New podcast examines racial inequalities in child welfare, housing and healthcare systems


Kee Tobar, an attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, said most people know all too well about racial bias in the criminal justice system.

They read books like Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness and news stories about black men wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.

“But as a civil legal aid advocacy organization, we see egregious examples every day of racist laws that lead to poverty and other disparate outcomes,” said Tobar, chief equity and justice officer. inclusion at the legal aid agency.

To address the everyday racial inequalities she says are inherent in housing, child welfare, health care and other systems, Community legal services launched a new podcast Wednesday.

It’s called: How is it legal? Eliminating systemic racism one law at a time.

Tobar, who for the past six years has worked as both a Youth Justice Legal Services and Supplemental Security Income lawyer at CLS, is the host.

“We are breaking down systemic racial inequity in law and policy,” she said.

“More than one in ten black children in America will be forcibly separated from their parents and placed in foster care when they reach the age of eighteen,” said an announcement on the CLS website.

Tobar explained this further in an interview on Wednesday: “An eviction case, not even a decision, can keep black women and children out of housing for years,” she said.

“The system can rob a family of opportunities for generational wealth due to water bills that have been unpaid for decades.”

She will interview experts in various fields to talk about these inequalities.

A podcast will examine how health care and housing laws can harm black people, the poor and other people of color.

The Medicaid Estate Recovery program, which few people know about, she says, allows the government to seize the homes of poor elderly people who spent their final years in nursing homes.

And that’s just one of the ways black people and others can lose opportunities for intergenerational wealth.

“After the death of their loved ones in a retirement home, their [family] the house will be taken over by the state.

Mass incarceration takes away freedom from black people and other poor people, Tobar said.

“What is also a massive horror is to take someone’s intergenerational wealth away. We take freedom in another way. We take the family autonomy of some of these families in extreme ways that are racialized in our systems.

The How is it legal? podcast is available on Spotify, Apple and everywhere there are podcasts.

So far eight podcasts have been recorded and a new podcast will be released weekly, every Wednesday at 8am.

The first podcast released on Wednesday is titled “Child Welfare or Family Policing?” and featured Dorothy E. Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology, and Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, University of Pennsylvania.

She teaches undergraduate and law students.

In the podcast, Roberts said the child welfare system “was designed to oppress black communities and other marginalized communities.”

“All of these topics intersect and relate to punitive systems that regulate and punish black communities, with a particular focus on the surveillance and devaluation of black women’s motherhood.”

Roberts is the author of several books, including: Broken Ties: The Color of Child Protection; Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Are Recreating Race in the 21st Century; and this year Torn: How the Child Welfare System Is Destroying Black Families.

In the podcast, Roberts opened up about her years teaching at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago when she took a class at a family court hearing.

The judge delayed reuniting a black woman with her children for six months because her apartment was infested with cockroaches and rodents.

Later, Roberts’ students had the opportunity to question the judge about the case; one student asked, “’Why would you keep this mother’s children in foster care because of the state of her apartment, when it’s not her fault. The landlord has an obligation to make the apartment habitable.’”

Roberts said the judge said he had no jurisdiction over the owner, but he did have jurisdiction over the mother.

“I knew it was a terrible system that punishes people for being poor, especially for being poor and black,” Roberts told Tobar. “I was still shocked that this judge would brazenly admit that the system was keeping this family apart for something that was the owner’s fault.”

“The response from my students and myself was ‘How could that be legal?'”

The first three podcasts will focus on the child welfare system and the next three will deal with housing policies.

A podcast will feature Philadelphia City Councilwoman Katherine Gilmore Richardson and CLS attorney Rachel Gallegos discussing racial disparities in homeownership, tangled titles and the need to preserve intergenerational wealth in black communities and brunettes.

Another podcast will see Bishop Dwayne Royster, Executive Director of POWER Interfaith, and CLS attorney Kintéshia Scott discuss utility policies, the relationship between gun violence and rising temperatures and how change climate will affect black and brown communities more negatively.

“We believe information is power,” Tobar said. “But to give the maximum to our customers, we must share this information.”

The goal is to create conversations that “won’t leave you stuck with knowledge without solutions. We want to create a world without injustice.

“Whether you agree with our views, or with the laws or policies, we want to emphasize that [it’s important] for us to be in conversation.

“We’re not asking you to agree with us, but to question the system honestly.”


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