching and we are not standing because we want justice,” Del. Carroll Foy said. “Justice is for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the countless other black and brown bodies who have been killed on our corners due to racial injustice to still be living and breathing.”
“So no, we are not asking for is justice. We will never get that,” she added. “But what we are asking for is accountability. Because in the Commonwealth of Virginia and across this country, we two criminal justice systems. One for brown, black, and other marginalized communities. And one that works well for everyone else.”
Jennifer says the need for accountability comes because there has been a there has been “a demonization and criminalization of black and brown skin” that’s resulted in people of color cannot “sleep in our own homes and jog in our own community” without being worried (a reference to two black Americans who have recently been murdered).
With all this in mind, Del. Carroll Foy focused in on how we must combine the grassroots action we’ve seen in communities all across the country with concrete legislation action to help make meaningful long term change.
“Now that there are peaceful protests with a purpose, which are good, we also need the policy to back that up,” Jennifer said. “To ensure that these type of tragedies don’t happen in Virginia or anywhere else. That’s why I protest by passing policy.”
Among the potential legislative actions she highlighted were civilian review boards, special prosecution teams to investigate any officer involved homicide, and a process that ensures transparency and accountability. She also mentioned relatively easier tasks like making it required that potential police officers disclose if they’re a member of a white supremacist organization (something that’s not required right now).
Listening to Del. Carroll Foy speak, the main thing I took away was we’re at a moment right now where many being are paying attention because we saw how police officers sat idly by as they watched one of their colleagues kill a black man over the course of eight minutes and forty-six seconds. While there is no way we can bring George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and far too many others back to live, we can honor their legacy by making sure their tragic deaths lead to long term positive change.
For those who are interested, here’s a recording of Jennifer Carroll Foy’s remarks.