February 10, 2022 was African American Protocol Day in the Arizona Legislature. This is a day when leaders from the African American community statewide come to the Legislature to educate us.
Since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, he and other Democratic leaders have proposed sweeping legislation to tackle deep-seated societal problems.
Many popular progressive bills – like the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act; the Richard L. Trumka Protect the Right to Organize Act, the Dream and Promise Act, and the Women’s Health Protection Act – have been passed by the US House of Representatives. Unfortunately, these bills and many more are blocked in the Senate by the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold.
Parts of Biden’s ambitious Build Back Better Plan are also in jeopardy due to opposition from so-called “moderates” in Congress. Build Back Better would rebuild and modernize our nation’s neglected infrastructure, address climate change, create jobs, and lower taxes and costs for the middle class. Who pays for Build Back Better? Biden’s plan calls for a “fairer tax code.” Rather than taking on more debt, corporations and the wealthiest Americans would pay more in taxes to fund this sweeping recovery plan. These are the people who have enjoyed decades of tax cuts under the guise of trickledown economics. These are the people who made billions during the pandemic while working families scraped by. These are the people who build private space ships to glorify their egos while they starve their workers and bust unions. These are the people who enjoyed the biggest tax cut ever under President Trump. Unfortunately, these are also the people who have the money to buy politicians and lobbyists. That is why Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was passed by Republicans on a party line with a simple majority without debate just days before Christmas, but Biden’s plan, which would tax the rich to the benefit of the rest of the country, needs a super majority to overcome a filibuster.
The 55th Legislative First Session has been filled with crazy, right-wing ideological bills attacking voting rights, reproductive rights, patients, doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, teachers, engineers, professionals, unions, public education, the Permanent Early Voting List, the Citizens Initiative, Clean Elections, and transparency in campaign finance. Adding insult to injury, these bad bills are passing on party line votes￼ — often with little or no debates and no public input. This is tyranny of the minority. Yes, Republicans are in the majority with 31 members in the House compared to the Democrats 29, but these extremist views are not held by the majority of Arizonans.
Wednesday was Cinco de Mayo and the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Given the importance of this day to other cultures, it is appalling that we would spend most of the day debating bills that would limit speech regarding racism, sexism and other “controversial issues” in schools (SB1532) and in government, including community colleges (SB1074). The floor debates for these two bills lasted at least five hours. The Democrats offered many eloquent speeches, while the Republicans insisted they aren’t racist. In addition to limiting speech, SB1532 also bans critical race theory and would make it difficult — if not impossible — for schools to use programs like the 1619 Project.
More than 500 corporations are suspending advertising on Facebook because of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s reluctant and minimalist response to calls to end hate speech and misinformation on Facebook. Here’s an excerpt from Mark Zuckerberg: advertisers’ boycott of Facebook will end ‘soon enough’about the Stop Hate for Profit campaign in The Guardian.
Mark Zuckerberg has dismissed the threat of a punishing boycott from major advertisers pressing Facebook to take a stronger stand on hate speech and said they will be back “soon enough”…
“We’re not gonna change our policies or approach on anything because of a threat to a small percent of our revenue, or to any percent of our revenue,” he said, according to the Information.
Zuckerberg says it’s no big deal and won’t hurt the company’s bottom line if corporate advertisers boycott the platform for at least a month. When it comes to hate speech, shouldn’t there be other concerns beyond his bottom line? From the quotes in The Guardian article, Zuckerberg stands firm against his advertisers’ protestations.
Three and a half months of sheltering in place — with the novel Coronavirus just one chance encounter away — have given us time to perfect our strategies for survival during the current government-created public health crisis and to make plans for a safe, more equitable, more enlightened future.
COVID19 turned the spotlight on the glaring disparities in our social and economic systems. The virus smashed open those broken systems and refused to let us turn away from the inequities of who gets sick, who lives, who dies, who goes broke, who loses their home, and who is forced to work in unsafe conditions. Blacks in the US have the highest death rates from COVID19 across all age groups, followed by Latinos, and with whites trailing behind. Your ZipCode, your income, and your race should not determine your healthcare access or your health outcomes.
On top of this outrage within the health care delivery system, we witness the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd (Minneapolis), Dion Johnson (Phoenix), Rayshard Brooks (Atlanta), Carlos Ingram Lopez (in Tucson) and others at the hands of law enforcement officers and the out-sized police response to the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests around the country. Also, don’t get me started about my fears for the widening achievement gap between K-12 students whose parents have a reliable Internet connection and adequate computing power for online learning and the students who don’t.
All of these systems were broken before COVID19. The pandemic and related system failures tell us we can no longer ignore and enable the structural racism, sexism, and widespread discrimination in our systems and laws. Excuse my language, but this sh*t’s gotta change. Now is the time to strategize for a better, more equitable, more inclusive future. Where are the wizards to help us re-imagine our country and create the vision?
Two black men– George Floyd of Minneapolis and Dion Johnson of Phoenix — died on the same day at the hands of law enforcement officers. In the video, Floyd says he can’t breathe as a white officer pins him to the ground with his knee. Why is that even an approved tactic for police?
There is no video of Johnson’s death. We may never know how a man who was asleep in his car ended up dead after a state trooper stopped to check on him. Neither of these officers was wearing a body camera. We have structural racism in our country. It’s not just systemic; racism is baked into our laws and how those laws are enforced.
Here is a case in point. Last August after the Elizabeth Warren rally in Tempe, my husband and I were driving home to Tucson on I 10 after dark. You’ll remember that I 10 was under construction at that time, and the speed limit went up and down in the interior of the state. Jim and I had had a pizza in Tempe before we hopped on the freeway. I had a glass of wine with the pizza, but he had no alcoholic beverages. He was studiously following the speed limit changes on I 10 when we saw DPS flashers and heard the siren behind us.Continue reading #BlackLivesMatter Protests Call for End to Structural Racism…Again (video)