‘Tis The Season

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Image Courtesy of History.com

As the year wraps up, many don their gay apparel to partake in the practice of charity. The influence of Christianity as the dominant religion of the United States finds space in the lives of seculars and believers. It comes as no surprise then, that the values and traditions associated with the holiday of Christmas have transcended religious barriers and have shaped our understanding of the days leading up to it. For Christians, however, the holiday is not just one of spiritual significance. It comes with a strong social agenda of servitude to those in need. This spirit of joyful giving, as a personal note, is what I find the most valuable from any set of belief, and what I would love to see all through the year on greater scales and deeper levels. For those with ears to hear, let them hear: Liberation theology can provide a way.
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No Justice, No PROFITS

Image Courtesy of PBS

Image Courtesy of PBS

On the heels of the announcement in Ferguson right before Thanksgiving that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the killing of unarmed Missouri youth Michael Brown, the call was issued for Black Americans to boycott the national day of shopping, Black Friday. The goal was to call attention to the elimination of racial injustice and, especially, an immediate end to police brutality against people of color. The rationale is based on reports that indicate how the combined buying power of Black people in America is expected to be $1.1 trillion by 2015. This means that African Americans across the board are very influential when it comes to how and where their dollars are spent and, therefore, are a tremendous financial asset to the United States (which, let’s face it, has always been the case). When you compare this fact with the reality that Blacks across the U.S. earn less than Whites and are unemployed at more than double the national average, it puts into context the insult that is being added to injury with ongoing injustices that African Americans, and other people of color, face within the legal system and institutions. Therefore, a boycott has been declared.
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Be Part of the Solution

Former Social Media Designer Claudie Mabry, Principal Organizer Robin Hayes, Policy Associate Justyn Richardson and former Blog Editor Justin Jones

Many of you have asked Progressive Pupil, where is “the movement” going next?  Honestly, that depends on all of us.  This cycle of collective action is eschewing the charismatic leadership models of the past and encouraging all of us to work together and participate how we see fit. Don’t think of this movement as a giant in the hillside who is separate from you and able to sustain itself without your support. In fact, it is simply the collective work of your neighbors, colleagues, students, friends and families who are working together to be part of the solution.  

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Five Favorite Fictional Black Families

Good Times Family Cast. Image Courtesy of NPR.

Good Times Family Cast. Image Courtesy of NPR.

I’m one of the lucky ones! Having been born in the 80’s raised in the 90’s, I grew up with sitcoms. Weekly family-based comedies with live studio audiences and very special episodes. A time before reality shows dominated every channel, when the only reality television that existed was Real World (which was only available to cable subscribers).
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We Have to Change the System That Created Ferguson

Justyn Richardson, Progressive Pupil New Leader for Social Change, at Eric Garner Protest

Author Justyn Richardson, Progressive Pupil New Leader for Social Change at #EricGarner protest

This month’s Field Notes are written by Progressive Pupil Policy Asssociate Justyn Richardson, youth activist.

For more information about how you can participate in the new movement for police accountability and a list of its demands, you can follow Progressive Pupil on Twitter @PPupil and/or visit FergusonAction.com (national), ThisStopsToday.org (NYC), and DreamDefenders.org (Florida).

The killing in Ferguson, Missouri of the unarmed teenager Michael Brown is a tragedy that has helped galvanize the public around the issue of police brutality. In New York, I was able to participate in and witness the large amount of mobilization around this issue, not only on the nights following the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Brown six times, but also in the last several months following Brown’s death. Unfortunately, Wilson’s deadly actions, along with his subsequent non-indictment, are not an anomaly, but the norm in the United States. Even though there is a state-sanctioned killing of a Black person approximately every 28 hours, police officers are rarely indicted because they use their department practices to investigate themselves.

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Black Resistance Screening: The New Black

The New Black’ is a touching documentary about the gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights within the African American community in Maryland. The film gives insight into the lives of the activists, families and the church, on both sides of the movement, to legalize gay marriage. The movie also focuses on homophobia within the Black community and the church, as well as the Christian right wing’s plan to take advantage of this phenomenon (in order to move forward with an anti-gay political agenda). The New Black takes viewers to the kitchen tables and tells the story of the fight to win marriage equality, focusing on the main characters of the documentary.
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Glossary: Predatory Lending

The Cunningham family became homeowners through the #NACAPurchase Program. Image Courtesy of Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA).

The Cunningham family became homeowners through the #NACAPurchase Program.  Image Courtesy of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA).

Merriam-Webster’s defines the word predatory as, “wrongly harming or using others for pleasure or profit;” and lending is defined an act “to give for temporary use on condition that the same or its equivalent will be returned.” Conversly, Investopedia defines predatory lending as, “unscrupulous actions carried out by a lender to entice, induce and/or assist a borrower in taking a mortgage that carries high fees, a high interest rate, strips the borrower of equity, or places the borrower in a lower credit rated loan to the benefit of the lender.”
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The Restorative Justice of Project NIA

Image Courtesy of Project NIA

Image Courtesy of Project NIA

Chicago is well-known for more than just being a beautiful city. Like many other large cities, Chicago has a major problem with juvenile delinquency. Every day more and more organizations, both new and old, work to change the system that is more punitive, than rehabilitative to the youth it serves.

One of the up and coming initiatives for addressing criminal behavior among young people is Restorative Justice. Instead of looking at the crime as an offense against the state and punitively throwing the offender into jail, the system would look at the crime at the victim/offender/community level. There would be a dialogue between the victim, the offender, and the community affected that would require the offender to take responsibility for the harm caused. Some of the faces of this would be an apology or community service depending on the nature of the crime.
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The Best & Worst Voting States

Infographic Courtesy of ACLU.

Infographic Courtesy of ACLU.

The right to vote is under attack all across our country.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires that cities, counties and states with histories of discriminatory voting laws seek federal permission before changing their election rules. Lately, the Supreme Court has made it easier for jurisdictions with troubled pasts to enact restrictive voting laws.

A total of 34 states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. But with more than 11% of American citizens (over 21 million Americans) currently lacking these photo IDs, it’s clear that such laws could have a disastrous effect.

If left to stand, these laws could make it harder for key Democratic groups, including people of color, to get to the polls this fall. It is essential that all voices are heard. Here’s a rundown of the five most restrictive and least restrictive states (in terms of Voter ID laws).

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Facing Race

From left to right: Shannon, Justyn, Rinku Sen (leader of Race Forward and Publisher of Colorlines) and Lynda

From left to right: Shannon, Justyn, Rinku Sen (leader of Race Forward and Publisher of Colorlines) and Lynda

Last week, Progressive Pupil attended Race Forward‘s Facing Race Conference in Dallas, TX.  Held over three days from Thursday November 13th – Saturday, November 15th, this year’s event was a unique convening that brought together activists, community organizers, educators, and allies working toward social and racial justice.
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