Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Join Dominican Sisters of Peace as we strive to bring PEACE and justice to our world in this post-truth era. Each week, our Justice Promoter will share important information (including action alerts, prayer opportunities and much more) that will help you to spread peace in your own local community and our world at large.


Justice Updates – Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Did you find your orange ribbon? Get it out, dust it off, and plan to wear it on Friday, June 7th. Tell anyone who asks that too many people have been killed by gun violence and you want gun safety legislation that can make a difference.

Stop the rollback of NEPA.  The hallmark of democracy is that all citizens have a right to speak and be heard. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is one of the only federal laws that allows people to voice their concerns about the impacts federal projects have on their communities.  Imagine the government trying to put a highway through the property of one of our motherhouses and/or ecology centers, wouldn’t we want an opportunity to speak against it?

Under NEPA, federal agencies must perform an environmental review for each proposed major federal action. The current administration has begun dismantling these requirements including how agencies should address greenhouse gases and waiving NEPA reviews completely.

Because NEPA reviews are centered on the voices from the communities impacted, they give people — especially people of color — the power to fight against these systemic inequities to protect their families and communities. In fact, from harmful pollution to the real impacts of climate change disasters, race is the single biggest indicator of how likely an individual is to experience negative environmental and public health impacts. That is environmental racism. Communities of color face greater environmental and public health hazards because they have less power and access to fight back. And since communities of color are already impacted first and worst by these environmental challenges, rolling back NEPA protections will only exacerbate existing injustices.

Contact your senators and representatives and tell them to stop the administration from gutting NEPA.  The Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program provides more information.

Revoke the Authorization for Use of Military Force.  After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that granted the President the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the September 11 attacks. In 2016, the Office of the President published a brief interpreting the AUMF as providing authorization for the use of force against al-Qaeda and other militant groups.  AUMF has been used to allow military action in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, and Somalia.  Now the administration has declared there is a threat coming from Iran.

H.R. 1274, introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, is a bill to revoke Congress’ two-decade-old authorization of military action. Without Congress’s approval, the administration could extend military action into Iran and even Venezuela.

According to Win Without War, “presidents from both parties have distorted Congress’ 2001 AUMF beyond belief – to justify global war and counterterrorism operation in 80 countries over 18 years.  The never-ending war in Afghanistan. Hidden drone strikes across Africa. Torture in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons. The erosion of civil liberties across the United States.”

Call your representative and tell him/her that any military action should be approved by Congress and to support H.R. 1274.

Good news…more money to study gun violence.   Everytown for Gun Safety reports that the House Appropriations Committee has allocated $50 million in a 2020 federal spending bill to study both the causes of gun violence and the solutions to help prevent it. Gun violence kills 100 people, and injures hundreds more, every day in our country. More than 20 years ago the NRA fought aggressively to persuade Congress to block funding for gun violence research, resulting in the so-called Dickey Amendment. As a result, funding for gun injury prevention fell by over 90 percent over the last two decades.

The money would go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The research would look at the causes and effects of gun violence, and different gun safety prevention strategies. Building on what we already know works, it could point the way toward effective new approaches for ending gun violence in America.

Since the Dickey Amendment in 1996, gun violence research has been severely underfunded by the CDC and NIH. In 2018, out of a total budget of more than $8.2 billion, the CDC devoted merely $199,000 to firearm-related research. $50 million of research funding would signal a sea change in the federal commitment to ending gun violence.

Now, this spending bill is moving to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote — and we need their support for this funding. Please call your Representative and encourage him/her to vote for this funding.

Sowing hope for the planet.   At the UISG Plenary, Sr. Sheila Kinsey, FCJM presented this 17-minute video to highlight how Sisters are responding to the cries of the earth and the plights of the poor.


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) invite you to a conversation with Sister Gabriella Bottani, CMS, the director of Talitha Kum. She will talk about Talitha Kum, the international network of consecrated life against the trafficking of persons, and how this global network of sister organizations is working to eliminate human trafficking.  The Zoom webinar will be on Monday, May 20 at 11 am Eastern, 10 am Central, 9 am Mountain, and 8 am Pacific. It will last for one hour.  Click here to get the flyer and information on how to connect to the Zoom link.  (Click anywhere on the flyer and you will get to Zoom.)

Get out your orange ribbon! June 7th is Wear Orange Day.  A day to remember those killed by gun violence and to work for an end to gun violence.  If you lost your orange ribbon, let me know and I’ll send you another (  Why are we wearing orange?   Click here to find out.

H.R. 5 Equality Act.  Everyone, regardless of who they are or who they love is created with sacred dignity and worth. Our laws should reflect that. The House of Representatives is voting next week on the H.R. 5 Equality Act – a step forward for justice for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Faith in Public Life invites you to add your name to thousands of faith leaders speaking out. Here is the link to this petition.  H.R. 5 Equality Act prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation. The bill expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.

The bill allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.

Climate Refugees. We have heard about the refugee coming to the border because of violence and poverty. But what about those who are forced to flee their countries because of climate change?  The Jesuit Office of Justice and Ecology explain this phenomena.

Climate Refugees: Your Questions Answered

April 23, 2019 — Climate change is having significant impacts around the world and powerful weather events, often the result of climate change, have captured the public’s attention. But how is climate change impacting displacement of people? In honor of Earth Day this week, Jesuit Refugee Service USA (JRS/USA) and the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology are answering your questions about climate and displacement.

What is a climate refugee?

There is no internationally recognized definition of climate refugees, but climate refugees are generally understood to be migrants who have been forced to leave their homes due to the sudden or gradual impacts of climate change. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that by 2050, up to 250 million people will be displaced by climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, floods, famine, drought, hurricanes, desertification and the negative impacts on ecosystems.

In 2013 alone, almost three times as many people were displaced by disasters than conflict.

People who must migrate due to environmental degradation can be forced to flee temporarily and quickly due to a sudden natural disaster (e.g., hurricane, tsunami, etc.), leave because the environmental conditions in or near their home are deteriorating (e.g., deforestation, coastal deterioration), or leave to avoid future problems due to environmental deterioration (e.g., a farmer must move because crop production starts to fall).

People displaced by climate are often displaced within their own country and do not cross a border to reach a new country.

How does climate impact displacement otherwise?

Not only can climate change be a direct contributor to the displacement, but in many of today’s conflicts causing forced displacement climate change is a “threat multiplier.” A key example is Syria, where a five-year drought preceded the civil war. Some experts assert that the devastation and scarcity of resources caused by the drought exacerbated socio-political tensions that led to the war. According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “Climate change [is] now found to be the key factor accelerating all other drivers of forced displacement.”

Those who are displaced feel the impacts of climate change more than others. The recent example of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi made this clear. Jesuit Refugee Service saw firsthand the impact this weather had on the refugees we serve in Tongogara refugee camp in Zimbabwe, home to more than 10,000 refugees, the majority of whom fled violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many of these refugees had already survived violence and persecution only to have their new home destroyed by a storm.

People wait in line for food at a camp for displaced people in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, March 30, 2019. (CNS photo/Zohra Bensemra, Reuters)

What is the legal status of those displaced by climate change?

Climate refugees are not currently classified by international law as refugees, so they do not have the same recognition or protection as those who flee persecution, war or violence.

Despite widespread recognition of the needs of climate-related forcibly displaced people — as great as any refugee — they continue to lack formal recognition.

Where are climate refugees?

No region is immune from the impacts of climate change, but some regions are being particularly hard hit. In parts of the Pacific, sea levels are rising as much as four times the global average. According to UNHCR, in 2015, 85 percent of people displaced by sudden onset disasters were in South and East Asia. That year, Tuvalu and Vanuatu saw 25 percent and 55 percent of their populations displaced during Cyclone Pam. When Cyclone Komen hit India and Myanmar later that year, 1.2 million and 1.6 million people were displaced respectively.

Villagers on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, in March 2015 after Cyclone Pam destroyed their homes. (CNS photo/Dave Hunt, EPA)

Low and lower-middle income countries have the most displacement linked to disasters, including in the context of climate change.

What does Catholic Social Teaching tell us about climate refugees?

Both climate change and the welcoming of migrants are issues that the Holy Father has pointed to as central in our time. In his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis draws the link between them, noting that climate is causing people, especially the poor, to leave their homes. He writes that “There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation,” calling all of us to take responsibility for our brothers and sisters who have experienced this loss.

So what steps can we take to address the needs of climate-related forcibly-displaced people?

Educate: We can share the stories of the people directly impacted by changes in global weather patterns. Millions of people have already been forcibly displaced by climate-related disasters, and we can share the stories of our brothers and sisters who are suffering, whether they have lost everything from flooding in Bangladesh or Houston, or are starving due to recurring droughts.

Advocate: The U.S. withdrew from the UN Global Compact on Migration which specifically talks about the need to address the growing problem of climate displacement. We need to urge our elected officials to re-engage in global responses to climate change.

The U.S. should also become a leader in reducing our negative impact on the environment. Encourage your representatives to support HR 9, the Climate Action Now Act, which directs the President to develop a plan for the United States to meet its obligation under the Paris Agreement to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Action:  Call your congressperson to support H.R. 1945 (The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act). The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (HR1945), demanding a suspension of all U.S. security aid to Honduras, was recently re-introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson with 43 initial cosponsors. The bill will work to ensure that the Honduran government, military, and police cannot commit crimes or acts of violence against the Honduran people with impunity.  Berta Cáceres was an environmental activist who with the indigenous Lenca people waged a nonviolent campaign to prevent the building of the Agua Zarca Dam. She was murdered in 2016 by gunmen in her home.

“This legislation will suspend U.S. military funding to Honduran security forces and discourage multilateral development bank lending until the Honduran government investigates and prosecutes those in the military and police who have violated human rights.” “For years, members of the Honduras police and military have engaged in corrupt practices and gross human rights abuses without consequence. By limiting funding, we have the opportunity to force the Honduran government to investigate and prosecute these crimes,” said Rep. José Serrano (NY-15).For more information about this bill, click here or here.  Co-sponsors of the bill include representatives from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Ohio

Who was Berta Cáceres?  In a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Berta Cáceres (d. 2016) rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.

Since the 2009 coup, Honduras has witnessed an explosive growth in environmentally destructive megaprojects that would displace indigenous communities. Almost 30 percent of the country’s land was earmarked for mining concessions, creating a demand for cheap energy to power future mining operations. To meet this need, the government approved hundreds of dam projects around the country, privatizing rivers, land, and uprooting communities.

Among them was the Agua Zarca Dam, a joint project of Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) and Chinese state-owned Sinohydro, the world’s largest dam developer. Agua Zarca, slated for construction on the sacred Gualcarque River, was pushed through without consulting the indigenous Lenca people—a violation of international treaties governing indigenous peoples’ rights. The dam would cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of Lenca people and violate their right to sustainably manage and live off their land.

Berta Cáceres, a Lenca woman, grew up during the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980s. Her mother, a midwife and social activist, took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, teaching her young children the value of standing up for disenfranchised people. She grew up to become a student activist and in 1993, she cofounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to Lenca communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods.

In 2006, community members from Rio Blanco came to COPINH asking for help. They had witnessed an influx of machinery and construction equipment coming into their town. They had no idea what the construction was for or who was behind the project. What they knew was that an aggression against the river—a place of spiritual importance to the Lenca people—was an act against the community, its free will, and its autonomy. With mandates from local community members at every step of the way, Cáceres began mounting a campaign against the Agua Zarca Dam. She filed complaints with government authorities, bringing along community representatives on trips to Tegucigalpa. She organized a local assembly where community members formally voted against the dam, and led a protest where people peacefully demanded their rightful say in the project.

The campaign also reached out to the international community, bringing the case to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and lodging appeals against the project’s funders such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank. Ignoring these appeals, the national government and local mayors forged ahead. They doctored minutes from a community meeting to paint a false picture of unanimous approval for the dam, and offered cash to local people in exchange for their signature on documents declaring their support.

In April 2013, Cáceres organized a road blockade to prevent DESA’s access to the dam site. Using a carefully organized system of alerts to keep everyone in the loop, the Lenca people maintained a heavy but peaceful presence, rotating out friends and family members for weeks at a time. For well over a year, the blockade withstood multiple eviction attempts and violent attacks from militarized security contractors and the Honduran armed forces.

Honduras’ violent climate is well known to many, but few understand that environmental and human rights activists are its victims. Tomas Garcia, a community leader from Rio Blanco, was shot and killed during a peaceful protest at the dam office. Others have been attacked with machetes, discredited, detained, and tortured. None of the perpetrators have been brought to justice. Against these odds, Cáceres and the Lenca community’s efforts successfully kept construction equipment out of the proposed dam site. In late 2013, Sinohydro terminated its contract with DESA, publicly citing ongoing community resistance and outrage following Tomas’ death. Agua Zarca suffered another blow when the IFC withdrew its funding, citing concerns about human rights violations. To date, construction on the project has effectively come to a halt.

Death threats to Cáceres continued until March 3, 2016, when she was killed by gunmen in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. Her death, followed by the killing of her colleague and fellow COPINH member Nelson García just 12 days later, sparked international outrage. Dutch development bank FMO and FinnFund have since suspended their involvement in the Agua Zarca project. COPINH, along with fellow activists, are determined to continue her legacy, fighting irresponsible development and standing up for the rights of the Lenca people in Honduras.

 Network Lobby for Social Justice continues its Lenten series on Racism with this reminder: “Being anti-racist is a daily choice. When white supremacy permeates the daily society, structures, and systems we encounter daily, it is not enough to be passive – we must actively counter the presence of white supremacy in our daily lives. However, when you do join a conversation about racism, participate in an action, or just go about your daily life mindful of race, you may slip up. We all have racial biases that we are working to overcome, and sometimes there are things that you just haven’t educated yourself on yet. The important thing is that how you choose to react when you mess up.” This week’s information is called Hope for our Liberation.

Action:  We need to fight environmental racism.  When the federal government wants to build something in our communities, we have a right to be a part of the process – especially if there are potentially harmful environment risks.  It is a part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the administration is attempting to roll back parts of the bill that give citizens a voice. This will especially impact communities of color who are often the victims of environmental racism.  From harmful pollution to the real impacts of climate change, race is the single biggest indicator of how likely an individual is to experience negative environmental and public health impacts. NEPA reviews allow people – especially people of color – the power to fight against systemic inequities to protect their families and communities. Call your senators and representatives and urge them to protect NEPA.

Cecilia González-Andrieu writing for America explores why women stay in the Catholic Church. She states that  “the story of the dysfunction of the Catholic Church as an institution is now the subject of multiple investigations and copious news coverage worldwide. Tragically, at issue is not just the sexual abuse of minors by clergy or the exploitation of women religious or the exclusion of women from positions of authority and oversight or denying women full use of their gifts. We are now confronting all of this together.”   Read “With a Church in Crisis, Why do Catholic Women Stay?” 

Many individuals criticize asylum seekers saying they should enter the U.S. the legal way. While claiming asylum is legal based on both national and international law, it is incredibly hard to enter the U.S. through other legal means. Here’s what’s happening with the current immigration system as explained by Peniel Ibe of the American Friends Service Committee.  One of the major problems is the reduction in the number of refugees allowed into the country. This year’s quota is 30,000. Last year, only around 24,000 were admitted.  On April 9, 2019 Senator Edward Markey, Representative Zoe Logfren and Joe Neguse and 22 Senate and House co-sponsors introduced the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement (GRACT) Act. It would establish 95,000 as the minimum goal for refugee admitted each year. Read, Ms. Ibe’s blog “Trump Attacks on Legal Immigration System Explained.”

More Action: Call your Senators and Representatives to support the DREAM Act and SECURE Act.  The USCCB Committee on Migration publicly voiced support and sent letters to the Senate endorsing the “Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors” (DREAM) Act of 2019, S. 874, and the “Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression & Emergency” (SECURE) Act of 2019, S. 879. The DREAM Act of 2019 would provide permanent legal protection and a pathway to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers. The SECURE Act of 2019 would provide permanent legal protection and a pathway to citizenship to qualifying Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders.

 Yesterday was Earth Day – a day to celebrate the beauty of our Mother Earth. What has been accomplished since the first earth day in 1970?  This article from National Geographic provides a list.  There have been many advancements but there is still a long way to go.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Pray and Fast.  “Do not be afraid: I know you are looking for Jesus…” (Matthew) Give us new eyes-give us new understanding-give us courage and new HEARTS to live in loving communion with those escaping from violence and poverty.

Lenten Action.  Commit to reducing your personal carbon footprint.   Wash in cold water… buy your next clothing item at Good Will… drive one fewer trip… reduce food waste.  Check out these articles about reducing carbon footprints. Top 20 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and  35 Easiest Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint .

How has racism impacted U.S. Immigration? This week, Network explains that the U.S. has a long history of discrimination against new immigrants. “Examining the history of immigration in the U.S., as well as the laws and customs that changed over decades, illustrates how ‘whiteness’ was manipulated to serve the purposes in power and how ‘White’ was as much as privileged legal and economic status that needed to be protected as it was a racial identity.”   What is your or your family’s experience with this type of racism? Read more.

ACTIONS:  Tell Congress:

H. R. 6 Support the Dream and Promise Act! The newly-introduced Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) would provide long-overdue, permanent relief and a pathway to citizenship for recipients of TPS (Temporary Protected Status) and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). It would also go further than DACA by providing much-needed protections to all Dreamers, rather than the narrower subset of DACA recipients. Call or email your representative today.  If you email, go to the Network website. They have customized the message based on whether or not your Representative is a cosponsor of this bill. So email your Representative now to thank them, or encourage them to support!

H. R. 508 Earlier this year, Representative Joyce Beatty reintroduced the Trafficking Victims Housing Act, H.R. 508 which would require a federal study to be conducted to assess the availability and accessibility of housing and related services for victims of trafficking who are experiencing homelessness and those at risk. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services and is awaiting further consideration. Let your representative know that you support this bill.












Is this a budget we can live with?  The budget of a city, state, and/or nation describes that organization’s priorities. Many believe that it should reflect the needs of its citizens. People of faith might consider it a moral document that should reflect the responsibilities of government to protect those most in need.    Examining the budget released by the administration gives a clear indication of what’s important to President Trump.

The newly released budget contains another massive five percent increase in the Pentagon budget, while slashing spending for human needs, diplomacy and infrastructure by five percent across the board.  31 percent would be eliminated from the Environmental Protection Agency, 12 percent from the Department of Education, 16 percent from Housing and Urban Development, and more.

There’s $9 billion in the Pentagon budget for “emergency requirements,” widely understood to augment the $8.6 billion explicitly in the budget for the border wall. Part of the military’s increase will also go toward the wall.

Who will feel the impact of Trump’s budget? In addition to the soldiers and civilians killed and wounded in our wars, and those made refugees, we all do. Think about the lack of affordable housing, crushing student debt, immigrants rounded up and detained in military-style raids, people who go hungry in our land of plenty.

Do you benefit from white privilege? Utah Jazz player Kyle Korver believes that it’s the responsibility of anyone on the privileged end of those inequalities to help make things right.

The administration has threatened to cut funding to Central America. The NY Times describes some of the poverty-reducing programs that this foreign aid is funding. Contact your senators and urge them NOT to reduce this aid.

The End of Empathy?  If we ever hope to have peace in the world, we need to be able to connect with the “other.” Hanna Rosin writes about the End of Empathy in which she describes that the “new rule for empathy seems to be: reserve it, not for your enemies, but for the people you believe are hurt, or you have decided need it the most. Empathy, but just for your own team. And empathizing with the other team?  That’s practically a taboo.”  It that what empathy means to you?  Read about this here.


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

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