The fight to keep Mexican-American Studies alive in Tucson, AZ, suffered a defeat Tuesday night — but one supporters of the program vowed to reverse come election time.
“You’re done Cuevas!” someone shouted at Tucson Unified School District board member Miguel Cuevas, who was part of the majority in the 3-2 vote not to renew MAS Director Sean Arce’s contract. “In November you’re out!” According to the board’s website, both Cuevas and board president Mark Stegeman’s current terms expire at the end of the year. Stegeman and Michael Hicks, who was featured last week on The Daily Show, joined Cuevas in the majority vote.
Before casting one of the two dissenting votes (with Alexander Sugiyama), board member Adelita Grijalva warned her colleagues against letting Arce go.
“We’re the laughing stock of a nation,” she said. “It’s going to hurt us economically.” Continue reading →
The Daily Show’sAl Madrigal exposed the closed-mindedness behind the city of Tucson’s ban on ethnic studies in the most elegant way possible: let a member of the local school board make himself look like as much of a fool as possible. Two days after the report aired, the fun part is starting: watching people try and distance themselves from the scrutiny Madrigal has forced upon the issue. Continue reading →
In a passionate, sermon-like speech about building unity, King said she didn’t care if people were Hindu, Buddhist, Islamist, were from the North side or the South side, were black or white, were “heterosexual or homosexual, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender” — that all people were needed to create unity.
LGBT people who attended the rally said they were shocked that King – who has a long anti-gay past — actually acknowledged the community in a public speech, but said they were also glad because it shows people can evolve.
There was nothing voluntary about the punishment Chen and Lew experienced, and it was designed to alienate them from their peers, not create a path to solidarity. In Chen’s case at least, the program of isolation included being repeated called racial slurs like “gook,” “chink” and “dragon lady” by his tormentors (all of whom were white).
The more appropriate term for what Chen and Lew faced is targeted bullying — and it’s something that’s hardly limited to the military.
In fact, recent research suggests that young Asian Americans are facing a bullying epidemic. Last year, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a joint study showing that over half of Asian American teens said they’d been the subject of targeted abuse at school, versus around a third of blacks, Hispanics and whites.
The picture gets even fuzzier when you consider race and class. Most viewers understand that the housewives in Orange County and New York City are not the “real upper class,” because we know there’s a different kind of white upper class that we see represented elsewhere. The black upper class, though, is harder to find. Even the fictional representations of black affluence that were on air in the 1980s and ’90s have become less visible. Some of the most widely known and longest-running television shows featuring mostly black casts have told stories of affluence: the upwardly mobile entrepreneur on “The Jeffersons,” the doctor and lawyer parents on “The Cosby Show,” the mostly privileged college students on “A Different World,” the street-smart kid transplanted to a wealthy neighborhood on “Fresh Price of Bel Air.” These shows didn’t ignore broader discussions of race and racism: The Jeffersons addressed the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow that had profound implications for the characters’ poor beginnings; A Different World dealt with race, class, and gender relations head on, discussing fraught subjects like date rape, the ERA, HIV/AIDS, and the Clarence Thomas hearings. These shows set the bar high, not just in terms of diversity, but in regards to social commentary and humor generally. Still, by virtue of their affluence, most of the characters represented a narrow facet of the black American experience.
Today’s “Real Housewives,” by virtue of their excessive wealth rather than mere upper-middle class stability, represent an even narrower demographic. When one of the few shows that overtly portrays black wealth (“Basketball Wives” is another) is mostly a montage of “catfights” and shopping sprees, it is problematic. Without counterpoints, misrepresentations like these feed the narrative that black people “don’t deserve” or “can’t handle” money.
The complexity of race in America can even be addressed in two lines from the second season of “Treme.” Harley, a white street musician in a post-Katrina New Orleans, is robbed at gunpoint by a black teenager. As the teen flees, Harley says, “You’re making a bad choice, son.” The boy stops, turns around, replies, “I ain’t your … son” — and shoots Harley in the face. In under a minute we’re confronted with the history of white American paternalism and its many consequences.
“Parenthood’s” silence about its black characters’ blackness reflects our genuine desire for things to be different, but also our willingness to ignore the reality of the experiences of people of color in an eagerness to move ahead to post-racialism. This underlines two things: Things have changed, in that there’s a collective desire for equality. But the main problem remains: It is still a white playing field, with white main characters who want to enjoy a world without racism. They’re the ones who have decided to move on.
The beginning of the story is Arpaio’s anti-immigrant policies, according to Rubén Gallego, Arizona State Rep. District 16. He told NewsTaco that organization began around the sheriff’s bad policies, and galvanized with SB 1070, spurring widespread grassroots organization that culminated in not only protests, but political and voter registration campaigns. In the face of inactive Latino politicians, Gallego and others like him “cut their teeth” in elections, Democratic ones, since he noted that SB 1070 was the breaking point where Latinos realize that Republicans were not squarely on their side.
“That law is what people will remember for years. For the first time in a long time within a have our voting numbers to be able to match our ability to fund raises the community, as well as to be able to run campaigns, in order to win coalitions to win races,” Gallego told NewsTaco. “The genie is out of the bottle now, the question is how is everyone else going to react to the new reality of the Latino community that wants to be politically involved?”
Before it even took place, the irony of the Atlanta Braves hosting a civil rights celebration Sunday had been pointed out, not just because of the team’s name, but because of Georgia’s recent enactment of House Bill 87.
The bill, modeled after Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, targets undocumented immigrants and their employers, and had set off a controversy even before Carlos Santana, being honored by Major League Baseball at the game, took the opportunity to speak out against both laws. But as it turns out, the Mexican-born singer wasn’t the first pop-culture figure to do so. Continue reading →
Yesterday, the ACLU and a coalition of civil rights groups announced the filing of a federal suit contesting Arizona’s recently-enacted SB 1070 before it takes effect, calling it “the most extreme and dangerous of all the recent local and state laws purporting to deal with immigration issues.”
“It will cause discrimination, hostility and suspicion based on color, accent and appearance,” said Lucas Guttentag, director of the ACLU’s Immigrant Law Project. “This law turns ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Into the Arizona state motto.”
The 14 plaintiff organizations named in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, represent a variety of POC groups: MALDEF, National Immigration Law Center, the NAACP, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.
Also represented are 10 individual plaintiffs., including Jim Shee, an American citizen who has been pulled over twice since SB 1070 was signed, and New Mexico resident Jesus Cuahtemoc Villa, Jesus Cuahtemoc Villa, who attends Arizona State University and alleges he could be arrested under the statute because the law only recognizes Arizona-issued identification.
Shee’s case seems to parallel the arrest of an Arizona truck driver who was arrested last week despite providing authorities with both a commercial driver’s license and a Social Security card, and incarcerated until his wife was able to provide his birth certificate.
Linton Joaquin, who serves as NILC’s General Counsel, said the law’s inevitable result will be less safety for everyone in Arizona.
“From beginning to end, SB 1070 is a misguided effort to legislate immigration control,” Joaquin said. Continue reading →
by Guest Contributor Dan Torres, originally published at Blabbeando
The Arizona legislature recently passed and revised SB 1070, the so-called “papers please” anti-immigrant bill many believe will result in racial profiling. As a gay Latino man who comes from an immigrant family, I see a clear link between this measure and anti-gay marriage laws such as Proposition 8. Both laws make their victims feel marginalized and send a message that they do not deserve to be treated equally under the law. Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) people know what it’s like to be on the wrong side of laws like SB 1070 or Proposition 8.
Many of us, who fit into one or more minority communities, know all too well how it feels to be stripped of our legal protections and fundamental rights. Last year, Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer, the same one who signed into law SB 1070, repealed benefits for LGBT domestic partners, further undermining the economic and emotional security of LGBT families. The LGBT community understands the threat when our leaders tell us that our families do not count. We know the pain caused by the government refusing to treat us equally. Accordingly, we should stand against SB 1070. Continue reading →
…a reasonable attempt to be made to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town or political subdivision (political subdivision) if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.
Now, “reasonable suspicion” is a legal standard that’s been around for over 40 years. In 1968, the Supreme Court ruled that a stop by law enforcement on the grounds of reasonable suspicion was legal if it met the following criteria:
…when a person possesses many unusual items which would be useful in a crime like a wire hanger and is looking into car windows at 2am, when a person matches a description of a suspect given by another police officer over department radio, or when a person runs away at the sight of police officers who are at common law right of inquiry (founded suspicion). However, reasonable suspicion may not apply merely because a person refuses to answer questions, declines to allow a voluntary search, or is of a suspected race or ethnicity. (Wikipedia)
But unless Arizona law enforcement actually catches someone in the act of crossing the border illegally, there’s no way to really establish reasonable suspicion except by race or ethnicity, which is why SB 1070 is being referred to by some as the “Breathing While Brown” law.
What I find myself wondering though is: How Brown? SB 1070 is racism, to be sure, but is it colorism, too? I can’t help thinking that the browner you are in Arizona, the more “suspicious” you’ll seem. Already, lighter-skinned Latinos in the U.S. make $5,000 more on average than darker-skinned Latinos. And it’s well-documented that dark-skinned African-Americans receive longer prison sentences than their light-skinned peers (not to mention whites). There are examples the world over–in Asia, the Middle East, Brazil–of color prejudice, where light skin is preferred, both interracially and intraracially, and where it equates to improved social standing, economic status, and marriage prospects.
Does this mean that more Hispanics and Latinos in the U.S. will be reaching for the Sammy Sosa-lightening cream in SB 1070’s wake? It appears it’s already happening. From the NY Times op-ed piece, “Shades of Prejudice,” published in January after Harry Reid’s comments surfaced about Obama being an ideal political candidate because he was “light-skinned”:
The Harvard neuroscientist Allen Counter has found that in Arizona, California and Texas, hundreds of Mexican-American women have suffered mercury poisoning as a result of the use of skin-whitening creams.
(Note that Dr. Counter’s findings were clustered in Arizona, California, and Texas, all border states.)
And in a 2003 story for the Boston Globe, “Whitening skin can be deadly,” Dr. Counter wrote of these same women:
Apparently, the patients reporting to clinics with mercury-induced disease believe that the health risks associated with bleaching their skins are outweighed by the rewarding sociocultural return.
With “brown” now equating to “illegal,” this may be truer than we’d like to think.
Some high school seniors are now deciding against going to college in Arizona. One comment on the New York Times blog post on the topic struck me as particularly intelligent, and hinting at the root of African American disdain for SB1070.
Barbara, a Duke alumnus, writes:
When I was a student at Duke there were many male African-American students who felt like they were being profiled because of the relatively high rate of crime on campus, and the fact that a disproportionate amount of it was attributable to young black men in the community. In some cases students were held even after they proved they were students. It made their college experience a lot worse than if they gone elsewhere. It’s a legitimate consideration.
It’s not that I don’t understand that border states face special challenges and find the lack of progress frustrating, or that I don’t agree that Mexico has long shown lack of inclination to face its social problems because it has a safety valve next door — I share those concerns. But there is simply no way to enforce this law without targeting Hispanics. I don’t care if that was the intent or not, it is almost certainly going to be its practical effect. Continue reading →
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World