What to do this week of September 13, 2020

by Sep 13, 2020Opinion, What To Do This Week0 comments

200 weeks down, 7 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 voting as a foundation of a healthy democracy.

The clock is ticking down to the 2020 elections. The actions below ensure three things: that our votes are secure, that every citizen can vote, and that every vote is counted.

Action 1: Prepare to vote safely. [Source: AoCC]

Our VOTE 2020 checklists have got you covered whether you’re planning to vote by mail or visit a polling place.

Bonus: Encourage others to vote this November!

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Action 2: Increase voter registration and turnout among people experiencing homelessness. [Source: National Coalition for the Homeless]

Contact: Your local homeless advocacy groups (if you’re not sure who to contact, start with this list of homeless shelters).

Script: Hi, I’m asking you to follow the recommendations in the You Don’t Need a Home to Vote report to lower barriers to voter registration experienced by the homeless. Some key recommendations:

  • Hold a voter registration drive for your clients.
  • Tell your clients they can use the shelter’s address on voter registration forms and absentee ballots. 
  • Volunteer your organization’s location as a polling place.

Thank you for everything you’re doing to help people experiencing homelessness in our community.

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Action 3: Report voting-related misinformation. [Source: The Brennan Center]

Contact: Election Protection and your local elections officials (look up).

If you see incorrect claims in your social media feeds, report them to the legal professionals at Election Protection by calling 866-OUR-VOTE, visiting 866ourvote.org to start a live chat, or notifying your local election officials. Every informed citizen can play an active role in stopping the spread of false information

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Action 4: Count yourself in by September 30. [Source: Black Voters Matter]

There is still time to participate in the U.S. Census online, by phone, or by mail

Why? A complete and accurate count is critical for you and your community, because census numbers will determine community funding, congressional representation, and more. Communities that are most in need of funding are more likely to be undercounted.

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Action 5: Advocate for COVID-19 relief for all people in America. [Source: National Coalition for the Homeless]

Email: Your two senators (look up; copy/paste the following script or modify in your own words).

Script: I’m from [ZIP], expressing my strong support for the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which was passed more than 100 days ago in the House. I’m asking [NAME] to support these provisions:

  • Protections for farm workers who continue to harvest our food during the pandemic, including sick pay, pandemic hazard pay, and legal protection from deportation during this critical time.
  • Funds for housing, including $11.5 billion in homelessness assistance, $100 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $10 billion in long-term housing vouchers.
  • Expansion of SNAP, including a 15% expansion in the maximum SNAP benefit and more flexibility around how SNAP benefits can be used.
  • Support for disabled people at home, including uninterrupted access to critical supplies and comprehensive paid leave to include all caregivers/chosen family, as well as emergency paid sick leave to include all workers even if they need more than two weeks to recover or protect their health. 
  • Release into community supervision people in federal prisons who are at greater risk due to health issues, pregnancy, or age, unless they pose a violent threat to the community. 
  • Free COVID-19 testing and treatment for all people in our nation, including undocumented people.
  • Financial assistance for families with mixed immigration status left out of previous relief packages.
  • Extend employment authorization for DACA and TPS recipients, many of whom are operating as essential workers during this pandemic. 
  • Emergency funding for the USPS, so mailed ballots can be delivered safely and on time.
  • Election security grants of $3.6 billion to states from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

I value protection for all people during the pandemic. I am counting on you to vote in favor of the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) and urge the Majority Leader to bring it to the Senate floor. Thank you.

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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 6: Oppose housing discrimination based on sex by September 22. [Source: National Women’s Law Center]

Submit a commentOn the Federal Register using these tips: 1) Introduce yourself. 2) State why you oppose the administration’s proposal to allow HUD-funded shelters to use biological sex-based admittance policies that discriminate against transgender people, and if applicable, 3) Share a story of how you or a loved one are impacted by housing discrimination or homelessness as an LGBTQ-identified person. Review this article and personalize the points below. (Scripted comments are not counted.)

  • Allowing women’s shelters to turn away trans women increases trans women’s risk of being subjected to violence and jeopardizes their health during this and any future pandemic.
  • The new rule would allow shelters to make “good faith” assessments about someone’s biological sex based on their appearance.
  • Transgender and other LGBQ-identified youth account for an estimated 20-40% of the more than 1.6 million homeless youth. 
  • Housing instability is nearly three times higher among transgender veterans than among cisgender veterans.

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Action 7: Speak up with Indigenous communities seeking justice for a murdered young woman. [Source: National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center]

Write: To the FBI office handling the case: Federal Bureau of Investigations, 2929 3rd Ave N #400, Billings, MT 59101 

Script: I’m writing in solidarity with the family of Kaysera Stops Pretty Places and her Indigenous community seeking justice for her murder. Now, one year after her body was discovered just a half mile off the Crow reservation, I respectfully demand that you commence a legitimate investigation immediately. Though questions of jurisdiction may be complex, the FBI can always investigate the murder of a tribal citizen on or near a reservation. If it turns out the murder occurred off tribal lands, the FBI can turn the matter over to the proper authority to prosecute. Thank you. 

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Action 8: Advocate for addressing systemic racism in health care. [Sources: blkwomenshealth and We Must Count Coalition]

Email: Your one House rep (look up).

Script: I’m writing from [ZIP] because I’m concerned that health and life outcomes in this country are largely dictated by the color of one’s skin. As a result, Black and Brown people are nearly three times more likely than white people to contract COVID, and one to two times more likely to die from the disease. I’m asking [NAME] to co-sponsor H.R. 8178, the Anti-Racism in Public Health Act of 2020, to address these and other health disparities. Thank you. 

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Action 9: Support worker protections from climate risks. [Source: 350.org]

Email: Your two senators (look up).

Script: I’m writing from [ZIP] to support the safety of construction and farm workers who face increased risks from climate change, such as extreme heat. They need stronger legal protection for collective action so they can advocate for their health and safety without intimidation. That’s why I’m asking [NAME] to support the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019 (H.R. 2474), a bipartisan bill passed in the House months ago. Thank you.

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Action 10: Support those defending sacred Native land. [Source: O’odham Anti Border Collective via No More Deaths]

The O’odham tribes have existed in the Sonoran desert for hundreds of years, long before the U.S.-Mexico border was established across their lands. Now, the construction of the border wall, which began without the legally required consultation of tribal officials, is desecrating grave sites, threatening endangered species, and encroaching on already-scarce water sources. O’odham activists and allies are in need of financial support as they protect their homelands from the devastation that continued construction would bring. 

Costs include: Immediate bail relief, long-term legal support, vehicle impoundment(s), and sustained organizing efforts to protect O’odham land.

Donate: To the Defend O’odham Land Bail Fund

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Action 11: Demand an end to violations of religious freedoms. [Source: United We Dream]

Call: The ICE Miami Field Office at (954) 236-4909 or send a digital letter to ICE and DHS (click “edit subscription preferences” to opt out of emails).

Script: Hello, I’m calling to address the unlawful treatment of Muslim detainees at ICE facilities. Multiple reports have come out of the Krome Service Processing Center that since the pandemic began, Muslim detainees have been repeatedly forced to choose between eating pork-based meals, which goes against their religious beliefs, or expired, spoiled halal meat. I am joining lawmakers and human rights organizations in calling for immediate access to unexpired halal meals for Muslims at all ICE facilities, and demanding that the offending officers and employees are held accountable for violating religious rights and federal law. 

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Action 12: Advocate for the health and safety of natural disaster survivors. [Sources: AILAAmerican Immigration Council, and American Immigrant Representation Project]

Email or call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m [WRITING/CALLING] from [ZIP] to express my concern about the deplorable conditions in many ICE detention centers in Louisiana following Hurricane Laura. The storm caused tremendous damage, including power outages and a lack of running water, to multiple facilities across the state, resulting in sweltering heat, cramped living spaces in the midst of a pandemic, and extremely unsanitary conditions. I would like [NAME] to urge the New Orleans ICE Field Office to use its lawful discretion to release all aspiring Americans currently detained in Louisiana.

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Acts of Gratitude

Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.

Thank Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen for no longer seeking the death penalty. [Share why you appreciate humane criminal justice reform.]

Address: 70 West Hedding Street, San Jose, CA 95110

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Thank Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for protecting the rule of law and the right to protest without federal interference. [Share why you appreciate state action to protect civil rights.] 

Address: c/o Oregon Department of Justice, 1162 Court Street NE, Salem, OR 97301-4096

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Thank the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for stopping the unnecessary detention of aspiring American community members. [Share why you appreciate applying the rule of law to all people in the United States.]

Address: 500 West Temple St., Suite 383, Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Thank John Kelly, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Social Impact at Starbucks, for offering employees paid time off to participate in the November election. [Share why you appreciate employer support for voter participation.]

Address: 2401 Utah Ave. S., S-CR1, Seattle, WA 98134

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Thank Sheila Peters, Old Navy’s Head of People and Culture, for providing employees paid time off to work at the polls in the November election. [Share why you appreciate employer encouragement to fill poll worker shortages during the pandemic.]

Address: 2 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94105

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Good news

Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews


  • Senate passes a bill to remove Confederate names and monuments from military bases.
  • D.C. Circuit Appeals Court rules that the political donor disclosure regulations aren’t strong enough.
  • Court blocks the administration from detaining aspiring American children in hotels, where their safety cannot be adequately monitored. 
  • 172 members of Congress file an amicus brief in support of eliminating discrimination towards LGBTQ+ individuals in foster care and adoption.
  • The Esselen Tribe of Monterey County (CA) reclaims 1,199 acres of their land.
  • FDA approves an oral, at-home therapy for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy in pediatric and adult patients.
  • USCIS cancels its furlough of more than 13,000 employees, which would have led to additional delays and hardships for aspiring Americans.
  • Federal court issues a restraining order blocking unidentifiable federal troops from dispersing, arresting, threatening, or using force against journalists or legal observers at Portland protests.
  • USDA extends its free school meals program for kids amid the ongoing pandemic.
  • Federal court orders the administration to temporarily resume issuing diversity visas.
  • CDC issues a nationwide temporary halt on evictions due to the ongoing pandemic.
  • Seven Representatives urge the administration to stop expelling people seeking asylum from Nicaragua and to cease cooperation with its president’s violent regime.
  • Federal court orders the administration to stop winding down the census process until a scheduled court hearing determines whether the census should continue through October.




  • Twitter bans over 7,000 coordinated conspiracy theory accounts and limits 150,000 others due to the spread of dangerous misinformation and harassment. 
  • Lifespan and local nonprofits bring free coronavirus testing to underserved RI neighborhoods, communities of color, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
  • BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and Volvo must comply with CA’s strict fuel efficiency standards under a legally binding settlement with the state.
  • Disney debuts their first bisexual lead character, Luz Noceda, in the animated series The Owl House.
  • Old Navy will pay employees to staff polling places on Election Day.
  • Companies developing COVID-19 vaccines make a joint pledge not to offer vaccines until they are positive they are safe.

Groups and organizations

  • College and high school students recruit young people to serve as poll workers through the Poll Hero project.
  • Civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick, labor and farm workers’ rights activist Dolores Huerta, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, among others, will receive the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
  • Union Pacific Railroad Police breaks ties with ICE and prohibits profiling people based on suspected immigration status.
  • Send Chinatown Love raises funds for and brings foot traffic back to Asian-owned businesses in Manhattan’s Chinatown suffering financially in the wake of the pandemic.
  • RAICES curates art projects to initiate conversations around immigration and to impact immigration policies.
  • The Civics Center sponsors High School Voter Registration Week September 21-25. 

News with heart

  • Pastor Steven Tendo, seeking asylum after fleeing torture in Uganda, remains in the U.S. following a stay of deportation.
  • New York Times features its “A.D.A. at 30: Beyond the Law’s Promise” project, exploring the impact of the Americans With Disabilities Act on its thirtieth anniversary.
  • Pedro Reid reunites with his family after experiencing 20 years of homelessness.
  • Rochester, NY’s airport is renamed in honor of Frederick Douglass.
  • ABC airs Black Panther commercial-free in honor of Chadwick Boseman.
  • A 1,000-square-foot portrait of Ida B. Wells goes on display in D.C.’s Union Station to commemorate 100 years of the suffrage movement.
  • Dorothy Jean Tillman earns a master’s degree in sustainable science and environmental planning at age 14.
  • Lt. j.g. Madeline G. Swegle earns her “Wings of Gold,” becoming the Navy’s first Black female tactical aircraft pilot.
  • “Miracle Larry” Kelly leaves the hospital 128 days after first being admitted with COVID-19.
  • A vulnerable species of elephant experiences a baby boom this year in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park.
  • A majority of voters believe the USPS should be funded as an essential service, according to a poll by the Justice Collaborative Institute.
  • Artist Antoinette Cauley designs a nine-story mural of writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin, with the goal of encouraging passersby to learn about Baldwin’s life and achievements.
  • Bangor, ME’s Downtown Partnership’s Beautification Committee paints Pride flags on parking barriers to promote inclusiveness.
  • Koalas in a New South Wales park have a successful breeding season following recent destructive wildfires.
  • The National Zoo’s 22-year-old female giant panda gives birth to a “miracle cub,” the zoo’s first baby panda in five years.

See more good news at Women in the WorldSmall VictoriesGood Black News, and What Went Right.


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