Note: This newsletter is provided through the courtesy of Progressive Action, Global Exchange.
Dear PAGE Activist,
The news this week was dominated by the political crisis in Virginia, where both Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring were revealed to have worn blackface in the 1980s, and Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax was accused of sexual assault by two women. The Virginia Black Caucus is currently calling for Northam and Fairfax to step down, and waiting to see if Herring, whose statement at least somewhat acknowledged the “horrific history” of blackface, can adequately demonstrate he is “fit to lead.”
At the same time, in Congress, we saw reasons for hope with over 70 lawmakers signing on to support the resolution on the Green New Deal, led by Ed Markey in the Senate and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House. This resolution would be a huge step towards environmental justice and sustainability - watch AOC introduce it in this short clip.
This week, we take action to support the Green New Deal, and use the awful revelations in Virginia to spur our work to advance racial justice, and anchor our activism in informed, vigorous anti-racist action.
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Progressive Action, Global Exchange
Give a big push to the Green New Deal: Thanks to the advocacy of legislators, notably Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (alias AOC), more lawmakers are getting behind the Green New Deal, a package of legislation aiming to address economic inequality and climate change. The proposed legislation currently has 64 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 9 in the Senate, including 2020 presidential hopefuls such as Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Learn what’s in the Green New Deal: Read this comprehensive run-down at Vox about the principles and aims of the Green New Deal, namely “achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs, providing for a just transition, [and] securing clean air and water.” More than just environmental legislation, the GND is also about securing justice by putting “frontline and vulnerable communities” at the forefront of the search for solutions. For a shorter summary, you can also check out the Sunrise Movement’s FAQ here.
Sign the petition: Tell Congress you to support the resolution for a Green New Deal by signing this petition, and share on social media to increase your impact.
Call your legislator: From February 11-13, members of the Sunrise Movement will be heading to Congressional offices to ask legislators to support the GND. Add your voice to this groundswell of support so that our legislators understand how important the GND is to their constituents. Click here to get a script and/or send a tweet - neither justice nor our planet can wait! You can also tweet directly at Nancy Pelosi to take the GND seriously, after last week she mocked the resolution as the “Green Dream or whatever.”
Ask organizations you’re connected with the support the GND: This legislation needs strong institutional and civil society support to move forward, and a growing list of groups have already signed on. Are you affiliated with an association, union, political group, NGO or advocacy group in the US? Reach out to the leadership about making a statement of support for the GND - click here to learn about adding your group’s name to the list of supporting organizations.
Take strong, deliberate anti-racist action. As Angela Davis famously said, “in a racist society, it’s not enough to be non-racist— you have to be anti-racist.” The situation in Virginia illustrates both how white people casually perform racism and the ways in which they do not actively engage with racism as exhibited by friends, family and acquaintances. This week we challenge white members of PAGE to take action against racism in your families, social circles and communities.
Talk to white family members and friends about your responsibility to take specific anti-racist action: Watch this short video clip, posted by Bernice King, of an all-white audience being forced to acknowledge their knowledge of white supremacy American society - and reckon with their failure to act. Share it with your white family and friends, and on your public social media pages, and speak about your commitment to anti-racist action. Check out some of the resources at SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), sign up for their mailing list, then make a donation to a black-led organization.
Have a conversation about why blackface is unacceptable in every country. The use of blackface is pervasive in entertainment and culture in the U.S. and in other countries. Start a conversation with (white) friends in the U.S. and your country of residence about why blackface is dehumanizing and unacceptable in any context. You can read and share this 2012 HuffPo essay by Prof. David Leonard on the subject or this video about the racist imagery and history of many American cultural touchstones, with Ashley Nicole Black and Samantha Bee.
Think carefully about your role as a (white) anti-racist activist. Read this article about the role of white people in dismantling white supremacy, and reflect upon your own activism. What are concrete ways you can improve your own anti-racist activism?
** Thank you for your progressive action! **