Pamela Springer, 37
What changes she wants: “I would like to stop turning on my TV, my radio, and seeing another Black — Black woman, Black child, brown person — gunned down like dogs, like animals in the street,” said Springer, a psychology student at University of Maryland. She says policing needs to be drastically reformed to focus on community involvement and quicker discipline for abusive officers.
Her message to any officer who wants to quit in protest of these change: “Too bad. Get out. Bye. If you feel this is not for you because you can’t put a chokehold on someone … good riddance.” But, she says, racial disparities go far beyond policing. “Health care, education. It seems like we’ve gotten the worst of everything. … You can’t watch this and be OK.”
She says she also wants to see more racial minorities in the U.S. Congress, who will promote change.
What racism she’s experienced: Growing up, she noticed that her school in Manhattan, in a whiter area, had great teachers, better computers and more extracurricular activities than schools in Black areas. In an early professional job at an accounting firm, the company head, a white accountant, asked if she could touch her braids: “I’m thinking to myself, ‘That doesn’t make me comfortable.’ … I said no. I didn’t get a great vibe from her after that. She cursed at one point. The energy between us was not the same.… It made me feel uncomfortable, but who could I tell? … A month after that, I was fired.”
Last year, working at a bank, a project manager kept making comments to her and a Black colleague that made them feel picked on. “I felt like he just wanted to provoke us. He would ask things like, ‘Why do Black people hate the Confederate flag? … He’d put on Motown music and ask if we’re comfortable listening to that.” She said she felt powerless to complain to him, or to the company. “He was one of the higher-ups in management. What could we say to him — ‘No, I don’t like this?'”
Is she optimistic or not: “I’m a little bit of both. I’m more optimistic because I’m noticing companies, mayors, governors, Congress … noticing the protests and listening to us when we say, ‘Enough is enough.'”
Now she wants to see more Black people in positions of power. “Black lives matter? I want to see that on your board of directors. In your offices.… You can’t shout these slogans and tell me Black lives matter, but you’re not trying to make any changes in your organization that reflect that our lives matter.… We’re not letting up. We’re not going to stop asking.”