South Jersey Women for Progressive Change is pleased to endorse Andy Kim in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, as part of the Blue Wave of 2018. We are confident that Andy Kim, a Rhodes scholar, will bring his in-depth experience as national security advisor to General Petraeus under the Obama administration to this office. He has already demonstrated an understanding of the issues that women in the 3rd Congressional District face. He is building a grassroots campaign that will work for the voters of CD3, not the corporate interests of millionaires.
During our endorsement process, two campaign pledges stood out for us. Kim will not accept a dime from corporate PACs and his campaign has an average donation of $57. He also is pledging to be the most accessible, transparent member of Congress by committing to holding at least one meeting a month with constituents. SJWPC supports a candidate who knows that the Democratic Party needs to take leadership in transparency, because our suffering democracy depends on it. Once elected, we know that Andy Kim will make that happen in the 3rd district and he will become a role model for other Democrats in the Garden State.
SJWPC agrees with Kim on the environment, on the economy, on transportation infrastructure and on healthcare and on a women’s right to choose. We are impressed with his background as a Rhodes Scholar and an advisor to the State Department under the command of General Petraeus. In that role, Andy said, “We didn’t look at problems as Democrats or Republicans. We looked at how to save lives and do what was best for the American people.”
Andy Kim has pledged to vote no on offshore drilling along the Jersey shore and will work to respond to climate change and treat it as a national security crisis. He will work to fix our tax laws that President Donald Trump and Representative Tom MacArthur have voted for, GOP regressive taxes that dramatically hurt NJ voters and their families. Kim will vote to make changes to these draconian GOP tax laws and will boost the middle class. He will vote to rebuild New Jersey’s roads, bridges, tunnels and ports which will create jobs and stimulate our state’s economy. Andy Kim will vote to make healthcare affordable and accessible for all and he recognizes the right of women to make their own decisions about their own healthcare.
SJWPC will be on the ground in the coming months to support Andy Kim. Look for us at events, door knocking in neighborhoods, at phone banks and on social media. We’re enthused to help Andy Kim win this race!
by Jennifer North
I’ve been thinking a lot about the healthcare system lately. I think about it as I remind myself of all of the things I value that are in danger, both outwardly and hidden. I think about it as I remind myself of the voices of yesterday that should still be heard. Like the people who live in Puerto Rico. Or in Flint.
I think about it when I think about DACA. And I wonder why we are letting the oppressor control our narrative and focus.
So as I’ve been reminding myself that our healthcare system is still in crisis, that I rely on an individual plan for my family with multiple pre-existing conditions and ongoing mental health management needs, I’ve been reflecting on the most intimate intersection I’ve had with the healthcare system thus far. Last summer, my mother was hospitalized for more than two months and I spent quite a bit of time with her at NYU Medical Center. The staff and patients there are incredibly diverse, with a rainbow of skin colors, languages, body types, ages, dietary restrictions and anything else you might imagine.
People were separated from one another in this ecosystem based on a visual code. (Except for the patients who are stripped of mostly everything that makes then individually human.) The staff were organized by color of scrubs, lab coat or uniform. The family members by clothing, hairstyle and various places to brandish logos.
During this time, right in the middle of this time, was Charlottesville. I was moderating conversations about racism, identity and oppression by night, caring for my mother by day. Here’s the thing about privilege, when you spend half of your waking time calling out privilege, your own follows you around like a shadow.
Privilege, wealth and power have tremendous influence in the hospital setting. And it can mean life or death. It can mean the difference between staying in front of pain/anxiety/diabetes/pick-your-need-for-prompt-meds management and a downward spiral that can last hours or days.
So my goal during this time was to check my privilege in the hospital. I would not speak to healthcare workers in way that would claim power over them. I would not take healthcare workers away from people of color unless it was an emergency. I would get my mother’s booties, gowns, towels, tissues, water and whatever else I could to help to ease the burden of the staff and enable them to spend more time with the folks on my mom’s floor. I ended up helping dozens of people with their socks, booties, linens, and everything else people wanted since I know knew the content of most of the closets in the wing.
This may sound like a creative way to keep occupied when spending weeks in the hospital, but it was stressful, infuriating and really, really, hard. I had to stop myself from speaking constantly. When I did speak, I had to check my words and tone carefully before saying anything. These are not things I am used to doing, especially when I need something. I was there to keep my mom comfortable and it was hard to balance that responsibility with my own internal struggles to live my values system at the same time. The unrelenting challenge in confronting my privilege during my mom’s stay at NYU made it clear to me how comfortably and seamlessly I have wielded it during my mom’s many previous intersections with healthcare providers since she diagnosed with a genetic disease in 1995.
My mom is on the mend for now. And as I listen to the stories of so many women of color with chronic illness who are part of our membership, I wonder who their advocate is when they are too hot or hungry or groggy or nauseous to express what they want and need to get strong. Because in addition to the tiny macroaggressions that happen between people who are thrown together with little to do or say about it, there is institutional and structural racism that is already stacking the deck so high against them.
By Amy Durr
In the six months since Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico recovery efforts have been painfully slow. According to Vox: "Federal workers there are still in emergency mode: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is still distributing food and water supplies; the Army Corps of Engineers is still picking up hurricane debris and installing blue roofs on damaged homes."
Puerto Rico, a territory of the US, is home to 3.3M Americans. The residents of Puerto Rico are citizens of the US, but citizens without a political voice: Puerto Rico elects no members to congress and the residents of Puerto Rico are not eligible to vote in Presidential elections. The lack of congressional representation allows the Federal Government to ignore even the most critical issues of Puerto Ricans because there is no possibility of political fall-out.
Although relief efforts are making progress the major challenges facing Puerto Rico today are serious, including:
Here are some ways to help the citizens of Puerto Rico:
Follow Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter: @Lin_Manuel
On Thursday, March 29, Camden Women held a rally for Unity at City Hall. SJWPC board member and Camden resident Sue Altman was invited to speak at the rally. The following is the text of her speech. You can watch the speech here.
Hi Everyone, my name is Sue Altman. I am a Camden resident, over there in Cooper Grant— and we’ll get back to that— and I’m on the board of South Jersey Women for Progressive Change. We are the little table over there doing voter registration.
I am honored and humbled to be here, with you, the incredible women of Camden. And thank you to the organizers, who had the vision, the energy and the power and confidence to put this amazing day together.
As women, we do share the common experience of sexism. But, women of color fight a two-front war each and every day. On one hand, they are blasted with sexism; on the other hand, it's racism. And white women need to do better. It’s on us! It’s on us! To fix this and dismantle this. Enough is enough.
In history, and even up to today, even in the modern era, down to this very moment, white women, and women with greater privilege: the rich, the able-bodied, have thrown our sisters of color under the bus on the way to our own false liberation. But not anymore! Not in South Jersey- NOT anymore!
We have some of the most segregated places in the country are right here in South Jersey. And it’s enough. ENOUGH. We are not free until all are free, and other women have said that today. Today marks a change.
In Camden it is no longer ok to focus all the attention, all the investment, on the downtown area where I live...Which also is the whitest area in Camden. We can’t do that anymore at the expense of our East Camdens, at the expense of our Parksides, at the expense of our Waterfront Souths, our North Camdens.
Y’all have been there first— i’m just an implant!
From today, when Camden rises, we rise together. When South Jersey rises, we rise TOGETHER. As women, we rise, we rise together.
There are barriers coming down, and walls are finally falling: Between suburbanites who have been taught to fear and avoid Camden, and the brilliant, talented, smart, resilient women of Camden who put this together today. Look around, we will rise together.
Divide and conquer will work no more.
When Camden rises it will rise for all women of this great city.
When we rise, we will leave NO WOMAN BEHIND!
Watch Sue's speech here.
For more information about Camden's Feminist Collective and the Women's Unity movement in Camden, please attend their next meeting on April 26, 2018 at 5:30pm at the Riletta Twyne Cream Library.
By Emily Devenney
In the wake of a publicized mass tragedy, like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, FL, sometimes it seems like we are racing the media clock to get our thoughts out there. As I write this post, there are new developments daily; policy proposals, community responses, and, sadly, more violence.
On Tuesday, March 20th, 17 year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins, a student at Great Mills High School in Maryland, shot two other students before suffering a mortal wound himself at the hands of school resource officer Blaine Gaskill, according to CNN. The officer followed his training, but nonetheless, a student was shot and killed by an armed officer in a school. Just over a year earlier, in January 2017, 14 year-old Logan Clark, a student at Hug High School in Nevada, was shot in the chest by a school officer when he refused to drop a knife he was wielding. Clark survived, but has severe brain trauma.
When we decide that the best method for keeping our students, our children, safe from gun violence in schools by arming school security guards, or employing school police officers, we knowingly put them at risk of more violence. I am not a parent, but when I hear politicians calling for arming teachers, or amping up armed security, I’m thinking of students like Austin Wyatt Rollins and Logan Clark. I’m also thinking about Tamir Rice, Cameron Tillman, Laquan McDonald and Michael Brown, all school-aged children killed by police.
Many of the voices speaking about gun violence I’ve heard recently have been white voices. Both nationally and locally, we elevate the tragedies of, and propose solutions to, violence that affects white communities. A recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer gave Philadelphia high school students the platform to raise a poignant question: “If the mass shooting hadn’t brought gun violence to the steps of the Florida school...would the Parkland teens be standing in solidarity with them over the violence they live with every day?” Posed by student Dena Hill, the question captures a major shortcoming in discussions about school and community safety: urban children face violence more often than suburban children, but there is seldom national outcry when children lose friends and parents to gun violence in Philadelphia, Camden, or Newark.
Since Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Pulse Nightclub, and now Parkland, we’ve been asking ourselves and each other how we can stay safe from gun violence when people have easy access to assault style weapons, how we can ensure that our children can go to school and come home unharmed each day, and how we can prepare to react to potential mass violence. In these discussions we often fail to question how so many guns have made their ways into our cities, how we can aid in community healing efforts, and how we can reduce the gun violence that plagues Baltimore, St. Louis and Philadelphia without incarcerating even more young black men.
Here are a few ways you can help to expand the narrative. Check out these Calls to Action:
Consider the pleas of the mothers who have lost their sons to gun violence, both street and state-sanctioned; of school children who have had armed guards in schools for years; and consider how other nations, like Canada, the U.K. and Australia, respond to gun violence. No solution is perfect, but one that considers the well-being of all, rather than some, that recognizes #BlackLivesMatter, and that keeps all guns, legal and illegal, out of schools, wouldn’t be a bad start.
When you march against gun violence, we hope you will remember to include ALL children who are impacted by gun violence, which affects black children at 10x the rate of their white peers.
Suggestions for Signs at March for Our Lives:
"Safe Schools, Safe Streets"
“Fund Schools, Not Guns”
“Reduce Guns, Reduce Violence”
“Teach Love, Not Violence”
Standing in Solidarity (S.I.S.) a group of Camden-based women are organizing a unity rally for women on Thursday March 22 at Roosevelt Plaza Park. S.I.S promotes intergenerational bonding by demonstrating unity in issues vital to the empowerment of women. In the spirit of Women’s History month, S.I.S. will host this historic gathering of multi-generational area women from diverse backgrounds.
South Jersey Women for Progressive Change has been invited to join this rally to promote our universal concerns and commonalities for the wellbeing of all women in our region.
“Our focus is bridging the intergenerational gap,” says Erin L. Johnson, rally organizer. Erin, an entrepreneur and founder of Feminist Business Society is part of the trio spearheading this effort. Erin Johnson and her partners Nyemah Gillespie, owner of Dare 2 Dance, and Betty Knight, founder of Miracles in Motion are all millennial Camden natives and products of Camden City Public Schools.
There will be a number of inspirational speakers focusing on issues related to unity in the home, community, and work. There will also be vendors with information and resources for women and families. South Jersey Women for Progressive Change will be sponsoring a voter registration table.
The event will enable the women of Camden City to write the narrative about the future of their home town and highlight the incredible positive work that is happening in Camden communities every day.
The group is also planning a follow up event that will promote solution-based discussion for women’s issues.
The Women’s Unity Day Rally is free and open to the public. For more information about this event or S.I.S. check out their Facebook page or e-mail: email@example.com
Women’s Unity Rally, Roosevelt Plaza Park (520 Market Street) Camden City Hall
Thursday, March 22 from 4 pm - 6:30 pm.
South Jersey Women for Progressive Change is thrilled to announce our endorsement of Tanzie Youngblood for Congress in NJ's Congressional District 2. We believe that Tanzie’s entry into the race encapsulates our organization’s own enthusiasm and commitment to change in government, and that her presence in CD2 has started a much-needed discussion of the Democratic Party’s values in South Jersey.
When Barack Obama said, “Grab a clipboard and run for office!” Tanzie took him seriously, putting herself out there and at risk against the GOP propaganda machine and big money. She was there first. Then current Congressman Frank LoBiondo announced his retirement, and Tanzie found herself, once again, running against big money— this time from the Democratic side. Jeff Van Drew, Tanzie’s main primary opponent, is a conservative Democrat, a longtime NJ State Senator with an A+ rating from the NRA, who has voted against same-sex marriage, for more restrictions on a woman’s right to choose, and against the environment— over and over again.
And yet this is who the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and NJ’s own moneyed Democratic leadership have chosen to support. This choice is completely out of step with the national mood. Not supporting Tanzie was a missed opportunity for the local Democratic machine who is showing that they are out of step with their voters. Women like Tanzie--bold, brave, smart, committed--are the future of the party.
The situation in CD2 deserves national attention. It highlights precisely what is problematic about the Democratic Party— including the inability of its leadership to recognize raw, untapped talent, and to put resources behind people who represent a broader, more diverse, more inclusive group of New Jersey residents. The Democratic Party had the opportunity to invest in a talented, confident, strong, qualified female candidate. They chose not to. But, SJWPC will. We recognize that it’s time for a woman (and a woman of color) to represent the party and to represent our state. NJ’s record on gender parity in Congress is shameful. We demand change from the Democratic Party. This change will start with women. In NJ’s entire congressional delegation, women occupy only one seat in twelve, or 8%. Just 8% of the people we send to Washington are female. Not eight people, eight percent! By way of comparison, North Korea, Afghanistan, and Somalia have better gender representation in their governing bodies.
The lack of women in New Jersey’s Congressional delegation is not something that we are imagining. It’s the good old boys’ club personified. In NJ, the official and unofficial leaders choose “known quantities” and “team players” in backroom primaries, and these choices inform the DCCC, PAC endorsements, and campaign cash. The Van Drew endorsement by Democratic power brokers is a demonstration of how completely out of touch the leaders are with Democratic voters. Letting Tanzie slip through the cracks is a missed opportunity for real growth.
However,we will not miss this opportunity to make a decision that is right for the people of South Jersey. Tanzie is one of our members, and has been since before she announced her candidacy. She is strong on universal healthcare, the environment and and will work to support farmers and bring in STEM jobs to invigorate industry. Her social media presence is impressive, and her credentials as a former teacher and a Blue Star mom separate her from the bunch. We are confident she can WIN in CD2 with her progressive platform, her personality, and her highly advanced voter registration and get out the vote efforts.
Our members are fired up about her, and so are we, the leaders of SJWPC. Our endorsement process includes member surveys at on-site events, where we gather qualitative feedback from our members on their impressions of the candidates. One member said, “Tanzie is like the girl on the playground who got everyone organized and involved. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious.” Another member noted, “Tanzie will energize the more diverse and enlightened areas of the district far more than the other candidates. 2018 is THE year for women! Women unite!” Further, “2018 is the year for women, specifically women of color, to get the recognition and support and respect owed to them by the Democrats.”
WE AGREE! We believe that having more women in office is long overdue, and beyond that, Tanzie is a highly qualified, inspirational figure who our membership is excited about. It feels good to endorse her, and we will volunteer hard for her campaign!
If you’d like to be involved with a voter registration drive in CD2 targeting marginalized populations, please reach out to Susan Druckenbrod, firstname.lastname@example.org
SJWPC takes its endorsement process very seriously. We have outlined the process here, but in summary:
By Sue Altman and Melissa Tomlinson
On Wednesday March 7, 2018 the New Jersey State Board of Education will hold yet another hearing about whether the state should recertify the use of the PARCC assessment in our schools.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a consortium featuring six states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Educational Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education, that together deploy a standard set of K–12 assessments in Math and English, a standard they say is based on the Common Core State Standards. The PARCC consortium was awarded Race to the Top assessment funds in September 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education to help in the development of the K–12 assessments
The Education Law Center recently released a report that gives a very clear picture about the future of our graduating classes if PARCC remains the main, and soon to be only, pathway to graduation. With only 27% of the students in 2017 earning their diploma by passing PARCC at the predetermined cut-off scores, the future potential of high school graduates can be severely limited. In a state that is currently ranked as number two in the nation for it's public education system, this is alarming. We cannot allow the use of an invalid test that only offers a snapshot picture of a child's potential as as a way to determine if a student has the potential for future success.
Parents, educators, and students have repeatedly stated over and over again that we reject the idea that PARCC is an effective tool. It has been proven that PARCC is not a valid research-based test and inappropriate for making educational decisions. Our children are more than a score!
We are disappointed that Governor Murphy, after his campaign proclamations that declared an end to PARCC, has not yet taken the step to get PARCC out of our schools.
This must be the end of PARCC and the beginning of a much needed conversation about authentic assessment and education. We call on Governor Murphy to make this decision to end PARCC for the children of our state, once and for all.
We urge you to join us in attending the March 7th State Board of Education public testimony hearing at 2pm.
Please show your support for the many parents and educators that will be speaking. If you cannot attend, or cannot speak in person, please submit testimony electronically to email@example.com.
by Summer Maher
When I enter my school in the morning, I expect to be annoyed. I expect to be exhausted and pissed off and ready to go home before homeroom even begins.
When I enter my school in the morning, I do not expect to get shot.
A school shooting on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida marks the eighteenth school shooting in America in 45 days. In 9 of these, high school students were shot and killed.
When I walk into my math class, I don’t expect to see a dead body.
I’ve never paid much attention to the debate about gun laws, at least not until recently. Recently, 17 year olds have been walking into schools with semi-automatic rifles, entering classrooms, and opening fire. Recently, 15 year olds with full knowledge of the school’s layout and lockdown procedures have been strolling into schools with handguns tucked into their waistbands and shooting their fellow 15 year olds while they hide under desks.
There is nowhere to hide in a classroom.
Enough is enough. Every politician in the country tonight will sit on his comfortable couch, grab his phone, and tweet out how surprised and shocked he is. He will send his thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims. He will promise that he will work to make sure this never happens again. Then, he will have dinner with his family, with his kids. He will go to bed. And when the time comes to vote for stricter gun laws and protection for the 15 year olds hiding under their desks, he will vote no. Because he feels safer knowing that while a sophomore can become a murderer, and that while the kids under the desks in math class don’t have guns to protect themselves, he does. In case the shooter comes to his house, to his office, to his family. Then he’ll have the gun.
But guess what? So will the sophomore.
You can pray, send your thoughts, and promise all you want, but until I know that there is no chance that my lab partner will be able to get a rifle and shoot me in the head, I really don’t care.
Because I’m fifteen years old, and I don’t want to die.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are gathering 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday at the Treehouse Cafe, 120 W. Merchant Street in Audubon. Feel free to bring family members, children, and friends.
The time to act is NOW.
You can also visit https://www.sandyhookpromise.org to get involved in ending gun violence in schools today.
by Alissa Wolf
During the recent second annual Women’s March, a great many conservatives once again worked overtime to disparage and belittle the marchers. For days on end, the largely male naysayers peppered social media with a myriad of scathingly misogynistic threads and comments that ranged from laughable to downright belligerent.
Among the examples that I took note of during hours-long observations of Facebook included:
“Get back in the kitchen and make me a sammich.”
“Hundreds of thousands of cats are being neglected today.”
“You are nothing but a pathetic bunch of fat, ugly, man-hating feminazi bitches who are just pissed because Hillary lost.”
Many women also expressed outrage toward the marchers. A number of them commented that those who participated are a disgrace to the female gender. “You make me ashamed to be a woman!” huffed one sanctimonious Trump supporter.
Meanwhile, a great many men marched alongside women this year. Upon attending the Philadelphia event, I noticed that at least one third of the participants were males who were there to support their wives, girlfriends and female relatives, and to express their shared political views. But the critics claimed that the guys were just there to "pick up chicks," although they opined that the pickings must have been slim because only unattractive women attend these events.
In a nutshell, the overall erroneous perception among the detractors was that those who marched were just a bunch of homely, bitter, crazy cat ladies who aimlessly marauded through the streets donning vagina costumes because we had nothing better to do.
For me personally, the most disheartening and maddening misconceptions were that those of us who participated didn’t even know what we were marching for, and that women in the U.S. in particular have all of the rights and privileges that we could ever hope for.
So I am here to set the record straight about why we marched, and what we truly stand for.
What SJWPC Stands for, and What We Do
South Jersey Women for Progressive Change is just one of the many liberal political groups to form within the last year in response to the current disquieting political climate.
As we explain on our website, “Formed in 2016, SJWPC is an 8,000-member action network for intersectional grassroots advocacy and activism, open to all who identify as female or were assigned female at birth. Our work focuses on ensuring strong democratic processes and racial justice, as well as progressive policies in education, the economy, healthcare, housing and the environment.” You can view our core platform here.
And we don’t just talk the talk. We walk the walk via our many coalitions, programs and events through which we address and take action in regard to issues within our platform.
In a nutshell:
We support like-minded candidates who run for office, and hold those who are already in office accountable by attending freeholder meetings, town halls and other political gatherings where we make our voices heard. We also host Meet the Candidate events via our Political Engagement activities.
In addition, SJWPC is very active in immigration and racial justice reform. For one, our Racial Justice Action Group hosts monthly study groups to determine solutions to overcoming racial oppression. Our Immigration Action Group supports legislation that aids beleaguered immigrant communities, among other activities.
These are just some of the many things we stand for and what we do.
Marching to the Polls and Into Office
One aspect of the 2018 Women’s March that really resonated with me and many other like-minded women and men was an increased emphasis on getting out the vote via the movement's #Power to the Polls agenda.
The 2018 flagship march held in Nevada marked the official kickoff of national voter registration and mobilization drives geared toward encouraging more people to get to the polls during all elections, registering new voters and turning swing and red states blue.
One dramatic example of the difference women can make at the polls was the December 2017 special Senate election held in Alabama. Alleged pedophile and openly racist Republican Roy Moore was roundly defeated when he ran against progressive Democrat Doug Jones in this deepest of deep red states. This stunning upset was largely attributable to the record turnout of progressive black female voters.
In addition, the movement encourages women, men and marginalized people who share our values to run for office, and tirelessly supports progressive candidates. In fact, a record number of women have run for office in the year since the first Women's March. According to a report in Time magazine, in 2017 an astounding 26,000 women reached out to Democratic women's advocacy group Emily's List to inquire about running for office, compared to 900 in 2015 and 2016.
So we and other groups that share our values and visions are very much aware of the power we have at the voting booth and via running for office. And we work diligently to harness that power on an ongoing basis.
'What Rights Don't You Have?'
Another frustrating misconception shared by many conservative men and women is that American women have nothing to complain about, because we enjoy unlimited freedom and rights.
However, women in this country still make less money than men for the same work. Plus, our reproductive rights are currently under siege due to the vociferous Christian conservatives' pro-life movement, which seeks to severely infringe upon our bodily autonomy when it comes to abortion and general health care.
Last but certainly not least, progressive activists have given rise to the powerful #MeToo and Time's Up movements, which for the first time in history has forced our society to address sexual harassment and assault, and harshly deal with the perpetrators.
So not only do we know why we march and what we stand for, we stand up and fight for the rights, liberty and well being of all people who share our values and visions. And we don't just do so one day a year via taking to the streets. We do so all year long, with powerful results. To our detractors, I say, "We will not be silenced. And you ain't seen nothin' yet!"