Amidst Party Discord, EMILY’s List Makes Economic Case for Abortion Rights

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EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock, seen here in 2010, argued Wednesday nigWednesdays that Republicans want(Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images)
EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock, seen here in 2010, said she doesn’t want the Democratic Party arguing over who its base is. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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Saluting its leaders and its agenda Wednesday night, one of the biggest players in Democratic politics laid out her case for why the Democratic Party needs to remain an exclusively pro-abortion rights party.

“The most important economic decision many women will ever make is whether and when to have children,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List.

She spoke at EMILY’s List’s annual gala in Washington, D.C. — a celebration of the Democratic super PAC’s 2016 successes and the unprecedented level of interest from women wanting to run for office in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election. 

[With Enthusiasm High, Democrats School Potential Candidates on Realities of Running]

But the backdrop for evening was a longstanding rift in the Democratic party, once again recently cracked open, that strikes at the very core of the Democratic super PAC’s mission: electing pro-abortion rights Democratic women.

Candidates should not have to meet that litmus test to run as Democrats, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with the Washington Post Tuesday. “This is not a rubber-stamp party,” Pelosi said.

[Abortion Opponents Look for a Home in Democratic Party]

Pelosi was on stage for the EMILY’s List event, introducing the Democratic female freshmen of the House. She denounced GOP leadership’s health care bill as “one of the most damaging bills for women in the history of our country,” but she didn’t revisit her remarks about the abortion litmus test. 

Pelosi’s comments about abortion came several weeks after the issue burst open on the campaign trail during the Democratic National Committee’s “unity tour.” After appearing with an Omaha mayoral candidate who has supported abortion restrictions, DNC Chairman Tom Perez had to later clarify the party’s position on abortion, saying support for abortion rights is “non-negotiable” for its candidates.

[Is There Space for a Republican EMILY’s List]

Democrats anxious about losing electoral battles in rural and working-class America have suggested that the party has been pulled too far to the left on social issues, turning off voters who would normally be sympathetic to the party’s positions on economic issues.

Even Pelosi, a champion of abortion rights in the House, suggested Tuesday that the focus on social issues may have turned off some voters.

“You know what? That’s why Donald Trump is president of the United States — the evangelicals and the Catholics, anti-marriage equality, anti-choice. That’s how he got to be president,” Pelosi told the Post. “Everything was trumped, literally and figuratively by that.”

Democrats need to gain 24 seats in the House next year to win the majority, and some Democrats argue that the party’s tent should be expanded to include anti-abortion recruits if it’s going to pick up seats in the West and the South.

“We talk about inclusiveness for everyone and yet when it comes to the pro-life issue, we’re told we don’t belong and there’s no place for us,” Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, told Roll Call earlier this year. “And it’s affecting our numbers.”

EMILY’s List is deeply intertwined with the Democratic Party and its recruitment of congressional candidates. The super PAC raised and spent $90 million during the 2016 election cycle, helping elect eight new members of Congress and four new senators. WOMEN VOTE!, its independent expenditure arm, was the fourth largest IE spender among Democratic super PACs in the 2016 cycle, according to OpenSecrets.

But for EMILY’s List, which only backs pro-abortion rights women, the tension between economic issues and social issues presents a false choice and only emboldens Republicans.

“They want us arguing about whether we’re a party focused on elevating diverse voices or a party focused on appealing to the white working class,” Schriock said. “And, from what I can tell, a lot of people in the Democratic Party are happy to have that argument. Well, I’m not one of them.

“I don’t buy the argument that Democrats have to decide whether we’re a party of blue-collar white men in rural America or a party of African-American women in the big cities, a party of immigrants or a party of feminists,” Schriock said.

Not understanding that access to abortion is an economic issue, not just a reproductive rights issue, excludes women from the party, Schriock said. “Democrats should be the party of working people. But we shouldn’t make the mistake of equating ‘working people’ with ‘white men.’”  

[What Happens After the Women’s March Crowds Go Home?]

In the wake of the women’s marches across the country, EMILY’s List has seen unprecedented interest from women wanting to run for office at all levels.

A record number of female senators are running for re-election next year, and all but one of them are EMILY’s List candidates. (North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has never sought the group’s support.)

Warren is one of those senators. She credits EMILY’s List’s Schriock with encouraging her to run. She energized the crowd Wednesday talking about the need to elect women — in part, she said, because of people in Washington, D.C., who are determined to roll back “the right to choose.”

“We are going to shatter the glass ceiling into so many pieces that the Donald Trumps and Mitch McConnells will never be able to put it back together,” Warren said. 

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Solange Knowles poses with Jesse Williams, Black Lives Matter activists after her first Vancouver show

Following a sold-out show in Vancouver last night (April 27), Grammy Award–winning artist Solange Knowles took time to meet with members of Black Lives Matter (BLM) chapters from Vancouver and the U.S.

The “Don’t Touch My Hair” singer, whose most recent album, A Seat at the Table, explores themes of blackness, prejudice, and womanhood, posed with a group of local black activists after her show at Chinatown’s Rennie Museum. The image was shared on Instagram by American actor Jesse Williams and prominent civil rights activist and BLM member DeRay Mckesson, both of whom were also in attendance.

Knowles presented “Scales”, a performance-art project “examining protest as meditation through movement and experimentation of unique compositions and arrangements from A Seat at the Table”. Williams called the show “phenomenal” while Mckesson stated, “She [Knowles] is truly incredible live.”

After learning of Knowles’s surprise performances at the Chinatown gallery—a venue owned by local real-estate magnate Bob Rennie—BLM Vancouver published a statement on its Facebook page, expressing concern over the artist’s choice to perform in an area that has undergone significant gentrification at the hands of developers and marketers. The collective also called for increased access to the shows for black folks, a group Knowles’s work speaks to specifically.

In addition, a petition was launched by local activist organization the Anti-Oppression Network, urging Knowles to cancel her shows.

Although the performances went on at the Rennie Museum as planned, BLM Vancouver shared yesterday (April 27) that Rennie had offered members of the city’s black community complimentary tickets to Knowles’s shows. The group states that they, along with another local collective, Black in Vancouver, “decided to distribute them to marginalized black youth, black musicians, black artists, and black organizers in the city”.

“We see this as a positive gesture and we’re happy we can agree on one point: access for black folks to music written for us is crucial,” BLM Vancouver wrote. “We also recognize the importance of uplifting and centering black people. Solange is a powerful black voice and she needs to speak to a black community.”

Knowles is performing two more shows at the Rennie Museum at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. today (April 28). Both performances are sold out with all ticket proceeds benefiting the Atira Women’s Resource Society, a DTES–based nonprofit that provides safe housing and support for women and children affected by violence. 

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How Blacks Fared After 100 Days of Trump

When Donald Trump was inaugurated as 45th President of the United States, the Congressional Black Caucus didn’t have much of an official strategic response plan. Nor, for that matter, did any umbrella organization of Black elected officials on the local, state and federal level. Beyond being collectively stunned and some consensus that most of its members would boycott the official POTUS induction ceremony, the CBC had yet to issue a step-by-step map on what, specifically, the Black community could do next.

But at the mark of Trump’s first 100 days in office, a skeptical CBC managed to produce what is, to date, the most authoritative combined list of what’s bad about the new president as far as Black America is concerned.

President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office have been marked by fumbled photo-ops such as this one with HBCU presidents during Black History month. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The CBC rolled out, and branded as #StayWoke, a list of 100 actions by the administration on everything from cabinet-level and judicial appointments to education, environmental justice, health care, workers rights and economic development. The idea, say caucus members, is to present as complete – and alarming – public portrait of an administration acting in complete opposition to issues of crucial significance to Black America.

“During the presidential campaign, President Trump promised to ‘make America great again,’” noted Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) in the 20-page “What Did Trump Do?” – a list of various policy actions the administration has engaged in that are viewed as harming African Americans. “However, all of the actions on this list will not, in our view, make America great.”

For much of Black America, the first 100 days have felt like 100 months: a constant and strangling stream of voting or civil rights roll-backs after another. Indeed, the new Trump administration has not only fulfilled many of its campaign promises, it’s taken the extra step of ensuring that policies put in place by the county’s First Black president are reversed.

No longer can advocacy organizations enjoy an almost open-door relationship with the new Justice Department’s civil rights division. Traditional civil rights organizations, according to observers, can’t even turn to the White House for assistance should a federal agency violate a regulation put in place to address Black concerns or protect Black needs.

All that, in addition to teaming up with Congressional Republicans in an attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, landmark legislation that sought to fill in massive healthcare disparity gaps. While the ACA remains in place its future remains uncertain, as does the fate of several key civil rights milestones.

Cabinet-level appointments such as Dr. Ben Carson made matters worse in terms of an already deteriorating relationship between Trump and the Black community. While President Trump viewed Carson’s nomination as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development as a step towards placating Black voters (without bothering to check in with the Black political community), the move was widely lambasted with acrimony given Carson’s complete lack of knowledge of housing issues and a very tense relationship with an African-American community that once adored him. During the first 100 days of the administration, Carson slipped hard when, during a forum with HUD employees, he called African slaves “immigrants.”

President Trump’s own personal outreach to HBCU presidents also tanked, morphing into one of many irreparable slip-ups attributed to racial tone-deafness and a stubborn unwillingness to consult with Black political and community leaders. A fumbled photo-op of Trump grinning at the Oval Office desk in the middle of suited Black HBCU presidents during their collective lobby turned into an iconic meme capturing blonde-haired campaign manager and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway on her knees across a couch with no shoes on.

In the end, HBCU presidents walked away with little more than niceties from the president and vague promises of resources. When the administration unveiled its FY 2018 budget proposal, funding for HBCUs remained flat along with recommendations to dramatically scale back Pell Grants, a critical funding source for Black students.

The confirmation of conservative jurist Neil Gorsuch, now positioned in the Supreme Court for a lifetime, didn’t help either. Advocacy groups are bracing for an onslaught of reversals of long held civil rights protections.

“President Trump has done little to allay the concerns which prompted 93 percent of Blacks to vote for someone else,” said Emory University professor Andra Gillespie. “While he has made some symbolic gestures towards Blacks during those first 100 days, those have been awkward and [display] his unfamiliarity with Black communities. It is clear that the Trump administration is different from the Obama administration and that Blacks will feel the difference in a substantive way.”

Meanwhile, the administration has yet to pass any major legislation, is dangerously behind in staffing government, is watching – with indifference – a slowly mushrooming scandal around ties to Russia, and there is, critics say, very little discernible foreign policy beyond occasional bluster and bombing runs.

On the surface, the new administration seems eager to antagonize an embattled Black political and grassroots community that seems completely powerless in the wake of 2016 electoral outcomes. Each day is met with either fresh news about the latest Obama-era regulation dismantled by the Trump administration or new rounds of accusations from the White House pointing fingers at the former president for either authorizing surveillance on Trump the candidate or approving former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s top security clearance.

That’s more symbolic, say some observers, compared to the systematic unraveling of an extensive array of regulatory, policy, and legal protections that have offered African Americans some semblance of progress over the past 50 years. Compounding that is an aggressive administration effort to radically downscale the federal government with an across-the-board 10 percent cut across federal agencies, with most domestic and social safety net programs on the chopping block and federal workers (a quarter of them Black) targeted.

“From the Attorney General’s failure to continue pursuing voting infringement cases and attempting to halt Obama police decrees, the overturning of Obama regulations on student loans, climate change, and environmental justice, just to name a few, the first 100 days have had a very negative impact on African Americans,” said former Obama White House appointee Peter Groff.

“At this rate, even without any legislative activity, Black people will be staring at a federal government that is as hostile as any we’ve seen in nearly 30 years,” he said.

Symposium focuses on retention of African American students

On Friday March 31, more than 120 registrants from 14 of Tennessee’s colleges and universities filled the third floor of the D.P. Culp University Center, according to Don Armstrong, Student Publications Adviser and lead organizer of the event, to attend the Student Success Symposium, with its emphasis on recruiting and retaining African-American students.

This emphasis is particularly relevant at ETSU.

The East Tennessean reported last semester that the university’s graduation rate is below national average, around 42 percent, and its African-American graduation rate is especially lacking at 22 percent.

The statistics are counted for the university’s first-time freshmen who graduate within six years, meaning the current crop of freshmen should start to see changes in the implementation of advisors and other student-focused programs.

From 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, visitors participated in a multitude of activities designed to help them learn how to help students, especially African-American students, succeed in higher education.

In addition to an addess by keynote speaker Terrell Strayhorn, there were also two breakout sessions with five choices each. Topics for the breakout sessions ranged from Dorian McCoy’s “Colorblind Mentoring: White Faculty Mentoring Students of Color” to Dorothy Drinkard-Hawkshawe’s “Planned Action: Attracting Black Americans and Other Minorities to the University.”

A student-led discussion panel was also held during lunch.

Although there were 10 symposium presenters that showcased the brilliance of professors from all over the state, keynote speaker Strayhorn of The Ohio State University was the stand out.

After being introduced by Brian Noland, ETSU President; Joe Sherlin, ETSU Vice President for Student Affairs; and Rana Elgazzar, the master of ceremonies and SGA Secretary of State, Strayhorn’s address touched on several key issues African-American students face, as well as some potential solutions he’s implemented to help them succeed.

“I’m really interested in talking about black student success – here’s why… I identify as black… and I’ve been black my entire life. I was black before I knew I was black – real talk. The world knew I was black and taught me that I was black before I even understood that black was significant,” Strayhorn said with a bit of good-natured humor.

Even though he identifies as black, Strayhorn admitted that he still doesn’t fully understand his students’ struggles, as he comes from a two-parent household that was financially stable.

“What I realize now is that I don’t know anything about what it means to be low-income. I try to understand. I get close to it through my research, but I never lived that experience…,” he says.

Another one of the larger issues Strayhorn touched on was the lack of male African-American students at colleges and universities. Out of the approximately 21 million college students, only about two million are African-American, with women outnumbering men almost two-to-one.

Strayhorn also noted that at times our language is very limited, especially when it comes to confronting issues we often don’t have to deal with ourselves. For instance, he cited the definition of first-generation college student, a student who is first in their immediate family to complete college, and recalled a student asking him which family the term meant — their biological family, one of their foster families or their adopted family.

Other issues Strayhorn covered include access, college reputations among African-American communities, intersectionality and parents’ lack of knowledge about what their child will need in college.

Turner Prize drops age barrier to allow mature nominees

Two artists over 50 are among finalists for the prestigious Turner Prize, famed for launching the careers of Damien Hirst and other members of the “Young British Artists” generation.

Organizers have removed an upper age limit of 50 for nominees, a restriction in place since 1991.

As a result, the finalists announced Wednesday reflect a more mature, distinguished group:

  • British painter Hurvin Anderson
  • Zanzibar-born, London-raised artist Lubaina Himid
  • German-born multidisciplinary artist Andrea Buttner
  • Palestinian-English artist Rosalind Nashashibi

Anderson is 52 and Himid 62, while Buttner and Nashashibi are in their 40s.

The winner of the £25,000 (around $44,235 Cdn) prize will be announced Dec. 5.

Founded in 1984, the prize goes to a U.K.-based artist and often sparks debate about the value of modern art. Here’s a look at this year’s nominees.

Hurvin Anderson

Anderson grew up in Birmingham and his images often draw on his Caribbean heritage and Birmingham’s black community. His work was showcased last year at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, his first Canadian solo exhibition.

Hurvin Anderson 'Is it OK to be black?'

A look at Hurvin Anderson’s piece, Is it OK to be black? (Hurvin Anderson)

Lubaina Himid

Himid is ​one of the U.K.’s leading black female artists. Her work focuses on cultural history, including what she think her life would have been like in Zanzibar (she left for London at a young age).

Himid’s work came to prominence in 1980s during the U.K.’s Black Art movement.

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Andrea Buttner

Buttner is a multidisciplinary artist, working with wood, glass, video and sculpture. She often references religious communities in her work, notably groups of nuns.

She has had a solo exhibition in Canada at the Banff Centre in Alberta.

Andrea Büttner

An installation view of Andrea Buttner’s Gesamtzusammenhang. (Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen/Gunnar Meier/Andrea Buttner)

Rosalind Nashashibi

At 43, Nashashibi is the youngest artist on the list but she’s no less accomplished. Her work largely consists of films, including Electric Gaza. She’s exhibited in Canada at OCAD University in Toronto and the Presentation House Gallery in Vancouver.

In 2003, she was the first female recipient of the now discontinued Beck’s Futures prize, which came with an even bigger cash amount than the Turner.

Rosalind Nashashibi

A still from Rosalind Nashashibi’s film Electrical Gaza (Rosalind Nashashibi)

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Black Cultural Center to open on UW campus

UW-Madison opens Black Cultural Center

MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin – Madison is opening a new center to show better support for African-American students on campus.

The Black Cultural Center will be on the first floor of the Red Gym.

Organizers hope this space will allow students to learn more about the contributions African-Americans have made on campus.

The center will also feature art by black artists, a lounge and computer work stations.

Karla Foster, the interim program director of the Black Cultural Center, said a space that represents minority students on campus is necessary.

“It affirms the black student experience. It also serves as a learning and an educational tool for majority students to learn more about black and African-American culture,” Foster said.

Organizers said the space is not exclusive to African-America students. It is open to everyone on campus.

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The unfortunate phenomenon of black political group think

By Lloyd Marcus

My black brother called me from Baltimore feeling frustrated and alone. He is surrounded by blacks, including his household who believe everything they are told by fake news media. No amount of data, logic or truth seems to penetrate their wall of brain-dead loyalty to the democrat party and worship of Obama. My brother said even at his all black church every sermon includes digs against Trump.

In his black circles, spouting the truth about Obama is not tolerated. They angrily reject data confirming that blacks moved backwards culturally and economically after 8 years of Obama. http://bit.ly/1VJG0jM

As a strong Christian, my brother is saddened that many of his black peers abandoned Christ’s agenda to worship at the feet of their black-golden-idol Obama. Many black Christians ignore the truth that Obama was the most biblically-hostile president in US history. http://bit.ly/2plTsy0 Remarkably, even some black preachers threw their Bibles under the bus to support Obama’s anti-biblical mandates.

My brother said he cannot understand why so many blacks eagerly accept Leftists’ obvious lie that all problems plaguing blacks are the fault of white racist America and new Nemesis, Donald Trump.

I praised my brother for being an independent thinker. He reminds me of Joe, an old black college buddy back in the 1970s.

Around a dozen of us black art students were attending the Maryland Institute College of Art. The Black Panthers and black power protests were the rage. Our small group of black students ranted constantly about how a black man does not have an f****** chance in this f****** racist country.

Joe stayed focused on working part-time jobs and his classes. Joe was a no-excuses no-nonsense kind of guy. While working on a college art project together, my job was to find special paper. I told Joe I looked everywhere and simply could not find the paper. Joe questioned me. “Did you look here?” I replied no. Did you look there? My reply was the same. Joe said, “Well Lloyd, don’t tell me you looked everywhere.” Though he annoyed me, I knew Joe was right.

After graduating college, Joe worked his way through grad school and became the first black art director at a prestigious Baltimore Advertising Agency. Joe was an independent thinker.

Frustrated, my brother asked how can he get through to blacks who automatically dismiss him as an Uncle Tom without researching his reasons why blacks should stop voting Democrat? http://bit.ly/2pmpw50 I told him experience has taught me no amount of truth will penetrate willful ignorance.

Matthews 10:14 “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to you words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” In other words, forget them and move on.

My brother said when you are on a different page than everyone around you, you tend to question yourself. I assured my brother that he was on the right side of the issues. Also, I wonder if self-reliant (conservative) people are born that way. As far back as I can remember, the only thing my brother ever wanted from the government is for it to stay out of his way. Some people are willing to surrender control of every aspect of their lives to government for the promise of a few crumbs of security.

I explained to my brother that the vast majority of black Americans are engaged in group think when it comes to politics.

However, I have seen signs of more blacks beginning to see the light. Praise God. A group of Chicago blacks produced a video expressing their displeasure with Obama and Democrats. One black person said, “Everything in my community is controlled by Democrats so they can’t blame the Tea Party.” http://bit.ly/2oNacNL

Another good sign of cracks in the democrats’ wall of deception is an ad I heard while campaigning in Georgia against democrat far-left radical Jon Ossoff. A black group’s radio ad told blacks that voting for Ossoff equaled voting for more Democrat broken dreams and broken promises. Thrilled, I said, “Right on bros!”

I told my brother to keep spreading the truth. While many will reject his message, you never know who will truly hear and receive it. As for those blacks who insist on being stuck-on-stupid, wipe their dust from your shoes and move on bro; move on.

© Lloyd Marcus

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Heat map reveals Europe’s closet racism

… psychology at Sheffield University, said: “Racism is not the sort … underplay the true extent of racism in each country. He … US, a similar pattern of racism is shown, with figures … the southern states, with higher African-American populations, the levels of “ … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

Breaking: Preston artist shortlisted for prestigious Turner Prize

A Preston artist has been shortlisted for this year’s Turner Prize.

One of Britain’s leading black female artists, Lubaina Himid MBE, has become the oldest person to be nominated for British art’s most high-profile award.

Lubaina Himid

Lubaina Himid

The Preston-based 62-year-old is eligible for the £25,000 Turner Prize after the award abolished its ban on over-50s.

The professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire made her name in the 1980s as one of the leaders of the British black arts movement – both painting and curating exhibitions of similarly overlooked black female artists.

Born in Zanzibar, Tanzania, Lubaina was given on MBE in 2010.

She’s nominated for solo shows in Bristol and Oxford. The Bristol show centred on larger-than-life cut-outs of 100 colourful figures – 17th Century African slave servants brought to Europe. Another work, Cotton.com, imagined conversations between the cotton workers of Lancashire and the slaves of South Carolina.

The Turner Prize judges praised her for ‘addressing pertinent questions of personal and political identity’.

The winner will be announced at the Feren’s gallery in Hull on December 5.

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