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MAY 7, 2021
- DC May Day roundup
- Info on Metro DC DSA elections: steering committee and chapter delegate nominations
- Join Stomp Out Slumlords to help DC tenants access rental assistance
DC May Day Roundup
Last week was May Day, and rallies and marches across the city set to re-anchor the working class following a year of economic collapse, pandemic horror and fascist insurgency.
Our chapter helped organize more than 200 attendees — joined by Our Revolution, Virginia DSA, Baltimore DSA, La ColectiVA and a panel of local labor unions — to march down to Sen. Warner’s home in Alexandria to demand he side with workers and the PRO Act (video of the event can be found on Twitter and Instagram). The demonstration certainly got Mark Warner’s attention — on May 4th, Warner released a video which finally broke his silence. He fell short of directly approving of the full act, advancing concerns that the PRO Act tries to fit work into a “20th-century employment status.” However, this is a good sign that the pressure is on and that Warner is looking for a way to sidestep his corporate donors. Union activists are continuing to keep pressure on Warner — delivering cakes to his doorstep and rallying in the park outside of his house every Wednesday as DSA’s PRO Act campaign continues alongside organized labor to keep pressure on the remaining Democratic holdouts. All of this has sent the corporate world running scared — major labor exploiters are spending big figures to oppose the PRO Act.
DMV socialists did not act alone. Socialists across the country rallied for the PRO Act, as did other Left organizations pushing for immigration protections. Labor is on the hunt — let’s make May 1, 2021 the start of a second labor movement in the United States.
Local chapter elections: steering committee and chapter delegate nominations
Candidates who were nominated for the chapter steering committee and delegate slates have accepted their nominations.
Our elected Steering Committee is responsible for a range of local chapter functions — not least, making sure decisions made by the General Body are carried out and that chapter functions are operating efficiently. You can read more about Treasurer, Secretary and Campaigns Coordinator seats on the Steering Committee on our website. National delegates are responsible for representing our chapter at the DSA national convention.
Voting for both steering and national delegate nominations will open up on May 23rd following that day’s General Body Meeting.
Here are all the updates you’ll need to interact with the steering elections:
- You can find a list of candidates running for local steering committee and national delegate on our members portal.
- Statements from candidates will be entered into the member statements file in our members portal when they are made available (we are asking elected steering candidates to submit their statements by the end of the week).
- Want a digital place to go chat, ask questions or meet your candidates? Check out the #2021-local-elections channel on our chapter’s Slack. (Are you a member and not on Slack? Check out the Info Access section of this newsletter below.)
- A steering candidate forum, tentatively scheduled for the weekend of May 15 – 16, will also be hosted. Full details will be included in next week’s Update. We will also make a recording of the forum available after the event, and provide a place for folks to submit questions or comments in advance of the forum. Please keep an eye out in the next Weekly Update for more info on this.
- You can read the full rules as listed on our members portal here. Candidates are asked to refrain from using personal Slack messages, creating groups on the chapter Slack or “mass DMs” to campaign on Slack outside of the local elections channel.
- Got questions? Feel free to email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach out to @Alex J (he/him), @Ryan W, @Christian CW or @Gary Z on Slack with any questions.
These elections are important. Capitalism only falls when working people come together, collectively organize pooled resources and make strategic decisions about how to deploy our shared time and labor. This is not a Bezos-backed NGO or some revolution-styled roadshow — this is a socialist organization serious about organizing the working class. It’s why we ask all members — even those who [may] only see themselves as marginally engaged — to take these elections seriously and participate in the voting process.
Join Stomp Out Slumlords and help tenants access rental assistance!
Hundreds of tenants came together across DC this past year to fight for their homes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants organized rent strikes and protests, which forced the city first to close eviction court, to temporarily ban evictions, and finally to win $350 million for the city in federal rent relief. This an unprecedented amount of rental assistance money and a huge victory for tenants.
Though this is a major step forward, the new rental assistance program (STAY DC) requires each tenant to submit a long and somewhat complicated online application. The form is challenging, and nearly impossible without a computer, a bewildering stack of documents, and some skill in navigating online forms/bureaucracy. We desperately need volunteers to help tenants apply. The most vulnerable tenants in our community — the ones for whom STAY was intended and who organized to win it — can’t do this alone, and we don’t have enough organizers to help every single tenant.
Please sign up and help us in the fight to get tenants the money they won! SOS will provide training on how to support tenants with applications and will connect volunteers to tenants in organized buildings. This is a great opportunity for people looking to connect with their neighbors and support tenant organizing. This could be a short term commitment, but would likely require some in-person interaction (masks on, socially distanced). Volunteers need a laptop and a smartphone. Spanish speakers especially needed! Sign up here.
ICE signs new contract allowing for long-term detention of migrant youth in Winchester, VA
The new contract allows ICE to take migrant youth from their families and detain them in Virginia. It was signed shortly after the last such contract in the US was terminated in Cowlitz County, WA, and just one month into Biden’s administration. The incident is a chilling reminder that many of the abuses which drew outrage by the Trump administration continue to be enabled by the Biden administration.
If you want to get involved in advocacy to battle ICE and end migrant detention, our comrades at Detention Watch Network are hosting a webinar on Tuesday, May 11th at 6:30pm covering detention under the Biden administration (register at link).
Harassment and Grievance Officer nominee Town Hall re-scheduled for May 13th at 6:30pm
Karishma Mehta campaign in NoVA enters the final stretch.
We’re nearing the final stretch of the campaign to put a socialist in Amazon’s backyard. The primaries in Virginia are on June 8th and we’re in it to win it with NoVA branch member Karishma Mehta! The campaign is ramping up activities as we get closer to the Get Out the Vote weekend — starting up Tuesday evening canvasses, Saturday potlucks/meet & greets (next one is Saturday, May 15th) and of course the path to victory: doors, doors, doors! You can find links to everything to do with getting signed up for a canvass, phonebank or recruitment call nights here.
Defund MPD Campaign Updates
Defund MPD here with some easy ways for you to plug in and help defund MPD and REFUND our communities:
- Sign up for wheatpasting campaign — Sign up here to get plugged into a mass wheatpasting event!
- Phonebank to support Defund MPD — Choose a date here to phonebank with Defund MPD to get DC residents to call their councilmembers in support of Defund demands! The DC budget season is heating up and we need all hands on deck!
- Sign the Defund MPD Coalition petition to demand that the DC Council defund MPD to REFUND our communities! If an organization you’re in wants to endorse the Defund MPD Coalition demands, fill out this form!
Childcare request from Stomp Out Slumlords
Stomp Out Slumlords is about to launch an organizer training program for some of our Spanish-speaking tenant leaders, many of whom are single moms. This crew of tenant leaders has been doing amazing work over the past year, and we’re excited to build on this leadership and expand our capacity.
We’d LOVE to find some help with childcare so that these leaders can participate in the in-person training, which will take place on Monday evenings from 5 to 7pm in Petworth. We’re starting next Monday, May 10th. Would anyone be willing to devote a couple of hours on Monday evenings to help provide childcare? Please send an email to email@example.com if you are available.
Metro DC DSA’s M4A Campaign Updates
On Tuesday, May 4, in a unanimous vote of the Council, Prince George’s became the first county in Maryland to pass a historic resolution in support of the Medicare for All Act of 2021. The bill (H.R. 1976) is currently co-sponsored by 115 Democrats in the House, including Congressman Anthony Brown (MD-4), who represents a large portion of Prince George’s County.
Our Medicare for All working group is working on introducing a similar resolution to DC. The DC coalition has secured the support of two more councilmembers for a resolution in support of the Medicare for All Act in the DC Council. So far, our working group has received the support of four councilmembers.
The working group has also continued the Vaccine Outreach Program by canvassing more than 300 units at the Marbury Plaza apartments in Ward 8 on May 1. Together with organizers from Stomp Out Slumlords, we disseminated information about where residents can get vaccinated and participated in a recruitment drive for the Marbury Plaza Tenants’ Union. On Thursday, May 6, we returned to the Woodner Apartments in Ward 4 for the third in a series of canvasses of the 1,181-unit apartment building.
PG County Branch news
Members of the newly elected Steering Committee (all elected at-large) in the Prince George’s Branch at this week’s initial meeting discussed member mobilization, and organizing a retreat to organize steering portfolios, responsibilities and election of officers. If you are interested in getting involved, don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Socialist Feminist caucus updates
Our Fund-A-Thon benefitting the DC Abortion Fund continues — though we are $423 over our team goal! Let’s see if we can get to $5,000. A generous donor is matching donations, dollar for dollar, until May 9th — so your contribution goes even further! You can donate directly to our team page or support through one of the following fundraisers:
Yoga in the Park: Join us on May 8 at 10am in Mitchell Park for a yoga class led by one of our comrades. There are two more spots available, so sign up today!
Trivia Night: On May 25th, we will host a Zoom trivia night along with Abortion AF DC. Teams can sign up here.
Some additional events:
5/13 7pm is SocFem Social Hour with special guest! Join our conversation on Childcare 4 ALL and what that might look like. We’ll also have games and general chatter. We enthusiastically welcome all womxn*, nonbinary and people of marginalized genders.
5/22 2pm is SocFem Reading Group. Our topic is womxn and labor. We’ll read from Stone Butch Blues as well as the essay, “Caring Enough to Strike: US Teachers’ Strikes in Perspective.”
Important resolution on use of chapter social media for not-endorsed candidates of MDC DSA
We wanted to repost this important resolution regarding use of chapter social media accounts for candidates not endorsed by MDC DSA that was passed by the Steering Committee during the April 21 meeting.
You can read the entire resolution here, but for summary: Chapter resources, social media and other communications platforms may not be used by members or any chapter body to solicit donations or volunteers on behalf of a non-endorsed candidate, publicize events hosted or sponsored by a non-endorsed candidate or ask for other forms of support for a non-endorsed candidate.
This section does not preclude members from advocating internally for or against an endorsement, sharing newsworthy information about candidates for office or making good-faith informational inquiries about a candidate. This section will be interpreted on a discretionary basis by the individual(s) responsible for moderating content on a particular platform.
Biden admin announces support for COVID vaccine waiver following pressure from activists
Last Wednesday, DSA members joined a coalition of health justice organizations on the National Mall to demand the Biden administration “free the vaccine.” At the event, community leaders, public health professionals and local artists called on the Biden administration to make vaccines available for the whole world. In particular, the rally-goers asked that Biden support the TRIPS waiver and invest in the scale up of global vaccine manufacturing.
The Biden administration relented — announcing that it supports waiving patent protections on COVID vaccines. While we always have to follow the details on something like this, this is undeniably the result of pressure applied by activists — including efforts continually engaged by democratic socialists — to challenge corporate control over global health systems.
Washington Socialist May edition
In case you missed it, we released our May edition of the Washington Socialist just last week. Included are writings prepared and edited by socialists in the DMV. Here’s what we’ve got:
- The Metro DC Mobilization Model — A long assessment of Metro DC DSA’s member mobilization tactics. The article has been shared widely between socialists across the country (even reaching our comrades out in Philly). A good read for folks interested in knowing the strategy that informs our chapter’s member mobilization models and political tactics.
- On Climate, Biden Falls Far Short — Biden’s infrastructure plan is a fair start to mobilizing, but no one should mistake it for a Green New Deal. Important to remember as we extract small bits of hope from the Biden administration.
- My Socialist Kick-Start — Somewhere embedded in all of our socialist souls is the memory of that first book — fiction or nonfiction — that set us on our course to socialism. One member recounts his journey (and we suspect many socialists will find this path quite familiar).
- How Racism Hurts All of Us — In this summary of Heather McGhee’s The Sum of Us, we are reminded how crucial racial divisions between the working class are to upholding capitalist exploitation.
- Reflections from 2000: The Communists of Shaw — A short article republished from an old edition of the Socialist recounts far-left activity in one of the District’s most cherished neighborhoods.
- Good Links from April — Sleep through March? We’ve got you covered. Here’s an article roundup from April.
Interested in helping out with the Washington Socialist or this Weekly Update? Fill out our Publications Working Group signup form, or join the #publications channel on Slack and someone from the group will reach out.
MDC DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Saturday, May 8
10 – 11am | Fund-A-Thon Yoga in the Park
11am – 1pm | PG County Branch Ecosocialism WG Meeting
Sunday, May 9
5 – 6:30pm | Medicare for All Working Group Weekly Meeting
Monday, May 10
6 – 8pm | Queer Caucus Happy Hour
7 – 8:30pm | May Labor Speaker Series
Join Metro DC DSA’s Labor Working Group for our monthly Labor Speaker Series event! For May, we’ll be joined by Jana Silverman, member of the Labor Subcommittee of DSA’s International Committee and member of OPEIU Local 2. Jana will speak on her history as a labor activist in the US and abroad and her work at the Solidarity Center supporting the international worker movement.
Tuesday, May 11
7 – 9pm | Biweekly Steering Committee Meeting
Wednesday, May 12
5:30 – 7:30pm | Defund MPD Phone Bank
Thursday, May 13
7 – 8:30pm | NoVA Executive Meeting
7 – 9pm | SocFem Grrrlz Night Social Hour
Note: Currently, all SocFem gatherings and discussions are welcoming only those who identify as womxn, nonbinary people or those of marginalized genders. We ask that men do not participate at this time.
8 – 9 pm | Internationalism Working Group May Meeting
Come to the first Internationalism Working Group meeting in a year! Join us as we reconnect with each other and discuss upcoming events, collaboration with the BDS Working Group, and a campaign focus for the future!
Saturday, May 15
7 – 8:30pm | NoVA Book Club: The Happiness Industry
Join the next NoVa Book Club to discuss The Happiness Industry by William Davies. Registration and book details at link.
Sunday, May 16
5 – 6:30pm | Medicare for All Working Group Weekly Meeting
6 – 7:30pm | Defund MPD Working Group – Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, May 18
6 – 6:30pm | Medicare For All Working Group: Research Team
7 – 9pm | Abolitionist Reading Group
Wednesday, May 19
5:30 – 7:30pm | Defund MPD Phonebank
7 – 9pm | PG Co. DSA General Body Meeting
Thursday, May 20
7 – 8:30pm | NoVA Branch Monthly Organizing Meeting
Saturday, May 22
2 – 4pm | Socialist Feminist Reading Group
Sunday, May 23
3 – 5pm | General Body Meeting | May
ALLIED EVENTS CALENDAR
Saturday, May 8
7:30 – 9:30pm | DC Labor Chorus 23rd Annual Spring Sing-Along Concert
Join the DC Labor Chorus for a virtual celebration of spring with some of our favorite songs! The chorus has chosen the best sing-along songs from their 23-year repertoire — some of your old faves as well as new songs inspired by recent events. Join on Zoom or livestream on Facebook! Free, but donations gratefully accepted.
Monday, May 10
7pm | Our Revolution Arlington May Meeting
Our friends over at ORA have invited interested DSA members to join their May meeting to hear from their main speaker Tobita Chow about the progressive foreign policy approach to China.
Wednesday, May 12
7 – 9pm | Greenbelt Climate Action Network (GCAN) May Meeting
GCAN, a project of CHEARS — Chesapeake Education, Arts, and Research Society — holds its May meeting with focus on national campaigns. Register at link.
Sunday, May 16
10am – 1pm | Intro to Union Organizing Bootcamp
Join Rising Organizers and the Non-Profit Employees Union for a Union Organizing Bootcamp! This bootcamp will provide attendees with skills they need for building union support in their workplaces, and is specifically designed for people at the start (or start-ish!) of their unionizing journey.
Wednesday May 19
1 – 2:30pm | Webinar: Healthy Housing, Healthy Maryland
Presented by MD Center on Economic Policy. Join us as we discuss why housing is healthcare. Details and registration at link.
NATIONAL DSA HIGHLIGHTS
Friday, May 7
7pm | Anti-Racist Movements in Brazil: Activist Series – Anatalina Lourenço & Almir Aguiar
Around the world, Black-led movements are raising the stakes in our collective struggles. This discussion series with leading Black and Indigenous militants from across Brazil spotlights their experiences in organizing against state violence, workplace exploitation, and structural racism everywhere from education to healthcare. … more at link
Saturday, May 8
3pm | DSA Q&A feat. the PRO Act
Interested in DSA but haven’t joined yet? Looking to get involved in the fights to stop evictions, win Medicare for All, defund the police or pass a Green New Deal, but unsure how to get started? Join DSA leaders from across the country to talk about how passing the PRO Act is central to our goals. … more at link
Wednesday, May 12
8pm | DSA Convention Training
If you’re running to be a delegate to the DSA Convention (or considering it), join us for a training on how to use Cadence, the software we’re using to host the Convention. This training will include how to access and navigate Cadence, how to start 1:1 and group chats and video calls, how to connect with other delegates … more at link
More tasty mutual aid opportunities from La ColectiVA this week — get your orders in TODAY for Saturday pickup or delivery! Support mutual aid efforts in South Arlington and try some delicious torrejas de leche! Torrejas will be available Saturday afternoon, May 8 at 3pm. Orders must be placed TODAY!
Audelia Community Response Team (ACRT) Cherry Blossom Fundraiser
Celebrate spring and raise money for a great cause by registering for ACRT’s Spring Art Workshop Series on how to make flower crowns and springtime collages. Funds will support the ACRT, a mutual aid network based in Langley Park that has been supporting immigrant, undocumented and mixed-status families with food, essential items, academic support and COVID-19 testing throughout the pandemic. Workshops take place on May 7 and 8. Click here for all details and registration info.
Publications Schedule: Updates in May will be sent Fridays, May 14, 21 and 28 (easy to remember) and the June newsletter issue will be published Friday, June 4. Send submissions for June to email@example.com and be sure to join our #publications Slack channel to join the chatter about how to write our socialism.
Your personal socialist kick-start — a continuing project in the Washington Socialist. Somewhere embedded in all of our socialist souls is the memory of that first book — fiction or nonfiction — that set us on our course to socialism. You might have encountered it well before you actually decided to join DSA. But without it you wouldn’t be a socialist. Tell us about it, in a few paragraphs or more, and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line MY KICK-START — we’ll collect/curate them in upcoming issues of the Washington Socialist. If you want to discuss the project, visit our Slack channel, #publications. We read, we write, we act, and this is how we extend our socialism to the world we live in and work to change. Check out what we published in the May issue.
Get me onto the Socialist Mainframe: Our Slack platform, with numerous channels for all our caucuses, branches, campaigns and working groups, is a great place to get connected with the kind of socialist work YOU want to do in DSA. Are you an MDC DSA member who wonders how to get on our chapter Slack? Just email email@example.com and identify yourself as a member. Put “request for #Slack” in the subject line. Use the email address national DSA knows you by. If you are a new member, forward the email national DSA initially sent you acknowledging your status.
Recent leaked emails to The Intercept reveal threats of a subpoena the Department of Justice sent to Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers who had conducted research on the 2019 Bolivian presidential election. The emails also implicate the United States government under the Trump administration in using Cold War tactics to support the 2019 coup.
Unusual Whales provides a breakdown of their report around how Senate members got richer in 2020, outperforming market averages through various trading during the pandemic.
The PRO Act, supported by President Biden, would provide some of the strongest protections for workers since 1935 if signed into law. But passing the legislation remains a challenge, the main one being Amazon’s beastly lobbying arm that has a strong hold on Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) who both received significant campaign donations from Amazon employees.
What does organizing look like? What does change look like? What does democracy look like? The Baffler dives into the reality of what it takes to make some real change, even if it can be slow, boring and even full of spreadsheets and meetings.
In resoundingly uplifting news, the Alexandria City Council voted this week to reallocate funding from the school resource officer program at Alexandria City Public Schools to mental health resources.
Pushed steadily and repeatedly by vocal progressives, President Biden has finally endorsed a broad waiver of all intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. This move can potentially help save the lives of hundreds of thousands in India and the rest of the world.
Housing justice advocates, including Baltimore DSA, are urging Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott to veto Rhino. Rachel Cohen breaks down what Rhino is, how this bill got passed and why housing advocates oppose legislation requiring landlords to offer alternatives to the traditional security deposit in The Intercept. Is this kind of legislation coming soon to a city in Metro DC DSA’s territory?
How DSA became a political power and socialism a less-feared term, according to The Conversation (which publishes academic work). Noticed and tipped by our comrade Jules B.
As anti-imperialists we struggle to disentangle the capitalist bloat in the military-industrial complex’s budget from the project of dominance and subordination in colonial contexts that Lenin identified as the “highest form of capitalism.” Plain-spoken analysis like this from a specialist at our ally, the Friends Committee for National Legislation, is a valuable tool.
Ages have come and gone, kingdoms and powers and dynasties have risen and fallen, old glories and ancient wisdoms have been turned into dust, heroes and sages have been forgotten and many a mighty and fearsome god has been hurled into the lightless chasms of oblivion.
But ye, Plebs, Populace, People, Rabble, Mob, Proletariat, live and abide forever.