|Happy New Year! We hope you had a restful holiday. We’ve got a few great events planned for this month that you should know about. This Saturday we’ll host our first brake light clinic of 2019. Next week we have a Special Meeting where we’ll elect a new at-large council member for the chapter, discuss the 2019 DSA national convention, and continue to strategize around our goals for the coming year. Later in the month, we’re teaching folks how to canvas for Medicare for All, and holding a potluck dinner for new and old members. We hope you’ll join us!|
As always, check our calendar for the most detailed and up to date information on all of our committee meetings and chapter events.
Here is a statement for our upcoming special election to select a new at-large council member for the chapter. Only one person, Jordan F., has been nominated for to run in this election. The election will be held Monday, January 7th, 2019.
Our chapter has grown incredibly in the past year! We’ve sharpened our skills, built up our committees, developed new leaders, and given new members a place to plug in. The space in this chapter for members to incubate different projects is one of our greatest strengths. What we need to do next is synthesize all this work into a cohesive political vision and concrete demands. Let’s leverage these projects in a way that escalates campaigns and builds victories. I will focus on this through building a strong chapter program process and by building up the capacity of committees. I’m running for this position because I want to be part of a chapter everyone can be proud of and because I want everyone to feel like they own the work we collectively do. The only way we can build this future is if we build it together.
Democratic Socialist Voting Guide
Municipal Action Committee
New Orleans Chapter – Democratic Socialists of America
New Orleans DSA organizes for the power and benefit of working class and poor people in Louisiana, and to take power and influence from the wealthy and corporations. In our first electoral guide for the 2018 Midterm elections, we specifically choose not to endorse any candidates. There are currently no candidates for office whose platform includes our core values of fairness, direct democracy, and human dignity. We present this guide to offer historical context, information on candidates, and a vision of how these offices could function differently in our democracy.
The scope of this guide is limited mainly to issues appearing on the Orleans Parish ballot. This is a reflection of the majority composition of our chapter’s membership. It also includes comments on some of the Jefferson Parish School Board races.
There are more than 200 DSA members in New Orleans and more than 300 in Louisiana. If you have any questions or want to get involved, email email@example.com
Did you know that in Louisiana you can be convicted of a felony or sent to jail for life without a unanimous jury decision? This unjust rule dates back to the 1898 state convention when white supremacists put Jim Crow laws in Louisiana’s constitution. Louisiana residents have a chance to change this on November 6th by voting YES on Amendment 2.
This sign spotted in the Marigny does a pretty great job illustrating why we need unanimous juries in Louisiana. This past week, our chapter joined the Unanimous Jury Coalition to phone bank and get the word out about Yes on 2.
After a leaked memo suggested the Trump administration wants to create a legal definition of sex as “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth,” our chapter felt it important to release this statement:
We stand in solidarity with trans and gender non-binary folks now and always. No matter what right wing fascists say or do, we’ll support our trans members & loved ones and continue to fight for their liberation and for the liberation of trans people everywhere. Trans rights are human rights.
Last night our chapter hosted a talk at the Musician’s Union Hall on Medicare for All and healthcare justice in New Orleans. Frances Gill, co-chair of our chapter’s Healthcare for All Committee and southern regional organizer for DSA’s M4A Campaign, started us off with a powerful statement to our packed room of 50 or so people on the need for Medicare for All to win true healthcare justice in the U.S.
We heard from a representative of 504 Healthnet and Luke’s House, a clinic in New Orleans that provides free medical care. Jamila Webb from Birthmark Doula Collective spoke about the incredible work their organization does supporting pregnant and birthing women in Louisiana. She provided insights on the health disparities faced by soon-to-be mothers in Louisiana, particularly black women, and Birthmark’s work to combat the health injustice and health racism that is perpetuated and exacerbated by our profit-driven health care industry.
Michael Lighty, former policy director of the National Nurses Union, gave a captivating talk on Medicare for All and the democratic socialist solutions to the deep inequities of the U.S. healthcare system. The path to health justice will require a direct confrontation with the big pharmaceutical companies, hospital corporations and health insurance CEOs who make billions in profits while most Americans struggle to pay their insurance premiums and cover rising drug costs.
Emphasizing the need for mass action to win the fight for a true universal healthcare system in the U.S, Michael encouraged us look to this year’s teachers’ insurgency to learn how DSA can build a mass movement of working people to win the demand for Medicare for All.
Our next Healthcare for All Committee meeting will be on Thursday 11/15 at 2022 St. Bernard Ave, Building C, 6:30 PM. We invite everyone to join our struggle for healthcare justice in New Orleans and beyond!
The Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, is a nationwide, membership-based political organization that aims to build working class power by employing a variety of different tactics, from electoral organizing to workplace organizing and direct service. DSA is an organization comprised of dozens of local chapters, whose projects, aims, and strategies vary widely from chapter to chapter. Every two years, representatives from DSA chapters gather to participate in a national convention and vote on three priority issues. Last year, the membership voted to center three priorities: electoral strategy, labor organizing, and campaigning for Medicare for All, or M4A.
Medicare for All is a policy that would create universal healthcare, free at the point of service with no co-pays or premiums, for all U.S. residents.
As a socialist organization, we know why we have to take on the fight for M4A. We can name the enemy. High uninsured rates, billing bureaucracy, high pharmaceutical costs, and unevenly distributed health care resources are not individual problems that can be tackled individually. They are interconnected symptoms of a larger problem: a health care system that is designed for a few to get rich when others fall ill.
“Hey, y’all changing brake lights?” a man called out to us as we were setting up in the morning. “Yeah!” an organizer called back.
The man, sitting out on his balcony patio further down the block toward Esplanade Avenue, turned to the woman sitting next to him for a moment and then called back out again: “She didn’t believe me!”
On the first anniversary of the Brake Light Clinic, our mutual aid program has begun to become a monthly fixture in Kruttschnitt Park in the 7th Ward. People in the neighborhood know we’re here every month, plenty of people have come by because a friend or a family member told them about it, and some who’ve come back for a second time. At this particular clinic on August 25th, 19 people signed waivers, meaning we had organizers looking at least that many cars, working to solve issues from a simple broken bulb to a broken tailgate. Of those, nine signed up for more information and will be contacted by an organizer.
This speaks to the organizing power of this mutual aid program. Neighbors who’ve had in-depth conversations with our organizers instantly understand why we do this work and why it’s important work, and organizers gain experience in engaging others to want to know more about what we do and maybe even want to get involved.
This clinic had 14 volunteers, and we needed them. There were a number of times where we had up to 4 cars getting lights changed by organizers. One organizer spoke with a community member who had been stopped by the same police officer three nights in a row, on the same stretch of road. The clinic was an opportunity for our organizers to share with folks in the community about how common behavior like this from law enforcement fits into a larger pattern of harassment tactics.
We, the Local Council of the New Orleans Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, have voted to endorse the Nationwide Prison Strike. The strike will begin on August 21st and end on September 9th, the anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising. The call to strike has, so far, been taken up in almost two dozen states across the nation.
We stand in solidarity with the strikers and with all those incarcerated in the United States and beyond, and we support the demands of the strikers, which can be found in full here.
This strike was declared in response to an uprising in Lee Correctional Institute in South Carolina, during which seven people lost their lives fighting for an end to the inhumane conditions and prison slavery that comprise the American carceral state.
There are numerous ways that those on the outside can support the incarcerated strikers, including:
- Contacting your local, state, and federal representatives to ask where they stand on the demands being made by the strikers.
- Spreading word of the strike and remaining informed about the strike by keeping in contact with people you know who are in prison or who have family in prison.
- Reading the Prison Strike Zine.
- Donating to the strike’s official fundraising page
- Amplify the strike using #August21 and #prisonstrike hashtags
Louisiana has one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States and thus, the world. Tens of thousands of Louisianans are currently behind bars and subject to horrifying conditions. Mass incarceration uses the tools of the state–from a violent and utterly unaccountable police force to a legal system in which justice is only granted to those who can afford it–to divide and oppress working people, and especially black, Latinx and indigenous people.The Local Council of DSA New Orleans is proud to endorse the Nationwide Prison Strike of 2018 and to stand in solidarity with the prisoners demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform, the end of prison slavery, and the reinstatement of all incarcerated and formerly incarcerated citizens’ right to vote.
In solidarity with Charlottesville DSA as well as all impacted by the fascist violence one year ago — and in remembrance of Heather Heyer — New Orleans DSA is using this Medicare for All Weekend of Action to host a Protest Health & Safety Training with the help of our local street medic collective.
For those at that protest who suffered injuries and trauma, health injustice is an urgent, concrete, and ongoing crisis. Even with single-payer, we will need to know how to take care of ourselves and each other. We’ll need to know how to offer healing and wellness to our communities in times of trouble.
Today, we’ll be learning skills to keep each other as safe as possible in compromising situations, and we’ll discuss how to support one another’s wellness on an ongoing basis. We’ll be thinking of Heather and Charlottesville as we do so, and will collect money for the Charlottesville Resilience Fund.
Allison Tebbe and Frances Gill, New Orleans DSA