Welcome, 2016! As we emerge from the 2015 fog, I am wishing everyone a 2016 filled with peace, prosperity and forward advancement in all portions of your life. The beginning of a new year always holds so much promise and optimism. Hopefully I will be able to maintain this positive feeling in my spirit throughout the year. I know it will be difficult, but it is possible. Just as equally important as a positive spirit is a conscious spirit as well. Here are a few of the areas of interest I will focus on this year.
With yet another non-indictment of the killing of an innocent Black person, this time a 12-year-old child named Tamir Rice, I look forward to seeing how various communities across the country mobilize and organize to end police violence and a decayed criminal justice system. That organization can take the form of protest politics and taking to the streets as well as taking the protest to the voting booth and either electing people who support our interests or voting out those who do not.
There will be several law enforcement and legal professionals up for reelection across the country in 2016, and it is our responsibility to pay attention to these “small” races. Most media attention will focus on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations (which are incredibly important). However, we must not forget about races in cities and states across this country for the extremely important positions of district attorney, state legislator and state senator, mayor, City Council, judge, and governor, just to name a few.
Republicans have been focusing on these “small” races for years and have subsequently been very successful at securing governorships and state houses across the country. There are currently 32 Republican governors across the U.S. (with 17 Democrat and one Independent). That means two-thirds of all states are controlled by a Republican.
Clearly, we must pay more attention to these statewide offices in 2016. These governors control billions of dollars each year, and in conjunction with state houses, they often make policy concerning public education, affordable housing, state-controlled prisons, civil rights for the LGBT community and even policy pertaining to women’s bodies.
I will also be paying attention to the Supreme Court. As we know, they will be hearing cases pertaining to affirmative action at the university level as well as a case pertaining to possible restrictions on a woman’s right to choose. What many progressives thought were battles that had been fought and won are now resurfacing in 2016, and the path to victory does not seem clear.
Therefore, as 2016 progresses, I do hope we will commit ourselves to staying vigilant to the politics surrounding us, both domestic and international, micro and macro, and the local, state and national policies that will affect our lives for decades to come.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University and the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream.” You can find her on Twitter @Dr_CMGreer.