The Washington Socialist <> April 2017
By Sam Knight
SOCIALIST FEMINIST COMMITTEE
Inequality is so severe in the nation's capital that infant mortality in the black community is almost twice the national average.
The problem hits hardest in the eastern half of the city--in Wards 5, 6, 7, and 8--where more than 10 out of 1,000 babies don't see their first birthday. A dearth of prenatal care is what has been fueling the trend, according to the DC government's own analysis.
The Socialist Feminist Committee is working to help bridge this gap. Currently, the panel is exploring ongoing efforts in improving infant health outcomes, looking at existing opportunities to collaborate with local organizations.
One potential initiative being considering by the committee is a “baby box” program, like the one recently established in New Jersey. Aimed at providing all new mothers with a small bassinet designed for safe sleeping, baby boxes also contain supplies to help raise newborns.
The program is modeled after a Finnish government initiative that was first launched in the 1930s. Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world—slightly more than half the rate of infant mortality in the United States.
Any push for a baby box program would be alongside wider organizational efforts by the committee for improved reproductive health access, according to members of the panel. They said this includes working simultaneously on advocating for family planning and “physically safe, economically secure environments for child-rearing.”
“To that end, we focus on health care access, wage equity, paid family leave, affordable childcare and education,” the committee said.
[The Socialist Feminist Committee oversaw the Socialist Salon for March; see related article this issue with a link to streamed video.]
The fifty-thousand Washingtonians who work in the restaurant industry could soon be fretting less about making ends meet, if voters approve of a referendum next year.
The Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) is gathering signatures for a ballot initiative on ending the tipped minimum wage system by 2026. If the question is approved, service industry workers would join their non-tipped counterparts, who are set in 2020 to make an inflation-indexed $15 per hour.
Legislation raising the minimum wage for non-tipped workers was passed unanimously last year by the Washington DC City Council. The restaurant industry was exempted from the bill.
The Economic Justice Committee is supporting ROC's efforts in gathering signatures for the ballot question. Members of the panel say they got “a great number” at a rally on March 18.
Any referendum requires the signatures of 10 percent of registered voters before making it to the ballot, in DC.
The demonstration where EJC members collected signatures was staged to pressure Mayor Muriel Bowser into including more money for affordable housing in her budget proposals. Committee members are also doing work in part, to that end, by supporting the residents of Brookland Manor.
The Ward 5 low-income housing residents are facing the possible demolition of their homes for a development that would reduce the number of subsidized units to 300 from 500.
The committee has set a meeting for April 4
The City Council and the mayor's office have joined the ranks of bodies facing divestment movements aimed at hindering the Dakota Access Pipeline.
A newly-formed organization called the DC Responsible Investment Coalition is appealing to public financial planners to take money out of Wells Fargo due to the bank's support of Dakota Access.
The Environmental Justice Committee is getting DSA involved in the effort. It's part of an emerging longer-term move by the committee to lobby the city to change how it handles its investments.
“This fight is just one piece of a national campaign in which communities all over the country are demanding their city councils invest responsibly,” the committee said.
Priorities for the campaign include elevating “the lending and community development vision of local, low-income, people of color and indigenous communities.”
“This is an opportunity for us to not just march in the streets and protest, but also to engage directly and locally for the empowerment of our communities, while addressing head-on the power structures that perpetuate oppression, economic inequality and systemic violence,” the committee added.
In the short-term, the focus will be on the Wells disinvestment push.
“We want DC to divest from Wells Fargo to send a clear message that investing in dirty pipelines like the Dakota Access Pipeline is unethical, unpopular, and uneconomical,” the committee said.
The committee recently met to discuss (among other things) the pros and cons of a national carbon tax effort and outlined plans for DCDSA’s participation in the April 29 Citizens Climate March; see related articles in this issue.
RACIAL JUSTICE AND ANTI-BIGOTRY COMMITTEE
The Racial Justice and Anti-Bigotry Committee meets April 1 at the IPS offices of DSA.
The committee is currently finalizing preparations for a Town Hall on April 8, “Connecting Race and the Socialist Resistance.”
The panel aims to highlight how targeted attacks on vulnerable communities and capitalism are linked. It also hopes to orient new members to local campaigns led by organizations directly impacted by these attacks.
Plans include speakers, workshops, and plenty of discussion to help build an explicitly anti-racist socialist movement. The event is being held from noon until 5 pm, at the headquarters of the Communication Workers of America (501 3rd St. NW).
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ALL OUR WORKING GROUPS AND COMMITTEES HERE.
About The Washington Socialist
.The Washington Socialist is Metro DC DSA's monthly e-newsletter. Focusing on our local's events, socialist analyses of current events and book reviews, among other topics, The Washington Socialist is a great way to stay on top of the progressive goings-on in DC, Maryland and northern Virginia. We also encourage our readers to submit their own articles! Contact Editor Woody Woodruff for more info at email@example.com.
Get the Washington Socialist delivered directly to your inbox every month!
Past issues of The Washington Socialist from 2012-June 2016 are available for viewing on our archive page.