Keeping Score: NAACP Sues Trump; N.M. Moves to Protect Abortion Access; Biden’s USPS Overhaul

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.


Lest We Forget

+ “Black women in Virginia are four times more likely to die during childbirth and postpartum because we are not seen, because we are not heard, and we are not believed. It’s costing Black and brown women our lives.”

—former Virginia state Rep. Jennifer Carroll Foy, recalling her near-death postpartum experience.

+ “We look forward to working with your administration to enact just and restorative policies that will meaningfully transform our criminal legal system for the better. By exercising your clemency power, you can ensure that there would be no one left on death row to kill. Given the historic nature of your administration, this would be an unprecedented—but necessary—action to reverse systemic injustices and restore America’s moral standing.”

—Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and 33 fellow legislators in a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to prevent future federal executions by commuting prisoners’ sentences.

(Want to learn more about the death penalty in the U.S.? Tune into this recent episode of the “On the Issues With Michele Goodwin.”)

+ “It’s important to keep in mind that as we fight against anti-Black and anti-brown narratives, we’re also fighting the oppression that we’ve internalized and that has shaped our sense of what—and who—is beautiful. I am a mother of two amazing young daughters. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family that celebrated our beauty, and I want to raise them in a family that celebrates their beauty. But I also want to raise them in a society that is different from the one I was raised in—one that not only accepts them but also honors them.”

—Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on why she’s fighting the multibillion-dollar skin-whitening industry.

+ “He would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices… He would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you can, that tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing in this moment in history.”

—singer Taylor Simone Ledward accepting a posthumous Golden Globe for her late husband Chadwick Boseman at the award ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 28.

+ “We are women of color, people of color, women, low-wage workers and organizations that represent and support them. We urge you to use the full power of your office to bring essential financial relief to all working people in America, by ensuring that a $15 federal minimum wage is included in the budget reconciliation process, regardless of the opinion of the parliamentarian. … This single, powerful move will begin to reset the economic system so that millions of low-wage workers—disproportionately of women of color and communities of color—will no longer be treated as second-class citizens.”

—a coalition of human rights organizations in a letter to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who also serves as president of the Senate. 

+ “Our House Majority is committed to working with the Biden-Harris Administration and the new Democratic Senate to build on the progress made by generations of trailblazing women. In honor of the pioneering women upon whose shoulders we stand, and the brave young women are standing up and speaking out to advance progress nationwide, we will never stop fighting until justice, equal rights and greater opportunity are a reality for every woman and every American.”

—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement on Women’s History Month.

Milestones

+ Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) wrote to President Biden, encouraging the administration to create an Office of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Wellbeing. “Reproductive justice for all means addressing issues of health care access; economic inequality; discrimination based on race, gender identity, and sexual orientation; food security; housing stability; environmental justice; immigrant’s rights; disability rights; and so much more,” wrote the senators, along with four other colleagues.

+ The Equality Act—a bill meant to protect LGBTQ Americans against discrimination by government entities—was passed by the House for the second time on Thursday, Feb. 25. The first time the bill passed in 2019, the Republican majority in the Senate blocked the act from progressing. 

+  Calling it ‘“hate speech,” Facebook removed a video Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) posted raising a trans pride flag outside of her office. Newman’s child is transgender.

+ Amidst disastrous weather conditions and utility outages, women in Texas prisons and shelters faced flooding, extreme cold and a higher risk of COVID transmission.

+ American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates member Sara Ainsworth introduced a resolution to oppose the prosecution of pregnant people who choose to have an abortion, or suffer a miscarriage. “It’s really important to understand that it doesn’t seem to matter what laws are on the books,” said Ainsworth. “People have been criminalized using a range of laws never intended to criminalize pregnant people.”

+ Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) joined with the NAACP to sue former President Donald Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. They claim the pair violated the Ku Klux Klan Act by attempting to block Congress from performing their constitutional duties. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is establishing a panel, similar to the 9/11 Commission, to “get to the truth of how this happened.”

+ Harriet Tubman—who, along with at least nine other slaves that she recruited, “collected intelligence concerning enemy positions and strengths, movements, and fortifications in Confederate controlled areas”—was inducted into the Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame more than 150 years after the Civil War.  

+ Pope Francis appointed Sr. Nathalie Becquart as Under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops on Saturday, Feb. 6—making her the first woman to hold the position in the history of the Catholic church. 

+ Jasmine Harrison of North East England rowed across the entire Atlantic Ocean in just over 70 days. The youngest woman to complete the daunting journey, at just 21 years old, Harrison became the world record holder for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

+ The Los Angeles Board of Education is instituting major reforms in the name of school safety and racial justice—drastically cutting down on Los Angeles School Police officers, prohibiting the use of pepper spray against students, and using these funds to instead invest in Black and Latinx student opportunity.

+ Asian Americans have suffered a dramatic increase in hate crimes since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The recent anti-Asian rhetoric opened the door to more people acting on their racism,” Allure editor-in-chief Michelle Lee said in an Instagram post tagged #StopAsianHate. “It was upsetting to many of us that it was so difficult to get others outside of our own circles to care.”

+ Tennis star Naomi Osaka won another Australian Open title on Saturday, Feb. 20—claiming her fourth Grand Slam win at just 23 years old.

+ The White House announced a comprehensive immigration bill that would forge an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants currently in the U.S., as well as for children who crossed the border at a young age. The word “alien” would also be replaced with “noncitizen” in the text of immigration legislation, among other reforms.

+ Three women—Anna Ruch, 33; Lindsey Boylan, 36; and Charlotte Bennett, 25—have accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), 63, of sexual harassment.

+ NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance landed successfully on Thursday, Feb. 18—guided and monitored by one of the most diverse groups of engineers in the administration’s history. 

https://twitter.com/MisssHutchison/status/1362494596916379655

+ A bill introduced by state Sen. Janet Cruz (D-Fla.) would treat assaults on journalists as hate crimes under Florida law, listing members of the press as a protected class. 

+ President Biden nominated three postal experts (Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute; Anton Hajjar, former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union; and Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general) to the Postal Service Board of Governors. If confirmed by the Senate, they could help vote Postmaster General Louis DeJoy—a loyal Trump supporter—out of office.

+ With schools and work places closed in the midst of a devastating recession, more women are experiencing period poverty worldwide. Charities are stepping up to provide free menstrual products, but are struggling to keep up with the sharp increase in demand. 

+ Sunday night, Nomadland director Chloé Zhao became the second woman and first woman of color to win a Golden Globe for Best Director of a Motion Picture. 

+ With at least ten other states taking action to restrict abortion access under the new conservative Supreme Court supermajority, New Mexico lawmakers are fighting back. The state’s legislature moved to repeal a dormant abortion ban that’s been in place since 1969, before Roe v. Wade.

+ Under the Trump administration, attorney general William Barr backed a case that sought to bar transgender athletes from competing. This week, the DOJ withdrew its support for the Connecticut lawsuit.  

+ Virginia is expected to become the first Southern state where the death penalty is illegal. Its General Assembly passed the bill on Monday, Mar. 1., and with a signature from governor Ralph Northam (D), it will become law. So too will the Virginia Voting Rights Act, meant to compensate for the Supreme Court’s ruling against a key component of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. 

+ The Kentucky state Senate passed a bill limiting the use of no-knock warrants following the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville. 


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How We’re Doing

+ In 1980, there were 27 states with split Senate delegations. In 2021, there are only six: Montana, Wisconsin, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maine. All 46 other states have two senators from the same party.

+ Fourteen percent of Congress is composed of immigrants and the children of immigrants, according to Pew Research Center. Seventeen immigrants are serving in the House of Representatives—whereas Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) is the only foreign-born U.S. senator.

+ Broadcast and cable TV news spent just 54 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2020.

+ Between Jan. 1, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021, 1,443 of Donald Trump’s Facebook posts—out of just 6,081—consisted of “misinformation” or “extremist rhetoric.” The analysis by Media Matters for America also found that while the flagged posts were shared and liked nearly a billion times (927 million), Facebook took no action to restrict them. 

+ American life expectancy fell from 78.8 to 77.8—a full year’s difference—in just the first six months of 2020. The drop was 2.7 years for Black Americans, nearly triple the general population’s, demonstrating the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.

+ More than one in 20 Americans identify as LGBTQ+, according to a recent Gallup poll. The drastic increase from 4.5 percent in 2017 to 5.6 percent in 2021 can be largely attributed to adult members of Gen Z, of which one-in-six identify as LGBTQ+—mostly bisexual. 

+ Following the brutal murder of George Floyd by police officers in May, over 165 Confederate symbols were removed from public spaces in 2020, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

+ A recent Pew Research Center report shows “60% of U.S. adults have confidence in Biden on foreign policy—fewer than said the same of Barack Obama as his presidency began (74%) but more than for Donald Trump in his first year (46%).”

+ An analysis in China identified a 20 percent increased risk of infertility as a result of pollution exposure, while a smaller U.S. study found air pollution exposure was correlated with fewer maturing eggs in people with ovaries.

+ According to the World Bank, the average score of global gender equality is just 76.1, indicating a substantial discrepancy in legal rights for women around the world.

+ Just as Americans of color have suffered disproportionate COVID infection rates throughout the pandemic, Black and Latinx children ages 5 to 17 represent over 38 percent of cases in their age range. 

+ In honor of Women’s History Month, Pew Research Center compiled some of the most telling statistics on the status of gender equality in the U.S through their Living Facts project. Get the facts here


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About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a Ms. Fellow and former Editorial Intern. She recently graduated high school and is completing a gap year before attending Tufts University.