Human Rights Activism Opportunities

  • 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

  • Showing Up For Racial Justice @ShowUp4RJ — 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: Showing Up For Racial Justice.

    As has been discussed on this show fairly regularly, members of marginalized groups are called on continually to do the “101-level” explanations of their issues and teach people how to be allies. This work is thankless, exhausting and often takes valuable time away from real movement and liberation work.

    But to achieve equality in any real way, majority groups must participate in the efforts to recognize and solidify immigrant rights, women’s rights, trans rights, gay rights, and rights for people of color — just to name a few of the current fights for justice. So, how do movements engage the majority without ceding the mic or spending resources they don’t have teaching allyship?

    Enter Showing Up For Racial Justice — or SURJ. This national network of groups and individuals does the work of organizing white people for justice. On their “About” page they explain their role through a quote from Alicia Garza, a community organizer and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement: "We need you defecting from White supremacy and changing the narrative of White supremacy by breaking White silence.”

    SURJ helps train white people to play supportive roles in the campaigns driven by people of color and how to take a racial justice focus back to their other organizing efforts — in climate, economic, political, LGBTQ, voting rights, feminist campaigns and movements. One of the most important things white people can do to challenge white supremacy is to speak up in typically white, privileged spaces.

    ShowingUpForRacialJustice.org has a great “Action” tab with local events across the country. There are affiliated chapters in almost every state; you can also sign up to start one in your area. They need volunteers to help with social media, fundraise, write for the blog, do graphic design and web layout, plan actions, and facilitate training. Basically, whatever skills you have are needed and useful.

    Katie participated in the “White People Take Action For Charleston” conference call/webinar last week. 500 people were on the call and the suggestions — like pushing back on right-wing media and engaging anyone carrying an “All Lives Matter” sign at an event so black organizers don’t have to — were fantastic and designed to keep white allies in the background while being visible support.

    SURJ also provides a handy redirect for people of color tired of going through the 101 racism and White Supremacy explanations. It can be hard — if not impossible — to tell if people approaching you online or in your daily lives are asking questions in good faith and with real interest; the beauty of referring them to a resource like SURJ is that those truly looking for a way to understand and get involved will be appreciative and those who aren’t are quickly dismissed.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Volunteer and/or participate in actions around the country with Showing Up For Racial Justice

    Follow SURJ on Twitter and like the on Facebook

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    #TakeDownTheFlag

    AskAWhitePerson.com

    Sources/further reading:

    "12 Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People” by Janee Woods at The Root

    "White Supremacy Culture: From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups” via SURJ

    "Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now” by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic

    "Calls to Drop Confederate Emblems Spread Nationwide” via The New York Times

    "Before Charleston, Not Many People Wanted To Take Down The Confederate Flag” via FiveThirtyEight.com

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #933 "The long shadow of southern white supremacy (Racism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #FightBackTX with @FundTexasChoice — 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: Fight Back Texas with Fund Texas Choice.

    With 35% of U.S. women of reproductive age living in the 87% of counties without an abortion provider, Texas is certainly not the only area where the phrase “undue burden” applies. However, as the second largest state in population — with nearly 27 million people — and the second largest physically — topping 268,000 square miles, the impending clinic closures put the population with the the highest percentage of uninsured adults in the country in immediate crisis.

    Thanks to the Fifth Circuit, unless the Supreme Court steps in with an emergency stay, half the clinics in Texas will close. Again. Depending on whether a couple can comply with a handful of specific provisions in HB2, on July 1st there will be only 8 to 10 clinics to serve the entire state — with none in the expansive western half and likely no abortion provider at the clinic in the Rio Grande Valley should it remain open.

    Patients who were already having to travel hundreds of rural miles will now be competing for appointments with city residents or going out of state at great expense. Clinics in New Mexico and Oklahoma are the next closest options — 500 miles from central West Texas and 200 miles from Dallas-Ft. Worth respectively. With overnight stays due to ultrasound, mandatory counseling, and waiting period laws, a trip for even a simple, five minute first trimester procedure or to procure the abortion pill easily becomes a four or five day trip with all the expenses of travel, time off work, and child care.

    Fund Texas Choice is the abortion fund dedicated to helping patients navigate and afford the logistical challenges of accessing this vital medical care. In-state check points and buses that are regularly swept for people without papers exacerbate an already challenging road to the doctor for many Texans. Fund Texas Choice already sends over one-third of their clients out of state, sometimes costing thousands of dollars just in travel. You can help lessen the burden and increase their ability to help bridge these gaps by donating at FundTexasChoice.org and following them @FundTexasChoice on Twitter.

    Their “Texas Abortion Clinic Map” page has an updated list of clinics that are open and/or providing abortion care. They also link to the orgs that help patients fund procedures — Lilith Fund, TEA Fund [just said like “tea”], and West Fund. You can also give directly to Whole Woman’s Health — the independent clinic chain spearheading many of the lawsuits attempting to overturn harmful laws — at WholeWomansHealth.com under the “Abortion Care — Financial Assistance” tab.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Follow and support Fund Texas Choice

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Follow and support the other Texas abortion funds:

    Lilith Fund

    TEA Fund

    West Fund

    Whole Woman’s Texas Action Fund

    Sources/further reading:

    "State Facts About Abortion: Texas” via The Guttmacher Institute

    "Fifth Circuit Upholds More HB 2 Provisions, Dares the Supreme Court to Step In” by Jessica Pieklo at RH Reality Check

    "Court Upholds Texas’ ‘Devastating’ Anti-Choice Omnibus Law” by Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check

    "Plaintiffs appeal to 5th Circuit Court, Supreme Court following ruling on HB 2” at The Daily Texan

    "Fifth Circuit Refuses to Stay Ruling That Could Immediately Shutter All But 9 Abortion Clinics in Texas” via The Center For Reproductive Rights

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #932 "Moving the goalposts on "undue burden" (Reproductive Justice)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #FreePurviPatel via @rhrealitycheck — 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: Free Purvi Patel.

    By now you’re probably wondering when during the show an expert or an advocate will explain how a person can be charged and convicted of both feticide — the killing of a fetus — and neglect of a dependent — which presumably would be a child with a birth certificate and a birthday and all the necessary markers that come with entry into the world. Welcome to the current state of reproductive healthcare and the criminalization of anyone who dares walk around with a uterus.

    Before the red state shaming of Indiana kicks back into gear, you should know that as of April 1st, there were 332 abortion restriction provisions making their way through 43 state houses. So, not just red states or southern states or fly over states. Basically, unless you live in proactive Oregon or California, your state is at the very least stalled on extending care to those who need it or actively attempting to legislate basic healthcare until it's out of reach for poor and marginalized people.

    People like Purvi Patel.

    Our friend Imani Gandy at This Week in Blackness is also senior legal analysis at RH Reality Check — and she can describe, but not make sense of either the charges or the conviction. As she so succinctly put it, "A charge of feticide requires a dead fetus, while a charge of neglect of a dependent requires a live birth.” The state’s inability to create or present evidence of a self-induced miscarriage — which is illegal in every state, by the way — or evidence that an attempted miscarriage resulted in a live birth should have meant Patel went home.

    Instead she’s expected to serve 20 years in prison.

    RH Reality Check is calling for the State of Indiana to overturn the conviction and eliminate criminal liability for pregnancy outcomes. You can find, sign, and share their petition at RHRealityCheck.org — the graphic and the link are on essentially every page.

    We shouldn’t need for an injustice to be in our backyard to care about it; but for those who do, legislation that monitors and criminalizes pregnant people is setting records this year from coast to coast. Stopping the wave and demanding existing laws be overturned is a fight we can’t afford to skip out on; lives are at stake — right now, today.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN ”Overturn the #PurviPatel Conviction; Repeal Indiana’s Feticide Law” via RH Reality Check

    Sources/further reading:

    "Purvi Patel Sentenced to 41 Years for Feticide and Neglect of a Dependent” by Imani Gandy at RH Reality Check

    Read RH Reality Check's extensive coverage on Purvi Patel’s case

    "How Indiana Is Making It Possible to Jail Women for Having Abortions” by Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women

    "So Far, 2015 Is On Pace to Set Abortion Restriction Records” by Katie Klabusich at Truthout

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #916 "The history and current state of abortion (Reproductive Justice)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Federal LGBTQ Bill of Rights via @GetEqual — 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: the Federal LGBTQ Bill of Rights.

    Indiana drew all the heat for the state legislature’s extra discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but the Hoosier state is hardly the only place where firing, evicting, and even refusing to serve LGBTQ people is legal. Despite the wave of court mandated marriage equality wins and the cultural tide turning on the right to marry, only a federal affirmative right to be treated as fully equal human beings can protect all facets of life and liberty for LGBTQ people in all parts of the country.

    Rather than pushing for a patchwork of single-issue bills that would need to work their way through the legislature one at a time, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) are spearheading an all-encompassing fix. According to Sen. Merkely’s website, he and Rep. Cicilline “will be leading the legislative fight for a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill this spring. The legislation would be similar to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

    The LGBTQ rights group GetEQUAL is in the midst of a campaign to both support this legislative effort and demand that it be comprehensive and uncompromising. At their NoAsterisks.org website, you can sign on to back the full LGBTQ Bill of Rights, which is described as "a guiding document, created with the input of thousands of LGBTQ folks across the country, that lays out what the community really needs.”

    From preamble, to conclusion, the GetEQUAL document details the fears and dangers experienced daily by LGBTQ people that should be addressed and alleviated by true protections at work, at home, at the doctor, at school, and in the eyes of the law and law enforcement.

    Visit NoAsterisks.org and support GetEQUAL’s call to action:

    "As we approach the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution and the 224th anniversary of the Bill of Rights — the document that outlined the specific rights extended to (some) Americans — we demand that this country live up to the values espoused in the nation’s founding documents.”

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN to support GetEQUAL’s LGBTQ Bill of Rights

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Use Get Equal’s bill tracker to stay up to date: WeCan’tBelieveThis.org

    Sources/further reading:

    The LGBTQ Bill of Rights via GetEQUAL

    "Cicilline Announces Upcoming Legislation to End LGBT Discrimination” via Rep. David N. Ciciline (D-RI)

    ”Civil Rights Bill Top Priority For LGBT Voters, According to New Poll” by Amanda Terkel via Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

    "Resolution opposing RFRA passes City-County Council” via Wish-TV, Indianapolis

    ”Stop” — Indiana resident, activist, and writer Melissa McEwan’s take on #BoycottIndiana

    Indiana #RFRA Updates via Melissa McEwan

    "That Time I Ranted About #BoycottIndiana & Caring About All People” by Katie Klabusich

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #913 "Refusing to tolerate intolerance (LGBTQ Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich