As a public defender and magistrate judge, I saw first hand how in the Commonwealth of Virginia, there are two systems: one that degrades marginalized communities, and another that works well for everyone else. This is a fact African-Americans know too well, and the summer of 2020 made the realities of systemic racism even more clear as we mourned the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Abery, and countless others. The time is now for clear and thoughtful change.
My protest is passing legislation. In June 2020, I launched my Racial Justice Framework to work toward building a more just and equal Commonwealth. Rooted in conversations with community leaders, constituents, and working families, this framework serves as a starting point for policy and lawmakers to address the concerns of Virginians calling for change on racial disparities and inequalities.
As a state Delegate, I
- Sponsored legislation to address cash bail reform, the ban on parole, and the issue of “driving poor” — all of which contribute to mass incarceration and cyclical patterns of joblessness and poverty within minority communities
- Boldly advocated for the legalization of marijuana to address the racial disparities related to incarceration and convictions
- Sponsored a bill prohibiting the use of neck restraints, such as chokeholds, by law enforcement.
- Launched an initiative to clarify the process of applying, to create a network of mentors and champions for the applicants, and to inform our legislators about the importance of diversity and inclusiveness
- Successfully sponsored the Dress Code Equity Act, the first bill in the nation to codify protections in school dress codes against religious and ethnic discrimination to combat school pushout for Black girls
- Supported efforts for discipline issues to be managed in school versus in the courtroom
- Passed a bill to assess the feasibility of medicaid reimbursement for doula care — an effective practice to combat the alarmingly high Black maternal mortality rates — to expand access by women of color to culturally competent care
I have fought to make our Commonwealth a place for all Virginians, and will continue, without ceasing, to end racial injustice.