Human Rights Activism Opportunities

  • #4EACHOfUs to #EndHyde via @AllAboveAll @NLIRH — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: supporting the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act.

    This legislation — which has the unfortunately trans-exclusionary nickname “the EACH Woman Act” — is the first national legislation to explicitly affirm the right to abortion care. Roe v Wade may have decriminalized abortion, but the complete lack of anything resembling an affirmative right in the legislature or from the Supreme Court is what has allowed 231 abortion restrictions to pass in just the past four years — not to mention practically perpetual investigations of Planned Parenthood.

    Coverage bans — restrictions on whether a patient’s health insurance provider is allowed to reimburse for abortion care — are the height of every kind of discrimination I rail against on this show. The poor, communities of color, immigrants, people living on reservations, the undocumented — basically all the people who already have barriers to healthcare and significant economic disadvantages — are hit the hardest.

    Grassroots organizing lead by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (or URGE), and the National Network of Abortion Funds along with new polling commissioned by All* Above All showing Americans — by a 24-point margin — think politicians shouldn’t be able to deny abortion care to someone just because they’re poor came together to create a historic press conference this summer. More than 70 members of Congress signed on to co-sponsor the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act introduced by Representatives Lee, DeGette, and Schakowsky. Many stood in front of cameras to declare that abortion is a right and demanded an end to this dangerous discrimination.

    Even if this legislation can’t get past the GOP’s dangerously anti-choice leadership, having a coalition this size put their names on a bill that doesn’t shy away from the word “abortion” is a huge deal and those members of Congress deserve your support. You can encourage your representatives to sign-on through the form at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health website — LatinaInstitute.org. If your reps are already supporters, likely All* Above All has included them in their “All In” social media campaign, so post the graphic at AllAboveAll.org thanking them to your networks with the inclusive hashtag #4EACHOfUs. Show favorite Barbara Lee’s graphic is up in our feeds if you don’t have a congressman of your own to thank.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Add your name in support of #4EACHOfUs: "Write your member of Congress today!” via the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

    Thank the #4EACHOfUs co-sponsors via All* Above All’s 100 Days For Coverage Campaign

    Sources/further reading:

    "Widespread Public Support Bolsters Bill to End Restrictions on Abortion Coverage” via Truthout

    "New Year, Same as the Old Year? 2015 Reproductive Rights Preview”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #952 "The battle rages whether you pay attention or not (Reproductive Justice)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #HungerActionMonth via @FeedingAmerica — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Hunger Action Month.

    One in six Americans struggles with hunger. As highlighted before on this show, that number hardly fluctuates no matter what’s happening with job numbers, the stock market or the economy. Our capitalist system has created a sizable class of people — an estimated 49 million right now — who can’t take for granted that they’ll eat tomorrow. Until we can fundamentally change this system, people will go hungry.

    Hunger Action Month is the perfect time to push back on all the right-wing and center-left poverty shaming tropes. Feeding America — a fantastic organization that provides over 3 billion meals annually and reaches nearly every community in the country — has fantastic graphics, memes, educational materials, and social media campaigns available to share with your networks.

    Feeding America has also rebranded September: #Spoontember. To raise awareness and encourage people to volunteer, Feeding America is calling for selfies with a spoon balanced on your nose. We all know silly works on social media: buckets of ice water raised over $100 million for ALS research, after all. So take a selfie, tag @FeedingAmerica on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and include the stats on the campaign page at FeedingAmerica.org in your post.

    You can also support the Thunderclap scheduled for Hunger Action Day Thursday, September 3rd by clicking the link in the segment notes and in the Feeding America Facebook and Twitter feeds. It only takes ten seconds and your social media post will go out as a blast alongside other supporters, potentially reaching millions by helping the hashtag go viral.

    If you’ve been meaning to volunteer, but like most of us, forget or are reluctant to get involved with something new, take the opportunity during a month when many of the other volunteers will be new as well. You can all be unsure of yourselves together — and what better cause than feeding hungry people. FeedingAmerica.org will connect you to your local food bank, or, if in-person engagement isn’t viable for you, help you run a virtual food drive.

    You can also ask your members of Congress to visit a food bank from the Feeding America home page. There’s no expiration date on this action as residents of all 3,143 U.S. counties experience food insecurity — making this an epidemic in the richest nation on the planet.

    Whatever level of involvement you’re able to take makes a difference in helping end stigma, raise money, and push toward a better, more sustainable system.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Join one (or all!) of @FeedingAmerica’s #HungerActionMonth campaigns.

    Take TEN SECONDS to support Feeding America’s #Spoontember Thunderclap!

    Sources/further reading:

    "Hunger and Poverty Fact Sheet” via Feeding America

    "49 Million Americans Live With This — So Why Are We So Uncomfortable Talking About It?” via .Mic

    "Our Perceptions About the “Unworthy Poor” Haven’t Changed” via TalkPoverty

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #949 "Throwing away food while people starve (Poverty)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy via @EFF — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy.

    People prefer to be anonymous online for a number of reasons — not all of them so that they can troll and leave comments without reprisal. Groups and individuals who do the majority of their social justice organizing and fundraising don’t link their personal information — names, addresses, etc. — to their websites to prevent targeting by opposition and law enforcement.

    Business like Time Warner and Walt Disney — claiming they need recourse for copyright infringement — have lobbied the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (or, ICANN) to end the proxy registration of domains that keeps people’s information private. According to Buzzfeed, the entertainment industry sees proxy registration as a way to covertly steal content while privacy advocates see identity concealment as a way to enable free speech.

    The Online Abuse Prevention Initiative is particularly concerned about the way this potential rule change would affect groups like: women indie gamers who sell their products online, freelance journalists and authors, small business owners who work out of their homes, activists who take donations — especially those who live under totalitarian surveillance states, and people who crowd fund medical procedures using their personal stories to solicit donations.

    The affect on marginalized groups and those without financial resources to protect themselves through the legal system or fight harassment after it’s already begun could change the landscape of online organizing and commerce as well as open up even more people to being doxed.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is, of course, leading the effort to fight the proposal. Their "Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy” petition to ICANN is up at their website, EFF.org, under the “Take Action” tab. By signing their petition, you’ll be asking for ICANN to not only reject the change, but to go further to protect people’s online privacy by creating less costly, easier ways to withhold personal identifying information from online domains.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Preserve Anonymity, Stand Up For Domain Privacy” via the Electronic Frontier Foundation

    Sources/further reading:

    "Icann plan to end website anonymity 'could lead to swatting attacks’” at The Guardian

    "Proposed Domain Name Rule Threatens Website Owner Anonymity” at Buzzfeed

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #946 "What will it take to reverse this trend? (Privacy Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Hold Border Patrol Responsible via @ACLU — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Hold Border Patrol Responsible.

    Republicans have seen the light on immigration reform, the corporate, belt-way media told us earlier this year. Pay no attention to the way they refused to pass anything comprehensive — they see the benefit of incremental, piecemeal legislation and are hoping to appear less xenophobic ahead of the presidential primary season.

    Well — whether we like it or not — primary season is in full swing. And with the House gone for August recess and the Senate right behind them on Friday, this supposed party line shift seems to have been mostly hype. The only members of the GOP weighing in on immigration with any enthusiasm are the primary contenders themselves. Media proclaimed moderate Jeb Bush even seems to be taken seriously despite his throwback go-to line:

    "Finding a practical solution to the status of the people who are here illegally today is a nonstarter if our borders are not secure against future illegal immigration.”

    Despite ongoing abuses in border towns, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has virtual free reign under the Department of Homeland Security. There is little recourse for those who live with the checkpoints and harassment happening well into U.S. territory. It isn’t just Jeb’s quote-unquote “illegals” being targeted; legal residents must pass through check points even if they aren’t living on one side of the border and working or visiting family on the other.

    The ACLU has been pushing a campaign of accountability since the president’s much lauded executive order to stop deportations for over 4 million immigrants this winter. That order also ramped up the militarization of border towns and check points. Visit the “Action” tab at ACLU.org or use the link in the segment and show notes to go directly to the petition titled "Our Border Communities Are Not Constitution-Free Zones.”

    The petition demands a clear, effective method for reporting human rights violations — a power that rests with the president and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. This method must be transparent, available to non-English speakers, and followed by a strong investigation process.

    While we’re fighting for comprehensive immigration reform that requires action from Congress, we must continue to push the president and his administration to stop all abuses within the power of the executive branch; bringing the Constitution back to the border and those who reside there is an important step.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Our Border Communities Are Not Constitution-Free Zones" via ACLU

    Sources/further reading:

    "Signs of Life For Immigration Reform” at U.S. News and World Report

    "Jeb Bush unveils border security, immigration reform plan” via WSB-TV

    "Documenting Ongoing Border Patrol Abuses” via Immigration Policy Center

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #943 "No human being is illegal (Immigration) "

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment via @ERACoalition — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Finally.

    In case you missed it, women don’t have equal rights in this country.

    The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in 1923 — three years after the 19th Amendment gave women the vote. Early women’s rights activists knew that the vote was just the beginning. Real equality was more than just dropping a ballot in the box. They sought to add “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” to the Constitution to enshrine full quality of the sexes into our founding document.

    Congress finally passed the ERA in 1972 and 35 states ratified it — three states short of the constitutional requirement. The ERA has ben reintroduced in every legislative session since it stalled in 1982 — when the time to ratify expired, but it continually fails to garner support. This is in part because a generation after the campaign to adopt the ERA, most Americans assume the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment or the right to vote in the 19th automatically dissolved any disparities between cis men and everyone else.

    In her statement of support for the renewed effort to ratify the ERA, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier said:

    “The time is ripe to ratify the equal rights amendment. Seventy percent of people polled think that we already have an ERA in the Constitution and they’re shocked to find we don’t have one.”

    She’s backed up by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who has said: "If I could choose an amendment to add to this Constitution, it would be the Equal Rights Amendment.”

    The Equal Rights Amendment Coalition is taking RBG’s words to heart. If women are to be equal in stature before the law, we need a guarantee that can’t be repealed — an amendment to the Constitution rather than just a piece of legislation subject to the whims of Congress.

    Supporting this common sense and long overdue amendment is as easy as signing the petition at MoveOn.Org and visiting ERACoalition.org where you can take the pledge to support the ERA and send a message your legislators asking them to become supporters of equality.

    You can also keep an eye out for the upcoming documentary "Equal Means Equal” which depicts the modern day disparities for women in every area from reproductive rights to paid family leave to equal pay and follow and use the hashtags #EqualMeansEqual and #ERANow.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)” via MoveOn.org

    SUPPORT the ratification of the ERA: Take the Pledge and Contact Your Representatives via the ERA Coalition

    Additional Activism:

    Watch for the release of the documentary "Equal Means Equal” from the ERA Education Project

    Sources/further reading:

    "Meryl Streep Helpfully Reminded Congress We Still Don’t Have an Equal-Rights Amendment” at The Cut

    "Meryl Streep Is Pushing Congress to Finally Revive the Equal Rights Amendment” at Mother Jones

    "The new women warriors: Reviving the fight for equal rights” at CNN.com

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #938 "What are women complaining about? (Feminism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Universal Access To Affordable Medicine via @NeedyMeds & @AccessOurMeds — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Universal Access To Affordable Medicine.

    Before we dive in, consider this my requisite plug for the need to achieve universal, single-payer healthcare. In the meantime, there *is* work to be done to help alleviate suffering and improve quality of life.

    Prescription medications are one of the most expensive parts of healthcare — even for people with insurance. Pharmaceutical companies already enjoy the profit-boosting privilege of lengthy patents before generic versions can be developed and sold. Originally, this was designed to help research institutions and companies recoup the millions it can cost to create a drug, thus making it less risky to fail now and again and somewhat profitable to manufacture medications for uncommon ailments. Like everything else, however, corporate greed has turned a well-intentioned fail safe into a way to injure anyone who isn’t rich.

    The leaked language in the Trans Pacific Partnership indicates that its passage would likely intensify this injustice. According to Doctors Without Borders, "aggressive intellectual property rules...would restrict access to affordable, lifesaving medicines for millions of people” by enhancing patent and data protections while dismantling international public health safeguards and obstructing price-lowering generic competition.

    In short: we need an international movement supporting medication access and we need it now.

    The Access Our Medicine Initiative - which is supported by the prescription assistance non-profit NeedyMeds - is working to make affordable medicine a priority in the UN 2015 Sustainable Development Goals currently being discussed. These discussions set international cooperative priorities for the next 15 years — kind of a big deal. The "Access Our Medicine” Declaration has already garnered the signed, visible support of individual doctors, famous advocates, and organizations like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the MS International Foundation and more. What they need now is a groundswell of support from us.

    You can sign the declaration at AccessOurMedicine.com. While you’re there, take advantage of their cache of stories from real people, easily shareable facts like "1/3 of Americans with a chronic disease has difficulty paying for food, medications or both,” and well-curated media page. After you add your name, let people know why this issue matters by sharing it with the hashtag #WhyISigned.

    For immediate help paying for medications, visit NeedyMeds.org and click on their Generic Assistance Program; they offer 20 generics medications for no cost in coordination with Rx Outreach, the largest non-profit pharmacy in the country. And if you aren’t in need, pass information on the program around; you never know who in your network might.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the "Access Our Medicine” Declaration from the Access Our Medicine Initiative

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Let people know about The Generic Assistance Program (GAP) for prescription medications through NeedyMeds

    Sources/further reading:

    "Trading Away Health: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)” via Doctors Without Borders

    "What the Affordable Care Act Means for Prescription Coverage” via The Washington Post

    "Prescription Drug Costs and Health Reform: FAQ” via WebMD

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #936 "Drugged and broke (Health Care)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #Not1More via FAMILIA: Trans Queer Liberation Movement (@familiatqlm) — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: #Not1More.

    Jennicet Eva Gutiérrez’s interruption of President Obama at the White House Pride reception was met with the type of hostility trans people experience regularly in their every day lives. Pride, like the mainstream movement for marriage equality, is often very white, very cis, and very male — sidelining those like Gutiérrez, an undocumented trans woman of color. As we’ve outlined before in the show and previous activism segments, the marriage equality victory being celebrated at the reception that day is an important step, but it should be seen as the first of many for LGBTQ people.

    As black trans queer feminist Raquel Wilis wrote last week:

    "Today, with New York City’s streets still glittering from the aftermath of the weekend’s Pride festivities, I stand in solidarity with Gutiérrez as she stands up to the government and the queer elite. Many have given her their half-hearted support—agreeing with the cause but discrediting her methods. To these people I ask: when is the right time? Those of us who have not been able to play the assimilation game learned long ago that respectability politics mean nothing when our community is constantly under threat.”

    Undocumented LGBTQ people are an especially vulnerable group, often being subjected to abuse during detention and disproportionately facing deportation and separation from their families.

    The group Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement has built quite a coalition in under a year and a half specifically to address issues like the detention, abuse and deportation of transgender immigrants and undocumented people. Their campaign #Not1More — which you can find at NotOneMoreDeportation.com — "builds collaboration between individuals, organizations, artists, and allies to expose, confront, and overcome unjust immigration laws.”

    Through their website you can support individuals facing deportation, share stories and artwork, and call on your representatives to end abuse and detention.

    While the White House released a memo on the detention of transgender immigrants in response to pressure from the #Not1More coalition following the White House Pride reception, guidance documents don’t have the force of law that will prevent abuse and violence against those being detained and deported.

    In their "Tell President Obama, Don't Discriminate Against LGBTQ Immigrants” petition, FAMILIA seeks to remind us and the president that justice is not achieved until no one is left behind: "Millions have finally been provided relief. But millions more have still been excluded.”

    You can sign the petition at NotOneMoreDeporation.com calling on the president to expand deferred action for all families and amplify the stories and artwork of those affected by this unjust immigration policy.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: "Tell President Obama, Don't Discriminate Against LGBTQ Immigrants” via FAMILIA: Trans Queer Liberation Movement

    JOIN the movement to end deportation of undocumented LGBTQ people with #Not1More

    Sources/further reading:

    “#Not1More RESPONSE TO ICE NEW MEMO ON PROCESSING TRANS DETAINEES”

    "A transgender woman of color on the hypocrisy of the gay rights movement” by Raquel Wilis at Quartz

    "Obama's reply to a trans woman proves LGBT advocacy stops at gay marriage” by Meredith Talusan at The Guardian

    "Was Obama’s Heckler Actually A Transgender Hero?” by Kristina Marusic at MTVIssues

    "The Obama Legacy: Inequality, Corporate Trade Deals, Worldwide War” by Kit O’Connell

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #935 "It is so ordered (Marriage Equality)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich