Starting 2020 with Visionary Projects

January 27, 2020

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Several of our partners are starting the new year with influential projects that are shifting narratives around criminal justice, immigration and economic opportunity.

Laurie Jo Reynolds (CC ’10 & ’11, CI ‘15) is working with the Chicago 400, a grassroots campaign of formerly incarcerated and convicted people experiencing homelessness in Chicago. This month they partnered with The Drawing Center in an initiative called Lessons in the Carceral State, which explores “the intersection of drawing and criminal justice reform, specifically as it relates to fear-based policies, the unintended consequences of public registration laws, and the expansion of the carceral state.” The project included an exhibition of drawings produced by the Chicago 400 and culminated with a public symposium about the Chicago 400’s ongoing advocacy work. Laurie Jo’s other project, Photo Requests from Solitary, was profiled by BBC News at the end of December.

Heidi Boisvert (CC ’16) was selected as a fellow for the American Arts Incubator, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs developed in partnership with ZERO1. She went to Instanbul, Turkey as part of the program to address gender equality by blending various digital technologies and using her “play as process” approach with participants. Heidi discusses the experience in the video below:

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John-Michael Torres (CI’ 16, CC ‘19) reports that his organization LUPE has been developing cultural tactics to infuse their campaigns with more energy and excitement. As one example, they’ve developed a census-themed game of Mexican bingo, Censo Lote. He writes, “We are using the game to reach neighbors in hard-to-count colonias, which are rural subdivisions that fall behind city neighborhoods in their services, housing quality, and infrastructure.”  Censo Lote was recently featured pas the feature image in this New York Times article about disparities in Census outreach.

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Cleo Barnett (CC ’19) of Amplifier will be shipping free artwork to teachers across the country in February as part of its “We Are the Future” campaign. Cleo writes, “Because what students see, or don’t see, on their classroom walls MATTERS. Share with an educator and help us bring youth-led, social justice inspired, art and teaching tools into classrooms across the country.” Educators can register at education.amplifier.org and Amplifer will send free artwork and digital teaching tools to their classrooms.

Gina Womack (CC ’15) and her organization, Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), are launching their 4th annual “Stand in Love” campaign for Valentine's Day. FFLIC is asking for help in creating valentine’s cards with a simple message like "We are thinking of you” for youth in Louisiana prisons. Gina wants to top last year’s 1,000 cards. Send cards by February 10 to FFLIC, 1307 Oretha C. Haley Blvd #304, New Orleans, LA 70113. You can also make a video of support on social media using the hashtags: #standinlove2020, #letkidsbekids, #lovebeyondbars, #countdowntolove.

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This month, Kristen Marston (CI ‘ 19) and her organization Color of Change, released Normalizing Injustice: The Dangerous Misrepresentations that Define Television’s Scripted Crime Genre. This study of crime television shows and their depictions of the criminal justice system is the first of its kind, bringing awareness to the role that the Crime TV genre plays in advancing distorted representations of crime, justice, race and gender in media and culture. Color of Change is asking for your support by sharing the report with the hashtag #NormalizingInjustice and using any one of these visuals.

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Vicki B. Gaubeca (CI’ 16, CC ‘19), director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), issued a statement about the death of a Congolese woman who became the 101st person to die in the past decade while in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP):

“It’s an absolute tragedy that in the last 10 years, more than 100 people have died after an encounter with a CBP official or while in CBP custody. This latest death of a mother who was seeking safety at our nation’s doorstep is another wake-up call to our elected congressional members. It is time to re-think our border policies and implement a New Border Vision that creates a humane and effective border governance model. No one who travels to, visits or lives in our vibrant borderlands should fear for their life or that they will not be treated with humanity and dignity. We mourn this senseless loss of life and will continue the work of holding this agency accountable.”

SBCC has been tracking deaths in Border Patrol custody since 2010 with the CBP Death Tracker, which has served as a reliable and trustworthy source of information for national and international media, as well as elected officials across the country. 

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has updated its primer on historical trends in income inequality over the past seven decades: A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality. They found that beginning in the 1970s, economic growth slowed and the income gap widened. Since then, the concentration of income at the very top of wealth distribution rose to levels last seen nearly a century ago, during the “Roaring Twenties.”