URL Media Weekly
Friday, March 18, 2022
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 What We're Talking About

What's Next in the Battle to Protect Voting Rights?
by Charles Ellison, WURD Radio

Attacks on the right to vote continue in multiple states with no immediate relief from much needed voting rights legislation on the federal level. It's a mix of the relentless introduction of voter suppression bills posing as "election integrity", passage of draconian measures cutting off voter accessibility to the polls, and the creation of new systems and agencies designed to intimidate voting rights advocates, voters and policymakers desperate to stop voter suppression.

Exploring the state of voting rights during an "Hard Truths" roundtable convened by Axios in conjunction with URL Media, the tone of the discussion was alarmingly grim in the present, but still hopeful for the future. 

There were a number of compelling observations made by the collection of legislators, voting rights experts and voter mobilization organizers during the midweek on-record exchange in downtown Atlanta with co-moderators Charles Ellison of WURD Radio and Kristal Dixon of Axios ATL.

Points made generated several key takeaways ... 
  •  The pace of voter suppression legislation and laws signed in state capitols, exclusively by Republicans, is accelerating. What's also clear is that it's in direct response and hostility to a decisive spike in Black, Brown, Indigenous and Asian Pacific Islander voter turnout in key states such as Georgia and elsewhere. There were 19 states passing 34 restrictive laws during 2020, out of 440 voter suppression bills introduced throughout last year (an over 1,000% increase compared to the year before the 2020 election). 
  • Voting rights advocates and lawyers, along with voter mobilization groups that focus on marginalized populations, just can't keep up. It's a constant tsunami of new, innovative voter restriction laws - even after voter mobilization groups figure out a workaround in a new voter suppression law, Republican policymakers quickly adapt and create another fix designed to severely limit Black, Brown and other voters of color participation. 
  • Interestingly enough: Republicans pushing for more voter suppression laws also restrict ballot access to constituents that, typically, vote for them. This pattern is particularly acute in rural areas with large pockets of mostly white, Republican-aligned voters. 
  • Curiously, but not surprising and telling: Republican policymakers invited by Axios to this event to explain why these laws are so necessary, declined to participate. That added to the point made by voting rights advocates present at Wednesday's breakfast that voter suppression proponents are creating laws for problems that do not exist. There is virtually no evidence of widespread election fraud and the 2020 election was the safest and most secure election to ever take place.
  • But, voting rights advocates and other observers worry about the ceaseless creation of barriers to the voting franchise becoming an exhausting new normal. Voters, over time, get fatigued from so many changes and unnecessary restrictions that they begin to actively tap out of election cycles. Voter fatigue from ongoing skirmishes over voting laws is just as much a form of voter suppression as are the laws themselves. 
  •  Cities and municipal or metro-area policymakers, especially those with heavily diverse and mostly Democratic-leaning constituencies of color that exist in a sea of political red state, worry how much these voter suppression laws will isolate them politically, socially and economically. It also complicates the relationships between cities and states: they can always talk about and address complex economic issues, but there's little appetite among Republican state policymakers and others to discuss their voter suppression laws. It becomes awkward. 
  • Still: there were actually more voting expansion and advancement bills introduced and passed in state legislatures in 2021 than voter suppression laws. Over 1,000 voting enhancement bills were introduced, including 25 states passing 62 laws with voting access expansion provisions.

The fight continues - but, success depends on what state you live in, as well as which party runs the state government.

Uplift. Respect. Love.

 Uplifting our Communities 

Low-risk immigrants in ICE Custody Eligible For Release: In 2020 the NY Civil Liberties Union and The Bronx Defenders filed a lawsuit against ICE in New York saying the agency engaged in a “no-release policy”  — holding low-risk immigrants in custody much longer than is customary. Documented reports that following the lawsuit the parties recently reached a settlement with the agency, requiring ICE to give immigrants fair consideration of release. This is important because the number of low-risk immigrants who were granted release dropped significantly, going from 47% in 2017, to 3% in 2019.

How Latino Families Confront Alzheimer's with Culture and Empathy: Sahan Journal reports Latinos are one-and-a-half times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia than their white counterparts, but resources to help families are sometimes difficult to find. Nursing homes aren't always a good fit for Latino families because of longstanding cultural expectations and customs. As a result family members frequently become the primary caregivers for their elders, often taking on unpaid labor. According to the Roybal Institute, Alzheimer’s costs Latino families in the U.S. $14 billion in 2014 and if the trend continues the cost of caring for relatives with Alzheimer’s will balloon to $30 billion by 2030.

The First Native Tribe to Gain Government Approval For Energy Development: Native News Online reports a groundbreaking development for The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians of northern Minnesota, becoming the first ever tribe to receive government approval for the creation of a Tribal Energy Development Organization (TEDO). This is a significant development that will support the tribe's ongoing effort to develop renewable energy resources.TEDO is a business organization that will support the Minnesota tribe’s ongoing effort to develop renewable energy resources, and the tribe owns a majority interest in it. The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland described this initiative as "reclaiming its sovereign authority to control the development of energy resources."
The Workforce is Shifting, But Is The Workplace? Monica Beyer, senior HR manager at Gamry Instruments, an electrochemical laboratory equipment manufacturing company and Erika Shearlds-Hill, career development consultant for District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund in Philadelphia, spoke with Nick Taliaferro on Evening WURDs about the mass exodus of people leaving their jobs with no secure follow-up positions in pursuit of a "more comfortable condition."

 Respecting & Honoring Arts & Culture 

How Tragedy led Two Colombian Brothers to Vegan Food and Comedy: Epicenter-NYC profiles brothers, Alex Carabaño and Dan Carabaño, who were inspired to open their first Latino vegan restaurant called V Spot in Park Slope, Brooklyn after losing both sets of grandparents to heart attacks in 2006. The brothers, of Colombian descent, deemed to create a place where Latinos can enjoy the foods they grew up with, while eating healthy. In 2015, the Carabaño brothers paired their vegan Latin comfort food with comedy when they opened a second location in the East Village in Manhattan  making it the only comedy venue in America serving up a full vegan menu focusing on Latin comfort food.

Haitian Woman Awarded With Highest Honor in France: Yanick Lahens is a renowned Haitian writer based in France, author of award-winning novel, Moonbath, which highlights a peasant family living in a small Haitian village. Lahens was recently awarded with the insignia of Knight of the Legion of Honor. The Haitian Times reports this is the highest honor awarded by France for centuries and only given to people accomplished in their fields. An award ceremony will take place on March 24 in Brussels, Belgium.

 Centering Love 

How Two Women of Color Left a Toxic Industry For Dogs: Epicenter-NYC highlights the journey to entrepreneurship of two longtime friends, Santos Agustin and Jennifer Wong. The women experienced horrible working conditions while working in children's fashion, and decided they could both do better and make products they loved. One thing they both knew they loved were their dogs, and combined with their experience in product, it led to the creation of Gone to the Dogs, a pet store and boutique that sells everything for the pampered pooch, including apparel, toys, leashes, and collars with a personal touch for each client (pet). 

Inheriting The Family Home While Living With Their Memory: Scalawag's latest installment in its series: "Grief & Other Loves,"  highlights Maya Miller's story of inheriting her great-grandmother's idyllic southern home in Rankin County, Mississippi. Although Maya always knew she would inherit the family home at some point in her life, the unexpected loss of her grandmother pushed her into this new chapter of her life sooner than she expected. Moving into the family home entailed learning how to run a home and her life while coexisting with the memories of all of the family members that once made her grandmother's house a home. 

 What We're Loving This Week From Our Partners 

Latinos Defining Their Own Narratives: With a record-breaking number of Latino nominees at this year's Oscar Awards, conversations surrounding greater visibility and control over Latino narratives have become more prevalent. palabra. reports Latino narratives aren't only being defined on screen, but behind the scenes too. In this piece palabra. highlights those who are mentoring, empowering, and inspiring a growing community of Latino creatives. 

 The URLs on URL 

Levi Rickert of Native News To Publish a Book: Next month, Native News Online is publishing their first book. It’s a collection of founder and editor Levi Rickert’s writing from the past few years called “Visions for a Better Indian Country: One Potawatomi Editor’s Opinions” and will be published next month.

URL Media Events 

The Laura Flanders Show: Once a month, you can catch URL Media on The Laura Flanders Show on select PBS stations for a conversation that centers the stories, issues and concerns that our BIPOC media partners are following. Click here to check your local TV listing.  Here’s how you can watch our latest.

 Our Founders 

Sara Lomax-Reese, CEO of WURD Radio, media entrepreneur for almost 30 years, served as Program Lead for the inaugural Facebook BIPOC Sustainability Accelerator and is currently a JSK Fellow.
S. Mitra Kalita, former SVP at CNN Digital, current CEO & Publisher at Kalita Mukul Creative Inc., which publishes Epicenter-NYC, The Unmuted and The Escape Home, has worked at The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The LA Times, and has launched brands like Mint and Quartz.


 Our Partners 

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