Stumbling Forward

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts. ~Arnold Bennett

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. ~Martin Luther King, JR.


It’s hard to know how to feel this week.

On the one hand, we had corporations showing real signs that they will band together to oppose anti-democracy efforts being pushed through state legislatures across the country. Leaders of fortune 500s organized Zoom calls to talk amongst one another about what they can do, as economic and brand leaders, to push back.

The NCAA announced it would not play championship events in states that discriminate against transgender athletes and prohibit them from playing in school sports. The entertainment industry is threatening to pull projects out of Georgia in retaliation for passing anti-voter legislation. Biden signed an executive order focusing on gun reform.

That’s an impressive week.

On the other hand.

Another black man was killed by a police officer. A city erupted in protest (again), mourning for another life tragically cut short – and the system that took it from him.

Yesterday there was yet another school shooting; a student was shot when he opened fire on officers in the bathroom. He died. He was a teenager.

Footage was released of the pepper spraying of a black and latino Army lieutenant – in uniform – by police officers at a traffic stop because he wouldn’t “obey.” They hacked at his shins until he fell to the ground sobbing “this is [expletive] up, man. This is [expletive] up.”

And Mitch McConnell threatened corporations to “stay out of politics” (except when it suits Republicans, of course, in which case he’s 100% on board with their political donations being “free speech”).

Some weeks it feels like we lunge forward, and then get caught off balance and skitter to our heels. Or fall to our backsides.

Or simply backslide.

It’s more than frustrating. It’s demoralizing. Destabilizing. It’s hard to know in which direction we’re headed sometimes.

A candidate I follow on Twitter, who is a high school teacher, said she’s reading Grapes of Wrath with her students this week. It reminded me of how much I love Chapter 14 (which some of you will recall) and these words came back to me:

“[M]an reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. … This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live—for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know—fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept”.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 14 available HERE.

After re-reading those words I went back to the events of the week, with some fresh eyes and new perspective.

The protests of Daunte Wright’s murder are evidence that our spirit of justice hasn’t died. The Twitter feeds of Moms Demand activists are full of action items and bills to oppose, both before and after the school shooting yesterday. If anything, there’s more resolve. And as I looked at the coverage it was clear: all of America was just as aghast as I was at the video of Lieutenant Nazario being pepper sprayed and brought to his knees. (The officer who pepper sprayed him was also fired.)

And corporations? They’re not acting too scared of Mitch McConnell’s open threat.

There is much to do, there is much that is broken.

But not our spirit.

And so it’s on the flip side of the terrible parts of the week that you can see the bright lights shining behind it. The people who, as Steinbeck would say, still have the “stumbling-forward ache” and will suffer for the idea that our country – we – can and should be better.

You know as well as I do that this country is not perfect. It’s far from it.

It was founded on a high-minded ideal that was never followed. And the changes we’ve earned since then through blood and tears and the sacrifices of generations have left deep stains that might never come fully clean.

We’ll always have to work to improve upon ourselves. To make more equal. More just. More fair. A more perfect union. And right now, from what I’m seeing … there’s still spirit to do just that.

Let’s keep stumbling forward.

Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of April 13, 2021

Tuesday: Take Action in Solidarity With Black Lives

If you are looking today for ways you can take action – whether that be donating to BIPOC organizations or to the Daunte Wright family GoFundMe, this is a great resource. To say I’m heartbroken by this story and the cascade of police violence in our country is a vast understatement. But I find this resource from Indivisible to be timely, educational, and helpful. I hope you do too:

https://indivisible.org/resource/taking-action-solidarity-black-lives

Wednesday: DC Statehood Week!

On Wednesday, HR 51 (the aptly named make-DC-the-51st-state legislation) will get marked up – and that’s a big deal because it’s the first time a DC statehood bill has gotten a markup since 1993. So today is a GREAT day to check to see if your representative is co-sponsoring HR 51, and if not urge them to do so using our script. (Thank them if they are!) Here’s where you can see if they are a cosponsor: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/51/cosponsors

Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m calling from [zip code]. I’d like to ask why Congress[wo]man [name] is not co-sponsoring HR 51, the DC statehood bill. [pause for what will likely be dramatic effect.] The District of Columbia has more people than Wyoming and Vermont, D.C. residents lack a voting representative in the House and have no representation in the Senate at all even though they pay taxes just like the rest of us, and the January 6 insurrection proved they need control over their own national guard. Why is the Congress[wo]man opposed to this?

Here are some extra talking points for you, from https://statehood.dc.gov/page/why-statehood-dc

  • The District of Columbia is the only political and geographical entity within the United States of America whose citizens bear the responsibilities of citizenship, including taxation and Selective Service registration, without sharing in the full rights and privileges of citizenship.
  • Washington’s residents pay more taxes than residents in 22 states and pay more per capita to the federal government than any state—yet they have no votes in Congress.
  • DC is subject to the whims of the federal government where Congress interferes with our local laws, local funding and operations.
  • DC has all the same responsibilities, but not the same rights, as our fellow Americans—we are treated as second-class citizens
  • D.C. residents pay federal taxes, serve in the military and on juries, start businesses and families, and contribute to our national economy.
  • Yet, DC is unable to control its own budget or laws, and has no votes in Congress.
  • DC residents want statehood and made their voter clear during the 2016 referendum with an 86% in favor to make Washington, DC the 51.
  • Since the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, when supporters of Former President Donald Trump attacked the US Capitol, the women and men of the DC Metropolitan Police Department answered the call to support federal partners without hesitation and quickly restored order to the Capitol despite not having full representation in Congress.
  • The lack of precaution by federal authorities to prepare for a highly anticipated attack placed Congressional leadership in danger, clarifies the need for a District of Columbia that controls its own National Guard. Currently, the order must come through the White House.
  • While DC population is larger than that of both Vermont and Wyoming, under the CARES Act, the District was denied $755 million in emergency funds, which is the amount provided to the least populous state through the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
  • DC has 712,000 residents, more than Vermont and Wyoming and comparable with other states including Delaware, Alaska, and several others.
  • DC residents pay the highest per-capita federal income taxes in the US.
  • In total, DC residents pay more in total federal income tax than residents of 22 other states, but have no say over how those tax dollars are spent.
  • DC now operates as if were a state with the exception of federal control over our courts and people in prison for committing felonies in DC.
  • DC residents do not have a voice in Senate Committees or on the Senate Floor. This means that DC residents have no say in the determination of who should serve as leadership for federal agencies, Serve as U.S. Ambassadors to foreign countries, sit on federal court benches or serve in the U.S. Supreme Court. This is true even for the federal courts within DC’s boundaries. 

 

Thursday: Help Democracy From Your Couch!

Yes, it’s true – you can eat Fritos AND organize! How? Texting! It’s simple – and Movement Labs has a number of campaigns coming up that you can join. Right now they are focusing on two campaigns: texting for the Kansas Democratic Party to recruit potential candidates for down-ballot races like mayor, city council, and school board; and helping Black Voters Matter’s to defeat SB326, a toxic voter suppression bill by asking folks to write letters to key Republicans to push back against this bill. Go here to learn more and sign up: https://movementlabs.com/text

Friday: Be Part of the Positive Info Brigade!

One of the biggest problems Democrats have is getting the word out about what has been accomplished. That’s even more true in swing districts, where disinformation is rampant. What can YOU do about it?

Write postcards letting voters in swing districts know what their representative did – and that they followed through on their promise!

Join Activate America (formerly Flip the West) in their effort to reach over a million voters with this positive postcard campaign!

From the event page: This campaign will begin with writing to voters in Georgia in support of Congressmember Carolyn Bourdeaux, Senator Reverend Warnock, and Senator Jon Ossoff. Soon, we will move to Nevada and write to voters in support of Senator Cortez Masto, Congressmember Susie Lee, and Congressmember Steven Horsford. 

Join us in writing postcards to voters in districts newly flipped blue to let them know their Democratic representatives kept their promise and voted to give them the relief their communities deserve.

  • When you sign up, you will get a confirmation email from Activate America.  Then look for your script, instructions, and voter addresses in your e-mail inbox or Spam folder within the next 48 hours – . They are not sent automatically at the time you sign up. Your list will be delivered from an email address [name]@ftwpostcards.com.
  • The choice of how many postcards to write is yours – we only ask that you request a minimum of 25. You supply your own postcards and stamps.

Go here for more: https://www.mobilize.us/activateamerica/event/378814/

DID YOU KNOW YOU’RE A ROCK STAR? I DID. SUPER PROUD OF YOU!

If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.

P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

P.P.S.: If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

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