Tag Archives: race

Race, Social Justice, and White Privilege in the U.S.

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Warning, this is long but you should read it anyway…

Everything is political. We would all be hard pressed to say differently but our personal politics is directly connected to our identities. Our respective identities make us who we are and deeply influence the lens by which we view the world, our race, class, culture, educational attainment, gender, orientation, etc… all are a part of our personal narrative, and create the context of our personal politics.

Recently, issues of race and social justice in the United States have experienced enough tension to once again bubble up from beneath the surface to become part of a broader dialogue within the dominant culture ( read White culture) in a way we have experienced before. And embedded in this conversation, the discomfort and feelings associated with this issue among all races have again surfaced.  While some of us assume that this is in large part a result of Donald Trump’s spewing of racist and fascist statements,  I would argue that the election of our first Black president in 2008 played a major role in this. Further, I believe that the rhetoric of the Tea Party movement and its popularity during 2008 presidential elections served as a catalyst to what we are seeing in the United States today.

Add to this, the increasing number of murders among unarmed Black people between 2008-2015 by the police with a less than 1% conviction rate among those officers results in Black and Brown people feeling that these are government sanction murders. This is not hate rhetoric, these are facts. Let the statistics speaks for themselves. According to Mother Jones, in New York City, between 2000-2011, the average number of people shot or killed by the NYPD overwhelming were categorized as Black or Hispanic wounded or killed at a significantly higher rate than Whites or Asians. In Oakland, California, between 2004-2008, 37 of 45 officer related shootings of citizens were of Black people with no White victims meaning the remaining 8 were of “other” racial classifications. In 2015, 102 unarmed Black people were killed by the police.  I would also assert that the lack of conviction of many of these officers in these cases, has moved some of us (people of color) from a place of fatigue and apathy to a place of anger… anger that has caused some of us to begin to push harder and more publicly on the issue of social justice and systemic racism. I’m not talking about riot anger, but that type of anger that begins in your gut when you look at the world your child has to inherit, when you consider what you experience day to day in the form of overt and covert racism and microaggressions, and thinking about its impact on your children and your children’s children. When your various identities (Black, Latina, female, chunky, Brooklynite, etc.) cause others to be labeled, judged, or otherwise create conditions that are uncomfortable for you to be, well, you.

Miriam Carey, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Yvette Smith, Shelly Frey, Darnisha Harris, Malissa Williams, Alesia Thomas, Shantel Davis, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Shereese Francis, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tarika Wilson, Kathryn Johnston, Alberta Spruill, Kendra James, Rumain Brisbon, Akai Gurley, Kajieme Powell, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, John Crawford, Tyree Woodson, Victor White III, Yvette Smith, McKenzie Conchran, Jordan Baker, Andy Lopez, Miriam Carey, Jonathan Ferrell, Carlos Alcis, Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr., Deoin Fludd, Kimani Gray, Johnie Kamahi Warren, Timothy Russell, Reynaldo Cuevas, Chavis Carter, Sharmel Edwards, Tamon Robinson, Ervin Jefferson, Kendrec McDade, Wendell Allen, Dante Price, Raymond Allen, Sgt. Manuel Loggins, Jr., Ramarley Graham, Kenneth Chamberlain, Alonzo Ashley, Kenneth Harding, Raheim Brown, Reginald Doucet, Derrick Jones, Danroy Henry, Aiyana Jones, Steven Eurgene Washington, Aaron Campbell, Kiwane Carrington, Victor Sheen, Shem Walker, Oscar Grant, DeAunta Terrel Farrow, Sean Bell, Henry Glover, Ronald Madison, James Brisette, Timothy Stansbury, Ousmane Zongo, Orlando Barlow, Timothy Thomas, Prince Jones, Ronald Beasley, Earl Murray, Patrick Dorismond, Malcolm Ferguson, Amadou Diallo, Jesus Huerta… I could go on, however, these are not just names, these are the names of people – Black and Hispanic/Latino human beings who were murdered by police. And this is by no means an indictment of all officers – its a hard job to be a cop and we should acknowledge that they are human beings who feel fear in certain situations. Nor should we assume innocence in the case of every one named because frankly, some (not the majority) of them were in fact criminals. But , one cannot help but question why unarmed Black people are killed by police at a rate that is 5x their White counterparts. Its an interesting question, not a simple one, but worth thinking and talking about. And one we do need to consider in the context of public safety, social justice, and race. And like all things, this issue, though steeped in our collective history, is also very much embedded in our politics. Race is politicize. Consider the 1990’s when Hillary Clinton referenced young Black men as “super predators” who needed to be brought to “heel”. She has since apologized for the statement but its as offensive as her recent stint on an urban radio show about having hot sauce in her bag… its racial politics, its stereotypical, she would not say that to a White southern audience, and its ignorant, But I digress.

Recently, actor and activist Jesse Williams used a national platform to give a powerful speech on Black Entertainment Television on why Black lives matter. He noted that we as Black people live in a system that was not created for us, not established for our well-being, not geared towards our success, not generated to keep us safe, and not made to support us in our own growth as a people. Williams discussed the casual nature that White artist and “celebrities” (yes, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus come to mind) appropriate Black culture in music and other forms of artistic expression. And yet, they do not “give back” by speaking up against injustices that adversely affect our communities and their consumers. He blatantly called out those who benefit without giving back on the carpet. Unfortunately, Justin Timberlake aka Modern Day Elvis, responded in a condescending manner and was effectively shut down by Black Twitter. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have Timberlake’s music, I have enjoyed his performances and videos. But if he wants to talk about this issue, on the real, he has to be very aware as to why he might be more successful than some Black R&B artist with the same style… Simply put, he is White, and has benefited tremendously from White privilege. It is this same privilege that enabled him to think he could come for Jesse… Why is this important? It’s the politics of race. Jesse was speaking to a largely Black audience, he was dropping some important gems and asking people to either wake up or #staywoke . He reminded us that we in fact MAGIC! And we need to hone, honor, and utilize that power. This represents a high level of consciousness. This represents a call to action to be more, do more, and do so with dignity and a level of personal awareness that we are not seeing with regularity in our communities. For more about White privilege from a White woman who could explain it better than I, consider reading Deborah Irving’s Waking Up White. It is an eye opening read when we consider that White people are truly raised differently from us to not see their own privilege and power. What has garnered less attention within the context of this speech is Jesse’s willingness to openly call out his own people. He did if you paid attention. “Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money – that alone isn’t gonna stop this.  Alright, now dedicating our lives, dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.” Side note to Black “artists”:  This was directed at those of you watching and in the room who hold no consciousness, do no work, and make no attempt to elevate their own. He was calling ya’ll out too, so while you sat there clapping, I hope this speech brought you some awareness and a desire to elevate and educate yourselves too. Moving on…

Many of us mistakenly believed that the election of Obama would have resulted in an immediate change in America. We had hope. I had hope, however, as with anything, we can hope, but we also have to do. Obama cannot and will not end nearly 400 years of systemic racism – its just not something one can do in 8 years while running a country, he apologizes. In an era of access to all types of mediums that allow us to really be engaged about our history, about politics, about laws, and policies that impact us deeply, many of us have chosen to bury our heads in our collective and shallow sandboxes and focus on entertainment, sometimes of the worst kind. While many of us can tell you about the lives and struggles of our favorite “reality show characters” on Love and Hip Hop and Housewives  and the like, many of us cannot coherently talk about the contributions of Congressman John Lewis, Muhammad “GOAT” Ali, or Harry Belafonte to the Civil Rights movement; we don’t know our activists. Side note: I am ONLY using these three men as an example because they have all been in the media over the last 2 weeks so I hope some of us at least know who they are. If not, there’s Google.Moving on…

The disassociation from our collective selves to focus on hair, nails, trap music, Brazilian butt implants, and the like are part of the reason we are so marginalized – it has been done intentionally to take us off our collective goals as a people; its really part of the race politics. It’s part of the reason why the police can kill our Black and Brown babies, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, daughters, and sons and not be convicted. We are not a force  because we have given up our power to consumerism, to getting money, to trying to emulate false god/desses, and not focus on our collective growth and achievement. Bearing in mind, some of us are. Some of us are working hard to try to reach across internal gaps, passed the blockades of things that have been established to divide us. And I thank you my tireless warriors who go hard every day to build our folks up. But we need more of us on that path. And our White allies are doing the work, they are working hard to educate themselves on their own Whiteness, I see it every day in big and little ways. They are calling out their White peers on microaggressions, they are being reflective of their privilege and how that contributes to systemic racism… They are doing so without being apologetic of their Whiteness (cause being White isn’t a bad thing, neither is being any other race), they are doing so without succumbing to the B.S. that is White guilt, but rather, they are engaged in this work with an eye towards creating social justice and a better world, because the fact is, we learn from each other when we are in fact conscious of each other. But this is all political because it is in fact revolutionary. And a revolution requires a turning point where we can respect our differences and move towards a similar goal, a shared agenda. But we have to start with ourselves, within our community. We have to be a force for change, we have to revolutionize ourselves first. We have to embody the change we want in this world, and we have to do it consciously, with intent, and strategically. We have to heed Jesse’s call to action which mimics that of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Pedro Albizu Campos, Juan Antonio Corretjer, and so many others… To take the politics of race, social justice, and White privilege and change the conversation. Permanently.

Race and Class in America… My story.

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Earlier this month I turned 40. Forty (for me) has brought about a number of things including a greater desire to engage in discussions that might be deemed controversial.  I find myself harking back to my college days where I liked to challenge people’s perceptions and ideas (mostly respectfully). Those who know me well, know I love to play Devil’s Advocate just to see where people sincerely are coming from. Recently, in celebration of my impeding 40th year, I was having drinks with several colleagues and associates and one of my long time acquaintances made some comment about my lifelong “privilege” (their words, not mine). Apparently, that “privilege” being my skin color (which I suppose is fairly light), light-ish brown eyes, and whatever features or hair type is deemed as “privileged”.  However, the truth is, any Caucasian from Brooklyn to Florida will look at me and know that I am NOT a white woman of European descent nor do I share that particular privilege.

On the flip side, African Americans will look at me and know that I am one of many multiple mixtures that exist among the various people of African descent, especially those who come from cultures and countries that have been colonized over the centuries. Latinos will look at me and…  well, that’s a really mixed bag. I say that only because of the recent acceptance of the term “Afro-Latina”. A term has more recntly come into the mainstream American consciousness thanks to actresses like Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson. 

But here’s my reality. I was born to a very brown first generation born Bajan (Barbados for those who don’t know) woman and a white looking (green eyes and all) Puerto Rican man. That makes me Caribbean American or a BajaRican.  During the 70’s and 80’s most people who saw my parents just assumed I was bi-racial but my father does not (let me repeat, DOES NOT) consider himself white, he considers himself Puerto Rican, pure Boricua, nothing else.  Papi’s (what I still call my father) consistent attitude over the last 75 years of his life has been he knows who and what he is, you don’t need to get it because it doesn’t matter, the ONLY thing you need to know  is that he is Puerto Rican. He only identifies culturally, and yes, as a Puerto Rican if you didn’t get it the first couple of times, he doesn’t do the race thing and won’t be baited to playing that game.

My mother grew up in the 60’s here in America and quickly assimilated into African American culture (Bajan’s weren’t a prevailing majority in Brooklyn) and so she was Bajan at home and “Black” when she was out in the world.  That means all the issues faced and bore by brown women during my mother’s formative years were her experiences. Ultimately, as many did in her generation, she felt her brown skin, full lips, curly hair were ugly. She grew to hate light skinned women (yes, careful what you hate, it has a habit of ending up RIGHT in your family and in my mother’s case, in her womb).  My mother attended Erasmus Hall HS here in Brooklyn, when the majority of students were White and Jewish (a la Barbara Streisand), and high achieving. In spite of that, she was encouraged by her guidance counselor to be a cleaning lady because she was told she would not achieve much else. Ultimately, to my mother’s credit, her confidence and encouragement to succeed came through joining the civil rights movement and owned her Blackness. She went on to obtain a BA, 2 Masters, and her Doctorate. (Just saying she’s pretty kick ass).

Why all this context?  Because this is where I come from, this is who I am, these are my people, this is my culture. These are the stories and realities that surrounded me as I was growing up as a culturally mixed girl in a pre- hipster, pre-Obama Brooklyn. Where bi-racial was sort of new and folks only identied as either/or. I was warmly welcomed by Black Americans and rejected by Latinos for not looking like a “typical” Latina. Nor did I “behave” like a typical Latina because my father did not raise me to wait on men, cater to men, or take care of men. I was raised to be an independent, opinionated, un-accented, and assertive woman. Not the qualities my Latinos were really big on during my adolescent years. Oh yeah, and I was “too dark”. Too dark to be a true Latina. Never mind that in Puerto Rico I saw A LOT of Boricua’s that looked like me. But the NuyoRican culture here, didn’t quite embrace it (yet). So, here in Nueva York, I didn’t quite the fit. But my lighter Puerto Rican cousins did. The overall result?. I stayed away from the Latino community for years dismissing my Puerto Rican side totally. My resentment and anger remains close to the surface with Latinos.  I have managed it better, I am learning to get over it, but I won’t lie, I still walk with it often.

Why is THIS important? Because these collectives experiences, while sometimes painful, never felt like a “privilege”, rather it served to help shape my view of race in America. Ultimately, once I entered undersgrad at Chatham College and joined the Black Student Union, I suddenly found myself dealing with African Americans women who were not New Yorkers and the issue of race relative to the light/dark dissent became more of an obvious issue in my world; while I came to realize that it was really someone else’s issue, the reality is that I had to bear a portion of someone else’s anger due to this social construct that we’ve agreed to abide by. 

This experience helped shape my views in identifying the real core issue here – race as a means to division will always keep people from observing and acting on class struggle. During the process of self identification, I sought to identify culturally, rather than racially. In doing so, I sought to challenge everyone rather than concede to the either/or notion – no one was exempt, my parents, friends, family, and strangers.  Ultimately, I found solace in those women of any race who had a shared socioeconomic class experience with me. While I still struggled around the “race” issue, I found that in spite of race, having a common concern as women, as women seeking education, as women who were seeking to define themselves as thinking beings rather than a mixed chick from Brooklyn, or a pretty Black girl from Maryland, or a White girl from Harrisburg, we were much stronger when we focused on shared issues, experiences, and concerns in our world. This led me to realize that coming together on matters related to class are much more dangerous to the status quo because it serves to unite people rather than divide.  

Race is no small thing in America. It’s a very hard and emotional thing for us because of the historical context by which we understand it. Truthfully, I think we love to talk about it, cling to it, talk around it, make inferences about, but ultimately, I am not convinced we can never address it to a satisfactory resolution. Race can be utilized temporarily to bring us together under tough circumstances but ultimately, the divisions continue to arise. Because every group here and abroad that has historically been colonized by Europeans has had the wonderful parting gift of being divided according that socially constructed idea of “race”.  Slave masters firmly established the concept of race into our collective psyches during the horrific period of slavery in America and it has remained since. The Spanish did it to the Taino Indians (which were the original inhabitants of Puerto Rico) after bring African slaves to the island of Borinquen creating divisions on color. The English did the same to the Arawaks and Caribs whom were the original inhabitants of Barbados… and so on… You see, we all carry this shit with us as part of a collective history if we come from any part of the world that has been colonized.  And I guess its real easy and simple to make assumptions by looking at me if you don’t look like me and figure that somehow, in all of this, I’ve inherited a “privileged” that I haven’t quite experienced personally. No one knows my scars just as no one knows the scars of my mother, my sisters, my father, my lighter and darker cousins, etc. 

However, with respect to race, we seem to like to talk about it… a lot…. still, with very little resolution… 

Prior to his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. began moving past the race issue and began to look at the issue of classism in this country. He was convinced that the class struggle in America was the ultimate equal rights issue in this country. Malcolm X also began to focus on this issue. The reason this is important is because I am more convinced today than I was 20 years ago, that classism that IS the real issue that needs to be addressed in this country.  

It’s the foundation of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit in New York State as a means of addressing the achievement gap in education and the means of providing appropriate resources in every public school classroom in New York State. The issue of class over race is now playing out with respect to college entrance and how schools will begin considering diversifying their student body – according to classnot race. Class struggle is the foundation of all human rights issues and something that is a worldwide concern.  It is also a harder issue for many of us to get into because it means that collectively, we would have to move past our own singular and exclusive issues involving race and think in a more broader and collaborative context. It can be done. I’ve seen this take shape with the group Mom’s Rising. A multicultural group of women who are committed as working mothers to educate, advocate, and lobby as mothers on behalf of their children – these issues range from battling childhood obesity to providing parenting resources to mothers.

We can live with and own our history, our scars, our anger, and continue focusing on a singular issue relative to racial equality. However, the reality is that race is a arbitrary social construct used to divide, subjugate, and indoctrinate – if the analogy is that religion is the opium of the masses and spirituality connects the individual to the Creator, then race is the method used to maintain a clear division while confronting class struggle brings cohesion and potentially real progress.  Realistically, we won’t all agree on the same measures by which we could make the “changes” we seek but we can work collectively on a shared goal or issue more easily.

It is worth noting that America is not a homogeneous society. And this is becoming more relevant with new ethnic groups coming into the country. Many countries outside of the U.S.find cohesiveness through a shared culture and ethnic identity; but we can no longer rely on race as a means of bringing us together on issues temporarily while engaging in infighting based on any number of variables that divide us. Many of us from the same socio-economic background whether pink, purple, green, or orange, understand certain fundamental realities about the world and can coalesce on that.  Moving past the issue of race, looking as how the civil rights movement  functioned, as a collective, with other races becoming involved AND openly supporting the cause AND dying for that shared cause is why that movement was successful.  We have to get over the race issue in this country. It’s an imperative.  And we have to get over the race thing because ultimately, if we don’t make it as important as we have made it, we will continue to see a clear distinction between the 1%, the 99%, and the 47% – issues brought front and center during the 2012 presidential race.

The number of bi-racial births in this country has grown from less than 5% to over 7% in the last year. That means that there will have to be a bridging of the race divide because we have a generation coming behind us that will have a different experience and outlook on race.  We cannot ask children of multi-ethnic and cultural backgrounds to “choose”, they are both. Obama is both. Culturally, I am both. And the conversation will have to change, it’s not a question of if, it’s an issue of when. The Republicans are just now gearing up to discuss race politics. Given how far behind the eight ball they are, maybe it’s time for the rest of us to move towards a more comprehensive discussion.

So yeah, ask me about my “privilege”. I will tell you that my “privilege” stems from the fact that I was fortunate enough to grow up in the borough of Brooklyn, in a culturally diverse household that discussed politics, civil rights, and human rights (ad nausea). I was forced to attend various protest that I did not want to go to but  it provided me with an educational experience in that I experienced other people’s pain in the world. I’ve met people from all walks of life from the poorest of the poor to those with some sick wealth. I’ve dated politicians, aspiring athletes, and regular joes from the hood most who have imparted some real wisdom and learning. My friends include people who were teen moms who barely got out of high school to folks who have completed post doctorate fellows in England, they are all good people and have their own struggles. I barely made it into college due to poor grades but ultimately received a Masters of Science in Urban Policy and Management (law school remains on my mental back burner). I have been on welfare and was ashamed about it. I’ve been hungry, I’ve been horrifically broke. I’ve come back from that too. My parents have been married 40 plus years and I did grow up in a two parent household – I was often the only person I knew who did. I married the first real man I ever met who accepted me warts (figuratively speaking) and all. Together we are raising a beautiful brown child of multicultural heritage, still in Brooklyn, in the neighborhood and apartment building where I was raised. 

That is my privilege, none of which has a damn thing to do with how I look and everything to do with my sense of reality. A reality that includes the understanding that poor people whether upstate in rural New York, or downstate urban Brooklyn, whether in Louisianna, Florida, Memphis, Tennesse, or Maryland… Whether in the favela’s of Brazil, the ghettos of Russia, or the streets of the Jiangxi province in China, the slums of Puerto Rico, or Kingston, Jamaica… Poor IS poor. Struggle IS struggle. Pain IS pain, doesn’t really matter the color of it. When it’s there, it’s there. A lack of access to quality healthcare, a decent home, the capacity to take care of oneself and one’s family is horribly demeaning and dangerous to communities. Communities are the foundation of healthy people. Unhealthy and fucked up communities create unhealthy and fucked up people. That’s not a race thing…

America Nears El Tipping Pointo – With Ignorance

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In a recent articles in both the Huffington Post and  Latina magazine online, Ann Coulter is highlighted as attacking hispanics.  You can read her entire musings here.  As always, Coulter  serves as the conservative right’s “in your face “attack dog”.   The fact that she’s considered pretty perhaps makes it easier (and more scary) for some to sit there and listen to her ignorant pronouncements; pronouncements that serve to stir the emotions of many on both sides.  We’ve all heard snippets likes “Our Blacks are so much better than their Blacks.”  Snippets meant to incite, meant to gain publicity, divide, and meant to get her paid.

Coulter does not care about this country.  She may argue differently, but ultimately, her words and rhetoric speak far louder.  She is paid to be hateful, something that she seems to enjoy doing when you watch her on conservative news programs. The sad part in all of this is that Coulter will often mix in “facts” without citing the sources; this means that more often than not, her facts are pure fiction. I continue to submit to those who bother to pay attention to her diatribes that rather than have an emotional reaction to her statements, it’s important to understand the purpose of the statements and dissect them appropriately.

I refer back to my November 17th blog where I critiqued and discussed the need for the Republican party to evolve and become more inclusive.  Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal have both moved forward in publicly decreeing the need for Republicans to move past this election cycle. These men along with the McCain women have noted that the party must diffuse  the perception that it cannot move past this election loss with grace and dignity.  The party itself has to take the long view to ensure its sustainability by no longer pandering to extremist. In fact, this notion was bolstered more so by Speaker of the House John Boehner’s decision to remove Tea Party Republicans from key financial committees in the House.

In fact, in spite of Coulter stating clearly on the Sean Hannity Show  that the Republicans should cave to Obama on the issue of taxes because “We lost the election“, she and the most conservative among the GOP can’t seem to let this election go.  So they write what they write without any real logic or reasoning…  just emotion.

And while that is good for rallying up the crazy crew, it provides no value or service to the citizens of this great union.  In fact, Coulter’s recent musings about Latinos is straight out of Lee Atwater’s 1981 Southern Strategy play book with respect to using her scribes to speak to her constituency in code.  The underlying message is that by 2024 “you” (Whites) will be the minority and that is a scary thing.  Why? Could it be because connected to that message is the subliminal and irrational fear that “they” may treat “us” like “we’ve” treated “them”?

Let’s take a moment and really look at what Ann Coulter is saying.  After all, she is no Rachel Maddow, when she talks, it’s more like verbal vomit and not necessarily factually based.

“What the youth vote shows is not that young people are nitwits who deserve lives of misery and joblessness, as I had previously believed, but that America is hitting the tipping point on our immigration policy.  The youth vote is a snapshot of elections to come if nothing is done to reverse the deluge of unskilled immigrants pouring into the country as a result of Ted Kennedy’s 1965 immigration act.  Eighty-five percent of legal immigrants since 1968 have come from the Third World. A majority of them are in need of government assistance.”

  • Ok, let’s look at this. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act was passed and we saw it’s implementation in effect by 1968.  This means in a 44 year period (1968-2012)  Coulter can’t speak to which ethnic groups have come here during that time?  Ms. Coulter said a majority of them are in need of government assistance but there are no facts as to how many received any assistance.  There is no data to support how many received assistance in 1968, 1978, 1988, 1998, or even 2008.    This matters because while Mexicans were Latin America’s largest immigrant group after the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, there was also an influx of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern immigrant groups as well.  However, Coulter speaks of no other immigrant group.  Why is that?
  • Further, according to data provided by the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, over 9/10 of “subsidies” go to the elderly, disabled, and working households. “Federal budget and Census data show that, in 2010, 91 percentof the benefit dollars from entitlement and other mandatory programs went to the elderly (people 65 and over), the seriously disabled, and members of working households.  People who are neither elderly nor disabled — and do not live in a working household — received only 9 percent of the benefits.” (Source: CBPP) So how much actually goes to immigrants?
  • Additionally, according to a 2008 article in Bloomberg Businessweek entitled, “Immigrants Are More Likely to Be Entrepreneurs”, there is conclusive evidence based on a survey of 2.054 companies, that immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs by establishing a small business niche in local communities.  50% of Silicon Valley engineers and tech startups were founded by immigrants in comparison to 25% nationally. “Now, a November 2008 study by Robert W. Fairlie, a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, gives the strongest evidence to date that critics of open-immigration policies have misjudged the impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy.” (Source: Bloomberg Business Small Business, Immigrants are More Likely to Be Entrepreneurs-  on November 25, 2008)
  •  Coulter completely fails to define “third world”.  Are we talking third world in terms of political and civil rights? Or in terms of economics and the country’s Gross National Product (GNP)?  Or perhaps she defines third world in the context of human development, poverty, or freedom of the press.

This distinction matters.  It matters because  when you attack an ethnic group and set them up to essentially have to defend itself against lies and distortions, you need to be prepared to support your lies with facts.  While snippets and sound bites sell books and get you a place on television, the truth always comes to light. However, I suppose the ignorant and extremist will cling onto the mistaken notion that Hispanics and Latinos are the same. Immigrants from another country of origin who speak the same language, have babies out of wedlock, lacking in formal education or civility… Except we aren’t.  That’s like suggesting all eastern Europeans are essentially one in the same, especially if they share a common language.  Except, they aren’t.

“That profile has nothing to do with recent Hispanic immigrants, who — because of phony “family reunification” rules — are the poorest of the world’s poor.  More than half of all babies born to Hispanic women today are illegitimate. As Heather MacDonald has shown, the birthrate of Hispanic women is twice that of the rest of the population, and their unwed birthrate is one and a half times that of blacks.”

  • Again, facts are skewed and distorted.  Heather MacDonald’s 2006 article can be found here .  The fact is that she focuses on the Mexican population and uses the term “hispanic” interchangeably with Mexicans.  Additionally, the reasoning (fear) behind the MacDonald report is in part a concern for family values and structure but more importantly to bring home the notion of fear with respect to a White minority in America. “The dimensions of the Hispanic baby boom are startling. The Hispanic birthrate is twice as high as that of the rest of the American population. That high fertility rate—even more than unbounded levels of immigration—will fuel the rapid Hispanic population boom in the coming decades. By 2050, the Latino population will have tripled, the Census Bureau projects. One in four Americans will be Hispanic by mid-century, twice the current ratio. In states such as California and Texas, Hispanics will be in the clear majority. Nationally, whites will drop from near 70 percent of the total population in 2000 to just half by 2050. Hispanics will account for 46 percent of the nation’s added population over the next two decades, the Pew Hispanic Center reports.” (Source: Heather MacDonald – “Hispanic Family Values”, City Journal, Autumn 2006)

The reality is there are disparities among Latinos related to class, culture, politics, policy, and socioeconomic status. and immigration reform.  Similar to that of other immigrant groups who came here, including Germans, Polish, Jews, the Irish, the English, Italians, etc.  Things change with the passing of each generation.  For example, contrary to the claims of Coulter and MacDonald, a November 30, 2012 Pew Research Center study has shown that birth rates among Americans have in fact dropped with Latinas showing the largest decline.

Coulter claims that by 2024, America will have a white minority.  It is inevitable.  And not something to fear.  The factors that will bring about this reality aren’t just a growing Latino population, but an increase in multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-racial relationships that have produced non-White babies, including Barack Obama and my own child.  By in large, many of these households consider themselves progressive households because at their core, their relationships have been considered “progressive” in a society that so long been seeped in institutionalizing racism.

Ms. Coulter, in your article, you skew your facts in order to form a more perfect distortion that Obama won because the majority of our fellow Americans voted for him.  Now it is time for you and your extreme right to consider working with the party moderates to determine how to better at engage the party and diversify the membership. Again, as you acknowledged on Sean Hannity’s show, “We lost the election, Sean.” So get over it and move on with it.

Until then, this married with one child American born legal Latina with a Master’s degree thanks you for the amusing chuckles you provide and the opportunity to respond with data to your insidious claims.

Respectfully,

Akilah Rosado-McQueen

The Death of the G.O.P… And the Rise of the Dems…

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So we’ve survived this last round of presidential elections and I managed to only discuss it in the Twitterverse.  Then Romney and Ryan and the other annoying “r” guy… Rove, began their assault on the voting public due to their failure to acquire a win.  There are some significant lessons to be learned here for Democrats and Republicans alike.

But first, a little history… In 1991, at the tender age of 18, I registered as a Republican for my first election.  Why? Well, it was contrary to my parents political views and I did believe it to be the original party of Lincoln.  Parenthetically, based on the cheesy films I was exposed to in the ’80’s, I also thought it was the party of rich people and by being one, I’d somehow be rich.  That never happened.  Ultimately, William Jefferson Clinton happened to me and I was wooed over to declare my status as a Democrat where I have remained since, firmly aligned with core democratic values and principles.  But I digress.

It is worth noting that Ronald Reagan began his career as a Democrat and later switched to the Republican party. (Under the Republican party he served as Governor of California and ultimately succeeded Jimmy Carter as President of the United States.) While I began as a Republican, I associated myself as a Republican with liberal leanings, who was very concerned with social issues and ensuring that all people had basic needs met, without necessarily having big government.  In short, I was and continue to be at heart, a Lincoln Republican. This context is relevant because as a voter who is (1) female, (2) a child of social and political activist, (3) Caribbean descent (specifically Puerto Rican and Barbadian), and (4) politically astute, I am not your typical run of the mill voted down the ticket voter.  I vote and have voted across party lines.  I stay informed on current and historical trends.  I live and love politics and believe in our government and leadership.  I’ve read the constitution, the bill of rights.  In short, I am a true Lincoln Republican/moderate Democrat.

But the reality is that party of Lincoln no longer exists.  And Reagan Republicans have been forced out of the Republican party because they are too moderate and/or liberal in their leanings to be accepted.  Even Senator John McCain’s daughter and wife have advised Republicans to evolve or die.  And while many liberals  and conservative, extreme leftist and right wingers don’t care if the Republicans evolve or not, I do.  I care about those who have been left out of the political process because they don’t fit an either/or category.  I care that it is in the interest of the citizens of this country to have at minimum a two-party system (if not a multi-party system) which, focuses more on policies than rhetoric.  Americans should have a real opportunity to choose the best leaders to represent us, not least bad of two.  And more importantly, I care where those votes will go over the next four years, in 2016, and beyond.

So, where does that leave us?

With a Democratic party that was against the ropes in 2010 and rebounded thanks to a sect of extreme right-wing social conservatives that managed to hold hostage the Republican party.  And with GOPers became weak-kneed and scared that folks like the Tea Party Movement (note movement, not party) had somehow created a large and concentrated base that required pandering to.  Everyone jumped on that fascist band wagon and Republicans moved from the middle to the far right in order to show an essentially racist coalition, that they were on their side.  In 2010, the Dems were reeling from a butt kicking, the GOP is now in the same boat.

2008 brought back the Lee Atwater Southern Republican strategy (a la Karl Rove per Reagan) to scare the crap out of White Americans regarding African Americans.  They increased their efforts around utilizing  “code words” to speak to those fears publicly and institutionally in the hallowed halls of government.  And it was this particular strategy, the Atwater strategy, that Romney and Ryan employed in this election.  Only we saw it.  We knew.  And, as Americans (with a slim majority 50.6% vs 47.8%) we did not find it acceptable.  This election was a fight about the soul of America; who we are and what we represent.

Let me be clear (and I say this as an Obama supporter) I agree with my good friend, Obama would not have won had Romney stayed true to his core moderate Republican roots and base.  Had Romney remained centered and not pandered to the racist and extremist base as he did, women, liberals, Latinos (who are a diverse and disparate voting bloc), independents, and those who were disappointed in his performance would not have voted for Obama.  But instead, Romney’s inconsistencies, his rhetoric, along with those of Fox News idiots, and the Rush Limbaugh’s of the world ensured an Obama win through their Atwater-ish stupidity. And even now they continue.

The GOP need to realize, people by in large did not vote for Obama per se. They voted to reject the GOP’s message and proposed policies.  They voted to send a message to the party that while they were pissed off at Obama in 2010, they are thoroughly disgusted with the direction that the party has gone in 2012.  Marco Rubio is changing his stance (passively), Bobby Jindal is back to opening his mouth after being silenced by his party,  and other prominent Republican leaders are suggesting that the party reflect and regroup (via a proctology exam).

The GOP as is should die.  The level of hate and racism emitting from the party’s leadership and its pundits is divisive and horrible for this country.  As Meghan McCain stated in her Tweet, it must evolve, it must reflect the growing diversity that is America, it must embrace its roots as the party of Lincoln, it must review in great detail, it’s decision to move so far to the right and those implications. OR it should embrace it’s current extreme configuration with aplomb.  And if they do, those with any basic sense and love for this country, should create a nationally recognized 3rd party that holds true the core principles of the Republicans while ensuring its evolution.

And my fellow Dems should take heed. We should not pat ourselves on our collective backs or rest on our laurels.  People, throughout this nation, are pissed off and disenfranchised with their political leadership.  From local state races to major national races, the people are getting tired of the bullshit.  And they should.  With social media being utilized to share information and call out mis-information, we have a more sophisticated constituency who seeks results and accountability of its leadership.  Obama won by 2.8%.  That isn’t much and it is a message for those in either party willing to listen.  While the GOP is licking it’s wounds, now is the time to batten down the hatches, take a good look at ourselves, and make sure that the next election (when the campaign begins in roughly 2.5) we can give the voting public a clear reason why they should continue to let us represent them. Because the jury on that is still out.  And there is enough time to rebuild a  party or create a New Republican Party…

Reflections on History (response to August 28th)

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Forty-five years ago today, my mother stood with my aunt, my grandmother, and so many others at the mall in Washington, D.C to listen to the words of many leaders of the civil rights movement. Among the more significant speeches given that day was delivered by a relatively unknown minister by the name of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, August 28th, is far more significant than Dr. King’s January birthday because today marked a moment in history that transformed people. This moment changed mindsets and created a sacred space. It provided a moment for thought, a moment to name the resistance against change and equity in America. It created a moment and space to discuss what is and what could be, to plant the seed of a significant vision, to share a dream.

Today is even more significant because in spite of our desire to be color-blind in this country, we know that the reality is that color informs many things we do, say, and think. And the reality is that it will be a long time before we as a country will be. As I live in the world, I see the underlying and subtle differences in treatment of people of color. But King’s words continue to resonate with me at what has been accomplished. Today, Senator Barack Obama will deliver a speech before the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO. He will accept the party’s nomination as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States with the largest percentage of African Americans attending the convention, standing at 24% for the first time in the history of the conventions.

But Senator Obama is also proof positive that as far as we have, there are places in America that show us that we have not come as far enough. Because the behavior and the treatment received by many of his workers in the southern part of our nation showed how ignorant many Americans continue to be, because of the comments made by some members of unions, we know that there are parts of the country that feel that Senator Obama is not the right color for the presidency.

But Senator Obama ultimate is proof positive, proof positive that a man of African ancestry may seek the highest office in this country providing he meets the right criteria. Proof positive that this country isn’t as wholly ignorant as we thought. Proof positive that continuous and steady commitment to a thought, an ideal, a belief can ultimately manifest itself into reality.

Senator Obama may become the first president of African ancestry. He has and will continue to make mistakes not because he’s Black but because there is a learning process in any job regardless of how much experience one has. But at the end of the day, when it all is said and done, Senator Obama cannot do this alone. He cannot change mindsets without a continuous and steady support system. He cannot reach his vision, MLK’s vision, our vision for equity if we do not remain engaged in the political process.

Today, I have a dream, a vision for the future, where my daughter can run for the highest office in this country and not be judged by her gender or race or culture, but by the content of her character, her morale stance, and her ability to do better.