Human Rights Activism Opportunities

  • Stop HR 620: Tell Congress to #ProtectADA via @NDRNAdvocates

    No_way_not_my_ada_edited.pngThere is little enforcement of the nearly 27 year old Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the A.D.A. Every time their civil rights are infringed upon, citizens with disabilities must fight to defend those rights in court. That’s not an ideal situation, but it’s often the path that produces more immediate results in the society we live in. 

    The reality is that businesses, even after 27 years, continue to blatantly ignore ADA compliance. And now, a bi-partisan backed bill has been re-introduced by Representative Ted Poe of Texas that will weaken the one tool available to people with disabilities fighting for their civil rights, and the primary way the ADA is enforced. 

    HR 620, or the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, was born out of complaints from business owners that a cottage industry of legal firms has popped up to capitalize on the ADA by filing a multitude of what they deem to be “frivolous” law suits that hurt businesses.

    So, in an attempt to “protect business owners” who are already violating the law, HR 620 puts even more of a burden on the person whose rights are being violated. If this bill passes, a disabled person must first be denied access; then must determine that violations of the law have occurred; then must provide the business with specific written notice of which provisions of the law were violated and when; and finally, the aggrieved person with the disability must afford the business a lengthy period to correct the problem. The person whose civil rights are being ignored would have to endure and do all of this before they could even file a lawsuit. 

    The legislation failed to pass the House last year due to successful activism from the disability community to squelch it, but under a new administration it has reared its head again.

    In a letter to lawmakers, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities wrote, “If, after 27 years, a business has continued to not comply with the requirements of this legislation, why should a person have to wait more time for enforcement of their civil rights? Should an individual who is not allowed to enter a restaurant because of their race, gender or religion, have to wait before seeking to enforce their civil rights?” 

    You can help kill this bill again, and perhaps for good, by calling your legislators today and telling them you will not stand for legislation that weakens the ADA and puts more burden on the very people it aims to protect, while businesses continue to violate a 27 year old civil rights law. Get up to speed on the bill, read the statements from the disability community, and watch and share videos about the importance of the ADA and how we can build on it, on the National Disability Rights Network website at NDRN.org

    So, if defending civil rights for all is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about telling congress to protect the Americans with Disabilities Act via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION 

    Visit the NDRN website to read up on the response to HR 620 and learn what you can do to protect the ADA

    Call Congress, especially the 14 co-sponsors of HR 620 (7 Republicans, 7 Democrats) 

    Learn more about disability culture and experiences through personal stories via Disability Visibility Project and about the importance of disabled people in public service via #CriptheVote.

    EDUCATE YOURSELF  

    HR 620: ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (via Countable.us) 

    Overview of Concerns on HR 620 (via NDRN.org)

    Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Letter of Opposition for ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, HR 620 (via NDRN.org)

    People with Disabilities Battle Trump (via Workers World)

    Denham bill would fight ADA lawsuit abuse (via Central Valley Business Journal)

     

    Posted April 11, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman 

     

    Hear the segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1094: An identity group that any one of us might join at any time (Disability Rights)

  • Tap Into the Tools for ‘The Resistance’

    Tech_for_Resistance_Image.pngThis activism update is about taking advantage of some of the tools that are helping make that Resistance movement strong, efficient and agile. Some of these tools have been around for a while while others sprung up after the election, but all of them are helping more informed voices be heard more often. Here are a few of our favorite websites and apps that can help you get informed, contact legislators and make change. 

    5Calls.org is all about simplicity and speed. The site gives you everything you need to make up to 5 calls to elected officials in 5 minutes. The most urgent progressive issues that need attention are listed on the left side of the screen and when you click the one you’re interested in, you’re instantly provided with a description of the issue, the name and phone number for the first elected official you need to call based on your zip code, and a call script. With 5Calls.org, you can be an active participant in The Resistance before your lunch is done reheating in the office microwave. 

    Countable.us focuses on information. Countable was born out of the idea that it shouldn’t be so hard to understand what your elected officials are up to and it should be even easier to hold them accountable for their votes. The nonpartisan site provides clear, succinct summaries of upcoming and active legislation, allows you to directly tell your lawmakers how to vote on the issues, and makes it easy to follow up on how your lawmaker actually voted. They also streamline the process of contacting your lawmaker on every issue you read about and allow for easy social sharing. You do have to create a login to take action on this site, but if you want to really know what’s going on on the floor of Congress, it’s worth it. If you work for a progressive organization, you may also want to check out their embeddable advocacy widget for your website. 

    If you want to know when it’s time to get in the streets, you can stay up to date on the latest direct actions happening near you with ResistanceCalendar.org. This is basically the unofficial online calendar of The Resistance at the local level. Just search the keyword for an issue you care about, or the city you live in, and select the month and you’ll see a pinboard of related events. You can also view the results in chronological order and in full calendar view. Got an event you’re planning? You can also easily submit it to the Resistance Calendar.

    Next, if you’re feeling like you might need a little more guidance to flex your activism muscles, you’ll find it at ResistanceManual.org, a project by Stay Woke. If the site looks like a Wikipedia page, that’s because it is. It’s Wikipedia for activism. They are crowdsourcing resources, information and tools to create a robust, curated go-to resource for The Resistance. Don’t worry - everything is reviewed and approved before it goes live. The site is full of updates on the latest Trump atrocities and how you can resist, but they also have a section called “Tools of Resistance” that includes tips and resources on contacting elected officials, organizing, planning events, and even self-care tools. 

    We haven't scratched the surface of what is out there. So if you want to find more tools, we recommend heading over to ActionAlliance.co, a collaboration of call-to-action websites and apps. It is a simple, one page website that has categorized and linked to a wide variety of online tools - including some of the ones mentioned above - that are helping The Resistance stay on top of the issues. Find the ones that are right for you and make them part of your Resistance plan. 

    So, if keeping The Resistance efficient, effective and informed is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Tapping Into the Tools for ‘The Resistance’ via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

     

    TAKE ACTION

    5Calls.org 

    Countable.us

    ResistanceCalendar.org

    ResistanceManual.org

    ActionAlliance.co

    READ: "Your Guide to the Sprawling New Anti-Trump Resistance Movement" (via The Nation)

     

    Posted March 31, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman. 

     

    Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1091: Progressives fighting on multiple fronts (The Resistance)

  • Demand the Trump Administration Take Action to Fight Anti-Semitism via @ADL_National

    No_place_for_hate.jpgLast week, all 100 members of the Senate sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the FBI calling on them to address the string of bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers, Jewish Day Schools and Synagogues, and desecration of Jewish cemeteries, across the country. Around the same time 100 leaders of Jewish Community Centers wrote to Jeff Sessions expressing their frustration at the lack of federal level involvement in the investigations. 

    Days later, the Department of Homeland Security finally pledged to investigate these crimes. Though their more than two month delayed response has been duly noted by all. 

    The lack of any serious action by Trump and the Feds prompted the Anti-Defamation League to basically do the work for them. In a post on the ADL Blog and Medium, the CEO and National Director of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, proposed a nine point plan of action for the Trump administration to address anti-semitism, while also calling out Trump for his reluctance to address it.

    Greenblatt wrote, “Whether invective is coming from the Extreme Right or the Radical Left, it is irresponsible for leaders to shrug aside the slander and write off hateful threats or bomb scares as “empty hoaxes.” In an environment where there is no price to be paid for prejudice, bigots will continue to turn up the dial.”

    The ADL plan includes the appointment of a new White House coordinator for fighting hate, a DOJ directive encouraging state and local law enforcement agencies to train officers on handling hate crimes, clarification from DHS on its Countering Violent Extremism program to ensure it encompasses all forms of extremism, increased Department of Education funding for anti-bias, anti-hate content in schools, and more. 

    You can make sure the Trump Administration is forced to address these proposed actions by sharing this plan widely on social media, as well as with your local Representatives, and especially your Senators, who all signed on to the letter to DHS, DOJ and the FBI. To see the post, go to the ADL Blog under the “News” tab on ADL dot org, or get the link from our show notes.

    Again, we want to ask that you help us in our work to amplify the most effective activism. If you have come across an action or a new organization that is doing great work getting people engaged to resist the Trump agenda, please share it with us by emailing Amanda@bestoftheleft.com.  

    The segment notes include all the links to this information as well as additional resources and, as always, this and every activism segment we produce is archived and organized under the activism tab at Best of the Left dot com. 

    So, if fighting hate in all its forms is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Demanding the Trump Administration Take Action to Fight Anti-Semitism via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

    There’s no better time to take a page out of Anne Frank’s Diary: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” 

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Share the ADL's 9 step plan for the Trump administration to fight anti-semitism on social media

    Send the plan to your Representatives and Senators and demand they fight for action 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    President Trump: Time for a Plan of Action to Fight the Surge of Anti-Semitism (ADL.org)

    Anti-Semitism in the United States (ADL.org)

    Letter from Senate to DOJ, DHS and FBI (Peters.senate.gov)

    Homeland Security Finally Vows To Fully Join Investigation Into ‘Hate-Inspired Attacks’ (Huffington Post)

    After a new wave of anti-Semitic attacks, White House appears skeptical about anti-Semitism (Vox)

    A Sixth Wave Of Bomb Threats Has Hit Jewish Centers Around The United States (BuzzFeed News)

    Muslim Fundraiser to Repair Jewish Cemetery Raises $100k (NBC News)

     

    Posted March 10, 2017; Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman. 

     

    Hear this segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1086: Unleashing the demons (Anti-Semitism)

  • Get Trained for the Resistance via @ShowUp4RJ

    the-first-task-of-whites-in-these-struggles-is-to-be-vocal-and-visible-anne-braden.jpg

    You're a listener of this show, so you’re already paying attention and you understand what the country is facing under a Trump administration. But if you've never taken the next step to get involved in activism in the past, we want to remind you today that you, of all people, at all the times in history - ESPECIALLY if you are white - have no excuse not to take action today.

    You cannot rely on the people who already consider themselves activists or the people who will be targeted to get in the streets, stand up for themselves and those under attack and fight Trump and his followers for the next four years. If you do, you will be complicit in America's downfall. Because it doesn't matter anymore if you voted for Bernie, Hillary, Johnson or Stein. We all lost on November 8th - even Trump voters. They just don't know it yet. And that's just the sick reality of it.

    In less than 70 days, Trump will be sworn in as president of the United States. But as you've heard today, his impact is already being felt. So what are you going to do? Here’s a better question - how will you be part of changing our culture so this can’t happen again? 

    Your first step is to go to ShowingUpforRacialJustice.org. Also known as SURJ, Showing Up for Racial Justice is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ Action moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. Their focus is inviting in those who are simply uneducated about racism instead of spending time calling out those ill informed people when they misstep. 

    White people elected Trump. So to write them off in our resistance movement would be absurd. We want the “moveable white middle” to join us. We want them to see the mutual benefits of equality for all races, genders, religions and abilities. That means engaging in a conversation with them and inviting them to join us in standing up for people of color, the LGBTIA+ community, immigrants, refugees, the disabled and women with mass demonstrations across the country.

    As civil rights activist Anne Braden once said...

    “The battle is and always has been a battle for the hearts and minds of white people in this country...We need to become involved with it as if our lives depended on it because really, in truth, they do.”

    On the SURJ Action website, you can get resources on organizing, find a SURJ chapter in your community or start one, and sign up for in person or on the phone direct action and organizing trainings. Right now, many SURJ chapters across the country are currently offering direct action trainings in their communities and the national office is offering training conference calls into December. 

    SURJ is about educating those who are new to activism. So if this is your first time, don’t be nervous - they want you to be prepared. Because when activists are prepared and organized, they are effective. And that has never been more important. 

    So if resisting racism, fascism and authoritarianism is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Getting Trained for the Resistance by Showing Up for Racial Justice via social media so that others in your network can take action too.

    So stand up. Fight back. There is no time to lose.

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Find a SURJ chapter near you (or start one) 

    Sign up for SURJ national training conference calls

    Get resources from SURJ 

    Sign up to volunteer with SURJ

    Find a SURJ action near you or post your own

    EDUCATE YOURSELF 

    White People Elected Trump. Now What?

    Finding Common Ground with Trump Supporters in Buffalo

     

    Posted November 18, 2016; Written by BOTL Communication Director, Amanda Hoffman.

     

    Hear the clip in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1059: "Hatred Unleashed"

  • Keep the Pressure on Congress to #BeBoldEndHyde via @AllAboveAll

    Ctob2h5WcAQuF9A.pngWe know this story all too well. Forty years ago, a rich white man wrote and passed a law that negatively impacted the health and welfare of women in poverty for decades to come…and of course, it disproportionately harms people of color, immigrants, the LGBT community, young people and rural communities.

    Thanks to Mr. Hyde and his “Hyde Amendment,” it is against the federal law for government funds to cover even one cent of the cost of a safe, legal abortion - effectively putting abortion out of reach for millions on Medicaid. As Maine state Senator Dave Miramant wrote this month, “The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed women’s rights to choose for themselves when to start a family back in 1973. But a right isn’t really a right when it’s dictated by how much money you make.”

    Right now, nearly one in six women of reproductive age are enrolled in the federal Medicaid program. Fifteen states currently have policies that provide state Medicaid coverage of an abortion, but 60% of women on federal Medicaid do not live in those states. And it’s important to note that Transgender people are living in poverty at four times the national average with Medicaid as their only option.  

    But Hyde is not just harming those on Medicaid. It has provided a path for anti-choice politicians to add abortion coverage and funding bans to appropriations language that restricts Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollees, federal employees and their dependents, Peace Corps volunteers, Native Americans, women in federal prisons and detention centers - including those detained for immigration purposes - women who receive health care from community health centers, survivors of human trafficking and low-income women in Washington, D.C. 

    The organization All Above All is leading the fight to end the Hyde Amendment. Not only are they educating the country about the devastating impacts of Hyde with fact sheets, videos and articles, but they are taking direct action on the state and local level to pass resolutions that would allow abortion coverage. Visit allaboveall.org and click “Act” to sign up, find resources and join in on state and local actions near you. You can also engage by spreading All Above All’s resources and facts on social media and using the hashtag #BeBoldEndHyde to encourage politicians to stand up for the reproductive rights of those in poverty.

    For the first time, repealing the Hyde Amendment is part of the Democratic Party’s platform, but it is up to us to hold them to it. We encourage you to make fighting for reproductive justice part of your theory of change by getting involved in the long term with organizations like All Above All, Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America and other organizations fighting to provide everyone with the reproductive healthcare access and coverage they deserve. 

    So if making sure people can make their own healthcare decisions is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Keeping the Pressure on Congress to Be Bold and End the Hyde Amendment via social media so that others in your network can take action too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION!

    Get involved with All Above All actions on the state and local level

    Share All Above All resources on social media with #BeBoldEndHyde 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    What Women Do When They Can't Afford an Abortion (Broadly.vice.com)

    What are your state's laws when it comes to abortion coverage? (AllAboveAll.org) 

    All Above All's Hyde Amendment Fact Sheet (AllAboveAll.org)

    Term And Partial Birth Abortions: The Mythical Arch-Nemeses Of The Anti-Choice Movement (HuffingtonPost.com)

    Tim Kaine Now Backs Lifting the Hyde Amendment Banning Abortion Funding (NBCNews.com)

     

     Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.

     

    Hear this segment in the context of the latest Best of the Left Edition #1052: The policies we have vs. the policies we need (Reproductive Rights)