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Hey Teen Resisters!
We hope that you've all had the chance to bask in the first few weeks of spring! Here are a few quick things you should be aware of before diving in:
- The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota--one of the nation's poorest areas--has recently been the victim of heavy snow and severe, debilitating flooding. Read more about the situation here.
- Update on the Mueller report: Attorney General William Barr has promised to release the redacted version of the report to the public, and said in today in testimony before Congress that he hoped to release it next week. He also said that he would investigate spying on the Trump campaign.
- Kirstjen Nielsen submitted her resignation as Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary on April 7th. CALL YOUR SENATOR now and tell them that the next DHS Secretary must end family separation and indefinite detention.
what went down
While CBP cited an overwhelming number of migrants as cause for having to place certain asylum seekers under the El Paso Bridge, the agency already has greatly expanded funding and personnel; it’s clear that more money is the last thing the agency ought to get.
El Paso is far from the only location that migrant families and children are being held. More than 1,700 migrants from the ages of 13-17 are being held at the Homestead Detention Center, in Homestead, Florida. These are children our age. Most have escaped poverty and violence in their places of birth and are now being put through yet another long ordeal at the hands of our government.
What can you do?
Don’t Separate Families
c/o Margaret Seiler
248 12th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Letters have to arrive at this address by April 19th, so act fast!
The bill received a great deal of opposition while in the process of being voted on, including some from members of the Hollywood film industry who say that they will refuse to work on sets in Georgia if the legislation is passed. It has also experienced pushback due to the current obstetrician shortage in Georgia, which would most likely worsen as a result of this legislation. Additional criticisms include that the bill would endanger women’s health specifically because of an increase in dangerous at-home abortions. This bill is particularly frightening, for it represents a larger anti-abortion, pro-life movement that could eventually lead to Roe v. Wade’s being overturned. This case, which established a woman’s right to choose on a federal level, could be reversed, especially with new justices such as Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh backing pro-life legislation.
So what is going to happen with this bill? This bill was approved by state legislators, meaning that it will now pass on to Republican governor Brian Kemp. Kemp must sign the bill in the following months in order to enact it, and he is expected to do so, based on his continual support for anti-abortion legislation and this bill in particular.
What you can do:
Here are some articles for a more in-depth look at the topic:
What can you do to help improve the safety of LGBTQ+ Brunei citizens?
Hello Teen Resisters!
We hope you've had a good week. There's lots to cover this week. A couple things that you should be aware of:
- The results of the Mueller probe into Trump/Russia relations came in this week and the report was summarized in a 4-page letter by Trump's Attorney General, William Barr. Barr's summary reported that Mueller charged Trump with no crimes but also did not "exonerate" him from possible obstruction of justice. Trump has been shouting victory since, while Congress has demanded that the entire report be released to at least Congress, and ultimately the American public, by April 2nd.
- News also came in today that the Trump admin is cutting funds to numerous programs, including that DeVos wants to defund Special Olympics programs and Trump is once again cutting aid to Puerto Rico. The news came in too late for us to cover it in this week's list, but we'll cover it next time. Also coming up: a full-length feature about understanding the White Nationalist movement and what it means.
Sending you lots of light in these first wonderful weeks of Spring!
What Went Down
Background Check Expansion Act: In late February, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would require background checks for almost all private gun sales. Representatives voted 240-190 to extend the background checks requirement to sales made at gun shows or over the internet. If passed in the Senate, the law will become one of the most significant gun safety measures to go through Congress in decades - and a long-past-overdue national legislative response to the rampant gun violence in the U.S.’ schools and streets.
While eight Republicans in the House voted to pass the bill - and popular opinion on universal background checks is positive across the board, at 97% - Republican Senators refuse to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. While passage of the bill, even if brought to the floor, is unlikely, floor votes are important - they set precedent for future debate and action, and they force our representatives to go on record for supporting or opposing an issue, allowing us to hold them accountable at the ballot box. We need to fight for a vote on this bill.
What You Can Do:
NYC School Segregation: Last week, as thousands of New York City 8th graders received letters regarding which high schools they were accepted into, the New York Times reported that only 7 Black students were accepted into Stuyvesant High School, an elite public school in Manhattan. This means that although Black and Hispanic students make up 67 percent of the NYC public school population, they only make up 10 percent of the specialized school population. NYC's public schools are the most segregated in the nation.
Stuyvesant High School along with seven other specialized high schools require the SHSAT, an annual standardized test to be taken in the fall of students’ eighth-grade year, as the sole means of admission. This is not the first time the test and its biased results have come into question. In 2013, Mayor Bill De Blasio's campaign platform included scrapping the SHSAT, but it wasn’t until June of 2018 that he proposed an alternative to the test. His proposal consisted of two main parts: to expand the Discovery program, as well as to eventually replace the test with a program that offers seats in specialized high schools to the top seven percent of every middle school. The expansion of the Discovery program would aim to reserve 20% of seats in specialized schools to low-income students whose scores were just below the cutoff for admission. This proposal would need to pass in Albany and has already received pushback from many specialized high school alumni. This issue of systemic racial segregation in schools is far bigger than this test and the eight associated schools. So despite what many politicians would hope, it’s not an issue that can be solved with one bill or in a year. As representative Ocasio-Cortez pointed out during an education town hall a few weeks ago, “why isn’t every public school in New York City a Brooklyn Tech-caliber school?”
If this issue interests you, here are a few ways to get involved.
See you soon!
Peace and Power,
Hey Teen Resisters!
We are back on our cycle of lists after a quick break for our Black History Month List (which you should all go read!)--we know that the past few weeks have been beyond crazy, and so we tried to boil everything down to what we believe are some of the key happenings. Get ready to dive into a list full of youth protest, Trump trying to attack women's repro rights (again.), net neutrality, vaccines, and more!! (Also, happy late International Women's Day and current Women's History Month <33; more on that soon.) Sending all our love!
what went (&is going) down
This Friday, March 15th, students across the world will be walking out of school and protesting climate change inaction in their local communities. Goals and logistics vary depending on the school/community, but most strikes advocate for the support of the Green New Deal in Congress, a bill pushed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (among others), which aims to stimulate the U.S. economy in an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable way—an emphasis is placed on communities of color and low income communities that are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change.
That means that those served by Title X rely on the government for access to birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and even simple women’s health exams. Planned Parenthood serves approximately 41 percent of those benefited by Title X funding; although 4,000 other Title X-funded health care providers across the country also provide abortion, if Planned Parenthood specifically were to be defunded, other providers would have to increase their caseloads by an average of 70 percent to service PP’s patients.
So what do all of those numbers mean? The domestic gag rule would take away funding from thousands of health care providers who service millions--many in poverty and without insurance—preventing them from accessing not only abortion but also basic, vital reproductive health care services.
The second key component of the gag rule is that it would prevent doctors and service providers from referring patients who want or need an abortion to a place where they can get one. If a woman found out she was pregnant after being diagnosed with cancer, for example, her doctor would not be allowed to inform her that abortion was even an option. What the gag rule does is just what its name suggests: forcibly prevents service providers from giving women the comprehensive, accurate information about their health care options that they deserve.
It’s clear that this rule is unethical, irrational, dangerous, and unconstitutional.
So: what can you do?
Recently, House and Senate Democrats proposed legislation–– the Save the Internet Act–– which would combat the impact of the Restoring Internet Freedom bill. It would establish guidelines that reflect what net neutrality served to protect. According to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, “The Save the Internet Act enacts the three legacy net neutrality principles – no blocking, no throttling and no paid prioritization – and empowers the FCC to prohibit unjust, unreasonable and discriminatory practices.”
What can you do?
What can you do?
Arizona is going in the opposite direction, advancing three anti-vaccine bills. H.B. 2470 would legalize religious exemptions for vaccines, as well as allow parents to exempt their kids without having to fill out a form informing them of the risks of not vaccinating (which would make the exemption process even easier and faster). HB.. 2471 requires medical providers to explain all the ingredients and risks of vaccines, which doctors say could confuse or overwhelm patients and make them less likely to get vaccinated. H.B. 2472 allows doctors to give an antibody titer test to patients to see if they are already immune to a disease that the vaccine would prevent. Doctors point out that the antibody titer test is sometimes unreliable—it can say that someone is immune to a disease when they really aren’t. The test is also expensive.
While many states like Washington are focusing on eliminating vaccine exemptions, enough states are focusing on expanding these exemptions to concern the federal government. Head of the FDA Scott Gottlieb has not released any specific plans, but said in an interview with CNN that “certain states” could “force the hand of federal health agencies” to act.
What You Can Do:
Hello Teen Resisters! Happy Black History Month! We've been working on this list to highlight what we should be thinking about and doing this Black History Month. Some of this list is written by our regular staff writers, plus a contribution from Maya Brady-Ngugi. The longer and more historical Part One is written by Tirzah Thomas. We hope this list is empowering and educational. We are deeply committed to the fight for racial justice and are proud to be a part of a generation that is passionate and seeking education.
There are many different proposed ways to fix to the undeniable institutional racism in this country, and while we can clearly say that there must be concrete solutions, we know that people in our community have a variety of views. We try to address that, and provide the best actions we can that we believe will aid in the fight against racism and white supremacy.
Celebrating Black history and fighting for racial justice goes far beyond February, and we urge non-Black readers in particular to continue to stay updated with our actions against racial injustice throughout the year. Please feel free to look at our Index by Issue page to see each list where we have covered institutional racism.
A note: In our last list, we covered the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett. Since then, more information has come out that points to claims that the attack was staged. It’s hard to tell what really happened right now, and you can certainly find information about it online. There is an ongoing process and investigation involving the FBI and the Chicago Police Dept., and the truth is not so clear at the moment. We apologize for any confusion our reporting may have caused. We do not regret our initial reaction of belief when someone told a seemingly credible and certainly feasible story of suffering. We also know that, if this attack did not really happen, it will not deter us from acknowledging and fighting against the numerous hate crimes that do happen, particularly to trans women of color. Thank you for your understanding.
Without further ado:
Part One: The Diaspora Doesn't Fall Short
written by Tirzah Thomas
To many in America, February is simply the second month of the year, significant only in that it has a short number of days and represents the beginning of the end of deep winter. But for me, February means more. February is a month that celebrates Black achievement, Black excellence, and Black history. February is Black History Month. What does Black History Month mean? To me, this month is when I not only recognize my history, but I push myself to recognize others’ Black history.
You see, this month is not called African-American History Month or Caribbean Descent History Month or even Afro-Latinx History Month. This month, we recognize all those histories and many more. We unite as Black people and we reflect on how far we have come and how much farther we need to go. As we examine our history, we also enable ourselves to create a blueprint for our future.
It is clear that African Americans have come a long way, but we have a long way to go in terms of fighting against racism and for equity in addition to equality (more on that later). African Americans descend from people who were originally kidnapped in Africa from the 1400s to the 1800s, put on unsanitary and often deadly ships, and sent to the Americas to be used for slave labor. This practice—commonly known as the transatlantic slave trade—continued for centuries, and slavery persisted in America long after the slave trade itself was discontinued. Slavery is what the United States was founded and built upon and with. Many enslaved people found ways to escape through the Underground Railroad, and many more could not find freedom. As all of this happened, a lot of these people lost their connection to African culture. Thus, African Americans started to create their own culture. That culture developed into the unique Black culture thrives today in the United States.
The Difference Between Equality and Equity (and why it matters)
Although slavery in its traditional form was abolished with the ratification of the 13th amendment in 1865, the oppression of Blacks in the United States did not even come close to ceasing. Black people continue to suffer in America; white supremacy has prevented Black people from gaining political, social, and economic power and equality. But that has not stopped them. Instead, it has pushed them to fight harder, each battle bringing us closer and closer to finally establishing racial justice in this country. In 2019, according to law, it seems as though a Black person has essentially the same rights as any other American citizen.
Sounds great, right? Yes! It’s great! But it does not mean that we are done with fighting. Our fight no longer focuses its energy mostly on achieving equality, but rather on achieving equity. The difference between the two ideas is key—while equality happens when everyone is given the same resources and rights, equity happens when these resources and rights are given specifically and intentionally with the mission of getting everyone to the same level. This cartoon explains the difference well:
The equality/equity disparity is epitomized in what the modern racial justice movement fights for. Despite the fact that equal rights are usually written into law, there is so much racist history embedded in our nation—yet to be confronted—that these laws rarely bring Black people and white people to the same levels. Our supposedly fair governing code contains innumerable loopholes: a white cop can get away with killing a Black kid, Black people are put in jail for the same petty crimes that white people can walk away from, and implicit bias is used as a valid justification for the murder of a black person, to name just a few. What we need now is explicit legislation to combat those loopholes and achieve equity. We still have many battles to fight, and we will not stop until we get the equity that we deserve.
A Few Different Black Histories
While some slave ships were taken to the United States, some were taken to the Caribbean. In one instance, a man named Papa York, who lived in Ghana, was forced to move to Grenada as an enslaved person. There, he had children, who ultimately branched into a whole family line. They call themselves the Quashie people. Some Black people are able to trace their history and figure out where they came from, like in this example, which is a wonderful blessing. Those who can do so are able to get a sense of where and how their ancestors lived originally, something that many Black people are unable to do.
The French also brought ships full of Africans to the Caribbean in the 1600s and 1700s. Some of those Africans ended up on the island of St. Vincent. In St. Vincent, African people lived peacefully amongst the French settlers (despite having been taken away from their native land against their will), and as they intermingled with the French and the natives of St. Vincent, they created the new Garifuna community. The Garifuna community created its own language, comprised of languages from different parts of members’ identities.
In 1796, the British arrived on the island and exiled the Garifuna people. The Garifuna were never enslaved by the British, but they were shipped off to the Honduran bay island of Roatan. From there, Garifunas spread to Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Belize, and Honduras. Eventually, the Spanish took over all of these countries except for Belize. This pushed the Garifunas to learn Spanish in order to communicate with the new people. The Spanish discriminated against the Garifunas because of their dark skin color and forced them to live in horrible conditions. Countless Garifunas overcame this oppression and continue to live in these countries today, but their culture is rapidly being forgotten. In each of the countries where Garifunas live, they continue to fight for recognition.
These are only a few examples of the Black history that resulted from the transatlantic slave trade—there is so much more to be covered. Not every Black person has the same history. Not all Black people face the same discrimination. Black people who also identify with other marginalized identities- queer, woman, a religious minority, etc.- face intertwined discriminations in their daily lives. We all have different experiences, but instead of dividing us, our differences push us to unite as one and fight for the same thing: equity in whatever country we live in, because there are Black people all around the world, and there is racism all around the world. As a race, we have come so far, and we continue to fight battle after battle; our resilience and perseverance highlight our strength and beauty. All across the globe, Black people were told that we should be ashamed of what we are. But as we look back to our history, we know that our Blackness is strong. Our Blackness is unique. Our Blackness is beautiful.
Part Two: Modern Racial Justice in the United States
What is Mass Incarceration?
The united states incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world, so while the US contains 5% of the world’s population, it contains 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. But the staggering statistics associated with present day mass incarceration in the US didn't arrive overnight. During the 1980s, while Reagan was in office, the prison population doubled from 329,000 to 627,000 due to the ‘war on drugs’ that Nixon started perpetuating in the ‘70s. The roots of mass incarceration, and the racism associated with it, can also be traced back to slavery and systemic white supremacy. African Americans are six times more likely to be sentenced to prison for the same crime as a White person.
There are 536,000 people in the United States who are detained before being tried. This is due to the fact that in most states, a cash bail must be paid in order to return home before your trial. Although its original purpose was to ensure individuals would show up to their trial, the effects of the bail system have disproportionately impacted low income individuals. Often times, individuals who can’t pay bail are arrested due to minor offenses (like petty theft or marijuana charges). In conjunction with individuals’ inability to pay bail, the for profit bail bond industry feeds off of their inability to pay. Instead of a family/individual paying a refundable sum of bail money to the courts, they could choose to pay a nonrefundable fraction of the money to a private bail bondsman in order for them to front the money. The rest of the bail bond would be paid back in installments, typically with high interests and with significant collateral, such as houses, at state. The bail bond industry makes about $2 billion annually.
For-profit prisons, run by private corporations, are yet another unjust part of the US system of Mass Incarceration. Although the corporations claim to be saving money for the state, it is unclear whether that is the case. Additionally, they create a dynamic in which incarcerating individuals is more profitable and therefore incentivizing mass incarceration. There are other aspects of the system that are deeply problematic, including horrible prison conditions and a justice system that often persecutes innocent people.
People have many different perspectives- even in our own TR community- on how to deal with this issue. Some feel that grasping the problem at the root requires abolition of prisons. Others feel that the system just needs to be reformed. And there are a variety of positions in between. We’re providing the realistic action you can take depending on what you feel is the best way to address this. While we can’t give you realistic small actions to take to fully abolish prisons, we highly recommend checking out Close Rikers, which is attempting to close Rikers Island, the highly abusive New York City prison. What we can all agree on is that it will take a lot of work to rid a system of its inequities when the system was built upon the backs of the oppressed using the most glaring example of inequality. But that work must be done.
As a multifaceted issue, there are many implementable solutions that address small parts of the much larger system. Below are a few:
Washington Post graphics showing racial disparity in marijuana arrests:
Nonviolent De-Escalation Tactics
guest written by Maya Brady-Ngugi
In altercations between law enforcement and citizens, nonviolent de-escalation tactics help to reduce the level of intensity and the risk of violence. Central to de-escalation tactics is communication, creating space, and slowing down in order to defuse potentially dangerous situations. In instances where nonviolent de-escalation is used, officers are able to rely on peaceful and functional tactics to de-escalate the situation rather than immediately turning to the violent power of a gunshot. Training police in nonviolent strategies like these could be a major step in improving relationships between police and people of color. In most states, nonviolent training is not required, and in the states where it is required, it is not mandated. Every year around 1,000 people are shot and killed by the police. Police are trained to have very few options in nonviolent handling of a situation. Instead, they are trained to taze, shoot, and arrest people when situations seem out of control (or even in control).
Nonviolent tactics save lives, and there needs to be a greater push to implement policies where officers are trained in nonviolent de-escalation. Police departments in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Ferguson, MI have begun nonviolent de-escalation training and all saw a reduction in the use of force in situations between police and citizens. Dallas, for example, saw an 18% drop in use of force a year after nonviolent de-escalation training was instituted. While other solutions are necessary to address the systemic and deeply embedded white supremacy at the root of the issue of police brutality in the US, this policy would decrease the risk of violence as we discuss more radical solutions to the problem. Mandated nonviolent de-escalation for police will allow for safer communities and better relations with police.
What You Can Do:
Push for nonviolent de-escalation tactics in your area! You can always push for things in your city by leaving a comment on the city gov or police department’s website. Look out for anti-police brutality meetings in your area and remain vocal on social media. And read up! Concrete solutions like these are vital in the fight against racist police violence.
The End Racial Profiling Act
Across the centuries, the criminal justice system in the U.S. has rarely worked in favor of African Americans; in fact, it has more often worked against them. The examples are many and crushing: a decades-long history of police brutality, all-white juries, police violence against civil rights workers, and, of course, laws designed to allow brutal punishment of enslaved people without legal recourse.
During Black History Month, Teens Resist is returning to a bill we highlighted earlier, one designed to combat an issue that falls squarely within this pattern of injustice and discrimination at the hands of law enforcement: racial profiling.
The rate at which Black men and other people of color are targeted by police is hugely out of proportion to the rates of their white counterparts. Black men are more likely to be stopped on the street, stopped while driving, arrested, and incarcerated than whites: while one in thirteen white men spends time in jail in their lifetime, the rate is four times higher for black men, one in three of which are incarcerated at some point. These discrepancies don’t represent the actual crime rate among blacks and whites, especially when it comes to drug offenses, which has been especially present following the War on Drugs the greatest cause for incarceration nationally. While African Americans and whites use drugs, especially minor ones like marijuana, at comparable rates, Black men are far more likely to be arrested for using them. Racial profiling is not a concentrated, controlled issue; it is rampant all over the country, and often facilitated by local policies (New York readers, see Stop and Frisk).
Racial profiling—apart from being just plainly contradictory to the idea of an unbiased criminal justice system—has devastating effects on Black communities, both in terms of incarceration, as we discussed above, and the role it plays in wearing down trust between law enforcement and the people they serve. Not to mention, when police are spending all their time targeting a specific demographic, they can’t effectively do the job they’re tasked with—keeping communities safe. And as written in the ACLU article on the issue, “Racial profiling is not only hurtful and wrong, but it can have deadly consequences. Police are more likely to use excessive and lethal force against people of color, and these interactions often end in death.”
H.R. 1498—the End Racial Profiling Act—is a proposal reintroduced in this Congress that aims to eradicate these kinds of damaging practices in law enforcement. The law would officially prohibit racial profiling, giving victims the chance to bring complaints to court. It would authorize federal grants dedicated to collecting data about the practice, and importantly, require local law enforcement offices to “maintain policies and procedures to eliminate racial profiling, including training on racial profiling issues, the collection of data, and procedures for handling complaints.”
Of course, the End Racial Profiling Act is only a necessary first step. The anti-bias trainings that the law could mandate would have an important impact, but they cannot single-handedly or fully solve the problem that underlies all of this: many people’s baseline assumptions about who is “dangerous” or “threatening.” Always, and during this month especially, it is critical for all of us—but most especially white people—to recognize those assumptions, assess where they come from, understand their place in the historical narrative, and think about what role white people have in creating and perpetuating these biases.
We highly suggest reading some of the articles linked as sources above for more detail on this subject—and as a way to get thinking about these prejudices and biases.
Organizations We'd Suggest Supporting or Looking to for Action:
The Kalief Browder Foundation: www.kaliefbrowderfoundation.com/
The Trayvon Martin Foundation: www.trayvonmartinfoundation.org/
The Garifuna Heritage Foundation: www.garifunaheritagefoundation.org/
Equal Justice Initiative: www.eji.org
Black Women's Blueprint: www.blackwomensblueprint.org/
Close Rikers: www.closerikers.org/
Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity: boldorganizing.org
Southern Poverty Law Center: www.splcenter.org
Western States Center: www.westernstatescenter.org/
Youth Over Guns: www.youthovergunsny.org/
Happy Black History Month! Sending all our support and light.
Peace and Power,
Hey Teen Resisters!
It kinda seems like we say this every time, but it is always true: it has been a very busy two weeks. From record-breaking low temps in the Midwest to a humanitarian crisis at a Brooklyn prison to infinite tensions in Washington (and more!), we hope to make digesting everything a little easier for all of you. Before we start, we wanted to highlight a few key recent news items that we don't mention later on:
2) Updates on the Trump Investigation. In response to Trump's (threatening) declaration during his SOTU address that "If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war" or "ridiculous partisan investigation," the House has continued to expand its Russia inquiry. Here are a few key happenings:
3) The Shutdown ended without any money for the wall! After 35 days, and over 800,000 government employees going home without pay
checks, President Trump signed a bill agreeing to reopen the government on Friday, January 25. Despite the government being open, more than half of the government employees still went home unpaid. Trump announced that he only intends for the government to remain open for three weeks unless border wall funding is secured
What Happens now?
- There will be lots of negotiations and debate over the security of the nation's border and the need for a wall.
- Democrats and Republicans will try to reach a consensus on a security plan. If a decision is not made, President Trump is threatening to shut down the government, or even declare a national emergency. It seems like Dems are not budging on the wall right now, but we'll see where things go.
what went down
After the public became informed and outraged, over a hundred supporters gathered on the steps of the jail to demand change. Some of the protesters stayed overnight, vowing to wait until power was restored. Hand warmers and hundreds of blankets were sent from the city and accepted by MDC, but were never given to inmates by the federal employees in the prison. Protesters communicated with inmates by asking questions on a speaker system and receiving replies through banging. Eventually, families of inmates began directly communicating with their loved ones through the speaker system as incarcerated men gripped window bars to see and speak to their girlfriends, wives, aunts, fathers, and mothers. After families stormed the prison demanding to see their loved ones, authorities used pepper spray and slapped phones out of protestors hands to try and keep people away. Additionally, social visits had been canceled and visitors have been unable to see their loved ones. After leadership from local and federal politicians as well as the fierce work of NYC Justice League and Federal Defenders, visitation rights were restored and so was heat and electricity, and multiple lawsuits and investigations are underway.
However, there are many unanswered questions about the situation, and it seems that some of the medical issues are worse than we had imagined. Since the heat has been turned back on, corrections officers have allegedly used high heat, hoses, and pepper spray against inmates. Here is an article detailing the intensity of the situation. In general, this situation highlights the intense injustice of our prison system. The refusal to address the situation is just one example of how much our prison system devalues the lives of poor Hispanic and Black people. Each small step towards justice brings us closer to running this antiquated system into the ground. Look out for a mass incarceration feature coming soon.
Click here to view our coverage of the protests outside MDC from our co-director Sonia who was at MDC on Saturday and Sunday.
What you can do:
What can you do?
Kansas is also expected to introduce two bills to legalize medical marijuana. One will be sponsored by Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, and it is partially the result of efforts on the part of Bleeding Kansas, an advocacy group working to get Kansans better health care.
Finney’s is expected to be more liberal than the other, sponsored by Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City. Holland says that his bill is “simpler” and therefore more likely to pass through Kansas’s conservative legislature.
Illinois is going even further: Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, plan to introduce a bill to legalize recreational marijuana. Illinois residents aged 21 or older would be able to purchase and possess up to 30 grams (or half that amount for nonresidents), and could grow up to five marijuana plants per household. Criminal records of low-level possession or dealing of cannabis would be erased, and tax money raised by a recreational-marijuana program would be used for development of lower-income neighborhoods.
What You Can Do:
Note: We covered marijuana legalization once before in Golden Fights, Moments, and Globes, and here is an article explaining marijuana legalization from a racial justice standpoint, in case you are interested or want to know more before deciding how/if to act on this topic. Reminder that we are not here to tell you what to do, but to give you the tools to impact the change you want to create!
Happy New Year Teen Resisters! After a brief break, we're back with our biweekly lists, and there's a lot to cover! If you don't know, the government is currently shut down. More on that later, but that's (partially) why everything's been so chaotic.
We wanted to point out two things before the list starts:
- We're sure you've seen the video of the MAGA boys and the indigenous elder. Please check out the Issues Affecting Indigenous Peoples section on our Index by the Issue page for all of the lists where we highlight issues of indigenous rights & actions.
- Just as an update: so far, here is who has officially announced candidacy for president in 2020 or an exploratory committee for a 2020 campaign. We've linked their campaign videos or websites:
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA)
Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (D, TX)
Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY)
Senator Kamala Harris (D, CA)
John Delaney, former Rep for Maryland (D, MD)
Richard Ojeda, former State Senator from West Virginia (D, WV)
President Donald Trump (R)
Now let's jump in!
What Went Down:
*URGENT* The Government Shutdown, Explained:
Today, January 21, 2019, marks the 30th day of President Trump’s petulant government shutdown. This shutdown officially started on December 22 of last year, when President Trump refused to sign any appropriations bill (AKA a federal spending bill) that wouldn’t allocate $5.7 billion to the funding of his Mexico-United States border wall.
Already the longest in U.S. history, this shutdown has adversely affected millions -- 4 million government contractors have been laid off. 800,000 direct U.S. government workers have been furloughed, and of those, 420,000 are still being forced to work without pay. The maltreatment, including missing their first paycheck of the year, has brought some workers to the breaking point -- a number of government employees, including many TSA agents, have quit. Additionally, small businesses have been denied loans by the U.S. SBA, federal courts are running out of money, and private companies have refused to go public, leading to a significant decrease in 2019’s overall economic growth. According to the President of the U.S. Federal Reserve, this will likely lead to an overall 1% less of an increase in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which amounts to over a third of our annual economic growth lost because of Trump’s shutdown. Other problems include a lack of quality food testing, native reservations struggling due to a lack of government funds, and some government workers have been forced to ration medical necessities like insulin in the face of no pay.
The House of Representatives has already passed a spending bill that would end the shutdown and allow formal debate on immigration to reopen, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to bring it to the floor. This is clearly only as a deterrent -- the exact same spending bill passed the Senate with unanimous bipartisan support just weeks before. Negotiations are still in full force -- just two days ago, President Trump offered a three year cessation in deportation attempts for DACA recipients (immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally as children) in return for his $5.7 billion in wall funding. Speaker of the House Pelosi (D-San Francisco) refused. There’s an important reason that Democratic Congressional leadership has refused to make any deals with President Trump during the shutdown -- if he sees that using millions of government workers as a bargaining chip works as a political strategy, the President is going to shut the government down every time he wants a policy change. Majority Leader McConnell needs to grow a spine and introduce the spending bill; our politicians need to stick to their guns and fight for what’s right -- ending this government shutdown as soon as humanly possible. As Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi have stated, debate on immigration should be happening in a government setting and should not require a shutdown or presidential temper tantrum where hardworking Americans are the collateral damage.
What You Can Do:
CALL! YOUR! SENATOR! This spending bill has to pass the Senate. Even if you don't think it matters because your senators are super liberal or super conservative, it really does. This thread explains why.
Hi, my name is ______, I’m from _____, and I'm calling to ask Senator ______ to vote to take up and pass the bills to reopen the government that passed the House last week, and to insist that the government be reopened before long-term negotiations on border security or immigration continue. The millions of furloughed employees and lack of funding for vital programs should be prioritized over politics. I urge you to use your conscience in making your decisions on this topic. Thank you.
Info on the 2020 Census Citizenship Status Question: Every 10 years the US government takes a census, a means of recording how many people live in the country and get a general understanding of their demographics. The Trump administration moved to add a question to the 2020 census about whether or not the resident in question is a legal citizen of the United States. Many believed this would discourage non-citizens from partaking in the census, therefore misrepresenting the number of minority members living in the US.
Earlier this week, Judge Jesse Furman, a Federal judge in New York prohibited the Commerce Department from making this addition to the 2020 census, writing that that "[Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross'] decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census -- even if it did not violate the Constitution itself -- was unlawful for a multitude of independent reasons and must be set aside." The Trump administration then appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court, who, on January 18th, decided to drop the case. This implies that SCOTUS agrees with Judge Furman’s initial ruling, a major blow to the Trump administration and a major win for organizations like the ACLU and others supporters of undocumented immigrant rights.
Peace & Power,
Hey Teen Resisters!
Wow. Where to start? First off, we hope that those of you on (a much-needed) break from school and/or celebrating any holidays are enjoying yourselves! An incredible amount has happened in the month since our last list; we took a short break (because of our two features--The First Trans Prom King and The Cure Campaign, which you should check out ASAP) but we're back at it again! Before you dive in, make sure to glance at the two urgent updates/actions below. Happy activisting!
1) PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
If you've even glanced at the news in the past few days, you have most definitely seen the headlines about the partial government shutdown that is currently ongoing. In case you're at all confused, here's what's happening, very basically: Congress needs to pass a bill giving the government enough funding for it to keep running, and the latest extension expired on Friday night before more funding could be passed. Trump refused to sign a bill that did not allocate $5.1 billion to his proposed border wall, but Democrats refused to include this money in the bill, and Democrats' votes are needed for the bill to pass. Neither side has yet expressed a willingness to compromise. (Do you see the problem?) Check out this article if you want a more detailed description of what is happening (and why).
2) DEATHS AT THE BORDER
This month alone, two children have died in U.S. custody: On December 8th, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died of dehydration and shock at an El Paso hospital, and on December 24th, 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonso died after being moved from facility to facility in the six days between his arrival and death. Both children were Guatemalan. The situation at the border is disgusting and inhumane--too much so for us to say it with words--and our government needs to start taking more concrete, comprehensive action to fix it.
What can you do?
what went down
What can you do?
Foreign involvement in this war is a key aspect. The U.S., along with other European powers like the United Kingdom and France, have provided the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence and weapons. Due to the recent killing of Jamal Khashoggi, this assistance has come into question. Additionally, the U.S. military has claimed (though Iran denies it) that Iran has been sending arms to the Houthi rebels. This has only perpetuated the ongoing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. At the beginning of December, attempts at peace talks were made, resulting in the exchange of 5,000 prisoners. These are steps in the right direction, but Saudi blockades around Houthi controlled areas have hindered the distribution of vital food and medical assistance by aid organizations.
Check out this New Yorker article about U.S. involvement in the war if you want more info!
What can you do?
The bill was backed by a bipartisan group of senators. Republican Jeff Flake, one of the strongest proponents of the bill, argued that it was necessary in the wake of President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. Whitaker, who oversees the Mueller probe, has been openly critical of the investigation, causing widespread worry about the safety of the probe. Opposition among the GOP Senate caucus has been strong, although some Republican leadership has indicated that it would give into Flake’s demand that the bill be brought to vote.
The current government shutdown means that Senators will have a lot on their plate already, so it’s important not to let this key bill go unaddressed. The Senate may be adjourned until Thursday, but you can still call their offices in the meantime, even if just to leave a message. It’s critical that the bill be brought to a vote (and passed!) before the New Year, when the new Congress will meet, including a Senate with a higher Republican majority. If we want Mueller’s probe to be protected (and a constitutional crisis averted!) now is the time to pass this bill.
WHAT TO DO: Call your Senators at 202-224-3121.
Call script: Hello, my name is _______ and I’m a constituent from _______ (city). I’m calling to urge Senator _____ to support the bill protecting Robert Mueller in the case of his firing. In the light of President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General, and his threatening rhetoric towards the investigation, it is clear that the threat of Mueller’s firing is both very real and imminent. The Mueller probe is critical in protecting democracy, and this bill is vital toward ensuring that the President is not treated as immune to the law. I strongly urge Senator ______ to agree to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and to vote for its passage. Thank you.
If the bill became a law, physicians who induce abortions would have to give the pregnant women state-published information about “alternatives” to abortion, as well as submit a report to the Department of Health. The people who perform an ultrasound to determine if the fetus has a heartbeat would, if a heartbeat is detected, have to give the pregnant woman a chance to hear it. The Departments of Health and of Job and Family Services would publish and offer information pertaining to family planning, childbirth, and adoption—but not abortion. In other words, even if an abortion was technically legal (i.e. no heartbeat detected) the bill would still attempt to stop the woman from having the abortion.
HB 258 passed both the House and the Senate. However, it was vetoed by Ohio governor John Kasich, who was concerned that the bill would be immediately struck down for violating Roe v. Wade. The Senate lacked the two votes needed for an override of Kasich’s veto, though the House had a three-fifths majority in support of the bill.
Kasich, however, signed SB 145, which bans a certain abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation, or D&E. 95% of second-trimester abortions are performed using this method. Physicians who perform “dismemberment abortions” (as D&E is referred to in the bill) risk being charged with a fourth-degree felony and spending up to eighteen months in prison, unless the mother’s life is at risk.
What can you do?
And, finally, the puppy vid:
We are so excited to partner with The Cure Campaign and share The Cure's message, work, and vision for a better future! The writer of this piece is Ava Monroe. Check out more at thecure.world or on Instagram @thecurecampaign.
When I was ten years old, my mom was diagnosed with Stage Two invasive Breast Cancer. She was thirty-nine. My young, beautiful, brave, brilliant mother: riddled with malignant tumors in both breasts. But when she told me and my siblings, she did not cry. Instead, she made us a promise: I will not die. Although her outcome was something no one could possibly predict, she wholeheartedly believed she would survive. And she did, but that’s not why I started The Cure Campaign. It was sitting in the hospital after my mom’s double mastectomy, later watching her unable to eat dinner after a chemotherapy treatment and feeling crippling fear while waiting to hear the results from her blood test—being there, watching my mom suffer, and feeling an ugly combination of helpless and terrified—that propelled me into action. I was lucky; I still have my beautiful, brilliant mom. I started The Cure for the little girls who don’t. For the people who saw it all, just like I did, but were not so lucky.
The Cure is a national campaign to pass legislation increasing the wildly underfunded National Cancer Research Budget. As of right now, Cancer Research is funded around $5 billion each year. While $5 billion may sound like a lot, compared with the $590 billion for Defense, it’s wholly inadequate. Our goal is to allocate funds in the direction of the future, a future in which cancer is no longer a death sentence. Along the road to congressional approval, we’ve been working on a few projects. The #everybodyknowssomebody social media movement is an initiative to show the American public that cancer is, unfortunately, something that unites us all. Everybody does know somebody, whether they are a patient, survivor, or someone who is no longer here, and it's for those individuals that we fight—for a cure for them. By promoting the universal need to fight for cancer research, we can, as a youth-led-movement, attempt to unite America behind a common enemy: cancer. Everyone can participate—simply use the hashtag, alongside your connection with cancer, and post.
We also have a section on our website entitled Inspiring Youth Advocacy, where we publish articles written by kids that encompass the impact of cancer in America. Some have chosen to write about their personal experience; others have written about new technology in the cancer research field. However, you can write about anything revolving around cancer—the underfunded cancer research department, highlighting a cancer research doctor/hospital, etc. The idea is to create a space in which we can show politicians that cancer research funding is an issue that the youngest generation of Americans care about, something that kids are willing to take time to research and write about. It’s these voices that we want heard, the voices of tomorrow’s voters. You can submit your own article by emailing us at the account listed in our bio on Instagram (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We are are currently working on some new projects in addition to the #everybodyknowssomebody and Inspiring Youth Advocacy campaigns, including: a promotional video, meetings with politicians to develop legislation, our continuing “Fact A Day” social media campaign geared towards educating our followers, exciting partnerships and press, a merchandise line in which half of each individual profit goes to a local cancer research institute, creating a step-by-step process for nationwide branches, a potential march, and more! We are also in the process recruiting new members—if you want to get involved, just fill out the Google Form in our Instagram bio and check out our latest post. After filling out our Google Form, we will contact you and schedule an interview. We are always excited for new members to join the team!
The Cure is an Incorporporated, 501(c)(4) Nonprofit Organization, staffed by minors, with a mission to change America. We are children with a beautiful concoction of intellect, passion, and maybe a bit of recklessness, and we are ready for battle. Everyone on this team has someone their fighting for; everyone in this country has someone they can fight for. Passing major legislation in our current political climate is seemingly impossible. But if America stands with The Cure, we can succeed. Join the movement because—I promise—this is just the beginning.
If you want to learn more, follow us on our Instagram (@thecurecampaign), check out our website (thecure.world), or simply post with the #everybodyknowssomebody. Email us at email@example.com with more questions!
We are honored to be one of 30 global youth platform partners in the launch of an initiative by @ChimeForChange (CHIME FOR CHANGE) and @weareirregular (Irregular Labs) to explore gender and our fluid future through the lens of Gen Z. We're so excited to share this story of an incredible young person, Alan Belmont. Check out the other content and partner platforms in the link below. The writer of this piece is Mackenzie Wagoner.
Full report: https://www.irregularlabs.com/gender
Last spring in Indianapolis, then 17-year-old Alan Belmont made history when he became the nation’s first transgender prom king. If Belmont’s campaign seemed like a long shot — he ran for prom king in, of all places, the conservative Midwestern birthplace of Mike Pence — his win is the canary in the coal mine for the deeply gendered high school ritual, and the billion dollar industry that supports its binary traditions.
In between his freshman college classes, Belmont hopped on a call to talk about who has the right to the titles of prom king and queen, and what prom attendees of the future will be wearing. Hint: it’s not your average penguin suit.
Why did you decide to run for prom king?
I think a lot of people would call prom king and queen a popularity contest, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that. I don't think I ever was popular until I won prom king. I'm a trans guy. When you think of the popular kid, a trans person is never in your mind. The main thing that I wanted to say by running was: Yes, this is something that has never happened in our school. And this could be a historical, great moment, but I don't want a trans person running for prom king to be the most amazing thing in the world. It’s just prom king and queen. It’s just high school prom, everyone does it.
Tell me about your transition — when did you know that you identified as male?
I started thinking about gender my sophomore year when I met someone agender online. They educated me on they/them pronouns and what a trans person really is and what it all means. I went into the library and I got this book called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. I started reading it and relating to the feelings that the trans guy in the book was talking about having. I went to a meeting that the gay straight alliance at my school was having where this guy was talking about the spectrum of gender and what it means to be trans. He had a full beard and had a deep voice, and I didn't realize he was trans until after the presentation even happened. I was so shocked and amazed, and it was that presentation that really got me questioning my own identity. And that's when I realized how valid all the feelings I was feeling were. I asked my friends if they would shorten my name and call me Al. I wanted to see how it felt.
When you were getting ready for prom, how did you decide what to wear?
I learned a lot about how men dressed through being in show choir because we would have dress up days where guys would come in wearing suits. So for prom I got this really nice like $300 suit because I thought, you know what, I'm running for prom king. I went to a department store and I got a pair of dress pants, a suit jacket separate, a white collared shirt and a tie. I didn’t know what a fitting was. I got fitted at a regular tux shop in the mall, just like any other guy would. And they were like, "Okay, here's your cufflinks and your bow tie and your button cover.” I was like, "Oh my god. This is a lot more than what I thought it was.”
Who did you take with you? And what did it feel like to win?
I went with my ex-girlfriend. When I found out I won, the crowd was cheering and I knew they really supported me and were looking out for me.
If you could go to prom again, what would you wear?
My boyfriend is a senior in high school still. He's probably going to go to prom this year. And he's like, "I don't want prom to be the girls in cool, crazy dresses and all the guys just in black suits. We should go to prom this year in some cool outfit.” And I was like, "Okay, let's do it”. Platform heels and dress pants and a collared shirt, but with a cool jacket — it’s not necessarily suit and tie. Now, with social media being something that everyone is a part of and with fashion and culture being more normative, a lot of people are now going to start wearing things that are more out there to prom. I think guys will get involved in it, too.
Where do you look for fashion inspiration?
Mitch Grassi from Pentatonix is very fluid in his gender expression. It really helped me when I was coming out. I learned that it's okay to present yourself as feminine even if you are a guy. And that applies to trans people, too. Just because I'm trans and I was born as a girl, doesn't mean that that should be taken away from me. I do drag, for example.
A lot of people think that's weird — they’re like, "Hold on a second. You were born a girl, right? And you're a guy, but now you're dressing as a girl again?" It has nothing to do with dressing as a girl. It is a way for me to express a side of femininity that I couldn't if I was just wearing feminine clothes, because that would make me feel weird. I can put on huge lashes and this big wig and these ridiculous clothes and still be viewed as a guy. And it's something that's so freeing for me to do. If a cis guy were to put on makeup like James Charles or Jeffree Star —they do it all the time and no one questions it. Makeup is a form of expression and it’s something that I want to participate in. Just because I’m trans, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have to.
Tell me why it’s important for you to be able to express a spectrum of gender:
Gender identity and gender expression get mixed up a lot. My gender identity is a man, but I express my gender in a lot of different ways. I don't always wear super masculine clothes. I do because I want people to acknowledge me as male. I would say that my gender expression coincides with my gender identity in the same way that how I express myself does not define who I am.
How do you think the future of prom can support more fluid gender expressions and identities?
I would love to see a prom with a lot more cool clothing. But I also want to see, at least from my school, a trans girl do the same thing that I did. In Indiana, people are not as open about gender expression and gender identity. This is where Mike Pence is from. In my community, there’s a lot less open acceptance of trans women than there is of trans men. It seems nearly impossible for trans women and trans women of color to gain acceptance among cis normative people. It is a lot easier for me to pass. It has a lot to do with the way that hormones affect bodies. I cannot wait for a trans woman in Indiana to make a name for herself and to be unapologetically herself. To live as herself, for herself, and to make representation more valid. I just can't wait to see that happen.
Hello Teen Resisters! We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We're ready to dive in to some of the biggest issues of the week.
Also to take note of:
- the Green New Deal proposed by new House Dems in response to the climate crisis. It's pretty fantastic.
- The current situation at the border, which we are not covering until next list because of its undeveloped nature. If you have questions about it, feel free to email us or DM us on Instagram. For now, here's a good article.
So let's jump in!
What Went Down
Aaand your puppy video. Click here. Have a fantastic week!
Peace and Power,
These lists include featured organizations, scripts, numbers, news updates and inspirational activists.