Unlearning Racism Newsletter – Week 23: One more day (until, regardless of outcome, we still have work to do)

NEWSLETTER WEEK 23 – NOVEMBER 2, 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, here’s a fund tracker that breaks down how we spend our money, and here’s the link to sign up to receive these newsletters if someone forwarded them to you. 


Hi friends,

We are officially one day out from a Big Day. Originally, we had written, “the Big Day,” but it feels important to remind everyone (read: ourselves) that no matter what happens tomorrow, systemic racism will still pervade every structure in our society to some degree, we will still sit in the midst of a pandemic, climate catastrophe will still loom just barely out of sight. What we’re saying is, no matter who wins up and down the ballot, the work doesn’t end here. Absolutely, voting matters. Absolutely, there are options that present less danger for the most vulnerable among us (please vote for those options at the local, state, and federal level). And, this is your pre-election reminder that no matter what happens, this is not the end of the road for us as we learn to demystify and confront systemic racism. This will not be a cure-all to white supremacy culture. No matter who sits in leadership positions, we still will have work to do to unlearn the racism baked into all the systems that have led to this election and all elections before it.

In lieu of a full newsletter today, we wanted to send along the resources that are guiding us through tomorrow and the places we’ll be directing donations in the aftermath of the election. We want to take a moment to remind everyone that, while we will all be affected by the outcome of this election, racism is on the ballot. Please make your choices as though human rights are on the chopping block, because, well, they are. Here’s another plug for our guide to downballot voting in anticipation of tomorrow. 


GET TO THE POLLS

Make sure you know where your polling place is. Make sure you know what to bring to vote (and what is necessary to bring in your state). 

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS WHILE VOTING

These are amended from the ACLU’s Know Your Rights While Voting resources and those linked within the text.

  • If the polls close while you’re still in linestay in line – you have the right to vote.
  • If you make a mistake on your ballotask for a new one.
  • If the machines are down at your polling place, ask for a paper ballot.
  • If you run into any problems or have questions on Election Day, call the Election Protection Hotline:
    • English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE / 1-866-687-8683
    • Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA / 1-888-839-8682
    • Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US / 1-844-925-5287
    • For Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683
  • If you’re told you’re not on the voter roll, confirm you’re at the right voting place and that you’re registered to vote.
    • If you have recently moved, you may still be registered where you used to live. Check with a poll worker to see if you can update your registration and vote a regular ballot where you are. Otherwise, you may need to vote at your old polling location or at a central polling place.
    • Ask for a provisional ballot. Do not leave without filling out a provisional ballot. It is the responsibility of poll workers to investigate whether or not your provisional ballot may be counted, however, this is the best fail-safe mechanism for ensuring that voters who arrive at the polls don’t miss out on voting due to an administrative error.
  • Polling places must be accessible to elderly voters and voters with disabilities. Poll workers may not turn away anyone because they have a mental or cognitive impairment. Voters with disabilities that preclude them from understanding, reading, or writing English material may have someone to help them at the polls (this person cannot be their employer, agent of the voter’s employer, or officer of voter’s union). Per federal law, all polling places must have at least one station where a person with a disability can vote privately and independently (usually this is a machine set at a lower level for people who use wheelchairs, that can read the ballot aloud for people who may have dyslexia, or allow voting by pushing larger buttons for people with mobility disabilities).
  • Voters who have difficulty reading or writing English may receive in-person assistance at the polls from the person of their choice. This person cannot be the voter’s employer, an agent of the voter’s employer, or an agent or officer of the voter’s union.
  • It’s illegal to intimidate voters and a federal crime to “intimidate, threaten, [or] coerce … any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of [that] other person to vote or to vote as he may choose.” — If someone is heckling you or another voter, call the voter protection hotline at 1-866-687-8683 and report it to yourlocal election officials

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS TALKING TO THE COPS

Okay fullest of disclosures: Emily doesn’t feel *amazing* about all Know Your Rights information, only because on the front-end, whomever you’d have to exercise knowing your rights against usually doesn’t care that you know your rights (i.e., many police officers aren’t thinking “hmm, you did assert your right against Fourth Amendment searches when I pulled you over and demanded you got out of your car with a gun in my hand. Maybe I won’t search your vehicle.” We wish they would but feels a little far off right now.) 

That being said, it is useful to know and assert your rights for a few key reasons: 

  1. You never know, it really could stop an official from abusing their power in your particular situation. You can and should do whatever you can to keep yourself safe in such situations. Have knowing your rights in your arsenal, there’s no harm to it. 
  2. If your case ever goes to trial (especially in a criminal trial if you are getting arrested), it will always long-term benefit you to have remained silent and asked for a lawyer. 
  3. It keeps all of us safer (again, this is a long-term payout) to know and assert our rights because it grants greater legitimacy to those rights in the first place. 

We recommend reading this quick primer on knowing your rights with police and other government officials as we head into this week, just in case. 

ORGANIZATIONS WE’RE SUPPORTING EXTRA THIS WEEK

Heading into election week, we know that there are a number of groups who will bear the weight of many of the policies in question this election either way. The majority of them are Black, Indigenous, or Immigrant. We wanted to highlight a few first responders (in various areas) that you may not have yet heard of:

COLIBRI CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
The Colibrí Center for Human Rights promotes healing and change by working with families of disappeared migrants to identify and honor those who have lost their lives on the US-Mexico border.

THE OKRA PROJECT
Brings home-cooked and healthy foods to Black trans people, wherever they can reach them. 

THRIVE SS 
Thrive SS is a community support network for Black gay men who are HIV positive. 

SISTER SONG 
Prenatal, reproductive health services, and birth services tailored to the needs of Indigenous women, Black women, and other women of color who struggle with a health care system that is often stacked against them. 

NO MORE DEATHS
No More Deaths is a humanitarian aid group who provides support for migrants passing through the desert between the US and Mexico by dropping water, socks, and other resources along the passage. 

ALLIANCE FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE
Supports those incarcerated because of political activism, border militarization, and US imperialism in many forms. Donations support fiscal sponsorships for grassroots nonprofits working to support incarcerated loved ones, combat environmental racism, or push back against the US’s militarization of Latin America. 

RAICES
RAICES works to defend the lives and safety of refugees and immigrants in the United States. They provide free and low-cost legal services to immigrant and refugee children and families and are leading the legal fight against family separation at the border. 

CULTURAL SURVIVAL COVID RESPONSE
Work on the front lines with Indigenous advocacy groups providing crucial information about COVID-19, legal rights, and community support possibilities. Cultural Survival provides and supports Indigenous communities and their sovereignty across the globe.


SECURE THE BALLOT
We will forever plug our friends at Secure the Ballot as they make voting more accessible for Black, rural, young, and voters of color this election and those to come. 

STRATEGY FOR BLACK LIVES
We will forever plug local grassroots groups led by Black leadership taking to the streets across the US. Our friend Sophonie at Strategy for Black Lives in NYC is one of those leaders. 

BAIL FUNDS ACROSS THE USA
There will be protests this week and therefore there will be arrests. Find bail funds in your area by reading the linked document. 

MUTUAL AID, MUTUAL AID, MUTUAL AID

Literally google “your city, mutual aid fund” and plug in your city. With COVID-19 cases on the rise across the nation, arguably the most contentious US election of all time barrelling toward us, mass unemployment, and white supremacist violence as a real risk in many states, mutual aid has never been more important.

Mutual aid is a form of social and political organization where people take responsibility for caring for one another, basically getting together to meet each other’s survival needs. It’s community care in action: basically, it means individuals get together and fill the gaps that governments have left.

Mutual aid networks provide everything from rides to the polls to grocery or medical deliveries to those who are homebound to helping fix broken appliances. They chip in in times of  unexpected crisis and provide support that a community member has specified they need. Mutual aid funds will be especially important as millions of Americans face the risk of losing their power or water this winter. Mutual aid rocks; we highly recommend you plug in with or donate to your local equivalent. 

It is a weird week and we are not sure what to expect. We probably won’t have all the answers tomorrow night or next weekend or even next month. This is your permission slip to turn off your phone or the notifications on it if you need to, to tune out the pundits when you need a break. We recommend leaning into self care and community care and replacing our inevitable doomscrolling with real check-ins on family and friends (mostly recommending this to ourselves because we are struggling with this too!). We also recommend interrupting your news intake with other interesting stories – this Radiolab episode about square-dancingPineapple’s pantry profiles of women & femmes of color in the food world, literally anything Sam Irby has ever written (seriously, if you don’t get her ‘who’s on judge mathis today‘ email, you are missing out). 

Rooting for everyone working toward a more just state, nation, and world this week. 

In Solidarity,
Ellie, Emily, and Hayden

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