Nathalie Baptiste

Nathalie Baptiste is a writing fellow at The American Prospect. She has worked as a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus and written for Inter Press Service. 

Recent Articles

Can the University of Cincinnati Police Learn From the City's Police?

The killing of Samuel Dubose by university police sparked renewed outrage in a city that has been grappling with reform for more than a decade.

(Photo: AP/John Minchillo)
(Photo: AP/John Minchillo) Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell speaks with a protester outside the Hamilton County Courthouse following the announcement of murder and manslaughter charges against University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing on July 29. T he Cincinnati Police Department has taken long strides since 2001 . Once infamous for provoking a riot that rocked the city for days, the department has created a civilian review board that handles complaints against police officers, and has made citizen engagement the number one priority for police officers. In recent years, the department has emerged as a national model for community policing—so much so that on May 19, newly minted attorney general Loretta Lynch made Cincinnati the first stop on her National Community Policing Tour. The University of Cincinnati’s Police Department, sadly, is another story. After a recent killing of a black man by a University police officer—the second such incident in four years, and...

Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Be the Real Betrayal of Women

In the past two weeks, three secretly recorded (and misleadingly edited) videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissues were leaked by anti-choice activists in an attempt to make the organization appear to be participating in the illegal harvesting of body parts for profit. Pro-choice activists have dissected the videos and proved that Planned Parenthood has done nothing illegal. Despite the facts, Republican men, like Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, have been calling for Congress to defund and investigate the organization.  

On Tuesday, the Students for Life of America and Pro-Life Future held rallies dubbed #WomenBetrayed across the country, which also advocated for defunding and investigation. But the real betrayal would be in defunding an organization that not only provides abortions, a constitutionally protected right, but also offers reproductive and women’s health services as 97 percent of its work.

Just ask Texas.

In 2011, the Texas legislature made deep cuts to the Department of State Health Services Family Planning Program, which resulted in the closing of at least 53 women’s health-care clinics and left 147,000 low-income women without access to preventative care like breast and cervical cancer screenings, or contraception.

Already facing a women’s health crisis, former Governor Rick Perry and the Texas legislature followed the devastating budget cuts with a law that would keep Planned Parenthood from participating in the federally funded Medicaid Women’s Healthcare Program. Because it is against federal law to exclude qualified providers from Medicaid care, the Obama administration decided to end the program.

Prior to the administration’s decision, Planned Parenthood accounted for 40 percent of family-planning services in Texas and was the state’s biggest women’s health-care provider. The end of federal funding for the Women’s Health Program meant that 130,000 more women would join the nearly 150,000 women already affected by the 2011 budget cuts.

As an alternative to the federal program, the Texas legislature created a similar, but state-funded program called the Texas Women’s Healthcare Program. A 2015 report by Texas Monthly highlighted the fact that after kicking Planned Parenthood out of Texas (and even with this new program) fewer women in the state now have access to health care. The Republican goal of stripping away Planned Parenthood’s federal funding doesn’t arise from true concern for women—just ask the women in Texas. 

Jobs Are Great, but They Won't End Structural Racism

Bernie Sanders touts policies that most progressives can get behind. His emphasis on good jobs for all is indisputably important and affects all Americans: white, black, Latino, Asian, and beyond. But when black people say Bernie Sanders has a blind spot on racial issues, we don’t mean that his economic policies aren’t important or don’t affect racial minorities. We’re saying that while a good jobs program will certainly alleviate poverty in our communities, it won’t end structural racism.

Last weekend at Netroots Nation—the largest gathering of liberal and progressive activists—Sanders and Martin O’Malley were put to the test when Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted the presidential town hall. Neither candidate handled the interruption well and Sanders was criticized for ignoring racial issues and talking solely about economic issues.

The nine people who were murdered by Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina, were a librarian, an educator, a college graduate, and a state senator—before the murderer pulled the trigger, he did not stop to ask them if they were employed. In March, overzealous Alcoholic Beverage Control officers still violently beat and arrested Martese Johnson, an honors student at University of Virginia—for the alleged crime of having a fake ID. And what about the racism that black children face? Would a job have saved 12-year-old Tamir Rice? Or seven-year-old Aiyana Jones?

I went to private school, have an advanced degree, and have a full-time job, but it doesn’t stop white people from calling me the N-word. Assuming that full-time employment or a college degree will end racism is respectability politics; this idea presumes that if we act a certain way, white people will finally accept us.

As Andrea Cambron wrote for the Prospect last year: “Every run-in that I have had with police has been a negative experience. And I have lived a relatively privileged life.” Before the police arrest you, rough you up, or kill you, they usually don’t ask to see your diploma.

Structural racism in this country needs to be dismantled and we need to hear presidential candidates seriously discuss racism and white supremacy and say that yes, black lives matter. So yes, advocate for jobs, health care, raising the minimum wage, and a chance at an education—but know that while these are great policies, they won’t end racism. 

The Three Climate Deniers in Congress Whose Districts Will Soon Be Underwater

The Republican representatives of three districts in Louisiana, Maryland, and Virginia that are vulnerable to rising sea level don't believe 97 percent of climate scientists.

(Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP)
(Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP) Republican Representative Steve Scalise speaks for the Coal Caucus during a news conference on greenhouse gas standards in September 2013. Scalise's congressional district in southeastern Louisiana is in particular danger of the effects of climate change, rising sea level, and hurricanes, and the state has lost nearly 2,000 square miles of land since the 1930s. O n July 17, the Democrats on the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a forum entitled “Climate Change at the Water’s Edge” to discuss the localized impacts of climate change. Headed by Ranking Member Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the forum included the mayor of Annapolis and a climate scientist from the Union of Concerned Scientists, who discussed the realities of climate change in their communities. But while the attendees seemed to understand the very real threats facing our country, so many others choose to ignore them. A staggering 97 percent of scientists agree that not only is...