WELCOME to the December edition of NOW New Jersey’s monthly FEMINIST FRIDAY Newsletter! 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year and we are hopeful that in 2021 we can restore normalcy to our country and our lives. In the spirit of the season, watch as Randy Rainbow out does himself with a truly entertaining holiday-themed rendition of Giuliani’s legacy.

The results of the National NOW Board election were announced by the NOW Elections Committee last week. Congratulations to Anjali Mehrotra, President of NOW New Jersey on her election to the National Board of Directors. Also representing the Northern District are Dr. Kimberly Adams (Pennsylvania) and Sasha Goodfriend (Massachusetts).

The Electoral College has spoken. Despite much drama and attempts by Trump and his allies, on Monday December 14, President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris earned 306 electoral college votes to seal the deal. Among those gathered at the New Jersey Statehouse was our own Saily Avelenda casting a vote that will put the finishing touches on Trump’s presidency. “The idea that I would have anything to do with even a symbolic delivering of an electoral vote for Joe Biden to defeat Donald Trump is huge,” Avelenda said. “It’s a bookend. But I don’t want to say it’s closure. I’m not closing anything. I’ll just keep moving.”

Even as we celebrate the Electoral College victory, our friends in Georgia can still use a little help. The two Senate runoff elections will determine control of the US Senate. Leading up to the January 5 election, the Montclair Democrats are phone banking for Jon Ossof’s campaign nightly. Please donate a couple of hours and join them so we can send Joe Biden to Washington with a Democratic controlled Senate who has his back!  Click the button below to view the schedule and sign up.

Georgia Senate Phone Bank


NJCAN AND SO THEY DID — On November 3, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly passed Question 1 on their ballots to legalize adult-use cannabis. It was then up to the Legislature to establish the detailed rules and the cannabis legislation moved fast. On Thursday, December 17, the various pieces of legislation passed the Senate and Assembly and are headed to the Governor’s desk. The Garden State will soon join 14 other states in allowing recreational use and sales.

New Jersey advocates led by the ACLU-NJ fought hard to ensure that the bill was equitable and would serve to repair the harm done by decades of prohibition on communities of color. NOW New Jersey was proud to join them in the effort. The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance And Marketplace Modernization Act (S21/A21) was written to create a free and equitable cannabis market, while removing the plant from the statewide list of Schedule I drugs. In addition, a separate decriminalization bill will end criminal penalties for possession of up to six ounces of marijuana (S2535/A1897). To learn how it all went down click here.

WE CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH — A package of bills moving through the NJ Legislature seeks to empower victims of sexual assault and provide them key information that they need in order to pursue their rights. Victims would get copies of police reports, notification when prosecutors are filing charges against their assailants and a chance at an alternative form of “restorative justice” should they decide not to report the crime to authorities.

The package reflects the findings of the Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics formed by Senate Majority Leader Weinberg to consider solutions to the “toxic culture” for women in New Jersey government and politics and recommendations made by none other than our very own Katie Brennan. “This important reform was inspired by Katie Brennan’s story of sexual assault and the frustrating manner in which she learned that criminal charges would not be brought in her case,” Senator Corrado said in a statement after the vote. “Her brave testimony highlighted the need for county prosecutors to be more transparent with and accessible to the survivors of sexual assault, which is exactly what this bill will require.”


NOW New Jersey 2021 Dates — Mark your calendars! Our quarterly State Board meetings will take place on Saturdays, from 10am to 3pm. Meeting Dates are February 6, May 8, August 7, and November 13.  As of now, meetings will be held virtually through August and we will reevaluate later in 2021 if it is safe to shift back to in-person meetings for November. For up-to-date meeting dates and links, check out the calendar on our website, www.nownj.org.

NOW-NJ POWER LIST — Do you know of a New Jersey feminist making big moves? NOW New Jersey will commemorate Women’s History Month in March by publishing a New Jersey Women/Feminist Power list! Nominations are now open – fill out our form here to nominate a feminist (or feminists!) that you believe deserve recognition. Though the list will primarily comprise of women, do not hesitate to nominate men that are working hard to further a feminist agenda. We are looking for individuals that have made statewide (or even national!) impact or have had a tremendous impact in their local community. We will also be offering the opportunity to sponsor a page in the book in support of your favorite changemaker. More info to come soon!

CALLING IN THE CALLING OUT CULTURE — Former NOW activist and Smith College professor, Loretta Ross, known for her work on reproductive justice and recently featured in the NY Times, is now offering her college courses to the public. This is a great opportunity to educate yourself on the history of White Supremacy and how to engage in dialogue with those who may not share your values. The classes are affordably priced on a sliding scale of $20-$200 for a semester’s worth of material. Sign up for the classes below and share within your circles!

Calling In the Calling Out Culture
Tuesdays from 7pm – 9pm
January 19 & 26, Feb 2 & 9
Sign up here

White Supremacy in the Age of Trump
Wednesdays from 7pm – 9pm
Feb 17 & 24, Mar 3 & 10
Sign up here


If we can make it here — A bill initially written to reduce racial incarceration disparities by eliminating mandatory minimum sentences mostly for nonviolent drug and property crimes, was quietly amended at the behest of State Sen. Nicholas Sacco (D-Hudson) to also remove mandatory minimum sentences for official misconduct. More than 41 progressive groups including NOW New Jersey sent a letter urging New Jersey’s legislative leadership to advance the stalled bill without the amendment. This blatant attempt at state sponsored corruption and the progressive advocates’ call to remove the provision has now caught the attention of the New York Times.

‘Tis the season for Lists — Every year following the November elections leading up to the League of Municipalities convention, New Jersey’s political rags assemble a litany of power lists and this year was no different. Of note are Insider NJ’s Senator Weinberg’s 2020 Women Power List and David Wildstein’s New Jersey Globe Power List. The NJ Globe List paints a dismal but likely accurate picture of the concentration of power in white males as only 17 women and 11 persons of color make the cut. We need to do better, New Jersey. On a positive note, congratulations to Katie Brennan for making the Weinberg list and Saily Avelenda who makes BOTH lists! We are so honored to have these powerhouse women on our board.


The Wall Street Journal column about Jill Biden is worse than you thought — Washington Post

A Record-Breaking Number Of Women Will Be In Biden’s Cabinet — FiveThirtyEight

20 Events That Shaped Sexual Violence Prevention in the Last 20 Years — Ms. Magazine

Paris city hall fined for putting too many women in senior roles — The Guardian

2020 New Jersey County Report Card from the Center for American Women and Politics: Slow Progress on the Path to Parity —  Center for American Women and Politics Rutgers University–New Brunswick


As the nation marched to seek justice for the assaults on Black men and women this past summer, we also turned to Ibram X. Kendi for his historical insight and deep understanding of the ongoing fight for social justice and civil rights in this country. Named on Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, Kendi has emerged as one of the most important scholars of his generation.

Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America – more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.

PRO TIP For a faster read, check out the remixed version, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. How to Be an Antiracist promises to become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.


Katie Brennan, Treasurer

What made you join NOW? I joined NOW to deepen my commitment to fighting for intersectional feminist issues. Over the years I’ve been involved in various women’s rights initiatives (setting up the women’s center in college, trained advocate in Chicago) and after my experience coming forward with my own story of sexual assault in NJ, I wanted to reconnect to this work. NOW takes a holistic approach to women’s rights – gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, and so on.

What feminist issue would you like to see addressed that is not getting enough attention? Dependent care! Especially during COVID-19, I’ve watched childcare, at-home schooling, and caring for elderly parents take a toll on my friends and colleagues, particularly women.

What’s your new quarantine hobby? I have two. 1) We bought a fixer-upper that we’ve been renovating, doing as much work ourselves as we can, during quarantine. 2) Our quarantine kittens – Jacques and Simone (named after famous feminist Simone De Beauvoir of course!).

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New Jersey NOW
Our purpose is to act through intersectional, anti-racist grassroots activism to promote
feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect
the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.

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