Community Activism

See Something, Say Something

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Your DGB for today is to be vigilant.

It’s a scary world out there. People are mailing bombs and there’s the ever-looming threat of another mass shooting. No one wants to live in fear, but the times call for extra caution. If you see someone saying hateful things on social media, don’t dismiss it as all talk. Report to the platform and perhaps law enforcement if the threats are targeted. For other guidelines, see this site:

https://www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something

Countdown to Midterm Elections: 12 Days

Is Your School District Segregated?

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Wait, school segregation - wasn’t that ended in, like, the

1960s? During that black-and-white photo era, nothing we need to worry about now, right? Our modern public schools don’t even SEE color! Well no, actually, that is wrong, wrong, and not even close to the case. In fact, Southern public schools are racially segregated at pretty much the same rate they were in the 1960s and other regions aren’t doing much better. The gerrymandering that has succeeded in keeping the GOP in power, despite dwindling voter ranks, is the very same force being used to keep schools separate and unequal. Alvin Chang at Vox has written an excellent article about the subject and went so far as to provide a handy widget, armed with data from a recent study on the topic, so that you can find out if your own local district is helping or hurting this problem. Your DGB for today is to read the article here: https://www.vox.com/2018/1/8/16822374/school-segregation-gerrymander-map

Studies have shown that all children, both white and minority, benefit from attending a diverse school. Let’s grab that opportunity back for them.

 

 

Plug The Pipeline

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One of the keystones of systemic racism here in the United States is the School to Prison Pipeline: a descriptor for the way minorities are funneled into prison starting with the way the are treated by their public schools and districts. The Department of Education now has a searchable database that allows you to see just how your own school or district is handling things like gifted and talented (G&T) enrollments and disciplinary situations. Ideally, the percentages will roughly reflect the enrollment data. So for example, if your school or district is 85% white, 5% Black, 5% Latinx and 5% Asian, your G&T and suspension rates will shake out into similar numbers. Sadly, this is often not the case. One DGB staffer noted that although her school of reference contained 4.8% Black students they made up over 9% of the out-of-school-suspensions.

Folks, this is not acceptable. Black and other minority students are regularly punished more often and with greater consequences than white students, yet there is no data that illustrates they are breaking the rules more often.

 

Please read more about this database and how to use the information here: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/heres-how-find-out-how-racist-your-kids-school

 

And look up your school(s) and district(s) here: https://ocrdata.ed.gov/DistrictSchoolSearch

 

Use this information to grab our students out of the prison pipeline.

 

Fine Feathered Friends

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Your DGB for today is to read this passionate piece on the importance of birds to the world, to humanity, and take steps to protect these animals in your immediate vicinity.

As promised, the Trump administration is turning out to be the most viciously anti-environment, anti-natural world administration in US history. But even before Trump was denying climate change, doing away with environmental regulations, and otherwise running roughshod over the planet, birds have been in trouble. Pesticide use, air and water pollution, habitat destruction, aforementioned climate change, and even the humble house cat have affected bird populations.

Being an environmental voter is great, but you can actually have a big impact in very immediate ways:

  1. Keep your cats indoors, or, put a bell on ‘em to warn birds they’re coming. Felis catus is responsible for an eye-popping 2.4 billion-with-a-b bird deaths a year just in the United States.

  2. Stop using pesticides on your garden, or find ones that are less harmful to birds. Avoid neonicotinoids, especially, as they are deadly to both birds and pollinators.

  3. We know it’s kind of early to be mentioning it, when you’re done with your Christmas tree (should you celebrate), leave it in your yard as a habitat for birds instead of putting it on the curb. Same for brush piles. Your feathered friends will thank you.

 

We know these days it seems like so much is out of our control. These small steps are doable and have real, tangible results right in your backyard. Do it for your mental health, if nothing else. Hope is a thing with feathers.

 

Cleanse the Country of the Confederate Plague

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Your DGB for today is to help the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) update their Whose Heritage? Confederate symbol tracker.

Do you have a throwback monument to our country’s traitorous past in your town? The SPLC is compiling a comprehensive list of every Confederate plaque, statue, and memorial that exists today. Unfortunately, due to the rebranding the South was gifted post-Reconstruction, many of these symbols exist in some pretty weird places. And by weird we mean, not the Southeastern United States. Whether you are in California or Wisconsin, please keep your eyes open for these archaic icons. Because we can’t get rid of them if we don’t even know they are there.

Grab our public spaces back from racist traitors.

 

White Privilege and Standing Up

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Your DGB for today is to familiarize yourself with strategies to de-escalate racist harassment and assault, especially if you have white privilege and can use it to help Black and brown folk.

Last week two Black men were arrested for hanging out at Starbucks. And a Black teenager was shot at for ringing a white person’s doorbell to ask for directions. As if we need more reminders, it is clearly not safe to be Black in this society. And PoC need more than non-racist allies, they need ANTI-racist allies willing to use their white privilege to help on the front lines. In the video taken of the Starbucks incident, you can see white people attempting to intervene with the police on behalf of the two Black men. This is a great use of their white privilege. It didn’t have the desired result in this case, but maybe if they’d had a little more information and training, it would have. Maybe someone could have convinced the Starbucks employee not to engage in racial profiling and call the cops in the first place. So check out the resources to which we’ve linked, and learn how to stand up to racism, rather than just being a bystander.

And one more thing: given the way that Black people’s lives are put at risk in encounters with the police, please think twice before calling the cops on a Black person.

 

Teachers Unions

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We had a Grab all planned out for today about supporting those awesome teachers on strike in West Virginia but they had the nerve to receive their demands and are going back to class! So the first part of your DGB for today is to give a shout out to the #55strong on Facebook or Twitter and show the world that solidarity WORKS!

The next part of today’s Grab is getting you ready to support the next teachers’ strike because we hope that this is just the beginning. (There are already rumblings coming out of Oklahoma.) The National Education Association, the teachers union that includes professional educators starting at preschool and going up through university, has some resources for you to peruse and prepare for the discussions, debates and deliberations that a local teachers’ strike will entail. Starting with a Fact Sheet that will help dispel myths and misinformation, there are several informational resources posted on their Union Rights page and we hope you will go and read up.

The teachers in West Virginia did not win this deal without the support of their community so please be ready to grab back and support the teachers in your own.

 

American Flag Disposal

Your DGB for today is to learn how to properly dispose of an American flag.

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, which is why we’re all probably feeling a little more patriotic now that our democracy left us. We’re driving around, listening to Drake*, remembering the good times, and regretting how we took Obama’s America for granted. We never even took her dancing.

Still... we had our problems. We fought a lot. We said some things we didn’t mean, like threatening to move to Canada. But America said some things too, like that some people were more equal than others. We’re just so conflicted these days. Sometimes we want to cherish the old flag America left at our house and other times we want to burn it to the ground.

Well, if you’ve got an unwanted flag lying around, you can do both. A Veterans of Foreign Wars post will dispose of your flag for you in an official burning ceremony. Your local VFW is also a good resource for many community-centered activities and events, especially for veterans and their families.

 

* DGB recommends you never Drake and drive, as you could end up at your ex’s house.

 

 

Hate Has No Home Here

Your DGB for today is to look into options for proclaiming your home or business a safe space.

Since the election, neighborhoods have come together to protest hatred and bigotry with different exterior displays. One popular way of demonstrating inclusiveness is the rainbow peace flag, which you can find on Amazon.

Another option is the Hate Has No Home Here sign.

We at DGB understand that the American flag theme and colors don’t necessarily represent all of us, and we recognize that the Hate Has No Home Here signs aren’t perfect. Recently, there has been some recognition that the traditional rainbow flag also leaves people of color underrepresented, which prompted a modified version to be released. You can find downloadable artwork on the More Color More Pride site, which means you can even create your very own extra gay, extra inclusive super yard sign.

On a personal note, those of us at DGB who are minorities find these neighborhood signs comforting. Better still, our children recognize them as signifying safe places and love spotting them on car rides.

 

Grabbing Back in your Community Over the Summer

Your DGB for today is to make a list of ways you can grab back weekly, in your local community.

DGB is all about building up our local communities. You can spend hours every day trying to fix Washington, but we all know what stands at the heart of real change happens in local communities. Washington can pass all the laws and bills they want, but it won’t change a things if we aren’t changing minds and hearts at the local level.

So today we are asking you to look at your community and find a need that you and your friends and family can fill. We encourage you to try and do something once a week for the entire summer. Many of the actions you take can be as short as five minutes, with a big community pay off.

 

Some suggestions from DGB are:

Clean up your local park or your neighborhood. This is as simple as taking a walk and carrying a trash bag with you.

Volunteer at a local animal shelter. Animal shelters need volunteers to feed and walk the animals. Added bonus is you get all the puppy and kitty loves, without having to clean up their accidents on your new rug. Alternatively, if you do enjoy cleaning, it’s kitten season, and shelters need foster homes.

Put together care packages to drop off at your local homeless shelter, or to keep in your car if you see someone in need. Reusable water bottles are extra nice for these hot summer days.

Contact a local senior center and go play games with the residents. Beware: Bingo is not for the faint of heart.

 

Need more ideas? Check out Volunteer Match to search for local needs that fit your schedule. Whatever you choose to do, spend some time grabbing back this summer. Even if your efforts go unnoticed, it feels great to know you are doing your part to help your community and grow your circle.

 

Follow Pittsburgh Lead in Climate Change

Your DGB for today is to recruit your mayor to fight climate change! We want you to contact the mayor of your city or town and ask them to commit to following the guidelines laid out in the Paris Agreement.

Last week our illustrious President decided to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement forged to fight climate change. This is despite the fact that his best friends in Russia elected this year to participate. In a tweet about the move Trump stated “I was elected by voters of Pittsburgh, not Paris. I promised I would exit or renegotiate any deal which fails to serve US interests." What Trump failed to realize before tweeting is that the voters in Pittsburgh overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton and their mayor, Bill Peduto, was having none of that nonsense. He clapped back, hard. “As the mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & our future.” Holy covfefe!

Climate change is going to impact everyone. Let’s get our local politicians to follow the leadership Mayor Peduto is showing here. So whether you’re in Modesto or Millington, Poughkeepsie or Portland, we are asking you to reach out to your mayor and get them to help mitigate this short-sighted and idiotic move by our President.

 

Learning From History Without Celebrating It

Your DGB for today is to contact your local representatives, if applicable, or a representative in a nearby state and demand they remove all Confederate monuments.

New Orleans has been in the news lately for removing all of the Confederate monuments in their city. Many applauded this move, but some fought against it, even forming a tiki torch brigade and trying to intimidate the workers removing the statues. We applaud New Orleans, but the United States has a serious Confederate monument problem. There are more than 700 monuments, spanning 31 states, and some in states that fought against the Confederacy. We have even seen 35 monuments erected since 2000.

The removal of monuments across New Orleans has sparked a national discussion on where Confederate monuments fit into our nation and it’s history. In a speech on why he removed the monuments, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu stated:

 

These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.”

 

We are asking you to contact the Mayors of cities that have Confederate monuments and implore them to follow the lead of Mayor Mitch Landrieu and remove the monuments. This list of monuments isn’t complete, but it’s a start.

DGB doesn’t believe in erasing history, but we do believe in placing these monuments in a musuem or somewhere that their correct history and horror can be explained instead of celebrated. We end with one last quote from Mayor Landrieu:

 

“There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.”

 

One Bad Apple

Your DGB for today is to contact the Tulsa Police Department and demand they fire murderer Betty Shelby.

If you haven’t heard any backstory on Betty Shelby, here’s the brief breakdown. Basically, Officer Betty Shelby shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, because she feared he was reaching for a gun… through a rolled up window. Yeah, we know. Jurors believed that she was in fear for her life and she was found not guilty of felony manslaughter on May 17th. As if that verdict does not sting enough, Officer Betty Shelby is now back on active duty, earning a huge WTF from DGB.

What we want you to do today is contact the Tulsa PD and demand Officer Betty Shelby be fired from her job. You can contact them by phone and file an anonymous complaint with Internal Affairs at (918) 596-1355. Feel free to cite statistics like the 183 instances of deadly force in the past ten years (11 so far this year), in the state of Oklahoma and we need to set an example by firing Betty Shelby. You can also use their online form, email, or even send them a letter or postcard. All of the contact info can be found on their Internal Affairs contact page. If you want to go further, get in touch with the Oklahoma Division of Black Lives Matter and see what you can do to help. Whether it’s calling people, donating money to their organization, or attending an event, we need to support the people who are busting their asses to make a change in our communities.

Terence Crutcher deserves justice, as do all the other people of color whose lives are taken by officers, simply because their skin was scary. We understand that not all police are bad, and some of us even have family in the force, but you know the saying “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch?" It’s about time we start tossing out the bad apples.

 

Hug a Tree

Your DGB for today is to honor our forests.

What does that mean? Well, the theme for this year’s International Day of Forests is Forests & Energy. Take a moment to watch this video, and take this quiz to learn a little something about forests and energy.

The Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN offers some additional suggestions of how we can celebrate our forests today, if you're feeling ambitious:

 

  • Organize or join events celebrating forests – tree plantings, symposiums, art exhibitions, or a photo competition. Don’t forget to tell us about it at IDF@fao.org and send us photos so we can add it to the gallery of events happening around the world

  • Join the conversation on social media using the #IntlForestDay hashtag: pass on some of this year's key messages, or take a photo of your favorite forest and share it with your friends

 

We all know the environment is feeling a little threatened lately (ok, that’s a projection, but you know what we mean), and could use our support. Plan to get out in nature this week and do some vintage activism by hugging a tree.

 

Love Letters

Your DGB for today is to send a love letter to a local marginalized community or organization.

For the past few months, hate has been getting a lot of encouragement from the top down in America. Places of worship are defiled and damaged, including mosques, synagogues, and Black churches. Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized and Jewish preschools have been terrorized by bomb threats. Undocumented immigrants are detained and deported, though their only crime is lacking the legal immigration paperwork.

You know that feeling in your chest when you get a note from somebody that lets you know that they’ve been thinking of you? That feeling that you matter? It’s time to share that feeling with our friends and neighbors that have been on the business end of hate. We’ve marched in protest. We’ve shown up at airports. We’ve donated to causes that support the affected, but nothing beats that personal touch. Find a local mosque here, a synagogue here, and to find your local center helping refugees and immigrants, click here.

It doesn’t matter if you get out the good stationery or use a postcard. Let your friends and neighbors know that they matter. Tell them why you appreciate them, and how their presence enriches the fabric of your community.

 

Anti-Bias Education

Your DGB for today is to seek out opportunities for our youth to participate in anti-bias education. It starts early, it starts at home, and you can partner with local schools to ensure the message is sent far and wide. You truly are helping to shape a future generation.

Recently, a group of high school seniors took their senior class photos. You may remember taking your own high school class photo, but what you (hopefully) don’t remember is having approximately 70 of your classmates give the Nazi salute, or shout “Heil Trump, heil Hitler!” while your photo was being taken. Yes, that is exactly what happened in a Texas high school. Appalled? Us too. This cannot happen.

What exactly IS anti-bias education? Check out the National Association for the Education of Young People’s (NAEYC) Anti-Bias Education site to learn more. You can find additional resources for anti-bias education here.

We must first remember that there are many amazing youth in our country, who do good things for other people each and every day. For these children, we should continue to be role models in the fight against bigotry, hate, and racism. For those being taught to discriminate, we need to intervene as early as possible. Make sure the heirs of our country take it from us with an understanding of tolerance and inclusivity.

 

From Activist to RAKtivist

Your DGB for today is to spread a little kindness.

We’ve had some positive news this past week with the decision to uphold the stay on the Muslim ban by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, so let us use this ray of hope to keep working toward positive outcomes within our communities. February 12th through 18th has been designated as Random Acts of Kindness Week and there’s even a foundation you can check out, where you’ll find a variety of ideas on how to pay it forward through random individual acts.

Have you seen that commercial which reminds us the difference between “nice” and “kind” is that “kind” is honest? We at DGB don’t normally get our inspiration from granola bar commercials, but this sentiment struck a chord. So, look for opportunities to spread some kindness this week. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line, pay a meaningful compliment, get a little real. Or, if you’re looking to dig a little deeper, read about these people who peacefully blocked a van attempting to take a woman to an ICE detention center. Spontaneous opportunities for kindness are all around us, and it’s not the particular act that’s most meaningful but the feeling of personal connection one leaves with another.

 

Stop School Pushout

Your DGB for today is to watch this short video on school pushout: and share this with your circle, especially the educators in your life. Download the toolkit here.

School pushout is a form of race and gender bias. Minority girls (and boys) are suspended at higher rates than their white peers for the same infractions and It starts early: black children make up 18 percent of preschoolers, but make up nearly half of all out-of-school suspensions.

If you don’t personally know anyone who works in a school and don’t have children who attend, you can find your neighborhood school here, and pass this resource to the administration via email or regular mail.

All kids in every community deserve equal opportunity for quality education unhindered by bias. Let's tell them we've done our homework and they can't chalk this up to poor behavior. It's time to Let Them Learn!

 

Support Embattled Public Libraries

Your DBG for today is to support your public library! Get library cards for you and your family members (if you’re not already card-carrying members) and donate either directly to the library, or to your public library’s “Friends of…” organization.  If you’re not sure where your local library is, go here to find out.

Public libraries are more than books and literacy (though these certainly justify their existence).  Public libraries are community hubs, cultural centers, educational resources, First Amendment defenders, repositories of history, and even part of the social safety net for the most vulnerable among us. Read more here.

Unfortunately, library funding has been hard-hit by the financial meltdown of 2008, and has yet to rebound.  We have a President-elect who has signaled a distinct lack of respect for the free exchange of ideas – public libraries are a key part of a society that values such things.  The wealthy and influential Koch Brothers have funded at least one anti-library initiative. And, most disturbingly, public libraries have become targeted in the surge of hate crimes since the election.

It is more important than ever to support your public libraries however you can!

Want to know more?  Check out these pieces about the importance of public libraries here and here

 

Cell 411

Your DGB for today is to download the Cell 411 personal safety app and familiarize yourself with it’s features.

The app that has been described as “Uber for 911” is meant to redistribute emergency response from exclusively authoritarian sources into a community centered effort. Instead of depending exclusively on municipal emergency resources, a user may instead request aid from peers and community members in their “Cell”. While this is particularly valuable to individuals vulnerable to law enforcement overreach and needing assistance from or the presence of trusted individuals, it is also something privileged groups can utilize to become and remain strong allies.

 

Platform features include the following:

 

  • Issuing an alert to your Cell with turn by turn directions to your location

  • Live video streaming

  • Video archiving that prevents deletion

  • A “Know Your Rights” constitutional reminder screen

  • A free community ride-sharing service

 

Learn more about Cell 411 here  and here, and download for iOS or Android