Wednesday Reading: Our Research Edition

books-from-book-sale

News is coming fast and furious. Before we dive in to our post, a couple quick links:

Resistbot.

Contacting your representatives, with students.

Now, back to the post we began drafting yesterday afternoon:

We’re busy over here getting our new oral history project off of the ground (come talk to us!), and as we do so, we’re doing a fair amount of background reading. So today’s post is about sharing some of that material with you. Consider it a preview into the conversations you’ll soon be able to read for yourself, and drop any links of your own in the comments. Or find us on Twitter!

If you, like us, didn’t know much about the Sanctuary Movement of the ’80s and why it’s coming back around, here’s a great place to learn more, via Religionlink.

In the 1980s, some American churches defied federal law by harboring undocumented immigrants from deportation to their war-torn Central American home countries. Several pastors were arrested and put on trial. At its height, between 400 and 500 churches were involved in what came to be known as the “sanctuary movement.”

Today, the Trump administration’s immigration policies — the proposed building of a border wall, the crackdown on undocumented workers — have prompted a revival of the sanctuary movement. After Donald Trump’s election, organizers reported a near doubling in the number of congregations involved, either through the providing of services or housing of undocumented immigrants. And the movement has broadened beyond its original Christian and Jewish participants to include Muslim communities.

The Rumpus has an excellent interview with Jeff Chang, whose most recent book, We Gon’ Be Alright, is now out.

The opposition to Trump was mobilizing minutes after he won the presidency, and of course it’s going to reach a new stage next week [at the inauguration]. What I worry about is, what happens—and this is a question so many of us were asking ourselves in the mid-2000s—what happens if we actually win? Will people retreat to a state of complacency? Over the last few years we’ve seen the rise of social justice movements that put issues of economic injustice, racial inequality, and environmental justice right in the middle of our discourse. I’m heartened by the idea that we might be able to come together against a common foe, but I’m worried we might not learn the lessons of the past and retreat to our corners afterward. That’s what keeps me up at night.

From The Nation, “Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump Won by 22,748)”:

Prior to the 2016 election, Eddie Lee Holloway Jr., a 58-year-old African-American man, moved from Illinois to Wisconsin, which implemented a strict voter-ID law for the first time in 2016. He brought his expired Illinois photo ID, birth certificate, and Social Security card to get a photo ID for voting in Wisconsin, but the DMV in Milwaukee rejected his application because the name on his birth certificate read “Eddie Junior Holloway,” the result of a clerical error when it was issued. Holloway ended up making seven trips to different public agencies in two states and spent over $200 in an attempt to correct his birth certificate, but he was never able to obtain a voter ID in Wisconsin. Before the election, his lawyer for the ACLU told me Holloway was so disgusted he left Wisconsin for Illinois.

And at Marie Claire, Sarah Kendzior dives into what Trump’s healthcare bill indicates about his administration’s agenda towards women.

Since taking office, Trump has displayed the signature traits of an aspiring autocrat: disregard for the constitution, the installation of unqualified family members in high-level positions, the abuse of executive power to enhance personal wealth, the scapegoating of ethnic minorities, and ongoing threats to free speech, free media, and public protest. His rule has been a continual test of checks and balances, and his biggest check, arguably, has been women.

The healthcare law is not only a sadistic assault on the sick and vulnerable, but a gendered attack meant to render his most forceful opponents, American women, helpless. Autocracy and patriarchy often go hand in hand; the countries with the highest levels of political freedom in general tend to prioritize women’s healthcare, education, and other basic rights.

More from us soon.

Refugees, Sesame Street, and Friday Music

Courtesy of NPR, an excellent article on the newest visitors to refugee children: the Sesame Street Muppets.

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image via NPR

We are fascinated by the research process that Sesame Workshop is up to here.

In partnership with the International Rescue Committee, Sesame producers and early-childhood experts are soliciting guidance and feedback from relief organizations, trauma experts, academics and others who have worked with refugees. They’ll also be making research visits to refugee camps in Jordan.

According to the IRC, of the 65 million people displaced from their homes worldwide, more than half are children.

As American readers, steeped in multiculturalism (not to mention as Bay Area readers, used to a high level of diversity), what stood out the most to us, though, was what children might not be taught.

Cairo Arafat, who oversees production of the Arabic language Sesame Street from Abu Dhabi, urged her colleagues not to make assumptions that refugees will share their values such as inclusivity.

“In many of these populations,” she said, “children are still taught, ‘No. Be wary of the people who don’t talk like you, don’t look like you or come from a different sect.’ ” With the special conditions facing refugees — including security issues — Arafat advised careful thinking about what they would like to teach.

Continue reading “Refugees, Sesame Street, and Friday Music”

Follow-Up: A Pulitzer to Our Local Paper

Pulitzer for Breaking News

By way of addendum to our post earlier this week about the Storm Lake Times’ Pulitzer prize: Our local East Bay Times also won a Pulitzer, for its coverage of the Ghost Ship fire.

The Ghost Ship was a warehouse that was serving as an unpermitted artists’ work space and living quarters. It burned down in December 2016, killing 36 mostly young people attending a concert.

The local Mercury News (“the Merc”) covered the awarding of the Pulitzer:

The East Bay Times has won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for its coverage of December’s Ghost Ship fire — the fifth time a Bay Area News Group paper has gained journalism’s highest award.

In a Monday announcement, the judges said the Times received the award “for relentless coverage of the ‘Ghost Ship’ fire, which killed 36 people at a warehouse party, and for reporting after the tragedy that exposed the city’s failure to take actions that might have prevented it.”

Bay Area News Group journalists, who produce coverage for the Times and the Mercury News, were the first to uncover problems with the city’s inspections and permitting of the Ghost Ship building, initially reporting the issue on BANG websites less than 12 hours after the Dec. 2 blaze. In subsequent days and weeks, the coverage expanded to encompass the lives of the victims, mostly young artists and musicians, and the housing crisis that has driven so many Bay Area residents into substandard dwellings like the Ghost Ship.

A narrative story, “The Last Hours of the Ghost Ship,” won enormous praise for taking readers inside the warehouse as the fire started, then raged out of control, and Oakland firefighters fought to save those inside. In the months since, BANG journalists have continued to report on the system breakdowns that allowed so many people to cram into a firetrap whose dangers should have been obvious. City officials have now begun to overhaul their fire inspection and other practices.

The Pulitzer citation, with links to the East Bay Times’s articles, is here.

(Image: Ghost Ship. By Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Friday Music: Matisyahu’s Reservoir

In honor of Passover, a song with allusions to the Exodus by Matisyahu, the American musician. Emphasis is on his voice and the lyrics.

You can read a review of the Akeda album, from which Reservoir is taken, here. (Akeda is Hebrew and refers to the binding of Isaac).

“Reservoir” (lyrics courtesy of A-Z Lyrics)

I just wanna talk to You now
This is for the One
You kept me alive
And so I thank You

Moses is on his way down town Continue reading “Friday Music: Matisyahu’s Reservoir”

Real Warm Fuzzies: Tiny Paper Wins Pulitzer

It’s as good a day as any for a straight-up, feel-good (re)post.

From Poynter.org, here’s a backgrounder and interview with a small-town newspaper editorialist, Art Cullen, who just won a Pulitzer prize. Tiny, family-run newspaper wins Pulitzer Prize for taking on big business.

First, the background:

If you know Art Cullen, it’s not exactly a surprise to learn his initial words upon watching the livestream of the Pulitzer announcements and learning he’d won for editorial writing.

“Holy shit,” he yelled out to his brother, John, the publisher of the family-run, 10-person Storm Lake (Iowa) Times.

The only surprise was that there wasn’t a longer string of un-family-like adjectives or adverbs.   …

[Cullen] won for editorials that confronted the state’s most powerful agricultural interests, which include the Koch Brothers, Cargill and Monsanto, and their secret funding of the government defense of a big environmental lawsuit. His “tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing” were quite self-evident if you’ve seen his labor (which actually spanned two years, though he won for last year’s efforts).

The paper in question is The Storm Lake Times, described in the Pulitzer citation as “a 3,000-circulation twice-weekly newspaper in Storm Lake, Iowa, pop. 10,000, in rural Northwest Iowa.” Click here to link to the editorials for which the prize was awarded.

Here’s an excerpt of Poynter’s interview with Cullen, by James Warren. The take-away? Local journalism matters. It’s not a novel take, but the Pulitzer payoff drives it home. We hope it reminds you and your students that story-telling and journalism are worthwhile.

What would you like to think are the most important points you made in the editorials?

It’s all about transparency in the funding of the environmental lawsuit (defense). We took on the state’s biggest agricultural players and said their donations should be made public. The biggest players: the Koch brothers, Cargill, Monsanto were all conspiring to fund the defense of the (Buena Vista) county.

We found out they (elected officials) had met with Monsanto executives and Koch executives. My son, Tom, did most of the reporting. And he tracked down how the Agribusiness Association of Iowa was working with the Iowa Farm Bureau to funnel the secret donations to the country.

We cried foul and worked with the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. They wrote several letters saying these were public records under Iowa law. They wouldn’t release them, but they shut down the fund. It’s all a matter of transparency in government financing.

How has being in a small place fueled your passion? Is it easier or harder when arguably there’s greater accountability since, well, you may run into people whom you write about on the street?

I lost some friends, but some people don’t understand us, why we would badger county supervisors so that their sugar daddy went away. I said, “Because it wasn’t right.” We felt the public deserved to know who’s paying our bills. We did a lot of groundbreaking news reporting and my son (who’s 24) did most of the heavy lifting.

We’ve spoken before about your work on immigration, especially right after President Trump’s controversial executive order. Is the confusion and fear that we’ve talked about in the Storm Lake area when it comes to immigration still the same?

Things have calmed down. The police chief (Mark Prosser) has calmed things down. He arrives in his police uniform at public forums and says, “We’re not arresting you just because you are undocumented.”      …

What, at first blush, does this recognition say about the people like you, laboring in more isolated environs, busting their asses to survive and believing as you do in journalism?

Journalism really matters, and good journalism is being done all across the country.

Any final thoughts?

Yes. Put in a plug for the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. They are broke and have little support.

(Lady Liberty image courtesy of Pulitzer.org website)

Migra Watch

Witness, Accompany, and Advocate During ICE Raids

ICE

This is a personal post. Yesterday, I, Eva, participated in the first post-election event that made me feel potentially useful — beyond marching, phoning, or attending a meeting. I am sharing in case you want to look for similar opportunities. The event was a 2-hour training to be a witness to ICE immigration raids.

Community groups in Santa Clara County, California, are setting up a rapid response network that will have its soft launch this week: a hotline for undocumented immigrants, and their family and friends, to call if ICE shows up at the door. A dispatcher will answer the phone, guide the caller through his/her rights, and text a network of citizen-witnesses who will come to the site of the raid to document it.

Here’s how my event was advertised:

Come learn how you can be a rapid responder so that we can respond to calls from community members concerned about immediate ICE actions throughout Santa Clara County.

The Rapid Response Network aims to expand the community’s capacity to monitor and document ICE operations in real time. We will support the process of gathering evidence used to free someone from ICE custody. We will expose the intimidating and unconstitutional tactics ICE uses to detain immigrants.

Please invite others to attend to help us build the Rapid Response Network we will launch very soon with many partners and volunteers, like you!

I’ve now been trained to be a citizen-witness, with basic knowledge of how to comply with ICE directives while recording the encounter on my phone and documenting the unfolding events. How many agents? What did they say? From which agencies did they come? Badge numbers. Vehicle license plates. And more.

The attorney who helped train us recommends US citizens serve as witnesses because we’re at lower legal risk than immigrants. It’s also something white people can usefully do, with more possible roles if you speak Spanish (I don’t).

I was trained through an event organized by PACT-San José. If you live in Santa Clara County, you can go to their events calendar to sign up for a training. In the event of a raid within 2-5 miles of your address, you’ll receive a text asking if you can come document it. Even if it takes you a while to arrive, it’s helpful. We learned that raids in the Bay Area have been 3 to 6 hours long.

I’m told San Mateo, San Francisco, and Alameda Counties have similar networks. I did some online searching and found the San Francisco Rapid Response Network and another in Brooklyn, NY. The PICO website appears to be a place to hunt for more area networks (I started on their press release page).

Weekend Reading: The Aspirational List

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So your weekend reading editor is currently doing battle with a nasty cold–not hers, but the rest of her family’s. What we are presenting, therefore, is a list not of things we’ve read, but of things that we would love to read, just as soon as the taking temperatures/getting orange juice/running out for popsicles eases up a bit.

If you haven’t yet encountered Brain Pickings, we will assume you haven’t been hanging out on the internet much. Go on over and check out her recent post on Ursula K. LeGuin’s thoughts on aging and beauty.

Beauty always has rules. It’s a game. I resent the beauty game when I see it controlled by people who grab fortunes from it and don’t care who they hurt. I hate it when I see it making people so self-dissatisfied that they starve and deform and poison themselves. Most of the time I just play the game myself in a very small way, buying a new lipstick, feeling happy about a pretty new silk shirt.

Essence covers a story that’s getting attention long-past due: missing black women and girls in Washington, D.C.

According to the latest FBI data, as of February 2017, there are a total of 13,591 active missing person records for African American women stored in its National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Of that total, 8,042 were of the ages of 18 and under; 1,419 were between the ages of 19 to 21.

The numbers trouble Natalie Wilson, 47, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc., (BAM FI), a nonprofit she launched with her sister-in-law, Derrica Wilson, 38, back in 2008.

“Black women and girls are going missing and it’s not just in Washington D.C. It’s happening in Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta and other urban areas around the country,” she said.

We missed this one when it was first published–if you did, too, make up for lost time and take a look. Over at Black Perspectives, there’s a great interview with Erica Armstrong Dunbar about her new book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave Ona Judge.

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital, after a brief stay in New York. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and nine slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.

Happy reading, and here’s to a quick end to cold and flu season!

 

Schools Address Deportation Fears

Here’s a high-level update from the Washington Post about possible arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants by ICE, and the ways districts are trying to manage the uncertainty. The takeaway: many districts are trying to reassure students and parents, but they’re quite limited in what they can do.

On the number of students and parents who may be affected:

Millions of U.S. children face growing uncertainty at home because of shifts in immigration policy. The Pew Research Center estimates 3.9 million schoolchildren had an unauthorized immigrant parent in 2014 — or 7.3 percent of all schoolchildren. About 725,000 of those children were unauthorized immigrants themselves.

On whether arrests can happen at schools:

Historically, ICE agents have avoided schools. A 2011 memo says they are barred from arresting or interviewing people at schools, churches, hospitals and other “sensitive locations,” unless there is an imminent threat or they seek approval. Carissa Cuttrell, a spokeswoman for ICE, said the Department of Homeland Security “is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation.” [Read the ICE memo that describes the agency’s “sensitive locations” policy]

Many school officials say they want to allay the fears of families. They have hosted educational and legal seminars for immigrants, and in some cases assigned staff to support them. In Harrisonburg, Kizner assembled a crisis response team for immigrant students and their families. He also sent home forms to parents, asking in English and Spanish: “In the event of family separation (accident, arrest, emergency hospitalization, etc.) who will take care of your child temporarily?”

The Prince George’s County school system in Maryland has worked with the county government to place bilingual “community resource officers” in schools to support students dealing with immigration-related problems.

Parent-teacher associations in Alexandria have organized “know your rights” seminars, with the first held this month in an elementary school auditorium. At that event, an attorney from the Tahirih Justice Center urged undocumented parents to think about who would care for their children and what would happen to their property if they are detained.

On the limits to protections schools can provide:

Catherine E. Lhamon, a former assistant education secretary for civil rights in the Obama administration, said […] that schools can take many steps to help families. But ultimately, she said, they must also acknowledge that they can’t guarantee anything about the direction of federal immigration policy.

Image by David Mcnew/AFP/Getty Images, copied from above-referenced article.

Immigration and Race: White and Undocumented

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File this under “things we didn’t know we didn’t know”: there’s a fairly large population of undocumented Irish nationals living in the US.

What set us Googling was a series of Tweets referencing Irish Prime Minister Enda Kelly’s visit with Donald Trump yesterday, in which the PM brought up the status of the 50,000 or so undocumented Irish immigrants currently in the US. Kelly said to Trump,

“This is what I said to your predecessor [Barack Obama] on a number of occasions – we would like this to be sorted,” he told the president at a lunch event. “It would remove a burden off so many people that they can stand out in the light and say: ‘Now I am free to contribute to America, as I know I can.'”

Some additional searching brought up regular news stories about undocumented Irish immigrants, from a 2015 NPR report

Gerry is one of an estimated 50,000 Irish who are not authorized to be in the U.S., according to the Irish embassy in Washington, D.C. Most of have stayed too long on their visas, and most live in the large Irish populations of New York City, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

— to a New York Times story from 1989 detailing similar issues.

The interesting through line in the articles is the fact that Irish people generally look white — though in the 19th century, they were often viewed as an inferior “kind” of white — and therefore aren’t subject to the same profiling as people of color.

A 2007 LA Times article points out that being a white illegal immigrant can be useful:

Irish immigrant advocates are acutely aware that the American public doesn’t identify the Irish as alien, let alone illegal, and they consciously leverage this positive prejudice to their advantage. “The fact that they’re white Europeans agitating for immigration reform is helpful,” said Niall O’Dowd, chairman of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and publisher of the Irish Voice newspaper. “Bottom line is that every ethnic group brings their own strength to the debate. We can’t put a million people in the street, but we have positive political identification and a lot of access to Democrats and Republicans.”

Still, a CNN article this week notes that undocumented Irish are feeling scared under the Trump administration, too.

All in all, it’s food for thought about the relationship between skin color and anti-immigrant feeling, and a reminder that assumptions about who’s foreign have changed a lot over the decades.