June 2, 2020

In Solidarity: Statement from FPI on Racial and Economic Justice in the Current Moment

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Florida Policy Institute staff — Holly Bullard, Alexis Davis, Cindy Huddleston, Sadaf Knight, Sonia Lindell, Tachana Marc, and Anne Swerlick  — released the following statement:

“All Floridians cannot thrive when some are targeted and unsafe because of the color of their skin. We stand with the groundswell of people across Florida and the nation who are protesting in memory of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless more, and taking a stand against the systemic racism that has permeated our criminal justice system and infected our country since its inception. These injustices are compounded by the coronavirus health and economic crises, which are impacting Black individuals at a greater rate due to long-standing disinvestments in their communities’ health and economic opportunities.

"We recognize that expressions of solidarity need to accompany policy solutions and a long term commitment to ending white supremacy, even when the news cycle turns to something else. As such, we commit to partnering with and lifting up organizations in the movement toward racial and economic justice. We call on Florida lawmakers and law enforcement leaders to condemn systemic racism and commit to working with communities on policy solutions that actively dismantle it.

"Inequity in Florida and our nation did not come about by accident. The racial disparities in health outcomes, wages, wealth, education, incarceration rates, and multiple other measures are the result of a history of racist laws and regulations.

"For example, Florida’s felony disenfranchisement law, which voters overturned in 2018 through passage of a constitutional amendment, was first adopted in the 1868 state Constitution. This law was intended to permanently disenfranchise Black people in Florida and continue the institution of slavery ‘by another name.’ Yet, fast-forward to the present day, and despite two court rulings upholding the decision of Florida’s voters, some state leaders are trying to undercut the amendment’s impact.

"We envision a state where every Floridian has an equal opportunity to thrive; a state where everyone has equitable access to health care, education, housing, and jobs with no barriers based on race or ethnicity. The only way to accomplish this is to eradicate the systemic racism sewn into the fabric of our state and local statutes. We reaffirm our commitment to vigorously pursue anti-racist policies in solidarity with Black communities."

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