a short guide to 2020’s most significant social issues part 2: more social issues to pay attention to and how you can help

Note: this is a follow-up to A short guide to 2020’s most significant social issues

As fellow activists, we here at Rebolt know that activism never truly stops. 2020 has been a busy year for social issues and action; maybe you’re still trying to sort through the ton of info coming from the constant news and social media frenzy.

So, we’ve decided to break down the basics of three more significant social issues facing America in 2020. Learn more about each social issue and how you can take action below:

Voted printed papers on white surface

Credit: Element5 Digital

Voting Rights

Voting is a constitutional right and an essential part of American democracy. However, some social groups, such as people of color and low-income individuals, still face voter suppression and many barriers to registration due to discriminatory voting policies. The fight for voting rights advocates for policies that will make it easier for all Americans to vote.

Notable events in 2020:

  • Access to the caucuses remained an issue in Iowa. The in-person, hours-long nature of the caucus limited access to people with disabilities, parents without child care, and the elderly.
  • Because of COVID-19, officials across the country are promoting mail-in voting as a safer and more accessible option. President Trump is attacking mail-in ballots, claiming it would increase voter fraud, but this claim has been debunked.
  • Trump recently appointed Louis DeJoy, a businessman and top donor to the Trump campaign, as the new Postmaster General of the USPS. This action was criticized for DeJoy’s lack of expertise and seen as an attempt to manipulate mail-in voting for the upcoming presidential election.
  • To honor the legacy of civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Democrats are asking the Senate to officially pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act, an act championed by Lewis during his time in office.

If you want to further the cause:

  • Look up your state’s voter registration requirements at vote.gov.
  • Know your voting rights and what to do if something stands in the way of your ability to vote.
  • Urge senators to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act.

signage on night

Credit: Nitish Meena

Immigration Rights

ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has deported and detained a record number of people in the past few years. ICE’s removal methods expose immigrants to inhumane living conditions, separate families, and deny them the right to a fair hearing in court. Immigration rights aim to protect the civil liberties of immigrants, fight against discriminatory and unconstitutional laws, as well as advocate for fairer, more flexible immigration policies.

Notable events in 2020:

  • Concerns about the safety of detainees are heightened as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the country. A group of activists camped and protested outside of the Aurora detention facility for more than 50 days, calling for the abolition of ICE and the detainees’ freedom.
  • The federal courts ordered the Trump administration to restore the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which protects eligible young immigrants from deportation.
  • On July 6th, ICE announced that international students must leave the US or face deportation if their colleges were online in the fall due to COVID-19. After multiple universities filed lawsuits against this policy, the rule was rescinded.

If you want to further the cause:

Credit: Rebekah Zemansky

Prison Reform

Over two million people in the US are incarcerated, the majority of which were not convicted of a violent crime. And while Black people only make up about 1/10 of the US adult population, they make up about 1/3 of the prison population (Source: US Census Bureau). Most prisons are overcrowded and dangerous. Even upon release, people who are incarcerated face barriers to employment and reintegration into society. The school-to-prison pipeline, which disproportionately funnels students of color from schools into the criminal justice system, contributes greatly to this system. Prison reform works to create safer prisons, reduce the probability of reincarceration, and offer alternatives to incarceration, such as rehabilitation, treatment, or education.

Notable events in 2020:

  • Activists gathered outside of the Massachusetts State House and protested in dozens of other cities around the country out of concern for the unsanitary and overcrowded prison conditions during the pandemic. The activists called for decarceration and for the prisons to adhere to CDC standards.
  • Rikers Island, a correctional complex in New York City, became a COVID-19 hotspot. It was said to be the “epicenter of the epicenter” of the pandemic when cases began spiking in New York City back in March.
  • A Michigan judge unfairly charged Grace, a 15-year-old female Black student, for “failing to submit any school work and getting up for school” during COVID-19. Grace is currently still in custody.

If you want to further the cause:

  • Educate yourself about the problem of mass incarceration and raise awareness within your community.
  • Donate to the Justice for Grace fundraiser to support her and her family, or sign this petition to #FreeGrace.
  • Support “fair chance hiring policies,” which give the formerly incarcerated equal opportunities for employment.

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