It is important to have representation. Representation helps marginalized people of society see positive portrayals of themselves, versus the negative images and realities they are faced with. For young black women in the United States seeing themselves in as many professions as possible is important because there was a time when African-American women were depicted in the media as only jezebels, mammy characters, or “the ghetto” ones.
In South Fulton, Georgia black women are calling the shots. South Fulton is a new Atlanta suburb and one of Georgia’s newest cities, according to CNN. This city has made history by being the first in the nation to have their criminal justice system lead by black women.
- Chief Judge, Tiffany Carter Sellers
- Interim Police Chief, Sheila Rogers
- Solicitor, LaDawn “LBJ” Jones
- Public Defender, Viveca Famber Powell
- Court Administrator, Lakesiya Cofield
- Chief Court Clerk, Ramona Howard
- Court Clerk, Tiffany Kinslow
- Court Clerk, Kerry Stephens
The testimonies of African-Americans being treated unfairly by people who work at different levels in the judicial system has been documented countless times. This is one of the reasons why having these women in charge of a community of 95,000 residents, 90 percent of them being African-American, is the right move for this new Atlanta city. When you have those in the community reflected in the judicial system, matters are dealt with more understanding. Being black is an experience that only those who identify as black can attest to, such as the nervous feeling you get when being pulled over (even if it’s something minor) or maybe knowing someone who has gone to jail for a minor offence that could have been easily fixed.
Having these eight women be a part of the judicial system in this community starts the process that helps African-Americans know the law. This could potentially have an impact on how many African-American get incarcerated annually by allowing them to have correct knowledge of the law that will hopefully deter them from entering the criminal system. We see it all the time on Law and Order: SVU, especially the tactics that the police use to get a confession from accused men and women. And sometimes those tactics are used to (in the show and real life) put innocent people of colour behind bars for years until (hopefully) the charge gets overturned. The show is fictitious but there are some scenarios and points made in the show that definitely show the disparities between people of colour and how the justice system treats us.
It is also important to note that these women grew up in South Fulton and this is a great example of reaching back to help others reach their fullest potential. In the CNN article, Public Defender Viveca Powell remembers a man coming to court to dispute a traffic ticket but while doing so he also brought along his daughter; not to see him dispute his ticket but to see the courtroom filled with women a couple of years into the future. This is especially important to women who want to enter fields that require way more than a bachelors and a master’s degree. Careers that can be very taxing on your spirit like a doctor, lawyer, judge, and any profession in the STEAM field, especially for women of colour. His daughter seeing these women in action serves as in inspiration and provides a realistic positive example of professional black women.
By: Kaycia Sailsman
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