Dear PowerPAC friends and supporters,
This is the moment we have been waiting for.
For the last eight months, I have been working on a new campaign called Vote Hope, supporting Barack Obama's historic campaign for President of the United States. Obama's campaign is both riding and propelling the kind of positive movement for social change that this country hasn't seen in nearly 40 years. I'm writing today to ask you, supporters of this movement in California, to join me in this effort. I believe that if we give our all over the next two and a half months, we can not only help Barack win the Democratic nomination, but we can also solidify a multi-racial movement for justice and hope that will truly signal a new era in this nation.
Vote Hope, is working deeply in communities that have been historic levers for social change -- African Americans, Latinos and students -- and our goal is to emerge after the primary on Feb. 5, 2008, as a network that is larger and stronger than ever before.
Join this network for hope and change now!
In the aftermath of the fires, as the weather turns cold, thousands of individuals, many of them immigrants, are still struggling to survive. Some have lost their homes and many more have lost their jobs--they were the farmworkers in the fields that burned or the nannies, lawn care workers, or day laborers who earned their living in the houses and neighborhoods that no longer exist. Many of them are unwilling or unable to access "official" relief resources out of fear that they will be subject to immigration inspections, will not be able to communicate with relief workers, or will be humiliated. Instead, they are turning to the community organizations they know for help.
The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium calls for continued donations to the Fire Fund managed by the Foundation for Change. The Fund is focused on vulnerable populations and makes grants every two weeks to the grassroots and community-based organizations that are getting these populations the supplies, services, and information they need. We anticipate that vulnerable communities will be in crisis survival mode for at least another two months.
A recent editorial in the SB Sun illustrates the challenges that remain in San Bernardino with an election just a few days ago that left the landscape of the city's elected officials unchanged. In their own response to the election results the Black Voice News adds their voice as well to call for a city council that can temper its often antagonistic tendencies in an effort to move forward for progress in San Bernardino.
Election Results follow...
Tomorrow, 11/6, in the city of San Bernardino three individuals are seeking to keep the city moving towards an agenda of progressive leadership. These three leaders - Rachel Mendoza Clark, Carolyn Tillman, and Rikke Van Johnson - all share common values of community building, with attention focused on safety, modernization, and respectful governance.
San Bernardino faces a moment in which it can choose to turn towards an era of building cohesive leadership, an era that finds itself working in collaborative action instead of mired down in bitter battles, and an finally era of representation at the city level that where justice and accountability matter.
Not usually, of course, but it's nice when he just lays it all out there for us, blatantly saying the things most Republicans try to hide in secret code language. With Republican Presidential nominee John McCain on the show, O'Reilly said the U.S. needs to cap the number of immigrants included in any reform bill in order to maintain the "white Christian male power structure," of which he proudly counts himself and McCain as a part.
The worst is McCain, who just smiles and nods as O'Reilly is spewing his vitriol.
The exchange happens at the end of the interview. Check it out here:
It's easy to ignore Rush Limbaugh. After all, everyone knows he's a racist jerk. And everyone knows his listeners are racist jerks, and they're not our people anyway so why do we have to pay attention. Why should we care? If we get mad about something he says, aren't we just giving him the attention he wants?
Most of the time, we can ignore him. But no matter how tempting it may be, we can't ignore "Barack the Magic Negro." Here's why: a web poll by a Sacramento affiliate of CBS news shows that 91% of people don't think the song is racist. And sure, it's just a stupid web poll. Of course, Rush has instructed people to go inflate the poll. But it doesn't matter. In my own circle of highly educated, progressive and mostly white friends, there is not universal agreement on the racist nature of this song. And there is a strong tendency by them to just roll their eyes and ignore it.
I'm saying that as progressives, it's our job to explain why this is racist, and then to call it out. If we don't, we're being passively racist ourselves.
Diversity in the blogosphere was a topic of discussion in a conference about blogging I attended this weekend, and the conversation is continuing over on MyDD.
It's an important conversation, and I am happy to see it being brought up there. While diversity as a progressive value is assumed, and the overly white and wealthy make up of the progressive blogosphere is a noted problem, there seems to be some confusion around what the right solutions are. People are struggling with this for a variety of reasons, one of the main ones being that progressives are still not comfortable confronting, dealing with or talking about issues related to race. I think exploring this issue requires some level of stepping back and looking at the bigger picture.
California lawmakers are considering a bill that would move California's Presidential Primary election in 2008 up from mid-June to early February. The move would mean that California -- the largest and most diverse state in the country -- might actually have a shot at shaping the choice for Democratic and Republican nominees for President.
Since Gov. Schwarzenegger announced his support for the measure last week, there has been a lot of chatter about whether it's a good thing. Concerns have been raised in the blogosphere around the potential cost of a California ad war, as well as the awkward timing, right near the Super Bowl. The potential cost to the government is also raising flags for local election officials.
There is no doubt there will be kinks to work out, should this happen (and indications are that it will). But the magnitude of the impact California voters could have on this important contest far outweigh the costs. California is home to some of the most active and engaged people in politics. Most of that energy has been focused on national issues, but California has never been in a position to actually meaningfully impact the outcome of a national election. The early primary is an incredible opportunity to harness that energy, identify and train a new crop of leaders, and channel all of it toward long-term progressive change for California.
It looks at the current immigration debates from the perspective of Dr. King's teachings and writings, and sheds some important light on a couple of key elements of that. The whole piece is worth reading, but here's an excerpt of the case Dushaw lays out:
On Violence -- King had an expansive definition of violence. It wasn’t just fist striking face. Knife cutting flesh. Bullet penetrating skull. No, King viewed poverty, racism and war as "triple evils" that, together, formed a vicious cycle of violence. Using King’s definition, undocumented workers working long hours in harsh conditions for little to no wages would be violence. Denying health coverage to children because of their immigration status would be violence.
Unjust laws -- King believed in the law. But he also believed in the right to break unjust laws. Segregation was an unjust law. Withholding the right to vote was an unjust law. If he were with us today, the King I know would view 10 year visa backlogs that keep families separated an unjust practice of law. He would view welcoming those fleeing political persecution but rejecting those persecuted — and tortured-by abject poverty an unjust law. As a result, he would stand up for the 12 million undocumented men, women and children living in the U.S. who "broke" the law.
Work and Poverty -- Before his death, King was preparing to move to scale on a major campaign against poverty. If he were with us today, he would identify the workplace as a major point of tension in the immigration debate, but also an issue around which alliances could form. I could hear King now responding to the question "Are immigrants taking jobs from native born persons?"
He’d ask, "Isn’t there a labor hierarchy in this country? Doesn’t this hierarchy take the form of a ladder, with good jobs at the top and bad jobs at the bottom? Isn’t the wanton pursuit of profits at the root of this hierarchy? Isn’t it true that Black and Brown people are overwhelmingly stuck at the bottom of the ladder, and can’t climb to the top because the ladder is broken? Isn’t the ladder broken for a host of reasons that include racial bias, lack of skills and education and language barriers? If yes, then why not bring Black, Brown and other concerned persons into relationship with one another in order to repair the ladder."
Even decades after his death, we still have much to learn from Dr. King. One of his more famous quotes talks about how all of us are connected, "in a single garment of destiny." To me that is one of the most instructive clues to how King would respond to today's immigration debate. If we are all connected in that way, how can some of us be treated so much differently under the law because of an artificial geographic border?
How can a person ever be illegal?
Deval Patrick, sworn in last week as the first Black Governor of Massachusetts and the second Black Governor in U.S. history, took the oath of office on a Bible given to John Quincy Adams by Africans from the Amistad slave ship whom Adams had helped free.
From the Boston Globe:
"This Bible is a quintessential American symbol, one of democracy, and the inner workings of freedom, and our system of laws, and the abolitionist movement, and it represents a real victory for Africans who stood up for themselves," said Beverly A. Morgan-Welch , the executive director of the Museum of African American History and a cochair of Patrick's inauguration committee.
"The Bible was given to Adams by these freed African men because they so appreciated that Adams was not just their legal advocate, but he believed in their freedom, and here we are, how many years later, and we are installing Massachusetts' first African-American governor," Morgan-Welch said.
This Bible is exactly the kind of symbol that our movement so desperately needs right now. The fact that Mr. Patrick brought it into his innauguration story shows that he is the kind of leader we need -- unafraid and unapologetic around our country's need to focus on racial and social justice.
Pass it on! And make sure everyone you know votes tomorrow!
Much has been made of the immigrant vote this year, and whether immigrant rights activists could turn the amazing wave of Latino activism we saw in this spring's marches into victories at the polls. Another story today, this time in the San Jose Mercury News,, makes the common mistake of putting an absolute judgment on these efforts far too quickly. As the story later points out, there is little more difficult and time-consuming than the person-to-person work of getting people who are not currently involved in politics to register and vote.
"It's not like some made-for-TV movie where someone knocks on the door, and all of a sudden everyone is cheering and listening to them," said Jaime Alvarado, executive director of the Mayfair Initiative Project, which led volunteer voter registration drives in 11 East San Jose precincts for the first time this fall. "This is hard work."
One of the biggest problems is raising money to fund this work, particularly when the efforts are explicitly political in nature. PowerPAC has been working on solutions to this part of the problem this cycle, and we will step up our efforts after Tuesday. Meanwhile other groups, such as the Color of Democracy Fund and California VoterConnect, are working on solutions that will strengthen the grassroots groups on the ground reaching these populations.
This task is large and daunting, and its success cannot and should not be measured in one election cycle.
A Republican Congressional candidate in Orange County is being asked to withdraw his challenge to Democrat incumbent Loretta Sanchez after his campaign was linked to illegal intimidation letters sent this week to newly registered Latino voters. The letters were written in Spanish and claim that it is a crime for immigrants to vote in federal elections, punishable by jail time or deportation.
Democrats and Republicans alike have rightfully condemmed this deplorable tactic, and Tan Nguyen, the candidate in question who has a history of racist and anti-immigrant campaign mail, is being asked to drop out of the election. Nguyen is holding a press conference today to address the outcry. Also holding a press conference is the Our Children Our Vote Coalition, an emerging Vietnamese-Latino progressive coalition that PowerPAC is supporting this election cycle.
Leaders of the coalition said they were saddened and disturbed by the allegations, and said they underscore the importance of the Coalition's work to bring the Latino and Vietnamese communities together. The Coalition is supporting two Democratic candidates, one a Latina woman and the other a Vietnamese man, for Westminster School Board this November.
The Coalition is coordinating a press conference this Friday at 9 am, to bring Vietnamese, other Asian and Latino leaders together to condemn this hate mail and its mean-spirited attempt at scaring immigrants from exercising their right to vote. The press conference is also an opportunity to let the public know that there are community-based efforts, such as the Coalition, that have been working hard to build bridges between our communities.
Sanchez was clearly heading to victory anyway, but the real tragedy could be in California Senate District 32, which overlaps with where the mailer was sent, and where Democrat Lou Correa is locked in a tight battle with Republican Lynn Daucher.
The Orange County Registrar of Voters has been asked to send a follow-up letter to all voters who received the racist mailer correcting the errors.
Check it out!
Escondido became the first California city to ban renting proprery to illegal immigrants, a move that was considered and defeated in San Bernardino earlier this year. The reasons given by the right-wing members of this City Council are being echoed in cities across the country, six of which have instituted similar bans.
They claim that such draconian actions are needed because the federal government isn't "doing its job on immigration." But it is abundantly clear that xenophobia and racism are driving these policy proposals, and the trend coming to California is especially disturbing. We have the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the country. The vast majority of Californians want these people, who are providing a major component of our workforce, to be able to stay here. Ordinances like this are pathetic attempts at band-aiding over a series of intense and complicated problems that need our full attention at the state level.
On the flip is the whole article from the North County Times.
Today Governor Schwarzenegger again showed his complete lack of understanding of the realities facing Latino immigrants in California when he singled out immigrants of Mexican descent as not wanting to "assimilate into the American culture" because they are trying to "stay Mexican." Here's what Schwarzenegger said:
And you have to become part of America. And that is very difficult for some people to do especially, I think, for Mexicans because they are so close to their country here so they try to stay Mexican but try to be in America so there's this kind of back and forth and what I'm saying to the Mexicans is you've got to go and immerse yourself and assimilate into the American culture become part of the American fabric.
That is how Americans will embrace you. That was my, I think the secret, if there is one, to success. I was embraced by the American people because I love America, I learned the language and I made every effort to become an American. That is I think what this is all about.
It's true that Mexican immigrants, other Latino immigrants, Asian immigrants and other immigrants of color are not fully embraced in California or America. But it's not because they aren't working hard enough to "assimilate" into "the American culture."
For the most part, it is large-scale xenophobia and racism that makes life difficult for these populations, as well as the failure of our current crop of leaders -- including Gov. Schwarzenegger -- to confront the economic realities facing this country and our closest international neighbors. These very real problems are only furthered by the kind of nonsense rhetoric on display by Gov. Schwarzenegger today. Schwarzenegger's comparison of his experience as a European immigrant to that of Mexican immigrants is very telling, as it ignores the reality of racism in the daily lives of Latinos and all people of color.
The fundamental problem here is that the Governor is still operating from a "melting pot" fallacy that pretends America can or should be one homogeneous culture. The beauty of the American ideal, in fact, is that it is a tapestry of cultures. "The American culture," then, is the sum total of the cultures of all the people who have made their home here over the last four or five generations. Schwarzenegger's Borg-like vision of the future runs counter to that basic American tenet.
The America I dream about, and am working toward in supporting leaders like Phil Angelides, is one in which so many diverse people and cultures come together under the shared value of democracy, to live and flourish in a thriving, multi-cultural society based in equality and mutual respect.
Our current Governor has shown again that he does not understand this larger goal. His comments today, coming after he publicly apologized for previous comments which showed a lack of respect for the Latino community, prove that he is not even interested in trying to give this incredibly large and difficult problem more than 15 seconds of crude thought.