09/09/2011 § Leave a comment
Americans with criminal records face legalized discrimination in the workplace, at the voting booth, and in their daily lives. But grassroots leaders across the country are breaking through “tough on crime” policies and winning major challenges to their second-class status.
The National Employment Law Project estimates that 65 million Americans have a criminal record, counting both convictions and arrests that did not lead to convictions. Since 1994, the fraction of major employers screening for criminal records has grown from 20 percent to more than 90 percent. People of color are disproportionately convicted, and suffer more discrimination after completing their sentences. Black ex-offenders are four times less likely to get initial job interviews than their white counterparts, despite equivalent credentials and offenses.
In Massachusetts, residents denied the ability to earn a living and support their families began to speak out and organize. A broad-based coalition led by ex-offenders and supported by youth organizations, labor unions, workforce agencies, and faith groups waged a 5-year “Ban the Box” campaign to end overt discrimination and eliminate the felony check-box from initial job application forms.
In July 2010, after dozens of major demonstrations, hundreds of legislative meetings, and thousands of constituent phone calls, the Massachusetts legislature passed a landmark criminal records reform bill including a “Ban the Box” provision. The new law makes employers evaluate applicants more fairly by allowing background checks only after an applicant is deemed qualified for the job.
California, Minnesota, and New Mexico have removed the question from state job applications, and more than 25 major cities have banned the box for city jobs. Hawai‘i and Massachusetts have extended the guidelines to all private-sector employers, setting a policy example for the rest of the nation.
My First Vote: Ex-offenders on reclaiming the human right to vote.
Formerly convicted Americans are also challenging felony disenfranchisement laws. In the last 15 years, they have won partial victories in 23 states restoring the vote for over 800,000 voters. Still, 35 states prevent over 5.3 million people, including 13 percent of all black men, from voting.
After decades of prison expansion, spiraling costs, and high recidivism rates, ex-prisoners and their allies are forcing states to review policies of wholesale exclusion. Massachusetts’ grassroots victory adds momentum to a growing national movement challenging the new Jim Crow and building a more just and inclusive society.
Aaron Tanaka wrote this article for Beyond Prisons, the Summer 2011 issue of YES! Magazine. Aaron is the executive director of the Boston Workers Alliance, co-coordinator of the Massachusetts “Ban the Box” campaign.
08/22/2011 § Leave a comment
video on international student labor/community organizing at hershey’s factory in PA – staged a sit in this month, another angle on globalizations impact on domestic work. www.guestworkeralliance.org
03/23/2011 § Leave a comment
there is a local campaign against a new whole foods in my neighborhood. whosefoods.org
03/10/2011 § Leave a comment
mona eltahawy on palestinian self determination and the inspiration of egypt tunisia and non violent movements. via justin mcintosh FB
02/02/2011 § Leave a comment
see this video of Asmaa Mahfouz of the April 6 Youth Movement – a dominant youth & young adult front calling for regime change, human rights and democracy.
Mahfouz goes hard on sideline spectators, calling them traitors for their unwillingness to stand for freedom. this video went viral and apparently helped move major demonstrations in tahir square on january 25th that sparked the uprising in egypt since.
Mahfouz is compelling, courageous and inspiring. those of us in the US that allow our government to support dictators like mubarek should find a fraction of her grit and demand that president obama stand with the democratic aspirations of the egyptian people.
or there’s always this..
02/01/2011 § 1 Comment
photos via justin mcintosh FB via totallycoolpix.com
A Guide: How Not To Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt
via mary j FB by blog Sarthanapalos
The past few days I have heard so many stupid things from friends, blogs, pundits, correspondents, politicians, experts, writers that I want to pull my hair. So, I will not beat around the bush, I will be really blunt and give you a handy list to keep you from offending Egyptians, Arabs and the world when you discuss, blog or talk about Egypt. Honestly, I would think most Progressives would know these things, but let’s get to it.
- “I am so impressed at how articulate Egyptians are.” Does this sound familiar? Imagine saying this about a Latino or African American? You don’t say it. So don’t say it about Egyptians. Gee, thank you oh great person who is of limited experience and human contact for recognizing that out of 80 million people some could be articulate, educated and speak many languages. Not cool. Don’t say it. You may think it, but it makes you sound like a dumb ass. « Read the rest of this entry »
01/17/2011 § Leave a comment
1) did u know that tunisia had a revolution this week? mohammed bouazizi’s self immolation ignited national protests against mass unemployment and corruption in the 23 year rule of ben ali (recently highlighted by wikileaks). ben ali flees the country, making this the first popular removal of an arab dictator in over 25. not only have the tunisian people fought for and won the possibility of political transformation, they also demonstrate the power of a country’s native population to address their own political repression, without the so called intervention/invasion from western powers. i dont want to oversimplify the situation and note that the subsequent struggle for power is volatile and shifting as we speak. but yea. wheres the mainstream media on this and wheres the US left consciousness on the implications of these events?
2) the arizona shooting is sad, scary and abhorrent- and i agree that palinesque discourse is a problem and they deserves a spanking. but im also not totally feeling the democrats opportunism, attributing the whole thing to ‘cross hairs’ on a map without talking about broader cultures of violence, the availability of weapons in the US, and the lack mental health resources. a secondary point.. if the shooter was brown, how would the discourse on this be different? expect talk of a culture of terror amongst muslims or the threat of increased immigration, or some irrelevant nonsense that served dominant media narratives that fuel xenophobia and militarism without making us safer.
01/17/2011 § Leave a comment
[dr. king leading a march from roxbury to the state house]
The US would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men (sic) and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. — Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967
In his prophetic last volume, Where Do We Go From Here? Dr. King points towards the abolition of poverty as the critical “second phase” in the struggle for justice. Even after the Civil Rights Movement won so called “equality” in 1964, it became clear that the right to sit next to whites at a lunch counter was useless without the funds for a meal. In his 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam,” King maintained that an economy dominated by military spending existed at the expense of underfunding the poor.
In 2003, Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and a cadre of other seasoned community organizers known as the District 7 Roundtable launched the Fund the Dream Campaign. Rooted in King’s call to challenge the ë”evil triplets of…racism, materialism, and militarism,” Fund the Dream resurrected King’s framework to build economic peace by organizing the under- and unemployed.
At the time of his assassination, King was in Memphis, standing with unionizing sanitation workers and building towards a national Poor People’s Campaign for guaranteed jobs or income. Today, facing economic recession, 50 percent unemployment among young African American men and growing poverty amongst single mothers, organizing against joblessness in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods has become a matter of survival.