What to do this week of August 11, 2019
159 weeks down, 64 weeks to the presidential election.
The AoC Checklist features clear, well-researched actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and respect. To stay engaged through challenging times, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration.
I value democracy.
With respect and collaboration, we work to create a nation that welcomes all people, expands freedoms, and upholds the Constitution.
▢ Action 1: Call for intimidation-free elections.
Call: Your one House rep and two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to express my worry about the sharp increase in voter intimidation during the 2018 midterm elections. We need commonsense legislation to ensure free and fair elections. I would like [NAME] to co-sponsor H.R. 3281/S. 1834, the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2019.
▢ Action 2: Get big money out of politics. [h/t Move to Amend]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m part of a bipartisan majority of Americans who believe corporations should not be allowed to contribute unlimited amounts of “dark money” to political campaigns. I would like [NAME] to cosponsor H.J. Res. 48, the We the People Amendment, to end the treatment of corporations as persons with Constitutional rights.
▢ Action 3: Engage your elected officials during the August congressional recess.
This month’s congressional recess isn’t a vacation—it’s time built into the legislative calendar specifically for Members of Congress to meet with their constituents (i.e., it’s part of their job). Encourage them to hold town hall meetings during this time.
Call: Your one House rep and two senators’ local offices (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from [ZIP]. Can you tell me when [NAME] is holding town hall meetings in [TOWN] during the August recess?
— If no meetings planned, add: It’s important for [NAME] to meet with their constituents. Can you let me know when they plan to hold the next town hall?
— If meetings planned: Thank you! I plan to be there.
▢ Action 4: Help new voters get required IDs. [h/t Spread the Vote]
Spread the Vote and its Project ID initiative help citizens obtain IDs required for voting. After seeing our amazing AoCC subscribers blow the roof off our original 2019 goal (to support 300 new voters), we know we can reach 600 this year!
Donate: To Spread the Vote here.
I value equality.
Support the dignity of your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.
▢ Action 5: Advocate for your LGBTQ+ neighbors’ health by Aug. 13. [h/t Lambda Legal]
Tell the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) what you think of the administration’s proposal to remove nondiscrimination protections for gender identity from the Affordable Care Act regulations.
Submit a comment: On the Federal Register using these tips: 1) Introduce yourself, 2) State why you oppose the proposal based on your values, and, if applicable, 3) Share a personal story about about how you or a loved one are impacted by gender-based discrimination in health care. Review this article to personalize the points below. To be counted, comments must be unique and individual, not scripted.
- Up to 1.4 million transgender adults and 150,000 transgender teens ages 13 to 17 in the U.S. would be affected by the rule change, according to research by UCLA.
- Studies have shown that 56% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual patients and 70% of transgender patients have experienced discrimination from a healthcare provider, including refusal of care, harsh language, and physical roughness.
- Denial or delay of treatment can have long-term health impacts and even result in death.
▢ Action 6: Advocate to stop gun violence. [h/t Moms Demand Action, Hip Hop Caucus]
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] in distress over the growing risk of being shot and killed while socializing, shopping, or going to school. I’m appalled by the Senate’s inaction on such an obvious public safety crisis. The House passed gun reform legislationthat most Americans favor nearly six months ago. I ask [NAME] to publicly support H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112 and tell the Majority Leader to call an emergency session to vote on these bills. Our lives depend on it. Thank you.
Bonus: Tell the Majority Leader to do his job and bring these gun reform measures to the floor for debate and vote. Address: Sen. Mitch McConnell, 317 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510.
Bonus: Tell the Judiciary Committee Chair to hold a vote on the Background Expansion Act (S. 42). Address: Sen. Lindsey Graham, 290 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510.
▢ Action 7: Support your Native neighbors’ health. [h/t Institute for Policy Studies]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling because I value health care for everyone. Currently my Native neighbors have shorter life expectancies and lower-quality health care compared to other Americans. I’m asking [NAME] to call for increased funding for the Indian Health Service when H.R. 3052 (Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020) comes to the floor. Thank you.
▢ Action 8: Help victims of mass violence.
If you would like to know your donations to the victims of the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso are making the most impact, here are three local community organizations that are helping victims directly.
Donate: To the Dayton Foundation here, to the El Paso Foundation here, or to the Paso Del Norte Community Foundation here.
I value decency.
Our nation has a moral and legal obligation to welcome people seeking asylum and refuge. We support policies and actions that show decency to this vulnerable community.
▢ Action 9: Demand accountability from Honduran security forces for human rights violations. [h/t Carecen LA]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hello. I’m calling from [ZIP] to express my support for the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act. It is unacceptable that our tax dollars support a government whose security forces facilitated the assassination of an indigenous environmentalist and protestor. I would like [NAME] to support H.R. 1945 and suspend U.S. security assistance to Honduras until its military and police are brought to justice for the human rights violations they have committed. Thank you.
▢ Action 10: Advocate for babies being held in concentration camps. [h/t ZERO TO THREE]
Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling because I’m horrified that our government is separating young children from their families and incarcerating them without proper care or attention. Research shows that infants and babies who experience this type of trauma can suffer lifelong negative effects, such as developmental issues, anxiety, and difficulty reconnecting with family members. I expect [NAME] to take action to end the practice of separating children from their families at the border, and to work to provide those already affected with access to mental health services and support. Thank you.
▢ Action 11: Demand that Palantir stops contracting their software to enable ICE activity. [h/t Mijente]
Write: Alex Carp, President, Palantir, 100 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301
Script: Your company is profiting from the human rights violations that ICE has committed, and directly enabling them to profile and monitor people seeking citizenship in America. Your software has facilitated mass arrests, deportations, and terror in migrant and asylum-seeking communities across our country. I am joining countless others in asking you to take a principled stand against all projects that support ICE activity, and drop your contracts with them immediately.
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), and Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA) for insisting that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fulfill its statutory purpose. (Share why you appreciate the distinction between immigration services and law enforcement.)
JC: 727 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd, Suite B-128, San Antonio, TX 78206
RG: 1601 North 7th St, Suite 310, Phoenix, AZ 85006
NDB: 701 E. Carson St., Carson, CA 90745
AE: 163 West 125th Street, #508, Harlem State Office Building, New York, NY 10027
VE: Wells Fargo Plaza, 221 N. Kansas St, Suite 1500, El Paso, TX
LTS: 12440 E. Imperial Hwy, Suite 140, Norwalk, CA 90650
Thank Nashville Mayor David Briley for dedicating support to legal services for Nashville residents in need. (Share why you appreciate use of public funds to provide legal aid to those in need.)
Address: 1 Public Square, Suite 100, Nashville, TN 37201
Thank Marian Wright Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund for fostering literacy and intergenerational service for children in need. (Share why you appreciate engaging youth in vulnerable communities throughout the summer vacation.)
Address: 25 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
Thank Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) for advocating against the legacy and practice of detaining people seeking asylum or immigration. (Share why you appreciate decriminalization of civil immigration matters.)
KH: 333 Bush Street, Suite 3225, San Francisco, CA 94104
PJ: 1904 3rd Ave., Suite 510, Seattle, WA 98101
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews
- The Voting Rights Act celebrates its 54th anniversary on August 6.
- Federal Court rules against an administration policy that would have only allowed those entering the U.S. through a port of entry to claim asylum.
- U.S. District Court allows advocacy groups’ lawsuit against D.C. for unnecessarily institutionalizing children with mental health disabilities to proceed.
- The administration extends temporary deportation protection to people from Syria living in the U.S.
- CA passes a law requiring five years of candidates’ tax returns in order for them to be included on primary ballots.
- DE becomes the first no-kill state for shelter animals in the U.S.
- ME: Gov. Janet Mills takes emergency steps to enable people seeking asylum to apply for state benefits.
- NC: Gov. Roy Cooper bans the use of state funds for so-called “conversion therapy” for minors via executive action.
- NY: Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs bill decriminalizing marijuana use in the state.
- RI creates a Student Loan Bill of Rights that establishes oversight of the student loan process for Rhode Islanders and prohibits predatory lending practices.
- Denver City Council votes against renewing contracts with CoreCivic and GEO, two for-profit prison contractors that oversee ICE detention centers throughout the country.
- Wyoming Valley West School District apologizes for letters threatening foster care for students from families with lunch debt; the district also announces a new free breakfast and lunch program for all students.
- Returning citizens in Miami-Dade, FL can apply for judges to set aside financial penalties that would otherwise prohibit them from exercising their voting rights.
- The number of people sentenced to prison in Chicago has fallen by almost 20 percent since last year, while the rate of violent crime has fallen by close to eight percent.
- Yellow Springs Village Council in Ohio passes a resolution to include a ballot question that will determine if voting rights for local issues will be extended to 16- and 17-year-olds.
- PepsiCo and Coca-Cola break ties with the Plastics Industry Association, an industry lobbying group, as they commit to environmental sustainability.
- Public relations firm Edelman drops GEO Group as a client over their involvement in running U.S. detention centers.
- PepsiCo announces new aluminum cans for its Aquafina-brand water as part of the company’s environmental sustainability initiative.
- Eco-friendly clothing company Patagonia donates the $10 million it saved in tax cuts towards regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, and protecting land from human development.
- NPR posts the Coming to America series, featuring immigration-themed student podcasts from their Student Podcast Challenge.
- Holiday Inn and other InterContinental Hotels swap miniature amenity bottles for larger sizes to cut down on plastic waste.
- Internet security company CloudFlare drops the message board 8chan as a client over hateful, violent content.
- Three Boston teaching hospitals launch an initiative to fund housing programs through grants to community organizations.
Groups and organizations
- Archives from Ebony and Jet magazines, considered the most significant collection of photography depicting African-American life in the 20th century, will be made public.
- Twinbrook Baptist Church donates $1 million in proceeds from selling its building to LGBTQ youth programs, Habitat for Humanity, hospice care, and other nonprofit organizations.
- Trans in America: Texas Strong, produced by the ACLU and Little By Little Films, is nominated for a News and Documentary Emmyfor Outstanding Short Documentary.
- The Anti-Defamation League builds a list of resources for use by parents and teachers to help them talk to young people about the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings.
- Maria Chavalan Sut finds welcome and support from the Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church and its community.
- Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) opens operations in Juarez, Mexico in order to offer legal services to people seeking asylum who have been forced to wait there under the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.
- Leaders from the Washington National Cathedral denounce the president’s racist comments and actions.
- The Sierra Club successfully lobbies to keep grizzly bears on the Endangered Species List.
News with heart
- The people of Ethiopia combat climate change and set a new world record by planting more than 353 million trees in 12 hours.
- A billboard targeting four congresswomen of color is taken down following public outcry.
- Sacramento court vacates the conviction and sentence of Hamid Hayat, who was sentenced to prison 13 years ago on unsubstantiated evidence.
- Pioneering 19th-century journalist Nellie Bly, who uncovered abuses at the former Blackwell’s Island asylum, will get a monument in her honor on Roosevelt Island.
- Cyntoia Brown is released from prison and granted clemency after acting in self defense against an abuser 15 years ago.
- Kevin Walgamott can feel objects again with a prosthetic arm inspired by Luke Skywalker.
- Diverse descendants of Declaration of Independence authors and signatories recreate an iconic painting of their ancestors 241 years later.
- Architects Virginia San Fratello and Ronald Rael install cross-border teeter-totters on the U.S.-Mexico border so kids on either side can play together.
- The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival highlights diverse voices in filmmaking.
- Orange is the New Black draws attention to the Freedom for Immigrants national hotline while exploring the difficulties of aspiring Americans in detention through the show’s characters.
- Laura Gomez from Orange is the New Black publicly supports the DONE Act, which would prohibit the expansion of immigration detention and promote oversight of facilities.
- 11-year-old Ruben Martinez III inspires others to do 20 good deeds to inject care and kindness into his community following a recent mass shooting.
- NFL Hall of Fame inductee Ed Reed declares solidarity with victims of police brutality and racial violence.
- Actor Danny Trejo rescues a baby from an overturned vehicle.
- Former boxer Gary “Tiger” Balletto opens an adaptive gym for fellow people living with paralysis.
- New Bedford animal control officer Manny Maciel helps hundreds of dogs affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
- See more good news at Women in the World, Small Victories, Good Black News, and What Went Right.
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