Senator Stephanie Flowers' 'stand your ground' speech is fierce, raw, and sadly necessary.

Arkansas state senator Stephanie Flowers lit up the state legislature in a debate over "stand your ground" laws.

Debates that involve guns tend to bring out people's passions. But when you're a mother of a black son debating a law that statistically makes it less likely for him to see justice if he's killed, your passion may be stronger than most.

State senator Stephanie Flowers shared her feelings in a legislative debate over Arkansas' "stand your ground" laws, taking issue with the bill being rushed through without proper debate.


"I'm the only person here of color," she said. "I am a mother, too. And I care for my son as much as y'all care for y'all's. But my son doesn't walk the same path as yours does. So this debate deserves more time."

Flowers pointed out that black boys and black men are regularly killed in Pine Bluff, where she lives. "For a long times since I've been back here in Arkansas," she said, her voice rising, "I have feared for my son's life!"

But she was just getting going.

Research shows racial disparities in how stand your ground laws are prosecuted.

For a little background, Arkansas law says that people can use deadly force if they feel threatened and are "unable to retreat with complete safety." A bill to remove that "duty to retreat" provision was on the table. Its passage would mean that a person wouldn't be required to try to get away before using deadly force if they felt threatened.

Despite significant controversy over them, stand your ground laws have been adopted by more than half the states in the U.S. However, research has shown racial disparities in how stand your ground cases are prosecuted. "Stand your ground" shooters are twice as likely to be convicted if a victim is white than if the victim is a person of color.

Flowers did not mince words as she shared her feelings.

As the senator got going, she laid into why open carry laws make stand your ground laws absurd, and vice versa.

"I worry about my son, and I worry about other little black boys and girls! And people coming into my neighborhood, into my city, saying they got open carry rights, walkin' down in front of my doggone office in front of the courthouse! That's a bully! Do I have a right to stand my ground with some crazy ass person walkin' around with a doggone gun? I don't know what the hell he intends to do! But I know I am scared, I feel threatened."

Flowers then pointed out some people in the legislature that carry guns, at which point the committee chairman told her she needed to stop. But Flowers wasn't having it.

"No, I don't!" she said. "What the hell are you gonna do, shoot me?!"

"I'm telling you, this deserves more attention!" she continued. "You wanna come up here with all these NRA bills ... I'm talking about my son's life!"

"Do what the hell you're gonna do! Go ahead! But you can't silence me."

Flowers got her point across. The bill was defeated by the committee 4-3, with one Republican voting with the three Democrats.

Flowers said what so many have wished they could say to lawmakers, and people are loving her for it.

Twitter users have responded to video of Flowers' fiery speech with a virtual standing ovation.

Thank you for speaking truth to power, Senator Flowers.

The senator's full remarks can be seen here. Watch the highlight video shared by Now This below:

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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