Friday, November 02, 2012
A Note On Campaigns & Race in New Mexico - Guest Blog by Hakim Bellamy
Inaugural Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, New Mexico (2012-2014)
It was therapeutic to walk the streets of Albuquerque for my friend and House District 30 Candidate Mary Ellen Broderick today with my 4 year-old son. It was cool to teach him a lesson about democracy. It was cool to teach him that we value the things we work and fight for more than the things we are granted. It was cool to get him some practice pounding pavement and knocking doors, and demonstrating democracy by foot and by fist. It was necessary because of a week of recent experiences that challenged my faith in the place I choose to raise my child.
Last week, on my way to 4th of July Canyon with my favorite patriots (sons Tobey and Kaylem), we passed a huge white sign that said “Shove It Heinrich.” At that moment, I decided that I was going to make the time to knock on doors in hopes of getting 10 Heinrich votes for that one obnoxious sign owner. That sort of sign (reminiscent of the antagonistic signs that became emblematic of Tea Party rallies) attempts to nudge the very fine line that separates a peaceful, electoral exchange of power from a hate-fueled, violent rebellion. It is fine to disagree with Martin Heinrich, but a pro-Heather Wilson sign would be much more “American” than the vitriolic hate speech this citizen chose to turn into signage. Unless Martin personally said something about this citizen’s mother (or father), there is no need to shove anything, ANYWHERE.
However, I ended up walking for Mary Ellen today, after deciding that she probably needed a Black man walking her district north of Osuna and east of Wyoming. I felt my visual appearance in a neighborhood “like that” would either win Mary Ellen votes she needs (that she might not get per chance of the way she looks) or lose her some votes she doesn’t want (per chance of the way I look).
On a weeknight last week, I pulled into the gas station by my apartment near Lomas and Tramway. It’s a four-pump station, and me pulling up made for three cars. I got out and walked inside because I’m familiar with this station’s pumps, and their inability to accept a purchase from my debit card. Behind my car is a women who appears Anglo-Latina and goth, pumping her own gas with a Mexican-American appearing male in the passenger seat of her “way to many miles on it” sedan. On the other side of the pump is an older Chicana woman in her white Taurus getting gas as well. I tell the attendant that the pump won’t accept my card, like I do every time I get gas there, and return to my vehicle.
As I pump my gas, I notice the car that was behind me is gone, and then the abuelita says something to me in Spanish. I say excuse me, and she repeats her exclamation while visibly upset. Then, she proceeds to tell me (in English) that when I walked away the “do nothing” male in the passenger seat said that he hopes my car “blows up.” I assume he meant that my car would ignite while I was getting gas, in which case he obviously has so little of a life that he watches way too much television. Then, my abuelita friend continues to tell me the rest of the story. She tells me how he laughed when he said it, because he said it quiet enough so I could not hear him and loud enough so she could. She tells me how she spoke up because that pisses her off, and she has Black grandbabies and did not side with him simply because they were the same color, in the same state, at the same gas station. She tells me how he got uncomfortably quiet when he realized that she, who was probably his grandmother’s age, did not find his comment amusing. She tells me he was probably made quitter because she was, in fact, disappointed in him (like I imagine his grandmother would be). She tells me how the girl said nothing and they drove off, and how she sees this type of behavior far too often in New Mexico.
Then, she tells me that I will be blessed. She says she prayed over me because his bad energy and irresponsibility may have cursed me…a curse of incompetence, but a curse nonetheless. So she prayed for my prosperity, and I thanked her. She smiled. And I realized my 4 year-old son was in the back seat the whole time. He had heard this guy articulate how he wanted him and his daddy to perish in a ball of gasoline fire. However, he also heard someone that looks like his school teachers stick up for us….to somebody that looked like her.
When I drove off, I though about my Grandma Ida who just passed on Labor Day weekend, and how this abuelita reminded me of her. I thought of how my grandma was watching over me in the form of this woman that day. And as I canvassed the door of a 96 year-old Albuquerque woman in the Heights, I was excited before I was disappointed that she was not home. I was disappointed because I am sure she would have reminded me of my grandmother as well. I am sure she would have been my Grandma as well. However, I got to have conversations with New Mexicans of many different colors today. Some were D’s, some were R’s and some were I’s. But they all gave me faith in this state. They all (except one guy who talked to me from the other side of a closed door) took the time to see another human being. Regardless of my candidate or political affiliation, they took the time to be open. They took the time to be open to our differences, but also our humanity. And they did not wish for my son and I to die a fiery death or tell us to “shove it.” They reminded me why I choose to raise my son here. Faith restored.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Represenative Nate Gentry Tells Constituents "No Negative Attacks will come from him."
NM State Representative Nate Gentry told his constituents he would be doing no negative attacks, just the facts will be put out in his name. This Rep. Gentry said just hours before a negative flier from Rep Gentry attacking his opponent was received in his constituents mailboxes.
Below is a short video of Representative Nate Gentry stating he will not be doing any personal negative attacks, he will just be stating the facts. All candidates got a chance to speak at the Loma del Rey Neighborhood Association meeting on Wednesday evening at 7:00.
Rep. Gentry must have forgotten that he had put in the mail that same day a personal negative attack of his opponent, Mary Ellen Broderick. See below Hoodie front, and Hoodie back.
As Rep. Nate Gentry says in his statement at the neighborhood association, he is only sending out facts. The flier sent out to his constituents states that Mary Ellen Broderick sides with child killers! Facts, really Rep. Gentry, only facts you will send out?
It is a fact that Mary Ellen Broderick does support the current law of NM which does not allow the Death Penalty. The repeal of the NM Death Penalty law was fought for many years in the Roundhouse. The death penalty was repealed on March 18, 2009, no more eye for an eye as the way we govern, no more outrageous expenses born by the people of NM for this law.
Barbara Wold followed this topic and wrote about it on many occasions within this DFNM blog, her post regarding the signing of the new law abolishing the death penalty and instituting life without parole can be see here.
Other facts regarding the repeal of the death penalty and House District 30: both of the most recent Republican and Democratic representatives of District 30 voted in favor of replacing the death penalty with life without parole. Neither of them received negative comments from their constituents. 67% of New Mexicans supported the repeal. New Mexicans believe that the millions wasted on having the law on the books should be spent on preventing violence against children, promoting public safety and compensating victims, while keeping dangerous murderers locked up for life. Read the following link for other meaningful information regarding the Repeal of the Death Penalty.
Furthermore, it is telling Republican Representative Nate Gentry is using the Hoodie image on the front of this peice. What are the underlying fear tactics being messaged with that simple Hoodie image. Think about the Trayvon Martin killing this spring; a young black man was killed by someone protecting his neighborhood. The man saw someone who should not be in his neighborhood with a hoodie on and dark skinned and confronted him and killed him. Trayvon was carrying skittles and a soft drink.
None of these images go unseen and unrecognized for the fear mongering racist imaging they are meant to display.
Young americans are tired of the fear tactics and racists behavior of the fear mongers. A group called Hoodie Vote was started with a mission of getting young people fed up to vote.
Below is a great video of an activist at Netroots Nation 2012 explaining the Hoodie Vote project.
In summary let's use this fear-mongering message from NM Representative Nate Gentry to GOTV for New Mexico.
Go volunteer for a campaign, Rep. Nate Gentry's opponent Democrat Mary Ellen Broderick needs help on the ground, door to door, meeting the voters, tell them who Mary Ellen really is. Mary Ellen does not side with the child killers! Nothing could be further from the truth. Let's stand up together with volunteer action to say no to these divisive attacks.
We need jobs, we need excellent education, we do not need more fear-mongering
Please sign up to volunteer at Elect Mary Ellen HD30 website or call 417-9139.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Community Members Announce Racial Profiling Complaints in San Juan County
From Somos Un Pueblo Unido:
IMMIGRANT GROUP CALLS ON SAN JUAN COUNTY TO STOP ARIZONA-STYLE LAW ENFORCEMENT POLICIES Community Members File Racial Profiling Complaints Against City, County, and Federal Agencies. Photo above from Somos
On Wednesday July 11, 2012, residents of San Juan County and members of Somos Un Pueblo Unido (Somos) announced the filing of several racial profiling complaints against local and federal law enforcement agencies. In the complaints made to the City of Farmington and San Juan County, six individuals alleged that the Farmington Police Department and the San Juan County Sheriff's Department changed the scope of investigation based on race, national origin, and language in order to inquire about immigration status-a violation of New Mexico's Prohibition of Bias Based Policing Act of 2009.
"We have lived in this area for many years, contributing to the local economy and paying taxes. Like most families, we want a better future for our children," said Veronica Perez, a spokesperson for Families United for Justice a recently formed group of immigrants and allies in Farmington. "We used to live in peace, but in the last year, many of our families have been victims of racial profiling and discrimination as result of the collaboration between the local law enforcement, jail and immigration officials. We live in constant fear and no longer feel safe calling the police. How is that good for public safety?"
Somos also submitted a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General and its Office for Civil Rights claiming that local DWI checkpoints have become de facto immigration checkpoints. The complaint stated "It is our understanding that ICE should not be conducting immigration checkpoints beyond 100 miles from the border and local law enforcement shouldn't be questioning individuals about immigration status at a DWI checkpoint, the purpose of which is to prevent and apprehend drunk drivers."
The complaint also alleged that area ICE agents were disregarding ICE's own policies by placing ICE Detainers an individuals in order to hold them at the San Juan County Detention Center despite these individuals not having been arrested for a criminal violation and at the County's expense.
"We are working with these brave community members in Farmington to stand up for civil rights and public safety," said Rayos Burciaga, Board Member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "Based on eye witness accounts, it seems that ICE agents are colluding with local law enforcement officials and the local jail to racially profile individuals and violate their constitutional rights. New Mexico is better than that."
"My parishioners deserve to live without fear and intimidation," said Father Vigil, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Farmington. "We live in a country where due process rights should be respected. We should be integrating Latino families, not separating children from their parents."
"In the past year, I have witnessed the devastating effects of this country's broken immigration system and the violation of immigrants' civil rights in the Farmington community," said Iris Calderon, an immigration attorney from the Calderon Law Firm based in Albuquerque. "US citizen children are separated from their fathers only for failing to provide evidence of legal status at a DWI checkpoint. DREAMers have been put into deportation proceedings for speeding tickets and other minor traffic violations. When the civil rights of immigrants are violated, the consequences are dire."
Residents also complained that the Farmington, Bloomfield, and Aztec Police Departments, as well as the San Juan County Sheriff's Department, do not have written policies and complaint forms that are updated and compliant with the bias-based policing ban, as is required by the 2009 law.
"These agencies need to take the community's concerns about racial profiling more seriously," added Perez, "It's the only way that trust can be restored."
Somos Un Pueblo Unido: is a statewide civil and immigrants' rights organization that worked along side the NAACP and other groups to pass the Prohibition of Bias-based Profiling Act in 2009 at the State Legislature. Somos is also part of a national campaign called "Restoring Trust" that will host events nationwide on Wednesday to call attention to the public safety hazards of collaboration between local jails and ICE.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Guest Blog by Hakim Bellamy: With Media and Justice for All: Media Justice as Anti-Racism Work
Last week, Media Literacy Project (MLP) attended the Second Annual Anti-Racism Day at the New Mexico State Legislature. Having served on the planning committee for this day of action, convened by the New Mexico Health Equity Working Group and the Deconstructing Racism Group, MLP had a chance to reflect on the anti-racism aspects of our work. Recently, we have been protecting the cyber frontier from corporate colonization through our opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), both in Congress.
Racism often frames the environment in which the most horrific human rights abuses occur. The human right to communication is certainly threatened by SOPA and PIPA, making freedom of speech the dominant argument in these debates currently happening in the U.S. House and Senate, respectively. However, these companion bills that were initially supported by a majority of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation have a more acute impact on communities of color. With Anti-Racism Day fresh in our minds, we must at least acknowledge the disparity of that impact on our communities.
The intentionally deceptive use of language by supporters of SOPA and PIPA is something that disproportionately impacts people of color and therefore, disproportionately impacts New Mexico. The good news is that this deceptive language is not lost on folks who work in the fields of media justice and creative arts. The idea that the SOPA and PIPA legislation was designed out of some altruistic concern of Congress to protect “the starving artist” is an utterly absurd frame. Yet, this is the frame that they have been using, with some success, to get artists to support protecting intellectual property at the expense of freedom. The reality is that the content owners, not the content creators, are the ones lobbying this legislation through Congress. As an organization whose work is reliant upon content created by cultural workers and artists in the Southwest, we want to see the fair use and fair compensation of our partners and collaborators protected.
At the same time, we know that the most innovative and democratic model for communication and artistic distribution ever created is the Internet. The Internet is a threat to the corporate model of gatekeeping content, communication and culture for profit. Much like the artists that work in your community, the artists we work with are more likely to make a living from their art because of the Internet, not in spite of it. Rarely are these artists in the economic stratosphere of “1%ers” who have to concern themselves with how the Internet is cutting into their movie, television or music profits. As an artist, I suspect that for artists of color approximately 99 percent of us fall into the former category.
It is not the content creators who stand to see a windfall of profit if SOPA and PIPA become law; it is the content owners who want to make sure that they remain the middle man between the artist and the audience. In the scope of anti-racism theory, the economics of this dynamic can best be explained with a plantation analogy. The plantation gets the harvest of the artist for next to nothing, and then keeps all the market profit.
However, the corporate owners have been faced with a revolt. Their attempt to put a noose around the Internet has been met with great opposition. Their attempts to control the market and bully us into giving up our freedom, is failing. Community artists figured out that working for themselves could provide much more creative and economic freedom than slaving for the owners, and have been doing so since the advent of the digital revolution in the 1980s. Essentially, the Internet has emancipated poor people (read: artists) and communities of color from having their talent, their issues and their culture ignored or marginalized as not universal enough or not profitable enough.
So as we all apply this idea of anti-racism to the work that we do, please consider how difficult it would be for us to do the work of bringing people of all colors together without being able to share our culture freely? How would we realize the anti-racist world we seek without being able to communicate our songs, our images and our stories? Where else might we share our languages, our traditions, and our truth? It was the Internet that gave consumer advocates, web experts and media justice advocates the power to stop SOPA and PIPA from seeing a vote. That power to catalyze change is precisely the quality of the Internet that proponents of this legislation seek to eliminate. We ask that you write your Congressperson and Senators and tell them to leave the Internet open and free...with media and justice for all.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Farmington Tea Party Protestor Tells Congressman Ben Ray Lujan to 'Get Out of Politics and Make Room for an American'
An article today on Think Progress reports on an ugly incident that took place yesterday in Farmington, New Mexico as Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03) was preparing to tour Goodwill Industries as part of a tour of local nonprofit organizations. About a dozen rowdy Tea Party protestors showed up to confront him and at least one of them was clearly out of line -- exhibiting the kind of bigotry and xenophobia that Tea Party advocates continually claim are not present in the Tea Party movement:
Tuesday in New Mexico, the strains of racism and ethnocentrism that exist in the Tea Party movement emerged again. As Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) prepared to tour a nonprofit organization in Farmington, he was met by a dozen Tea Party protesters, one of whom asserted that Lujan was not an American. The Farmington Daily Times reports:
Darrel Clark of Farmington said he came for “a chance to see the elusive representative.”
“He needs to get out of politics and make room for an American,” Clark said.
Luján is a lifelong New Mexican. Clark later explained that he meant an “American patriot.”
Though Clark did not elaborate on what he meant by “American patriot,” it’s not hard to understand his implication.
Congressman Lujan, always the gentleman, didn't take the bait:
Luján appeared to take the protest in stride.
"It's important that we get out to visit our constituency," Luján said. "We think that's important, and we'll continue to do that ... Luján noted that the protesters were "mostly respectful."
"I thought we'd come out and share our thoughts with him," said Joe Rogers of Farmington, who called friends to join the protest.
As the Think Progress article noted,
The Tea Party continues to claim that racism, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia are not driving forces in its movement, but the actions of its members continue to belie those claims. Many of the movement’s causes have targeted Latinos — advocating for harsh immigration laws, referring to them as “anchor babies” and “welfare queens,” urging followers to attack Latinos, and fighting to rewrite the 14th amendment to remove its guarantee of birthright citizenship.
Where is the Republican Party of New Mexico in all of this? I would think that any legitimate political party organization would quickly be issuing a statement refuting awful statements like that of right winger Darrel Clark. Then again, the GOP nationwide has long looked the other way when its Tea Party supporters and other extremist segments of its base use hate-filled invectives and over-the-line speech to attack Democrats. Both Tea Party members and all Republicans should be ashamed of this incident, and publicly condemning the racist speech of Darrel Clark and anyone else on the right who is stooping to this kind of behavior. I won't hold my breath.
Monday, June 06, 2011
ACLU: Afghanistan Veteran from Hobbs Alleges Racial Discrimination in NM National Guard
Today the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a racial discrimination complaint with the federal Office for Civil Rights, Department of Justice, on behalf of Adam Jarrell, a decorated Specialist in the New Mexico Army National Guard. Jarrell, a member of the 920th Engineering Unit, is the only African-American in his unit of approximately 216 soldiers.
Jarrell alleges that while he was deployed in a combat zone in Afghanistan in 2009, other soldiers in his unit subjected him to racist comments and threats, culminating with an incident in which he found a noose hanging outside his barracks door. When he brought this misconduct to his commanding officers, they ignored the issue and in some cases explicitly condoned the offending soldiers’ behavior.
“No one should suffer the kind of racial hatred Specialist Jarrell experienced, least of all someone who is on the front lines of battle,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Our military is supposed to maintain a professional, disciplined fighting force. People’s lives depend on it. Racism and racially motivated threats have no place in our state’s National Guard units.”
SPC Jarrell alleges that the racially-motivated harassment began after he reported a non-commissioned officer for physically abusing two fellow subordinate soldiers. Breaking military rules, SPC Jarrell’s Captain disclosed to the offending non-commissioned officer that the misconduct report originated from Jarrell. From this point forward, Jarrell’s non-commissioned officers subjected him to threats of physical violence, increasingly harsh retaliations and racially-motivated harassment.
According to the allegations, SPC Jarrell’s non-commissioned officers routinely referred to him in front of his fellow soldiers as “mayate,” a Mexican-American slang derogatory term often thought of as the Spanish counterpart to the word “nigger.” On January 5, 2010, Jarrell returned to his barrack, which was solely occupied by him, and found a noose hanging outside his door. SPC Jarrell made multiple attempts to report this misconduct, but his superiors made no meaningful attempt to address this serious and pervasive problem. Instead, they attempted to justify use of the word “mayate” and joined the campaign of retaliation against SPC Jarrell, even attempting to medically discharge him for “bee allergies.”
“From day one, our trainers hammered home that our lives depended on the guy standing next to us,” said Jarrell. “How am I expected to entrust my life to a fellow soldier who hates me because of the color of my skin? How are we to accomplish our mission if unit cohesion is poisoned by racism? This is a serious problem, not just for me, but for the entire unit.”
His complaints reached even the NMANG commanding officer, Major General Kenny Montoya, but still nothing was done, according to the allegations. Having exhausted all possible avenues, SPC Jarrell contacted the ACLU of New Mexico for assistance. The complaint demands that the Office for Civil Rights hold responsible those who subjected SPC Jarrell to offensive racist language, threats of physical assault, countless acts of retaliation and the horrific image of a noose hanging outside his sleeping quarters.
A full copy of SPC Adam Jarrell’s OCR complaint is available online here.
SPC Adam Jarrell is represented by ACLU-NM Staff Attorney Leon F. Howard and ACLU-NM Managing Attorney Laura Schauer Ives.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Ron Paul, Bigoted Ideologue
This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, of Las Cruces.
On Friday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul told Chris Mathews in an MSNBC interview that he would not have voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, if he were a member of Congress at the time of its passage. Paul told Matthews that while he thought Jim Crow laws were illegal, he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act "because of property rights."
Paul's anti-civil rights foray on Friday is sadly not his first. On June 4, 2004, on the 40th Anniversary of passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act, Paul issued an angry denunciation on the floor of the House. "The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave the federal government unprecedented power over the hiring, employee relations, and customer service practices of every business in the country. The result was a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society," Paul said. Paul's was the only dissenting vote against the House resolution commemorating passage of the Civil Rights Act.
It would be comforting to disregard Ron Paul's frequent forays into denouncing civil rights legislation as just so much fuzzy-thinking of a libertarian ideologue, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Lurking not too far below the surface is Ron Paul's heritage of bigoted speech.
Ron Paul's history of racism dates back decades, and bigoted language has been a frequent topic of his Congressional newsletter. "Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action," he wrote in one newsletter. "We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers." Ron Paul issued this opinion in another, "Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressmen [sic]. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day." Ron Paul's racist diatribes date back decades.
In 1996 the Houston Chronicle revealed this pattern of hate-speech in Paul's writing. In one newsletter article, the Chronicle noted, Ron Paul claimed that 85 percent of all black men in the District of Columbia were criminals. Paul wrote, "Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the 'criminal justice system,' I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal," Paul said.
When Ron Paul's racist newsletters came to light nationally four years ago, the Texas Congressman claimed the articles were "ghostwritten" by some unnamed author and did not reflect his "true opinions." The identity of any "ghostwriter" was never revealed. On Friday, Ron Paul's pattern of racism emerged once again in the false guise of some sort of "deeply-held" libertarian ideology.
As an announced candidate for the Republican nomination, it's time to question Ron Paul's motives, and belief-system, once again.
To see more posts by Stephen, visit our archive.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
(Updates) New Mexico PAC Calls for Immediate Resignation of SOS Dianna Duran for Racist "Humor"
Update 2: The AP reports that SOS Dianna Duran has placed a state employee who works in her office on leave in response to this controversy, and has issued a statement saying the racist "humor" was "deeply offensive" toward two African-American legislators. Duran also said she "will not tolerate any form of racism or bigotry." Still unanswered are the questions of why a staffer in Duran's office would feel comfortable putting demeaning language on a state form, and why nobody caught it before it was posted online and sent out in the mail to political action committees around the state.
Update 1: Since I published this post, the Secretary of State's website has taken down the offending spreadsheet. Here is a pdf of the original document that resided on the site, as noted below.
Is this Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran's macaca moment?
Today, the New Mexico-based Justice League PAC called for the immediate resignation of Secretary of State Dianna Duran for racist jokes aimed at two African-American legislators in her political reporting form required of all New Mexico political committees.
The Justice League PAC says it received a packet in the mail yesterday from Duran’s office with instructions for filing the bi-annual campaign report for state political committees, due April 11, 2011. The packet contained instructions to download an Excel spreadsheet from the Secretary of State’s website (http://www.sos.state.nm.us/sos-pacs.html then click “2011 PAC Filing Form for April 11, 2011 Report”).
The Excel spreadsheet (xls) contains the following racist language in the “Monetary Contrubutions” (sic) tab, targeting African-American state legislators Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Albuquerque 19) and Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert (R-Albuquerque 44):
National Organization of the Beer Drinkers and Guzzlers
“Sheryl Powdrell-Culbertson” is obviously a merger of the names of the aforementioned African-American legislators and “JeffersonDavis” was the President of the Confederated States of America.
Commenting on the insulting characterizations and languge in the spreadsheet, Justice League PAC Treasurer Eli Il Yong Lee said, “I was shocked when I downloaded Secretary Duran’s spreadsheet this morning to find such racist comments on a State document. Secretary Duran should be ashamed of herself. We expect more from elected officials. There is no place for racism in New Mexico, much less in a state office. She should resign immediately.”
An Emerging Pattern of Wedge-Issue Bigotry?
We're in only the third month of Secretary of State Duran's first term and she has already been heavily criticized and challenged on her announcement late in the just-ended legislative session that she had started comparing driver's license lists provided by Gov. Susana Martinez with voter rolls, and claimed she had already found examples of possible voter fraud by undocumented immigrants. Nothing to back up that claim, of course, but it served to once again call attention to the immigrant wedge issue and another right-wing favorite, "voter fraud" -- both of which have been used extensively during the campaigns of Duran and Gov. Susana Martinez and beyond.
Duran's unsubstantiated claims even prompted the ACLU NM to file a massive document request so they can investigate what's really going on related to Duran's statements. The Bernalillo County Clerk's office filed a similar document request.
By emphasizing hot-button ethnic-racial and immigrant issues like driver's licenses for foreign nationals, the targeting of immigrants by law enforcement and immigrant "voter fraud," the Martinez administration, Republicans in the legislature and the Secretary of State's office have clearly helped to create a racially and ethnically charged negative atmosphere in the state. Local right-wing radio talk shows have featured invective-filled "discussions" about immigrants, Democratic lawmakers have reported receiving large numbers of phone and email messages containing hate speech and threats in response to their refusal to support the repeal of driver's licenses for foreign nationals -- and now this.
Clearly, at least some of the staff in the Secretary of State's office have picked up on the atmosphere of bigotry unleashed in New Mexico by the political maneuvering of Dianna Duran herself and other right-wing politicos, and thought it was funny -- and acceptable -- to inject racial insults into an official document issued by the office. Especially in a multi-ethnic state like New Mexico, it's horrible to encounter something this offensive and unconscionable emerging from a government office.
Call for Duran's Resignation
I believe all New Mexicans of conscience should join in the call for Dianna Duran to immediately tender her resignation and apologize for the racism contained in the spreadsheet. New Mexicans should not be expected to tolerate this "macaca moment" -- or the hateful atmosphere that evidently produced it. This is not Arizona and we cannot permit our state to become another outlet for the kind of wedge-issue hate offensives typified by the Republicans who are in power in our neighboring state to the west. We have to nip it in the bud right now.
Take Action: Call the Secretary of State's office at 505-827-3600 and the Governor's office at 505-476-2200 and demand that Dianna Duran immediately resign her post due to the racist material released by her office.
The Justice League PAC is a statewide political committee and was formed by Neri Holguin, Sandra Wechsler, Eli Il Yong Lee, Keegan King and Antionette Tellez-Humble, who have years of experience in New Mexico politics and issues. For more information, please go to www.justiceleaguepac.com.
Friday, July 30, 2010
RNC Chair Michael Steele: Did the GOP's Green Chile Get Him Or Was It Fallout from Sherrod Fiasco?
Michael Steele, who chairs the Republican National Committee and has a habit of getting his foot stuck in his mouth, was in Albuquerque on Thursday for a fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez. No word on how that went -- although we can imagine Steele amusing the far-right-wingo/Tea Party lovin' guests with infamous whoppers like he's told in the past. Like proclaiming that the Afghanistan war was started by President Obama.
In just his first month on the job last year, Steele filled the airwaves with off-kilter chatter -- insulting GOP Saint Rush Limbaugh, threatening moderate Republican senators, offering the “friggin’ awesome” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal some “slum love,” calling civil unions “crazy” and promising more outreach to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings” via an “off the hook” public relations campaign. He even threw a shout-out to “one-armed midgets.”
Steele and Breitbart vs. Sherrod
There have been many more miscues and odd prattle by Steele since then, of course, the latest being his exuberant support for right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart is the bullying beast who smeared the USDA's Shirley Sherrod by cutting and pasting video of one of her speeches to make it appear she was making racist statements, and then posting it on one of his websites. Poof -- it was all over the right-wing echo chamber in minutes. Oooof, Breitbart's crass manipulation was revealed shortly thereafter and a good many Republicans tried to back away from Breitbart.
Not Michael Steele, though -- he invited Breitbart to be the featured speaker at a GOP fundraiser in Beverly Hills next month. Yes, you read that right.
Tale of the Rumbling Stomach
Anyway, while in New Mexico on Thursday, Steele apparently put something in his mouth (other than his foot) that got the best of him -- green chile perhaps? Did someone on Susana's team serve Steele some muy picoso green Hatch chile that was just too much for a guy from Maryland? Or was it something else?
Steele cancelled his scheduled appearance today before a national meeting of black journalists, explaining that he had contracted a "bad case of food poisoning" while out west, according to an article on CNN.com.
Steele was scheduled to speak today at the National Association of Black Journalists annual meeting in San Diego, but cancelled at the last minute. An RNC spokesman said in an email to CNN, Steele "is disappointed to miss the opportunity to take part in this valuable dialogue and looks forward to engaging with NABJ in the very near future." The RNC spokesman told CNN that Steele had not been to the hospital, but that the chairman had consulted a doctor.
Could it be that Steele felt, um, uncomfortable (as in puckered gut) about making an appearance before the nation's African-American journalists just one day after Shirley Sherrod spoke at the NABJ convention and announced that she plans to file suit against Andrew Breitbart for sullying her good name?
You might say that Republicans are between a rock and a hard place concerning Mr. Breitbart -- who has long been viewed as the go-to guy for right-wing smear campaigns, like the fake prostitution video that brought down ACORN. Their de facto leader Rush Limbaugh and right-wing bloggers continue to defend Breitbart, and you saw what happened last time when Michael Steele dared to be critical of Rush -- he had to apologize.
As Ryan Witt, writing in the Political Buzz blog for the Examiner, explained:
Republicans are now in a difficult position with Breitbart. A number of conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, still support Breitbart, and if Republicans publicly distance themselves from Breitbart it could draw a backlash. On the other hand, associating closely with the man many blame for the Sherrod mess could have its own costs.
We may never know for sure what caused Michael Steele to beg off speaking to the Black Journalists convention. Either way, though, we know it was a case of Steele having a little problem in the guts department.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Stephen Jones: Walking With the Wind
This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, who is a progressive political activist and a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
On August 15, 1906 a small group of women and men, all United States citizens, gathered in the town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia for a conference on the grounds of nearby Storer College. In the misty dawn light the following morning this band of Americans met at the center of the old town, near a small brick structure, an old fire engine house known colloquially as “John Brown’s Fort.” The so-called fort was the site of the fiery abolitionist's last stand against the Virginia militia, which had marched down on him, under the command of Robert E. Lee, in Brown’s abortive raid on the U.S. arsenal in 1859.
In homage to the location's abolitionist past, the 1906 gathering at Harpers Ferry walked silently single-file toward the old building, still intact. To pay honor to the ground beneath them, they removed their shoes before crossing the green field to the “fort.”
1906 was the second gathering of the group, but only the first on American soil. A year earlier these same Americans had been denied a public meeting place in Buffalo, New York, and in desperation instead assembled across the Niagara River at Erie Beach in Canada. The original assembly was led by W.E.B. DuBois, Frederick L. McGhee, Mary Burnett Talbert and William Monroe Trotter, among others. They included lawyers and educators, clergymen and U.S. military veterans. All of them were descendents of former slaves. Because they had been forced to meet on Canadian soil in 1905 they called themselves the “Niagara Movement.”
What they sought for themselves and others was an equal place at the American table. In an era dominated by vicious racial segregation, enforced by acts of terror, lynching, physical assault and jailings against any who dared to speak out for equality and justice, they were launching a historic campaign for civil and human rights in the United States.
By 1909 the “Niagara Movement” took on its permanent organizational name when it became the NAACP, a multi-racial organization dedicated to the proposition that all persons are created equal. As the NAACP it led a national campaign for civil rights that, among other achievements, culminated in 1954, under the legal team led by Thurgood Marshall, with the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down segregation in public schools and marked the beginning of the end of Jim Crow laws in the United States.
Shirley Sherrod Fiasco: Fight for Equality Continues
As we learned, all too clearly, from events earlier this week, no campaign for justice and dignity is ever really over in the United States. The same old demons, the same dark places in the American soul are never very far away. As we are all aware by now, on Monday a right-wing activist named Andrew Breitbart, acting in support of the racist Tea Party Express operation, distributed a doctored videotape of Shirley Sherrod, a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee, and daughter of a victim of racist violence. She was speaking to a rural southwest Georgia meeting of the NAACP and recalling events in her own life 24 years ago.
Airing the faked tape over and over again, FOX and other right-wing media operations blanketed cable and the airwaves with screams of “black racism.” Chasing advertising dollars and ratings, and failing to engage in standard journalistic due diligence, CNN and other so-called “legitimate news” outlets immediately joined FOX in repeatedly airing the libelous videotape to their audiences.
A day later, when the phony story unraveled, FOX, Breitbart and the rest of the right-wing media machine, in an incredible twist of Orwellian newspeak, claimed that somehow they, rather than Sherrod, had been wronged. There were no apologies. Not from FOX. Not even from CNN, though CNN did lead the way in airing the full 35-minute taped speech that not only exonerated Shirley Sherrod, but revealed her to be a gentle spokesperson for reconciliation and redemption. Rocked back on its heels for part of a day, FOX then tried to counter-attack by having its employees Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and FOX’s popular talking-head Ann Coulter pronounce on-screen that Breitbart, the perpetrator of this fraud, had somehow been “set-up.”
The FOX-Breitbart-Tea Party attack was, of course, only one in a long, long line of racist assaults emanating from the FOX and the rest of the right-wing media machine, and it was hardly the first originating with Breitbart. Sadly, the Agricultural Secretary, Tom Vilsack, and the Obama Administration unceremoniously ousted Sherrod without ever bothering to check the facts. Vilsack and the Administration were more concerned with damage control in a toxic cable-media cycle than standing up for the truth. Even more tragically, the venerable century-old NAACP joined in the wrongful repudiation of Sherrod, before finally righting themselves a day later.
Freedom Ain't Free
“Freedom ain’t free,” the famous civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer often said. The assault on Shirley Sherrod is not the first racist attack on a decent American citizen in our history, and it won’t be the last. Hopefully, the rest of us will be ready next time. None of us must ever again make the mistakes that were made by some of those from whom we should have expected leadership earlier this week.
Fresh attacks on African Americans are invariably right around the corner. Similar attacks on Hispanics have been ongoing. As we all know, there is presently a human rights crisis in nearby Arizona. The 2010 Republican Party platform of Texas demands a fresh assault on the rights of women, and the searching out and “jailing” of lesbians and gay men.
Freedom ain’t free, to repeat a phrase. The price of liberty, justice and freedom is eternal vigilance. We shall never be turned back. We had all best realize that we are all going to be in this for the long haul and get back to work. We must stand firm and walk with the wind. We, as Americans, have come far since that misty morning at Harpers Ferry in the summer of 1906 when the members of the Niagara Movement began blazing a trail across a green field, but we haven’t reached the end of that journey yet. “The battle for humanity is not lost or losing. All across the skies sit signs of promise,” W.E.B. DuBois proclaimed at the first meeting of the Niagara Movement. “The morning breaks over blood-stained hills. We must not falter, we may not shrink. Above are the everlasting stars.”
To read more posts by Stephen Jones, visit our archive.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Teabagger Protest Photo of the Day from NM Obama Event
There were only a handful of anti-whatever teabagger-type protestors outside today's Obama town hall at Rio Rancho High School, despite right-wing predictions there'd been a huge crowd of them. This is my favorite shot of them taken, of course, by Mary Ellen. Click on it for larger version.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
A Look Back: 1968 Polling Results
The New York Times has a fascinating run-down of data from public polls done in 1968. In a few cases they compare results from 1968 with those conducted this year. If you've got a few minutes to kill in the midst of your pre-holiday comings and goings, check it out.
Many of the polling questions examined have to do with race. One that sticks out to me from 1968: "53% of non-blacks agreed that there should be laws against marriages between Negroes and whites." Very similar to the percentages seen in some recent polls of Americans who oppose gay marriage. I wonder if Obama has pondered this point.