What to do this week of September 8, 2019
163 weeks down, 60 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: Promote National High School Voter Registration Week. [h/t The Civics Center]
Contact: Your local school board, high school principals, and high school civics teachers.
Script: Hi, I’m a resident of [SCHOOL DISTRICT] (if applicable, “and my child(ren) attend(s) school in [DISTRICT]”) and I urge you to participate in National High School Voter Registration Week, September 23-27, 2019. The Civics Center provides free resources to help your students run a successful voter registration drive. Thank you.
Bonus: Donate to The Civics Center here.
▢ Action 2: Advocate for ranked-choice voting. [h/t FairVote]
If you live in CA, MA, MN, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OR, or VT: Call your two state legislators (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m a constituent from [ZIP], concerned about how [STATE]’s elections can better represent its residents. Properly implemented, ranked-choice voting guarantees that the winner of an election always gets a majority of the popular vote. It also reduces negative campaigning and saves taxpayer money. Can I count on [NAME] to support the pending ranked-choice voting legislation in [STATE]? Thank you.
If you live in any other state: Make a tax-deductible donation to FairVote.org here.
▢ Action 3: Ensure that ballots are accessible to disabled voters.
Call: Your local election official (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m from [TOWN], calling to ask how our district is addressing the barriers faced by disabled voters.
- Is there a ballot-marking device available for disabled voters to use?
- Have accessible voting machines been tested?
- Are poll workers trained to help voters with all types of disability?
- Are polling locations accessible to disabled voters?
If any of the answers are NO: Voting accessibility is a crucial issue because one-quarter of all Americans live with a disability. Can you tell me what [NAME] is doing to resolve this before the November elections?
If all answers are YES: Thank you for your hard work to ensure that every voter can cast a ballot.
▢ Action 4: Insist on stronger election security measures.
Call: Your one House rep and two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and want our elections protected from digital attacks, not held hostage to political stalling. We need to be able to trust in the fairness of our elections and the accuracy of the results. I would like [NAME] to co-sponsor the Election Security Act of 2019 (S. 1540/H.R. 2660).
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: Support workplace protections for pregnant people. [h/t ACLU]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] because I value everyone’s ability to earn a living. Yet pregnant people are at severe risk of being fired, demoted, or harmed at work. Pregnancy discrimination charges have increased 35 percent in the past decade, and federal judges have ruled against accommodations at work in more than two-thirds of lawsuits since 2015. I’m asking [NAME] to cosponsor the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694) to enforce workplace protections. Thank you.
▢ Action 6: Speak up for a representative judiciary. [h/t Lambda Legal]
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP], because I’m alarmed to realize that the current administration has appointed almost one quarter of all federal appeals court judges without including a single African American or Latinx person. Nearly 70% are white men. In a democracy, the judiciary must reflect the nation’s diversity. I ask that [NAME] reject all further appointees until more women and people of color are nominated. Thank you.
▢ Action 7: Advocate for continued fair housing protections. [h/t Lambda Legal]
Tell the Department of Housing and Urban Development what you think of the administration’s proposal to increase the required proof for a fair housing claim.
Submit a comment: On the Federal Register by October 18 using these tips: 1) Introduce yourself. 2) State why you oppose the proposal based on your values and, if applicable, 3) Share a story of how you or a loved one are impacted by housing discrimination or the Fair Housing Act. Review this article to personalize the points below. To be counted, comments must be unique and individual, not scripted.
- The new rule would undo the “disparate impact” standard established in 2013 that has been effective in combating housing discrimination.
- Determined by statistics, disparate impact is used to hold businesses accountable for unintentional discrimination in home lending, apartment rentals, and property insurance.
- The new rule would require a five-step process for plaintiffs to prove unintentional discrimination.
- It would provide insurers greater ability to cite state laws and avoid Fair Housing Act claims under disparate impact.
▢ Action 8: Protect civil rights for all by Sept. 16. [h/t ACLU]
Tell the Department of Labor your views on their proposed expansion of employer religious exemptions.
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 how religious discrimination impacts you or a loved one. Review this article and personalize the points below. To be counted, comments must be unique and individual, not scripted.
- Religious exemption rights would extend to all 42,000 businesses that hold federal contracts, including those that are for-profit and not explicitly faith-based.
- The definition of religious exemption would expand to allow contractors to make accepting and following certain religious tenets a condition of employment.
- LGBTQ individuals are most at risk for religious discrimination and are not covered by the Civil Rights Act. Women and members of religious minorities are also affected.
▢ Action 9: Advocate against the encouraged profiling and targeting of immigrant communities. [h/t CLINIC]
Tell U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Homeland Security what you think of their proposed immigration fraud tip form.
Email by SEPTEMBER 9: firstname.lastname@example.org; Subject: USCIS Tip Form; OMB Control Number 1615-NEW; Docket ID USCIS-2019-0001
Use the following points to craft your comment in this format: 1) Introduce yourself. 2) State why you oppose the proposal based on your values and, if applicable, 3) Share how racial profiling and targeting impacts you or a loved one. To be counted, comments must be unique and individual, not scripted.
- The proposed tip form allows the general public to submit anonymous reports of alleged immigration fraud.
- The form does not include a legal definition of “immigration fraud” and has no way to hold reporters accountable.
- There is an unreasonably high potential for abuse within this system, including the increased profiling of already-highly-targeted communities.
- This form is, at best, duplicative of existing laws and mechanisms to report immigration fraud, and at worst, divisive and harmful to immigrant communities and America as a whole.
▢ Action 10: Support agricultural workers in America demanding fair wages and legal protection. [h/t United Farm Workers]
Tell this administration what you think of the president’s proposed H2-A changes to benefit agricultural employers.
Submit a comment: On the Federal Register by September 24 using these tips: 1) Introduce yourself. 2) State why you oppose the proposal based on your values and, if applicable, 3) Share a story of how you or a loved one are impacted by the H2-A program. To be counted, comments must be unique and individual, not scripted.
- More than half of farm workers in the U.S. are citizens and green card-holders.
- The current administration has proposed regulatory changes in the Federal Register that would make it more difficult for U.S. citizens to obtain agricultural work.
- These changes would also make it easier for employers to exploit and mistreat non-citizens, and would add more obstacles on the path to legal work status and permanent residency for working aspiring Americans.
- It is the responsibility of a nation to ensure its citizens have competitive access to work, and to protect those with fewer legal safeguards.
▢ Action 11: Advocate for federal heat regulations to protect farm workers against unsafe weather conditions. [h/t United Farm Workers]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to express my support for the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act. Temperatures across the country are hitting record highs, and the people picking our nation’s fruits and vegetables often do not have access to adequate water, rest, or shelter from dangerous heat conditions. I would like [NAME] to protect workers against the number one weather killer in the U.S. and sponsor H.R. 3668.
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) for hosting a town hall at her constituents’ mosque. (Share why full participation in the political process for all Americans is important to you.)
Address: 2151 Michelson Drive, Suite 195, Irvine, CA 92612
Thank U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman for forcefully rejecting white supremacy. (Share why you appreciate calling out the clear legal distinction between rights to speech, thought, or assembly, and acts of violence.)
Address: Office of the United States Attorney, 801 West Superior Avenue, Suite 400, Cleveland, OH 44113-1852
Thank Doug McMillon, Walmart President and CEO, for leadership on preventing gun violence after a deadly incident in an El Paso Walmart targeting Latinx members of the community. (Share why you appreciate corporate involvement in creating well-grounded solutions to end the threat of gun warfare in America’s communities.)
Address: 702 S.W. 8th Street, Bentonville, AR 72716
Thank reporter José Olivares for unveiling the human cost of criminalizing immigration. (Share why you appreciate relentless pursuit of stories about the impact on real people of current administration immigration policies.)
Address: The Intercept, E. 44th St, New York, NY 10017
Thank Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) for challenging current administration priorities to divert military and security funding to pay for the criminalization of immigration instead. (Share why you appreciate calls to honor and abide by congressional appropriation decisions.)
Address: 500 Citadel Drive, Suite 320, Commerce, CA 90040
Thank founder of World Central Kitchen, chef José Andrés, for providing meals in disaster-stricken areas, most recently in the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. (Share why you appreciate working in and with communities affected by disaster to find creative ways to provide sustenance.)
Address: 1342 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
Bonus: Donate to further the work of World Central Kitchen: https://donate.wck.org/give/236738/#!/donation/checkout
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews
- The Cherokee Nation appoints Kimberly Teehee as its first-ever delegate to Congress since the position was created under the Treaty of New Echota in 1835.
- More than 100 congressional lawmakers denounce the administration’s decision to end the medical deferred action program that allows sick aspiring Americans to remain in the U.S. while receiving medical treatment.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development awards $75 million in funding (up from $43 million in 2018) to community programs combating youth homelessness.
- The president signs into law the Small Business Reorganization Act, which will make it easier for small businesses to navigate the bankruptcy process, after it passes Congress with bipartisan support.
- The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously votes to uphold the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act, affirming tribal authority over the wellbeing of Native children who are up for adoption.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will re-open some pending applications to prevent deportation for those with a medical need to remain in the United States.
- CA and 19 other states file a federal lawsuit over the administration’s attempt to hold children and families in immigration detention camps indefinitely.
- CA: Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a bill limiting police use of force and encouraging de-escalation in police encounters.
- GA: A federal court orders Georgia to to switch to secure paper ballots for the 2020 elections.
- IL: Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a law mandating that Illinois public schools teach LGBTQ history starting July 1, 2020.
- IL raises the minimum yearly salary for teachers from $10,000 to $32,000; the raise will increase to $40,000 by 2023.
- IN: A federal appeals court affirms a lower court ruling preventing purging voters from the state’s voter rolls without warning, finding the practice to be in violation of the National Voter Registration Act.
- LA: John Warner Smith is appointed state Poet Laureate, becoming the first black man to hold the position.
- MO: A state law banning abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy without exceptions is temporarily blocked by a federal court ruling.
- NC: A three-judge panel throws out North Carolina’s state legislative maps, finding them to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
- OH: A lawsuit settlement allows Ohio voters to cast a provisional ballot in any local, state, special, or federal election through 2022 and have it counted; casting a provisional ballot also restores the voter to the rolls.
- PA: Gov. Tom Wolf signs the Fostering Independence Through Education Act, which waives college tuition for all colleges in the state for students who were in foster care at age 16 or older.
- TX: As of September 1, 2019, more than 600,000 Texans will be eligible to have their driver’s licenses reinstated and pending surcharges waived following the repeal of the discriminatory Driver Responsibility Program.
- VT: State Legislature matches withdrawn Title X funding for Planned Parenthood, ensuring it can still provide a full range of reproductive health services.
- San Francisco reaches a tentative settlement for an alternative to the city’s discriminatory cash bail system.
- The Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that New Orleans judges’ practice of setting bail as a means of funding the court is unconstitutional.
- A federal court rules that the Gloucester County, VA School Board violated Gavin Grimm’s constitutional right to use the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity.
- Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser rejects plans for a federal immigration detention facility to house unaccompanied children to be built in the city.
- The Skowhegan, ME school district removes mascots and other imagery that is disrespectful to Native Americans.
- Birmingham Mayor Randall Woofin promises tuition-free in-state public-college education for graduates of Birmingham City Schools.
- Walmart limits ammunition sales and discourages “open carry” of guns in stores.
- Kroger asks shoppers not to openly carry guns in any of its stores.
- The Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest conference for women in tech, drops Palantir as a sponsor over concerns about its work for ICE.
- Amazon workers launch the “We Won’t Build It” campaign calling for accountability from the company for its involvement with Palantir and ICE’s abusive immigration enforcement.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation overrides Delta’s ban on pit bulls and emotional support animals.
- Majordomo restaurant donates one Friday’s profits to Planned Parenthood, RAICES, Everytown for Gun Safety, and the Sierra Club.
- GQ names 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg “Game Changer of the Year.”
- Meditation app Calm offers teachers a free subscription to its services.
- The New York Times launches The 1619 Project, an initiative reframing U.S. history by placing slavery’s consequences and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the story.
- Dell pulls ads from Fox News programming, citing inconsistencies with Dell’s values and their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
- YouTube disables 210 channels that appear to be part of a coordinated influence campaign against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
- Pinterest cooperates with groups including the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to provide facts and combat misinformation about vaccines.
- Johnson & Johnson is declared responsible for fueling Oklahoma’s opioid epidemic and is ordered to pay $572 million in damages.
Groups and organizations
- Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) joins four other organizations in a lawsuit opposing the administration’s “public charge” rule that would limit eligibility for citizenship.
- Taneeza Islam, executive director of South Dakota Voices for Peace, receives the AFL-CIO Community Hero Award for her advocacy and dedication to aspiring Americans and their communities.
- More than 20 organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, file a legal brief urging against the indefinite detainment of children.
- All on the Line teams up with former President Barack Obama to launch Redistricting U, an initiative to combat partisan gerrymandering.
- GoodKids MadCity, a collective of youth anti-violence activists, works to provide support to young people affected by shootings while pushing for policies that address social drivers of violence.
- Planned Parenthood will expand its app-based program that connects patients with birth control and other services to all 50 states.
- Volunteers with Clean Ocean Access clean trash and debris from Rhode Island’s Aquidneck Island as part of their mission to create shoreline access and a healthy ocean.
- March for Our Lives launches Peace Plan for a Safer America, which encourages government action to end gun violence.
- Contributors to The Love Vote, a platform for those who can’t vote due to youth, lack of citizenship, or disenfranchisement, share stories about their values to encourage voter turnout.
- High school students and survivors of the Holocaust connect with each other through art by participating the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Bringing the Lessons Home” program.
- Earth Alliance launches donation platform Amazon Forest Fund; 100 percent of donations will go directly to protecting the Amazon rainforest.
News with heart
- Alvin Kennard of Alabama is released from prison after serving 36 years of a life sentence for a $50 robbery.
- Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens features art focused on immigration by artists from Mexico, building unity between the sister nations.
- Doctors and nurses protest the administration’s immigration policies outside of ICE’s San Francisco office.
- Evelyn Hernández of El Salvador is cleared of charges following the death of her baby.
- A group of Milwaukee high school students decorates a public bus with guidelines and rights information for interactions with ICE.
- José, a Salvadoran man with cognitive differences seeking asylum in the U.S., reunites with his family after five months alone in Mexico without the assistance of his caregiver.
- More than 700 people gather to pay their respects to Margie Reckard, an El Paso shooting victim, at her husband Antonio Basco’s invitation.
- G7 countries agree to an immediate $20 million fund to help fight Amazon fires and launch a long-term global initiative to protect the rainforest.
- 17-year-old David Ledbetter registers people to vote while they wait in line for Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich.
- A U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio issues a direct rebuke to so-called “white nationalists.”
- Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg sails across the Atlantic on an emissions-free vessel to speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit next month.
- Rosa Parks joins Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, and Katherine Johnson with a doll in her likeness as part of Barbie’s Inspiring Women series.
- Taylor Swift uses her platform at the MTV Video Music Awards to highlight Congress’s inaction on the passage of the Equality Act.
- Dave Chappelle and Kanye West surprise Dayton, Ohio’s community and shooting survivors with a block party and free concerts.
- Bill & Ted Face the Music casts wounded veterans as extras.
- Kauser Razvi creates “literary lots,” real-life constructions of popular children’s book scenes, in Cleveland’s vacant lots.
- Students at the Alternative Learning Center in Dubuque, Iowa earn PE credit for assisting neighbors in need with yard work.
- Tennis player Naomi Osaka offers kindness and encouragement to her opponent Coco Gauff following Osaka’s win.
- See more good news at Women in the World, Small Victories, Good Black News, and What Went Right.
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