by Connie Borde, Co-Chair of the DAFrance Women's Caucus, formerly DNC Representative and Chair of Democrats Abroad France.
Today is a sad day. Like many Americans, I mourn the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And like many American women who came of age in the 60s, I lost the woman who stood for everything I believed in and who had our backs: equal rights for those who were deprived them, for women like me, but also for the many in our society.
Here’s what Bill Clinton said when he appointed Ginsburg to the Supreme Court:
“Throughout her life, she has repeatedly stood for the individual, the person less well off, the outsider in society, and has given these people greater hope by telling them that they have a place in our legal system, by giving them a sense that the Constitution and the laws protect all the American people, not simply the powerful.”
All of RBGs written opinions reflected her beliefs, she never wavered. When the Court sadly moved to the right, her dissenting opinions were eloquent monuments to the cause of equal justice under the law for all: minority rights, voting rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, gender equality, and more.
While we mourn her death, we’d better get ready for the fight.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Women of the world, mourn….and unite. We cannot accept a ramrod nomination.
As of August 28, 2020
Most states will allow their overseas voters to return their voted ballot by email, online, or fax, but if you vote in one of the following 20 states*, you must still return a ballot by POSTAL MAIL:
Arkansas (AR), Connecticut (CT), Georgia (GA), Idaho (ID), Illinois (IL), Kentucky (KY), Maryland (MD), Michigan (MI), Minnesota (MN), New Hampshire (NH), New Jersey (NJ), New York (NY), Ohio (OH), Pennsylvania (PA), South Dakota (SD), Tennessee (TN), Texas (TX), Virginia (VA), Vermont (VT), and Wisconsin (WI)
Due to postal mail service disruptions in the US and abroad, if you vote in one of these states we strongly advise that you PROTECT YOUR VOTE and VOTE NOW with a Backup Ballot, and return it by mail right away. The Backup Ballot, also known as the FWAB (Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot), is a ballot especially for overseas absentee voters who have sent in a ballot request to use to help make sure their vote gets counted.
You can vote and mail back a Backup Ballot first while you wait for your official state ballot to arrive. Then when your official state ballot arrives, you can vote and mail that back too — it is not double-voting**. If your voted state ballot is received by your election officials in time, they will count it and ignore the Backup Ballot.
* As of August 28:
- WY voters may return a ballot either by email or by fax depending on their county — please check with your local election officials, or follow return instructions that will come with your official ballot.
- New Jersey voters may return a ballot by email or fax first but must still send in the original hardcopy ballot by postal mail at the same time.
- Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s Emergency Election Directive for the General Election - all UOCAVA/FPCA voters may return their voted ballot electronically.
- Missouri has declared all Missouri voters overseas “inaccessible” and they are allowed to return their voted ballot by EMAIL.
- Vermont is allowing EMAIL return for Vermont voters voting from countries without functional postal mail systems. France is not one of these countries.
** Per 52 USC sec 20303(d): Second ballot submission; instruction to absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter. An absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter who submits a Federal write-in absentee ballot and later receives a State absentee ballot, may submit the State absentee ballot. See also DA FAQ; see also FVAP FAQ.
TO VOTE WITH THE BACKUP BALLOT NOW:
First, make sure you have already sent in a ballot request/registration this year. If you haven’t done this yet, do it now at votefromabroad.org.
- When filling out the FPCA form, be sure to ask to receive your ballot by EMAIL/ONLINE.
Then, go ahead and VOTE by returning a BACKUP BALLOT.
- You can fill it out online here -- just follow directions to vote, print, sign and return it to your election officials.
- You'll find more detailed information on the Backup Ballot here.
What is on your state ballot? You can look up a sample ballot here
Note: When filling in the Backup Ballot, you can also vote by Party (for example, you can write in “President - Democrat”).
- Note: When filling in the Backup Ballot, you can also vote by Party (for example, you can write in “President - Democrat”).
Once your state ballot is delivered, vote that too!
If you requested to receive your ballot by EMAIL/ONLINE, you will receive your ballot in your email inbox on or before September 19 (45 days in advance of the November 3 General Election.)
You can vote that ballot too and mail it back right away. If it arrives in time, your local election official will only count your official state ballot, and discard the Backup Ballot.
When mailing a ballot, you have the following options:
- Via local mail. Be sure to use sufficient international postage for your ballot. Consider sending via a method that can be tracked such as la lettre suivie internationale.
- Via US Embassy or Consular mail bag. American Citizen Services is accepting voting materials for the “diplomatic pouch” but this method is often much slower from France than local postal service, taking 3-4 weeks normally. Your mail MUST have correct US postage, or use a US-postage-paid envelope. (Get a printable US-postage-paid ballot envelope template, here.)
- Via international express courier. Those considering delivery by DHL, FedEx, UPS, Collissimo or Chronopost should first check with their local election official whether they can accept delivery via this method as proof of returning your ballot from overseas.
Make sure your vote is counted.
After you have voted, you can check with your local election officials to make sure that your ballot was received. Go to www.votefromabroad.org/states. Click on your voting state. Then scroll down to "Am I Registered" to find the contact information for your local election officials.
Have questions or need help?
You can send your questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, while you are on the votefromabroad.org website, find the red bubble in the lower right hand corner to chat with an overseas voting expert at the helpdesk.
Across the US, state parties and delegates are gearing up to participate in this year’s Democratic National Convention online and at home. Delegates from Democrats Abroad are also joining in - rallying together on zoom calls and downloading their ballots as they prepare to attend the Democratic Party’s first ever online convention in locations that stretch from Kathmandu to Kigali.Read more
by Samuel Boehms
The observance of Pride Month serves as a moment of national reflection during which we should pause and think about the challenges facing the LGBTQ communities in America today. However, it is also an opportunity to celebrate how far we have come in the 51 years since the Stonewall riots marked one of the nation’s darkest days in its oppression of LGBTQ people. In the half century since the uprisings, we have reached a level of acceptance that would have been unimaginable to those early pioneers that took to the streets of Greenwich Village in protest for their rights.
Of course, there is the recent Supreme Court decision in Bostock v Clayton County (GA), in which the majority agreed that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for LGBTQ equality a significant, though unexpected, victory.
Just last year, we saw Pete Buttigieg, an openly gay man, become a frontrunner in the primary race for the Democratic presidential nominee. Furthermore, there are 6 people who identify as LGBTQ in statewide elected offices, including 2 governors: Kate Brown in Oregon, and Jared Polis in Colorado; and two U.S. Senators: Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin, and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona. In fact, every state in the nation has openly LGBTQ people elected to political office in some capacity, with over 150 LGBTQ elected officials nationwide. This year, we have the opportunity to elect many more LGBTQ people across the country.
However, our accomplishments go far beyond just the political arena. In 2018, Adam Rippon, an openly gay athlete, made history winning a bronze medal at the 2018 winter Olympics. We have also seen Billy Porter become the first openly gay, black actor to win an Emmy for best lead actor in a drama series. During this Pride Month, these achievements are indeed worth celebrating.
Nevertheless, we still have so much farther to go towards building a country that respects and protects the human rights of all its inhabitants. While it has never been easy to identify as LGBTQ in the US, recent years have seen alarming declines in the acceptance of LGBTQ people amongst certain segments of Americans. These attitudinal shifts have coincided with a series of actions taken by the Trump administration that have stripped crucial legal protections from LGBTQ communities. Despite his initial rhetoric in support of LGBTQ rights, President Trump has systematically reversed key advancements achieved under his predecessor.
In 2017, President Trump announced via twitter that transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the military. The ban was officially implemented by former Secretary of Defense James Mattis in 2018. Lawsuits are ongoing to reverse the policy and protect the rights of current and future US military personnel. However, the Supreme Court has upheld the ban while the legal battle is decided.
While this month the Supreme Court decided in support of LGBTQ communities, there are still many difficult battles to come before all people experience the full enjoyment of their human rights. With so many decisions concerning protections for LGBTQ people appearing before the Supreme Court, it is absolutely necessary that we elect a president this fall that will stand up for LGBTQ communities and appoint Supreme Court justices that will uphold and expand the legal protections to defend Americans against discrimination and prejudice on the condition of who they choose to love or how they decide to identify. Gaining a majority in the Senate would go a long way to furthering protections for the LGBTQ community at the national level - as of 2020, 29 states have not outlawed anti-LGBT discrimination.
Joe Biden has received the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest LGBTQ rights organization. As vice president, Biden spoke out for LGBTQ rights even before President Obama and his 2020 presidential platform has highlighted key measures that he will take as president to advance the LGBTQ movement.
Despite the great victory that LGBTQ communities and their allies won in the US Supreme Court this month, another pivotal battle still lies ahead of us. In 2019, the Equality Act was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives, only to become stalled in the Republican controlled Senate, which has made no effort to pass a bill that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to affirm the constitutional protection of the rights of LGBTQ people. To protect the rights of all people, we must flip the Senate, and elect candidates that are determined to pass legislation that will defend our LGBTQ communities.
All Americans need to stand together in support of our LGBTQ communities. We cannot allow them to fight the battle for equality alone. Their rights and dignity are under attack by the Trump administration and state governments across the country. We need to mobilize the vote at every level of local and national elections. No matter where you are in the world, remember, your vote matters. Get registered and ready to vote at votefromabroad.org. And tell a friend.
About the author: Samuel Boehms is a native of Kansas City now living in Paris, France. He served with the Peace Corps mission in Panama and has worked as a community organizer promoting economic, social and environmental rights in Latin America, SE Asia and Europe. He currently works as a human rights advocate at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
“We were told once, by virtue of our bondage, that we could never be American.
But it was by virtue of our bondage that we became the most American of all.”
Hannah Nikole Jones, 1619 Project
As we celebrate Juneteenth this year it is painfully obvious the struggle for freedom continues to be a long, hard road 154 years after Emancipation. From the first slave ship to the latest act of brutality and prejudice, the institutionalized system of racism and inequality continues to work as it was designed. It denies full citizenship and equality to African-Americans.
Over 400 years we have been enslaved, murdered, tortured, terrorized, emotionally scarred, economically impoverished, starved of educational resources… The list could go on. The fact we are still fighting shows the strength of our character and belief in what the United States is supposed to be. The struggle for equal rights and opportunity requires the country to live up to its full aspirational potential.
The African-American contribution to the U.S. is immense and immeasurable. The country was literally built on our backs. From the beginning we did the work to build an economic powerhouse but have yet to meaningfully benefit in that wealth. Deprived of everything except our love, spirit and faith we have strived to build lives and fulfil the American Dream. Through hardship and pain African-Americans still shine bright and drive global culture. As comedian Paul Mooney says, “the Black man in America is the most copied man on this planet, bar none” and to paraphrase Maya Angelou, “Still We Rise”.
Without struggle there is no progress so this Juneteenth let us continue to fight the struggle, recognize our progress and prepare for the battles we have yet to face. Let us take advantage of the current sad state of affairs to effect real change. Most importantly your voice must be heard. Make sure you are registered to vote in this year’s election.
I leave you with a poem describing the sorrow, joy, heartache and anger of the Black experience in America. The poem, A Study in a Lifetime of Elegies, is part of a portfolio which won the 2020 Gold Medal Portfolio at the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards. The author is Emory Brinson.
Co-Chair, Democrats Abroad France - Diversity Caucus
June 19th, 2020
A Study in a Lifetime of Elegies
Personal Essay & Memoir,
Emory Brinson, Grade 12, South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte, NC
I. In which I mourn the living.
On September 6th, 2018, Botham Shem Jean dies after an off-duty Dallas police officer illegally enters his home and shoots him twice. The story settles into my veins like ice, and it is all too easy for me to picture his terrified face as he is startled by an armed intruder, only to die at her hands. I try not to picture my uncle or father in his place, instead, I watch my mother react to the story. I can see past her painted concealer mask, and like all black women, she harbors an aching sadness for her brothers, husbands, and fathers. To me and her, it seems like death is always one step away. I’ve been waiting for my father to die since I understood what it meant to be black in this country. Have you ever mourned someone who was still living?
It isn’t like watching a trainwreck in slow motion. This is an endless funeral. They roll the caskets out one by one, and my dreamscape is painted in black hues. I wake gasping with the image of my little brother laid in white burning in my eyes. Open casket funerals have been in style since Emmett Till’s mother told the mortician to show the world what they did to her little boy. There are no secrets anymore, and the camera flashes hold the locks open anyway.
I look into the mirror and wonder what I am supposed to see. Do my full lips and natural hair tell a story of danger or call into question my intent? I look at my father and try to look past his kind heart and iron-clad morals to see what they must find at first glance. I take in his powerful shoulders and calloused hands, and for the first time, I wonder if people look at him with fear. Suddenly, I am terrified of losing him to the preconceptions in their heads. Why can’t they see what I do?
There is an ache that wraps itself around my ribs; it is a constant noose of loss. For the first time, I can see the fearful beast that bares its chest in the place of a person. Understand, this country is committing men to death by prejudice and perpetrating genocide on a systematic level. I have mourned more men in my 16 years than I dare say most will lose in a lifetime. I wait for a day in which children will not have to know this heartbreak with frantic breaths and a mess of tangled veins in my chest.
II. In which my father and I come to an understanding.
On a Friday night in December, we watch Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. I ignore the discomfort watching the police beat Radio Raheem to death with popcorn grease on my fingers causes me. As the credits roll, I catch glimpses of my father’s childhood between the black and white text, and his desperation for us to watch this movie finally makes sense. For the first time, I can see him in his true form. His New York accent has faded after 25 years in the south, but there are parts of him that are straight from the rough streets and cramped bodegas of his hometown. It’s in the way he pronounces coffee, the heavy set of his shoulders, and the way he is undeniably straight out of this film.
On the screen, the character DaMayer tells Mookie in a Brooklyn accent almost too thick to understand, “Always do the right thing.” My father, for better or worse, has always lived his life by this rule; he is protective of his pride and family, never strays from his perception of the “right” thing, and is a stickler for fair treatment. There are some principles that ingrain themselves into your bone marrow and shape all actions you take from there on out. If I peeled back my father’s thick skin I would find those words burned into the white of his bones. I know this to be true in the same way that I know the sun will rise in the morning.
He turns up the stereo volume while we drive past a group of policemen, the words, “F**K THE POLICE” blaring out of all four open windows while we speed by. I’m horrified, but the story he tells me afterward shifts my worldview once again. He’s not quiet or ashamed as he unravels the memory, because my father never is, but I can’t help but wonder if that is the New Yorker in him, or if he was simply born with an unwavering spine. He paints a picture of a little black boy growing up on the outer edge of New York City in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Raw emotion courses through his voice as he tells me about the police pulling him over on his bike in 8th grade. I can imagine him with a painstaking clarity, only 13 but terrified he wouldn’t make it home for dinner because someone decided he didn’t belong. I ache for him, and I am reminded of my own brother, who looks so much like what my father must have at that age.
It isn’t until after Botham Jean that he tells me another story. He describes trying to unlock his door as a college student in upstate New York, only for an NYPD officer to tackle him. The policeman calls for backup, and within minutes six police officers are arresting him for trespassing on his own property. Yet again, I am learning to understand my father in ways I could never have imagined. His distrust of the police is one that has blossomed from years of prejudice and attacks. Though I can’t always agree with him or his methods, I can understand on an intrinsic level where that pain and hurt stems from.
In the days after I first watch Do the Right Thing, I see the parts he tried to leave behind. New York didn’t make him, nor did his experiences with law enforcement, but both have shaped him in ways I can only attempt to understand.
III. In which I find out what it means to exist in this country while black.
I have always known that being black in America inherently meant being viewed as dangerous. Every day passes like a hunt in the desert of our distant home. This is predation on a big city scale, and they have turned me into prey. The knowledge is passed through the generations: blowing into my mind with the faint bellow of a slave ship’s horn, and the stench of sweat wafting from the fields. Every people must pass down something to the new generation to preserve the years of history that have built them up from the black soil of a shared homeland. For me, it is the image of my great-grandmother, holding tight to her son and begging with harsh words and soft hands for him to stay out of trouble as the radio blared about that boy who was lynched in Mississippi. The memory has always existed in my mind, smudged with the inconsistencies of old stories, and somehow smelling just like the bitter salt of chitterlings.
Two black men are arrested for sitting in a Starbucks without purchasing anything, and the incident becomes the spark to a Twitter firestorm. It seems like every day that social media is popping up with another “Living While Black” Moment. White women and men have been calling the police on black people living their lives for as long as they have been able to, but now instead of silently suffering the uncomfortable consequences of being born black, the victims were taking to Twitter. The stories that go viral act as a window into the harsh realities that had previously been shoved under the rug that is the privilege of white ignorance. There is a difference, however, between knowing that these things happen and watching a video of a white woman screaming for the police to arrest a little boy for selling water. The situations usually resulted in a slap on the wrist with no harm done on either side, but it begs the question: how much anguish can the Black American psyche take before the constant insinuation that they are less than starts to sink in?
The sweltering summer of 2018 bleeds into the sharp chill of Autumn, and I find pieces of myself among the bright orange chrysanthemums my neighbor plants. The day after the flowers bloom, the moving sign in her yard gets a shiny new addition; a plaque swings in the wind and the word SOLD sinks into my stomach like lead. The moving trucks blew in with the first jack o’ lantern, and with it came a growing nervousness in my mother. The new couple was likely nice enough, but the images of the innocent black children splashed across Twitter were still fresh in our minds. “I’m going over to introduce myself and make it clear that 5 black children live on this cul de sac. I don’t want there to be any confusion about who belongs in this neighborhood.” The subtext isn’t subtle: she wasn’t going to let these new neighbors treat us as if we didn’t belong, and there was no telling what kind of assumptions could be made from a quick glance while we stepped under the streetlight on the way to the bus stop.
Other people hoped to make nice with the new neighbors to avoid complaints about loud Christmas parties, but my mother wanted to make sure they knew we belonged. She was saying, “Look. These are my brown children, and they live here, just like you.” This is our persistent reality; a life of constant motion, always watching for the next predator who waits in the pale brush, preparing to pounce.
IV. In which I discover that differences lie deeper than skin.
Growing up, I often longed to be more like everyone around me, but I never felt more like an outsider than at my middle school. That wasn’t always the case. In fact, for the most part, it was a positive experience. I learned an abundance about the world and myself from my teachers and classmates, but one thing they never needed to teach me was that I wasn’t like them. Being one of three African American girls in the grade left me with the constant knowledge in the back of my head that, as much as I tried to blend in with my classmates, I would always be different. Most of the time it remained in the background, but other times I wore it like a bleeding brand. I bore the nervous looks during slavery and civil rights units, tried not to roll my eyes when at least fifteen people congratulated me after President Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012, and quietly acquiesced to reading off black history facts.
Every. Single. February. Still, there are turning points to every story.
On August 9th, 2014, Michael Brown is murdered, the Black Lives Matter movement emerges from the ashes of the burning buildings in Ferguson, Missouri, and my world shifts on its axis. I struggle to come to terms with the idea that there is violence affecting my people in a way I haven’t truly understood until this point, but the other kids are angrily protecting the police.
They scream “All Lives Matter” and spit when they dare to say his name. In those familiar halls, Michael becomes synonymous with thug, and I learn to walk with my head down. They act as if he isn’t worth the same amount of space they are, and by association, I suddenly wonder about the amount of room I take up on the stairwell. They look to me with expectant eyes, but what can I say in response when I see him in every family photo that hangs on our wall? When I look in the mirror?
I was floating alone in a sea of people who didn’t understand how close to home a shooting 724.1 miles away could feel, and the loneliness was beginning to eat away at my sparkling worldview.
V. In which I am learning how to not be afraid.
I am no stranger to fear. It has taken the shape of maggots to eat away at my insides since I learned the difference between denotation and connotation. In these terms, the space between what black means and what this country hears instead is big enough to hold a slave ship worth of bodies. I am terrified of watching my family die at the hands of a nation that doesn’t care about them. I am afraid of losing myself in the mass of people who cannot help but see me as less than, who can never understand what it means to exist as a black woman in this country. Still, I am slowly learning how to turn fear’s shape into something more.
I have spent a lifetime studying the elegies that define the lives of girls that look like me. We live, trapped in the grip of injustice and death. Every day we are threatened with the stench of terror, waiting around every corner to remind us of our place. Still, we have a choice. There is loss all around us, yes, but there is also joy. While videos of police brutality circle the internet, inspiring messages of hate and disgust and reminding us that we are in a world that sees us as inferior, so are images of women with broad hats, waiting to serve hungry children with warmth and love. Even as I feel compelled to write elegy after elegy, wracked with fear of the future and sorrow from the past, I recognize the opportunity to write odes and sonnets in honor of the men and women who inspire everything I do. Every day, I find myself celebrating our durability. Here there is fear, and here there is love.
This is my pledge: I will elegize and mourn and dig into the melancholy sitting heavy on my mother’s shoulders, and yes, I will fear, but I will also move this world one step closer to understanding and compassion and overwhelming love whenever I can. I have the opportunity to bring understanding to the people who want to learn, and I have the chance to grow myself. Maybe this realization, the recognition of the complexity of our world, is the distinction between girl and woman. I am still learning what it means to exist as a sister in this country, but what I know is this: the time for mourning is over. This is not the age of fear, but instead resilience.
Like my mother, I stare down the world and I say,
“Look, we are here, just like you.”
Happy Pride Month! Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pride Month, with the LGBTQ+ community taking their events online around the world. Check out a Virtual Dance Party, and a Big Gay Pub Quiz Fun(draiser) supporting Democrats Abroad's critical "get out the vote" efforts.
The Black Lives Matter movement has rocked the world, with protests and demands for real systemic change across Europe, even as things have intensified in the United States. WATCH South Carolina native son, Paris Chapter Chair, and Diversity Caucus Co-Chair Reed Kennedy’s interview with France 24 (English), talking about how this time things might be different than in the past:
“The difference is you see what used to be called the “silent majority”... which did not feel that racism was a serious problem… has become a minority. That is the big difference now.”
Georgia's primary elections on June 9 were a catastrophe, but not an accident. This month we bring the fight to protect the vote to you, with conversations with former Presidential Candidate and former DNC Chair Howard Dean as he shares his views on what its going to take to win, and also as he looks at how we can overcome voter suppression, maladministration, and misinformation this November. TAKE ACTION to protect the vote -- join us for a 1-hour call and tweet storm to push Congress on protecting the USPS, ballot return by email or online, and vote-by-mail. We're still phonebanking and have added new training dates, below.
SIGN UP for a virtual organizing workshop with the DA France's Rise & Organize "Road Show" where we will help our DA members, activists, and leaders get ready for the most important election of our lifetimes. Check out Paris/Ile de France on June 20th, and "France Nord": Brittany, Normany, and Strasbourg Chapters on June 24 — with more to come!
Congratulations to the delegation elected to represent Democrats Abroad at the Democratic National Convention this August. Special shout outs to those from France: Anne Dlugosz, who will be attending as a delegate for Sanders, and Joe Smallhoover, one of our newest DNC representatives. Thanks to all the amazing candidates who stepped up to run!
REPLAY: Watch Global Black Caucus' Black Lives Matter Vigil, here. Check out Robert Reich's talk with DA. Check out election data whiz David Shor. Download the final DA Platform that was adopted, here.
• • •
National Events Calendar
As of June 17, 2020
This is a recurring event.
Every Saturday the DA France Youth Caucus is hosting a virtual phonebank (via Zoom) calling thousands of US Democratic voters living in France to make sure they are registered and ready to vote in critical Presidential, Senate and House races this fall. We need your help. You must be a member of Democrats Abroad France to help make these calls, if you aren't already: join here.
Get Trained with DA France
For the 90 minutes we will walk through phonebanking training using CallHub, including some new features specific to France. We can also answer questions you may have, and support each other as we call voters.
If you have done the training, and are comfortable phone banking, then you know you can make calls from home any time, to US voters around the world — there is no reason to wait until Saturday or join our Zoom to make calls, but please feel free to come by, say hi and share your experiences calling others.
1-2:30PM - Phonebanking Training
2:30-5PM - Phonebanking, Q&A
PARIS / ILE DE FRANCE REGION
JUNE 20, 2020
Join us for virtual organizing workshops "across France" over the next few weeks — find out what you can do to volunteer and help get ready for the most important election of our lives. We will discuss topics like ways you can help, how to find and mobilize voters in your community, how to effectively use social media to help people register to vote, how to help people register to vote, and more! Suitable for all levels of organizing experience and interest.
Image from Slate.com
"Conservative lawmakers are conjuring up voter suppression tactics ahead of the election this year so they can manipulate the maps in 2021. From forcing voters to cast their ballots in-person during a pandemic to imposing restrictive photo ID requirements, hyper-partisan officials would rather dilute certain votes to hold on to power than be held accountable in a system of fair representation. To return our government to everyday people, it's going to take folks like us stepping up.
For decades, we've seen conservatives deconstruct "big government" initiatives. But that destruction hit a boiling point after the 2011 redistricting process.
By gerrymandering themselves into power, conservatives were able to use their state-level majorities to hollow out government capacity -- from gutting environmental protections that safeguard our health to reversing common-sense gun violence prevention laws that were meant to keep our communities safe.
With gerrymandered districts, state legislators became beholden to tea party extremists, the Koch brothers, and ALEC -- instead of their constituents." National Democratic Redistricting Committee
Gerrymandering, of course, targets for disenfranchisement people of color, young voters, and poorer voters. Hot beds of gerrymandering are Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin...among many others. Do you want to learn more about what the National Democratic Redistricting Committee is doing to combat gerrymandering in the 2020 elections? Go to their website: https://democraticredistricting.com/
Here's how it's done:
Thanks to Stephanie Lenogue for creating this infographic expressly for DA France.
(Note: The following is a reprint from the Democrats.org website. They will be updating this page with additional resources as they become available.)
As Democrats, we are committed to fighting back against racial injustice and police brutality, and we’re working every day to ensure this country lives up to the basic ideals of its founding.
We hope you’ll join us in taking direct action to root out the poison of racism that pervades every facet of our society — because so long as Black men and women can’t breathe, we cannot rest. Complicity costs lives, and it’s on all of us to fix this.
Sign this petition to call for the firing of the officers who killed Breonna Taylor.
Sign on to Color of Change’s platform of structural demands to reduce, over time, the impacts of policing in concrete and tangible ways.
NAACP ‘We Are Done Dying’ Campaign
Add your name to support reforms to criminal justice, economic, health, and voting policy.
Black Lives Matter has organized a more extensive list of petitions you can sign here.
One of the easiest and most important steps we can take is calling for our elected officials to hold police accountable for their role in the killing of Black people.
Call the Louisville Mayor at 502-574-2003 and urge that the officer responsible for Breonna Taylor’s murder be held accountable.
Organizations to join
Color of Change is working to hold the officers who killed both George Floyd and Breonna Taylor accountable and fighting for a platform that ends the senseless killing of Black people in this country.
NAACP Legal Defense Fund fights for racial justice through advocacy, litigation, and public education.
The ACLU just filed a lawsuit against Minnesota law enforcement and provides supporters with detailed guides on their rights as they join protests. Share their video if you or people you know are joining protesters in the coming days.
Other ways to get involved
The Movement for Black Lives is hosting a week of action this week and asking folks all over the country to join them in the continued defense of black lives.
Call your representatives! Ask them to support a resolution brought by Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Karen Bass, and Barbara Lee to condemn racial profiling, police brutality, and the use of excessive force. Find your reps and give them a call here.
Senator Brian Schatz announced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to end the 1033 Program, which equips local law enforcement with used military equipment like armored vehicles and bayonets. This is a great step in the direction of demilitarizing our police but will need broad support in the Senate. Find your senators and contact them here.
Add some literature on anti-racism to your reading list! Listen to podcasts to help deepen your anti-racist work! (1619, Pod Save the People, and Intersectionality Matters! with Kimberlé Crenshaw are just a few good ones) Watch movies that lay bare this country’s racist roots. Educating ourselves on America’s history of racism is the only way we can take steps to untangle ourselves from the systemic racism that permeates all our daily lives.
Want to have an impact closer to home? Volunteer with Democrats Abroad France to get out the vote. Sign up here.
Make sure you’re registered to vote and everyone you know is also registered to vote at votefromabroad.org.
Photo by Valentino Funghi
Memorial Day: Remember and Honor
Often conflated with Veterans Day, which pays tribute to military veterans every November 11th, Memorial Day is the day we honor the women and men who died while serving in the US Armed Forces in all wars.
There are some things that Gold Star families want you to know this Memorial Day. From the Military Times,
"In today's world, some think Memorial Day is solely dedicated to the fallen from decades-old wars...'Freedom is not free,' and in our post 9/11 world, personal freedoms can't be taken for granted. All currently serving military personnel contribute in some way to protecting our freedoms; some pay dearly. Memorial Day is for honouring those who have recently died, too."
The origins of Memorial Day, initially called Decoration Day, date back to the Civil War - where the custom of decorating the graves of lost soldiers began. Its date (formally May 30th although always recognized at the end of May) was chosen expressly because it wasn’t associated with a specific battle. It became an official holiday in 1971.
Progress takes time...
LEST WE EVER FORGET
Quarantine won't stop us from remembering the fallen on Memorial Day
Memorial Day will be different this year. There may not be any large gatherings or services in France but we can still honor the men and women who lost their lives defending our freedoms.
Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry's shot alarms!
Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar,
Or the drum's redoubling beat.
Decoration Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Democrats Abroad France will be sending wreaths to be laid by the cemetery staff during small ceremonies around the country: Lafayette Monument and in Suresnes, Belleau Wood, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argonne. In the Tarn, flowers will be laid at the graves of the two OSS Commandos downed during WWII.
Wreaths will also be laid at the graves of those who died during World War I:
At the Lafayette Monument, Carter Ovington, a pilot who was downed and was never recovered will be remembered. He has a tomb in the crypt but is special in that he is M.I.A.
At Suresnes, Private Mitchell Davis will be remembered. A Howard University Law Graduate and one of the Afro-American soldiers who died during the “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918, he wrote a book entitled "One Hundred Choice Quotations" by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race:
"Through avalanches of prejudices; industrial barriers; professional intrigues; legal technicalities; diplomatic effronteries, and political buffetings, the American Negro has, at last arrived before the public eye, as a factor not easily to be evaded."
- One Hundred Choice Quotations by Prominent Men and Women of the Negro Race, 1917 by Mitchell Davis
At Belleau Wood, PVT Hercules Grays from the 369th Infantry Regiment also known as the “Harlem hellfighters” will be remembered. You can find more information on this unit here.
Another Afro-American, Private William Cuff will be honored at Oise-Asne. He is a recipient (Posthumous) of the American Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star.
Also, consider posting pictures on social media of those you wish to honor and remember on Memorial Day. Or, ask those who were going to participate in a service to share a message from their home.