Our biweekly lists lay out notable issues in the news and tell you what you can do about them.
SUBSCRIBE TO EMAIL UPDATES:
Hi Teen Resisters! As a brief interlude between our July and August lists, we're including this little activist guide from one of our favorite activists on Earth, the incomparable Maya Brady-Ngugi (she's also our Teen Resister of the Month). Her approach to activism is holistic, strategic, productive, and often takes inspiration from history. Her 5 step guide (which she says is "kind of like making a cake"), plus extra tips and recommendations, will have you thinking and planning all summer long (at your own pace!).
5 Step Guide to Becoming an Activist:
"Those are some principles that I find really helpful to activism. The Learn, Gather, Plan, Act and Share... are the bare bones, and activism gets a lot more complicated than that, but those are the things that I have learned," Maya said.
Top Activist Books:
Favorite Documentary: Eyes on the Prize
Maya's Teen Resister of the Month Bio:
Meet our July Teen Resister of the Month, the amazing Maya Brady-Ngugi.
Maya is 18 and an experienced and passionate activist based in NYC, but is moving to Atlanta for college later this summer. She has been working in activism for years. She’s planned teach-ins at her high school in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and planned Black History Month events in ’17 and ’18. She’s run an academic and social mentorship program that connects high school students with struggling elementary school students. On the protest front, Maya has planned walkouts and rallies for Black Lives Matter, following Trump’s election, and for the March 14th ENOUGH Walkout. She also was a co-organizer of the April 20th NYC Says Enough rally in Washington Square Park, and currently serves as the NYCSE Head of Community Outreach. Maya also worked on a Dakota Access Pipeline divestment plan and raised money for protesters there. On top of that, she is on the Sexual Health Education Committee for the mayor’s office in New York City. If her credits weren’t enough, people who’ve worked with Maya know that she is constantly thinking and learning about activist theory, and that she tangibly applies the wisdom she has learned and thought of to the work she does.
Check back for her forthcoming TR list on solutions to police brutality.
Hey Teen Resisters!
A lot has happened in the past few weeks! We've decided to focus on two main, longer topics for this list--updates on family separation and the possible dissolution of ICE, as well as a breakdown of everything that is currently happening with the Supreme Court.
Recently, however, a lot has happened with primaries for the midterm elections. Specifically, the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the 14th House District in the New York Democratic primaries was incredibly telling of the direction that the Democratic party seems to be going in. Ocasio-Cortez, a former campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, beat incumbent Joseph Crowley by about 15 percentage points. Read more about Ocasio-Cortez’s victory here, and get an overview of what has happened and what is coming up in terms of the midterm primaries as a whole here.
We are also honored to have the chance to feature the June 2018 Teen Resister of the Month, Gaia Gamboa! Gaia is a member of NYC Says Enough and an immigrant herself. The recent detainment and separation of thousands of children at the U.S. boarder is an issue that she has a personal connection with--in the near future, Gaia and her family hope to foster a child that otherwise would be detained. She also marched with Gays Against Guns at the Pride parade, as one of the 104 'Humans in White' which commemorates those who lost their lives to gun violence, specially the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Gaia lives in Brooklyn, and in her free time loves swimming and reading quality books.
Educate, involve yourselves, and resist!
WHAT WENT DOWN
Family Separation, Immigration, and ICE
Perhaps the most pressing issue of right now is family separation at the border. We’ve all seen the photos of the babies crying as they are torn from their mother’s arms, heard the testimonies from parents not knowing where their children are, and many of us marched at one of the hundreds of rallies across the country. But what exactly is the current situation on immigration? Here, we break it down:
But the reunification process is very complicated and will not be an easy fix:
After all this, will Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) be abolished? The idea of ending ICE has become very popular among activists, but politicians’ views are mixed. Many Democrats do indeed support the abolishment, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (see __!), New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, but key leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, California Senator Kamala Harris, and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker support reforming the agency instead.
As for Republicans, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have tried to argue that support for ending the agency equates to support for open borders, though Customs and Border Protection is tasked with monitoring the border, not ICE. This distinction is part of why many support eliminating the department.
What can you do?
Supreme Court-- Kennedy's Resignation, Muslim ban, and more
The Supreme Court recently ruled to uphold Trump’s Muslim ban. “Taking all the relevant evidence together,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor, “a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was driven primarily by anti-Muslim animus, rather than the Government’s asserted national-security justifications.” The ban itself “indefinitely suspends the issuance of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to applicants from the Muslim-majority countries Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — plus North Korea and Venezuela.” Throughout his campaign, Trump thrived creating fear and bigotry. Assaults against Muslims in 2018 have surpassed levels seen in the past, and with this ban those numbers only stand to increase.
More worrying news came out of the Supreme Court recently in the resignation of swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy. On Wednesday, June 27th, the justice announced that he would retire, giving President Trump the chance to nominate a new, most likely conservative, justice to fill the bench. Justice Kennedy, 81, has acted as a swing vote for nearly three decades. He showed liberal views on gay rights, the death penalty, and abortion, and conservative views on voting rights, gun control, and campaign spending. Filling his vacancy with a conservative would not only lead all future cases in a conservative direction but also endanger many landmark Supreme Court precedents where Justice Kennedy voted on the liberal side.
Roe v. Wade specifically was the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, protected under the Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy. If it were overturned, regulation of abortion would revert to state legislatures. Four states would immediately ban abortions when the Supreme Court makes their decision; Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have “trigger laws” in place. Ten other states still have pre-Roe abortion bans that were never repealed. Trump is currently meeting with candidates, and said he would announce his nominee early next week.
What you can do:
And, finally, the puppy video.
Hello Teen Resisters!
It's that time of year! Pride Month.
Pride month is a time of pride (duh) for LGBTQI+ people, but also a time to remember that queer people are still oppressed around the world and in our own country. Pride was started as an act of resistance in the historical Stonewall riots (started by a Black trans woman, Marsha P. Johnson), and queer people's existence is still resistance in most places.
We've compiled this list so you can celebrate pride by resisting- and of course, with some glitter. We've selected just a few important issues.
Ready to jump in?
Disproportionate Murder Rates for Trans Women of Color:
What’s Going On:
There is a murder epidemic going on in the community of transgender women of color, particularly Black trans women. In 2017, 26 transgender individuals were known to be murdered, making it the deadliest year for trans individuals in over a decade. All but two were people of color [Glaad]. This statistic, although overwhelming alone, does not take into account all the victims misgendered by family, friends, news reports, and the police. According to the Human Rights Campaign, “Transgender women are estimated to face more than four times the risk of becoming homicide victims than the general population of all women.” Additionally, out of the 102 trans people that were recorded victims of fatal violence since 2013, at least 87 of them have been people of color and 75% were under the age of 35. Gun violence continues to be the leading cause of death.
What You Can Do
Legal Protections for LGBTQI+ Individuals
What's Going On:
Many of us are familiar with the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage. This landmark civil rights case of Obergefell v. Hodges ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same sex couples by both the Due Process Clause (protection of life and liberty) and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified after The Civil War and was originally designed to ensure legal equality for African Americans. Courts have interpreted the Equal Protection Clause to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, and disability. This 2015 ruling expanded the amendment to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and required all fifty states to perform and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples on the same terms and conditions, with the same rights and responsibilities, as the marriages of opposite-sex couples.
The federal government does not have laws specifically protecting transgender, non-binary, or genderqueer people from discrimination, or allowing gender/name changes on identity documents (driver’s license, passports, birth certificates), but rather, these laws vary by state jurisdiction. Many politicians, namely Barack Obama, argue that the Equal Protection Clause should be extended to transgender and gender-nonconforming people. Obama issued executive orders prohibiting such discrimination in the federal workforce, and allowing public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms matching their chosen gender identity. Unfortunately, when Trump took office, he rescinded those guidelines, arguing that states and public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions without federal interference. The federal law in question, Title IX, bans sex discrimination in education. Members of the Justice and Education departments are working to settle Title IX to extend these protections to a person’s gender identity. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, as of this month, 18 states and Washington, D.C, and more than 200 cities and counties have adopted laws prohibiting gender identity discrimination.
For specifics on where your state stands with discrimination, bathroom, and identity documentation, check out: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/transgender-people-and-law
What You Can Do:
Under the First Amendment, we can urge elected officials to end discrimination and recognize gender and sexual identities, and to lobby to pass certain bills.
If you feel that your First Amendment rights have been infringed upon, or you are treated with unlawful discrimination, document it thoroughly and report it to the ACLU LGBT Project at 212-549-2627 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to discrimination, you can also contact the project with any questions or concerns, specifically regarding LGBTQI+ parenting, marriage and relationships, youth and schools, gender identity, and HIV/AIDS.
LGBTQI+ Homeless Youth
What's Going On:
With LGBTQI+ identifying youth making up nearly 40% of all homeless youth while only accounting for an estimated 7% of all youth, homelessness is an issue which ravages LGBTQ+ youth at disproportionate levels. According to a 2012 study conducted by the Williams Institute, 46% of homeless LGBTQ+ youth ran away because of their family’s rejection of their sexuality or gender identity; 43% were forced out by their families, and 32% faced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse at home. Facing the risk of harassment, stigmatization, and abuse in shelters, LGBTQ+ youth are also more likely to live on the streets than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
While acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community has generally increased, it is important to remember and support the multitudes of young people who face homelessness and instability in their lives daily.
What You Can Do:
Bias, Heteronormativity & Cisnormativity
Bias, Heteronormativity, and Cisnormativity in Society
Our society is intensely “normative” of the straight and cisgender individual, a perception which is created by the largely straight and cisgender figures and role models in every type of media. This bias is created in us essentially from the moment that we are born, starting with Disney movies and picture books and continuing in almost every aspect of our lives through adulthood.
Most surveys, for example, only give the option to check “male” or “female.” Gendered toys are still prevalent; bathrooms are clearly and unavoidably labeled. Bisexual individuals are written off as “confused,” and dating sites often only give the option to connect with members of the opposite gender. There are countless other examples of heteronormativity and cisnormativity present in our day-to-day lives that silence and push down members of the LGBTQI+ community. Sexual education in high school health classrooms is incredibly problematic in numerous ways, and it often enforces the idea that heterosexuality is “right” or “normal” and that all other sexualities are unnatural. A lack of information about how to have safe sex (whatever kind it may be) also leads to more STDs, a lack of awareness about diseases such as AIDS, and generally more risk-prone and less informed teens.
So: what can you do?
Global Persecution in Chechnya
What's Going On:
On April 28th, 2017, news broke of queer purges going on in Chechnya, Russia. The news detailed intense, state-initiated violence towards queer people, which involved coercion and torture. Many have been rounded up and not seen since, others were tortured and let go, and still more were handed over to their families to be killed in “honor killings.” The testimonies are harrowing- tales of forced suicide, genocidal killing tactics, and chilling capture, and are painful to listen to. Elena Milashina, the Russian journalist who broke the story, has said that for Chechen queer people, “it is not about the right to love, it is about the right to live.” In the past year, groups of American allies like Voices4 have mobilized to end the persecution of innocent queer people in Russia. Voices4 has a set of demands that includes a US investigation into the persecution in Chechnya, the acceptance of more asylum-seekers from the region, and more mainstream media coverage.
What You Can Do:
Happy Pride Everyone!! Take care of yourself and others.
All our love!
Hello Teen Resisters! We have a bit to cover in this intro. We hope you enjoy.
What Went Down
Resisters- it's been a heavy list.
Treat yourself with a nice hot tea and our puppy vid of the week. You deserve it.
Hello Teens Resisters!
We hope that the end of school and the promise of summer has lifted all of your moods as much as it has lifted ours. A lot of stuff has happened these past few weeks (as always), and hopefully these few key points will make you feel a little less overwhelmed and enable you to take some sort of manageable but still powerful action :))
URGENT: Last week, we released a list regarding the atrocious new practice of separating immigrant children from their families at the US border, even when the family enters at a legal checkpoint. If you haven’t yet done so, please read the list and do the actions at the bottom. It is very important. Click here.
what weNt down
NFL National Anthem Policy
Recently, the National Football League (NFL) decided to try to stop players from kneeling and locking arms during the traditional pre-game national anthem in a show of protest against the ceaseless profiling and brutality that African-Americans face at the hands of the police. This movement, which originated with Colin Kaepernick in 2016, caused widespread controversy and debate last year––some saw the players’ actions as their right to free speech, while others called it out as disrespect. The organization has said that every single player must stand during the anthem (although players are given the option of remaining in the locker room) and that any player who defies the mandate will subject their team to a fine.
Many athletes have said that they will protest during the anthem regardless, and team owners have said they are ready to pay any fines necessary. Coaches and fans have also already expressed support and respect for these player’s decisions.
The NFL’s attempt to stifle this debate may end up backfiring. Four Democratic congresspeople recently sent a letter to the football team the Bears, who supported and played a role in legitimizing the new policy, criticizing the NFL’s decision sharply and defending the players’ freedom of speech. President Trump, on the other hand, just disinvited the Eagles from visiting the White House after some players declined to come because of his continuous criticism of players who choose to kneel (in his classic egotistical, undemocratic fashion).
So, what can you do to make sure that these players get the free speech rights they deserve and are able to keep protesting injustice in America without unfair consequences?
Good News!! (And how to make sure it keeps on coming!)
Good News #1: On Tuesday, May 29th, ABC cancelled 1990s show Roseanne (which had just been renewed for its eleventh season) in response to a racist comment that the star of the show, Roseanne Barr, made on Twitter. In the tweet, the actress compared Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama’s senior advisor, to an ape and to the Muslim Brotherhood: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” ABC’s president described this comment as, “abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values.” The network’s decision to cancel this show is very significant in that it shows that this type of mindset is unacceptable and that the modern world will not tolerate racism like this.
Good News #2: On Friday, May 25th, Ireland voted to repeal their 8th amendment, which determined that the termination of a pregnancy was unlawful and thus punishable by law. Abortion in Ireland was punishable by up to fourteen years in prison. This new repeal to the 8th amendment is a huge step forward for women’s rights in Ireland. It will decriminalize abortion in the country and will allow any woman who is less than twelve weeks pregnant to have an abortion. Although Ireland has a long way to go in terms of giving women the rights they deserve, at least they are moving in the right direction.
In the U.S., on the other hand, abortion and women’s rights are still being controlled by politicians. President Trump recently revived the global gag rule, which takes away federal funding from clinics across the world who provide abortions. Additionally, last month, the Trump administration offered a new rule that would prevent doctors from receiving Title X federal funding if they referred any patients to abortion providers.
So, what can you do?
Estimated Death Rate in Puerto Rico
As has been discussed by Teens Resist numerous times in past lists, the inhabitants of Puerto Rico are still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria. The storm ravaged the island, leveling 70,000 homes, leaving 3.3 million people without power or water, destroying the healthcare system, and doing infinitely more damage. A recently publicized new report, however, estimates the death toll in Puerto Rico as 70 times larger than the official one, a statistic that sheds light on just how much the United States government has neglected this American disaster. A recently published opinions piece by the New York Times Editorial Board characterized the response as “slow and inadequate,” and the failure of the government to at the very least collect accurate data on how extensive the storm’s effects actually were demonstrates condescension and perpetuates the idea that Puerto Ricans are not “real” Americans.
So, what can you do to make sure that Puerto Rico gets the help it needs and deserves?
And, finally, the quintessential puppy vid:
5/28/2018 0 Comments
When news broke late last month that the Dept. of Health and Human Services had "lost" 1,475 immigrant children, people were outraged. But the story has recently gained traction more, blowing up on social media and news shows around the country. The children who the government lost track of were unaccompanied minors, meaning they arrived at the border alone, without their parents. After falling through the cracks in the faulty HHS system, they were left susceptible to human trafficking and worse.
As if this weren't bad enough, on May 7th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that US immigration enforcement would now be separating parents and children when they arrive at the border together. The idea behind the policy is that it serves as a deterrent for parents to try to illegally immigrate to the United States. But in reality, it is creating deplorable circumstances for people, and is an example of the disgusting abuse of power that is the Trump administration.
As for the children, “The children will be taken care of- put into foster care or whatever,” is how White House chief of staff John Kelly put it. What this translates to in real life is that parents are having their children ripped from their arms at the border. The children are then put into government run "shelters" to punish parents.
But the government's losing of the nearly 1,500 children is an example of the fact that they do not have the wherewithal, nor the bandwidth, to take care of these children. Even if it weren't horribly evil to rip children from their parents.
Laura St. John, Deputy Director of The Florence Project in Arizona, said that they had seen a 53 week old infant in court without a parent last week (that's just over a year old). That baby was forcibly taken away from their mother by someone in a US Government uniform. The Office of Refugee Resettlement has always been responsible for managing the system of unaccompanied minors (usually around 14 or 15 years old), but recently, that system has grown to include accompanied minors who were made unaccompanied by the government, which includes young children. "This is the worst thing I've seen in 25+ years of doing this civil rights work," said Lee Gelernt of the ACLU, "If the policymakers could sit in those ICE offices down at the border for a day and watch these little kids begging not to be taken away; they're already traumatized from having to flee their countries, and then they're being taken away. The medical evidence is overwhelming that we may be doing permanent trauma to these kids." Asylum seekers who followed protocol and went to a point of entry seeking asylum, still had their children taken away.
This is unprecedented, says St. John. She says this is not confusing or complicated: it's simply inhumane. As Chris Hayes put it, it's morally odious. All of this is also on top of the murder of Claudia Gonzalez at the US border.
Here are some of the stories from the border:
“I have not seen my baby for more than a month and am so anxious to be reunited with him," said a Honduran mother, "The US immigration officers then told me they were taking my son from me. They said he would be going to one place and I would be going to another... the immigration officers made me Walk out with my son to a government vehicle and place my son in a car seat in the vehicle. My son was crying as I put him in the seat. I did not even have a chance to try to comfort my son, because the officers slammed the door shut as soon as he was in his seat. I was crying, too. I cry even now when I think about that moment when the border officers took my son away."
One mother from El Salvador was separated from her three children as they fled gang violence. One mother arrived in San Diego with her 7 year old daughter from the Congo. They arrived at a point of entry, asking for asylum, according to protocol. The two were held in a hotel room in San Diego. One day, the officials took her daughter into another room. The mother heard her child screaming from the other room. They took her daughter away from her. For four days, she didn't know where she was. It was then revealed that her daughter was in Chicago at a holding facility, while she was held in San Diego.
If these stories make you upset, angry, or emotional, then you've come to the right place. There are things you can do- so keep reading to know what's being done, and how you can help.
Before anything: Watch the MSNBC segment. It is informative and outraging.
WHat You Can Do:
DONATE to help these three women post bond before their May 30th asylum hearing.
Script: Hi, I'm calling to express my disgust and outrage that ICE is separating parents from their children at the border. This is an extreme human rights violation that I would expect from dictatorships that practice political terror, not a democratic government. I ask that you report my opposition to this to your superiors at ICE. Thank you.
Comment: (866) 347-2423
Reporting "Illegal Alien": 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (This one is kind of a baller move, because you're obviously not reporting someone. It's bold and brave, but could be very cool.)
Calling Gov: Click here to sign up to call for United We Dream to demand justice for Claudia Gonzalez and the 1,475 missing children.
Script: (adapted from Americans of Conscience)
Hi, my name is ______. During a Senate oversight hearing, Steven Wagner stated that the whereabouts of 1,475 immigrant children are unknown. Our nation has a moral responsibility to protect children and treat them with basic decency, regardless of immigration status. This means we must vet caretakers thoroughly to prevent exposing kids to work- and sex traffickers. We must hold detention facilities accountable for child abuse. We must track kids post-release to ensure their well-being—especially those currently missing. Additionally, we must stop the inhumane practice of separating children from parents as an immigration deterrent. As a taxpayer funding this egregious neglect of duty, I urge you to take full and immediate responsibility for the well-being and safety of vulnerable children and infants. Sincerely, [name, state].
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: 202-353-1555
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: 202-282-8495
Chief of Staff John Kelly: 202-456-1414
HHS Secretary Alex Azar: 202-690-7000
Office of Refugee Resettlement Director Scott Lloyd: 202-401-246
SIGN this ACLU petition (LESS THAN 1 MINUTE).
*VERY IMPORTANT* Stay Updated and Informed
- Click here to read a list of helpful immigration orgs that might need help or have actions.
- Click here to read a very helpful article explaining what's going on.
Stay updated with: United We Dream, Glennon Doyle, ACLU & Moms Rising for more info as it comes out and info about marches, etc.
And keep spreading the word! This is something people need accurate information about. Share this list, and all the other resources, on social media.
Hello Teen Resisters! What a week it has been. We hope you have all been able to revel in a little happiness, perhaps through the beautiful wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (look at our instagram for an adorable video of Meghan as a young activist), or through other means. Things have been pretty jam packed. We're here to fill you in.
FIRSTLY: At 7:30 A.M. on Friday morning, 10 students were killed and 10 more were injured by a gunman in Santa Fe, Texas. The shooter was a classmate of the victims, and he used a shotgun and a .38 revolver hidden under his trench coat. This puts the number of students killed in schools by mass shootings this year higher than the number of military personnel killed in active service this year.
Don’t let mass school shootings become normalized. Keep calling, writing, protesting, and speaking out; some real change in terms of gun control did happen in Florida after Parkland, and youth have an insane amount of power to keep the change coming.
Check out this easy-to-read, comprehensive list on gun control (Some Things You Should Know About Gun Control) for ways to take action.
WHat Went Down
Pup Video of Week: In honor of royals, a corgi video.
All our best,
Hey Teens Resisters!
A lot has happened throughout the past two weeks, and the constant flow of news never seems to stop. At times, it can be hard to keep track of what is going on beneath the radar or even just of smaller but still equally significant news. This week, we've chosen three things that you may or may not have heard of before but that are essential to both know about and take action on: Chechnya queer purges, Puerto Rico's continuing recovery, and new, extraordinarily restrictive abortion laws in Iowa.
We hope you get a chance to educate yourselves, take concrete action, and stay involved in the weeks and months to come.
Peace & power,
New: TEEN RESISTER OF THE MONTH!!
This month, we were honored to feature Brandon Gonzalez as our first ever Teen Resister of the Month. He has been a longtime advocate for issues such as the Afro-Latinx diaspora, LGBTQ+ issues, race disproportionality in the school system, police brutality, and recently gun control, on our instagram. Click below to apply to be our next TRer of the month or to nominate an inspiring friend!
What went down:
And, of course, we would never forget:
Hi Teens Resisters! What an exciting week it has been. We're here to debrief on the cool stuff, the dense stuff, and everything in between.
Given that this has been such a big week, we're only including two longer briefings BUT before you jump into that please read the red below.
URGENT ACTION: Hey! Remember Net Neutrality? Well Congress is ABOUT to vote on it. PLEASE read and use our Net Neutrality Article... and if you don't know why, even more reason to check it out! Click here.
What went down:
Video of the Week: In honor of a belated Earth Day, here is a cute polar bear video (love them, save them): www.youtube.com/watch?v=spx-0FrsLKQ
ALSO: If you're in New York, be sure to come to the teen oriented meeting of Voices 4, an organization that works to protect queer people around the world from oppression. It's on Wednesday at 8pm in the East Village. Click here for more.
Hello Teens Resisters!!
These past few weeks have, like all the other ones, been crazy. We hope that this distillation of some of the main events will allow you all to focus on what you want to take action on and do so. Just FYI, this list will include some hopefully easy-to-digest info the recent Crown Heights shooting, the new Russia sanctions, and immigration.
Peace and power,
In addition to a couple of our usual news briefings and action, we have decided to include a brief feature on the topic of sexual assault and harassment in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“She was asking for it, with what she was wearing.”
“Well, then, she shouldn’t have had that much to drink.”
“She shouldn’t have been walking alone at night.”
“It’s her fault.”
These phrases are ones that we hear in our daily lives and see so often in the media that they sometimes become normalized or maybe even internalized. But sexual assault is a scary, awful, disgusting reality, and recognizing it is the first step to decreasing it.
Here are some statistics:
And just so that we all remember, here’s something else: the president of the U.S. was recorded boasting that he grabs women “by the pussy,” that women are “beautiful pieces of ass,” and that you have to “treat ‘em like shit.” The list goes on. And on.
This list has a more detailed layout of actions to take, recent movements, and more. But here are some basic things you can do to decrease sexual assault in your daily lives:
Stop. The. Rape. Jokes. It’s hard and uncomfortable and sometimes you might have to hurt a relationship to do it, but the normalization of sexual assault and harassment is what allows it to survive and thrive so unchecked in our day-to-day lives.
Try to support survivors around you. This might be very difficult-- often, people don’t share experiences like these ones, and sometimes there is little you can do. But try to get them to professionals or other trusted figures, and let them know that they’re not alone. Even just making eye contact with someone you see being catcalled on the subway can make a world of difference.
Support amazing organizations like Planned Parenthood, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and RAINN.
This hopefully goes without saying, but actively campaign against/never support public figures, politicians, or even people in your own community who are perpetrators of sexual harassment or assault. If a teacher is making inappropriate comments to a student, talk to that student and possibly later that teacher’s superior. Try to never to let sexual assault go on where you can see it.
WHAT ELSE WENT DOWN:
Crown Heights Shooting: On April 4th, yet another black man was fatally shot on the streets of Crown Heights. Shaheed Vassell was a 34-year old man who was believed to have had a gun in his hand. The NYPD says officers responded to multiple 911 calls about a man aiming a gun at residents just before 5 p.m. on Montgomery Street. Additionally, surveillance video shows Vassell approaching a number of people on the street and pointing a metal object (which turned out to be a silver pipe) at them. Soon, police were dispatched and, once in contact with him, four of them fired a total of 10 shots. He was treated for gunshot wounds at the scene, but when taken to Kings County Hospital, he was pronounced as dead.
Vassell is a unique case, as he was diagnosed with bipolar disease. Eric Vassell, Shaheed's father, said that his son had been admitted into hospitals multiple times in recent years, sometimes after encounters with police. Around the neighborhood, he was known to be a loving father who would beg for money at the subway station and pick up odd jobs to support his family. Adding to Eric’s statement, many of the area residents knew he had a mental illness and believed that many of the local police were familiar with him and his bipolar disease. In fact, police have said that they have arrested him before and the officers in question have identified him “as an emotionally disturbed person” in interactions leading up to the shooting. As we know, this is not the first time black men have been shot because the police “thought” they were in possession of a gun. This also isn’t the first time someone has been shot due to an inconsideration regarding one’s mental illness. With the growth of gun reform, it’s important to also fight for and alongside the Black Lives Matter movement.
What can you do?
Sanctions Against Russia: On this past Friday, April 6th, the Trump administration levelled sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs and seventeen senior officials in the Russian government. Although preceded by the H.R.3364, a law passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate which mandated that President Trump punish Russia for human rights abuses, corruption, and arms transfers, Trump’s most recent sanctions still fail to fulfill the ones outlined by Congress. The job of the executive branch, of which President Trump is the head, is to execute the laws that Congress passes. In willfully disregarding his duty to enact laws that Congress sets forth, President Trump is (once again) neglecting his responsibilities as the President of this country.
As is evident in his failure to perform sanctions against Russia outlined in H.R.3364, President Trump clearly rejects the notion that Russia should be penalized for the grievances it has committed against the global community. So then why legislate sanctions against Russia now, especially if they’re ineffective? President Trump has likely enacted these sanctions to mitigate political pressure. As Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, closes in on President Trump’s connections to the Kremlin, suspicion has mounted. These sanctions, despite failing to castigate Russia fully, will be seen by the public as a sign of President Trump’s opposition to Russia.
What can you do?
Call your representatives and tell them to hold the President accountable for his lack of real action against Russia. Don’t let Trump get away with appearing to oppose Russia while at the same time failing to fulfill his charge as President of the United States. The H.R.3364 passed nearly unanimously with both Republicans and Democrats, so call your representative regardless of their political affiliation.
Use this script: Hi, my name is [your name] and I’m calling because I believe that sanctions against Russia are a real and pressing issue, and I think [rep name] should, too. President Trump recently announced his new Russian sanctions, which are a greatly watered down version of those passed in Congress with the H.R.3364. On a basic level, Trump is hiding behind ineffective legislation while disregarding his duties as President of the United States and allowing Russia to continue its reprehensible activities. This is completely unacceptable. I’m asking [rep name] to hold Trump accountable for his lack of action and push for legislation that will fully penalize Russia. Thank you.
Trump, Immigration, and DACA: Things you should know right now
Learn more about the specifics of DACA here.
Despite longtime military opposition, Trump ordered the National Guard to patrol and secure the Mexico-US border and do what he believes current immigration authorities in place are not.
At the beginning of last week, Trump released aggressive and unfounded tweets, venting about “dangerous caravans” of migrants on their way to the Mexico-US border (not fully true), labeled US immigration policy as an “Obama joke,” and condemned the inefficacy of current immigration policy in the US.
Later, Trump also Tweeted: “DACA is dead because the Democrats didn’t care or act, and now everyone wants to get onto the DACA bandwagon.” Why is this so wrong? Not everyone can simply jump on the “DACA bandwagon,” given that the program only applies to immigrants living in the US before 2007. Additionally, the Tweet suggests that he no longer has any interest in following a DACA bipartisan deal as he had previously stated.
If DACA does “die,” as our president so eloquently put it, it will result in the deportation of over 800,000 dreamers and their families.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Visit www.weareheretostay.org to hear the stories of who Dreamers really are.
And of course, your puppy video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1rtE4jLGG8Q
have a good week!