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Why Voting Matters in the Fight for Justice
Statement from Andy Pond, President and CEO of JRI
From now until November, our focus is on VOTING—in person or by mail-in ballot. The clearest pathway toward racial justice and empowerment of oppressed and marginalized people is to elect legislators—all levels—who share our values, who will support the legal and economic actions needed to confront and stem the tide of race-based violence and discrimination, who will support the values that we endorse, including principles of the Black Lives Matter movement.
While as a nonprofit JRI cannot endorse individual candidates, we will encourage every person in the JRI community to engage, educate themselves, and support the candidates of their choice. Register to vote.
The work includes helping ensure broader representation of women and people of color among the ranks of elected officials.
This next election matters--at all levels--more than any in recent memory. Despite the frustration and stress brought on by the confluence of a pandemic and the slow pace of change--we need to translate our anger and grief into concrete action.
While we focus on the immediate need to get people registered and ensure their votes are counted, we have ongoing commitments as well:
- We will work for racial justice in our own programs and advocate for it with the systems that we are a part of through our funders, regulators and trade organizations.
- We will work to support legislation at the local, state, and national level that will save black lives, including police reform, and the deployment of financial resources to address the historic economic inequities that have plagued Black communities since the founding of the US.
- Many of us have joined ongoing peaceful protests, and we encourage others to join us if they feel safe enough to do so.
- Be safe—we need you to be here to fight tomorrow
JRI is Rocking the Vote, join us in building the political power of young people.
Not sure if you're registered to vote? Use the voter registration look-up tool.
Massachusetts Elections Division
Learn more about where to vote, voting by mail, early voting and more.
Here are some voting resources that might be particularly useful for LGBTQ+ folks:
Learn more about voter ID in your state
Voter ID laws can create barriers for trans and nonbinary folks, who may not have a photo ID that matches their gender identity.
Learn how to vote without a home address
Many LGBTQ+ people experience housing instability or homelessness, which can make it difficult to register to vote.
Check your voter registration status
Have you moved recently or changed your legal name? Check here to make sure your registration is accurate.
Update your name with Rock the Vote
We’re committed to making sure our emails and text messages accurately reflect your name and gender identity. Let us know any time if you need to update it!
What else can you do?
Pledge to vote in every election – then help 3 friends do the same. A reminder to vote can make all the difference, especially when it comes from a friend. Pledge to vote on the Rock the Vote website, then let them know the three friends you'll remind to vote before Election Day.
Get election reminders. We’ll remind you of upcoming election dates and deadlines in your area, so that you never miss an election.
JRI and William James College
JRI and William James College have partnered to expand and develop the ‘pipeline’ of candidates that reflect the diversity and lived experience of the communities we serve. With William James, and with other colleges and universities, we have found partners that share our social justice mission, our commitment to racial equity, and our dedication to culturally competent services. A very important part of this effort is to substantially reduce the cost of education. By helping student/employees to avoid crippling college debt, many of these new partnerships alongside JRI are making careers in nonprofit work more attractive to a broader and more diverse base of individuals.” - Andy Pond, CEO of JRI
Upcoming Protests and Events
- Ongoing Black Lives Matter protest in Ashland
- Walpole Peace and Justice Standout- twice a week: Saturdays 10am-11:30am and Wednesdays 5pm-6pm. Here is a link to their Facebook page.
- Framingham Group Plans Weekly Black Lives Matter Demonstrations. The demonstrators plan to stand at a busy downtown Framingham intersection on a weekly basis. Learn more.
- Framingham Black Lives Matter Protest, Saturday August 8th. Learn more.
- Kids, Race and Racism, August 11th, 7pm, A Q&A discussion with antiracist educator and parent Melissa Patrick, MSW. For parents and caregivers who are curious about how to talk to their kids about race and racism. Learn more or register for Kids, Race and Racism.
- Peace-ing it Together: Examine Racism Stereotypes and the Root Cause of Violence, August 17th, 20th and 21st. Register or learn more about Peace-ing it Together.
- Raising Free Black, non-Black Indigenous, and People of Color Children. This is a free event on August 26th from 2pm-3pm. Register or learn more.
- Black Lives Matter Convention, Aug. 28 via a live broadcast. It will feature conversations, performances and other events designed to develop a set of demands ahead of the November general election. Learn More about the Black Lives Matter Convention.
- 2020 5K Run & Walk for Racial Justice Virtual Edition - September 16-20, We are running and walking to combat longstanding institutional inequities by raising funds to help two organizations that work to support and uplift our most vulnerable Boston residents: Violence in Boston and the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy. Register for the Run / Walk.
Legislation Supported by JRI
You can find contact info for your state legislator here: https://malegislature.gov/search/findmylegislator And then call or email to ask that they support:
- An Act to Save Black Lives (HD5128, filed by Rep. Liz Miranda & SD2968, filed by Sen. Cynthia Creem) This bill would re-write the rules on use of force and establish serious, enforceable consequences for violations. It would reduce the role of police in situations where social interventions are safer and more effective; require police to use de-escalation techniques and tactics; limit force to the minimum amount necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose; require that any use of force be proportional; require other officers to intervene if they witness an excessive use of force; and ban police use of choke holds, rubber bullets, tear gas, attack dogs, and no-knock warrants. It would also mandate data collection on injuries and deaths caused by police and other law enforcement officers, make records of police misconduct public, and explicitly recognize that police violence is a danger to public health. Detailed summary of the bill.
- An Act to Secure Civil Rights (H.3277, filed by Rep. Michael Day) This bill would fix the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act to enable people whose rights have been violated to secure redress in court. Laws and policies that are supposed to hold police accountable are meaningless without a strong enforcement mechanism. The MCRA is supposed to be that mechanism, but unfortunately the current law is broken. This bill would fix language in the statute requiring a plaintiff to show that a violation of rights was accompanied by “threats, intimidation or coercion,” which courts have interpreted to let officers off the hook for many direct violations of rights, even ones involving terrible physical abuse. It would also eliminate in Massachusetts the judicial doctrine known as “qualified immunity,” which shields police from liability if the right that was violated was not “clearly established.” Today, it is not uncommon for courts to acknowledge that the police violated a constitutional right, but still fail to hold the officer liable because of qualified immunity. MCRA Examples
- Ten point plan to combat systemic racism Elected officials of color developed a 10 point plan to combat systemic racism in policing and police brutality.
- Reform, Shift + Build Act, released by the Senate. This race equity and policing bill expands the eligibility for expungement. Here's more information on the expungement law.
- The House Ways and Means Committee released its FY 20 Supplemental Budget proposal. Please click here to ask your Representative to co-sponsor Rep. Decker's amendment (#7) to provide short-term relief for families and individuals in deep poverty. A fact sheet is available here. This amendment would provide a one-time immediate payment to Massachusetts’ 33,000 families with children who receive Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) benefits and 21,000 elders and persons with disabilities who receive Emergency Aid to Elders, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) benefits. Payments would equal the maximum grant for the household size (e.g., $593 for a family of 3 or $303 for an elder or disabled individual).
An Act Putting Patients First, proposes a number of healthcare reforms, including key provisions related to rendering services via telehealth.
Designation Act of 2020 (H.R. 4191/S. 2661) would designate 9-8-8 as the new three-digit mental health and National Suicide Prevention Hotline number.
- The Need to Claim a Student-Centered School Safety Narrative. Please call and email your State Representative and State Senator today to claim a student-centered "school safety" narrative by telling them:
All available evidence does not support the argument that police in schools make them safer;
Their presence is instead tied to increased arrest, disproportionately targeting students of color, for low-level offenses;
The presence of and interactions with police in schools have a negative impact on students' academic achievement and mental health, and creates an environment of fear and distrust;
School police are NOT counselors: students do not have any confidentiality protections in dealings with school police as they do with counselors and mental health professionals.
- Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty, H.102 (Decker) and S.36 (DiDomenico). These bills will raise cash assistance grants in Massachusetts by 10% per year until they reach 50% of the federal poverty level. Current grant levels are woefully inadequate - for example, the maximum for a family of 3 is only $593 per month. This leaves families struggling to meet their children's most basic needs, like housing, food and diapers.
Learning and Historical Material
- Jailed in America, Why Slavery? How do prisons make a profit from crime? In the last 30 years, America’s prison population has surged from 330,000 to 2.3 million inmates. In this deeply personal and provocative film, Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams sets out on a mission to investigate the prison system that has helped drive this explosive web of political, social, and economic forces that have consumed so many of Roger’s friends and family. Watch the film.
- What is Juneteenth? This short video provides a very good explanation.
- The History of Juneteenth - Visit the Juneteenth.com website
- Black Wall Street: The African American Haven that Burned and then Rose from the Ashes This article is a story of the white supremacist violence in Tulsa and an illustrated version
- New York Times Podcast: 1619 “1619” is a New York Times audio series, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, that examines the long shadow of American slavery. Listen here
- Not Just Tulsa: Five Other Race Massacres That Devastated Black America There is a long history of white terrorism destroying Black Communities. Read the article.
- Uneducated & Unwelcome: The GI Bill in the Segregated South America's unequal implementation of the GI bill is a major reason why there is a huge wealth gap between white families and families of color today. Blacks were disproportionately denied employment benefits, job training, education and home ownership. Whites had access to those things and were able to build generational wealth. Learn more.
- Rhode Island To Remove "Providence Plantations" from State's Name Providence Plantation Evokes a Legacy of Slavery
- What is Owed? This article from the NYT magazine by Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the 1619 Project discusses what is owed to black Americans in order for justice and equality to be achieved. Read here.
- NPR: 'Interrupt The Systems': Robin DiAngelo On 'White Fragility' And Anti-Racism, 20 minute podcast
- Pop Sugar: 10 Things Parents Should Know About Talking to Kids About Systemic Oppression
- Center for American Progress: Systemic Inequality: Displacement, Exclusion, and Segregation. How America's Housing System Undermines Wealth Building in Communities of Color
- Center for American Progress: Mass Incarceration, Stress, and Black Infant Mortality. A Case Study in Structural Racism
- The New Yorker: My Mother’s Dreams for Her Son, and All Black Children. She longed for black people in America not to be forever refugees—confined by borders that they did not create and by a penal system that killed them before they died. 34 minute podcast
- Washington Post: Perspective: My daughter reminded me that black joy is a form of resistance
- Washington Post: What five black fathers are saying to their children about this historic moment
- Watch Good Trouble, the new documentary about Congressman John Lewis' lifelong fight for voting access and civil rights.
"Public Charge" Rule Temporarily Blocked
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a temporary injunction against the Public Charge rule effective July 29, 2020. This order bars the implementation, application, and enforcement of the Public Charge rule nationwide so long as there is a declared national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
USCIS has alos announced that immigrants can seek testing, treatment, and prevention of COVID-19 without fearing immigration consequences due to public charge For more information about the public charge rule please visit the Protecting Immigrant Families website. Links to additional resources are provided below. Immigrant Eligibility for Public Programs During COVID-19 (Leer en español)
How to Protect Yourself and Your Family as DACA ends
DACA Announcement Reaction Toolkit
What Do I Need to Know About the End of DACA
Department of Homeland Security: FAQ About Rescission of DACA
DREAM Act Toolkit https://dreamacttoolkit.org/
FWD.us: Resource that helps you contact your congressman. Also gives other resources for advocacy and political involvement
Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) http://e4fc.org/
Immigrant Legal Resource Center https://www.ilrc.org/
Immigrant Raid Resources:
CLASP Immigration Raid Resources
National Immigration Law Center How to Be Prepared for an Immigration Raid
National Immigrant Justice Center Community Resources
United We Dream Know Your Power, Know Your Rights
Cosecha: Advocacy group requesting fund to continue the fight for DACA students. Support the Fight Financially.
United We Dream Network
DRUM - Desis Rising Up & Moving
Student Immigrant Movement - local Boston organization for undocumented students
Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)
Other Resources and Information
MetroWest Health Foundation releases report, "Racism and Public Health: A Connection Rooted in Structural Inequities". Clear data and straightforward conclusions from a community organization working with Metro West communities to address racial disparities in healthcare.
Equity Matters: Mental Health - Switching the Focus from Access to Re-thinking the Delivery System - a blog post from MetroWest Health Foundation
Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protests Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protests
Know Your Rights: What to do if you’re stopped by police, immigration agents, or the FBI Know your rights (English)
Conozca sus derechos: parado/a por la policia, agentes de inmigracios o el FBI Know your rights (Spanish)
Letters for Black Lives: an open letter project on anti-blackness (a set of crowdsourced, multilingual, and culturally-aware resources aimed at creating a space for open and honest conversations about racial justice, police violence, and anti-Blackness in our families and communities)
Photos from Protests and Events