Tuesday, April 14, 2009

News: US Citizens Illegaly Deported

From ABC News / The Associated Press:

Pedro Guzman has been an American citizen all his life. Yet in 2007, the 31-year-old Los Angeles native — in jail for a misdemeanor, mentally ill and never able to read or write — signed a waiver agreeing to leave the country without a hearing and was deported to Mexico as an illegal immigrant.
He's not the only one:

In a drive to crack down on illegal immigrants, the United States has locked up or thrown out dozens, probably many more, of its own citizens over the past eight years. A monthslong AP investigation has documented 55 such cases, on the basis of interviews, lawsuits and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. These citizens are detained for anything from a day to five years. Immigration lawyers say there are actually hundreds of such cases.

It is illegal to deport U.S. citizens or detain them for immigration violations. Yet citizens still end up in detention because the system is overwhelmed, acknowledged Victor Cerda, who left Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2005 after overseeing the system. The number of detentions overall is expected to rise by about 17 percent this year to more than 400,000, putting a severe strain on the enforcement network and legal system.

The result is the detention of citizens with the fewest resources: the mentally ill, minorities, the poor, children and those with outstanding criminal warrants, ranging from unpaid traffic tickets to failure to show up for probation hearings. Most at risk are Hispanics, who made up the majority of the cases the AP found.

Read More

"... o're the land of the free, and the home of the brave," right?

So, essentially, over the past eight years, US citizens have not been free in their own land. People who are citizens of this country, and disproportionately the mentally ill, children, and minorities, are being kicked out for no reason. If you think back to the Stat of the Day that centered on the increase in hate crimes, on of the new factors is crimes against Latinos due to the recent immigration debate.

So, we can see one of the nasty effects of racism in this country: people automatically assume that Latinos or Asians or blacks with African accents are here illegally. Are people so paranoid when it comes to someone with a British accent? Do we fear being taken over by the French and Germans? No. Clearly this debate on immigration is racially tinged, and is spilling over to impact the lives of American citizens. To make it worse, I fully expect the many will pay such offenses little mind, because racism has so warped our minds to think that such actions are justified, just as after 9/11 many felt it was completely reasonable to profile anyone who appeared Middle-Eastern.

The more I read and learn the more a realize how little this country has actually changed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Speak For Yourself: Buchanan thinks more Latinos bad for US

Is Pat Buchanan racist? Is he a xenophobe who wants only whites to live in the United States? Well, there are lots of clips I could show you to let him answer that question for himself, but I'll post this more recent exchange with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchel.

Pat Buchanan, speak for yourself:

So, Buchanan sees a rising Latino population as a threat to the United States? Well, that's what he just said, isn't it? Not surprising, considering his earlier statements (I just can't help but post them):

I could probably make too many comments on this just for one post. But I must say that I am appalled by the notion that Buchanan thinks in order for the US to be successful as a nation, we must all, essentially, become white. It seems to me that he's saying we must all be assimilated into "traditional American" culture, which, let's face it, means White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture, a culture that has traditional accepted white male dominance. He openly hopes to return to earlier periods in our history, when immigration quotas favored western Europeans and essentially blocked Asians from coming to the United States. He sees a growing Latino population as a threat to our way of life. He referred to the 1960s as a time when cultural changes ruined our nation's culture. By the way, such changes included letting black people vote, letting brown people come to the United States, and treating women like children. They also included a shift in academics in which non-white people were actually taught about themselves in school, and actually learned that not everything good that was done in history was done by white people. People also started talking about oppressive things done to non-whites in history, such as slavery, colonization, and continued racism. Oh, the horrors.

Buchanan is very explicit in his argument that we must keep America white. My only question is, why is he still so respected? Trust that I'll have more to say on this in the coming days and weeks.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The New Confederacy: Tea Bag Revolution

So, while watching the latest installment of the Rachel Maddow show, I find out that what I've named the new Confederacy has moved into a new stage of aggression. On tax day, they will be tea bagging to protest taxes (which, by the way, Obama and the Democrats cut for the vast majority of United States citizens).

That's right, tea bagging, blatantly paying homage to the Boston Tea Party a protest that lead up to the American Revolution, were the American colonies separated from Great Britain. Although, considering that none of these protesters live in colonized areas, but are full-fledged citizens with all the rights associated with such status, they remind me more of Confederate rebels than those early Revolutionary patriots.

Another similarity with the Confederates: protesting something that isn't actually reality. The Confederates seceded because they were afraid Lincoln would abolish slavery, which he had no plans of doing. These people are tea bagging because they fear that Obama will, among other things, raise their taxes, even as he has just cut them.

It should come as no surprise, then, that one of the signs in the video says "YES WE CAN SECEDE."

Accompanying this activity are the usual sentiments associated with the New Confederacy:
  • Obama wasn't born in the United States, so he's not the president
  • Obama is inherently opposed to American values
  • Obama is a threat to the nation and must be defended against, even to the point of Revolution
These are the people who were mad at the left for not liking George Bush after he stole the 2000 election?

I must ask, if this were Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, would be be seeing this? Of course the right would not like either of these Democrats or any other white Democrats in the White House, but to what degree does Obama's race contribute to the level of animosity and rebelliousness expressed by the New Confederates? Is it possible that some just can's stand the idea that THEIR president is black?

Stat of the Day: Being Searched By the Police

According to the US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2005, whites, African Americans, and Hispanics were essentially equally likely to be stopped by police for a traffic stop.

However, once stopped, blacks and Hispanics were more likely to be searched or to have their cars searched.

  • 3.6% of whites were searched
  • 9.5% of blacks were searched
  • 8.8% of Hispanics were searched
This report does not provide information on what percentage of searches, disaggregated by race, produced illegal contraband. However, according to the Drug War Chronicle past reports which have included this information have shown that whites are more likely to have illegal contraband. This pattern is born out in various statewide studies, which, hopefully, will be included in future "Stat of the Day" features. The Drug War Chronicle also points out that a political powers sought to suppress information on racial profiling in a past report.

Read the full Bureau of Justice Statistics report for 2005 (pdf)
Read the full Drug War Chronicle article

From what I can see, there is at least a reason to suspect an intentional suppression of data that may reveal flaws in the so-called War on Drugs. This data would be a severe blow who are reluctant to condemn police action when it comes to race. Many argue that it's appropriate that blacks and Latinos make up a disproportionately high number of persons searched, as evidenced in the data above, because we're the ones with the illegal stuff to be searched for. However, the data seems to suggest that this is untrue. Whites are actually more likely to have contraband. This undercuts the rational used for racial profiling.

Now, of course blacks and Latinos make up a greater proportion of the persons searched, arrested, tried, convicted, and sent to prison, and we tend to receive harsher prison sentences than whites who commit the same crimes. So if you judge who has more contraband or commits more crime by simply looking at conviction rates or prison populations, of course it will appear that minorities commit most of the crimes in America. However, the data cited above and that I will continue to post in the near future, suggest that this may not be true.

An earlier "Stat of the Day" stated that only 13% of drug users are black, but 35% of the those arrested, 55% of those convicted, and 74% of those sent to prison for drug possession. It's easy to see how this could happen when blacks are more likely to be searched.

So, what should the take away be from this?
  1. There are racial differences in the likelyhood of being searched.
  2. Racial profiling is ineffective. What sense does it make to more frequently search a demographic that less frequently has contraband?
  3. Considering all this, how can anyone refute the fact that there is still oppression of minorities and white privilege in the United States?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

News: Black College accused of Racism

From CBS News / The Associated Press

A historically black college in South Carolina has been sued after three white faculty members say they were passed over for jobs or let go for because of their race, federal officials announced Wednesday.

Alleging that Benedict College "engaged in unlawful practices," the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also said that the Columbia school had agreed to pay $55,000 to each of the three former instructors.

Under a settlement reached between Benedict and the EEOC, the school also agreed to remind staff about its employment policy prohibiting discrimination, provide administrators, faculty and staff with training and make periodic reports to the EEOC

Read More
I really hope that there is no foul play involved here, and I guess we'll never truly know because the case has reached a settlement. However, I must say I wouldn't be surprised if there was some impropriety on the part of Benedict College. I say that not because of anything I know about Benedict, because I know next to nothing about the school. But one of the things that I find disturbing about my black brothers and sisters is the desire to put black people into positions over more qualified persons, even when it's not the best option. As much as we hate to admit it, it happens, especially when we get into power.

That's not meant as a knock on affirmative action, which I think, when done right, promotes qualified people who would have otherwise been overlooked. But when we try to "do everything black" we end up doing things wrong. We can't let our black pride lead to bad decisions.

Stat of the Day: Hate Crime Increase

So, obviously, I'm not going to be able to do these EVERY day.

Also, feel free to submit a stat, and you can even submit one to counter one that I've posted, just be sure to include a source.

In 2006, the FBI reports a 7.8% increase in the number of hate crimes from the previous year.
Source: Human Rights First
As I can gather, this is the most recent information available.

After reading the Human Rights First analysis and then thinking about what has been going on over the past few years that could cause such an increase, the following comes to mind.

1. Persistent anger about 9/11. There's still a lot of people out there who are angry about the terrorist attacks and blame all Muslims or Middle-Easter persons.
2. Immigration. In 2006, people were hot about this issue. I suspect that the recent economic crisis doesn't help things. (side note: does this make anyone else think about about then Senator and candidate Obama's "bitter" remarks?). I fear that many Latinos have and will continue to fall victim to hate crimes because they are associated with illegal immigration, even if they themselves are U.S. citizens.
3. LGBT Rights. As this has become a more publicly contested issue, I suspect that more violence has been committed against members of the LGBT community. It was September of 2005 that NBA star Shaquille O'Neal helped arrest a man accused of attacking a gay couple (he does everything but shoot free throws well).

Overall, this is a disturbing trend, because it suggest not only that hatred is on the rise, not the decline, in this country, but that it is increasingly manifesting itself in violent and criminal behavior. While Latinos make up an increasing share of the U.S. population, they face increased violence. While members of the LGBT community gain more rights, they also face more violence. And, while we have a black president, we also have a population that has generated more threats on his life than for a typical president.

I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, April 6, 2009

This White Privilege Thing

Just some thoughts here...
Recently, I've been thinking a lot about this whole concept of white privilege. Growing up as an African American in suburban Philadelphia, I've always had an awareness that certain avenues were open to whites that I could not as easily pass through. However, it wasn't until I was about to go to college that I read an article that pulled together all the things that I knew about race into the concept of white privilege.

As part of my preparation for my summer teaching internship in 2005, I was required to read "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh. On the one hand, the article was eye-opening for me, because, like most people, I was used to discussing race only in terms of how it impacted non-whites. There was a certain liberation in the idea that discussing whiteness was legitimate, that it should be a part of the public conversation on race, and not just something non-whites talk about privately. On the other hand, the article didn't strike me as particularly controversial or outlandish. It really seemed to be stating the obvious.

Over the years that followed, I have continuously been amazed at how offended many are by the idea of white privilege. I guess I still have held on to a shred of youthful innocence that makes it hard for me to believe anyone wouldn't clearly see the advantages of being white in America. It makes me wonder:

1. Why are white people so uncomfortable talking about their whiteness? Two possibilities come to mind. (1) Some have been raised to be "colorblind" and not see their own color or the color of anyone else. I have to say that this is noble, but dangerous, because by turning a blind eye to race, we render ourselves incapable of recognizing racism. What other problems get better if you ignore them? Cancer? Crime? I think one of the unfortunate consequences of well-intentioned colorblindness is that it makes whites incapable of seeing the benefits that come along with their lighter skin. (2) Some whites are just not comfortable with the idea that they have achieved success based on anything other than merit. From childhood, children in the Untied States are taught that this is a meritocricy, where people are rewarded for what they do, not for who they are. White privilege threatens this ideology. It worries me that we may be so obsessed with the fanticy of America that we can't see the truth of America. And the sad part is, if we would realize how unlike a meritocricy our society is, we could then work to fix the problems and become more of a meritocricy.

This brings up another point.

2. Why are whites so obssessed with advantages given to non-whites, but incapable of acknowledging their own advantages? Seriously, if you listened to some whites, particularly those on the conservative right, you'd think that being black was some sweepstakes or something. You'd think that being white was a disadvantage.

But, of course, many would the say "oh, no, no, no. We've come a long way but there's still much work to be done," in an attempt to acknowlege that there is still racism that impacts non-whites negatively. So...

3. If we can acknoledge disadvantages for non-whites, why can't we acknowlegde the resulting advantages for whites? I mean, it seems simple. If we're running the 100 meter dash, and you get to start 10 meters ahead of me, then I'm at a disadvantage. Well, that also means that you have an advantage.

4. Why do some whites think that the concept of white privilege teaches that all white people are raicst? Why can't people distinguish between calling individuals racist and saying that we live in a society that is set up to privilege one group over others? To me, it's clear that whites don't choose white privilege any more than they choose to be white. But it seems some people can't understand the difference between individual prejudice and systemic racism.

So, like I said, just some thoughts on this whole thing. I feel bad constantly saying "white people" because I don't want to generalize. Mainly, I just wantetd to through these ideas out there and see where the discussion goes. Hopefully, we have lots of differing views out there so that we can really dig deep on these issues.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Stat of the Day: Diversity in Public Education

According to the Pew Hispanic Center Publication:

  • In the 1994 - 1995 school year, 35% of white public school students attended nearly all-white schools (less than 5% non-white); In the 2005 - 2006 school year, this number shrank to 21%
  • Over the same period, the number of Hispanic and black students attending nearly all-minority schools grew. For Hispanics, this number grew from 25% to 29%, and for blacks from 28% to 31%.
What are the implications of this, assuming their is academic value in diversity?

Source: The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition of U.S. Public Schools, by Rick Fry

White Privilege: Tim Wise

Not long ago I posted a set of videos attacking the teaching of white privilege, among other things, at the University of Delaware. For this post in our ongoing series on white privilege, I decided to post a video that takes an opposite view. In this video, Tim Wise makes the case for the existence of white privilege.

I don't want to offer too much commentary here, but I do want to say that I appreciate the incorporation of historical context in his development of the concept. So watch, enjoy, and comment. Do you agree? What are the strengths and weaknesses in his argument?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

LC21?: Why Focus on Minorities?

Haven't had one of these in a while. Here are some questions to think about.

Why, when we talk about race, do we focus on minorities? Why do we always talk about what non-whites can or can't do?

Why, during the presidential campaign, was the focus on how Barack Obama's blackness would help or harm him? Why was their not a focus on how John McCain's whiteness would help or harm him?

Why, when we talk about education do we discuss what minority students need or deserve, or how they contribute to their own successes or failures? Why don't we ask the same of white children?

Why do we spend so much time trying to figure out what's wrong with black people? Why don't we try to figure out what's wrong with white people?

Why do we focus on understanding Latino culture, or what it means to be black, or the life of Asians? Why not talk about what it means to be white?

Why don't we talk about whiteness?

Stat of the Day: Incarceration Rates

Nationwide, black men are sent to prison on drug charges at 13 times the rate of white men.

Oh, No. Here We Go. More from O'Rilley the Hate-Monger

This headline made me sick:

O'Rilley's Writing Obama Book.
This just made me wish that hate was a commodity. I wish there was only a finite amount of hate in the world that couldn't be waisted on ignorant baboons like Bill O'Rilley.  The man makes me sick, and the idea that he could be considered even close to being a journalist, or that his show could be considered anything close to news is preposterous.
Here's POLITICO's blurb on the book
Bill O'Reilly, currently on his "100 months at #1" media tour, told Cindy Adams that he has another book in the works.
"My next book, out the latter part of 2010, is on Obama," O'Reilly said. "He's becoming a historical figure not because he's black, but because his liberal agenda is taking the country in a direction we've never been before."