5 for Friday: Activate
What a week. Another school shooting, another failure for meaningful progress on immigration, another week of chipping away at rights and justice while offering platitudes and prayers instead of policy and action.
I've had enough. Actually, I had enough a long time ago but I am #overit right now. I shouldn't have to assess elementary schools' active shooter safety drills as part of deciding where my son will go to kindergarten. I shouldn't have to comfort my neighbor when she puts her kid on the bus because she's putting on a brave face but scared out of her mind.
We shouldn't have to worry that our children will be scarred by being ripped away from their family members, either in a hailstorm of bullets or by deportation officials breaking down their doors. We shouldn't have to wonder if we'll go to the pharmacy for a prescription and find it's no longer covered by our insurance. We shouldn't have to live in fear that making our own decisions about our bodies will be criminalized.
We shouldn't have to live in a country where our elected officials make decisions that affect our safety and the safety of our children based on the organizations that line their pockets and fill their campaign coffers.
There's good out there and there are good people trying to do the right things, but it's incumbent on all of us to act. Read on.
Guns. It's hard to know where to start. Of course there's the Parkland, FL shooting, but that's only the beginning of the mess in which we find ourselves. There's the epidemic that is mass shootings in America. There are a lot of ways to look at why it happens here but I'm going to go ahead and TL;DR it for you: we have a serious problem with the accessibility of guns. Here's a bunch of charts to elaborate/depress you.
In Minnesota: Last year saw some nasty bills introduced at the legislature, including a Stand Your Ground bill. We'll see what we're in for this year but many are fearful we'll see more gun-rights legislation in an off-budget year.
Action you can take now: Know how much your representatives have taken from the gun lobby. Remember that your voice matters. Advocate for sensible policies next week as the 2018 legislative session begins.
Immigration. Yesterday the Senate failed to move forward with anything resembling a deal on immigration. Although a judge blocked ending DACA, the Supreme Court is quietly meeting today to discuss it. There's a March 5 renewal deadline coming fast and the bottom line is that we have 3.6 million people who are hanging in limbo. Here's a look at the change in immigration arrests between 2016 and 2017 -- St. Paul saw some of the biggest increases in ICE arrests.
In Minneapolis: The upcoming national census is making many residents fearful of being honest. Mayor Jacob Frey recently joined 160 other mayors across the country to oppose the inclusion of a citizenship question. The city is also adding an immigration staffer to help support Minneapolis residents facing immigration issues.
Action you can take now: Honestly, this one is a mess. It's up to our Republican-strangled Congress at the moment and they cannot seem to find the empathy to act. If you have reps who oppose it, contact them. If you have relatives who live in reps' districts who oppose it, get them to make a call. Don't back down. Check out ACLU MN for more ways to help Minnesota Dreamers.
Reproductive Justice. Planned Parenthood appears to be going on the offensive in many states to expand rights and access, which is great but also an uphill battle, especially when you consider continued examples of penalizing women for...being women. Color me shocked that our president hasn't put focus on expanding rights for women's health and rights.
In Minnesota: Planned Parenthood provided a nice summary of what happened at least year's legislative session and what we might look forward to this year.
Action you can take now: NARAL has some great tools for tracking policies and discussions, as well as looking up who represents you and how they've acted in the past. You can also sign on for Pro-Choice Lobby Day March 1.
Healthcare. Linked with reproductive justice is, of course, the broader healthcare discussion. Although the bigger attempts to completely repeal the ACA have died down, there's more than one way to be terrible, terrible people: strip funding for example. The proposed federal budget would take on the Affordable Care Act by slashing funding, rolling back a Medicaid expansion, and gutting Medicare. Additionally, there are some truly terrible ideas on the table about how to demean those who need food assistance -- healthy food/diets/choices plays a vital role in healthcare, after all.
In Minnesota: Attorney General Lori Swanson's office joined New York and other plaintiffs in suing the Trump administration for its cuts to funding, especially cuts that hurt the working poor.
Action you can take now: Take Action MN has some good ideas to get you started, including a workshop next week. Same as everything else on this list, however, keep calling your reps and telling them this is important to you and those you love. "Keeping" the ACA only to cut it down through demeaning cuts isn't ok.
Civil Rights. This really runs the gamut of all described above, but don't forget about your rights and liberties, y'all! They're up for grabs with this administration. Time describes Trump's first year as an 'affront' to civil rights and that seems generous, TBH. Slate calls it systemic 'dismantling' of all that Obama did on this topic.
In Duluth: Administrators at Duluth schools have dropped Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird from their curriculum in order to better serve students made uncomfortable with some language used in these novels. Some call it censorship but others have pointed to the fact that we have many more literary options when it comes to discussing racism in America -- we can teach these themes without invoking language that is oppressive, racist, and insensitive to the world we live in today. This is just one example but one that carries a lot of weight when we consider how we can take back that which is being chipped away by our administration.
Action you can take now: Sign up for ACLU action texts. Try out the Resist Bot. Read this amazing interview with the one and only RBG and stay focused, stay passionate, and for cripe's sake VOTE.
That's it for this week, everybody. We hope you feel motivated to get out and get your voice heard. We started Apparatus as a public benefit corporation so that we could do work that invigorated us and also helped ensure decency, justice, and the most public good possible. However you decide to act (and we hope you will), do it with your whole self. This is not a time to be quiet and complacent, it is a time to be heard.