Mothering Justice Questionnaire

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This is the full questionnaire from Mothering Justice for full context and Jennifer's answers are in purple.

 

What is The Mothering Justice Action Fund?

For mothers across Michigan, balancing paid work and caretaking responsibilities is a major contributor to economic instability. Mothers of color, in particular Black mothers, experience this even more acutely as a result of systemic oppression and inequity in access to resources. Mothering Justice Action Fund is a statewide project dedicated to returning decision-making power to those most impacted, mothers of color. By empowering these mothers to champion policies and endorse candidates that reflect their values, Mothering Justice Action Fund hopes to shape the future of families in Michigan for the better.

 

What does The Mothering Justice Action Fund do?

Accountable to our membership of mothers of color and those who support them around the state of Michigan, our group supports family-friendly advocacy work and a robust digital and grassroots campaign effort. Volunteers, fellows in our leadership development programs, and staff of the Action Fund will phone bank, canvass, and hold events to engage voters on the policies and candidates the Mothering Justice Action Fund endorses.

 

Supporting Mothers of Color

Historically, Black women are the breadwinners of their families at higher rates than their white counterparts, while also balancing child care responsibilities. This is compounded when intergenerational racism and inequality are added to the list of barriers, which mounting research indicates also leads to worse maternal health outcomes. Therefore, the voices of mothers of color need to be centered in policy decisions, and the Mothering Justice Action Fund works to elect candidates who are committed not only to hearing their stories, but also to creating public policy for mothers of color in Michigan to achieve economic stability and equity.

 

Question 1: Are you willing to center disparities experienced along racial lines in your platform, and work non-discrimination language in support of marginalized groups into your policies once in office?

Why / Why not?

 

Yes. One of the key values of the Green Party is social justice, and the issue of non-discriminatory language and policies is also a key part of my personal beliefs and core values. This includes language that must be added to legislation for native tribal sovereignty, people who identify as LGBTQIA, the disabled, and every other marginalized group by race, gender, or other.

 

Question 2: We often hear the frustration of mothers of color who feel overlooked by politicians that value “experts” and “studies” over their lived experience. How do you partner with mothers of color in Michigan who are most directly impacted by the policies you are creating? How do you partner/plan on partnering with colleagues who represent mothers of color who are most directly impacted?

 

Finishing my degree in political science as someone who had already been involved in Michigan politics for nearly 20 years and as an elected official was eye-opening to the problems with how public policy is created. I believe that most “experts” rely on a wrong perspective and a broken science that does not represent all citizens. I believe that those who have lived an experience are the experts of that experience and those who are affected by policies are the true experts of that policy. I have worked with the Mute R. Kelly campaign in Detroit and am committed to supporting local organizations like the Sasha Center, WC Safe, and others such as Mothering Justice to create real policies that help those actually impacted by them.

 

Question 3: White-identifying candidates: To be a good public servant is to do work both personally and interpersonally on the impacts of white supremacy. Are you willing to attend a Mothering Justice anti-racist training following the election and before you assume office? Are you willing to commit to an ongoing journey of becoming an ally?

Why / Why not?

 

Yes. My skin color is white, but I was also born and raised Jewish, and have experienced bigotry personally on that account. When I was 17 years old, I went on the March of the Living, a two-week tour of Poland and Israel visiting the concentration camps and the aftermath of Nazi Germany’s invasion. I am committed to being an ally, and am certainly willing to attend such trainings by your organization.

 

 

Women of Color Leadership

As a leadership-development and advocacy organization, Mothering Justice has trained hundreds of individuals on how they can influence public policy since we launched in 2012. The goal of the organization is to empower mothers of color to become community leaders and to eventually run for office, bringing their much-needed perspective to local governments, Lansing, and Washington D.C.

 

Question 1: Do you hire and empower women of color on your campaign staff and plan to hire and empower them to your staff once elected? Will you commit to helping them run for office in the future?

Why / Why not?

 

I do not currently have any paid campaign staff, but certainly believe in intersectional feminism in hiring practices. I have been committed to recruiting candidates for the Green Party who come from marginalized communities. As leader of the Wayne County Green Party, we had 5 candidates running in Detroit’s local election last year, all of whom were African-American and 4/5 were women. My running-mate Charin Davenport is a trans-woman, and all but one of this years state-wide candidates for the Green Party are women.

 

Question 2: How do you currently/how do you plan to support your colleagues who are women of color? Will you push your caucus to support them, particularly on issues that directly impact their constituents of color? 

Will you push the party to support their races even if they are in “safe seats”?

Why / Why not?

 

As President of the Redford Union School Board, I stood up with my entire board of all women, and our Superintendent who is a woman of color against my “progressive Democrat” State Senator who attempted a hostile annexation of our district in 2015. After numerous articles written by him and the other school district’s Superintendent continued to have undertones of systemic racism and sexism, I wrote a letter to them and their bosses explaining why the language and tactics they were pursuing were as such. While I never received any responses, the language and tone in the media did change going forward. I take being a witness to the Holocaust very seriously and will always stand up against injustice, even when it’s not a popular. The Green Party and myself believe in reparations, social justice, and that policies created in government must include our knowledge of the history of the United States, and I will always push the party to support our candidates of color everywhere.

 

 

Affordable Child Care

In our conversations with mothers around Michigan, a single theme comes up again and again. When asked about the most important issue impacting a family’s financial security, mothers talk about the cost of child care. According to one analysis of US Census Data, Michigan has the 12th highest cost of infant care in the entire country.* The lack of high quality, subsidized child care and preschool keeps Michigan mothers out of the workforce, and puts their children at a disadvantage when entering public school. Child care providers work for low wages without the benefits they need to care for themselves and their families as well. Mothering Justice forms coalitions between mothers, child care providers, and center owners to make sure everyone has the support they need to access and provide high-quality, affordable child care options for families in Michigan.

*Source: Michigan League for Public Policy

 

Question 1: If elected, will you ☐ SUPPORT or ☐ OPPOSE efforts to subsidize child care to provide high quality, affordable options for parents that provide center owners with just wages and benefits as described above?

Why / Why not?

 

I highly support these efforts described above. I have a former colleague who stopped working after the birth of her second child because it was more cost effective for her family to not work and be the childcare provider instead of work and pay for childcare. This is an issue that not all families have the ability to make such sacrifices, and not all families have extended family to help with childcare. I personally do not yet have children partially because I’ve never been able to afford to have them yet.

 

Question 2: By SUPPORT I mean that I will: ☐ Champion legislation ☐ Co-sponsor legislation ☐ Vote to support the legislation ☐ Advocate among other legislators for the passage of the legislation (check those that apply)

Why / Why not?

 

I will champion and advocate for such legislation as a necessary public service for all, and also for the economic health of our state and citizens. Our priorities should be first about what is best for the people, and last about corporate profiteering. It would be an honor and privilege to sign such a bill into law.

 

 

Earned Paid Sick Time

Mothering Justice is proud to be the leading organization behind bringing Earned Paid Sick Time to the state of Michigan. For nearly 2 million Michigan workers, losing a job or day’s pay is as easy as catching a cold. We hear from mothers of color in all professions, particularly food and child care industries, how much this impacts their families and their ability to pay their bills, maintain employment, and advance in their careers. Paid sick time isn’t only good for workers and families; it’s good for the economy, and it boosts employment and income stability. Our champions in Lansing introduced an Earned Paid Sick time bill package twice in recent years, and both times, the legislature failed to act. Polling at over 80% approval in the state of Michigan, we formed the MI Time to Care ballot initiative and our signatures were recently approved for the November ballot by the Board of Canvassers.

 

We’re very proud of this initiative, as it provides workers with the right to earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to nine days per year depending on the size of the business. It also allows earned time to be used by domestic violence and sexual assault survivors and by parents to attend school meetings about their child’s disability or health. In addition to specifying how the time adds up and can be used, the Earned Sick Time Act prohibits employers from punishing their employees for requesting, exercising, or enforcing these rights.

 

Question 1: Do you support the MI Time to Care proposal as described above?

Why / Why not?

 

Our state legislature under both colors of red and blue has failed our citizens for my entire lifetime. I believe paid sick time is a public health issue, and coupled with water shutoffs, the lack thereof is partially responsible for the Hepatitis A outbreak in Metro Detroit. I do support this initiative, but do not believe it goes far enough. Sick time should not be “earned”, it is a right and a public health issue. I believe additional protections must be built in for pregnancy, mental illness, addiction, etc., and allow for either rollover time or payouts for unused time.

 

Question 2: If elected and the voters of Michigan pass Earned Paid Sick Time, will you fight to protect the law in the legislature?

Why / Why not?

 

I will always fight to protect the rights of the people of Michigan. I have been an activist since I was 19, and will use both my pulpit and all my skills to fight for the rights of us all.

 

Question 3: If elected and the voters of Michigan do not pass Earned Paid Sick Time, will you ☐ SUPPORT or ☐ OPPOSE efforts to give all Michigan workers access to Earned Paid Sick Time as described above?

Why / Why not?

 

If for some reason this initiative does not pass, and even in the case that it does, I will work to expand this parameters.

 

Question 4: By SUPPORT I mean that I will: ☐ Champion legislation ☐ Co-sponsor legislation ☐ Vote to support the legislation ☐ Advocate among other legislators for the passage of the legislation (check those that apply)

Why / Why not?

 

Yes, I will champion and advocate for paid sick time for all. It would be my honor and privilege to sign such a bill into law.

 

 

Family and Medical Leave

Family Medical Leave Insurance (FML) is paid leave that can be used by an employee if they are welcoming a new child, recovering from personal illness, caring for a family member, or caring for a qualifying wounded service member. In Michigan, workers are only eligible for FML if their employers have more than 50 employees and if they have worked more than 1,250 hours in the past year for that employer. These restrictions leave out many Michigan workers, especially new mothers who need time to recover and bond with their new babies without having to quit their jobs or risk losing their jobs to have the time they need. In addition to clear benefits for new parents, FML would also benefit Michigan workers who look after other relatives. When the elderly or chronically ill have caregivers able to look after them, they are able to be independent, recover more quickly, and stay out of nursing homes. FML also helps employers, reducing turnover in workplaces, saving businesses recruiting and training costs by allowing workers to take a short break to take care of a family emergency and then return to productivity. Mothering Justice supports FML access for all workers.

 

Question 1: If elected, will you ☐ SUPPORT or ☐ OPPOSE efforts to provide Michigan families with Family and Medical Leave Insurance as described above?

Why / Why not?

 

I will absolutely support such legislation. I have had an employee who was pregnant upon hiring who was forced to take unpaid maternity leave because of this loophole in the law. This was when I was working in banking, and the company I worked for would certainly not have been harmed financially by covering her maternity leave.

 

Question 2: By SUPPORT I mean that I will: ☐ Champion legislation ☐ Co-sponsor legislation ☐ Vote to support the legislation ☐ Advocate among other legislators for the passage of the legislation (check those that apply)

Why / Why not?

 

I will champion and advocate for such legislation, and it would be my honor and privilege to sign such a bill into law.

 

 

Raising the Minimum Wage

When you work hard in Michigan you should be able to pay the bills, care for your children and family members, and share in the benefits of economic growth. The minimum wage was intended to do just that: make sure that hard-working Americans could earn enough to support themselves and their families. In 2014, Mothering Justice helped lead the coalition that fought to raise the minimum wage in Michigan. Volunteers from all over the state carried petitions to put an increase on the ballot. Out of fear that voters would pass the measure, legislators approved a smaller raise. Michigan’s minimum wage increased to $9.25 in 2016 and increases every year after. But this is not enough. The 2014 bill left behind a key group of Michigan minimum wage workers - tipped workers. We won’t rest until all Michigan workers have a living wage.

 

Question 1: If elected, will you ☐ SUPPORT or ☐ OPPOSE efforts to raise the minimum wage as described above?

Why / Why not?

 

I believe we need a $15 minimum wage now, and that wage going forward must be tied to different indicators such as inflation, housing costs, food costs, insurance costs, and others. I believe that we must recognize the racist origins of the tipping industry, and that we need to end the practice, moving to the same minimum wage for all.

 

Question 2: By SUPPORT I mean that I will: ☐ Champion legislation ☐ Co-sponsor legislation ☐ Vote to support the legislation ☐ Advocate among other legislators for the passage of the legislation (check those that apply)

Why / Why not?

 

I will absolutely champion and advocate for such legislation, and it would be my honor and privilege to sign such a bill into law.

 

 

Saving the Safety Net

Safety Net programs include cash and in-kind transfers targeted to low-income and vulnerable households, with the goal of protecting families from the impact of economic shocks, natural disasters, and other crises. Two programs within the Safety Net under dire attack are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicare/Medicaid.

 

Medicaid provides health coverage to 37 million children, along with the nearly 9 million kids covered under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which means that mothers are less worried about how their children will receive medical coverage that they can afford. Medicaid covers a full range of medical services for children, including essential screening services that catch health problems early and in-school services that help children excel in school. Medicaid pays for nearly half of all U.S. births, which impacts mothers tremendously. Expansions of Medicaid coverage for low-income pregnant women during the 1980s and early 1990s led to an 8.5 percent reduction in infant mortality and a 7.8 percent reduction in the incidence of low birth weight. Mothering Justice and our partners work not only on preventing cuts for these programs, but also preventing harsh forms of eligibility, for instance, work requirements and/or arduous monthly reporting.

 

Question 1: If elected, will you ☐ SUPPORT or ☐ OPPOSE efforts to protect Medicaid as described above?

Why / Why not?

 

I unequivocally support protections of Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, and other protections for low-income families. I support universal health care as one of the ways we can expand these opportunities to families as well.

 

Question 2: By SUPPORT I mean that I will: ☐ Champion legislation ☐ Co-sponsor legislation ☐ Vote to support the legislation ☐ Advocate among other legislators for the passage of the legislation (check those that apply)

Why / Why not?

 

I will absolutely champion and advocate for such legislation, and it would be my honor and privilege to sign such a bill into law.

 

 

SNAP is the country’s most effective anti-hunger program, helping 1 in 8 Americans afford a basic diet, with most SNAP participants being children, seniors, or people with disabilities. Despite providing modest benefits (averaging about $1.40 per person per meal) the program combats food insecurity, alleviates poverty, and has long-term positive impacts on health as well as on children’s educational attainment. Similarly to Medicaid, Mothering Justice and our partners fight to prevent cuts and restrictions to SNAP.

 

Question 1: If elected, will you ☐ OPPOSE or ☐ SUPPORT efforts to cut funding and add restrictions to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as described above?

Why / Why not?

 

I strongly oppose any cuts in funding to the SNAP program. We were recently able to expand the free lunch program at Redford Union to cover all children in all grades in order to remove the stigma of being on such a program and have seen a large increase in school lunch purchases across the board as a result. I know many people who have been positively impacted by the SNAP program, and believe it needs to be expanded as well.

 

Question 2: By OPPOSE I mean that I will: ☐ Champion legislation that expands SNAP ☐ Co-sponsor legislation that expands SNAP ☐ Vote to oppose the legislation that cuts and restricts SNAP ☐ Advocate among other legislators to oppose the legislation that cuts and restricts SNAP (check those that apply)

Why / Why not?

 

I will absolutely champion and advocate against such cuts, and will further advocate and champion expansion of such programs.

 

 

Women’s Health

Women’s Health has been a low priority for a long time, and is an important part of the conversation when we discuss a family’s economic stability. Mothering Justice seeks to address two issues that deserve urgent attention and are often left out of the conversation: infant & maternal mortality and maternal incarceration. The death of a woman during pregnancy, at delivery, or within a year after the end of her pregnancy is a tragedy for her family and for society. Approximately 80 women die each year in Michigan due to pregnancy and Black women in Michigan die at a rate more than 4.5 times higher than Non- Hispanic White women (8.7 deaths compared to 39.6 deaths per 100,000 live births) and this rate is higher than the national average. Moreover, Black infants are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants, a disparity greater than existed in 1850, 15 years before slavery ended, when most Black women were considered chattel. In one year, that racial gap adds up to more than 4,000 lost black babies. Education and income offer little protection. In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education. This tragedy of black infant mortality is intimately intertwined with the crisis of death and near death in Black mothers themselves. Black mothers consistently describe medical care providers equating being an African-American woman with being “poor, uneducated, noncompliant and unworthy,” experiencing disproportionate rates of complications, and higher rates of C-sections. Black women also experience postpartum depression at twice the rate of white woman, making them more likely to seek care. Lack of paid maternity leave and childcare can create additional hurdles to visiting the doctor.

 

Question 1: If elected, will you ☐ SUPPORT or ☐ OPPOSE efforts to reduce the infant and maternal mortality rates by offering more holistic health care options to communities of color as described above?

Why / Why not?

 

I wholeheartedly support efforts to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates. This is a topic I have done extensive research on already, as it was a topic for one of my shows (I am currently on hiatus due to my campaign, but have run a political talk radio show called The Offensive Feminist with Jenny K on local internet station Cave Radio Broadcasting and did 100 episodes before breaking this past January). While we need to move to a single payer system, this issue specifically needs additional supports in such a system. Starting with required cultural proficiency-type trainings for health care professionals, more access to preventative care especially for pregnant women, and more research into pregnancy-related health issues.

 

Question 2: By SUPPORT I mean that I will: ☐ Champion legislation ☐ Co-sponsor legislation ☐ Vote to support the legislation ☐ Advocate among other legislators for the passage of the legislation (check those that apply)

Why / Why not?

 

I will absolutely champion and advocate for such legislation, and it would be my honor and privilege to sign such a bill into law.

 

 

The treatment of incarcerated women’s reproduction is an indicator of how society values the human rights of its most vulnerable members. Despite the fact that children are born in prison, there is currently no national policy in the United States that says what should happen to these infants and their mothers. Despite the continued increase in the number of incarcerated women, little is known about how many are pregnant, have abortions, miscarriages or give birth while in custody. It is critical to have accurate, current vital statistics for these marginalized people, as their reproductive health has far-reaching consequences for women, their families, and society. Legislatively in the state of Michigan and departmentally within the Michigan Department of Corrections, there are no laws or policies that resolve issues around breastfeeding (the healthiest approach to nourishment), shackling during labor, and post-delivery mother/child bonding, for instance.

 

Question 1: If elected, will you ☐ SUPPORT or ☐ OPPOSE efforts to collect data on pregnancy in prison and protect the rights of incarcerated mothers as described above?

Why / Why not?

 

I am personally extremely disturbed by the treatment of incarcerated people in general, in labor practices, rape, treatment by guards, trans prisoners, and also pregnant women. Our entire system of what we consider justice must be overhauled, including changing the idea of jail to be around correcting behavior instead of punishment, ending solitary confinement, and preventing recidivism. I fully support any legislation that would protect incarcerated women’s right to breastfeed, be with their child, and to not be shackled during labor or any other medically necessary procedure.

 

Question 2: By SUPPORT I mean that I will: ☐ Champion legislation ☐ Co-sponsor legislation ☐ Vote to support the legislation ☐ Advocate among other legislators for the passage of the legislation (check those that apply)

Why / Why not?

 

I will absolutely champion and advocate for such legislation, and it would be my honor and privilege to sign such a bill into law.

 

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