Throughout his adult life Clifford ‘Uncle Cliffy’ Robinson advocated for social justice reform in society and professional sports, as well as the dismantling of institutional racism. Clifford’s friends and family are continuing his mission through the ‘Uncle Cliffy Initiative’ which seeks to bring active and retired professional athletes together to boost civic engagement across the United States.
Institutional racism can take many forms in society, and the Uncle Cliffy Initiative seeks to dismantle as many of them as possible by educating people and helping them get involved in their communities with the help of the pro sports community. Below are some of the Uncle Cliffy Initiative’s main objectives.
Early Voter Education
Young people are the least likely demographic to vote and be involved in other civic processes in the U.S. Various factors contribute to the low participation rate among younger voters, however, one of the biggest is a lack of education. When younger voters graduate from school, they often don’t know why voting is so important.
The Uncle Cliffy Initiative does not seek to tell young voters who or what to vote for. Rather, it seeks to educate young voters why it is vital that they participate in the democratic process, and when, where, and how to participate.
Boosting Voter Participation In Underperforming Precincts
Precincts are the smallest unit in the U.S. that electoral districts are divided into. Election data at the precinct level is often overlooked by many community members, which is unfortunate because it is the most inciteful data when it comes to knowing where voter awareness efforts are needed the most.
The Uncle Cliffy Initiative seeks to identify specific precincts that have the lowest voter turnout rates and that are located where pro athletes and/or teams are also located in order to help support voter awareness efforts in those areas.
Ensuring That School Boards Are Representative
The public school system is arguably the foundation of U.S. society and often serves as the nucleus of most neighborhoods. It’s where most children learn and where they spend their most formidable years. School Boards set the policies that govern public schools, and unfortunately, many are not representative of the communities that they serve.
School Board directors nationwide need to be elected via zone-only voting (not at-large voting) and the Board positions need to be paid a nominal salary to ensure that working-class members of the community can serve as Board directors without having to sacrifice part of their household income.
Increase Participation in Neighborhood Associations and Local Governments
Voting is an absolutely vital part of civic engagement, however, there’s more to participating in a democracy in a meaningful way than voting alone. Proposing new municipal codes, creating local regulations, drafting city and county budgets, and many other components of civics are occurring on an ongoing basis in between elections.
A major goal of the Uncle Cliffy Initiative is to increase participation in those processes via education and calls to action to members of communities that historically have not participated in civics at the local level. Knowing how local governments are structured and how they operate is the first step towards knowing where to make a significant impact.
Criminal Justice Reform
The criminal justice system in the United States is broken, and that is clearly reflected in arrest, prosecution, sentencing, and incarceration data. The criminal justice system has a disproportionately negative impact on Communities of Color as the math clearly demonstrates. Fixing the criminal justice system’s deficiencies will require, among other things, policy reform at the state and federal levels to boost officer accountability, including ending qualified immunity.
As a society, we need to revamp the duties currently handled by law enforcement and shift some of their workloads to mental health and other counseling experts to lighten the current burden on officers, provide more effective services to the community, and make the best use of limited public resources.