The following Platform Recommendations were made at the July 21, 2008 meeting or were forwarded to us for inclusion. They are grouped topically and are fully endorsed. We have representatives available to discuss the recommendations and implementation strategies upon request.
Justice 4 All Includes Women of Color is an organization currently headquartered in Sacramento, California which includes participants from Sacramento, other California communities and communities in other states and territories of the United States. We are interested in working cooperatively for the election and administration of a president who recognizes and acknowledges the unique history and experiences of women of color which are largely the result of the singular experience of concurrent racism and sexism which has existed without respite since the founding of the nation.
Based on numerous interactions with the Obama campaign and on a letter received directly from Senator Barack Obama-the only candidate to respond to our outreach, we are participating in efforts which support his candidacy-despite the fact that we have been disallowed several times as a group on the website, barackobama.com and have only been allowed to post our identity in the Events section of the website. We have been advised by Obama campaign staff that we have been repeatedly removed because we are considered offensive by someone on the campaign staff. Given that more than 15 months of advocacy for Obama's campaign have been contributed by our participants, during which time we have worked online and by email to individuals and groups in many states to voice support for his nomination and to counter many of the smear campaigns against him and his family, including the filing of complaints against a national organization which was disseminating online fliers we considered objectionable and racist. We hope that reconsideration of our exclusion from the groups on barackobama.com will be forthcoming so that we are no longer in second-class status there.CAMPAIGN STRATEGY CONCERNS
We are concerned about information that has been communicated from Obama campaign staff in Sacramento and Chicago that the Obama campaign will not expend any of the millions of dollars in campaign funds raised in any California campaign efforts. This means that no expenditures will be made to hire staff or conduct activities to increase voter registration and voter turnout among the masses of grassroots and young voters who have begun participating in the electoral process for the first time in unprecedented numbers. These individuals and others are contributing financially to the Obama campaign without prior knowledge that none of the funds, even if contributed by Californians, will be expended on behalf of Californians working for and voting for Obama. As citizens of the most populous state in the nation, this campaign strategy has the effect of discouraging grassroots and young voters, especially first time voters, because it conveys the impression that our votes don't matter and that the Obama campaign has already conceded California to McCain. California is a state in which only 40% of the population is white s; 60% is made up of people of color. We represent the diversity of the country, not only of the present, but of the future. We cannot help but view this dismissal of our importance to this election as a repudiation of the significance and impact of people of color on the direction of the nation, especially in the global village in which people of European heritage are in the minority and in which people of color in this country hold the key to better international relations and peace in the world. We urge Senator Obama to reconsider this strategy of conceding California and other states as lost to McCain and the Republicans.
We have repeatedly called for greater representation of people of color among the paid staff of the Obama campaign-a strategy which has been used effectively in California by politicians such as Willie Brown and Diane Watson, but which continue to be resisted by Obama national campaign staff which has recruited staff which are effective in some communities but which have not connected with the grassroots leadership which are in regular contact with and are most respected by the masses of grassroots and young voters of color-the majority of Californians. Instead, too often there has been reliance on "traditional" minority or civil rights organizations that no longer have representative memberships nor viable leadership and are rooted to the past. Frequently, these same groups are out of touch technologically and thus are unable to communicate to young voters of color who have access to text messaging and emailing.
There is also a lack of understanding of the continued need for direct campaign interactions with rural, small town and urban enclaves of people of color who are responsive to those who care enough to engage and interact with them. We have repeatedly called for the Obama campaign to invest in multicultural, multilingual touring groups which can go out to these communities and communicate his positions on issues of importance to them. To discount these voters, to make no effort to encourage their votes, is to communicate the notion that we will continue to be marginalized in the future or to be subjected to continued patronization of receiving what others think we deserve. To continue this kind of relationship of masses of people with their government is to maintain such people as a fringe without a voice. We do not believe that this is the intention of Senator Obama. For this reason, we ask that the effort be made to communicate that all voters are important to the Obama campaign and that the 50-state campaign promised by the Obama campaign be implemented fully.
Senator Obama has the support of the masses of people of this country, overwhelmingly including people of color (who make up about 35% of the nation), independents, liberals, progressives and likely the majority of feminists who will not vote for McCain based on his opposition to abortion rights. It should have been clear since the Iowa caucus that the historical fact of racism as the most dominating factor in the voting decisions of white voters has changed dramatically and substantially, no doubt the result of many years of affirmative action, celebration of diversity, increases in multicultural populations and greater experience and acceptance of multicultural interactions among our citizens. To rely on spinning the Obama campaign to secure white voters still influenced primarily by racism and to assume the position that voters who are white and people of color who are more contemporary in their voting attitudes do not merit the same quantity and quality of attention because they have no choice but to vote for Obama is an offensive position. There are many people who have been disappointed to be informed by Obama campaign staff that this offensive position is the post-primary strategy now operating. As a result, there are many who are still planning to vote for Obama but are not planning to make further financial contributions. This represents a growing disappointment among many of those who have been Obama's most devoted supporters. Yet, in every instance where this has been noted, the response has been that it doesn't matter. We request reconsideration of this position.
This report is being transmitted by email to the Obama campaign via the barackobama.com website. Telephone communication will be made to the Chicago headquarters to insure that the report has been transmitted as desired. An additional copy will be transmitted via US Priority Mail. Thereafter, this information will be shared among the members of Justice 4 All Includes Women of Color and with other grassroots and community organizations and related media. We will appreciate acknowledgement of receipt of our recommendations and being informed of the adoption of any of our recommendations. This information will be shared with our friends, families, associates and collaborators across the country.PLATFORM RECOMMENDATIONS 1. ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES
a. Affirm, as a matter of national policy, the existence of the oppression, marginalization, discrimination and forced invisibility of women of color in the United States. Establish a publicly accessible, interactive online library, modeled after Wikipedia, in which research articles and bibliographies on the experience of women of color, along with strategies and concepts for interventions and programs, can be accumulated. Provide library monitors to remove counter-productive material and to encourage entries that specifically address the concurrent triple oppression of women of color by race/ethnicity/national origin, gender and class. Encourage reference to this resource by public, private and community agencies and organizations for the dissemination of information and development of training materials, as well as in the design of programs and activities which address the concerns of women of color, remediate existing problems and inhibit future discrimination and oppression of women of color. Affirm, as a matter of national policy, the existence of institutionalized racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination and oppression. Exercise leadership to eliminate all institutional inequalities among US citizens and residents, making us one nation as identified in the Pledge of Allegiance and in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution as amended. Implement programs and strategies such as the recognition of March 1st as Women of Color Day to identify and publicize the contributions and achievements of women of color, along with positive role models of which the nation can be proud. Be conscious of those who are left out of such recognitions and of those who remain unrepresented. For example, only 4 Asian American women have been represented in Congress. All of them have been Japanese American which means that no Asian American women of any other Asian cultural backgrounds have ever been members of Congress.
b. Implement electoral reform that ends the disenfranchisement of voters, especially minority voters. Take leadership to eliminate the Electoral College so that voters, not some intermediaries, elect the president. Implement a national voting system for federal elections that is identical in every state. Secure voting rights for all US citizens and residents of all US territories. Americans are Americans. There should be no distinctions and inequalities among us.
c. Implement a fair tax system that favors the majority of citizens rather than the wealthiest minority.
d. Provide access to capital to small businesses, women, minority and veteran-owned businesses, and specifically identified women of color businesses which have not been fairly included in the established categories. Reorganize the Small Business Administration to be responsive to the funding provided by Congress to support women-owned businesses and which, despite successful law suits by the US Women's Chamber of Commerce, has not released appropriated funds nor made gains in securing for women and minority owned businesses more than a tiny minimum of federal contracts. Increase the representation of women of color with documented backgrounds as advocates for women of color, the grassroots and other disadvantaged citizens among SBA executives, administrators, program directors and staff. Engage the services of the US Department of Education to train leaders of other federal agencies in working with all segments of the nation in implementing programs and services so that federal agencies reflect the nation in terms of employees and recipients of services.2. CIVIL RIGHTS/ JUSTICEa. Secure the passage and sign the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act which will correct two current inequities in tax-code treatment of settlements and awards received by victims of employment-rights violations. Under current law, those who suffer non-economic damages as a result of unfair employment practices pay taxes; those who suffer non-economic damages as a result of physical injuries (such as car accidents), do not. This is a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude from gross income amounts received on account of claims based on certain unlawful discrimination and to allow income averaging for backpay and frontpay awards received on account of such claims, and for other purposes. The CRTRA will correct this unfairness by excluding non-economic damages received as a result of unfair employment or civil rights practices from gross income. Under current law, employees who do not have to sue for lost wages pay taxes at the marginal rates applicable to their actual wages earned in each year; employees who do have to sue for lost wages pay taxes at the unduly high marginal rates applicable to the lump sum they receive all in one year, even though that sum substitutes for wages earned over a number of years. The CRTRA will correct this unfairness by permitting income averaging for lump-sum settlements or awards. b. Within the first six months after inauguration, restore the Legal Services Corporation with the ability to provide affordable legal representation to plaintiffs in civil rights cases, including racism, sexism and all legally prohibited forms of discrimination and inequity on a parallel with the provision of legal representation in criminal cases. It must be recognized and acknowledged that few citizen plaintiffs have the resources to secure legal representation in most cases. Therefore, ability to pay has become the determiner of legal representation in most cases, depriving women of color overwhelmingly of the means of redressing grievances because women of color are the poorest citizens of the nation. Encourage amicus briefs from human and civil rights organizations with expertise and information to facilitate adjudications and, where possible, mediations so that the processes of securing justice are not so lengthy as to constitute an additional burden and inequity to plaintiffs. Establish a system of identifying government agencies which habitually discriminate so that appropriate executive actions can be promptly undertaken. Insure that the Legal Services Corporation, including the lawyers and all staff and administrators, are drawn from all the racial, ethnic, and national origin populations, as well as women including women of color and men and from a broad array of age cohorts by requiring transparent, equitable employment practices with no cronyism nor other conflicts of interest permitted. c. Utilize the National Labor Relations Board and other union and community organizations to address discrimination. Develop a review process in partnership with labor unions to evaluate whether union leadership reflects union membership for women, women of color and minority group members. 3. ARTSa. Develop a more inclusive program of changing the global community and nation through the arts. Provide an emphasis on women/women of color in music-jazz, for example, where opportunities for women musicians have been minimal and for women of color relegated to the lowest paying-except for a notable few. However, focusing on the few never results in equity for the many. Even as vocalists, the primary role of women in jazz, that role has been minimized with few in the role of band leaders and only meager attention at best to their compositions. It is conceivable that the commercial value of jazz and other music genres would be improved by the inclusion of more women, including women singers, in primary roles, rather than as canaries in a mine. In addition, the artistry of women has continued to be dominated by misogyny, an oppressive condition to which men are not subjected. Development of women-focused music, art & dance festivals and major support for women artists while writing, composing, painting or developing new choreography are being developed.
b. Funding through the National Council of the Arts, National Council for the Humanities, Smithsonian Institution and other agencies that provide funding and other resources to enable women/women of color focused artist tours and women/women of color arts historical preservation. Encouraging corporate sponsors to support women of color in the arts, especially preserving the history of arts of women of color and the development of new artistic directions by women of color. Review of the allocation of funds and resources to women of color in the arts. Review of the membership of boards and commissions associated with the determination of awards to artists and statistical analysis of the opportunities provided to women of color artists in comparison with artists of other groups of women and men. Publicly reporting inequities and calling for the development of corrective actions and strategies.
c. In concert with artist organizations, musician and other related unions, lawyers for the arts and other champions of artists, implement a major study of the health patterns and life challenges affecting professional artists, for example the destructiveness of osteoporosis on ballerinas, incidence of substance addictions, HIV/Aids, unique health and health insurance issues, retirement issues, impact of a cash economy on many artists who have no contributions to social security, and other issues of poverty, and mental health. Development of accessible show business/entertainment/arts/sports business education to facilitate benefits to the majority of individuals which is generally overlooked with the ongoing focus on a few highly paid individuals. Development of strategies for acquisition, replacement and insurance for equipment and to secure continuing education in changing art conditions and arts related technology.d. Recognition and acknowledgement of unique arts practices of women of color, for example, African hair braiding, which is an art form as well as a hair care practice, and the ancient art of hula and the making of poi which are unique Hawaiian cultural traditions. Assuring the inclusion of these and other unique arts of women of color as art forms and not simply preparations for tourists, are much needed additions to the historical preservation of arts of the United States and merit national attention and support. 4. EDUCATION
a. Appoint a multi-cultural team of seasoned male and female educational professionals who have the respect of parents and grassroots advocates to conduct a Comprehensive Educational Review of the No Child Left Behind program, examine its shortcomings and any successes. Concurrently, order a compliance review of the same program to determine if civil rights laws were adhered to by the schools and agencies engaged in the conduct of No Child Left Behind Programs. Require the completion of these reviews within 6 months.
b. Order a meeting of compliance officers representing all federal agencies capable of compliance reviews, complemented by multicultural men and women from educational and community advocacy organizations to review the record of compliance reviews throughout the country by state, institutions, federal agencies, outcomes and follow up when discrimination has been found during the last 25 years. Budget and staffing statistics and patterns of increase and decrease are to be reviewed. Assign responsibility to this group to develop recommendations for a national model and standard for compliance reviews with explanations of any variations needed by individual federal agencies. A report of this work will be completed in 6 months after which recommendations will be acted upon to bring about a substantial reduction, if not elimination of current discriminatory practices against women of color in education, employment, health care, housing, public accommodation and representation.