LEARN 2 LIVE NATIONAL SOCIAL JUSTICE INITIATIVE
Jimmy McMikle designed, developed and launched Kappa Alpha Psi national social justice initiative entitled, “Learn 2 Live,” a collaborative effort with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) to formally address one of the most critical issues affecting people of color in the United States. Incidents of racial profiling, a lack of comprehensive policing policies, and the increasing frequency of tragic outcomes between law enforcement and persons of color have produced an environment of anger and frustration, widening the trust gap between police and communities of color. In fact, the subject of policing in African American communities is arguably the largest civil rights issue of our current generation. While the road to equity in social justice and the process of “bridge building” is long, complicated and requires a multi-pronged course of action, Jimmy believed that Kappa Alpha Psi could take bold steps to prepare our children for interactions with law enforcement. This initiative is the first step, and was designed to feature a series of 200 community forums nationwide between its launch date through 2025.
The “Learn 2 Live” initiative provides immediate grass roots training that will equip current and future generations of young persons of color with information, education, and instruction that may literally save their lives. The program content was designed to provide insight and understanding into three key subject matters. Law enforcement and community policing is the first. The second is an individual’s legal rights. The third subject equips attendants with a set of law enforcement rules of engagement, which include recommended legal steps to follow in the event that an individual feels as though his or her rights have been violated in a police encounter. The rules of engagement provide a strategic game plan when forced to deal with law enforcement personnel during a traffic stop, in the community at large or if they are called to your home setting.
“Learn 2 Live” provide persons:
Increased awareness on law enforcement and community policing
Statistical perspective of persons of color and the legal system
Factual understanding of legal rights
Practical strategies and tools to utilize when dealing with police
Opportunity for more desirable outcomes when encountering law enforcement officials.
The initiative is not an indictment, proclamation, sweeping generalization or statement of condemnation on police or policing. In fact, Kappa Alpha Psi and NOBLE both acknowledge the need for and importance of policing, recognizing the thousands of dedicated upstanding persons who wear a badge with honor and dignity throughout the United States. However, a consistent string of events, growing tensions and increasing statistics of tragic outcomes have made the subject of policing in African American communities a hot button topic.
The forums target young persons of color who stand in harms way as potential victims of tragic outcomes resulting from encounters with law enforcement personnel. More specifically, the target age span includes middle school; high school; college aged students as well as young persons of color in their twenties.
Each Learn 2 Live forum is divided into three parts. Attendants first experience NOBLE’s presentation, “The Law & Your Community,” which provides insight and understanding into three key subject matters. Law enforcement and community policing is the first. The second is an individual’s legal rights. The third subject equips attendants with a set of law enforcement rules of engagement, which includes recommended legal steps to follow if an individual feel as though his or her rights have been violated in a police encounter. The rules of engagement provide a strategic game plan when forced to deal with law enforcement personnel during a traffic stop, in the community or if they are called to your home setting.
The second component of each forum allows persons to experience a set of simulated mock police encounters. Youth volunteers are selected from each forum’s audience to participate in staged scenarios that combine engaging interactive activity with visual learning to reinforce critical concepts, ideas and information that may literally save their life.
The forum concludes with an interactive panel discussion featuring members of local and state police departments as well as from other agencies or organizations affiliated with the law enforcement system qualified to add constructive value to the panel. The panel discussion allows student and community attendants to engage in dialogue with local law enforcement personnel in a non-threatening question and answer format that allows both parties to breed familiarity, dispel misconceptions and ill-conceived notions while enlightening and cultivating positive thinking and appropriate action. This format also allows police intimate interaction and dialogue with the persons who they have sworn to protect and serve.
OUR PARTNER ORGANIZATION (N.O.B.L.E.)
The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) serves as the conscience of law enforcement by being committed to Justice by Action. NOBLE has nearly 60 chapters and represents over 4,000 members worldwide that represent chief executive officers and command-level law enforcement officials from federal, state, county, municipal law enforcement agencies, and criminal justice practitioners.
THE ROAD FORWARD
Learn 2 Live is more than an initiative; it’s a movement in the making. It is educating a nation of youth by providing a tactical and strategic game plan for survival, but it is also a uniting effort between police departments and communities across the country by establishing, improving and fostering relationships, allowing healing to occur and trust to develop.
The road to accomplish these endeavors require more than a series of forums. It requires several components (including the forums) working collaboratively to educate, raise community consciousness, create scalable programming and build partnerships while leaving footprints that serve as constant reminders for our commitment to social justice and equality. As a result, Kappa Alpha Psi and NOBLE will push forward to coordinate the following six steps as we pave the way forward:
1. FUTURE FORUMS
As of August 2022, Kappa Alpha Psi and NOBLE have facilitated 130+ Learn 2 Live forums. Kappa Alpha Psi is actively scheduling future forums to reach the 200-forum goal.
2. CELEBRITY SUPPORT
Recent events such as the ESPY’s and the BET awards have featured celebrity figures, which are using their celebrity status to raise awareness and call for unified movement toward social justice and equality as it relates to police practices and procedures. Other celebrities have rallied support through campaigns tapping into the millions of followers on their respective social media platforms. Regardless of the stage, celebrity support has proven to be greatly effective way of raising the social consciousness of this matter.
Kappa Alpha Psi’s membership roster includes a long list of celebrity personalities in sports, entertainment, business and other fields of human endeavor. Our efforts will include rallying various celebrity personalities within Kappa Alpha Psi’s base, leveraging the power of their celebrity in a marketing effort to actively promote and advance the Learn 2 Live initiative.
3. PRINTED HANDOUT MATERIALS
Kappa Alpha Psi and NOBLE are in the process of developing printed handout material for every attendant of a Learn 2 Live forum. The dissemination of handout materials to attendants provides several benefits. They offer a handy reference in more detailed fashion of the information presented in the forum. Handouts provide a tangible take-away; a concrete reminder of the key points, objectives, statistics and recommendations that must be imbedded in the minds of those whom we have the opportunity to influence. It also allows the forum participants the opportunity to fully digest the enormity of the content and subject matter at their own rate.
4. VIDEO RECORDINGS
The global Coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted the delivery of in-person forums over the past two years. Kappa Alpha Psi has received a programming grant to develop a virtual platform for the Learn 2 Live initiative that we plan to launch in 2023. The development of video presentations is critical to the future scalability, efficiency and effectiveness of Learn 2 Live Forums on a virtual world. Kappa Alpha Psi is currently developing a series of professional grade video presentations that visualize learning and capture the lesson objectives of the initiative and forums. In short, the videos will recreate the physical forums in electronic format expanding the initiative’s reach by providing access to cities or communities that the Learn 2 Live initiative cannot physically reach. The videos will also serve as forum components in communities where law enforcement agencies are not willing or able to participate or provide officers to engage in mock scenario demonstrations during a physically coordinated forum.
The video series will film simulated mock scenarios of police encounters that will educate and empower young persons of color with the tools and tips recommended by NOBLE. The videos will utilize actual police departmental personnel, cars, equipment, etc., to recreate the most life-like scenarios possible.
The video series will also capture NOBLE’s presentation of “The Law and Your Community,” as well as a police panel discussion. The filmed panel discussion will feature a collection of police personnel from various departments who are in support and partnership with this initiative.
In a technologically driven 21st century, the Learn 2 Live initiative has created an online presence (learn2livemovement.com) to promote awareness and provide educational opportunities in an e-learning format. The website will allow for the viewing of video content, the completion of educational coursework and the download of handout materials and learning information designated as beneficial to the initiative’s target demographic.
6. POLICE PARTNERSHIPS
Kappa Alpha Psi and NOBLE are committed to achieving nationwide justice and equality in law enforcement practice and procedures, while establishing and continuing the important conversation of race and social justice in policing. A component of the Lean 2 Live Initiative will call for a national partnership and relationship with police departments throughout the county who will stand in unison and accept (in writing) our program five-point pledge for accountability. The five points are explained as follows:
A. Zero-Tolerance Policy
The first point calls for a zero-tolerance policy on biased policing, racial profiling and police brutality. Bias-based policing refers to the collection of practices that systematically and intentionally incorporate prejudiced judgments based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, religious beliefs or age.
B. Police Training
A commitment to ongoing and regular police training is a necessary practice for police departments committed to ensuring fair and equitable practices in law enforcement. Training aligns organizational police goals with individual and team performance, eliminating the gaps between current position and desired direction. Kappa Alpha Psi and NOBLE seek departmental commitment to yearly and consistent cultural diversity and sensitivity training as well as unbiased police training for all department personnel.
C. Workforce Diversity
The third pledge point calls for a concentrated departmental effort to recruit officers of statistically underrepresented cultural groups in order to present a department representative and reflective of a diverse 21st century population.
D. Community Engagement & Empathy
Kappa Alpha Psi and NOBLE call for a commitment to consistent outreach and constructive conversations and interaction by law enforcement agencies with members and leaders of the African American community through events and activities. These steps are important to break down social and cultural barriers to cultivate ideal interactions between police and cultural communities.
E. Youth Initiatives
The final pledge point calls for active police involvement in youth initiatives. This pledge point not only provides a benefit to community youth, but also exposes law enforcement personnel to the persons that they police, providing a familiarity and building a comfortable working relationship to decrease tensions and foster growth and “bridge building” opportunities.