• A Call for A Cultural New Deal for Cultural and Racial Justice
    The Cultural New Deal for Cultural and Racial Justice is a call for us to transform our personal, institutional, and global thinking. We believe that culture moves before policy. We believe that culture endures beyond politics. We wrote this Call because our work in culture and arts is inextricably linked to larger social movements for change. We invite you to adopt and adapt this Call to your specific contexts to hold leaders, policy-makers, and institutions — and ourselves — responsible, accountable, and transparent in achieving equity and justice. In these unprecedented times, as justice movements converge, many of us have asked ourselves what the stakes are for the culture we want to advance. We concluded that we needed to change the conditions under which we artists and culture bearers labor and live. The Cultural New Deal for Cultural and Racial Justice points us toward new understandings of how we together can build a culture that is inclusive, sustainable, and leads us toward justice and freedom for all. We urge timetables that are immediate and demonstrate change that is not aspirational, but concrete, measurable and visible within 1-3 budget cycles. We offer this Call in the spirit of advancing accountability and collective responsibility, and urge you to activate these ideas within your work and our shared future. // El Nuevo Trato Cultural para la Justicia Cultural y Racial es una convocatoria para que transformemos nuestro modo de pensar personal, institucional y global. Creemos que la cultura cambia antes que la política. Creemos que la cultura perdura más allá de la política. Escribimos este llamado porque nuestro trabajo dentro de la cultura y las artes está inextricablemente entrelazado con los movimientos sociales para el cambio. Les invitamos a adoptar y adaptar este Llamado para sus contextos particulares para responsabilizar a líderes, creadores de políticas e instituciones, al igual que nosotres mismes, por lograr la equidad y la justicia de forma responsable y transparente. En estos tiempos sin precedentes, conforme convergen los movimientos por la justicia, muches de nosotres nos hemos preguntado qué está en juego para la cultura que queremos avanzar. Hemos concluido que tenemos que cambiar las condiciones bajo las cuales nosotres les artistas y portadores de cultura trabajamos y vivimos. El Nuevo Trato Cultural para la Justicia Cultural y Racial nos dirige hacia nuevos entendimientos sobre cómo, juntos, podemos crear una cultura que es inclusiva, sustentable y que nos lleva hacía la justicia y la liberación para todes. Exigimos cronogramas que son inmediatos y que demuestran un cambio que no es aspiracional y que, más bien, es concreto, medible y visible dentro de 1 a 3 ciclos presupuestarios. Ofrecemos este Llamado en aras de avanzar la transparencia y la responsabilidad colectiva y urgimos que activen estas ideas dentro de su trabajo y dentro de nuestro futuro compartido.
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  • Justice For Bodega Baby T
    On January 19th our Love Without Reason (LaRayia’s Bodega) Community was heart broken to discover 3 year old Talia Cook, (known to our community as Bodega Baby T) was brutally murdered while in the care of Loraine Washington who is free walking the streets of Downtown Los Angeles. We are demanding that the department of mental health bring resources to this case, by placing Loriane Washington in a facility for treatment. Since the event, the police had questioned her, received multiple stories from what happened to Talia, shortly afterward they released her. She is a mother of three, not only does this put her children at risk, it’s also putting people experiencing homelessness and the rest of society in jeopardy.
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  • End TCNJ's Ties with Sodexo
    Sodexo is a billion-dollar company operating internationally, despite being infamous for taking advantage of marginalized and isolated populations in countries around the world. Sodexo hires impoverished people and offers no benefits, wages as low as 33 cents, harmful work conditions, among many other human rights violations. Most shockingly, Sodexo profits off private prisons and immigration detention centers. Large corporations in America often profit from prisons by using prisoners for FREE LABOR. This means, our form of punishment is making criminals drive our capitalistic society. “For every person who is in prison, companies get money,” said Dr. Marilou Marcillo, business ethics professor, “If a prison’s profit derives from the number of people who are incarcerated, they’re going to look for ways to incarcerate more people, not rehabilitate them.” The Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) sums up the narrative that companies view mass incarceration as opportunity. The PIC means people with racial, social, and economic privileges will remain at the top while lower classes will remain in endless cycles of poverty and incarceration. Students at Scripps College thoroughly researched Sodexo and held their college accountable, resulting in Scripps terminating its contract. The following is a website created by the students detailing the issue and their initiative: https://dropsodexo.wordpress.com/ge/ Using local vendors can provide higher quality food that can actually save the college money, as outlined in this study detailing the steps Pomona College took to shift from Sodexo to “self-operated dining services”: https://tsl.news/news1733/ Sodexo Justice Services, a subsidiary of Sodexo, controls the total operation of five prisons in England and Scotland. (source: https://uk.sodexo.com/home/your-industry/justice/services-in-prisons.html) This source details the repeated cases of abuse, neglect, and torture in prisons operated by Sodexo: https://investigate.afsc.org/company/sodexo The investigation also reveals that as of 2017 Sodexo’s website revealed that it had operations in 22 prisons across eight countries. These operations often included “community corrections”, a vague title for operations that should have been conducted by the prison, instead of an outside company. These issues are not solely prevalent abroad, as Sodexo workers in the US typically live below the poverty line. For instance, after working in the cafeteria at Tulane University in New Orleans for forty years, one Sodexo worker still makes less than $10.00 per hour. ‘I’m a proud woman, so I’m going to do my job no matter what they tell me to do,’ she says, ‘but this isn’t fair.’” More examples of Sodexo's corrupt prisons: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3910000/Living-bars-Inmates-binge-alcohol-drugs-cell-party-shocking-video.html#ixzz4XkGV2866 http://www.thepauwwow.org/news/inside-sodexo-s-relationship-with-the-private-prison-system/article_9517c1b4-fb55-11e9-b226-1797ad91a09a.html Examples of its human rights violations: • Awful and unsafe factory conditions • Failure to accommodate worker's medical conditions • Separate and unequal treatment • Severely underpaid workers ($0.33/hour) • Not paying workers for all hours worked • Inaccurately labeling workers as seasonal to avoid providing benefits • Prohibits worker’s Right to Association (ability to form unions) Around the world, Sodexo’s workers argue that its employment practices violate their human rights. Sodexo routinely hires poor and undereducated workers who are often geographically isolated, pays them low wages, and at times, reportedly fails to pay in full for hours worked including overtime pay. Sodexo employees reported being denied breaks during the day as well as being docked pay for meals they cannot eat due to an immense workload. The business model Sodexo employs keeps workers poor and locks their communities into seemingly endless cycles of poverty. This study details all the issues outlined above through employee interviews conducted nationally: http://news.emory.edu/special/workforce_and_labor/documents/transafrica_report.pdf Feel free to ask me any questions or contact me if you want to get more involved: [email protected]
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  • Demand for the University of Washington Administration to Meet the Needs of Black Students on Campus
    The University of Washington prides itself on diversity which barely exist at the institution. After numerous conversations between President Ana Marie Cauce and the Black Student Union about our experiences and how we can better improve the diversity at this university, President Cauce has overlooked our experiences and refuses to take the actions necessary to making BIPOC students feel safe and welcome on campus. We have had enough. Thus Black Students will work together with faculty, allies and local activist to ensure that our demands are met. Below are brief descriptions of each demand: 1. BREAK ALL TIES WITH SPD. Both formal and informal in the form of contracts, agreements, and MOUs. We suggest taking the following steps: a. Immediately stop handing over people detained by UW Police Department to SPD custody b. Stop using SPD to respond to public safety needs, including referrals for welfare checks under the Safe Campus program. c. Stop using SPD for additional security for any events, including sporting events, concerts, and ceremonies. 2. DISARM AND DIVEST FROM UWPD. Arming UWPD officers is excessive and unnecessary. Black students are already traumatized by the violence perpetrated to Black individuals by the hands of police. Arming the UWPD only puts Black individuals in constant fear, worry and frankly more at risk. The use of police dogs must be banned. Many communities of color in the US associate police dogs with the terror of state violence. We need to divest from UWPD and reallocate those funds into our community 3. ALLOCATE FUNDS TO BLACK RSO’S AND THE AMERICAN ETHNIC STUDIES DEPARTMENT. Instead of spending a ridiculous amount of money on UWPD, the University of Washington should invest in departments/resources that cater to the needs of its black students. It should not be students' jobs to spend out of pocket money to make students more comfortable, and or raise money for scholarships for its students. There also needs to be an increase in funding for the AES departments. This would not only help students have more resources and to help expand their learning, but increase the pay for the faculty who work in those departments. 4. HIRE MORE BLACK FACULTY. According to the Diversity Metrics Data Book by the Board of Regents, as of 2018, 68% of faculty is white, while 1.7% is Black. This statistic is embarrassingly low for an institution that prides itself on diversity and equity. The demand for more Black faculty dates back to 1968, with the first year of the Black Student Union here at the University of Washington. Today, 52 years later, this demand has not only been ignored, but is still necessary with the growing population of the UW. The lack of representation of Black faculty not only prevents students from having role models who they can relate to, but it sends a subtle message that only white people are capable of teaching at a higher level, which is simply, untrue. 5. INCREASE THE DIVERSITY CREDIT REQUIREMENT AND MAKE AFRICAN STUDIES A MAJOR. The current diversity requirement for UW students is 5 credits. Again, for an institution that prides itself on diversity, this is embarrassingly low. One 5 credit class will not provide students with enough historical background to enter the world an anti-racist. Students must be exposed to the atrocities that have been committed upon Black and brown folks, and how these communities are impacted to this day. Finally, African Studies should not only be an option for a minor, but a major. It is unjust that there is a major for Asian Studies, European Studies, and Latin American Studies, but not African Studies. 6. REMOVE STATUES OF RACIST FIGURES. Statues in place at the University of Washington are preservers of our dark past. The George Washington statue, in particular, symbolizes a man who owned over 300 Black slaves and profited from their labor. This is not a history that should be glorified and celebrated as it perpetuates white supremacy and preserves its historical imposition. Thus, the George Washington Statue, along with all others that symbolize racist figures, should be removed from the University of Washington. 7. FUND AND EXPAND MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES FOR UW STUDENTS. Currently, the waiting time to talk to a mental therapist can be more than 3 consecutive weeks. For Black students, the detriment of such a long waiting time is exacerbated by the severe lack of Black therapists, who tend to understand and empathize with our experiences. It's been shown that Black students feel more comfortable talking with Black therapists as opposed to non-black ones; how can one Black therapist be enough for the population of Black students at UW and why should we have to wait for urgent mental issues? In addition, the students are limited from accessing mental health services as they are often costly and require insurance coverage, which may not be affordable for students. Thus, the University of Washington should expand and fund affordable services, along with hiring more Black therapists. #DownWithWashington #KeepThePressureOn #DisarmUWPD
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    Created by Black Student Union UW
  • Tell Pinterest: Pay your Black employees what you owe them!
    Last week, Pinterest CEO, Ben Silbermann, released a statement expressing solidarity with his Black staff in light of the recent protests against the police brutality our community is facing, and committed to taking action to support them, saying that “our Black employees matter.” The problem? Under Silbermann’s watch, Pinterest has not only underpaid its Black employees, but it has retaliated against those willing to take a stand against them with racist threats, intimidation, and harassment. And when one white employee went as far as to doxx a Black co-worker for speaking up, the company failed to do enough to protect her. While it’s easy to appreciate the wave of corporations, brands, and celebrities who are seeing the importance of publicly affirming their stance against racism, Pinterest needs to do much more than issue a statement to meaningfully support Black people. Company values or statements mean nothing unless they’re backed up by the leadership, the payroll, and the operations. If he really believes his Black employees matter, Ben Silbermann owes his current and former Black staff an apology, an independent third party evaluation of employee pay by race and gender, and a commitment to giving them the back pay they are owed. Five years ago, “Black lives matter” was a controversial statement. Today, though structural white supremacy and racism persist, the leadership and political power of Black people have made the cost of failing to affirm this truth too high even for corporations like Pinterest to ignore. But we’ve seen how easily companies jump from diversity & inclusion messaging to underpaying their own Black workers, discriminating against Black customers, and harming Black users and community members. Pinterest is no exception. Ben Silbermann simply cannot claim to care about his Black staff without expecting us to examine the ways his actions contradict his words. Corporations that have anti-Blackness built into their business models need to follow up their statements against racism with concrete action. In this moment we are publicly interrogating the harms Black people face from the institutions like the police that claim to keep us safe. But the fact is that plenty of corporations also bear responsibility for violence, harm, and discrimination against Black people, whether they carry it out, enable it, or profit from it. We deserve more than lip service from the companies that rely on us as workers, creators, and cultural ambassadors. Tell Ben Silbermann to put his money where his mouth is. Tell Pinterest to issue an apology, hire an independent third party to evaluate employee pay by race and gender, and give its Black employees the back pay they are owed immediately.
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  • Starbucks: Allow your employees to wear #BlackLivesMatter attire
    Starbucks allows and encourages employees to wear attire that promotes LGBTQ rights. Starbucks even hands such attire out to employees. It's hypocritical for your company to explicitly forbid employees from wearing attire that proclaims that Black Lives Matter. In the aftermath of George Floyd's murder, it's important for Starbucks to be unequivocal in its support of Black Lives. That's why Starbucks must update its dress code policy. Starbucks must allow its employees to wear buttons, pins, and other attire that proclaims that Black Lives Matter.
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    Created by Bhavik Lathia
  • After the smoke clears... Arrest Juan DelaCruz for the senseless murder of Pamela Turner
    Because I too suffer with mental health issues and have been beaten by the police and plenty of counterparts on many horrific occasions, because of me failing to take my medication and becoming manic; so this could have been me, but only for the Grace of God. Her story resonates with me through and through, and come to find out, there's many others who've met a terrible demise like Pamela, due to police officers not being properly trained to deal with the mentally ill.
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  • Approve S.O.S. Stimulus Grants for Micro Businesses
    Our tax dollars should be used to support churches, local restaurants, bodegas, barbershops, hair salons, dine-in restaurants, retail stores, Uber Drivers, and independent contractors who struggle....not "small businesses" that are publicly traded and have access to investors and big bank loans. This bill is for the business that watched as Shake Shack received millions, and felt defeated. Seventy-five percent (75%) of the Saving Our Streets (S.O.S.) Act would be used to provide grants worth up to $250,000 dollars to historically under-represented who are socially and economically left out - businesses owned by people of color, the formerly incarcerated, low-income, women. These are the business owners that banks denied, the business owners who can't call up the Senior Vice President of a major financial institution and ask for a "favor." Additionally, tiny businesses that have fewer than 10 employees (less than 20 employees if you're in an underserved community) AND have less $1 million in business revenue. This is NOT for publicly traded companies or hedge funds. They got access to their share. The SOS bill was set up for businesses that cannot compete with Ruth Chris, Potbelly, the Lakers - who benefited from programs like the Payment Protection Program. When you sign this petition, you are fighting for the self-employed, the Uber Drive, the FIverr contractor, the hair salon, the barber shop, the soul food spot....you are fighting for the side hustler who has to fight with their employer just to get fair pay. You are fighting for the businesses who fight to SERVE YOU every day. Press: "Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Ayanna Pressley have a $125 billion plan to help the smallest businesses" https://www.vox.com/2020/5/6/21249161/kamala-harris-ayanna-pressley-small-businesses-plan Kezia M. Williams CEO, The Black upStart www.instagram.com/theblackupstart www.theblackupstart.com Partners Supporing the S.O.S. Act NAACP National Urban League Black Economic Forum Main Street Alliance
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  • Seize the Masks-- Save Our Nurses & CNA's!
    Our frontline healthcare providers will within weeks be forced to choose between saving their own lives and doing their jobs, because of the government's failure to prepare for this pandemic by buying enough equipment--especially masks. The vast majority of these jobs are held by women, people of color, or recent immigrants. I know I am not the only mother who cannot sleep nights worrying about a loved one who is a health care worker. In my home city of new Haven, our first Covid-19 casualty was of course a Black man who worked at a health care facility serving the community. As a result of the bans on essential travel, I do not know when I will again see my own daughter, who is putting herself through nursing school while caring for patients in Boston. I pray she will not save others only to end up sick herself.
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    Created by Jen Vickery
  • Demand that Zoom immediately create a solution to protect its users from racist cyber attacks!
    I'm a Black, first-generation college graduate from the Southside of Chicago, who worked diligently to get to March 26th - the day I would finally get to defend my dissertation and earn my doctorate of education degree from California State University, Long Beach. Due to the social distancing during the Coronavirus pandemic, my university transitioned to Zoom Video Conferencing for these types of presentations. The chair of my committee made the introductions and I started presenting. I spent the first 10 minutes gliding through my presentation. It was truly a moment I felt ready for. As I ended the historical analysis section on Black oppression within the American education system, I noticed a red mark on my computer. For a brief second I thought someone else was sharing their screen at the same time as mine, but then more red marks appeared. Soon, more marks were made to create the shape of a penis. I stopped my presentation and asked my zoom facilitator if they could remove the marks. Seconds later, the letters N-I-G-G-E-R were written on the screen followed by pictures and videos of pornography. Like everyone else, I was shocked. My university’s technology personnel and college department members began to scramble. They were trying to figure out what was going on and how to take the cyberattacker out of the Zoom meeting. Minutes later, I along with my committee members, began to apologize to the audience members for what has happened. I then continued with the presentation as if nothing had happened. After I was done with my presentation and my committee said congratulations, "Dr. Dennis Johnson," I said thank you but I couldn’t enjoy the moment. Truth be told, no matter how much I brushed it off, my moment had been taken and there was nothing I could do about to get it back. On one of my most remarkable moments of my life, I was called a "nigger". My mother, grandmother, sister, spouse and many others were shown images of pornography. On Zoom’s website, the only help offered is an article on "How to Keep the Party Crashers from Crashing Your Zoom Event". That is a slap in the face to me. I've never been to a party where I was called a Nigger. These are racist cyber attacks; not innocent party crashers just stopping by to say hey. I never want anyone to experience what happened to me. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened. Over the past few weeks, Black people have been targeted disproportionately on Zoom by trolls who have yelled “nigger” during children’s storytimes and professor’s open office hours. The University of Southern California even issued an email to professors warning them that Zoom classes had been disrupted by “racist and vile language.” It’s time for Zoom to create a real solution to this problem! Ruha Benjamin, an associate professor of African American studies at Princeton University, who has also experienced Zoombombing, has publicly called on Zoom to change its default setting to “off” for screen sharing to limit the potential for Zoombombing, which I support. Other solutions we propose include: 1. Upon entering a Zoom meeting, Zoom should post a message saying that it does not condone discriminatory and other unlawful acts, and that those who display such behavior will be banned from using its services. 2. Hire a Chief Diversity Officer to mitigate issues of discrimination and inequity on Zoom’s platform. 3. Add technology that auto-detects and flags those who post discriminatory language and images, and have them removed. Relying on individuals to fully understand the software’s platform demonstrates Zoom’s unwillingness to simply create a systemic change to protect its users, instead of relying on the user to protect themselves against these cyber attacks. 4. Revise the Zoom guide on preventing “party crashers.” What was done to us was not the act of someone crashing a party, but a direct racist attack on who we are as people of color, and this has to be named. They posted those images and wrote the N-word while I was giving a historical analysis of Black people in the United States. Therefore, Zoom needs to be more intentional with its language. It’s not a party crasher, it’s a racist/ discriminatory person(s) displaying unlawful behavior via the internet, that should be held accountable. 5. A formal apology to myself and those who have become victims to a trend that Zoom has failed to publicly acknowledge and address accordingly. Sign my petition to demand that Zoom immediately finds a solution to prevent classrooms, organizations, POC, especially Black people from being attacked on its platform! - Dr. Dennis L. Johnson, Jr.
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  • #RestorePottstown: Preserve our Homes, Culture and History!
    Pottstown, a 110 year old rural, historically Black working class is located two blocks from the original slave quarters in Huntersville, NC. Two multi-million dollar corporations, Bowman Development Group and Griffin Brothers C & D Reclamation, have made their fortunes exploiting the land and community members of Pottstown. The community has had enough! We are calling both corporations to divest from harmful practices and invest in a historic landmark. Forty years ago, the Griffin family (of Griffin Brothers C & D Reclaimation) began operating a demolition landfill where over 200 dump trucks travel through our small Black community. The name has changed, but the company's impact has remained the same. In 2017, the Huntersville Town Board approved the Griffin Brothers' request for a 40-year extension that will end in 2057. Residents along Holbrooks Road are subjected to fumes from the trucks and the harmful chemicals used within the neighboring reclamation center. In 2000, in an attempt to quiet the grievances of residents living on Holbrooks Road, the Griffin Brothers created a community HOA, the Holbrooks Road Association, in order to provide annual stipends to .prevent further resident complaints and investigations. Developer and Partner of the Bowman Development Corp., Don Bowman, created a “new urbanism development” that gentrified a historic community by laying his most recent project's foundation along the streets that once ran through the heart of our rural community. His new development, -- Vermillion/Valencia, a 27 acre village -- was created at the expense of hundreds of rural Pottstown homes, as his quick property grab left countless families with nowhere to go. Pottstown residents adjacent to these newly developed urban homes are concerned that the rise of urbanism will irrevocably alter the culture of their hometown and push them out of their homes. Pottstown and most of its families have suffered from the effects of both companies who earn millions of dollar each year from the exploitation of a historic community. The profits of these businesses will allow company owners' children to benefit financially from their exploitative practices. But what about OUR children? Bowman Development Corp. and Griffin Brothers C & D Reclamation have made our community a “commodity” in which to profit from. The majority of Pottstown residents have not received any compensation from the harmful effects of the companies actions. We community of Pottstown deserve to thrive as these companies do! We are calling on Bowman Development Corp. and Griffin Brothers C & D Reclamation to invest Pottstown, not destroy it. The needs of our community are significant and we are calling on these companies to be good neighbors! We are calling on Bowman Development Corp. and Griffin Brothers C & D Reclamation to make an investment in the existing community's culture and pride. We are calling Bowman Development Corp. and Griffin Brothers C & D Reclamation to provide the necessary funds to renovate our historic Torrence-Lytle High School. This small investment would demonstrate goodwill and prove to community members that they value our beloved Pottstown. The community of Pottstown is asking YOU to support our demand for an investment in our community's rich culture with the corporate-funded restoration of Torrence-Lytle High School and affordable housing options for displaced familes.
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    Created by Betty "Bee Jay" Caldwell
  • ITS BIGGER THAN GM!!!!
    On September 15th at 11:59PM more than 45,000 United Auto Workers (UAW) in 10 states went on strike. No state feels the brunt of this more than Michigan, the American auto capital. And as we know, black union workers always end up with the shortest end of the stick. The UAW went on strike to demand that GM increase wages, offer wage progression for new hires, improve healthcare and prescription drug benefits, and provide better overall job security. GM's current CEO, Mary Barra, makes $22 million dollars a year while GM’s temporary employees who have been there more than 4 years, get paid less than $16 dollars an hour. GM's announcement on September 17th to cut the healthcare coverage of of any UAW worker on strike is just one of its latest scare tactics to prevent workers from exercising their basic human rights: demanding better pay. It is our right to protest and this problem is bigger than GM. Those workers on strike are only being paid $250 a week. No one person can live off $250 dollars a week let alone someone with a family. Stand with UAW workers in Michigan and demand that the Vice President of General Motors North America Labor Relations Scott Sandefur support the workers that supported GM during the bail out by providing healthcare coverage! Sign the petition today!
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    Created by Latiana Fisher