2016 is turning out to be an important year in politics for reasons beyond the race for the White House. Elected officials, when unsupervised by the people, they can get up to some heinous shenanigans. Over 200 anti-LGBT bills have been presented in local governments across the country. Conservatives are threatening to limit reproductive rights even further through the 147 anti-choice bills that have been filed in January alone. The need to change the systems that devalue black lives is becoming ever more urgent as mass incarceration, police brutality, and systemic violence persist.
Without direct engagement pushing back, we will only see more rights denied by legislators who are not held accountable by the constituents they serve. It’s critical that citizens engage in movements for social justice beyond voting in the presidential election. That’s why we’re presenting a new weekly Social Justice Forecast to keep you tapped into great opportunities to make a difference from sea to shining sea.
All Month Long:
Celebrate Black Futures Month
Black Lives Matter and the Movement For Black Lives, two separate but complementary organizations, have once more declared February Black Futures Month. Every day, Black Lives Matter is posting original artwork and articles inspired by visions of a better future on its website. Additional events and actions will be held across the country throughout the month. Follow @blklivesmatter and @mvmnt4bl on Twitter to keep track, and join the conversation using #BlackFuturesMonth.
Build A New Policy Agenda For Racial Justice
The Movement For Black Lives is also working on its National Policy Agenda to build a strategy for affecting laws and policies. It's inviting members of the black community and black organizations to join in forming this agenda over the next six months. Anyone who’s interested is encouraged to sign up here to join the discussion.
Stand Up Against Discrimination In Oklahoma — And Across The Country
Oklahoma is an epicenter for transphobic and homophobic legislation in America. Of the more than 200 aforementioned anti-LGBT bills, 25 have been introduced in this state alone. These range from policing bathroom use to denying young people access to support services, and their defeat is crucial; should any of the Oklahoma bills succeed, this could embolden elected officials in the 29 other states that have introduced anti-LGBT legislation.
Organizations like Oklahomans For Equality and Freedom Oklahoma are fighting against this storm. You can support them monetarily or by spreading the word about their work. Also, be sure to keep an eye on what's happening where you live by following the Equality Federation, a network of state organizations mobilized for protecting the rights of LGBTQ people that can connect you to difference-makers in your area.
Dark clouds reported over Oklahoma, with a chance of rainbows to follow. LGBT visibility to increase in the Nashville area midweek, and a liberation front in Texas may cause delays for racism.
Sunday, February 7
Nationwide: Take part in National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
February 7 is recognized as a day to make a concerted effort to address the impact of HIV/AIDS on the black community. Events are aimed at education, prevention, and outreach to bring an end to the spread of HIV. You can find specific events near you via the National Black AIDS Day website.
Tulsa, OK: Hit up the My Oklahoma Town Hall Series
2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
621 E 4th Street
Hosted by Oklahomans for Equality, this series is designed to inform people about the discriminatory bills in the state and teach volunteers how to address elected officials on these issues. Attendees can sign up to be a part of visits to the state capitol and assist in other strategic actions.
Wednesday, February 10:
Nashville, TN: Wear RED to Oppose Counseling Discrimination Bill
301 6th Ave N
301 6th Ave N
The Tennessee Equality Project will be gathering at Legislative Plaza in Nashville to oppose the Counseling Discrimination Bill going to committee that day. The bill would allow counselors in the state to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to deny treatment to patients. All you have to do is show up, wear red, and be amazing. Then, at 3 p.m. at Legislative Plaza in Room 31, TEP is gathering to oppose a resolution to stand against the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.
Can’t make it to Nashville Wednesday? No problem. Sign and share this petition to the Tennessee Senate Health and Welfare Committee asking them to drop the Counseling Discrimination bill. You can also sign and share this other petition to oppose the anti-marriage equality effort. Spread the love and be sure to follow TEP on Facebook and Twitter, as there are more actions and volunteer opportunities coming up across the state. They’re great at preparing for hazardous political conditions, and checking out their tactics may help build strategies and tactics for weathering similar storms in other parts of the country.
Friday, February 12 and Saturday, February 13:
Houston, TX: Join the Freedom Bound State of Black Lives Convening
8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
1900 Bering Dr
This two-day conference will host 28 strategy sessions for black community organizers and feature keynote speaker Elaine Brown, former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party. Childcare services and meals will be provided and included in the cost of $55; $30 for students with ID. Full and partial scholarships are available to those who cannot afford the full price. More information is available at the Freedom Bound Facebook page. Register to attend here.
Washington, D.C.: Rally to protect abortion access with the Center For Reproductive Rights
Wednesday, March 2
8 a.m. to noon
The Supreme Court
The court will be hearing arguments in the case of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, which contests a Texas law that intends to close at least 75 percent of women's health clinics in the state. Should the Court uphold the law, it could be devastating for women's health care and access to safe and legal abortions nationwide. The rally is a month away, so make plans now if you wish to stand in solidarity with this effort. You can use the hashtag #StopTheSham to show your support in preserving women's right to safe, legal, and supportive health care.
Above all else, I encourage you to find productive ways to get involved and organized where you live. Voting locally and nationally is a start, but engaging with the issues directly is absolutely necessary. Whether the work needs to bring out the sun or call down a storm … we need you.