In South Fulton, Georgia, the residents are experiencing something that they’ve never seen before in city government. South Fulton is a newly established city. Perhaps this new wave is because the city was only established in May of 2017, which means, it doesn’t have to consider any historical baggage. A recent report by CNN provided us a look into the eight Black women who hold top jobs in the criminal justice sector of South Fulton. And when I say top jobs, I mean the jobs at the top. For the first time in American history, a black woman has been appointed to every leadership position in the city’s justice department.
When I write these pieces, I feel like it’s important to be careful. I think that it’s amazing and incredible that the City of South Fulton has hired so many Black women to fill these roles. But I also think that we need to be careful about how much we are praising something that should just be. Maybe I’m over-simplifying things, but when it comes to inclusion or equality, I feel that we should be careful about praising these instances. More specifically, does it further perpetuate a culture of disrespect? Meaning, instead of focusing on the fact that these women are intelligent, and have the skills to do the job, we are celebrating the fact that these women are Black.
This is always my argument for inclusion over diversity. Especially in these situations. Inclusion means, everyone, regardless of what someone looks like is always included. Diversity, while it has it’s positive points, often points out a person’s differences.
All that said, I think we should absolutely acknowledge what is happening in South Fulton, Georgia. The powerful imagery of the eight black women, six of which have the most important law enforcement positions in the city, has ignited conversation around how progressive the new justice department will be and what changes will be made. As someone who works in government, I am skeptical about how much change these women can actually have. That’s not to say that I don’t have faith that things will change, I’m just not sure if or how.
If you’re wondering, no this wasn’t done on purpose. Chief Judge Tiffany Sellers was hired by a panel of Superior Court Judges, while LaDawn Jones and Viveca Famber Powell were hired by the city attorney. The police chief was hired by the mayor, along with a vote from city council. My favorite part about all of this is how the women describe themselves. “We are wives, we are mothers, we are daughters, we are sisters, and we bring those experiences with us”. So when I say that we should be promoting inclusion, that’s why. An inclusive society or workforce will bring all of those voices together – no matter how diverse those voices are. But it creates a sense of belonging.
I will always praise people for achieving their goals. Or achieving things that other people say were impossible. And I think society needs to do more of that. We do live in a society that is presented in an us vs. them way. I’ve said it before, but it’s always men vs. women or white vs. black. As a society, we need to move away from that and start using more inclusive language. When you get on the train in the morning to go to your office, do you start identifying people based on their skin color and their gender? Or do you get on the train and see people? I encourage you to change your perspective. It’s not always easy, but you’ll be surprised at what you see.
Before I move on, I’d like to officially recognize the following women for their work in making the South Fulton justice department a whole lot better for its residents:
- Chief Judge – Tiffany Carter Sellers
- Interim Police Chief – Sheila Rogers
- Solicitor – LaDawn “LBJ” Jones
- Public Defender – Viveca Famber Powell
- Court Administrator – Lakesiya Cofield
- Chief Court Clerk – Ramona Howard
- Court Clerk – Tiffany Kinslow
- Court Clerk – Kerry Stephens