The Diversity Declaration

Government of the People, by the People, and for the People

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Help Flip Virginia in 2019!

Our followers may remember that we were active in the Virginia state legislative elections in 2017 as part of a strong network of local grassroots groups. We succeeded in getting several amazing Diversity Declaration champions elected, many of them running in deep red districts! However, the Virginia legislature as a whole hung on to a very slim, one-vote margin in Republican hands.

We’re back and ready to elect even more great diversity champions in Virginia, as well as supporting the re-election of some of our amazing 2017 candidates. We’d like to introduce you to two NEW DD champions, and get you as excited as we are about supporting them!

Joshua Cole, in House District VA-28, was a 2017 Democratic candidate for District 28 of the Virginia House of Delegates. Josh is a longstanding ally to our fight for equity and inclusion. He serves on Stafford County Public Schools Superintendent’s Equity, Diversity and Opportunity Committee, and is the President of the Stafford County. Josh also recently received an endorsement from former Attorney General Eric Holder and his National Democratic Redistricting Committee and this endorsement is so appropriate. Josh lost his race in 2017 largely due to voting irregularities.

Our other new champion is Qasim Rashid in Senate District VA-28, overlapping Josh Cole’s House District and those of some of our other Prince William faves: Elizabeth Guzman, Jennifer Carroll Foy and Hala Ayala.  And just as they did in 2017, he’s seeking to flip a district that has been in Republican hands for a long time. Qasim is a longstanding human rights and civil rights activist, and has been an active representative of Virginia’s Muslim community, and champion for the rights of all religious minorities. He is also a longstanding activist on civil rights, immigration rights and women’s rights.

This is a great time to focus on Virginia. The Democratic share of seats in the Virginia House of Delegates is expected to increase due to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on June 17, confirming new boundaries for 25 GOP-gerrymandered districts. Virginia is one of only four states with legislative elections in 2019.  All 140 seats in the House and Senate are on the ballot.   If each of us do just a little bit, we can get these great champions elected and help change the face not only of politics in Virginia but, as we build a diverse bench, the future politics of our country.

Cole and Rashid (2).jpg

Time for an Anti-Racist Political Party

The attacks on politicians of color and women in office are getting worse, and we are fed up and ready to push for change. Recent weeks have seen chants of “Send her back,” attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar. Dog whistle comments about Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district in Baltimore - to distract from the Congressman’s legitimate outrage about the treatment of migrants in detention. And lest we forget how closely linked racism and misogyny are, the spectacle of Iowa Rep. Steve King defending violence against women. We need to start putting trigger warnings on Republicans.

And it’s not just President Trump. A few days ago the National Republican Congressional Committee jumped into the race to the racist bottom by attacking Rep. Lucy McBath, a woman who got into politics in the first place to push for gun control. This she-ro lost her own son to structural violence as he was shot by a white man for ‘playing his music too loud.’ And what did the NRCC choose to attack her for? For her strong reaction to the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, shootings that were unmistakably motivated by racism and misogyny. Apparently the shooters can count on the NRCC.

Two years ago white supremacists killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, VA. Last year they killed Jewish worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Last week they assaulted families shopping in El Paso, TX. And white supremacist terrorists have killed so many in between these highly publicized attacks.

We get that the hatred and violence are nothing new in this country. We will not end gun violence until we end racism, misogyny, and homophobia. This means our government at all levels, and our political parties, have to stop enabling structural racism, sexism, and other forms of systemic oppression.

Our goal is to change the political landscape, and our starting point is our elected officials. We are the majority. Politics and policy don’t have to pit one group against another. There are many examples of policies that work for ALL of us.

To get there we need to dismantle the systems that reinforce race, class, and gender oppression. We need to embrace politics that goes beyond the absence of overt discrimination and is affirmatively anti-racist and anti-oppression.

We reject the Republican party as it is today. It has become an open, unapologetic enabler of white supremacy.

We do not automatically embrace the Democratic party. While they may not be blowing dog whistles, they have yet to embrace the systemic reform that we need.

This is our call to action today. We ask our candidates for office and our current elected officials to recognize and correct the longstanding legacies of discrimination, in their own actions and in public policy.

There is reason to hope for change, at least among the Democrats. We see the DCCC staff walkout as a positive sign- these staffers were willing to take action, and we will have their backs. We support the statement by our partner, Inclusv, pointing out a way forward for the DCCC. We also support the recent initiative of the Maryland Democratic Party to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion. These are good first steps and they can be adopted by Party branches at state and local levels.

We are the majority and while we are not all the same, we are willing to work together. It’s time for the Democrats to work with us, too.

Support Youth Leadership & Engagement on July 16 with VA Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy's Ella Baker Youth Leadership Program

Diversity Declaration joins Virginia Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy in inviting young professionals to a happy hour on July 16, aiming to raise at least $2,500 to send six to eight diversity high school students to learn first-hand about state government in the Virginia State Capitol next year, free of charge, in Delegate Carroll Foy’s Ella Baker Youth Leadership Program. Through the Program, named for the civil rights leader, the students sit in subcommittee meetings, meet advocacy groups, shadow the Delegate, and meet with Governor Northam and Lt. Governor Fairfax.

Check out our events page for the details about joining!

Online contributions may be made at https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ellabakerfundraiser#

Results from the New Jersey Primaries: Prospects and Challenges for Progressive Candidates

Diversity Declaration tracked two New Jersey House primaries on June 5 that highlight prospects and challenges for progressive candidates in the 2018 midterms:

NJ-2: As the New York Times wrote: “Jeff Van Drew, a state senator, won the Democratic primary. Mr. Van Drew, a conservative Democrat with a pro-gun record who voted against same-sex marriage in 2012, nonetheless won the backing of powerful South Jersey Democrats early on and was able to fend off a challenge from some progressive candidates.”

NJ-3: Andy Kim, an Obama Administration national security official endorsed by former VP Joe Biden, and the founder of www.risestronger.org, secured the Democratic nomination, running unopposed. He now must wage an uphill battle going into November’s general election, against wealthy Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur. NJ-3 has 12,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, and Cook’s Political Report has shifted its rating of the district to the left this year, though NJ-3 voted for Trump in 2016 after voting twice for Obama. MacArthur has a vast personal fortune to fund his own campaign. 

http://observer.com/2018/04/cook-shifts-tom-macarthur-district/

www.andykimforcongress.com

May Democratic Primaries

The May Democratic primaries saw victories by a group of female diversity candidates, adding to the momentum that the Diversity Declaration is working to encourage.  All these candidates face significant challenges and need exceptional mobilization of support to win.

Georgia: Stacey Abrams, 44, is the first African-American to win a primary for governor.  If elected, she would be the state’s first woman governor and the first African-American woman governor in the U.S.  Georgia hasn’t had a Democratic governor in 20 years. Abrams’ opponent will be one of two Trump-style Republicans; Trump won Georgia by a five percent margin in 2016.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stacey-abrams-wins-democratic-nomination-for-governor_us_5b045d41e4b003dc7e471586)

 

Idaho: Paulette Jordan, 38, is waging an uphill battle be the nation’s first Native American governor, in a staunchly conservative, Republican state.

https://www.vox.com/2018/5/16/17357906/idaho-governor-results-paulette-jordan-democratic-primary

 

Texas: Lupe Valdez, 70, won the primary as the first Latina and openly gay person nominated by a major party in the race for governor of Texas.  The Republican incumbent governor is favored to win in November, and Republicans have long controlled the state, but Valdez has a history of overcoming long odds.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lupe-valdez-win-texas-democratic-primary-governor_us_5afcac91e4b06a3fb50d613c?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=hp_fb_pages&utm_source=main_fb

 

Gina Ortiz Jones, 37, won the primary for a House seat. If elected, she would be the first lesbian, Iraq War veteran and Filipina-American to represent Texas in Congress. Her district leans Republican and her two-term incumbent opponent has a much larger war chest so far.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gina-ortiz-jones-congress-texas_us_5b043424e4b003dc7e46b984

 

Do you like hearing about candidates like these inspiring women?  Do you want to help us others like them elected?  It's easy and fun!  We are tracking several Congressional races closely, and will be focusing on some key races in 'swing' districts within the next few weeks.  We'd love to hear from you on any races YOU are tracking, and will cross-post information so please follow our Facebook page and e-mail or message us with your thoughts!

Motivation Monday: Challenges for Diversity Candidates in Maryland and New Jersey

Diversity candidates for upcoming Democratic primaries, in increasingly diverse districts with significant immigrant populations, face tough challenges - even from within the Democratic Party.

Aruna Miller's strong showing in Maryland's 6th district has made her the preferred target of GOP attack ads.  In New Jersey's 2nd district, a conservative, white, male Democrat has the full backing of the Democratic Party establishment, who sees in him its best chance of recapturing a seat held by a Republican for two decades.  Progressive activists in New Jersey see the Party turning its back on viable candidates more in line with the values it claims to represent, in service of trying to take back the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Washington Post and Politico offer some insight into how things are shaking out in both Maryland and New Jersey.

Democratic Primary is Two Months Away but the Republicans have Already Picked Out Their Favorite Candidate to Attack | Washington Post

How Progressives Got Steamrolled in New Jersey | Politico 

 

Motivation Monday: Open Letter on Equity in National Security & Upcoming Meeting

We have joined forces with the Open Society Policy Center by signing on to their Open Letter on "Fundamental Equity and Inclusion for U.S. National Security and Global Engagement." Click here to read the letter.

Reminder: our Quarterly Meeting is this Sunday, April 22 from 3pm-5pm at the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave. NE, Washington DC 20002. We anticipate a great discussion setting out our work for the coming months.  Please RSVP with an email (info@diversitydeclaration.com) if you have not already.

Urging Our Senators to Commit to Diversity in Hiring

On February 15, we joined about a dozen other organizations signing onto letters sent by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies to Senator Menendez, recently reinstated as Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Cardin, recently appointed Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The letters urge the Senators to:

  1. Apply the Rooney Rule and interview at least one person of color for their staff director and general counsel roles;
  2. Commit to hiring diverse candidates throughout their offices to ensure that the demographics of their offices reflect the demographics of their constituents; and
  3. Commit to hiring at least one person of color for their staff director or general counsel position. 

Virginia on Our Minds

Outraged by the news this week?  We are, too- it felt like white nationalist week at the White House.  But don't just get mad- get active.  Time to end the white male landed gentry's control over public policy, and we are focused on the place where it all started:  Virginia.  

Virginia has a statewide election this year, on November 7.  We want to make sure that we turn state government every shape, size and color and elect candidates that represent an increasingly diverse state population, and that stand up for inclusive public policy that is good for everyone.

Several great candidates have endorsed the Diversity Declaration.  They will work for all of us.  So let's go to work for them!

Hala Ayala is our candidate for District 51, in Prince William county.  Hala is a wonderful part-Latino, part Middle Eastern single mom running against an ultra-conservative opponent who would roll back the clock on women's rights.  Hala is a great champion for women's rights, for immigrants and for working families.  You can read more about Hala and the great reasons to support her here!

Jennifer Foy is our District 2 candidate, a district which bridges Prince William and Stafford Counties.  Jennifer is used to breaking down barriers- she was one of the first women cadets at VMI!  A public defender with a firm commitment to equality for all, Jennifer is walking the walk when it comes to inclusion in her own campaign team, drawing on the terrific team at Inclusv.  Check out Jennifer's impressive bio here.

Danica Roem is our District 13 candidate, and we know she can turn this Prince William/Manassas Park district blue!  A former journalist, Danica is running against a notorious conservative, Bob Marshall.  Danica is a champion for equality of every kind, including economic equality - making sure all Virginians have fair wages and adequate health care.  Check out her fabulous endorsement from Human Rights Campaign here!  
 

Kathy Tran is our District 42 candidate, and she has every reason to be a champion for civil rights, and particularly immigrants' rights as a daughter of refugees. She has pledged to fight gerrymandering and other voter suppression tactics, to make sure every Virginian's vote counts.  Find out about her positions here.

Virginia is our immediate focus, but we aim to engage and elect more diversity champions at every level of government, in every state.  We are an all-volunteer organization, and we will need lots more help in Virginia and beyond.  Follow us on Facebook for regular updates about candidates and on and actions that affect voting and civil rights.