Unlearning Racism Newsletter: week 17 – Vote Like an Antiracist (In Local Elections, Too!)

WEEK 17 – SEPTEMBER 21, 2020

Before we forget here’s our website of past newsletters, here’s a link to subscribe to our Patreon, here’s an anonymous question bank for anyone who wants to keep their questions private, and here’s the link to sign up to receive these newsletters if someone has forwarded them to you.

Hi friends,

Shanah tovah to all our readers who celebrated Rosh Hashanah this past weekend! Before we begin, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the loss of someone that many of us admired, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While we are not Jewish, the fact that a woman of such faith passed away on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when the proverbial Book of Life is said to be opened, feels so deeply poignant. Per Ruth Franklin, a writer and expert on Jewish literature, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah is a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness. Ginsburg, a person of deep faith, was working in pursuit of tikkun olam, the act of healing the whole world through the pursuit of justice. May we hold her memory dear and aspire to embody that value ourselves.

Justice Ginsburg was responsible for so many protections that so many of us hold dear: from being able to take out a credit card as a woman, to same-sex marriage equality, to reinforcing the rights of people with disabilities to remain in their communities, at 5’1”, RBG was a giant in the way she wielded power for good

AND, she made compromises, as all judges do, that sometimes harmed Indigenous communities and other communities of color. It is worth noting this only to acknowledge that she was a person. Like all of us, her actions in pursuit of a more just world sometimes fell short, and sometimes did harm. We can honor her legacy and acknowledge that even our most spectacular influences are imperfect. We can allow it all to be true at once. In the words of a tweet by Kerry Washington earlier this week, “Been asking myself WHY we’re losing our heroes this year? I’m thinking maybe the time for hero worship is ending. Those singular souls cannot carry all the weight. We must EACH step into being heroes of our own community. Democracy needs us ALL. The word MEANS power by the people.” 

We also want to flag that Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, wants to empower Trump to appoint another SCOTUS justice before the election (so, in the next 43 days). We are encouraging our readers to call their senators and tell them to vote against a Trump SCOTUS appointment this close to the election (you can bet your bottom dollar we will be blowing up Lindsey Graham’s lines this week :)… ). Find your senator’s number here, and a guide to what is happening with the senate and SCOTUS appointments here. 

This week, in honor of Justice Ginsburg’s legacy, as many of us get our absentee ballots in the mail, and in light of our speaker Sunday, we have a few new resources to debut to our community here!

Instead of having a full-blown newsletter, we’ve created our own resources for our readers (and whomever else wants them) to help guide our voting this fall. These lists aren’t exhaustive, but they can be a start. 

ANTI-RACIST LEGISLATION WATCH 

Our *unofficial* govtrack.com list for our readers to keep a pulse on explicitly anti-racist, subtly anti-racist, and “wow, this would have disparate impacts on my Black and Brown neighbors, even if the subtext isn’t racist, per se” pieces of legislation. You can follow along with the bills that we’ve earmarked as related to racism, subtly or not so subtly, here! (Seriously, bookmark it!)

To use the platform, click our link and scroll through the bills. As we update this list, we’ll add call scripts in the “Notes” section for the pieces of legislation of particular antiracist importance.

ANTI-RACIST BALLOT BREAKDOWN – We’ve made this google sheet to explain the general roles on our ballots, from the local level to the federal level. It has comments on the more niche positions (hello Comptrollers? I guess we learn something new every day!) to explain which states have these roles as electable positions vs. appointed by governors or state legislatures.

Antiracism is not JUST voting. In fact, it’s MOSTLY NOT EVEN VOTING. But voting is a start, especially in this election. For every single candidate on your ballot. 

PLEASE note: this is non-exhaustive and the product of deep googling, not from exacted knowledge. There may be a few mistakes (and if so, let us know so we can fix them!), but we wanted to help our readers have a general overview of possible elected positions, how that role could add or detract to racial disparities, and what to look for when considering candidates. 

We HIGHLY recommend you look up your ballot in advance, either through your state’s online portal or BallotReady.org.

A few helpful explanations:

What is a BILL?

A bill is proposed legislation under consideration by a legislature. Bills are designed to enact or repeal laws. A bill does not become law until it is passed by both houses of the legislature (first, House of Representatives, and then Senate) and, in most cases, approved by the executive (president or governor). Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called a statute, or an act of the legislature.

What is a RESOLUTION?

A resolution is a written motion adopted by a body of the law, that usually serves to express verbal support or disdain for a particular happening (“A Resolution in Support of Health Care Workers” and the like). The substance of the resolution can be anything that can normally be proposed as a motion. Resolutions do not normally have legal implications, but can be passed to show a body’s support for a particular person, event, or other noun.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

This Sunday at 7PM EST, we will have the opportunity to talk with Lyric Swinton, cofounder of CityBright LLC and Secure the Ballot, who will be giving us a full rundown of what different positions on our ballots mean, what various political roles do in our communities, and how to best support Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and communities of color on your ballot. Reminder: Patreon subscribers will have video/audio access to these calls even if they can’t attend!

Hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, Lyric Swinton is a proud 2020 first-generation college graduate of the University of South Carolina. During her time at the University of South Carolina, she was the only undergraduate speaker at the inaugural TEDxUofSC and her leadership and innovation throughout her college career resulted in being honored as a 2019 Forbes Under 30 Scholar, UofSC MLK Social Justice Award winner, and a 2020 Caroliniana Award recipient.

Currently, she serves as an Associate at CityBright, LLC, a South Carolina-based political and public affairs consulting firm as well as being the Co-Founder and Director of Engagement for Secure the Ballot, a nonprofit voter registration organization dedicated to registering and educating young voters in the South.

Lyric is passionate about creating an environment where South Carolina’s politics are reflective of the diversity of the state’s population including Generation Z, Millennial, African-American, and rural voters. 

REMINDER! WE ARE LOOKING FOR AN INTERN

We’re looking for anyone who is committed to anti-racism in their daily lives to help us grow our resource hub and opportunities for dialogue. This internship would be 6-10 hours per week (depending on your schedule + that week’s needs) and would start (roughly) October 1 and run through early December. Is it you? Is it your child or grandchild? Is it your roommate or best friend? Send them this application!!!

Imperative skills for our intern to have: 

  • A commitment to anti-racism in their own life and a willingness to constantly challenge their own biases and assumptions
  • Good communication + a willingness to challenge Ellie and Emily when they might be missing the mark + a growth mindset 

*Helpful* skills for our intern to have: 

  • Social Media Expertise — can navigate instagram, twitter, and/or serve as a moderator for a Facebook group (to build community with all of you!). We are open to TikTok, too, but we are not in Gen Z (and clearly not very techy) so admittedly a lot of this would be wholly at the discretion of our intern. 
  • Web Design — help us make our archive of newsletters more attractive and more accessible. Help us embed an events calendar into our website. Help us upload audio and video files in a format that makes sense. 
  • Graphic Design  –– we’re hoping to translate the general messages of the newsletters (past and future) into shareable, aesthetically-pleasing graphics. 
  • Logistics — help us plan all the steps of our speaker series, connect with future speakers, and keep track of where every single cent of our Patreon funds are going so that we can maintain full transparency. 
  • Fresh ideas! 

This opportunity is available to all ages and all skillsets! If you know someone who is looking for the chance to build the technical skills or resume in this strange season, particularly if they don’t already read our newsletter, PLEASE encourage them to apply! 

Alright friends, we’ll be back in your inbox Friday with a news roundup and the zoom link for Sunday’s event! If you haven’t already, subscribe to our Patreon! Until Friday, we’ll be listening to this song on repeat and reading Big Friendship (do you have a friendship that feels SO deep and SO wide? May we recommend you read it together?!). 

…And to all who celebrate, happy 21st night of September 🙂

In solidarity,

Ellie and Emily

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