Tag Archives: immigration

The Racialicious Links Roundup 12.19.13: Jim Brown vs. Kobe Bryant, Beyoncé, and more

Brown’s statements about Kobe earlier this week weren’t shocking for a man who has always taken athletes to task. On The Arsenio Hall Show, Brown made it clear that he doesn’t consider Kobe to be a socially conscious black man.

“He is somewhat confused about culture, because he was brought up in another country,” Brown said. (Bryant spent part of his childhood in Italy, where his father played professional basketball.) “[Bryant] doesn’t quite fit what’s happening in America.”

Back in the 1960s, Brown hosted a gathering for top black athletes interested in social activism. “If I had to call that summit all over,” he said, “there would be some athletes I wouldn’t call. Kobe would be one of them.”

Jim Brown is old school—from his walk to his unrelenting focus on youths in the community. He is what many black men aspired to be before heroin and prison and success came and ravaged their sense of accountability. He believes that to be a world-renowned athlete who doesn’t contribute to the community or the conversation about being a better black man is to waste one’s athletic gifts. Because for Brown it is bigger than sports, and always has been.

Beyoncé’s feminist credentials are always in question. Whether it’s her attire, her husband or her concert tour titles, you can always find pieces that declare she isn’t feminist enough on almost any pop culture site. Not all of the criticism is unwarranted, but the tone of the critiques often hinge on the idea that feminism is an either/or proposition. Admittedly, feminism has always struggled with representing all women. Whether the discussion is racism in feminist circles, or arguing that disability should be why abortion must remain legal (despite the protests of disabled feminists), feminist discourse has a problem with inclusion. As a result, women who are reaping the benefits of the work done by proclaimed feminists often shy away from the label. Even when they do claim the label, their individual interpretations may not be in line with existing academic theories. Yet, they are living many of the tenets of feminism—just on their own terms.

Pop culture feminism, albeit flawed in concept and execution, is nothing new. In fact, it is often much more accessible to young women who aren’t necessarily familiar with the history or academic theories of the movement. Beyoncé’s use of an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists has given Adichie an unprecedented platform. Libraries are reporting an uptick of interest in Adichie’s books, and while it is too soon to predict the long-term impact, it is safe to say that at least some eyes will be opened. Does that mean Beyoncé is the new ideal feminist? Of course not. Just look at Jay-Z’s verse on Drunk In Love, in which he references Ike Turner and that infamous line “Eat the cake, Anna Mae,” a reference that many will recognize from the abusive diner scene between Ike and Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” The song is clearly not intended to be a feminist anthem. If anything it is likely an exploration of sexual dynamics.

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The Racialicious Links Roundup 6.6.13

Advocates for the legalization of marijuana have criticized the Obama administration for having vocally opposed state legalization efforts and for taking a more aggressive approach than the Bush administration in closing medical marijuana dispensaries and prosecuting their owners in some states, especially Montana and California.

The new data, however, offers a more nuanced picture of marijuana enforcement on the state level. Drawn from police records from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the report is the most comprehensive review of marijuana arrests by race and by county and is part of areport being released this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. Much of the data was also independently reviewed for The New York Times by researchers at Stanford University.

“We found that in virtually every county in the country, police have wasted taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws in a racially biased manner,” said Ezekiel Edwards, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Criminal Law Reform Project and the lead author of the report.

While “colorblindness” in adoption has been widely challenged, however, not everyone is convinced – like the adoptive mother who recently told me, “I don’t see my son’s color. Race is just not an issue for us.”

Some people maintain that any cultural loss is unimportant compared to what children gain through adoption. But in both mainstream media and personal conversations about adoption, cultural and racial identity need not be pitted against a child’s right to love, safety, and security.

This unfortunate “either-or” framing of the issue finds frequent expression in discussions of transracial adoption. Michael Gerson—whose wife is a Korean adoptee—wrote in the Washington Post: “Ethnicity is an abstraction…. Every culture or race is outweighed when the life of a child is placed on the other side of the balance.” In a National Review article criticizing Kathryn Joyce’s book The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, adoptive father David French dismissed “the ‘culture’” (note the mocking quotation marks) of internationally adopted children as “the culture of starvation, of rags, of disease, and of abandonment.”

In his veto message, Scott noted that Congress never approved the policy enacted by President Obama last year to allow children brought to this country illegally to seek reprieves from deportation. “Although the Legislature may have been well-intentioned in seeking to expedite the process to obtain a temporary driver’s license, it should not have been done by relying on a federal government policy adopted without legal basis,” the governor said.

The last-minute block and tackle suggests Scott’s sensitivity toward conservative activists, who were aghast when the onetime crusader against Obama’s health care law embraced in February the administration’s proposed expansion of Medicaid. The proposal to accept millions in federal dollars to insure poor people was beaten back by state lawmakers but not without leaving a mark on Scott, who is expected to face a tough reelection campaign in 2014 against former governor and newly minted Democrat Charlie Crist.

Scott’s veto also highlights the Republican Party’s struggle to boost its appeal within the fast-growing Hispanic community. The bill’s sponsors said the governor’s veto flies in the face of the millions of dollars the Republican Party is allocating to minority outreach and candidate recruitment.

“Make no mistake about it: This will be an anti-Hispanic bomb if he vetoes this bill,’’ said Democratic state Sen. Darren Soto, one of the legislation’s sponsors. “The vast majority of my peers understand we need to encourage immigrants to become working members of our society. It makes no sense that the Scott administration would veto something it’s already doing.”

Cantankerous oldsters are, of course, a staple of comedy. But the trick is to evoke the anger, prejudice, exasperation, fear or simple confusion with which one generation often regards the next without losing the character’s essential humanity.

Although she has a Madea-like quality in that she is played by a much younger woman, there is virtually no humanity in Hattie. As we watch her berate and deride daughter Linda (Kendra C. Johnson) — whom we learn Hattie first threw out of the house when Linda was but 17 (hahaha)— and grandson Danny (Andre Hall), a college graduate having difficulty finding a job in a tough market (hahaha), one is left to wonder how much Perry hates his own grandmother.

Only her brother-in-law and business partner Floyd (played with admirable comedic grace by Palmer Williams Jr.) seems immune to Hattie’s hatefulness. Linda certainly is not; at the end of episode one, she discovers that her husband is cheating on her. Again.

Hattie predictably explodes with a chattering rage when Linda asks to move back home. By episode two, she is considering a reconciliation because she feels she is unfit for anything other than an unhappy marriage.

Wow, wonder why? Surely, there was an episode of Oprah based on just this sort of unhealthy relationship.

Boiling down zoot culture to one set of beliefs, variables, or ethnicity and race, rather than looking at its pluralistic totality, has been at issue when discussing it. Participants did not move in lock-step and carried differing, if often overlapping, views of the zoot suit’s meaning. While most zoots would agree that their fashion operated as a claim of public dignity denied them by white society, how each zoot defined such “dignity” varied: “dignity for a black male zoot suiter in New York … was often not the same as dignity for a Mexican American female zoot suiter in Los Angeles,” Alvarez points out. Moreover, some zoots, as previously noted, opposed the war and others actually joined the military to fight.

The focus on male zoots often obscures the numerous women active in the scene. For all its poignancy in capturing the fate of Montoya Santana, as noted by Carmen Huaco-Nuzum, in “American Me,” its female characters operated as foil for the movie’s larger discourse on Chicano masculinity. Though the film attempts to break free from gendered assumptions regarding Chicanas, with the exception of one female character, the movie remains bound to an image of Mexican American women as “subservient” and passive, dutifully enduring their oppressed fate. Borrowing from intellectual Octavio Paz, the film, Huaco-Nuzum argues, perpetuates the “legacy of being ‘la chingada,’ or the violated woman — the passive, long suffering female in servitude to the macho.”

Earlier popular productions broadcast similar themes. Luis Valdez penned “Zoot Suit” in the late 1970s, originally as a play focusing on the injustice of the Sleepy Lagoon Trial. In 1981, it became a movie starring Edward James Olmos. Utilizing court records and reports from the Los Angeles Times, Valdez constructed a narrative sympathetic to the defendants but one that virtually ignored the trial’s female participants. According to Catherine Ramirez, Valdez flattened subtleties present in news accounts and court records, depicting female zoots within a Madonna/whore binary of Mexican American women, thereby consolidating the domestic concepts his sources encouraged and constructing a popular model that others would draw from perpetuating the errors of his initial sourcing decisions.

The Racialicious Links Roundup 5.30.13

Ten members of Congress are urging the Washington Redskins to change their name because it is offensive to many Native Americans.

The representatives said Tuesday that they’ve sent letters to Redskins owner Dan Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins sponsor FedEx, and the other 31 NFL franchises.

The letter to Snyder says that “Native Americans throughout the country consider the ‘R-word’ a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word’ among African Americans or the ‘W-word’ among Latinos.”

In a study published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, researchers Garth Davies and Jeffrey Fagan studied the link between immigration and crime in New York City. After controlling for factors like poverty and educational achievement, they found that immigration did not increase crime rates.

According to geographic data, actually, it appears that in New York, immigration may have even reduced crime, or at least correlated with lower crime rates. As explained by Chrissie Long, a graduate student at the Harvard Kennedy School, the study found that “immigration actually appears to have a protective effect on crime,” as the presence of immigrants in New York neighborhoods “often  means decreased crime rates.”

As for specifically Latino immigration, a major factor in the national immigration debate and for Southern border states, Long notes that it had almost no “net effect” on total crime, and “Latino immigration is correlated with slightly less violence.” That finding matches other national surveys. A study of several American cities from 1990 to 2000 found the places with largest spike in immigration also had the “largest decreases in homicide and robbery during the same time period.”

Inside Higher Ed reports that only one fourth of community colleges “can be considered racially integrated,” due in large part to the fact that they tend to draw their student bodies from surrounding geographic areas, and America is, you know, still a vastly segregated country. Even if you don’t see segregation itself as a problem, its side effects most surely are:

For example, there are 85 students per staff member at predominantly white colleges, according to the study, and 294 students per staff member at predominantly nonwhite colleges.

Another study of California community colleges found that schools with the highest minority enrollments had the lowest rates of students graduating and transferring to four-year colleges. Why? For one thing, schools with high minority enrollment “typically receive less funding from local governments, according to the study. And state support doesn’t cover that gap.”

Now, current and former partners say, the diversity committee meets less often, and the firm has fewer black lawyers than before. It is a trajectory familiar in many elite realms of American professional life. Even as racial barriers continue to fall, progress for African-Americans over all has remained slow — and in some cases appears to be stalling.

“You don’t want to be a diversity officer who only buys tables at events and seats people,” Ms. Higgins said recently. “It’s about recruiting and inclusion and training and development, with substantive work assignments.”

Nearly a half-century after a Texan, President Lyndon B. Johnson, helped usher in the era of affirmative action, the Supreme Court is poised to rule as early as this week on whether the University of Texas can continue to consider race as one of many factors in its admissions policy. It is a case that could have a profound impact on race-based affirmative action programs across the nation, and it has reignited a discussion of how much progress minorities, blacks in particular, have made in integrating into some of the most sought-after professions, especially since the recession.

Fourteen-year-old Tremaine McMillian didn’t threaten police. He didn’t attack them. He wasn’t armed. All the black teenager did was appear threatening by shooting Miami-Dade police officers a few “dehumanizing stares,” and that was apparently enough for the officers to decide to slam him against the ground and put him in a chokehold.

During Memorial Day weekend, McMillian was rough-housing with another teenager on the sand. Police approached the teen on an ATV and told him that wasn’t acceptable behavior. They asked him where his parents were, but MicMillian attempted to walk away. The officer jumped off the ATV, and tried to physically restrain the teen. According to CBS Miami, police say the 14-year-old kid gave them “‘dehumanizing stares,’ clenched his fists and appeared threatening.”

McMillian says he was carrying a six-week old puppy at the time and couldn’t have been clenching his fists because he was feeding the dog with a bottle. He claims that during the confrontation the dog’s front left paw was injured while officer forcibly separated him from the dog.

The Racialicious Links Roundup 4.25.13

It’s clear that we as Black and Brown Americans, are still recovering from the racist indoctrinations of the past 500 years. Though laughable it sounds, white Americans, too, have suffered from this crime. As our country began and brown races were systematically denied the right to be human and so internalized the role of the savage, white consciousness bullied its way into objectivity. The white mind became the unbiased mind that objectively observed all the rest. This is called The Default: The belief that the white experience is a neutral and objective experience and white consciousness is the standard consciousness unless otherwise specified. White culture, and American culture as a whole, suffers from the tragedy of whiteness as the default setting.

Being The Default keeps white Americans from being liberated because it denies them a specific identity by absorbing them into neutral blankness. This creates a lonely detachment from the rest of the world. Being The Default is the largest privilege granted to white Americans, yet it is so deeply entrenched it is the most invisible (we cannot see the edges of the atmosphere, but it exists). Whites benefit from being The Default by having inherent legitimacy in a way that’s denied to people of color. Their experience of life is “normal.” Whites are free from the constant awareness (and subsequent constant paranoia) of existing in another person’s world. Because The Default has so successfully dominated our subconscious, because our egos have been shaped by it from the moment of birth, we perpetuate it in micro ways while fighting inequality with more obvious actions. The silent poison continues to poison. Whiteness as The Default keeps brown people in subjugation by convincing them that every part of their being, physical, spiritual and emotional, exists within a white narrative. When you are made to exist within something you are forced to be smaller than that which contains you. This is precisely the basis of racist thought. Brown existence, brown consciousness is smaller.

So let me start with the standard roll call: As an American Muslim, I condemn all violence in the name of religion. Terrorism has no religion and Islam is no exception. If the Tsarnaev brothers are guilty of the Boston bombings, then I hope they are brought to justice.

Is that condemnation clear enough? Because I’m pretty sure a whole lot of people instead read “blah blah blah blah blah.”

Here’s the deal. It is a shame that we had to employ 9,000 officers, put our lives on hold for five days, and sacrifice $1 billion in Boston revenue to catch these culprits. It is a shame that Muslim women were assaulted in retaliation, and that’s even before we knew who the suspects were. And it is a shame I received threats of anti-Muslim violence and that even my non-Muslim but non-white friends called me, fearing for their safety.

And now the public lynching and double standards against Islam begin. Mental illness was the culprit during Newtown, Conn., Oak Creek, Wis., and Aurora, Colo. More than 70 percent of America’s 64 previous mass shooters were white American men. But not one pundit, nor any politician, nor any Muslim has ever asked why White Americans or Christian Americans are not aggressively condemning these acts of terror. After all, why ask such a ludicrous question? Anyone with a functioning cerebrum could comprehend that these terrorists represent only themselves.

Last week, a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” introduced a new immigration reform measure. Their bill would continue to strengthen our borders, fix the legal immigration system and provide a path for the 11 million undocumented to register, pay taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else before they could get on a path to citizenship.

Unlike the 1986 law, this approach is tougher and also expands employer verification so that those doing the hiring are compelled to own up to their responsibilities. It’s the right approach.

For many immigrants, there was never a path to come legally. But they’re here now; they’ve put down roots. They’re not looking for a handout, just a chance to work hard and do the right thing.

President Reagan once said that ”Latinos are Republicans. They just don’t know it yet.” In that spirit, I would argue immigration reform is the conservative thing to do. Conservatives just don’t realize it yet.

One of the audio kiosks is placed just about at the site of the crude barrack that housed my family and me — block 6, barrack 2, unit F. We were little more than numbers to our jailers, each of us given a tag to wear to camp like a piece of luggage. My tag was 12832-C.

I have memories of the nearby drainage ditch where I used to catch pollywogs that sprouted legs and eventually and magically turned into frogs. I remember the barbed wire fence nearby, beyond which lay pools of water with trees reaching out from them. We were in the swamps, you see: fetid, hot, mosquito-laden. We were isolated, far enough away from anywhere anyone would want to live.

Today, I recognize nothing. The swamp has been drained, the trees have all been chopped down. It is now just mile after mile of cotton fields. Everything I remember is gone.

The most moving of the sites is the cemetery. As a child, I never went there, yet that is the only thing that still stands from Rohwer Camp, except for a lone smokestack where the infirmary once operated. The memorial marker is a tall, crumbling concrete obelisk, in tribute to the young men who went from their barbed wire confinement to fight for America, perishing on bloody European battlefields. That day, I stood solemnly with surviving veterans who had served in the segregated all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in all the war.

Men’s sports are always treated with higher regard than women’s sports, period. No announcement from a female athlete is going to generate the attention that an announcement from a male athlete does, regardless of what the announcement is. Such a division is clearly seen in men’s NCAA sports versus women’s, let alone in professional sports. (Even in Olympic sports, male sports get more primetime coverage [outside of volleyball, track and gymnastics] and while most can easily cite Usain Bolt as the fastest man in the world, do they know that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the fastest woman in the world? They’re both Jamaicans. This gender issue isn’t even accounting for the racist [and sexist] media issues regarding Olympic sports.)

Female athletes are always assumed to be lesbians unless the media and public deem that they meet an almost hypersexualized version of femininity to derail such homophobic assumptions for misogynist ones. Further, the sheer act of being physical and competitive (as in sports) are associated with patriarchal notions of gender, so women engaging in sports is often viewed as being “male-like.” (We see the same type of rhetoric regarding women in combat, for example.)

At least 15 members of the Congressional Black Caucus are questioning why the 50,000 diversity visa program was ended in the “gang of eight” immigration reform bill formally introduced yesterday. Many members view the diversity visas as one of the few ways African and Caribbean immigrants can become American citizens.

At their Wednesday, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) briefed other members of the CBC on diversity visas and the “merit based” point system language in the immigration bill that is said to be a replacement to the diversity visa program. The diversity visa lottery was ended and replaced with a “point system” that evaluates immigrants on a merit based system. Education and ability to speak english, among other things, is used to evaluate an immigrant’s value to the U.S.

One member, Rep. Don Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) said early in the week that he will not vote for an immigration bill without the diversity visa lottery.  ”I’m not voting for it if diversity visas are not in there,” Payne said flatly. “I’ve told my constituents that unless the diversity visa lottery is in the bill that’s where I draw the line.” On March 15, Payne held a conference focusing on the concerns of Liberian immigrants on Capitol Hill.

Payne may not be alone. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) also says she is very unhappy that the diversity visa program was ended in the “gang of eight” bill. Members wondered why a program with 50,000 slots was eliminated when the larger issue is the 11 million people currently living in the U.S. undocumented.

“My question is why would you take it out? Tell me one good reason?” said Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL).

The Racialicious Links Roundup 4.18.13

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

To spot the difference, you’ll have to go to building 18, where all but one unit is leased to renters of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent. Most of the other buildings have none.

The federal government thinks this is by design. According to a lawsuit filed by the feds on Thursday and first reported by the Morning News, complex manager Nancy Quandt systemically denied housing to “curry people,” as she called them.

Quandt, according to the lawsuit, instructed her leasing agents that they should funnel any person who had an Indian-sounding surname or accent or, basically, was brown and looked as if they might enjoy curry, into buildings 16 and 18. If those were full, they were to claim the entire complex was occupied, despite the fact that, throughout 2009 at least, there were no fewer than 20 units available.

It’s not just that Quandt didn’t want such people living in her complex. She didn’t want them living at all. She was once overheard musing to a tenant about how she hated Middle Easterners and wished she could put them on an airplane or island and “blow them up.”

Why the search, the interrogation, the dogs, the bomb squad, and the injured man’s name tweeted out, attached to the word “suspect”? After the bombs went off, people were running in every direction—so was the young man. Many, like him, were hurt badly; many of them were saved by the unflinching kindness of strangers, who carried them or stopped the bleeding with their own hands and improvised tourniquets. “Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood,” President Obama said. “They helped one another, consoled one another,” Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said. In the midst of that, according to a CBS News report, a bystander saw the young man running, badly hurt, rushed to him, and then “tackled” him, bringing him down. People thought he looked suspicious.

What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead—a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops. Was it just the way he looked, or did he, in the chaos, maybe call for God with a name that someone found strange?

Want to prevent more Gosnells? Make sure abortion is safe, legal and accessible. The women who visited Gosnell’s office were largely low-income and of colour. The later-than-legal abortions and infant murders that Gosnell is accused to perpetrating were performed on women with few resources and few options. No one wants to have an abortion late in their pregnancy. But thanks to efforts from anti-abortion activists, many insurance companies do not cover abortion procedures. Medicaid, which helps to provide health coverage to low-income Americans, won’t cover abortion.

Low-income women who need to terminate pregnancies are on their own to figure out how to fund the procedure. While they are saving up the hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars that an abortion can cost, the clock is ticking. By the time they have enough money, it may be too late for a legal procedure. Low-income women and women of colour are also less likely to have access to things like affordable contraception, which help prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place. Again, you can thank pro-life actions against family planning funding, Planned Parenthood and birth control access for those gaps.

Gosnell preyed on those vulnerable women. The solution is not to make more women vulnerable. It is to deal with the factors that create that vulnerability.

While most press releases will likely celebrate the included “path to citizenship” for the undocumented who arrived prior to 2012, pay fines, submit to a background check, and learn English all while not taking a dime in any benefits programs, the proposal guts a key rallying point for many organizations, family unification.

While the bill provides for an unlimited number visas per year for foreign spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents, eighteen months after the law goes into effect, 70,000 visas reserved for siblings and married children over 30 years of age of U.S. citizens will be eliminated. Seems like family will only include your legal husband or wife and kid. The definition of family is further limited in the bill by offering no provision for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender couples. This can only be interpreted as a nod to conservative evangelicals who have always formed a part of multiple coalitions fighting for comprehensive immigration reform.

Often heard in the sweeping rhetoric leading up to the release of the bill is the “American dream” narrative, with migrants coming for better opportunities and creating them here, not arriving armed with the tools for success like higher education and money. The new bill will favor immigrants who have already achieved a certain level of success via academia or business.

The Diversity Visa program, a lottery which offered visas for individuals coming from underrepresented countries, many of them African nations, will be gutted. The Senate doesn’t want to take a chance on the kind of immigrant who arrives. Instead 220,000 new green cards will be offered to the “exceptional” including scientists and professors. Visas for highly skilled engineers and computer programmers would double from 65,000 to 110,000, possibly rising up to 180,000. The bill exempts those with doctorates in STEM fields, from annual limits, as well as qualified physicians and multinational executives. There will also be new start-up visas for entrepreneurs, and awards merit based visas to individuals based on a point system for education and employment.

On any given day, the color of a sign could mean the difference between an inmate exercising in the prison yard or being confined to their cell. When prisoners attack guards or other inmates, California allows its corrections officers to restrict all prisoners of that same race or ethnicity to prevent further violence.

Prison officials have said such moves can be necessary in a system plagued by some of the worst race-based gang violence in the country. Just last week, at least four inmates were taken to the hospital after a fight broke out between over 60 black and Hispanic inmates in a Los Angeles jail.

The labels “provide visual cues that allow prison officials to prevent race-based victimization, reduce race-based violence, and prevent thefts and assaults,” wrote the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in response to a lawsuit.

But legal advocates say such practices are deeply problematic. “I haven’t seen anything like it since the days of segregation, when you had colored drinking fountains,” said Rebekah Evenson, an attorney with the nonprofit Prison Law Office.

The Stigma Of Immigrant Languages

By Guest Contributor Calvin N. Ho; originally published at Sociological Images

Photo by Lulu Vision (Flickr/Creative Commons)

As an undergraduate majoring in linguistics, I was fascinated with the concept of endangered languages. Colonization, genocide, globalization, and nation-building projects have killed off untold numbers of languages. As linguist K. David Harrison (my undergrad advisor) tells NPR, speakers of stigmatized or otherwise less-favored languages are pressured to abandon their native tongue for the dominant language of the nation and the market (emphasis mine):

The decision to give up one language or to abandon a language is not usually a free decision. It’s often coerced by politics, by market forces, by the educational system in a country, by a larger, more dominant group telling them that their language is backwards and obsolete and worthless.

These same pressures are at work in immigrant-receiving countries like the United States, where young immigrants and children of immigrants are quickly abandoning their parents’ language in favor of English.

Immigrant languages in the United States generally do not survive beyond the second generation. In his study of European immigrants, Fishman (1965) found that the first generation uses the heritage language fluently and in all domains, while the second generation only speaks it with the first generation at home and in limited outside contexts. As English is now the language with which they are most comfortable, members of the second generation tend to speak English to their children, and their children have extremely limited abilities in their heritage language, if any. Later studies (López 1996 andPortes and Schauffler 1996 among them) have shown this three-generation trend in children of Latin American and Asian immigrants, as well.

The languages that most immigrants to the U.S. speak are hardly endangered. A second-generation Korean American might not speak Korean well, and will not be speaking that language to her children, but Korean is not going to disappear anytime soon–there are 66.3 million speakers (Ethnologue)! Compare that with the Chulym language of Siberia, which has less than 25.

Even if they’re not endangered per se, I would argue that they are in danger. While attitudes towards non-English languages in the U.S. seem to be improving, at least among wealthier and better-educated people in some more diverse cities and suburbs, the stigma of speaking a non-English language still exists.

How many of you have:

  • been embarrassed to speak your heritage language in front of English speakers?
  • been reprimanded for speaking your heritage language in school?
  • been told to “go back to [country X]” when someone overhears you speak your heritage language?

I’ve heard innumerable stories about parents refusing to speak their native language to their children. Usually, the purported rationale is that they do not want the child to have language or learning difficulties, a claim that has been debunked over and over again by psychologists, linguists, and education scholars.

I’m sure that these parents truly believe that speaking only English to their children will give them an edge, though the reverse is true. What I wonder is how much this decision had to do with an unfounded belief about cognition and child development, and how much it had to do with avoiding the stigma of speaking a language that marks you as foreign, and as “backwards and obsolete and worthless”?

Calvin N. Ho is a graduate student in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles studying immigration, race/ethnicity/nationalism, and Asian diasporas.  You can follow him at The Plaid Bag Connection and on Twitter.

The Racialicious Links Roundup 4.4.13

Step 3: Play the ‘Middle’ Between Rational and Frothing Racist

You know how mainstream news shows discuss global warming by pairing an actual scientist who points to decades of consistent research with an oil-company shill who says global warming can’t be real because Al Gore said something dumb once? And you know how the news anchor moderating the discussion gets to occupy the “rational” “middle” ground by saying “more research is probably needed”? You’re that guy now. Crackpots don’t get people fired, people who validate crackpots do, so get to work.

Let me get you started on your “common-sense” blog post, article or mainstream interview: “We can all agree that the behavior of these Internet trolls is unconscionable. However, let’s not discount their concerns because of a few bad apples…”

You’ve got some primo poli-sci Overton Window triangulation going on now! By assigning the Internet trolls one end of the alignment spectrum, you’ve successfully shifted the terms of the debate from, “What can be done about rampant unjust outcomes for women and people of color?” to “How many racial epithets is it OK to fit in a tweet?” Also, don’t moderate the comments on your blog post, even if they overtly threaten women and people of color. That would be, like, censorship.

Hun Loo “Lincoln” Gong, a self-made billionaire who designed the first chip that enabled laptops to automatically read both Apple and PC software in Chinese and English, was rejected from Harvard in 1981.

He has never forgotten that, nor the fact that it’s impossibly difficult for Asian Americans to get beyond the limitations of top institutions with increasingly high percentages of Asian American students.

“Schools just don’t want to go beyond 30-40 percent Asian,” said Gong. “It’s true for private schools like Harvard or even public schools like UC Berkeley. But think what kind of student body you can have with all those Asian American rejects.”

That’s when the light went off in Gong’s head.

“I never forgot when I was rejected from Harvard, I got a scholarship to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania,” Gong said. He didn’t realize it was a historically black school at the time, but applied because his immigrant father would only let him go to a school named after the family hero.

One has to wonder why mainstream black music, once rich with R&B that promoted love, tenderness and substance, now includes one of two types of songs: vapid pop numbers by artists who sound more like robots than real people, and commercial rap tracks that glorify violence, materialism and misogyny. It’s hard not to conclude that this shift in style, one that minimized music of positivity and substance, was orchestrated by record label and radio executives in an effort to re-shape the sound of black music, and perhaps the perception of black people.

So Timberlake’s success, while well-deserved, inherently speaks to the limitations and pressures placed on black artists in comparison to the artistic freedom granted to white artists. It forces us to question whether Timberlake, if he was black, would be given the latitude to explore pop, funk, rock, soul and R&B, all while blending retro elements with futuristic sounds, or if he would be pressured by label bosses to conform to the same watered-down, generic pop standard so many one-time R&B artists now call home because “that’s what listeners want.”

On what he has risked by coming out. A lot. I miss being private.

On being more closely identified with Latinos than Filipinos. I really am grateful that my name is Jose Antonio Vargas. I could have been named something like…I have family members whose last name is Batuyong. That’s very Filipino. But my name is very Hispanic, Latino. The Filipino community was like is he not proud of being Filipino? I got a lot of that. I am adobo- cooking, TFC-watching, Sharon Cuneta-Vilma Santos listening (Filipino). I’m as Filipino as they come. I speak Tagalog fluently. I understand Sambal, which is the dialect of Zambales where my grandparents come from. So if you think I’m not Filipino that’s your problem. That’s not my problem.

It was here that a group of Indian activists aired their grievances against the government with a forcefultakeover in 1973 that resulted in protests, a bloody standoff with federal agents and deep divisions among the Indian people.

And now the massacre site, which passed into non-Indian hands generations ago, is up for sale, once again dragging Wounded Knee to the center of the Indian people’s bitter struggle against perceived injustice — as well as sowing rifts within the tribe over whether it would be proper, should the tribe get the land, to develop it in a way that brings some money to the destitute region.

James A. Czywczynski of Rapid City is asking $3.9 million for the 40-acre plot he owns here, far more than the $7,000 that the deeply impoverished Oglala Sioux say the land is worth. Mr. Czywczynski insists that his price fairly accounts for the land’s sentimental and historical value, an attitude that the people here see as disrespect.

“That historical value means something to us, not him,” said Garfield Steele, a member of the tribal council who represents Wounded Knee. “We see that greed around here all the time with non-Indians. To me, you can’t put a price on the lives that were taken there.”

Speaking on HuffPostLive, Martin–who was recently let go by CNN–said that he had come to the network with every intention of getting his own show. He added that it was never made clear to him why that wasn’t happening, but that he suspected race had something to do with it.

“You have largely white male executives who are not necessarily enamored with the idea of having strong, confident minorities who say, ‘I can do this,’” he said. “We deliver, but we never get the big piece, the larger salary, to be able to get from here to there.”

Martin said that he hosted highly-rated specials for CNN, so he didn’t understand why he wasn’t rewarded.

“If it’s a ratings game, and we won, how is it I never got a show?” he said.

The Racialicious Links Roundup 3.28.13

It looks like the media found a new group to throw under the bus this week: single moms.

I really just want to say…keep our names out your mouth, yo…but I’m going to take a more diplomatic approach.

After The National Marriage Project released a report detailing the pros and cons of delayed marriage, a flood of articles emerged tackling the “crisis” of unwed mothers.

The Wall Street JournalThe AtlanticThink Progressand a slew of blogs published essays discussing the decline in marriage rates and the rise of single parent households and what it means for America. In case you’re wondering, we’re doomed.

I am recommending that we close 54 schools because I believe, and I know that the Mayor believes, that we should not invest in buildings; we should invest in our children’s education. This is not about numbers on a spreadsheet for me. This is far more personal and close to the heart. This is about our children. This is about ensuring that they have a chance to succeed.

While some have called my recommendations racist, the true crime would be to continue to allow our children to attend schools not equipped to help them reach their God-given potential.

For too long, children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated. They have been denied the resources they need to succeed in the classroom. And in far too many cases, these children are black and brown. They are trapped in underutilized, under-resourced schools. They are stuck because no one took the decisive, responsible and progressive action necessary to better their education. We cannot, and I will not, bury my head in the sand and pretend that there is a level playing field for all our children.

If we are to decry inequality, if we are to teach our children tolerance and humanity; if we are to teach our children the principles of equity and democracy, how can we stand by while thousands of children are deprived of the resources they need to have a fighting chance?

As a former teacher and a principal, I have lived through school closings. I know that we have a difficult road ahead. I know that this is painful, but in my 40 years as an educator, I have never felt more certain that we need to take this action now.

The always-inquisitive Jada Pinkett-Smith recently posed a question that has many people scratching their heads and some folks outright upset. In short, she’s wondering if black women ask to be represented in mainstream media, on the covers of magazines like Vanity Fair, shouldn’t white women be represented on the covers of traditionally black magazines like EssenceEbony and JET?

The answer? Yes and no.

It’s not enough to have this discussion without a little bit of context. We didn’t come to this dilemma out of nowhere. There is a long, difficult history that informs our current dynamics around race that can’t and shouldn’t be overlooked. This country has a long history of exclusion and the many movements for equal rights and access including the women’s movement and the Civil Rights movement (both of which black women fought in) reminds us that every person is not considered deserving and some of us had to, and still have to, fight for representation.

Magazines like Ebony and Essence were created from a need for black people to see ourselves featured prominently and positively. Ebony, which was founded in 1945, aimed to focus on the achievements of blacks from “Harlem to Hollywood” and to “offer positive images of blacks in a world of negative images.” Back then it was rare for mainstream magazines like LIFE and LOOK to feature black people in a non-discriminatory way. During a time when blacks were fighting so diligently for equal rights, it must have been a devastating blow to morale to be disparaged in the folds of corporate media. We’ve seen other marginalized communities like the LGBT and fat communities create their own media for fair and just representation. This plight is not exclusive to black people.

Nearly half are isolated for 15 days or more, the point at which psychiatric experts say they are at risk for severe mental harm, with about 35 detainees kept for more than 75 days.

While the records do not indicate why immigrants were put in solitary, an adviser who helped the immigration agency review the numbers estimated that two-thirds of the cases involved disciplinary infractions like breaking rules, talking back to guards or getting into fights. Immigrants were also regularly isolated because they were viewed as a threat to other detainees or personnel or for protective purposes when the immigrant was gay or mentally ill.

The United States has come under sharp criticism at home and abroad for relying on solitary confinement in its prisons more than any other democratic nation in the world. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement places only about 1 percent of its jailed immigrants in solitary, this practice is nonetheless startling because those detainees are being held on civil, not criminal, charges. As such, they are not supposed to be punished; they are simply confined to ensure that they appear for administrative hearings.

In the weeks leading up to this 10-year anniversary of the 2003 war there has been precious little said about actual women’s rights in Iraq. Media venues and screens of all sorts instead are in full gear discussing feminist dilemmas in the US, from Sheryl Sandberg’s need for powerful women to lean in, to whether women – that fantasmatic unspecified category – can “have it all”, or “not”.

These are messy times we live in. Wars are said to end (and they really don’t) and the war/s on women across the globe – from Congo, to Egypt, to Afghanistan, to the US Republican party – are not counted amongst them anyway. There is much noise about Sandberg of Facebook fame telling women to lean in – meaning to stay at the table and persevere – to get top leadership roles, while most women here and elsewhere have no chance for the top rungs of power. Do not be confused by the fact that Secretary of States Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hillary – who leans in readily – spoke on behalf of women’s rights while getting little in return.

It is problematic and troubling that Sandberg readily claims to be a feminist, without qualifying that her kind of feminism is corporatist and way too exclusionary. Her notion of “true equality” requires more women to be at the top – in leadership positions in government and the corporate structure. She supposedly believes that these women can change the world for the rest of women, and men. But, so far, they have not done so in meaningful ways. Shall I remind us of Madeleine Albright’s famous statement when asked about US sanctions against Iraq that endangered the lives of 100 of thousands children? She said: “We think the price is worth it.”

So what is a girl or woman to think? Hillary finishes up her stint as Secretary of State and is lauded as one of the best, ever. She is acclaimed for her “women’s rights” foreign policy agenda and the gratitude of women worldwide. Little is said about the imperial stance of her framing, or the gender violence that US policy has triggered and continues for women across the globe under her watch. Women in Iraq, and Afghanistan and Egypt are standing up, what Sandberg might term leaning in, but against patriarchal practices that US policy is implicated in.

Trigger Warning before the next selection

What’s so scary about Ross’ line is that this is something that a good number of men and boys actually do. Maybe a rap lyric won’t inspire an impressionable young dude to go and try to flip a couple keys, but normalizing this sort of rape? I see it. I see it and it scares me.

Because he’s tied to a major label and because the rape reference was so blatant, it’s likely that Ross will issue some sort of apology or come forward to say that it was just a joke—“Don’t really go out and do that now, y’all!” To that, I’d say…the title of his last studio album was God Forgives, I Don’t and, well, that’s one thing I have in common with the  ex-cop. Not unless he commits himself to actively working to change his tune, and if that happened, he probably wouldn’t be signed to anyone’s major label anymore. So while this sister is praying for him and urging him to be some positive person that I’ve never observed him to be during his rap career, I just hope he goes away and fast.