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Connecting Women to Change the World

Special Series

Racism & Poverty – Charlotte Garnes, Pt 2

Episode Summary

Hey Change Maker!

Welcome to Week 3 of our Racism & Poverty series. This week my guest is Charlotte Garnes, an advocate, mentor, social change agent, and educator.

This is Part 2 of our conversation.

In part 2 of my conversation with Charlotte, we begin talking about how black hair has been used as a weapon of oppression. Charlotte discusses the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair”. The CROWN Act protects women of color against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair textures and hairstyles, such as braids, locs, twists, or knots in the workplace or public schools. According to Charlotte, only 12 states have prohibited discrimination based on hair texture. What’s more – black women are 80% more likely than white women to agree to the statement, “I have to change my hair from its natural state to fit in at the office.”

We then switch gears to talk about how various recent events in the justice system have affected Charlotte personally, as well as how she’s seen these events affect the black community as a whole. The first event we discuss is the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict. Charlotte discusses how this isn’t a black, brown, or white problem, but rather a human problem. She explains how when white people play the victim, they’re putting other people at risk. Next, we talk about the conviction and sentencing of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers. Charlotte expresses that while she was happy to see the final verdict, she saw racism throughout the trial process. She wonders when black people will get the same opportunity or acknowledgement as white people in the criminal and legal justice system – a system she believes has been set up to keep black people in prison. After that, we move on to talk about the murder of Breonna Taylor. Charlotte discusses the lack of accountability for the murder of a professional black woman in her bed. From her perspective, the district attorney’s decision to pay a settlement in the case was not enough. Rather, Charlotte believes the police should have accepted greater accountability for the situation and stepped up to claim their actions, rather than bringing Breonna’s life down to a monetary level.

We switch gears from discussing recent events to talk about the biggest challenges to meaningful racial reconciliation in the United States. Charlotte relays that she thinks the biggest challenge is accountability, as well as the fear from white people of losing power. We also discuss white privilege and the payment of reparations to the descendants of black slaves. Charlotte speaks about how many black people don’t even want the reparations; rather, they want the same opportunities as white people.

In the last portion of the episode, we shift to talking about allyship, privilege, and what listeners can do to be a part of the solution. To Charlotte, an ally is an empathetic supporter who can truly listen, and privilege is an abundance of opportunities, resources, advantages, and rights. When asked how listeners can be a part of the solution, the first thing Charlotte requests is that people acknowledge that privilege exists. Another call to action for listeners is to conversate with people of color and have honest heart-to-hearts about how those people are doing. The final call to action from Charlotte: once you realize the privilege exists, use that same privilege to advocate for people of color, become their allies, and promote the change we all know needs to take place.

About Charlotte Garnes

Charlotte Garnes launched ReNforce, a nonprofit organization that compliments the labor force by administering tailored training and coaching to businesses and organizations that are looking to employ justice-involved individuals within their workforce. Charlotte also manages and operates Innovative Staffing Solutions whose responsibility is to staff and employ the underutilized workforce of justice-involved individuals. She organized the Dignity LeadHERship Alliance (DLA) collective of directly impacted women successfully experienced with informing policy through lived expertise that advocates for marginalized women internationally.

Advocate, mentor, social change agent, and educator, Charlotte’s most recent endeavor is the establishing and presenting her customized trainings and workshops focused on workforce development and successful re-integration for those formerly incarcerated or justice involved. It is her desire to assist individuals returning home from incarceration with more professional and wholesome opportunities to obtain employment, housing, and goals for self-sufficiency. Through her vision, Charlotte intends to use her focus and passion to shift the community’s perception associated with mass incarceration. Through her personal experience, she works to change the stigma and prejudices surrounding formerly incarcerated and/or the directly impacted.

About ReNforce

ReNforce provides training and coaching to businesses looking to hire system-impacted people to meet their workforce needs, while simultaneously providing unique training and professional development to improve employment outcomes for career-seekers.

Key Timestamps

Discussion of how black hair has been used as a weapon of oppression.
1:12 – 8:33

The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict: how did this affect Charlotte personally, and how did she see this affect the black community as a whole?
8:34 – 14:46

The conviction and sentencing of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers: how did this affect Charlotte personally, and how did she see this affect the black community as a whole?
14:47 – 23:25

The lack of accountability in the murder of Breonna Taylor: how did this affect Charlotte personally, and how did she see this affect the black community as a whole?
23:26 – 30:42

What do you think are the biggest challenges to meaningful racial reconciliation in our country?
30:43 – 40:04

How do you define what it means to be an ally? How do you define privilege and why is it so important that we have an accurate understanding of what privilege is?
40:07 – 43:37

What can our listeners do to be a part of the solution?
43:38 – 49:12



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