Standing Rock, Drug Policy, and Thinking Progressively

October 31, 2016

Although the presidential debates and campaigns seem to be all that anyone’s talking about these days, our partners are duly attention-worthy. Our network is making real and tangible change on the frontlines of racial justice, immigration and criminal justice reform, and anti-poverty work.

Acclaimed musician Toshi Reagon (CC ’11) will be putting on two shows the week of the election and will be performing a pre-election show to “get folks in a great state of mind to do what they got to do.” On Wed. Nov 9, she will put on a post-election show “to get us ready to deal with the incoming president.”

The Natural History Museum, led by Beka Economopoulos (CC ’12, ’16), initiated a sign-on letter concerning the destruction of Native American burial grounds and sacred sites by the Dakota Access Pipeline company. The “Standing Rock solidarity letter” includes signatures from museum officials, archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe shared the letter on its Sacred Stone Camp Facebook page, calling it “an amazing act of solidarity,” and Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II expressed both gratitude and sorrow in a statement, "Our water, our resources and our lives are at risk because of this pipeline. Our sacred sites can never be replaced. We are grateful to the more than 1,200 historians, archaeologists, historians and museum workers who understand the value of our sacred indigenous sites and artifacts and who stand with us on this issue.” The Natural History Museum released the letter to the media earlier this month and sent copies to the Obama administration and relevant federal agencies.


Dr. Elizabeth Minnich’s (CC ’09) most recent book, The Evil of Banality: On The Life and Death Importance of Thinking, will be released from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, International, in mid-December 2016.  One reader review says, "While I believe it is an ever-present possibility that books can actually make us better people, I see it as quite rare that they either try to or are successful in doing so: I am convinced that this one can.”

A column in the San Francisco Chronicle featured Lynne Lyman (CI ’16), State Director, California at the Drug Policy Alliance, commenting on the racial injustice that persists in states that have legalized marijuana when it comes to those who benefit from sales and those who are still criminalized. Drug Policy Alliance has been fighting for years for cannabis legalization and social justice around the country, including in California. Lyman believes that a “yes” vote on Proposition 64 on Nov. 8 is a step toward progress.

Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of our partner in Immigration, Border Network for Human Rights, was featured in a ThinkProgress article reacting to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “bad hombres” comment. The article sheds light on how the criminal justice system disproportionately targets and punishes undocumented immigrants. “The idea that immigrants are ‘bad hombres’ is a problem in the United States,” Fernando told ThinkProgress. “That statement disregards that the vast majority of people who come into the country — they come to work, they come to contribute to this society.”

A new study by our Poverty partner, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), examines state-by-state numbers that show how Social Security reduces poverty. Although most of those whom Social Security keeps out of poverty are elderly, nearly a third are under age 65, including 1.1 million children. Social Security is particularly important for elderly women and minority families, who have fewer retirement resources. Without Social Security, 22.1 million more Americans would be poor, according to the latest available Census data.

The Shriver Center has been busy in its anti-poverty work. The organization’s Legal Impact Network (32 state-level organizations that advance racial and economic justice throughout the country) recently submitted comments on a federal proposed rule on payday lending. Here’s a blog they recently drafted on it, using an individual story to demonstrate the how payday lending drains communities of billions yearly.