Unraveling the complexities of redistricting and revealing what communities are marginalized in the process along with this week’s guests: Diversity Matters.
Season 2 of The Resistbot Podcast, hosted by Melanie Dione, features a different interview every week with an organizer working to create change in their community. We aim to elevate voices without a large platform, focusing on their stories. Our pod is brought to you by the same volunteers behind the Resistbot (https://resist.bot) chatbot that's driven over 30 million pieces of correspondence to elected officials since 2017. If you haven't given it a try, pull out your phone and text the word "resist" to the number 50409 to get started. You can text officials from your Mayor to the President, check your voter registration, start your own campaigns, and much more!
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Welcome to ResistBot Live.
Melanie: Good afternoon, everybody. It is January 23, 2022. I am your moderator, Melanie Dione. This is Resistbot Live. Welcome, y'all we are today going to be talking about redistricting. I hate to say it's an exciting topic, but it is a topic that we're hearing a lot about. And by virtue of the society that we live in, by virtue of the way the government operates right now, we need to understand what redistricting is, how it works, and when it goes wrong, who gets left out in the cold. I want everybody to remember that we are here this Sunday and every Sunday at 01:00 P.m. We're on Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and YouTube. You can also download us subscribe to our podcast. You can go to Resistbot Live. The podcast goes up every Monday. And if you want to comment, weigh in, you can either comment here or you can comment on Twitter or wherever you're talking about us using the hashtag Livebotters. So rather than listen to me flounder and pontificate on what I think Redistricting is, we're going to have some experts. So before I bring our experts up, let's start bringing up our regular panels. First, we have the wonderful Athena Fulay. Hi, Athena.
Athena: Hi, everybody. Greetings. How's everybody doing? Good to be here. I am super excited about today's show, the panelists. This is why we do what we do. I really love giving the opportunity to hear from the boots on the ground, the people who are doing the work to help everybody get a better understanding of why this issue is important and what we can do as private citizens to support their work because we're not free and all of us are free. So this idea that representation and voting and really fulfilling what our vision of Representational democracy is about, really comes down to Redistricting. Happy to be here. I'll be monitoring the comments, so I hope anyone's watching Live go ahead and plug in your thoughts, ideas, comments, and we'll be checking in with any questions throughout the podcast.
Melanie: Thanks, Athena. Yeah, that's the thing. We could talk and give our own. Sometimes we get in these spaces, these shows, podcasts, whatever, and we just get obsessed with the sound of our own voices. So I'm always glad when we can listen to the people who are actually doing the work who know what the hell they're talking about. Speaking of somebody else who is doing work with us, Susan. Susan Stutz.
Susan: Hello. Good morning, ladies. How are you doing?
Melanie: Fantastic. You wrote a great article this week, as every week.
Susan: Thank you. It was really interesting because I thought I knew what Gerrymandering and Redistricting really was. And so as I was doing the research and writing the article, I learned a bunch of new words, cracking and packing which are not two words that I had ever heard before. So I was interested to learn about them. The history of Gerrymandering, the term Gerrymandering. I thought that was really interesting. It's actually named after someone from 200 years ago. More than 200 years ago. He was a politician. So I'm really looking forward to this conversation with these young ladies who are the boots on the ground doing this work and fighting for fair maps. We did have a petition that was asking for President Biden to step in, exercise a little executive muscle with regard to redistricting and whatnot most specifically around the filibuster. Unfortunately, as we know this past week, they had a vote on the filibuster and Sinema. I'm never really sure how to pronounce her name. And Mansion put the hole in that boat. So we're looking for people. There are some petitions being drafted, but we're always looking for our users, part of our 9.5 million community, to write a new petition. You can check out how to do that and other petitions on our website. You know, hey, we're looking for anybody who wants to jump in and join this fight.
Melanie: And the thing that we have to remember is definitely Sinema and Mansion. And then there are 50 other GOP senators at the same time. So we cannot forget that. And it's not exercising the will of the people. That's the thing. We've gotten to this point where the will of the people has become the will of carefully curated groups, which is not the original intent. So let's talk about what happens when these groups are curated. I would like to bring up our guests. We have Rashida Peterson with Diversity Matters and Cristina Uribe with the Cultural Engagement Lab. Welcome, Cristina. Rashida, welcome this morning or this afternoon rather.
Rashida: Good morning.
Cristina: Yes. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening for your international folks, wherever you are in this world. Yes! (laughs)
Melanie: Thank you so much for joining us. Rashida, I want to start with you. Can you talk a little bit about your work with Diversity Matters?
Rashida: Sure. And thank you again for having this podcast and allowing us to be here today. So my name is Rashida Peterson. I'm based in Washington, DC. I represent a group called Diversity Matters, which is a grassroots organization that is focused on supporting candidates in diverse races around the country. We're all-volunteer group. So we actually are not officially organized in terms of like, a 501 C three or a 501 C four. We are really grassroots. We are community-based organization. We pay for our own website and we volunteer our time. We've been doing this for the last six years because we really felt like it was important for us to contribute to maintaining our democracy.
Melanie: Thanks so much. And Cristina, I want to roll over to you. Can you talk a bit about your work with CEL, please?
Cristina: Yeah. And again, thanks for having me. I’m Cristina Uribe and I'm based in Oakland, California. At CEL, we work with artists and storytellers and creatives to bring these intangible concepts like redistricting, even democracy. What does that look like? And use Story to bring that to life and work with movement groups on their campaigns to really breathe life and joy and inspiration to really engage folks. Because what we've realized, I've been doing this for a long time. I appreciate I think someone references those young ladies earlier, and I was like, yes, it's going to be a great Sunday, (laughs) but I've been doing this for a very long time. I've been through a couple of redistricting cycles, and one of the challenges is actually this cynicism from the very folks we're trying to engage around. Does my participation matter? Will it make a difference? And so that actually just feeds sort of the cycle that we're in. And all of this starts actually at such a local level. And that's the other thing is sometimes nationally, something like redistricting or even voting rights, there's a national role. But so much of the impacts are localized. And that's where we're really trying to engage folks that CEL. We really work year-round to tell these stories that will both interrupt the mis- and disinformation that takes hold around some of these, like, again, intangible topics or topics that feel distant from real people's lives and work with movement groups who are on the ground, whether it's organizations in Arizona or Wisconsin or North Carolina or Florida, where some of these fights are really heightened, that we really sort of work with them to mirror the on the ground relational organizing they're doing with digital content, creative storytelling to engage folks in these discussions. Because part of what we'll get into is part of the reason we're here is folks haven't been engaged. People who are most impacted, most marginalized in these discussions, aren't engaged until the negative impacts are taking hold. So we really work with artists and storytellers to weave all that together.
Melanie: Thank you. Thank you so much. One of the things that we look at the conversation when it comes to redistricting and Gerrymandering, I don't think I'm the only person who has unintentionally made them synonymous, despite the fact that they should not be. The intent was not for that. So can we talk a bit about why the education about redistricting, its functions and its dysfunction is important on a national scale?
Rashida: I think what's really important to understand is that our democracy was built in a way that it ebbs and flows and it was set up to sort of support the changes and the differences and population growth and all of these different things that really makes America America. So redistricting in itself is not a bad thing. I mean, we have the census that happens every ten years. And as you all know, the census is really great because it allows areas to understand their population growth. It also allows for, like, infrastructure conversations and just get a good idea of what the needs are of the particular localized communities in which we're having these different numbers tallied. And so based on the census, which happened ten years, but then redistricting happens more frequently, the initial goal of it was actually to make sure that there was full representation of areas and maps that were drawn that took into account these differences in population. Almost immediately, I think Susan was mentioning almost immediately when our democracy became a democracy after America was created, there was a gentleman by the name of Elbridge Jerry, that was Madison's vice president. And almost immediately there was sort of this plan to ensure his party's domination of a particular area. And so that is what actually the gerrymandering, which is the kind of corruption of the redistricting process, was actually named after him. And actually, I think you mentioned the article that Susan drafted, and I'm sure that's in there as well.
Melanie: Yes, it absolutely is. I think it was like a play on the word salamander in calling it a gerrymander instead. So when we talk about when we look at we know what the dysfunction is, there are a lot of States that are beginning to present these fair maps acts. One of them is North Carolina. What is the intent, the ideal intent for these type of acts? What is this the intent that it will correct?
Cristine: Yeah. I think what you've seen, it's this interesting thing, and you've all touched on it. We all know it's a history lesson. When our democracy was created, it was not created to include anyone who is currently in this discussion. Right. So ever since then, we've tried to expand it, make it more reflective, make it live up to what is promised. But was not any of us sort of born with those rights or our ancestors who were in this country born with those rights. Right? So ever since then, we've been trying to make it more perfect. But it was inherently political. This process we just heard from the very beginning because it's about power, it's about resources. And so since then, we've seen over time the challenges in many States of both parties using the process, the redistricting process, which in and of itself, as Rashida said, follows the census. It follows every ten years. It sets the foundation in our state around budget allocations, education. So much around public resources is shaped by both the census and then redistricting representation itself. Right. Those of us who in all of our neighborhoods, we know our communities better the most. But then you put this political process on top of it, which tries to divide us. And as we've seen, as demographic changes have happened really over the last 20 to 30 years, it really becomes even more about power and trying to dilute power and divide both on race and class. And so things like North Carolina, the act where we've seen sort of responses to how do we make this more fair and transparent and as much as possible, trying to take this political process out of it, where people are operating based on their own political interest. That's what really gerrymandering is trying to sort of tilt the balance, not make it fair. Where we've seen progress is actually where it's actually something that citizens through a referendum. I'm trying to enact. In my own home state in California, we have an independent redistricting commission. This is their second time based on a ballot measure we passed because there is no way that legislators who act in their own political interests were going to give up that power and let citizens or an independent commission draw lines that impact their work. Right. So there's been efforts across the country. The challenge with that is it is popular amongst voters and folks in communities to take the politics out of this and try to introduce independent commissions. We've seen this in a lot of places over the last really ten years. The challenge is that most of that happens through ballot measure in where conservative right-wing interests are already entrenched, that they don't have an independent Commission route, or when voters do pass something like that, like we saw in Florida, it's then litigated and try to water it down. So you have a handful of States that some would say where Democrats tend to be more in power, where you have these independent commissions. And then in States where we've seen sort of the worst gerrymandering happens, there is no legislative process to bring citizens back to make this process more independent. So you have this self-fulfilling cycle in places like Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, and others where an entrenched minority is drawing lines that will solidify their power versus giving citizens away in to try and have more say and again, take the power out of legislators to draw their own lines and give it back more to citizens to be able to draw those lines.
Melanie: I wanted to go to Athena with some questions that you have.
Athena: I just want to say thanks again. This is all very important things to hear and contextualizing it in terms of how we got here, I think is important. And Rashida mention how it's the census. In many ways, that sort of helps defines what this is going to look like moving forward. And so we know that the last administration put in quite a few hurdles or attempted to at least really push a particular kind of dangerous narrative when it came to filling out the census. Can you talk a little bit about what damage was done from that and what can be done to I think we should start now in terms of trying to rebuild that confidence into the value and importance of that work.
Cristina: Yeah. I'll just really quickly say that it is this issue of trying to connect. It like we want more people involved in this process right, our democracy thrives when people are more engaged. And so part of this is what does the census mean to folks? And we actually saw some organizations doing really great work this last time. I'm trying to define that. So, again, taking these topics is like what is that people's fear and lack of trust, which the last administration did definitely try to sow into the process so people wouldn't respond. But this is what determines the type of federal dollars that come into States for transportation and health care and public schools. It helps think about where we need more resources for public education and roads, things that have an impact, whether your local regional airport is going to get some assistance from more dollars from the federal government or what the particular population needs are for kids. When we think about some child tax care credits or hunger programs that we see, again, really work around school lunches and school breakfast, all of this is the census helps inform all of that. So doing the sense-making with people. So we take this very bureaucratic-sounding term and really talk to folks about what our community needs. And part of getting those community needs met is by participating in this process and centering ourselves and not a bureaucracy. And I think that's one of the things sometimes we fall into a trap is we sort of fall into the trap of like, if only people knew, if only they had the facts instead of thinking about how we connect with people so they feel emotionally invested in a process. And that's one of the things that as it relates to both the census and redistricting that we've had some folks get really smart around sort of public education campaigns that aren't necessarily fact-based but really engagement-based around this.
Melanie: Because one of the things when we talk about reinstalling trust and engagement, of course, that's always going to take people that's always going to take organizers. Do you have recommendations on larger organizations that may be part of reinstalling that trust and restabilizing the institutions?
Cristina: Yeah. Rashida, do you want to talk first a little bit? That's sort of what you all are doing?
Rashida: Yeah. Well, it's actually kind of the opposite. So we work with small organizations in most instances. Like I said, we're all volunteer. What that means is we all have day jobs. And I think that that actually makes us more approachable because we try to make sure that all of our messaging and all of the campaigns that we've worked on and we did a couple of campaigns around the census. And now we've sort of taken this issue of redistricting because we've seen how it's affected some of the races that we've been involved in. And we really simplify because, as I said, we're volunteers and there's a core of twelve of us. And then we have a list of about 400. But then we then mobilize all around the country and we mobilize them to do different things. And so because a lot of us have day jobs and a lot of us have other things that we're doing, we have to really simplify also any of the campaigns that we do, we tend to go into a particular region in an area, and we always make sure that we have a local anchor in that particular state. And so that local anchor then helps support us as we've done some stuff in Louisiana. We've done some stuff in Texas, Maryland, also Virginia. We supported some candidates in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. And what we do is we go in first, we try and evaluate sort of as a small group, do we have enough capacity to help support a particular either campaign, whether it be redistrict or particular candidate? And then we will then do a mapping of who's doing what and try to look at it from a diversity lens because that's what's particularly important to us. And then that's how we move. And so all of our campaign materials you'll see on our Twitter, we really try and make sure that we're simplifying the messages.
Melanie: I always love to ask this question, especially when we're dealing with these groups who have to be small but mighty like yours. How do we support what is the best way to support? And can you also talk a little bit more about how you came to support this work, like what motivated you to support this work and how we can continue to support?
Cristina: My answer to both of those is the same versus start in your community. I know a lot of times folks want to look to a national organization to help provide some of these answers. But really starting in your community, I mean, one of the great things about technology, not to be an old person, is that you can connect with so many people. We can be in this conversation, and we're all coming to us from all over the country. But the change we're trying to affect really starts. And we've actually seen this in COVID, which is like a mutual aid, a community response, coming together and knowing your neighbors and working together to confront some of the challenges. And it's the same around politics. And that's how I came into it. I thought I was going to be a public school teacher. I thought I was going to be an English teacher because I wanted to make a difference for kids who look like me. I never had a teacher who wasn't white until I was a senior in high school, and that was for my economic class. Public education was something that was just a focus when I was growing up as like a way to maybe change our circumstances. But then I took a social anthropology course and I was off to the races on politics, and I happened to live in a district that post redistricting was represented by an anti labor, anti abortion, antieverything I believed in and was raised to believe in growing up. And I was like, how did this happen? How do we get rid of this guy? And I started volunteering locally with a local political campaign, and that was how I really got engaged in politics. It wasn't something that I had thought I was going to do as a career again. I was going to be a teacher. But I also realized this was a way to make a difference for kids who looked like me. And this was about power and understanding the power that I had in the ability to affect change. And really, even as I've worked for national organizations like the National Education Association, which is a large teacher's Union, or Emily's List, trains and helps pro-choice race women to office, it has always been focused. So at the state and local level, it's where people live. It's where they're in community, it's where they feel the impact sooner, and then you can level that up to have much larger national and federal impact. But I really thought about how can I instill to this day? It's like when we do our work at CEL, it's always in partnership with a local or state based group because that is where we're trying to engage folks. And sometimes it can be more challenging than just engaging digitally with people online. But that is where it's literally where people vote is at the local level and trying to get them engaged. We're doing redistricting here in Oakland for our city Council districts, which actually will have a huge impact on the day-to-day of what happens in my life. So being engaged in that process is really important. And I always tell people also think about, like, what are you passionate about and what is it something that you have to offer and start there. You don't have to have years of political experience. If you're an artist and you want to lend your talent to a campaign on graphics and illustrations and art, or if you're someone who actually is really into maps and map-making and data, this is like a perfect time to engage locally to bring those talents to the redistricting process. I always just tell folks what is interesting you what are you passionate about? And then what's the talent that you can bring and offer? Because we need everyone's help in sort of rebuilding and breathing life into our democracy right now.
Melanie: Thanks, Cristina. Can you talk a little bit about what brought you to this work, Rashida?
Rashida: So actually similar to Cristina, I wanted to get involved. And the reason why I wanted to get involved is because most of my work had been focused on international development. There was a little bit of a cognizant and dissident thing going on, but sort of being kind of overseas and supporting either foundation-based programs or democracy programs, seeing that work happening and then there being so many similarities in what was kind of happening here in the US. And it was a little bit difficult to square that for myself. And so that's the reason why I decided to engage in this work. And most of our volunteers that are part of diversity matters, they come from an international affairs background as well. We started actually after the election of Trump. It wasn't necessarily a response, particularly to him as a candidate. It was a response to what we felt was a shift in a lot of the civility and a lot more of this harshness that entered into the campaigns. And we were twelve of us that met right after the election in 2016. We just said we have to do something. And so, yeah, so we've been going since then. And you can go to our website and you can look at a little bit about more of the campaigns that we get involved in. I mentioned it has to have a diversity lens because most of us are from diverse backgrounds. And we think that that is what makes our democracy strong is having different points of views. Yeah.
Melanie: Thank you. I think the requirement for diversity is so necessary, particularly when we look at what redistricting is about. It always goes back to the sort of homogeneous view of what an American is. So it's absolutely necessary that diversity be taken into account. I know Susan had some questions or some comments, and I'm so sorry, Susan!
Susan: (laughs) That's okay! No apology whatsoever. I live in Florida, which, as we all know, became an even brighter shade of red in 2020 than it was previously. We had like 300,000 more people vote for Trump in 2020 than they did in 2016. And so all of my leadership at the top of the state is GOP. So how do I, how do we encourage people who live in States like mine? Because obviously, I'm not the only one. But to really care about these maps when they look at the top of the pyramid and they see people that don't share their values, they don't represent us. So other than telling someone, vote, vote at every election you can possibly vote in, what else can we say?
Cristina: Yes. As someone who spends a lot of time asking people to vote, this might sound silly, but I actually think our emphasis on voting as a singular solution is part of the challenge we face, because that's how we have defined democracy and we've defined it so much also just focused on presidential. And so I think about though, Florida is a prime example, which is also past statewide ballot initiatives to restore voting rights, right to formerly incarcerated people, a huge re-enfranchisement. And that was a campaign ten years in the making, has voted to increase the minimum wage, has actually done some really dynamic things through ballot initiative statewide, which is why. And that is the tool for progressive, which is why you now see that tool itself as well under attack has done things around redistricting in the state of Florida statewide as well. So I would encourage folks. Often what we see people running for governor or attorney general or Secretary of state in so many States are people who have served at the local level. Sometimes they do out of here, out of nowhere, and we're on Celebrity Apprentice or whatnot. But what often these people have served on local school board, have served on local city councils, on county commissions. And that is really, again, why it's so important to be engaging at the local level, to consider running for office for yourself. Right. So many people don't win the first time around, but when the second or third time. So we know while there is a partisan I'm not going to deny redness to Florida that seems to continue to grow and change. There's also, though, a willingness in the state, clearly from people on issues that matter, like economics and public education, that people are with us from sort of an issues perspective. And there is that dissonance and it takes time to overcome. But thinking about folks who do appeal to people too on that and who we recruit, folks who are authentic and appealing is really going to be the key to reshape Florida over the long term. And there are amazing groups in Florida like Florida Action and so many others who are actually doing this work year-round. That's the other thing, too. We cannot expect to build power when we're only engaging people 90 days or 120 days before an election, which is why we need more volunteers like Rashida and her group. Where this work is tiring, it can't just be done by paid professionals. So there's always a need for new blood and new ideas to come in. But I really do encourage folks look for an organization. There are so many that's already doing some of this work in your community. And if not, be like Rashida and gather ten of your friends. That is literally how Emily's List started a long time ago. Now it was twelve women who got together in Ellen Malcolm's basement, and we're like, there's no women in the US Senate. What are we going to do about that? A lot of times, great moments come from people doing really boring things for a very long time, but you only hear about the big payoff. So I would just encourage people to look at Run for something or swing left or Sisters districts. There are so many organizations that are just waiting for people to come volunteer.
Melanie: So let's talk about some of these areas. We could talk about every state, but let's talk about three. We can start with our problem child, Florida that is always subject to random acts of DeSantis. The night before MLK Day, he dropped one of the most aggressively gerrymandered maps most of us have ever seen where does one even start with that? Where can we… (pause)
Athena: If I can interject here?
Melanie: I'm kind of furious right now and I'm at a loss for words.
Athena: Don't worry about it! Questions for both Rashida and Cristina, this idea that we have 9.5 million users or so for the resist bot, and a lot of them are in blue States, majority of them actually are. So what would you tell someone? And I know they said Oakland, you said, what do you do with people with Liberals who are saying, well, I vote and I do what I can where I am. What can I do about North Carolina, what can I do about Mississippi? What can I do about those places? I think in many ways that's where at this point now through this journey and cycle that we've been encountering over the last six years, what can be done to one, educate them, that to all the points that you're already talking about, democracy is not just something you do at a ballot box, but what can be done to support the overall education of how democracy works year round, as well as activism and organizing that could take place.
Rashida: So I actually wanted to answer the question that Melanie was getting into a little bit about what can you do when maps happen? Because we actually last two months ago, we wrote a letter, diversity matters. As I said, we have no budget. We are not an organization that actually is fully registered. We put money in the pool out of our own pockets every year to pay for things. And that's how we go. And then we sort of support things as they come. And volunteers sometimes will put money into the pool as well. But what we did because Maryland had a similar, like, really crazy proposal for map that was just dropped a few months ago. And what we did was we wrote a letter to our state legislators for the people who were in Maryland. They actually responded to us. We wrote it with people locally. And then there was like sister district indivisible and a few other people. It's not in front of me. I'm just trying to recall the organizations. But we all signed the letter. Those that lived in Maryland. And what happened was they responded to us and said, will you come and testify? And so we quickly blasted it out to our list and said, hey, who can show up on Monday and testify for this redistricting map? And we actually did have one of our volunteers that helped us with writing the letter show up. She went on the record and she testified. And again, this is not our day jobs. We literally are doing this as volunteers. On our website, you can see the letter. You can also look at the testimony. And she only had about two minutes. She waited 2 hours, two and a half hours to testify for about two minutes. But it was something I think that that's a good example of something that you can do is that you can get to these people in your state and you can force them to respond to you when it happens. You can at least put your foot down and say, hey, we're going to show up, we're going to ask you on the record, and we're going to testify and we're going to keep going with this. So that's just an example of what you can do.
Cristina: And I would just add for folks who maybe whether you're in Oakland, we got our own challenges here. Don't let the political registration of a community fool you. That's a whole other podcast! But political party registration doesn't necessarily always reflect the values of the community either. But that's for next. But for our friends who are like, we're just trying to get there, where we could elect Democrats who are trying to get there, which I understand, I would say. So if you live in a place where that may not be an issue, people don't like to hear this, but I would say resources always help. Resources to local groups. That is one of the good things about technology being able to look up. Like what is the local group that's doing organizing in Clinton or Jacksonville and in Mississippi, or folks who are doing organizing in places like Butte in Montana or some places that you may not hear of as much. Think about. Like, there are local groups, whether they're volunteer or maybe have a little bit of resources in 2020. We heard from a group in Anchorage, Alaska called Inlas that does organizing in the Latinx community there. And they had seen one of our civic engagement PSAs that we've done for digital distribution. They had seen it and said, can we get access to that, to use that in our campaign? I was like, yes, take it. We'll even take our logo off in kind it to you so you can use. And I always remember that because I was like someone in Anchorage, Alaska. I don't know how big the Latinx population is in Anchorage, Alaska, but I know it's not as big as it is here in my home state, but that sees value in this. It doesn't have to pay for it. There is always means, again, whether it is resources that you can give that are monetary or resources that are useful, whether it's making calls or sending postcards or if you have family. Look, a lot of people have family in some of these places that are troublesome and don't want to talk to their family. And again, you need to start and have those difficult conversations based on values and not convincing. I'm not trying to convince folks with fact. But there is always something folks can do. And you don't even have to have a lot of money either, like $5, $20. So much of that makes a difference for a lot of these places. But I would say follow the local leadership. Don't think you have the answers from where you live. But look at who is doing the work, what's the type of support that they need that you can do from where you live?
Melanie: And that's one of the important things that I appreciate. Because when we start talking about places like Florida, places like Texas, places like North Carolina, there is always this overwhelming sentiment that we get, especially when we get into online discussions where they just want to throw those States to the walls. And because they're red States, they don't matter. Because they're red States, it does not matter how they're treated for disaster relief. It does not matter how they're treated or whatever. And that's not how this works, especially when you can look at how these people are being disenfranchised through these gerrymander redistricting maps. It's just something that we cannot we have to have the full conversation. So I appreciate you bringing that out. The other thing that I want to make sure that everyone is aware of is that it is going to take us communicating, communicating with each other. It's not just about being credited. It is going to take collaborative effort because there are more of this than there are more of them. So now we're in the mid-term. Let's talk about it. What are the midterms going to look like for the two of you? Hot seat question!
Cristina: I have a countdown calendar on my phone. (laughs) So I was like, oh, I mean, they're here. Rashida just heard me say this before. People are tired on multiple fronts. We're in the midst of something that we've never been in before. We don't have the answers. So acknowledging that but also lifting up wins. I am not a Pollyanna person, but hope actually is an animating emotion for me. And I think acknowledging, I think a lot about the late Reverend Polly Murray, lawyer and activist, their dark verse poem and a quote within that that hope is a song in a weary throat. And so we had a lot of weary throats, but we have a song to sing as well. And so I think about the midterms again, from there are people who often we think about campaigns, people who vote for us, people who vote against us. And there are people who take the third option. They are at home again because they're not inspired. They don't believe their participation is going to make a difference. And that really is what feeds our opponents. They benefit from cynicism and apathy. And we have a responsibility to acknowledge that there is some disappointment. But at the state and local level, there are so many state legislatures that hang in the ballots. North Carolina is a perfect example. Also in Wisconsin, they have a Democratic governor who is up for reelection, who is essentially their goalie against a really conservative right wing legislature that's doing everything they can to disempower their Democratic governor. So at the state level, as much as folks are disenfranchised and disillusioned and maybe haven't heard enough about some of the successes of the current administration and current Congress in their own home state, though. And I lived through this in 2010 where there was, yes, a loss of Congress. But what happened in the States is what we're dealing with right now. So there are tons of governors races and state legislatures that hang in the balance. Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Pennsylvania. All of these States actually have really important governor's races and state supreme court races that decide everything we've been talking about today. So for me, the midterms really are state and local. That is where we can help protect the issues we care about. But the people we care about in our communities is really in your state. If you're disappointed with Congress and the President, great, get in and get into your local races right now, your state legislature and your governor, because those are the people who are preventing Medicaid expansion, who are passing antiabortion laws that if Roe v. Wade goes away in the spring, it's going to be laws in the States that protect access or deny access. So everything we care about is at stake in your local community right now. So that's what we're gearing up for.
Melanie: Definitely. The abortion conversation, which is a conversation that we'll be having very soon, actually is something that's setting off a chain reaction I think I was reading this morning about now South Dakota is trying to mimic or is in the process of mimicking Texas. So this is something that I think it was just this morning where Renee Bracey Sherman said that abortion is not a partisan issue, it's a gerrymandered one. And that was based off of a Fox poll that showed that more Americans are in favor of leaving Roe v. Wade, as is they're not. But we're still having this conversation. I want to thank you both for joining us. I wanted to get parting words from both of you before we head out of here. Where can we find you? How can we support you all that good stuff.
Cristina: I'll go and they'll let Rashida have our last word. So my parting word is, again, anything you do does matter. If it didn't, people wouldn't be working so hard to take away the existing rights and access that we have to do the Devil's work for them. They don't need an advocate and they don't need assistance. So they'll be the Devil's advocate. Like I said, even if it's starting with something locally, with mutual aid, making sure if you don't need the four masks or tests that the government is sending, order them and give them to your elderly neighbor. Those kinds of things, seeing our outcomes in each other, sort of like no one's free unless we're all free. That literally starts on your neighborhood block, and that will then lead you to then seeing that voting matters and seeing the impact and getting more people engaged. So that's really my parting. And yeah, you can find email@example.com. I am on Twitter at CuribeCA. So my first initial last name and then CA for California. And just thank you all like this, what you all are doing. This matters. All of this matters.
Rashida: Yeah. Similar to Cristina, I think I totally agree that every little thing that you think is small, it really contributes to a larger impact. And it's not just about voting. It's about holding your local constituencies, legislators, your local school boards, all of these folks. You need to ask them questions, show up. I think that that's one of the things that is super important. Show up and ask them what their opinions are about, Gerrymandering. See where they are, see what they're doing to help support and make sure that you have your rights. I think that's super important. You can catch us on diversitydeclaration.com. Our organization is called Diversity Matters. I am at Twitter. I tweet a lot. So my Twitter handle is @1847philanthrop. I work in the philanthropy space. So that's the reason for the Twitter and just really want to thank you all for helping us get out the word. We're actually looking for volunteers right now so you can get on our website, put your name in and follow us. We do a newsletter. We also are gearing up for our different campaigns that we will be supporting this year and for the midterms. And so we're just finalizing a couple of those candidates as well. Thank you so much
Melanie: Thank you so much. And we have the other members of my all-girl band, Athena. Susan, Athena, any parting words from you?
Athena: Sure. I again can't thank you both enough for all the work that you're doing. I love the Polly Murray reference. That Hope is a song in the weary throat because there's exactly what we need to be focusing on now. There are some wins to talk about and to celebrate. So anything we can do to keep the fires and the coals burning and this engine change, I think is necessary. And one thing to celebrate, I think, and that is this idea through some of these continuing cataclysmic events that are happening in our world, in society right now. So this past weekend was the March for Life in Washington, DC, that Marjorie Taylor Greene was invited to speak at. It was followed by a defeat the mandates protest and then involved some Nazis and proud boys filling in the streets of DC shortly after that. So we can't stress enough that this is sort of a new normal and that our institutions, the people doing the work, these groups like Diversity Matters where it really is a core group of friends taking a look around of what actually can be done are within the parameters of what they have the capacity to do. And they're trying to do it. So I encourage everybody who's listening today, thank you for supporting the bot listening to theResist Bot podcast, and just keep on keeping on because this is 365. This is something that we need to, as a community, continue to work on and again, celebrate as we're able to. So thank you all very much.
Melanie: Yeah, they don't get tired, so we can't either. Thank you, Athena. And Susan.
Susan: I just want to thank Cristina and Rashida so much for the education and for just the advice that you've passed along to us. I think we forget about the local races. I know that even as much as I am involved, I forget the importance of the local races. And for anybody out there that doesn't already know, Resist Bot can put you in contact with your local officials, your Mayor and your people at the state level. So check out our keyword guide that's on our website, and you can get some more information on what those keywords are Mayor. And then LEO, contacting your local election official. Lower get you to your state representatives. You can petition them in the same way that you can petition the people in Washington. And we just encourage you to do that. And just know that any letter that you write, no matter who it's to, you can turn it into a petition, and then you can send it out into the world and ask your friends and family to sign on with you. But the local races are important. And I thank you, if for nothing else, for reminding me of that.
Melanie: Thanks so much, Susan. And that's our show for this week. I want to thank all of you and remind you that this is the work. When we talk about experts, when we talk about who's doing the actual work, it's not always someone. There's a bunch of letters behind her name who's gone to school. Sometimes it's just people, friends who've gotten together and decided this is not the way things can continue. We have to do something just as people. So look into these local organizations. Yes, voting is very important. But look at the people who are organizing in your area to really affect change. And if there's no one in your area, let us help you text 50409 use our keywords. Go to Resist Bot. And so that we can help you, whether it's craft an open letter, start a petition, spark a movement. This is why we're here. You can go to Resist Bot to learn how to start a petition, how to volunteer, and you can also subscribe to us Resistbot Live. Please make sure that you visit Diversity Matters diversitydeclaration.com. I want to thank them. I want to thank the Cultural Engagement Lab for all that you do and all that you will continue to do. This is going to be a tough year, but we can make it. So until next week, thank you. See you
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