One of the things Take Root organizers are invested in is questioning the narrative that people from small towns and conservative districts have to leave home to pursue activist work. “I think that comes from a certain amount of privilege – that you have the ability to leave, that you have the resources, or that you even have the desire to leave,” said Sandra Criswell, an organizer with Take Root and Oklahomans 4 Reproductive Justice (OK4RJ).
These conversations offer a challenge to mainstream media outlets, which often fall back on easy tropes, naming red states exclusively in the context of disasters and failures. For some, it’s also a way of pushing back against stereotypes about red states and saying you love where you’re from.
In Oklahoma, freakin’ Scott Pruitt just can’t stop wasting people’s time and let poor and/or uninsured folks get some semblance of health care already. Rep Jackie Speier summed it up nicely when she said Pruitt’s success would mark “a terrible loss for the lower-income people of Oklahoma who pay the attorney general’s salary and whose taxes are even underwriting the very lawsuit that would deny them benefits.”
2012 was a banner year for Oklahoma, and by that I mean marked by an increase of crime reports. That includes a 15% rise in rape reports, totalling out at 1,676, the highest in over a decade. Aggravated assaults were also on an upswing. Some folks want to think that this is a sign that more people are reporting their assaults, but, there’s no way to actually tell that at the moment. Additionally, that’s not a positive when the system clearly gives no shits about the survivors that do report. So. Oooooooo-k. You can get back to me on that one.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, reports of intimate partner sharply increase in the wake of natural disasters. Women who suffer abuse in addition to surviving disasters also report higher incidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and post-disaster major depression. The link here between natural disasters and violence and mental health means that reuniting with family might be the opposite goal for people trying to flee an abusive home or relationship.
Undocumented families also suffer unique impacts after natural disasters. For folks who might not be homeowners but renters (which include many folks without economic resources), tornado shelter and insurance might be unavailable, inaccessible, or prohibitively expensive, leaving many without preventive measures before a natural disaster strikes. Undocumented families are also unable to access federal aid through FEMA and thus are left with very few institutional options to rebuild their lives after losing everything. Undocumented folks might also fear deportation and legal action when interacting with government officials, and as a result be wary of pursuing state assistance.