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Boycott Companies that Advertise on Fox News: Who support racism in exchange for profitAs a person of color, my life is regularly made more difficult and unpleasant due to the nature of the content propagated by Fox News. Fox News brings out the worst in people by preying on their fears and prejudices, bolstering people's preexisting stereotypes, and espousing and encouraging racist, homophobic, islamophobic, misogynistic, and ignorant behavior. I will not support any company that supports an entity such as Fox News that seems to be in direct opposition to all of my values and thinks of me--and tries to convince others to think of me--as lesser, dangerous, lazy, and unintelligent due to the color of my skin. People may think it is not worth it and they are only making their own lives harder by boycotting because so many companies advertise on Fox News and nothing will change that, but my life is already made difficult by Fox News, including all the companies that support it, so I have no problem taking it upon myself to make decisions that align with my self-interest and may be difficult. If we do nothing, what is going on in society and politics will only continue, so we might as well speak up for ourselves and hit the companies where they'll notice it: the wallets!
#FREESADAT: Demand the release of a Gay Black Asylum Seeker from DetentionSadat Ibrahim is a young gay man from Ghana where homosexuality is a crime punishable by three years in prison. Sadat had been brutally attacked by a homophobic vigilante gang back in Ghana, the ‘Safety Empire’, that hunts down, beats up and kills gay people. Fearing for his life, he planned a long escape route, and finally made it to the Mexican/U.S. border and presented himself at the border requesting asylum. An asylum officer agreed that Sadat had a credible fear of persecution. His family sent videos supporting his claim to Sadat in detention in Georgia, but not only did the officers in the detention center not give Sadat this critical evidence, they never even told Sadat that the evidence had arrived. Without the corroborating evidence, the judge denied Sadat asylum. Sadat faces deportation back to the same situation that may see him incarcerated, attacked and/or murdered for being gay, as his asylum claim was denied. Had Sadat been able to share the video evidence that ICE withheld from him until after the hearing, we believe the judge should have granted asylum to Sadat, and likely would have done so. Sadat’s legal team has managed to win him a temporary stay of removal so why is he still being detained?
Demand DA Faith Johnson Support Bail ReformThe cash bail system in Dallas County discriminates against poor Black people in the most harmful ways. Black families are stripped of community, financial resources and a sense of basic human dignity. Black people remain in cages for weeks, months and sometimes years at taxpayer expense. And oftentimes, Black people are jailed with no evidence they have committed a crime. This is a crisis that can no longer continue. In the past, I have had many family members who were forced to serve time simply because they did not have the money to make bail or were not given enough time to produce the money. In many cases, the amount requested for bail did not fit the crime. Families in the Dallas community like mine are tired of losing their loved ones to the criminal “injustice” system. To make matters worse, District Attorney Faith Johnson is routinely locking up Black people for crimes of poverty. It has been reported by multiple sources that Johnson has received thousands of dollars from the bail industry and even sits on the board of the Dallas County Bail Bond Board. Her silence on the bail reform cannot be tolerated. By pressuring District Attorney Faith Johnson to renounce the bail industry and to refuse political donations from these corporations we get one step closer to ending money bail’s exploitation of poor, Black people in Dallas County. There are many in our community who, not only believe in ending money bail, but are also working to make this come true. It is time for Faith Johnson to do right by her constituents. Join us in demanding Faith Johnson to renounce the bail industry and return all political contributions to bail corporations!
#BreakSilenceBreakCeilings: End Employment Discrimination Against Black DesignersBlack designers continue to face systemic employment discrimination within the mainstream fashion industry. This renders them generally incapable of landing upper management and executive roles, and—as evidenced by H&M’s “Coolest Monkey in The Jungle” hoodie photographed on a young Black boy—often allows for the irresponsible dissemination of insensitive, insulting, and/or exploitative depictions of Blackness within advertising. I recently launched a social media campaign, #breaksilencebreakceilings to address just these issues. Attention around the campaign, resulted in me publishing a game-changing op-ed “Why Aren’t There More Black Designers”, last week in the Business of Fashion. Not content with merely listing complaints throughout the piece, I delivered actionable steps toward dynamic change, charging the Council of Fashion Designers of America and American Vogue to partner on initiating a 3-pronged plan to engage the fashion design and recruitment communities in greater transparency and more equitable hiring practices. The proposed initiative aims to reform an industry that has normalized the exclusion of Black professionals. Design and recruitment industry participants would be availed of comprehensive bias mitigation training and hiring-practice audits. By signing this petition, you will amplify this call-to-action directed at the CFDA and Vogue, organizations that have a responsibility to no longer turn a blind eye to the fashion industry's marginalization of Black talent. Collectively, our signatures will #breaksilencebreakceilings, declaring that time's up for employment discrimination against Black designers. Proposed CFDA/Vogue Partner Programme: 1. Design Purpose: address the non-meritocratic appraisal of design talent that most consistently disadvantages Black professionals. - Design-studio racial stats disclosure. - Immersive hiring manager bias elimination training. - Pledge of commitment to creating equitable inroads for Black talent via meritocratic hiring practices. 2. Headhunting & Recruitment Purpose: address the consistent denial of fair access and representation for prime opportunities for Black design talent. - Compliance with auditing of recruitment and headhunting practices by contracted third party. - Pledge of commitment to creating equitable inroads for Black talent via meritocratic representation. 3. Talent Pool & Academic Communities Purpose: bring greater visibility to consumers, students, talent pool and media regarding overall industry commitment to change regarding inroads for Black design professionals. - Annual disclosure/endorsement by CFDA/Vogue of participating brands, along with statistics regarding the racial composition of their design teams. - Annual disclosure/endorsement of participating headhunters and recruitment firms.
#FreeMichaelDuvall: My Brother Is InnocentThe wrongful yet systematic incarceration of Black people in this country has weakened our community for decades; it’s slavery by another name. This system is causing Michael and others like him, to be jailed while waiting for their case to come to trial. Sometimes, that takes years to happen. Michael has already refused to plea to anything because he is not guilty. The scary thing is; this is the same thing that happened to Kalief Browder. He didn’t want to plead guilty to a crime that he didn’t commit, so this system took his life away in so many ways. I don’t want that to be the case for my brother or anyone. My heart is broken and a part of me is being held in the Upper Marlboro Detention Center with my brother. It is important that we take a stand against this type of abuse from the criminal injustice system so that others in our community do not fall victim to this type of pain and torture.
Bring Dameon Brome and David Lahoz homeDavid Lahoz and Dameon Brome were incarcerated as children and have spent 26 and 30 years in prison, respectively. Each of them has demonstrated rehabilitation, redemption, and remorse. Despite exemplary disciplinary records while incarcerated and plans to continue helping people when they were paroled, both men were recently denied parole on the same day by the same parole hearing examiners. Any review of these men's files will reveal that this is horrible mistake. Dameon and David are rehabilitated and should have been paroled. We call on Board of Probation and Parole Chairman Leo Dunn to correct this error. David and Dameon were juvenile lifers. Montgomery v. Louisiana was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that declared Dameon and David’s sentence unconstitutional. The ruling in that case stated that juvenile lifers needed to be treated as individuals and, if they were not permanently incorrigible, given a chance to come home. After their resentencings last year, both David and Dameon were made immediately parole eligible; but unfortunately Leslie Grey and Mark Koch denied them parole and told them they would need to wait five years before the board would hear their cases again. David and Dameon have appealed and Leo Dunn, the Chairman of the PA Board of Probation and Parole, can overrule their parole denial and allow them to come home to their families and communities. David was once a lost soul running around in the streets of North Philly living a life that was very disruptive. He believed he was destined to die or get locked up; he was sentenced to life without parole as 17 year-old. After a rocky start to his incarceration, he has been active in a lot of programming: playing sports and learning multiple trades. His passion is being a mentor to young people through softball and basketball. David has worked for years to better himself and to help those around him. He has been misconduct free for 15 years and he had institutional support for his parole. Dameon has spent the greater portion of his life incarcerated but refused to accept that it was what would define him. He decided that he would find a way to grow even within the confines of prison. He acquired his GED and worked briefly tutoring others. He's worked in various positions within the institution from the Cook for Specialized Diets to the Law Clerk in the library helping others with legal problems. He has founded, been part of, and facilitated numerous groups to change the hopeless, lost, or disenfranchised perspectives of other incarcerated people, while simultaneously trying to advance his own education and understanding of what it means to be human. He took to Mechanical Drafting and CAD and studied Print Media. Dameon has written books and stories not just to "fill a void I saw that existed" but also to try to show other incarcerated people that there was another way and more possibilities for them even behind bars. Both Dameon and David have loving and supportive families and both plan to continue helping people and bettering the world if released. Their parole denials each listed multiple errors. For example, Dameon’s denial states that he lacked a home plan but he submitted an 11-page home plan. He planned to be paroled to a halfway house in Philadelphia, something the Department of Corrections has encouraged for juvenile lifers but he was questioned about this decision and believes this plan was held against him. They went on to say that Dameon was denied due to misconducts and poor institutional adjustment. Dameon hasn’t had a misconduct in over 9 years and hasn’t had a misconduct relating to fighting in over 23 years. David’s denial stated that he needed to get a GED but he received a GED in the Department of Corrections. His denial went on to say that he had a misconduct at his minimum which was one year ago. He hasn’t had a misconduct in 15 years. A modern professional parole board shouldn’t be making these mistakes. We call on you, Chairman Dunn, to correct them and do the right thing. We believe that Dameon and David should be with their families and communities on the outside. They are rehabilitated. We call on you to grant parole for Dameon Brome and David Lahoz and grant them relief after decades of incarceration.
Get the Corrupt Bail Industry Out Of Maryland PoliticsEveryday, thousands of people who haven't been convicted of a crime are separated from their families as they languish in jails just because they can't afford to pay bail. The commercial bail industry will go to any length to undermine reform and now they being implicated in an FBI bribery investigation. The news about bail-bonds industry lobbyists offering illegal bribes to Sen. Oaks and at least one other target in the state legislature underlines the corrupting influence that the industry’s money has had on the legislative process. These illegal bribes are in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the industry has spent in Maryland on campaign contributions, as detailed last year in a report by Common Cause report. All of this money - reported and under the table - is intended to reverse the progress Maryland can make under a new Judicial Rule intended to have more people released without subjecting them to the debt-trap set up by the bail industry. Maryland is one of the top states for campaign donations by the bail industry coming in behind only California and Florida. In order to get this corrupt industry out of our lives and communities, we must disrupt the dangerous relationship between the bail industry and elected officials.
Stop Racist AdvertisingThis is important because this contributes to racial stereotypes and racial bias found throughout the world. This continues to spread the false message that black men are dangerous due to their inherent nature, and says that black men are inferior to other races, especially to white people. This advertisement sends the message that black men are a danger to society and that they must control themselves in order to be “normal”. Historically, this has been said of black men-that they are violent predators (especially of white women), and because of this, people tend to have more fear when walking down the street and encountering a black man. This is why people are more defensive and and tend to react more violently when they believe, falsely or not, that a black man is a threat to themselves. This was seen in the George Zimmerman case, and has been seen in many cases of police brutality across the country. I saw this sign in Hong Kong just last week, but have not seen it where I live in the US, and this may be because they do not think people in Hong Kong would care about something like this or notice. While Adidas is a German company, they still have a lot of influence here in the US and, I am assuming, around the world. While historically this has been the portrayal of African American men in the US specifically, this same racial stereotyping and bias occurs throughout the world, and this kind of advertising needs to stop.
#OurVoiceOurChief: Demand transparency and inclusion in Police Chief searchA fair, open and transparent selection process that is guided by the needs, concerns and experiences of a broad spectrum of residents – particularly youth and people of color – will ensure that the City of San Diego hires a police chief who is equally committed to upholding the dignity of all San Diegans as s/he is with upholding the law. A 2016 SDSU study* on racial profiling determined that Black and Latino drivers were twice as likely to be stopped and searched by San Diego police officers, but less likely to have contraband than White drivers. SDPD is currently facing litigation** for illegally stopping a Black minor and obtaining his DNA without a warrant. These and other troubling issues of over-policing and unfairly biased policing are among the challenges our next Chief of Police must address. Building the necessary public trust to meet these challenges starts with how impacted communities are engaged in the selection process. Decades of secret back room deals and broken promises have eroded public trust and confidence in our elected representatives. If Mayor Faulconer is truly committed to the vision and values of “one San Diego,” he will ensure that members of impacted communities have a real voice and consequential role in this selection process. He will be transparent and inclusive by allowing concerned San Diegans, especially youth and people of color, to hear from the final candidates before a hiring decision is made. Mayor Faulconer: provide full transparency in the search for San Diego’s next Chief of Police and include the public from start to finish. * https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/sdpdvehiclestopsfinal.pdf ** https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/public-safety/teenager-sued-sdpd-documented-gang-member-soon/
#OurVoiceOurChief: Demand transparency in the Police Chief searchA fair, open and transparent selection process that is guided by the needs, concerns and experiences of a broad spectrum of residents – particularly youth and people of color – will ensure that the City of San Diego hires a police chief who is equally concerned with the dignity of all San Diegans as s/he is with upholding the law. A 2016 SDSU study [link to study] on racial profiling determined that Black and Latino drivers were twice as likely to be stopped and searched by San Diego police officers, but less likely to have contraband than White drivers. SDPD is currently facing litigation [link to VOSD coverage] for illegally stopping a Black minor and obtaining his DNA without a warrant. These and other troubling issues of over-policing and unfairly biased policing will be among the challenges our next Chief of Police must address. Building the necessary public trust to meet these challenges starts with how impacted communities are engaged in the selection process. Decades of secret back room deals and broken promises have served to erode public trust and confidence in our elected representatives. If Mayor Faulconer is truly committed to the vision and values of “one San Diego,” he will ensure that members of impacted communities have a real voice and consequential role in this selection process. He will be transparent by identifying the selection panelists; he will be inclusive by adding community members and youth to the currently exclusive panel of mayoral staff and unidentified law enforcement experts; and he will be fair by allowing the community and youth to meet with the final three candidates before a final decision is made. Mayor Faulconer, keep your promise: include the community in this important process.
LLEP for Buffalo #BuffaloLLEPNew York state decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana 40 years ago, but a disproportionate number of black people continue to be arrested in Buffalo every year. The unequal enforcement is a result of the "war on drugs." Exposure to the criminal justice system has severe impacts on employment, mental health, family stability and financial security. Mayor Byron Brown has the ability to make marijuana the LLEP, or "lowest level enforcement priority" for the Buffalo Police Department. This means that instead of arresting black and brown folks for marijuana, police will be able to focus on building positive, trusting relationships with communities of color, making us all safer. On the commemorative year of decriminalization, tell Mayor Brown that you support him in LLEP (#BuffaloLLEP)!
Stop Locking Up Our Children: Shut Down Lincoln Hill and Copper Lake Now!Our children deserve more than what these prison facilities are serving them. Over the last two years, several lawsuits have been filed against Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prison facilities documenting severe abuse. Some of the lawsuits filed include; a young person whose toes had to be amputated after a guard smashed his toes in a door; a guard who actually assisted a young woman as she attempted to hurt herself; and allegations of suffocation, strangulation, and sexual assault. Locking up youth in these facilities is the most expensive option with the worst results, guaranteeing that every young person sent there will be put in harm’s way. It's time to leave behind the old outdated ways of criminalizing and punishing young people without holistic support. Theses youth prisons continue to perpetuate extreme racial and ethnic disparities. This is another key reason why Milwaukee County needs to undertake comprehensive juvenile justice reform. They need to address and tackle the persistent racial and ethnic inequities in Wisconsin’s juvenile justice system. Wisconsin still ranks in the top five least equitable states, with disparities that far exceed the national average. The vast majority of youth committed to Wisconsin state facilities are Black children. In 2014, young Black people made up almost 70% of youth committed to juvenile prison facilities in the state, but only about 10% of Wisconsin’s total youth population. Most of these young people are coming from Milwaukee County, where the majority of Black folks live in Wisconsin. Milwaukee County spends over $100,000 a year to send one youth from Milwaukee to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake. Milwaukee should abandon the youth prison model and replace it with less costly and more effective non-residential, community-based alternatives to incarceration. Locking up young people in cages does not ensure public safety in any way. Over 60% of the young people who go to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake re-offend within three years of release, largely due to the intense trauma young people experience while incarcerated. To have a safer community, it is critical that Milwaukee County stops sending youth to Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake and instead invest in a range of effective community programs that offer targeted supervision and services. Programs that include restorative justice, intensive mentoring, mental health treatment, family therapy and other interventions that are proven to lower risk and sustain long-term behavior change among adjudicated youth. WI and Milwaukee County should invest in community-based solutions that work for young people, their familiies and the communities they come from.