July 16, 2021

Santa makes a last minute appearance on Capitol Hill, intercepting white supremacy in DC, and Virginia electoral organizing.

JULY 16, 2021

Weekly Update



  • PRO Act developments and updates to DSA’s GND campaign
  • Fall 2021 reading groups launching
  • Updates on Cuba

PRO Act developments and updates to DSA’s Green New Deal campaign

Reports of the PRO Act’s demise may have been somewhat exaggerated, sez Bloomberg Law. On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders confirmed that the PRO Act will be part of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation blueprint to be pushed in the reconciliation package being crafted by Senate Democrats. An important caveat — only budget-related aspects of the PRO Act will make it into the reconciliation bill (such as monetary penalties levied on NLRB violations). Still, a strong development.

The DSA has been engaged in a national fight for the PRO Act along with a network of allies that includes labor unions, progressives and environmental organizations. On May Day this year, Metro DC DSA was joined by a contingent from Baltimore DSA and other Virginia chapters on Senator Mark Warner’s front lawn to pressure support for the bill. Back in June, DSA members made over one million calls to working-class voters in key states in support of the PRO Act. 

Our MDC DSA comrade Ashik S, who serves on the national Ecosocialist coordinating committee, reports:

“The first phase of our campaign focused exclusively on the PRO Act. We have made strides, and that fight continues. We are now adding a new demand: a Green New Deal for Public Schools. Our campaign will organize key groups around public schools with the aim of politicizing a public institution that exists in every community and from which we can make broad-based demands for aggressive green investment. This is a campaign for dignified, unionized green jobs; it is a campaign for climate resilient and zero-carbon, public buildings; it is a campaign for high levels of public, green investment in multiracial working class communities across the country. This campaign, like all DSA work, is based on the foundation of chapter-level leadership and organizing.”

A big collaborative DSA webinar fleshing out this initiative happened on Tuesday (call recording viewable here, passcode = K5V3?z?b), and the campaign for a GND for Public Schools publicly launched yesterday at an event with Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the Bronx, with many DSA members chiming in to say what they’d fix at their local schools with $1.3 trillion. You can read the organizing plan and chapter guide for this project, expected to run through the end of September 2021 — the fiscal year deadline for a reconciliation package to be passed in the Senate. 

Please sign up in the general interest form if you’d like to join the national campaign email list, and check out the social media tool kit to amplify in your networks! Email ecosocialism@mdcdsa.org if you’re interested in getting involved in our chapter, especially if you’re in the MoCo, PG County or NoVa branch, and especially if you’re a teacher, education worker, parent or student!

Fall 2021 reading groups 

Interested in joining a reading group this fall? Want to learn socialism together with comrades? The Metro DC DSA Political Education team is pulling together several reading groups this fall on a variety of subjects. Reading groups provide an opportunity to share learning and political education in a group setting, allowing members’ organizing and knowledge to develop alongside comrades. This past spring, the Political Education team helped four sections and ~50 people read through Capital Vol. 1 — and members reported that learning Marx in a group setting worked better than reading a 1,000-page book alone …

This fall, we’ll start a Capital Vol. 1 group (again !) and multiple other reading groups will be formed based on interest. All levels welcome! Possible topics include the Black Radical Tradition, Marxist State Theory, Rosa Luxemburg, Socialist Feminism, Labor and Technology, further readings from Marx and much more. To join a reading group and select topics of interest, answer the survey here. Groups may meet in person, virtually, or in a hybrid format depending on responses and interest. We encourage you to sign up to coordinate a group if you have the interest and administrative capacity! We also welcome members of Workgroups and Sections to initiate or sponsor reading groups on topics relevant to them. See you this fall! 

Protests in Cuba prompt right-wing propaganda push

Cubans have been hitting the streets over the last week prompted by shortages in food, medicine and other basic goods, though the protests have been described as “anti-government” by a media too eager to fall back on Cold-War jingoism. Given the turmoil faced in the US over the last year, we should remember that the nature of protest and unrest is always more complex.

Some policy makers in the US have promoted reckless and dangerous ideas such as invading or attacking the sovereign country as a response to unrest. And evidence of a coordinated right-wing campaign — utilizing bots to promote and push a specific discourse across social media — was uncovered by a Spanish journalist. 

Socialists and internationalists know that war and aggression rarely alleviate the strain faced by populations in distress. The US has maintained that the sanctions it imposes on the country since the heights of the Cold War are non-violent — defending them as a “tool of democracy.” But democratic socialists have long alleged that sanctions are not harmless policies but acute weapons of war that impose debilitating costs on populations. You can learn more about sanctions and their violent effects by checking out our Night School resource on the topic.

Delegates at the 2019 National DSA convention passed a resolution emphasizing solidarity with Cuba and reaffirmed its unequivocal condemnation of the economic blockade imposed on the nation by the United States. We’ll update this space should opportunities arise to make that demand clear to policy makers and government officials.


Get ICE Out of Arlington! Action TOMORROW (Saturday, July 17)

Join La ColectiVA and #DefundNoVAPolice partners to demand Arlington County officials take action to end collaboration with ICE! We’ll be attending the county board meeting this Saturday, July 17 at 8:30am. You can sign up for the action in Arlington County here. Arlington County board members have failed to take action in support of migrants who are at risk of deportation because of Arlington County policing. This is the last board meeting before the county board goes on summer recess, so it’s one of the last chances the coalition has to channel formal demands at Arlington County officials. This is an urgent call to action, join us! #ICEoutofArlington.

You can read more about the efforts to close the Farmville detention center in this report prepared by La ColectiVA.


Metro DC DSA Happy Hour is back: Thursday, July 29, 5:30 to 9:30 pm

The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. After a long year and a half hiatus, the Metro DC DSA happy hour is back! The event will take place from 5:30 to 9:00pm at Midlands in the Petworth neighborhood in DC. You can sign up for an email reminder here.


MoCo Council joining PG’s to back M4A

Montgomery County’s Council has introduced a resolution backing Medicare for All, as the Prince George’s Council did earlier this year, meaning the state’s two largest counties are on board. We are told by organizers that all Councilmembers have co-sponsored the resolution, which is likely to be voted on next week.

DC Workers demand hero pay

By way of JWJ: Frontline essential workers joined with union and community leaders for a virtual press conference on Wednesday to urge the DC Council to fully fund $20 million for the Heroes Pay Act of 2021. The Heroes Pay Act will provide a one-time payment to tens of thousands of private sector essential workers who risked their health and their lives by working during the pandemic. The Heroes Pay Act was introduced by Labor Committee Chair Elissa Silverman as part of her committee budget. The committee budget was passed unanimously with the support of Councilmembers Christina Henderson, Trayon White, Sr., Janeese Lewis George and Robert C. White, Jr.

The payments will be distributed to essential workers through grants awarded to private employers in the District. The payment would come in two forms:

  • $500 for each eligible essential worker who performed at least 100 hours of essential work between March 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, at a rate of $5 per hour worked;
  • $250 for each eligible worker who performed essential work for at least 50 hours after May 1, 2021, at a rate of $5 per hour worked.

DSA Comrades Organizing Worker-Owned Cafe and Bookstore

Metro DC DSA comrade Vijay is co-organizing a worker-owned cafe, bookstore and event space cooperative shaping up in DC (either Ward 1 or Ward 4). They have already finalized six community advisory board members with experience in cafes, bookstores and cooperatives, who also have deep connections with the community. They are planning to launch this place between October and December of this year. You can visit their website to learn more about the project and how to support!


DC Council Votes to Phase Out Eviction Moratorium

Mayor Bowser has made it clear she will not further extend the public health emergency, which could potentially cause an abrupt end to critical safety nets, including the District’s eviction ban. This Tuesday, the Council voted on a phased approach to eliminating the eviction ban, rent freezes and utility shutoffs. Find details on the eviction phase out bill, amendments and additional details (such as utility shut off provisions) from a new piece in DCist. Plus — an article published yesterday in Washington City Paper profiles some of the tenants striking against abusive living situations.


How Unhoused Residents and an ANC Commissioner Fought a Possible Eviction From a DC Park

A positive update on the encampment of unhoused neighbors in Ward 2, whose homes were spared thanks to quick thinking and robust community organizing by ANC 2F08 Commissioner Alexandra Bailey, Remora House, Sunrise DC, Ward 2 Mutual Aid and a wide network of committed District residents.


The final Update for July will be on Friday, July 23 and a full issue of the Washington Socialist will be published on Friday, July 30. Send submissions to thesocialist@mdcdsa.org or chat us up about it on the #publications Slack channel, where we routinely collaborate on speaking and thinking our socialism. If you are engaged in a campaign or digging into how we theorize our praxis, visit our Washington Socialist Topic Hub, where past articles are grouped thematically and you can see how your particular area of interest has played out in our discourse and our street work over the years. And if you somehow overlooked it, here is our July Washington Socialist, already being cited in other pubs around the country (see below, GOOD READS).


Our comrade Abel A touts this WaPo article on the struggles of tenants seeking rental assistance in DC (with a shout-out to DSA and Janeese Lewis George).

David Schwartzman, comrade and contributor, notes the lessons from this Jacobin article. A potential remedy for a green, just DC confronting runaway gentrification and displacement: The Sydney “Green Bans” Show How We Can Transform Our Cities.

Pubs team member Reana K is singing the praises of Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next) by Dean Spade; a great read for new and seasoned organizers alike. 

Bring your calculator. David Sirota in the Daily Poster (and in the Popular Resistance aggregator) meshes the covert role of private equity in financialization of international capital and the tasty meal ticket that pension funds — usually worker funds — provide for those coat-n-tie gangsters. Randy Barber and Jeremy Rifkin, call your office.

“After a half century spent waging war on drugs,” Michael Pollan says in the NYT, “Americans seem ready to sue for peace. … evidence abounds that voters have leapt ahead of politicians in recognizing both the failures of the drug war and the potential of certain illicit drugs as powerful tools for healing. “So How Should We Do Drugs Now?”

Veteran organizer Max Elbaum has published the second in a series about organizing strategies in (appropriately) Organizing Upgrade. For completists, check out the link to the first article.

Our longtime comrade Nelson Lichtenstein sees a sea change in a Biden executive order: “Mr. Biden’s executive order does something even more important than trustbusting. It returns the United States to the great antimonopoly tradition that has animated social and economic reform almost since the nation’s founding.” — in the NYT, “America’s 40-Year Experiment With Big Business Is Over.”

Here’s an on-the-ground account of DSA collaborative political/electoral action in a smallish Mass. suburb that could wind up with a majority-socialist Council. Our comrade Lauren tipped us to this Current Affairs article, which has the additional advantage of referencing a Washington Socialist article from the July issue. 


Saturday, July 17

7 – 8:30pm | NoVA Book Club
Gar Alperovitz’s What Then Must We Do?

Sunday, July 18

6 – 8pm | NoVA Branch Picnic

Monday, July 19

7 – 8:30pm | July Labor Working Group Meeting

Tuesday, July 20
7 – 9pm | Biweekly Steering Committee Meeting

Wednesday, July 21

6:30 – 7:30pm | Publications Team Meeting
7 – 9pm | PG Co. DSA General Body Meeting
8 – 9pm | Why You Should Join DSA / New Member Orientation

Thursday, July 22

7 – 8:30pm | NoVA Branch Monthly Organizing Meeting

Friday, July 23

6pm | MoCo DSA July Happy Hour

Wednesday, July 28

8 – 9pm | Why You Should Join DSA / New Member Orientation

Thursday, July 29

5:30 – 7:30pm | July Chapter Happy Hour

Monday, August 2

7 – 8:30pm | August Labor Speaker Series


A section to amplify smaller notices from allied organizations, community groups and mutual aid formations.

Goods for the Hood | Good Trouble Co-op
The next Goods for the Hood Mutual Aid market will be on July 25 at Big Chair Plaza and Eastover Plaza from 2 to 5pm. Hygiene products, produce, apparel and other goods available for free for anyone who needs them. Volunteer info here. Wish list info to provide resources here

BIPOC Garden Volunteers Needed! | DC Fridge Collective + Plantita Power
The Sasha Bruce Garden is looking for BIPOC volunteers to help them maintain their community garden. Connect with Ms. Joann and her family, who have been tending this plot and using it to feed Clay Terrace residents for over 20 years. Saturdays from 10:30am to 1pm. 

Volunteers Needed for Distro! | Kyanite Pantry
Kya Parker and her team are looking for volunteers to help with food and supply distributions on Tuesdays and Saturdays. DM Kyanite.Pantry on Instagram or on Kyanitekitchen on Twitter to sign up for shifts!

Building the Solidarity Economy | Heal Da Homies
A Heal Da Homies organizer has put together an Instagram guide on the solidarity economy. Explore the guide to learn what the solidarity economy entails, examples of what it looks like and how to develop one in your community.


Sunday, July 18

7pm | How can we make DSA Anti-racist and Multiracial?
A conversation connecting issues faced by people of color during DSA’s origins and today, between the authors of “A People of Color’s History of DSA” (2019), Alyssa de la Rosa and David Roddy of Sacramento DSA, who are also authors of two convention resolutions … more at link

8pm | DSA Venezuela Delegation Report Back
For this special report back, join us for a thoughtful and frank reflection as DSA’s delegates to the Congreso Bicentenario de los Pueblos in Caracas discuss US sanctions, socialist solidarity and the many contradictions and triumphs they experienced during their time in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.more at link


Saturday, July 17

11am | Community Rally: Justice for Peyton Ham
Please join the family of Peyton Ham for a peaceful community rally at the St. Mary’s County Governmental Center (23150 Leonard Hall Dr) in Leonardtown, Maryland, as we seek justice for Peyton.

Monday, July 19

7 – 8:30pm | American Exceptionalism — an assessment
The Maryland Poor People’s Campaign with Maryland Peace Action … with guests from IPS, Sunrise and more. REGISTER

7pm | Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem
Reel and Meal virtually presents Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem, a film by Robert Greenwald. George Floyd was murdered for the misdemeanor crime of using a counterfeit $20 bill. A sad history how misdemeanors became a backdoor form of slavery. Free, but advance registration is required. Sponsored by Utopia Film Festival. Visit Facebook page for more info.

Wednesday, July 28

noon – 1pm | Community Conversation Series: DC Jail Food
Join DC Greens for Part 2 of a series of community conversations about the impact of DC jail food on physical and emotional health, as explored through firsthand accounts. 

Saturday, July 31

5pm | Farm (and Other F Words) Book Talk
Farm (and Other F Words) is a book that explores why we farm the way we do, what’s wrong with the current system and what the f*&! we can do about it. The Share a Seed project is putting on this event with DC-based author Sarah Mock at The Pug in NE DC.

The flame of thought, the magnificence of art, the wonder of discovery, and the audacity of invention all belong to revolutionary periods when humanity, tired of the chains of its restrictions, shatters them, and stops inebriated to breathe the breeze of a vaster and freer horizon.

Virgilia D’Andrea