What’s Happening At The Border

One of the biggest news stories in the United States over the past few weeks has been immigration and the situation at the border. Thousands of children are currently living in cages, separated from their families and are often not allowed to hug the other kids around them. Countless people have made the difficult and sometimes fatal trip to the United States and over the border. For decades, deportations and changing borders have separated families.

For me, it can be overwhelming to first understand and keep up with everything, especially knowing the context of US immigration and border policies. Then, it can be overwhelming to know how to best move forward and call for a more just and humane society.

Continue reading

Advertisements

BOOK REVIEW: Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesa Ramsey

In 2011, Franchesca Ramsey had been making YouTube videos on her Chescaleigh channel for a few years. Some were about her hair and how to style locs. Others were comedic, including a parody song about student loans. But the one that went viral was a parody of a few popular videos from that year. “Sh*t White Girls Say… To Black Girls” (SWGSTBG) propelled Ramsey into the national spotlight in just a few hours after posting it and started her down a path of on and offline entertainment and activism.

Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist is Ramsey’s first book and in it, she writes about her journey leading up to the viral SWGSTBG video and the years after it. She writes with such vulnerability about the struggles and mistakes she’s faced while trying to break into the entertainment business while simultaneously being an activist in the public eye. There are many parts of the book that reflect on the many mistakes she’s made, how she dealt with some of the fall out, and how she learned from them all.

Continue reading

Learning From History.

Over the past few weeks, people have been comparing current events and politics to ones from history. The collection of rosaries from immigrants crossing the US/Mexico border has reminded people of the collection of wedding rings from Jewish folks in concentration camps. People have reminded folks that both the Holocaust and slavery were legal and that legality isn’t always equal to morality, as bad policies have been in place for quite some time.

In the first episode of the NPR/WABE podcast ‘Buried Truths’, host Hank Klibanoff talks about the importance of the show by saying that “… when we understand who we were, we can better understand who we are.” Learning about history and who we were can bring new meaning and context to current issues. And by looking at history and the full context, we can also better understand how these issues work, the ways in which we can combat injustice and inequality, and find role models.

Continue reading

Violence against native and indigenous women [Revisited]

NOTE: I originally wrote most of this post a couple years ago but this is sadly still a problem and something that still needs to be discussed. The reason why I wanted to revisit this topic is because the CBC recently released a second season of their podcast “Missing and Murdered”. This season is about an indigenous family in Canada trying to find their sister, Cleo. I recommend listening to that podcast to better understand this issue and the systematic trauma that many indigenous people have had to experience and continue to deal with.

Canada and the United States have both been exceptionally horrible to the indigenous and native populations of this land. For generations and generations, we’ve broken treaties, stolen children, committed cultural and physical genocide, live on stolen land. Violence against indigenous and native women is unfortunately a part of our history and current narrative in both countries. And it’s a national disgrace.

*I do want to say that this is a rough topic to read about – it deals with rape, abuse, death, and other forms of violence. Just as a warning.

Continue reading

The Pacific Northwest.

Living in the Pacific Northwest as a white person has been interesting to say the least. We have so many quirks here (like wearing socks and sandals) but one of my least favorite things is how white people like myself deal with race. I grew up here and my family never really talked about race – living in an overwhelmingly white community and having mostly white friends meant that race was never something I had to really think about too much. The northwest is considered a ‘progressive’ place and because of that, I never learned about all the insidious ways racism existed in the region.

Continue reading

#FeesMustFall protests in South Africa.

In South Africa, there have been demonstrations and protests by university students about the proposed increase of 10.5% to student fees, which would disproportionately impact poor (and usually black) students. The protests began last week at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the photos coming out of the protests are incredibly powerful. Buzzfeed News wrote about what you need to know about this issue, saying in particular that:

The issue, student leaders say, is higher education is currently available for only the children of the wealthy and is out of reach for the majority of South Africa’s black population.

Continue reading

US Imperialism and Immigration from Central and South America.

Immigration has been a hot topic over the last couple years within the US, with the Obama Administration deporting the most amount of undocumented immigrants in history, Trump consistently making ignorant remarks about immigration on his campaign trail, to Pope Francis’ immigration remarks last week in Philadelphia.

But the thing that never seems to be discussed in mainstream media about immigration and unauthorized migrants is the role that the US and our imperialist history play.  Roque Planas wrote about several different ways in which US imperialism has caused Latinx Immigration to the US to increase, talking about the numerous times the US has colonized, invaded, occupied, and overthrown governments in Central and South America. (Like how the US took over half of Mexico in 1848 after the Mexican-American War and the border literally crossed over numerous people of Mexican origin.) As Planas wrote:

…the truth is that the US government has historically made life in Latin America harder by overthrowing democratically elected governments, financing atrocities, and pushing trade policies that undermine Latin American industries, dealing blows to local economies.

Plus, the application of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the early 1990s helped to devastate local economies in Central and South American countries. With NAFTA, markets in Mexico were flooded with cheap meat, vegetables, and other imports from the US, which caused many small farms in Mexico to go out of business and many farm workers to leave the countryside for big cities or even the US. David Bacon wrote about how US policies (like NAFTA) helped fuel migration from Mexico to the US and wrote in particular that:

NAFTA lifted the barriers on Smithfield’s [a US pork slaughterhouse] ability to import feed. This gave it an enormous advantage over Mexican producers, as US corn, heavily subsidized by US farm bills, was much cheaper. “After NAFTA,” says Timothy Wise, of the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, US corn “was priced 19 percent below the cost of production.”

….

Mexico imported 30,000 tons of pork in 1995, the year after NAFTA took effect. By 2010 pork imports, almost all from the United States, had grown more than twenty-five times, to 811,000 tons. As a result, pork prices received by Mexican producers dropped 56 percent. US pork exports are dominated by the largest companies. Wise estimates that Smithfield’s share of this export market is significantly greater than its 27 percent share of US production.

Basically, NAFTA and other policies have allowed the US to export extra farm productions to countries like Mexico. And because many farm productions (like corn) in the US are heavily subsidized by the government, the food and imports are cheaper than what’s being made in Mexico. The cheaper availability of US food has caused so many farmers in Mexico to lose their farms and sources of incomes, which has in turn caused poverty.

It’s so important in discussions about immigration within the US to remember the ways in which we as a country have participated in making things worse in other countries. And it’s also important to remember that humans are not illegal and that the terminology of “illegal immigrants/aliens” can be dehumanizing and criminalizing.

Understanding Race, Racism, and White Supremacy as a White Person.

This is yet another post to not only my fellow white people but to myself as well. As white people, we need to not only acknowledge the history and context of white supremacy and racism within the US that puts us into a position of power but also start to actively destroy the current system and status quo. Acknowledging racism and tearing down the system of white supremacy as white people will be uncomfortable at times but it is completely necessary. Dr. Robin DiAngelo wrote about why it’s so hard to talk to white people about race, highlighting in the beginning that:

Social scientists understand racism as a multidimensional and highly adaptive system — a system that ensures an unequal distribution of resources between racial groups. Because whites built and dominate all significant institutions, (often at the expense of and on the uncompensated labor of other groups), their interests are embedded in the foundation of U.S. society. While individual whites may be against racism, they still benefit from the distribution of resources controlled by their group.

I wrote recently about some starting points for myself and other white people, in which I included the PBS production Race – The Power of Illusion. The reason I’ve referenced this twice now over a short span of time is because of the impact the production had on my own understanding of race and racism. PBS has a plethora of online resources to read but everything I’ve found about the actual video seems to indicate that you’d have to order the video straight from PBS in order to see it all. If you ever do get the chance to watch the film, I definitely recommend it.

And it’s important to keep in mind that the way in which we as white people experience the world is completely different than people of color. Maisha Z. Johnson wrote up a list of examples that prove that white privilege protects white people from the police, highlighting the fact that racial profiling and implicit biases impact how police interact with people of color and many other factors.

Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote a letter from Black America about the relationship that many black Americans have with police. Jezebel Delilah X also wrote about four reasons why the US police forces is an extension of slavery and white supremacy. And The Guardian points out that black Americans are significantly more likely to be unarmed when killed by the police than white Americans and people of color are proportionally more likely to be killed by police overall.

RaceCharts11There’s also this belief for many white people that the US is a post racial society after the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964. (Like, for example, the success of some means racism is over.) But Braden Goyette and Alissa Scheller came up with 15 charts and stats that prove that we are far from a post racial society. (One in which is to the left.) Crystal Fleming wrote a piece talking about white supremacy and the killing of Walter Scott, particularly highlighting:

Black precedent reveals that a black president is not enough to halt the onslaught of anti-black violence that has always been routine in our nation. What we continue to need is sustained multiracial activism and political engagement to bring about a more just and compassionate society — the kind of grassroots work being done by organizers and activists pushing for police reform in Ferguson, New York, Cleveland and across the country.

Also reverse racism (racism to white people) is not a thing. Dain Dillingham wrote an article with 5 questions for anyone who thinks they are a victim of ‘reverse racism’. Racism, simply put, is a systemic power + prejudice, something that only white people have within the US.

Lastly, there are a few more articles I wanted to include – most having to do with what we can do as white people. Jamie Utt wrote last November about how Ferguson calls on white people to regain our humanity. Utt also wrote another article about a month ago about how as white people, a big way to end racism is to invest in other white people. This, of course, sounds like the wrong way to go but Utt wrote that:

…the more that I think about it, I realize that White people who wish to work in racial justice solidarity and who strive for allyship need to realize our fundamental responsibility to do more than simply “call out” other White people.

We must take up the long, difficult, often emotionally-exhausting work of calling them in to change.

SpectraSpeaks wrote something similar long before Utt did though – calling for white allies to stop unfriending other white people over Ferguson. Spectra wrote that as an afrofeminist Nigerian advocate, she was not able to do the same things that we as white people are. She particularly calls on white people to step up more, saying:

I need you to step up in a major way, and leverage the connections you DO have to address ignorance with conversation and interrogate white privilege with compassion. Because I will not do this. I cannot do this.

My rage as a black person witnessing yet another moment in the endless cycle of racism in the US prevents me from engaging in “level headed” conversations with people who see this terribly unjust Ferguson ruling as just another news story to banter about at the water cooler.

Immigration

—”Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity… They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”

Pope Francis

I was initially introduced to the complicated stories of US immigration when I took a intercultural feminist theology class a few years ago and a friend spoke of the conditions that women go through trying to get into the US from Central and South America. My friend spoke of the horrors that women endured by trying to escape poverty and they were stories that broke down my assumptions and ignorance of immigration. Before that, I had almost no grasp on what was happening with immigration – being an ignorant white US citizen, it was a topic that never impacted my life until that class.

immigration-political-cartoon-2A year after that class, I took another class that was specifically about immigration and the same friend was in that class as well. Through that class, my friend, and interning with an immigration organization, I had all of my assumptions and foundations broken down about immigrants and immigration.

With President Obama’s actions with the southern US border, there is a lot of news happening in regards to US immigration. President Obama has pressed Central American countries to slow the wave of child migrants and has deported and detained an increasingly large number of immigrants during his term. You’ve probably heard by now the number of protests and issues happening with trying to deport children back to Central America. Todd Miller, the author of Border Patrol Nation, spoke about what has been missing with the discussions on child refugees at the border.

There is so much happening with this topic but one important thing that I’ve been keeping in mind with everything is the root causes of current immigration to the US. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been around for 20 years at this point and has had an unbelievable impact on the Mexican economy and immigration into the US. The Honduran Foreign Minister spoke with NPR about how the US should address the root causes of immigration.

Immigration should absolutely be a feminist issue and concern not only for the root causes but also for the way in which the US has been treating undocumented immigrants within the country. Patricia Valoy wrote about why exactly immigration should be a feminist concern, highlighting the gender bias within the immigration system and labor force (for employment visas).

(Transcript)

What’s Happening in the Dominican Republic.

Things to know and articles to read about what’s currently happening in the Dominican Republic as far as the mass deportation of anyone and everyone even a little Haitian:

… about a quarter of a million people will be made stateless.They will have no homes, no passports, and no civil rights. There are several reasons for this, but the primary reason is racism.