All posts by Midnightschildren

Meaningfully Connecting To Communities in Advocacy and Policy Work

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Media Alliance was thrilled to be one two dozen nonprofits interviewed for this funder report on best practices in advocacy. It’s a good read and we recommend checking it out. We agreed to keep closeted our particular quotes, but you can try to guess.

The report was prepared by the Aspen Institute and commissioned by the Fund for Shared Insight, a funders collaborative focusing on elevating the voices of the least heard.

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Culture Watch: In Old Age

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At the Magic Theater, old age is when time and objective reality start to melt. In Old Age, a cycle play from Mfoniso Udofia, in a multi-play series chronicling a Nigerian family in the United States.

When In Old Age begins, matriarch Abasiama gets an unwelcome knock at the door from a handyman hired by her children to fix up her old house, specifically the rotting wood floors. The play takes a few shot at the indignities of old age, including aching knees, difficulty moving furniture, not wanting to get up in the morning or change clothes, and dedication to television programs, but then moves on to the main event of old age as a portal between then and now and between the life of the mind and the life of the world.

As the two grouse and “get to know each other”, primarily on the basis of the workman wanting to get the job done, and the old woman resisting this unasked-for but somewhat welcome invasion, boundaries of all kinds start to slip and shift and merge. Time, space, and inanimate objects all get way too fluid as the two protagonists enter their battle, which is fundamentally a battle to connect.

For the handyman Azell Abernathy, played with charm by Steven Anthony Jones, the battle is unwelcome. What he really seems to want is to do the job and get out with joviality intact, but he cannot, and ends up confessing to a painful past, unable to answer Abasiama’s relentless inquiry whether or not he is a good man.

For Abasiama, whose past lacks a narrative but metaphorically occupies the beaten down house filled with junk and rotting floorboards, the struggle is to redirect from that vivid relationship with that past, illustrated by the groaning and muttering of the house she lives in, towards another person.

In the end, after the sort of violent transition that rips at both of them, they find themselves speaking each other’s truths, at least for a while.

For more on Mfonisia Udofia’s UFOT cycle, click here.

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Trashing The Public Records Act

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*Update: On March 13, Senator Hueso announced he was withdrawing Senate Bill 615.

A bill introduced in the CA State Legislature by Senator Ben Hueso cloaks in reasonable-sounding language a determined effort to trash the Public Records Act.

The passage of Senate Bill 1421 and Assembly Bill 748 in 2018, which placed police misconduct records and law enforcement body camera videos into the public records domain, have greatly expanded the body of documents available via California’s Public Records Act.

But Senate Bill 615 adds two new monumental hurdles to a process that can already be opaque and lengthy.

Continue reading Trashing The Public Records Act
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San Francisco’s Stop Secret Surveillance Act

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The City and County of San Francisco will begin considering a surveillance transparency ordinance in Mid-March, and would become the biggest city in the country to embrace surveillance transparency to date, if they adopt.

But San Francisco’s Stop Secret Surveillance Act will be unique. In addition to mandating board-approval of use policies and impact reports and annual reporting, San Francisco’s proposed legislation would absolutely ban the use of facial recognition software by the City. This would make San Francisco the first city in the United States to prohibit its use by city government.

Continue reading San Francisco’s Stop Secret Surveillance Act
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Urban Shield Ends

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Update: At the March 14 meeting of the DHS Approval Authority in Dublin, the Urban Shield SWAT drill and weapons show was suspended for 2019, after the Alameda County Board of Supervisors endorsed a 60-recommendation package to demilitarize the disaster preparedness exercise.

The Homeland Security funding body indicated a new RFP for a regional emergency exercise would be issued in 2019. The suspension, and practical end, of Urban Shield, follows five years of escalating community complaints about racism, xenophobia, sanctuary violations and the event’s violent scenarios.

Alameda County Board Chair Richard Valle, who attended the DHS meeting, asked Homeland Security to “forgive him for his compassion” and read aloud several of the recommendations for change, saying he had been “driven to vote for them.”

Alameda County Prez Richard Valle at the DHS Approval Authority

Oakland Privacy press release 3-15-2019

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On February 26, after a board meeting that ran for almost seven hours, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to transform the controversial weapon expo and war games drill into a “peacetime mobilization” for natural disasters and community resilience in the face of catastrophe.

Acting to accept 60 of 63 recommendations from their second ad-hoc committee convened to help make the transition, the Supervisors made good on their 2018 pledge to “end Urban Shield as we know it”.

Use this easy one click action to thank them for listening to five long years of appeals from the community.

Continue reading Urban Shield Ends
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43 Organizations Call On Congress To Protect Digital Civil Rights

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43 civil and human rights organizations (including Media Alliance) called on Congress today to protect marginalized communities from digital discrimination.

Harmful practices noted in the letter included deceptive voter suppression, housing and employment discrimination in online advertising, and exploitative notice-and-choice practices.

The letter went on to state that any new privacy legislation needs to incorporate these principles:

  •  Stop high-tech profiling;
  •  Ensure fairness in automated decisions;
  •  Preserve constitutional principles;
  •  Enhance individual control of personal information; and
  •  Protect people from inaccurate data.
Roundtable-Letter-on-CRBig-Data-Privacy

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Groups Call on Congress to Refuse Funding for Border Surveillance “Smart Wall”

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25 civil liberties and immigration organizations, including Media Alliance released an open letter to Congress calling on negotiators not to provide additional funding for border surveillance technologies as part of the “grand compromise” deal around border security. The letter specifies which technologies we are most concerned about, like algorithmic risk-assessment, facial recognition, and biometrics.

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