Knowledge is Power

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If knowledge is power, and ignorance is supposed to be bliss, it’s clear why Law enforcement agencies across the United States have failed to provide even basic information on Police misconduct, which include police shootings, frisking and sexual assault.

Activist and data scientist, Samuel Sinyangwe, gave a riveting presentation on “Using Data for Racial Justice” as the keynote speaker for YouthREX’s Community Exchange, Connecting Data to Action for Youth in Windsor-Essex. Currently based out of New York, Sinyangwe is co-founder of We the Protestors, a group aimed at ending systematic racism and police violence and Mapping Police Violence, a data driven effort that collects and uses data to fight police violence. His presentation delivered alarming information on the lack of police data in the United States and how black people are 3x more likely to be killed by police.

The data collected in the Mapping Police Violence (MPV), allows users to be validated with facts when discussing statistics on police violence. On the MPV website there is an interactive policy solutions chart that allows you to click on a city and see their policies. This gives power to the people in the form of knowledge. People who are not political science majors or politicians can use this knowledge and become policy advocates. Sinyangwe recalled an encounter with United States Senator, Bernie Sanders when a member of the audience asked how he was able to deliver such an impactful exchange without getting emotional. Sanders came to the meeting ready for a fight, but Sinyangwe came prepared with data and facts, that allowed him to diffuse the tension and get to the point where change can happen.

Dr. Uzo Anucha, Provincial Academic Director of YouthREX, presented, “A Data Portrait of Windsor-Essex Youth”. Her presentation hit closer to home as the statistics show that youth who identify as being from a racialized group disproportionately face challenges finding employment in our community. Frazier Fathers, Director of Continuous Improvement and Advocacy for the United Way, gave an inside look into their new program, Prosper Us. The cradle to career initiative is for youth growing up in low economic households and neighbourhoods and provides researchers with the ability to measure and track participants progress.

The event concluded with group discussions that allowed each table to discuss the potential and challenges that all of this data provides. Currently there are over 104 million Americans who support the Black Live Matter movement but, like Sinyangwe stressed, we need more than 10-15 trained individuals helping the movement, we need the masses working together to make a change.

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