Good morning bread friends!
There are a lot of new subscribers in the past two weeks. Welcome aboard & thank you for joining this community! I started this newsletter as a community for people who care about real bread & real justice. I write here about both, and this newsletter is the hub of the philanthropic bakery that I run out of my home. Sometimes I write about current events, and sometimes I reflect on bread. If you appreciate what we’re about here, I encourage you to forward this email to a friend who you know would also care.
Speaking of caring… as many of you know, each month we select a new nonprofit to support. Last month 100% of the profits of the sale of bread were donated to a local organization, Maydm, that fighting to reduce underrepresentation in STEM jobs by providing girls and youth of color in grades 6-12 with skill-based training for the technology sector. We donated $804 last month, which was our largest monthly contribution yet. Thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Ryan family (Britt and Adam) and the Foxwells (Gracie & Andrew) for each matching that contribution. In the end, the Bread & Justice community supported Madym, Inc. with contributions totaling $2,492 for the month of March!
Wow. I really love being a part of this sort of radical generosity.
The state of American Democracy
Many of you already know that for the month of April we are working together to raise funds for the NAACP. As the pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation, there are a lot of reasons to celebrate and support the work of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. What moved us to support the NAACP at this moment is their leadership in bringing lawsuits against Georgia for its intent to disenfranchise its ethnic minority voters with this new voting restrictions law.
In researching this topic recently, I saw that much ink has been spilled already regarding this law and the effects that it will have on making it harder to vote in general, as well as specifically in highly populated and Democratic-leaning parts of the state. Many good articles have been written, but if you’re going to read one, I’d encourage you to read Jamelle Bouie’s op-ed titled, If It’s Not Jim Crow, What Is It?
While someone could squint and stretch to argue that Georgia’s voting law could be interpreted as race-neutral, I don’t believe one can argue credibly that the law was designed without partisan objectives in mind. The Brennan Center (a nonpartisan law and policy institute, who’s stated goal is to uphold the values of democracy) points out that lawmakers across the country have introduced over 300 bills with restrictive voting provisions in 47 states as of March. (source)
True to their nonpartisan commitment, what they don’t point out is that these efforts are consistently led by Republicans. This Washington Post article digs into the partisan objectives and has some nice visualizations to help make sense of the implications of limiting absentee voting, limiting mail voting, limiting early voting, reducing ballot drop sites, restricting Election Day voting, and increasing Voter ID requirements.
I’m still a relatively young man, but when I see bills like this move forward I think about how these attacks on voting come in waves. I was on the Madison City Council when a previous wave of restrictive Voter ID laws in Wisconsin was being fought in federal appeals court.
I recall in April of 2016 when a local coffee shop owner (and former Chief of Staff to a Wisconsin Republican state senator) got a bunch of local and national attention for airing out the dirty laundry from a closed-door meeting when these Voter ID bills were being crafted by Republican lawmakers. Coincidentally, on the same day that he described Republican lawmakers as “giddy” while crafting these new voter restriction laws, a Republican Congressman from Wisconsin was on TV describing his dislike for Hillary Clinton and his belief that Voter ID laws would help ensure she loses Wisconsin.
I don’t think it is radical, but my view is simply that in a healthy democracy we should always avoid viewing voter enfranchisement through partisan objectives. We’ve long held out this American ideal of democracy. I think a humble and historic lens makes clear that America hasn’t actually been a true democracy for most of the history of our country. Because the vast majority of humans here were legally barred from voting until relatively recently. Nevertheless, the ideal is worth pursuing. Attempts to make it harder to vote are attempts to march our country back to a time when fewer people were enfranchised in this nation.
Supporting the NAACP at this moment is my latest way to be in the trenches to bolster democracy. In 2016, I was doing my work in the City Council chambers. I authored and passed a city resolution that called out these attempts to restrict voting access, identified the hundreds of times Madisonians had been disenfranchised because of existing proof of residency requirements and called on city staff to establish a practice whereby each time a resident visits a city office and presents government documents that are acceptable forms of proof of residence, city staff would present the resident with the opportunity to register to vote.
If Wisconsin state law would have allowed me to, I would have passed automatic voter registration for all City of Madison residents. It seems quite straightforward to me that the optimal scenario for our democracy is maximizing the number of people who are eligible to vote and minimizing the friction from them being able to lawfully vote.
One more thing: Bread Club
Finally, thanks to all of you who are buying bread from Bread & Justice. If you’d like to pre-order bread to pickup on this Thursday, you can go ahead and do that now at the Bread & Justice online store.
If you know that you’d like to get bread each week, you might be interested in getting on the waitlist for Bread Club. Bread Club is a monthly subscription to guarantee yourself sourdough every Tuesday of every month. We will have a few spots opening up in May, and if you’d like to be on the waitlist to join when a spot opens up, please just reply to this email and let me know!
Bread & Justice
P.S. Sorry that today’s email came a little later than usual. If it helps… here is a picture of some of the bread out of the oven already this morning :)