Justice Updates – Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Making peace with the earth.   Savor the food that you eat today and make sure to eat everything on your plate. A thirteen minute TED talk featuring Elena Matsui discusses ways to reduce the waste of one-third of the world’s food that either spoils or gets thrown away before it ever reaches a plate. Watch now.

Fast and Pray.  This week we pray for the unaccompanied children and youth now in detention that they may soon be released to their sponsors.  We pray as well for their worried parents and relatives.

Call your representative today. The house will vote on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, a 1994 law that assists victims of domestic and sexual violence and expired in February. Roughly half of all female homicide victims are killed by “intimate partners” – current or former spouses or dating partners. The bill includes:

  • Provisions to prevent domestic abusers from accessing firearms
  • Enhanced health care provider training in identification and response
  • Enhanced services for safety and behavioral care
  • Prevention investments that will support children who witness domestic violence, encourage youth to build healthy relationships and engage men and boys in the prevention of domestic and sexual violence
  • Expanded protections for victims of violence on tribal lands
  • Supportive services and protections for victims, focusing on economic independence, employment opportunity, and safe housing

For more information, read this article from the NY Times. Tell your representative that women deserve this protection.

A Season of New Life and Hope.  Sr. Kathleen Coll, SSJ shares the story of a survivor of sex trafficking in Catholic Sisters Against Trafficking.  Spring 2019, a season of new life and hope, is not disappointing us. Everywhere we look, Earth broke through the winter-hardened soil with crocus and daffodil’s tender shoots. Glorious colors and sweet-smelling flowers greet our senses and lift our hearts for a welcome break after gloomy, cold days of winter. Stories of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking also, abound with new life. This is one woman’s reflection on her journey through the darkness to a hope-filled new season of life.

Most people would think being released from jail a year early was a good thing, but for me it was a disaster.  I had nowhere to live and would be plunged right back into my old life of prostitution and drugs.

I had been working furiously to find a program that would take me.  I wrote dozens of letters, but resources are very limited in prison.  I kept plugging away and thought I had a year to find placement, when I got notice of early release.

My family wanted no part of me after all I had put them through.  An old boyfriend would take me back, and I knew what that meant.  All the work I had done while in jail would be for nothing. If I went back to him, I would have been dead by now.

On the street, depression would set in, and I’d settle for anything, because of him and I felt I didn’t deserve better.  It wasn’t until after my 22nd arrest that I realized that I really needed help, and started looking for a program to take me. There were no beds in any programs but then, I found Dawn’s Place.

Now, I’m so appreciative. My whole family is in my life. No one talks about the past or judges me. I’m more grateful than I’ve ever been. I had no life, no soul before. I wake up thanking God that I’m alive. I wouldn’t change my life because it made me appreciate even the littlest things that I used to take for granted.

The time in my life when I felt that I didn’t deserve Dawn’s Place, that I just deserved all the bad things that happened to me, seems so long ago. Dawn’s Place gave me back my self-esteem, helped me on the road to good health, empowered me to find housing and a job, made me independent, strengthened me to stay clean and sober and lead me to find my voice.

Stories like this are evidence of the strength and resiliency of the human spirit and offer the possibility of a brighter future to other women in critical need.

NETWORK challenges us to recommit to racial justice this Lent. This week they focus on the systemic destruction of the Native peoples of North America in  A Nation Built on Stolen Land.  From the first interactions with Native Americans to the modern day, white colonizers in North America have worked toward one thing: theft. Theft of land, theft of natural resources, theft of culture and identity. Racial justice demands that we recognize and remedy these thefts. This resource cannot comprehensively recount the entire history of Native Americans, but we hope that this will be a starting point for you to begin learning about the peoples our nation has attempted to make invisible. Click here a PDF of this resource.

Here are some highlights in this week’s resource:

White Supremacy Continues Harming Native Americans Today:  Recently, NETWORK staff traveled to New Mexico and hosted a round table in Albuquerque to listen to Native leaders and leaders in women’s health, childcare, dental care, food security, and immigration sectors share their experience working to mend the gaps. In this resource, we share testimonials from Myrriah Gómez from Tularosa Basin Downriders Consortium Steering Committee and Yvette Pino, Mescalero Apache. Read their full testimonies on our website.

A Story of Resistance and Hope: The Native American experience is one of rich tradition, faith, and resistance. From the American Indian Movement of the 1970s, to the Standing Rock protests around the Dakota Access Pipeline, Native American resistance to the legal expression of white supremacy continues to this day.

This week’s resource also includes a testimonial from Representative Deb Haaland (NM-01). She says, “As one of two Native American women ever elected to Congress, I know it is a historic time to be engaged in politics regardless of background. We have been elected to lead during a time of divisiveness; a time where white supremacy has been proliferated by the current administration… My colleagues and I took an oath on January 3rd and I did so solemnly with the understanding of what it means to stand up, speak out, and lead when others in elected office are abusing their power.”

Partisan Gerrymandering at the Supreme Court.  Gerrymandering involves drawing political boundaries to give one party a numeric advantage over an opposing party. Last week the Supreme Court heard a set of three redistricting cases that could result in ending partisan gerrymandering across the nation. The cases involve the most egregious examples of gerrymandering in which elected officials made ‘no bones about’ an intent to discriminate against disfavored voters and create unfair maps. These cases present extremes in gerrymandering, and the litigants (disfavored voters) seek to rein in the worst gerrymanders to restore voters’ faith in the voting process.

Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina and its companion cases assert that partisan gerrymandering by both major parties violated voters’ rights. Banning partisan gerrymandering would make huge strides in restoring voters’ faith in the electoral process. The Supreme Court now has a huge opportunity to declare that, once and for all, politicians cannot choose their voters—voters must be free to choose who they want to represent them. You can learn more about these cases on the League of Women Voters blog.

For more information about gerrymandering, check out this article by Christopher Ingraham in the Washington Post. This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see. How to steal an election: a visual guide.

Racism can affect even the most positive nonprofits. Helen Kim Ho describes 8 Ways People of Color are Tokenized in Nonprofits. She explains that Tokenism is covert racism and is used by those in power to maintain their privilege by exercising social, economic, and/or political muscle against people of color. Tokenism achieves the same while giving those in power the appearance of being non-racist and even champions of diversity because they recruit and use POC as racialized props.



Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

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