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
“This is what justice feels like: gut-wrenching relief, exhaustion. It’s not sweet or satisfying. It’s necessary, important, maybe even historic. But only with the passage of time will we know if the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin is the start of something that will truly change America and the experience of Black Americans. … This verdict is historic, but it shouldn’t be historic to punish people who do bad things, even if they wear a police uniform—especially if they wear a police uniform.“—Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, in a Washington Post op-ed following the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial.
“It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see [systemic racism]. … we can’t leave this moment or look away, thinking our work is done,” Biden said in an address to the nation on Tuesday, Apr. 20, following the verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial, calling racism “a stain on our nation’s soul.”
“Black women in this country are facing a maternal mortality crisis. Black women die of pregnancy related causes at three times the rate of other women, regardless of income or education levels. And we know the primary reasons why: systemic racial inequities and implicit bias. … If you are a Black woman reading this and you are pregnant or you have experienced loss, know that there are groups out there, podcasts to listen to, and books to read. You may never meet these Black women who are replacing silence with storytelling—but they are passing on their strength to you and want you to know you are not alone.”–‘Dear Black Women,’ A Letter From Vice President Kamala Harris On Maternal Health
Black women in this country are facing a maternal mortality crisis. They deserve to be heard, and in this White House they always will be. Today, @AmbRice46 and I met with women who shared their experiences and the work they’ve done to address this crisis. https://t.co/e4OF9nmIIt— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) April 13, 2021
“Vice President Harris and I are committed to pursuing systemic policies that provide comprehensive, holistic maternal health care that is free from bias and discrimination. The morbidity and mortality disparities that Black mothers face are not the results of isolated incidents. … I call upon all Americans to raise awareness of the state of Black maternal health in the United States by understanding the consequences of systemic discrimination, recognizing the scope of this problem and the need for urgent solutions, amplifying the voices and experiences of Black women, families, and communities, and committing to building a world in which Black women do not have to fear for their safety, their wellbeing, their dignity, and their lives before, during, and after pregnancy.”—The first-ever presidential proclamation on Black Maternal Health Week, issue by President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Apr. 13.
“He’s afraid of the police, and I just seen and heard the fear in his voice. … This was the worst day of my life.”—Katie Wright, the mother of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black father who was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in Minneapolis. He had called his mother during the fatal encounter.
“[Margaret Sanger] endorsed the Supreme Court’s 1927 decision in Buck v. Bell, which allowed states to sterilize people deemed ‘unfit’ without their consent and sometimes without their knowledge—a ruling that led to the sterilization of tens of thousands of people in the 20th century. … The first human trials of the birth control pill—a project that was Sanger’s passion later in her life—were conducted with her backing in Puerto Rico, where as many as 1,500 women were not told that the drug was experimental or that they might experience dangerous side effects. … Our reckoning is understanding her full legacy, and its impact. Our reckoning is the work that comes next.”—Planned Parenthood president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson in a New York Times op-ed reckoning with the organization’s founder Margaret Sanger.
“We, the young people, are the ones who are going to write about you in the history books. We are the ones who get to decide how you are remembered.”—Greta Thunberg
Climate activist @GretaThunberg fearlessly told lawmakers that their “legacies” were at stake in the race to combat climate change and advised them to “choose wisely” during a House Oversight Committee hearing regarding climate change and fossil fuel emissions on Earth Day. pic.twitter.com/teh0EPGfr0— Newsweek (@Newsweek) April 22, 2021
Punchbowl News: For the first time ever, two women — VP Harris and Speaker Pelosi — will be sitting behind the president during an address to Congress.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 22, 2021
It was only 14 years years ago that Pelosi was the first woman to sit behind the president for a joint session.
+ On Sunday, Apr. 25, Nomadland director Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color, and second woman, to win an Oscar for Best Director. The film was also nominated in five other categories, including two more wins for Best Actress and Best Picture.
She did it! Oscar winner Chloé Zhao stopped by the V.F. #Oscars portrait studio after her history-making wins for Best Directing and Best Picture.— The Academy (@TheAcademy) April 26, 2021
Photo by @QUILLEMONS for @VanityFair pic.twitter.com/zWBs4uY1oJ
+ Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer responsible for the murder of George Floyd, was found guilty on all three charges on Tuesday, Apr. 20. The verdict was one step towards accountability; justice only comes once police are no longer killing Black Americans.
Yesterday’s guilty verdict was one step towards accountability, but systemic racism in the U.S. stems beyond one ‘bad apple.’ It’s essential to recognize the broader culture of racism and anti-Blackness in America, especially in the Midwest. https://t.co/qMR0dxa2f7— Ms. Magazine (@MsMagazine) April 21, 2021
The next day, attorney general Merrick Garland’s Justice Department launched an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. “The agency’s Civil Rights Division will conduct what is known as a ‘patterns and practice’ inquiry that will scrutinize nearly all corners of how the Minneapolis police do their jobs, from recruitment to the possible use of excessive force,” reported the Los Angeles Times.
+ The same afternoon that the verdict was announced, Ma’Khia Bryant—a 16-year-old Black teen in Columbus, Ohio—was fatally shot by a police officer outside of her home. According to her family, she had called the police for help after being threatened. Her death demonstrates that holding one officer accountable is not a cure-all, and there remains a long road ahead towards true justice for Black Americans.
+ In a long-awaited statement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifted an in-person requirement for medication abortion, initially imposed during the Trump administration. Now, pregnant people can be prescribed mifepristone via telemedicine, and receive the pill through the mail, rather than risk contracting COVID-19 at a doctor’s office.
🚨 BREAKING: The FDA will not require in-person dispensing of abortion pills for the duration of the #COVID19 pandemic! In addition to safety benefits, telehealth is a critical option for people experiencing financial hardship, lack of child care & homeschooling responsibilities. https://t.co/eV0DiXuk9f— Guttmacher Institute (@Guttmacher) April 13, 2021
+ On Wednesday, Apr. 14, just three days into Black Maternal Health Week, the Biden administration initiated a roll-back of the Trump-era domestic gag rule—a policy which strips Title X funding from any provider who offers abortion care or provides referrals for these resources.
+ A anti-hate crime bill passed by the Senate on Thursday, Apr. 22, will prompt Justice Department reviews of hate crimes related to COVID-19, and support local law enforcement agencies in their responses.
“I cannot tell you how important this bill is to the AAPI community, who often has felt very visible in our country, always seen as the other. And for them to experience that kind of hatred against them,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). Only Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) voted no, with 94 senators voting to approve.
The lone vote opposing legislation to combat anti-Asian hate crimes. pic.twitter.com/rpsU5I0Vmr— Maya Harris (@mayaharris_) April 22, 2021
+ Reuters global managing editor Alessandra Galloni was named the newest editor-in-chief of the agency on Monday, Apr. 12. She will be the first women to lead the the 170-year-old major news outlet.
+ Republican lawmakers in at least 34 states have introduced anti-protest bills in the wake of huge Black Lives Matter protests across the country. “Republican legislators in Oklahoma and Iowa have passed bills granting immunity to drivers whose vehicles strike and injure protesters in public streets,” reported The New York Times. Other state measures would threaten protestors with ineligibility for state employment, housing assistance or even student loans.
+ In a major turning-point for the COVID-19 pandemic, all U.S. adults become eligible for vaccinations on Monday, Apr. 19. The question remains: How many adults will refuse to participate in this life-saving vaccination effort?
+ House Democrats passed a bill on Thursday, Apr. 22 bringing the U.S. one step closer to D.C. statehood. Introduced by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), the legislation was passed by every Democratic representative.
+ The Supreme Court ruled Thursday, Apr. 22, to cut restrictions on life sentencing for juvenile offenders. From now on, “judges need not determine that juvenile offenders are beyond hope of rehabilitation before sentencing them to die in prison,” which according to The New York Times, “appeared to signal the end of a trend that had limited the availability of severe punishments for youths.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh—accused of a serious crime as a juvenile—wrote the 6–3 majority opinion in favor of the harsher sentencing. “In a case involving an individual who was under 18 when he or she committed a homicide,” he wrote, “a state’s discretionary sentencing system is both constitutionally necessary and constitutionally sufficient.”
In dissent, Justice Sotomayor wrote, “How low this court’s respect for stare decisis has sunk. Now, it seems, the court is willing to overrule precedent without even acknowledging it is doing so, much less providing any special justification,” and reminding her colleagues that almost three-fourths of young people sentenced to die in prison are children of color.
+ Biden announced the formation of commission to “examine possible reforms to the Supreme Court,” according to Politico, on Friday, Apr. 9. Soon after, Congressional Democrats—led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.)—introduced a bill to expand the Supreme Court from 9 to 13 justices. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is hesitant to bring it to the floor: “I think the president’s taking the right approach to have a commission to study such a thing. It’s a big step.”
+ Biden also promised to cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030, reducing greenhouse gases by 52 percent. “We hear people talk about this being existential. For many people on the planet, it already is. But we’re not behaving internationally like it is, in fact, an existential challenge,” said special envoy for climate John F. Kerry.
+ White House officials also announced on Tuesday, Apr. 27, that Biden will be raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour, increasing 37 percent from $10.95 by March 2022.
+ A gate at Fort Hood, Texas, was renamed in honor of Vanessa Guillen, an army specialist who was killed at the base in 2020. Before the murder, Guillen had told her family she had been sexually harrassed by her superiors, but was afraid to report it.
Her younger sister said she hopes the gate will “remind them that if they know someone who’s going through the same situation my sister went through to speak up, to tell someone.”
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Vanessa Guillén’s disappearance. We join the Guillén family in mourning the loss of a bright young woman who volunteered for her community and her country. #JusticeforVanessaGuillen pic.twitter.com/wuRhooXFuE— Luz Collective (@LuzCollective) April 22, 2021
How We’re Doing
+ There have been over 360 new voter suppression bills proposed in state legislatures so far in 2021, according to the Brennan Center.
In the same period of time, 843 bills to expand the right to vote have been introduced in 47 states. One such bill: In New York, a newly passed bill automatically restores voting rights to parolees by way of conditional pardons from governor Andrew Cuomo, which were initially issued by executive order in 2018.
+ Surveys show widespread support for Biden’s American Jobs Plan and its inclusion of care infrastructure.
New Monmouth University poll just out:— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) April 26, 2021
– 68% support Biden infrastructure plan
– 65% support raising $400k+ taxes
– 64% support Biden families plan
– 64% support raising corporate tax
+ Women are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at a rate 10 percent higher than that of men, despite men suffering a higher proportion of deaths from the virus. In Los Angeles Country, for example, 44 percent of women 16 and have received at least one dose, compared with just three-in-10 men.
+ According to the Global Gender Gap Report, it will now take over 135 years to close the global gender gap. “Because of COVID-19, the time it will take for the gender gap to close grew by 36 years in the span of just 12 months. Progress may skip a generation,” reports Forbes.