Re-writing America’s Criminal Justice Narrative through Advocacy, Arts, and Activism

This month we’re sharing the incredible work that our partners are doing to highlight profound flaws in our criminal justice system and lift up approaches to public safety based on commonsense solutions. Whether it’s the unrelenting work 2014 Communications Institute Fellow David Singleton has devoted to the Free Tyra Patterson campaign or the courage 2015 Fellow Johnny Perez demonstrates by sharing his personal experience with solitary confinement in an effort to get the practice banned, our partners are pushing themselves every day to surpass what’s expected and effect lasting change.

Martin Luther King and Immigration

Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, and the anti-immigrant activists who oppose it, have one thing in common: both invoke the memory of Martin Luther King to support their positions on immigration. Today the immigration question, particularly regarding amnesty and pathways to full citizenship, is perhaps as divisive a force in America as it has ever been, with major presidential aspirants demonizing immigrants generally as criminals, deviants and undercover terrorists. Even more alarming is the call by several candidates for the deportation of undocumented immigrants en masse. It is especially important during Black History Month to revisit the factors that animated King in order to understand where he might actually stand on this issue affecting the lives of millions of people of color.

Partner News: Lyrics from Lockdown, Women’s Reproductive Rights, and “The U.S. Rebel Alliance”

Our Creative Change alumni are off to an inspirational start in 2016, creating opportunity for low-income communities, producing an eye-opening documentary on women’s reproductive rights, and directing attention to criminal justice inequity through hip-hop, theatre, and spoken word. Here is what’s been going on so far in 2016.

Accountability and Human Rights Needed in U.S. Approach to Central America

In late October, the United States decided to withhold $5 million, or 15 percent of its annual anti-narcotics funding to the Mexican government, over human rights abuses such as disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture. It was a great step towards moral responsibility, but much more is needed.

Partner News: Finding Commonsense Solutions to Criminal Justice and Immigration Challenges

The intersection of criminal justice, racial justice, and immigration emerges as the focus of this month’s Partner News, reflecting the issues being widely discussed across the nation. While our country sees a wave of anti-immigration and anti-Islamic rhetoric surface from the Paris attacks, our social justice partners are speaking out with values-based messaging on the importance of maintaining our identity as a nation that accepts refugees of all religions, races, and backgrounds. (Read more on that here.) Yet even before the Paris attacks, our partners were busy responding to the latest developments in criminal justice, racial justice, and immigration. Their voices have been strong, steadfast, and filled with commonsense solutions.

The Importance of Maintaining our Identity as a Nation That Welcomes Refugees

Since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, America is seeing an escalation of anti-refugee and anti-Islamic rhetoric that violates some of our country’s most closely held values. It is crucial for us to respond with values-based messaging on the importance of maintaining our identity as a nation that welcomes refugees of all religions, races, and backgrounds.

The Truth Behind The Hunger Games and Dollar General: the Reality of Violence against Native Women and Children

Everyone deserves to live free from violence and under the protection of due process. In 1978, the Supreme Court stripped Tribal Governments of their jurisidiction to prosecute non-Indians committing crimes on tribal lands leaving Native women and children at risk. In a nation that values the rule of law, one would think this kind of lawlessness could only be found in a dsytopian drama. Lawyer, playwright, and Cherokee nation citizen Mary Kathryn Nagle writes about the real-life Hunger Games happening across the United States and why the Supreme Court must recognize Native Nations' sovereign authority to protect its citizens.

5 Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving Conversations

Coming together around a table with friends and family can be a wonderful time of reflection and enjoyment—but it can also be a conversation minefield. Engaging constructively with folks whose views and experiences differ from ours or who aren’t familiar with the work we do can be a challenge. However, by taking a step back and starting conversations with shared values, we can find points of connection that move us forward together and make sure that the fireworks don’t come out until the Fourth of July.

Rethinking the Way We Communicate for Social Justice Change

Framing social justice discourse can be challenging. As a communicator, it is necessary to create smart and deliberate messages that do not disparage targeted audiences. That’s why Advancement Project has partnered with The Opportunity Agenda to create The Social Justice Phrase Guide, a new toolkit that helps communicators craft inclusive messages.

When Arts Activism Meets Criminal Justice Reform: October 2015 Partner News

Criminal Justice is at the forefront of our Creative Change alumni’s advocacy and artistic work this month, with projects drawing attention to the profound harms of solitary confinement and a compelling panel discussion on media, hip-hop, and the prison-industrial complex.

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