CENT$-US

The Financial Ramifications of the 2020 Census

With rapidly occurring events like the Supreme Court nominations, Stimulus IV, and the Covid-19 death toll exceeding 200,000, you probably didn’t pay attention to the fact that the CENT$-US count deadline is September 30, 2020.  Here’s how your failure to participate in this year’s CENT$-US can affect your personal budget and economics.

Entrepreneurship

If an entrepreneur is considering establishing a grocery or restaurant in your community, the U.S. Census Bureau information will play a critical role in assisting him/her in making a decision. Businesses use population statistics to help decide where to add jobs, open stores and offices in the community. In deciding to open a business the entrepreneur will need data to analyze who is his potential customers, how many live in the area and who are his competitors. With you being counted, responses could lead to more jobs added to the community and higher wages.

The Economic Census

In addition to the regular census there is an Economic Census. This Census is conducted every five years and collects extensive data about millions of businesses and industries across the country. The economic census in combination with the regular census conducted every ten years, impacts your finances personally since they identify new office locations and consumer spending. Small businesses will not invest if nobody lives or exists in your community because you refuse to participate in the census and be counted.

Example

Here is a practical example. Some years ago, the state of Maryland was considering raising cigarette taxes. The state used the census information to determine how many people lived in various communities and which stores would be impacted by the tax increase. The data revealed that convenience stores and mom and pop stores in the community were mostly affected since they accounted for the largest portion of cigarette sales revenues. Based upon this information, the state at the time decided not to increase the cigarette tax because it would impact small business payroll and hiring. The Maryland State decision only underscores the critical need for your census participation.

With only days to go before the September 30, 2020 deadline, I encourage you to take action now and get counted in the 2020 CENT$-US. It is as much a financial benefit, as it is a social one.




The Life and Legacy of the Notorious R.B.G.

On September 18, 2020, America lost a giant. The first woman laid to rest at the U.S. State Capitol on Friday, September 25th, 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was affectionately called the Notorious R.B.G. Many believe the word “notorious” has a negative connotation due to its affiliation with drug lords and mafia bosses, but as it relates to Ruth Bader Ginsburg it simply means she was a force of nature. Most know her as an Associate Justice for the United States Supreme Court. But many don’t know just how many battles she fought in the Supreme Court on behalf of women, people of color, the LGTBQIA+ community, and minorities in every sense.

The Ginsburg School of Law

Justice Ginsburg attended Cornell University and graduated with a degree in Government in 1954. She then went on to be one of 9 women in a class of over 500 students to graduate from Harvard Law. A determined woman, Justice Ginsburg made sure she got her foot in the door as soon as she graduated. After becoming a law clerk in the US District Court, a research associate, and associate director for the Project of International Procedure at Columbia Law School, Justice Ginsburg had only just begun. Soon she’d become a Professor at Rutgers University School of Law in 1972. It wouldn’t take long before her work would blaze the trail for women in academia as she would soon become became the first woman to become a professor at Columbia University School of Law.

Photo Credit: Columbia Law School 1970s: Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’59 encourages students in her seminar on sex discrimination law to assist her in preparing to argue on behalf of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsburg accomplished much in her life before she became an Associate Justice. She represented survivors and victims in front of the Supreme Court in many sex discrimination cases when she was an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU. However, her impact surged when she was appointed and sworn in by President Bill Clinton as the first Female to sit on the Supreme Court in 1993. When Justice Ginsburg stepped in, filling the seat that Justice Byron White had previously held, she wasted no time getting to work. Justice Ginsburg had finally reached a place where she had the power to provoke real change and felt it was her responsibility to speak for those who were not being heard.

In this June 15, 1993, file photo, President Bill Clinton applauds as Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg prepares to speak in the Rose Garden of the White House,after the president announced he would nominate Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. Ginsburg, 60, a federal appeals judge, will fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Byron White. Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women’s rights champion who became the court’s second female justice, has died at her home in Washington. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File) [ DOUG MILLS | AP ]

The Voice Against Gender-Based Discrimination

As a Jewish woman, Justice Ginsburg undoubtedly faced many challenges. Instead of using the discrimination she faced as an excuse to give up, she used it as an opportunity to spark her passion for cases that dealt with discrimination based on sex or gender. Her attention to these cases made Ruth Bader Ginsburg stand out among the many other Justices in the Supreme Court. She presented men as the victims, not women. This was an interesting approach that many did not understand or agree with, but Justice Ginsburg argued that every struggle men face, women face as well. Her strategy was to prove that gender based discrimination hurt both men and woman.

Justice Ginsburg fought for gender equity and equality, and therefore she represented both men and women she felt were being discriminated against. One of the first cases she ever represented, even before she was Justice Ginsburg, was the Frontiero v. Richardson case in 1973. Sharon Frontiero was a second lieutenant in the Air Force and was not receiving a housing allowance like all the other lieutenants that were men. She was told that she was lucky to be allowed to serve the United States of America.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits in her chambers in 2002 in Washington, DC. DAVID HUME KENNERLY/GETTY IMAGES

The Attorney You Wanted

As soon as Justice Ginsburg heard about the case, she knew she wanted to represent Frontiero. It was her first time making an oral argument and to the surprise of many people that knew her quiet and reserved demeanor, she knew exactly how to work the room. She was aware she was dealing with men who didn’t believe gender discrimination existed, so she made it her plan to prove that it not only existed, but was prominent in the military by providing multiple examples and a well worded argument.

It was cases like Frontiero v. Richardson that paved the way for laws to be changed so that those who came after did not have to suffer as those before them. Justice Ginsburg fought for gender equality not just women’s rights. For example, she worked on cases like Stephen Wiesenfeld’s who was a single father and was denied the benefits that a sole surviving parent was supposed to receive. So RBG went to war for him. By this time, in 1975, no one was shocked that she won this case as well.

The War for Women’s Rights

There were countless cases that RBG represented as an attorney, and later as a judge. Her first women’s rights case in the supreme court was the 1996 case of the United States v. Virginia. The Virginia Military Institute had a male-only admissions policy and Justice Ginsburg ruled this unconstitutional because it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment. Justice Ginsburg argued that there were women that could meet the standards that VMI held their men to, and given the opportunity, these women could serve just as well. To almost no one’s surprise, Justice Ginsburg won the majority on this case. The women that joined the next class of VMI faced with many struggles and hardships, but over time, proved Justice Ginsburg right. They were just as capable as the men of VMI were.

The Faith of a Fighter

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Jewish faith was important to her. On countless occasions, Justice Ginsburg discussed her devotion to her faith. She was born and raised in a devoted Jewish home, she attended a conservative synagogue, and even served as a junior rabbi at religious camps. Justice Ginsburg was proud to be a Jew. However, many saw her as abandoning her faith. Although she was proud, she had her own relationship with her faith and was not concerned in the slightest about outside opinions.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her chambers in Washington, Aug. 23, 2013. | Todd Heisler/The New York Times/Redux

Justice Ginsburg noticed gender discrimination inside of her faith community at the young age of 17. The women in her mother’s Shiva were not counted as being present, simply because they were women. However, she did not only experience discrimination from her faith, but often times because of her faith. In her freshman year at Cornell, she was placed on a floor with all Jewish women so as to not “contaminate” others. Despite the hardships that were brought on by her faith, in addition to being a woman who saw herself as an equal to men, she never gave up or dialed down her faith in order to make others comfortable. RBG never did anything that made others comfortable, but that was her style.

The Woman Who Made History

Ginsburg at her Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1993. Credit…Stephen Crowley

As most RBG admirers know, she

…asked no favor for her sex, all she asked of our brethren is that they take their feet of our necks.

There were multiple cases that Justice Ginsburg was involved in that quite literally made history. RBG fought to change laws and seek equality literally until she took her last breath. As she laid on her death bed in her final hours, she asked one last thing of us. She asked that she not be replaced until a new president is installed. Justice Ginsburg was one of the few liberal Justices in the Supreme Court and if she were to be replaced with our current administration, the spot would be filled with a conservative justice. If this were to happen, future cases would not be addressed with the same caution and compassion that Justice Ginsburg brought in her service. The current administration has hopes of replacing her before the next election. Her supporters have not the power to decide who will replace her, but many still plan to fight in honor of the dearly departed Notorious R.B.G.




#WhatsTheMessage EP 035: Message in Your Ear with David Person

In this episode Carmela welcomes David Person back to the podcast to discuss his project in partnership with the Message Podcast Network called Message in Your Ear. This podcast available on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and iHeartRadio Podcast focuses on highlighting the voices of Black Teens Being. The most recent episode deals with Black Teens and their approach to spirituality and religion. Check out this episode to hear how teens are engaging in social justice, questioning their spirituality, and helping to make our churches and communities to grow.

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Black Teens Being: Challenging Your Beliefs

Our podcast Message in Your Ear featuring the voices and experiences of Black Teens hosted and created by David Person is available on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and iHeartradio Podcasts! Whoooo!
Subscribe, Rate, and Review today!!!

In this episode David person talks with teens Ariana Brown, Ethan Jones, and Jaylen Rogers about spirituality and religion. They encourage teen listeners to actively challenge their spiritual beliefs early in order to truly understand their beliefs. This is an insightful and critical episode you don’t want to miss. Tune in to hear how and why black teens are challenging their spiritual and religious beliefs. Special thank you to mental health expert Dr. Brenden Gamble, and Danita Jones, the mother of Ethan Jones. Click on the links below to subscribe to the #MessageInYourEar Podcast and listen on your preferred platform. Be sure to rate and review the podcast so that others can listen and enjoy as well!




You May Have a Salary Increase Coming Your Way

You are probably not up for a job review and are grateful just to be employed in this current economy. How then can you possibly receive a salary increase? On August 8, 2020 the President signed an Executive Order deferring payroll tax obligations from now through December 31, 2020. Here is the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

If you qualify for this temporary payroll tax deferment the result would be a 6.2% salary increase to your net pay, if your bi-weekly wages are $4,000.00 or less. The deferred or suspend payments will not be due until January of 2021. This payroll tax deferral became effective on September 1st, 2020 and will continue until December 31, 2020. If planned correctly, you can use this additional income to pay off some of your debt and other financial obligations.

The Bad

You are not eligible for this deferral program if your bi-weekly income is $4,001.00. Any bi-weekly amount exceeding $4,000.00 will cancel you out. The choice to participate in this program is not yours but that of your employer. If your employer is not participating in the payroll tax deferral program, you are out of luck.

Furthermore, since this is a deferral and not a tax forgiveness program you will have to repay the deferred amount beginning in January of 2021. This means that you will have to repay the deferred amounts and still have your current withdrawals occurring in January 2021 as scheduled. In short, your take home pay commencing in January 2021 will be less.

The Ugly

In a few months some of you may qualify for a bonus from your job. Receiving a bonus in some cases may exclude you from one or more payroll bi-weekly deferment. Additionally, overtime pay may have a similar impact on your bi-weekly payroll deferment and net income. This is a tax deferment program and not a tax forgiveness program. Therefore, you have to pay the piper!




How COVID-19 Affects the Health of Black Girls and Women

Glaring disparities in health conditions and outcomes for women of color have been widely documented. This population is disproportionately affected by chronic diseases and conditions, including:

Heart Disease

Black women are more likely to develop heart disease – the #1 killer in the United States. According to an article entitled, “The Heart Truth for Women” from the Department for Health and Human Services states, “For African American women, the risk of heart disease is especially great. Heart disease is more prevalent among black women than white women—as are some of the factors that increase the risk of developing it, including high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, and diabetes.”

Diabetes

African-Americans with type 2 diabetes have been shown to present with more severe features, including increased obesity, dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia, and vascular disease. Scientists have published research articulating, “they also are more likely to experience fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events related to diabetes” Specific to women, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is the most common complication of pregnancy and is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Racial/ethnic minority populations (like black women) are at a higher risk than non-Hispanic white populations of developing type 2 diabetes after GDM.

Reproductive Disorders

Studies from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology show that “fibroids occur more often in African American women than in white women. They also seem to occur at a younger age and grow more quickly in African American women.” And in the words of a study entitled, “Racial Influence on the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Phenotype,” “race has been shown to influence the PCOS phenotype”

Childbirth Complicat

Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. The CDC points out that while most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related deaths have persisted over time.

A unique sociological factor is the uneasy relationship that many black women have with health providers. A 2018 study notes how “the legacy of medical experimentation and inadequate healthcare coupled with social determinants has exacerbated African American women’s complex relationship with healthcare systems.”3

So how does this play into Covid-19?

The impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated by underlying health conditions, immune system inhibitors, and other hindrances of health and wellness. These elements are already uniquely prevalent for women of color, providing fertile ground for the devastation of COVID-19 to take root. Let’s briefly examine areas where this pandemic and adjusted lifestyles impose greater risks for women of color.

Nutrition/Lifestyle

  1. Covid-19 infection and death have taken an especially heavy toll on communities of color. Mental health is impacted by the stress of one’s own infection or that of a loved one. Science shows that when mental health is affected other parts of health are also affected. This often leads to women making poor nutrition choices which further exacerbate underlying medical conditions or weaken the immune system. For example, sweet/sugary desserts or snacks or fried comfort foods are often go-to’s during times of stress and boredom. However, research shows that refined processed foods and sugar weaken the immune system, triggering inflammatory pathways in the body.
  2. Weight gain can result from excess snacking due to stress, anxiety, and depression. Exercise routines may have been disrupted, making matters worse. The impact of weight gain may be more pronounced for black girls and women. Being overweight increases the risk factors for issues that black women are already more susceptible to, including infertility, hormonal issues, gestational diabetes, difficult delivery, and difficult post-partum recovery.
  3. Increased blood pressure raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease, preeclampsia etc. What causes increased blood pressure? A combination of many lifestyle factors, including lack of sleep, untreated stressed, sedentary lifestyle, dietary insults such as heavy consumption of processed, convenient or takeout/dine out food in combination with lack of fruits and vegetables – all prevalent during the pandemic.
  4. Staying home can mean isolation and feelings of loneliness and boredom, driving increased alcohol consumption. This increases blood pressure and risk of heart disease, while also negatively impacting reproductive health.

A Danish cohort study found that, “compared with women who drank no alcohol, women who reported consuming 1–5 drinks per week, in addition to those who consumed more than 10 drinks per week, had a decreased chance of achieving a clinical pregnancy.” Furthermore, studies in humans and animal models have found alterations in ovulation and menstrual cycle regularity with chronic/prolonged alcohol intake” In addition, “Heavy alcohol use may diminish ovarian reserve and fecundability in women.” (Alcohol and Fertility: How much is too much).

Chronic Home Stress

Stress is known to be a significant factor in health, wellness, and quality of life. In addition to common stressors that have uniquely plagued black girls and women, there is also the new reality of crafting an adjusted home life, particularly with children.

Chronic stress leads to illnesses. More specifically, studies have shown that “chronic stress has a significant effect on the immune system that ultimately manifest an illness” It suppresses the immune system, raising the risk of viral infection. It also increases risk for diabetes, ulcers, and clogged arteries.

  1. Home-schooling or managing children who are normally outside of the home is difficult. Some women say they feel they must choose between careers and their children, even more so now than before. Managing a child’s day, preparing meals, and tending to the house while still making time for a career, oneself and a spouse is tricky. Some things just won’t get done, which in itself can be an additional stressor.
  2. Having to utilize child-care options outside of the home also adds stress. The potential exposure of a child to Covid-19, the possibility of sickness to follow, family spread, and quarantine can weigh heavily on the psyche.

Preventive Care

Preventive care has been shown to greatly reduce health risks for women and is already often overlooked or not readily available for black women and girls.

  1. As Covid-19 surged in some areas, some health centers could not safely accommodate needs of every patient. Some women lacked the ability or willingness to get routine 1:1 visits. Dental cleaning, ObGyn annuals and routine blood work are neglected by some women because of the risk of exposure to Covid-19. We know that routine health & wellness visits are vital for preventing the diseases for which black women are already at risk (fibroids, PCOS, diabetes, gestational diabetes, heart disease).
  2. During Covid-19 many hospitals are decreasing length of stay after delivery of a baby, impacting continued care, such as breastfeeding support. Lactation consultation is usually given soon after birth to support mothers’ breastfeeding needs but with Covid-19, follow ups are done virtually. Black babies die at two times the rate of white babies. Breast feeding decreases this mortality rate by 50%. The Academy of Pediatrics supports one-on-one breast feeding even if mothers have Covid-19. Shorter hospital stays make this harder.

What Can You Do Right Now?

  1. Keep a variety of antioxidant rich foods in the house, aka, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Remember to refrigerate and freeze appropriate foods to stretch its shelf life naturally. Make more meals at home. Sign up for cooking classes or work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to help you create healthy desserts or comfort foods that won’t sacrifice taste or tons of time. For information on this topic including plant-based menus, meal prepping, cooking, storing, freezing to optimize your health based on your lifecycle needs contact 360GirlsandWomen.com
  2. Keep active indoors by taking breaks to stretch, going up and down stairs, running around the house or playing musical chairs with your kids. Join an online platform to engage in workouts. For personalization, contact a certified trainer women’s specialist to create an exercise plan with a bonus accountability partner or coach. This is something offered by many companies including 360GirlsandWomen.com
  3. Practice self-care. Go to bed earlier. Spend time in silence and prayer. Spend time in nature -fresh air and sunlight are therapy. Start a garden (indoor or outdoor). You may find it’s a great way to relax and take a break from the day, and it also provides fresh food.
  4. Eliminate alcohol and other unhealthy behaviors/lifestyles. If you need help join a support group like Alcoholic Anonymous -aaa.org. Get counseling (social workers, mental health counselors, pastors) or join professional support systems as needed.
  5. Advocate for yourself at doctor’s visits, write down questions. Ask for a copy of labs, images, or records. Follow up and get second opinions when needed. Make sure a family member or friend is also following up and checking in on you before and after medical visits.

Remember that regardless of circumstances, black girls and women should continue striving to implement best practices that achieve the best health outcomes.




#WhatsTheMessage EP 034: The Next NormalX with Marquis Johns

In this episode Carmela and Claudia welcome back Marquis Johns, Evangelist and Director of Adventist Community Services and Prison Ministries for the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Most recently, he is the host and organizer of The Next NormalX, a powerful virtual experience exploring the future of evangelistic practices for Black Christian churches, especially Black Adventist churches. Join us Thursday, September 17th at 11am as we talk with Johns about his vision for evangelism, and what he believes is the next normal.

You can watch The Next NormalX by clicking on this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-HU…

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Follow Marquis Johns on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter @doctorjohns

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What You Need to Know to Financially Survive COVID

For several months now we have been awaiting a new stimulus package from Congress to provide additional financial relief. This second relief package would potentially provide another $1,200.00 for each individual, continued weekly federal unemployment benefits of $300.00, and Payroll Protection Program assistance for small businesses. Still, there is no agreement in sight

What are you going to do? Some of these suggestions should be your last resort options.

IRS Stimulus Catch Up

The IRS may owe you an additional $500.00 dollars if your dependents were not correct when you received your stimulus payment. According to the IRS, they plan to send out an additional $500.00 per dependent under 17 years for those taxpayers who qualify. But those amounts were not included in some of the initial stimulus payment checks. You have until September 30 to use the IRS non-filter tool to submit information on your dependents and correct any errors from the first time around. You can go to the IRS website site and type in IRS non-filter for further information.

IRA Cash Option

As a last resort, you may withdraw money from your Roth IRA without any penalty in the current year. You may withdraw amounts from your Roth IRA penalty free up to the amount of your contribution. For example, if you have contributed $1,000.00 this year you can withdraw up to $1,000.00 without paying a fee. As stated, this is a last resort after you have exhausted other options. Check with your financial adviser for further details.

Loans

Another last resort option is to take out a loan against your 401k. It is better than liquidating your 401k if your plan allows you to withdraw your investment.




Black Votes Matter

How Voting is Key to Social Justice

Whether through literacy tests, poll taxes, or contemporary voter ID laws this country has systemically sought to impede Blacks, Latinos, women, the elderly, and even students from making their voices heard at the ballot box for over 150 years. In her book One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy, Carol Anderson provides a detailed history of voter suppression, particularly against Black Americans. She chronicles how the moment the Three-Fifths Compromise was removed from the Constitution, and particularly when Blacks were freed after the Civil War, local State and even the Federal Government, proceeded to use a series of voter suppression tactics to harass, obstruct, frustrate, and purge American citizens from participating in democracy. Given how close we are to Election Day, it is critical that you understand how to avoid voter suppression and engage in social justice work through voting.

The History of Voter Suppression

Voter suppression saw particular prominence during the reconstruction period. After the Civil War, Joevahn Scott in his TED talk “Fighting Voter Suppression,” chronicles that “Before the 20th century there were 20 black men who served in Congress and two in the United States Senate before voter suppression reduced our ability to get elected officials in office removing our voice from government and leading to decades of [systemic and legalized] oppression.” Such electoral participation and Black government representation infuriated a still racist Southern America.

Unwilling to be outnumbered by a newly freed population, various States set up barriers that made voting not just difficult but literally impossible for Black Americans. They imposed literacy tests that required Blacks to read and interpret dense portions of the Constitution and explain it. And if that weren’t enough, states implemented the Grandfather Clause in the 1890s which was a set of laws that declared that only those who could vote prior to the emancipation of the slaves or who were the lineal descendants of voters could vote.

This along with Poll taxes became the primary restrictions to voting for African Americans. Arguing that it costs money to hold elections, local states charged Blacks high prices in order to cast their vote. For example, in Alabama in 1944 a person would need to pay a $30 tax in order to vote. This is equivalent to $722 in 2016 according to George Stoney in his article “Suffrage in the South: The Poll Tax.” And when literacy tests, and the Grandfather Clause, and the poll tax were not enough, Black Americans were threatened, jailed, beaten, and even killed for voting. In fact, the times when the government would step in and get the rare Black person registered, many times their names were never added to the list or they were purged off the list preventing them from voting on Election Day anyway.

Decline in Voter Participation

This led to a serious decline in Black voter participation. In fact, Anderson writes that in Louisiana, where “more than 130,000 blacks had been registered to vote in 1896, the figure dropped to a bleak 1,342 by 1904.” The numbers were even worse in Alabama as they decreased from 180,000 to 3,000 in just three years. Carol Anderson writes, “Indeed, by 1940…only 3% of age-eligible blacks were registered to vote in the South.” In fact, in Anderson’s research she shows that voter discrimination worked so well that “In 1867, the percentage of African American adults registered to vote in Mississippi was 66.9 percent; by 1955, it was 4.3%. Between 1954 and 1962, only eight blacks in all of Claiborne County had managed to come through Mississippi’s gauntlet” (16). Counties in Alabama had zero to less than 2% of African Americans registered, and Georgia had less than 10% in 1962.

 

Joined by Coretta Scott King and John Lewis, then of the Voter Education Project, a crowd estimated at 5,000 people marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on March 8, 1975, to mark the 10th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march. AP file

This decline remained in spite of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 showing that voter suppression was not rectified until the passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. While watching the march on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where former Congressman John Lewis and others peacefully marched across to their state capital to demand their right to vote, the country watched in horror as peaceful protestors were tear gassed, whipped with barbed-wire bull-whips, and police on horseback trampling over the bodies of protestors. Such trauma led to sweeping passage of the Voting Rights Act with overwhelming majorities in the House of Representatives (328-74) and the Senate (79-18).

The Problem With Voter ID Laws

Our country would not be confronted with such grotesque voter suppression again until the 2000 Presidential Election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. There, Florida becomes a seat of controversy as thousands are purged from voter logs, polling places are closed early, and people are restricted from participating leading to President George Bush’s win by the Electoral College, despite his loss of the popular vote.

Such systemic voter suppression is further solidified in 2013 when the Supreme Court decided in Shelby County v. Holder to amend a key element of the Voting Rights Act under the belief that the racism and systemic oppression that existed restricting Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and women from participating was no longer a factor. In their estimation our country had moved on from these ills and the citizens no longer needed protection from such disenfranchisement under the law.

This would prove to be wrong as States like Indiana under the leadership of then Governor Mike Pence would institute Voter ID laws requiring people to present their birth certificate in order to obtain a state ID, but would then require a state ID of persons in order for them to obtain their birth certificate. In fact, Thom Hartmann in his book The Hidden History of the War on Voting: Who Stole Your Vote – and How to Get it Back writes that “In Indiana, then – Governor Mike Pence’s new rigorous voter ID law caused an 11.5 percent drop in African American voting.” States like Texas would proceed to refuse people the opportunity to vote if their drivers license was expired or if there was even a slight comma, name change, or spelling error that they could not account for with a birth certificate, marriage license, passport, divorce paperwork, or any other legal document.

This is a form of voter suppression because many of the individuals who require these documents often cannot afford to obtain them. This makes voter ID laws a direct attack against persons of color and the poor. They are also an attack against women, as many women get married and according to the Brennan Center for Justice “90% of women take on their husbands name” thus immediately causing a discrepancy between their state issued ID and their birth certificate. In fact, in some states, women are turned away from voting for not having the precise exact documents. Hartmann writes:

Voter ID laws have a disproportionately negative effect on women. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, one third of all women have citizenship documents that do not identically match their current names primarily because of name changes at marriage…roughly 90 percent of married female voters have a different name on their ID than the one on their birth certificate. An estimated 34 percent of women could be turned away from the polls unless they have precisely the right documents.

Voter ID Laws and the Fear of Voter Fraud

Voter ID laws were implemented because of the Republican outcry against “voter fraud.” This is idea is based on the fear that people are voting multiple times under different names, or foreign operatives are voting and turning our elections. In other words, some kind of deviance or discrepancy is occurring at the state level during the electoral process and people are seeking to, as Carol Anderson records, “protect the integrity of the ballot box.”

Demonstrators hold signs at an NAACP-organized rally on the steps of the Pennsylvania Capitol to protest the state’s new voter identification law on July 24, 2012 in Harrisburg, Pa.

Political scientists have done extensive work on “voter fraud” and found it be extremely rare. Furthermore, Carol Anderson documents in her book that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that “the only kind of voter fraud that SEA 483 addresses is in-person voter impersonation at polling places.” He then subsequently admitted that “the record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history.” In other words, the state of Indiana where Governor Pence was enacting some of the harshest voter ID laws political scientists, lawyers, and judges attest there is no tangible evidence or documentation of even one instance of voter fraud ever in the history of the state to even present a need for Voter ID laws in Indiana.

Why Vote?

With so much voter suppression and voter obstruction, why vote? The truth is, the Votes of Black and Brown people are critical. Frankly, if they weren’t local and federal officials wouldn’t try so hard to prevent you from voting. The main reason they are critical is because voting is about representation. It’s about having a voice, a say, in how the country is run. Voting is the central controller of what Thom Hartmann identifies as the “American Commons.”

In the introduction to The Hidden History of the War on Voting Hartmann explains that the commons include “air and water; our roads and skyways; the frequency spectrum we use for communication, radio, and television; our public school system; our military, police, and fire departments; the agencies we use to ensure the safety and quality of our food and medications; the systems and laws that keep people laying the game of business within legal boundaries; our jails and prisons; our oceans and public lands; and our social safety net – among other things.” In other words, our vote for who is in government directly impacts the environment, the economy, the criminal justice system, healthcare, education, agriculture, infrastructure, foreign affairs, and every kind of human protection you can imagine.

This is why Stacey Abrams, avid advocate for voting rights, says that “voting rights serve as the conduit through which all other change is made possible.”

Voting rights serve as the conduit through which all other change is made possible

We cannot have social justice a part from voting. The moment you refrain from voting or are restricted from voting you are deemed impotent in producing any kind of substantive and systematic change for the vulnerable within this country. It is this truth that the great Congressman John Lewis died upholding and fighting for.

Biblical Grounds for Civic Engagement

In fact, Scripture provides support for your responsibility to your country and Earthly citizenship. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 17:24-27 we see here that our spiritual identity, our spiritual reality, as sons and daughters of the Creator God does not absolve us of our social and political responsibilities to this Earth. Instead, our spiritual identities in Christ actually commission us to a life of servanthood and sacrifice. We are responsible for holding ourselves accountable both to God and the political powers that be. This means that we have both a spiritual and civic responsibility to vote.

What Should I Do?

  1. Register to vote today!
  2. If you’re already registered call your local Board of Elections and make sure your name has not been purged from the list.
  3. Contact three people and ask them to register and vote
  4. Determine your Voting Plan. Will you be voting by mail? Early in-person voting, or voting in-person on November 3rd? Decide now and get things in order today! You only have so much time to request your ballot and mail it in. Get on top of things now.
  5. Volunteer at your polling station. Help to ensure that not only is your vote counted, but the votes of others in your community are properly counted also.



Eviction Protection

On September 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), which is under the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”), issued a temporary Order (“Order”) halting certain residential evictions to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The Order will take effect on September 4, 2020 and is intended to provide security for those who would face evection after the expiration of the CARES ACT in July of this year. Here is what you might want to know about the Order and its impact.

Landlord Restraint

Under the Order, any landlord who is the owner of residential property or anyone with legal right to pursue possessory action or eviction is prohibited from doing so from now through December 31, 2020. Now the Order is applicable to “covered persons.”

Am I Covered?

As defined by the Order, a covered person is any tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who provides to their landlord . . . a declaration under penalty of perjury. The declaration requires the tenant to attest to certain facts relating to his or her hardship or inability to pay rent prior to gaining eviction protection as provided in the Order.

Coverage Exceptions

Despite the Order, a landlord can evict you for any of the following: other lease violations besides rent payment, late fees interest or penalties, damaging or posing a risk to damaging the property, criminal activity while on the premises, threatening the health or safety of other residents, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety and applicable building code violations.

Finally, an eviction stay does not mean you are not financially obligated for the rent. Therefore, reckless financial behavior is not encouraged at this time. No free lunches! For additional information and details check out CDC.Gov website. This Order is  Under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 264) and 42 CFR 70.2