Why words matter: The negative impacts of racial microaggressions

Iloradanon Efimoff, Ph.D. Candidate of Social and Personality Psychology at University of Manitoba, discusses the impact of racial microaggressions on Indigenous and other racialized people. 

“Don’t you go to school for free?”, “You don’t pay taxes!”, “Do you live in a teepee?” are things Indigenous students have heard.

In some cases, there is widespread agreement on what racism is. For example, most people would agree that restricting a racial group’s right to vote in a federal election is racist. (Indigenous people were the last to gain full voting rights in Canada in 1960.)

But in other cases, the agreement is scant — the quotes at the top of this page represent some of those cases. They are examples of racial microaggressions. Racial microaggressions are often considered “minor.”

What are racial microaggressions?

Racial microaggressions are incessant, subtle forms of racism that can be verbal, behavioural or environmental. Racial microaggressions have been described as “racial indignities.”

As a mixed-race Haida woman, I’ve been routinely told I “don’t look Indigenous” or I’m “not like other Indigenous people” because I was born with my mother’s skin tone instead of my father’s. This is an example of a racial microaggression.

Microaggressions may seem small or “micro,” but as incessant forms of racism, they can have big impacts on mental health, physical health and social life.

One study of university students found that non-Indigenous university students regularly asked Indigenous university students if they lived in teepees. Another study found that Indigenous students were stereotyped by others as drunks, addicts or on welfare.

Daily hassles

One way of looking at the impact of racial microaggressions could be to look at daily hassles. Daily hassles are defined as “relatively minor, everyday problems such as commuting problems, family arguments or household repairs.”

The cumulative impact of daily hassles is linked to chronic health conditions like digestive problems, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety and even death. Some researchers have even found that daily hassles have a larger impact on health than major life events given their relentless nature.

The concept of daily hassles show that small things can have big impacts.

Racial microagressions and health

Researchers have shown that racial microaggressions are associated with depression in Latino community members, in university students of Asian descent and create PTSD symptoms in Black participants. Microaggressions are also related to physical health outcomes. Experiencing racial microaggressions during the COVID-19 pandemic was related to physical health issues and sleep troubles for Asians and Asian Americans.

They’re also associated with a whole host of other negative outcomes like substance use, anxiety, stress and even suicidal thoughts in many racialized groups.

Although there is little quantitative research on the impacts of microaggressions on Indigenous people, qualitative research has indicated that Indigenous people feel disrespected, degraded, uncomfortable or like they have to hide their Indigenous identity after experiencing microaggressions.

Microaggressions aren’t just based on race

Microaggressions can be based on many factors. Researchers have identified microaggressions based on gender, LGBTQ identity and ability.

Experiencing microaggressions based on these other factors can have similar effects as racial microaggressions: for example, experiences of disability-related microaggressions were related to higher levels of anxiety in Canadian university students.

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

A person can experience multiple types of microaggressions, due to the intersectionality of their identities.

For example, an Indigenous woman who identifies as bisexual might experience race, gender and sexual orientation-related microaggressions all in one day. Based on research on the impact of microaggressions and daily hassles, it is likely these combined experiences have negative impacts.

What to do about them?

What can people do about microaggressions? Freelance writer Hahna Yoon wrote a piece in the New York Times on how the targets of microaggressions might respond. These discussions are important because microaggressions exist and targets of them must have coping mechanisms. For example, people who experience microaggressions might share their experiences with others who have common experiences as a way to cope.

However, focusing on the target’s response misplaces the burden. A more equitable approach would be to put the onus of addressing microaggressions onto the perpetrators of the microaggressions. But there is relatively little research on this.

One study found that white participants said they were less likely to engage in microaggressions after a day-long workshop on race, racism and racial microaggressions. The study provides hope to those who do this work, but more information is needed.

Microaggressions cause harm. More research needs to be done to understand how best to prevent them. Thinking about how words matter might be a good place to start.The Conversation

Iloradanon Efimoff, Ph.D. Candidate, Social and Personality Psychology, University of Manitoba


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

latino students

So-called ‘good’ suburban schools often require trade-offs for Latino students

Gabriel Rodriguez, an educational researcher who focuses on suburban-urban education, interviewed Latino and Latina students about their experiences of belonging at suburban public high schools.

Many Americans think of the suburbs as exclusive enclaves for white, middle-class people. Yet reality paints a different picture. In recent decades suburbs across the country have rapidly become more socioeconomically, ethnically and racially diverse.

In fact, since 2010 most people in the U.S. – including people of color – call suburbia home.

Pew Research Center notes that 175 million people live in suburban and small metropolitan areas, while 144 million live in either rural or urban counties. The Latino community has played a pivotal role in spurring these changes.

As an educational researcher who focuses on suburban-urban education, Latino education and racial inequality in schooling, I have interviewed Latino and Latina students about their experiences of belonging at suburban public high schools. Their reflections shine a light on how schools can better support these youth and other students of color.

Opportunity gaps

One in four public school students in the U.S. is Latino, with 40% of Latino students attending a suburban public school. Yet much of what researchers know about Latino students is based on urban schools.

The broader research on students of color attending suburban schools, however, highlights academic and social trade-offs they face. For example, students of color at predominantly white suburban schools must contend with opportunity hoarding – when those with privileged backgrounds build upon their advantages by accumulating more of them. This takes shape, for example, when white parents push to get their children into high-level courses or hire private tutors.

While parents want what is best for their child, these actions can expand inequality, as not all families are able to navigate schools with the same confidence or ease as parents with racial and socioeconomic privilege.

This has led to Latino high school students being viewed as less capable by peers and teachers, being excluded from honors classes and enduring frequent microaggressions.

For example, Claudia, a Latina student at a racially diverse high school in a working-class community outside of Chicago, shared, “I wish people knew more about us beyond stereotypes.” She recalled peers saying, “Oh, you’re Latina? You don’t look like a Latina.” As Claudia noted, comments like that treat Latino students as a monolith.

Pressure to assimilate

Another challenge that students I spoke with frequently cited was feeling like they had to downplay parts of their identities to fit in and succeed academically.

Research highlights that this is a result of teachers and school leaders trying to change or “fix” Latino students and other students of color. Alternatively, schools could empower students to be proud of their cultures and home languages.

latino students,

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

On the social front, Latino students often find refuge with other Latino students. “I feel more comfortable with Latino students because I’m not competing with anyone,” said Michelle, who attended a predominantly white and well-funded school outside of Chicago. “It’s just easier to talk to them because they’re not gonna judge me ‘cause they know the things I’ve gone through.”

When students of color congregate with one another, teachers and administrators can struggle to understand why they self-segregate, often away from white students. However my research shows these decisions are often acts of self-perseverence and opportunities to be their authentic selves.

Silenced by whiteness

Roberto, a classmate of Michelle’s, spoke about how the whiteness of his school created moments where he silenced himself.

“Sometimes teachers would see someone who is quiet, someone who kept to himself,” he said. “But then at other times they would see someone who is intelligent, someone who speaks his own mind. Someone who does whatever he wants.”

Teachers may view silence as disengagement from learning, but for students like Roberto, being silent can be an act of resistance and survival. Being in a mostly white school was difficult, and he felt his perspectives were not always valued.

For example, he and other students in my research spoke about teachers seeking to motivate them to do better academically but at the same time implying they were not trying hard enough.

Students like Roberto also wrestled with stereotype threat – when negative stereotypes about their race, gender or other identity increases pressure on them to perform academically. Latino students spoke about having to represent their Latino community, and how making a mistake in class could confirm negative perceptions about them.

‘We have hella stories’

The young people I interviewed also spoke about moments they perceived to be treated differently than their white counterparts. As Mia put it, “Special treatment has to do with the power white students have.”

Mia’s experiences taught her that white students were valued and believed over Latino students. This is supported by research, which illustrates the power white students and families wield in schools.

[Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation’s email newsletter.]

latino students,

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

The students also wanted their peers and teachers to acknowledge their complex lives and ambitions. As a student named Claudia put it: “We have hella stories. I’m sorry to say, but we do.”

Samuel spoke about his teachers not understanding his need to work a job after school. “Teachers say you decide school or work,” he said. “Some get mad at us for not doing the [school]work and thinking we’re lazy.”

While there’s growing recognition of the importance of grit – the ability to persevere in difficult situations – research finds that Latino students and other students of color often already possess it, and educators should consider making things easier for them instead.

Many of the students highlighted their appreciation of their teachers’ efforts to support them academically and socially. In talking about one teacher, a student named Chris noted, “She really likes talking about what’s happening in the world right now. She even asks us about the school: ‘Do the teachers treat you right?’ I know that she cares about us.”

Listening to Latino students can guide teachers and policymakers on how to enact culturally relevant practices that combat educational disparities and build upon young people’s cultural and linguistic assets.The Conversation

You might be interested: 3 Latina teachers in their toughest moments face complex cultural challenges


Written by Gabriel Rodriguez, Assistant Professor, Iowa State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Adriana pavon fashion designer

Mexican roots inspired Adriana Pavon, fashion designer and indigenous rights advocate

Adriana Pavon profile 3_FotorAdriana Pavon is the new breed of Latina entrepreneur who is fast setting the trend for others in this country and the world. A woman of many unique talents, Adriana is not only a stylist extraordinaire but also a fashion designer with a strong passion for her Mexican roots.

Adriana is the creator of Mexico Culture & Pride (Mexico Cultura y Orgullo), an initiative inspired by traditional Mexican textiles and fashion accessories designs that employs artisans and crafters from indigenous cultures around the country.

Mexico Culture & Pride’s first project is a Frida Kahlo-inspired collection that is planned to be exhibited in major international markets.

“This is a project of love for our communities and culture and preserves the heritage for our future generations.  We are currently working on our fair trade commerce certification and on a new collection that will be sold at high-end stores in Paris and Japan,” she announced in an exclusive interview with LatinasinBusiness.us.

So how did success come to fashion designer Adriana Pavon?

Adriana’s beginnings are humble. Born into a family of garment workers in Mexico City, she grew up in Los Angeles, CA. Adriana states that even when she was young, she always played around with fabrics and tried to make fancy garments.

Adriana Pavon fashion designer 3“At the time I was not thinking of becoming a designer but there was just something that attracted me to mixing colors and textures,” she said.Adriana Pavon fashion designer

As she grew older, Adriana began to see the different trends in L.A. in the arts, culture, and ultimately fashion. While she was making a name for herself, her work began to attract the attention of other fashion designers.

After she moved to Detroit, she saw the potential in the local fashion designers community and started traveling the country to look for resources and venues willing to help her feature Detroit designers nationally.

In an interview with WNYC, she said, “The creative outpouring in this city is amazing. I could choose San Francisco or L.A. but I live in Detroit by choice because there isn’t another place where you could come up with an idea and have such a large community ready to share and collaborate with you.” In 2010, Adriana’s fashion line won the Fashion in Detroit Local Designer Award.

Adriana Pavon fashion designer 2

Mexico awaited bigger adventures

She was soon consulting for other businesses and it was on one trip to Mexico that her eyes opened to a bigger adventure in life. She had always been captivated with the local Mexican design industry run by indigenous artisans who used natural fabrics to create intricate and vibrant designs.

But she also observed that the older textile traditions in Mexico were rapidly dying, mainly due to the globalization of textiles and the use of synthetic materials.

Adriana Pavon profile with Frida

Adriana Pavon with Frida Kahlo’s mural (courtesy of Adriana Pavon)

Further, Adriana also noted that her people had no say in what happened to their productions, which were frequently sold all over the continental USA and even Europe.

“While working with the indigenous artisans, I was surprised to know that they become the victims of plagiarism. The indigenous textile traditions that have been a historical part of Mexican culture are being sold across Europe without any compensation for their intellectual work or that of their communities,” she explained.

Adriana felt passionate about these injustices. She wanted to help locals become innovative and yet receive credit and money for their work.

The Mexico Culture and Pride initiative

Adriana Pavon with artesans

Adriana Pavon with Oaxacan artisans

Adriana has always been fiercely proud of her Mexican roots and she desperately wanted to help revive its cultural traditions and the arts. She was impressed by the work ethics of Mexican artisans and soon was heavily invested in the project. She even sacrificed her lifestyle so that her project would come to fruition.

You might be interested: Pulitzer Prize winner Natalie Diaz weaves together Latina and Indigenous identity in poetry collection 

Adriana Pavon fashion designer

Adriana Pavon and her Mexico Culture & Pride team

To help boost the Mexican design industry, she recruited top-notch professionals in many related sectors to help Mexican locals thrive and show their talents on a global arena. Some of the clients who helped her were “Project Runway Latin America” and “Mexico’s Next Top Model.”

Mexico Culture and Pride displayToday, Adriana is admired as a leader among the local artisans who revere her work ethic and consider her a role model as a female entrepreneur. For years she dreamed of rejuvenating the culture and preserving the artistic talents of her Latino counterparts, who had no voice.

“This is a very personal achievement to me,” she said. “Currently I have satellite offices in NYC, LA, Detroit, Mexico City, and Oaxaca, Mexico. We are selling our products exclusively through distributors who apply on our website,” Adriana explained.

As far advice for the younger generation who wants to follow in her footsteps, Adriana advises listening to their heart. “Bringing out what is in your heart helps you stay unique and develop your own brand. You will find more satisfaction in your own inspiration than in that of others,” she told LIBizus.

For those of you interested in Adriana Pavon’s designs and fabrics, you can visit her at Mexico Culture & Pride, where she is now announcing her exclusive getaways.

 

systemic racism

Black History Month: Steps toward dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. 

Today, a House Judiciary subcommittee is hosting a hearing to discuss the H.R. 40 bill which seeks to create a commission that would explore reparations for Black Americans who have faced disproportionate disadvantages due to long lasting systemic racism. If passed, this would be a major step toward dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. 

The effects of systemic racism 

Systemic racism, also referred to as structural or institutional racism, is defined as “a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity,” according to the Aspen Institute. Systemic racism is not something “a few people or institutions choose to practice.” It is ingrained in our social, economic, and political systems and has adapted over time. It identifies the parts of our history and culture that have historically privileged “whiteness” while subjecting people of color to unjust disadvantages. 

Black Lives Matter

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Since the protests from last summer following the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought many issues surrounding racism in the U.S. to the forefront of national conversation. One of the biggest topics in the fight for racial equality is that of systemic racism and dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. 

Systemic racism is present in all systems and institutions and prevents or makes it more challenging for people of color to participate in society and in the economy. Some areas where systemic racism is prevalent include the criminal justice system, employment, housing, health care, politics and education. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed some of the ways in which systemic racism in healthcare, employment, and housing has impacted people of color who suffer from disproportionate rates of infection and hospitalization. 

homeless

Black Americans make up nearly half of the homeless population. (Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash)

Black Americans face greater, disproportionate disadvantages due to historic practices of racism and discrimination within these systems that have evolved over time. One example of this is the, now illegal, practice of redlining. 

Redlining refers to the system used by banks and the real estate industry in the 20th century to determine which neighborhoods would get loans to buy homes, and neighborhoods where people of color lived — outlined in red ink — were deemed the riskiest to invest in.

This practice made it nearly impossible for people of color to obtain loans and was a form of segregation which kept people of color living in poor, low-income, often urban areas while white people were able to afford homes in the suburbs. 

Redlining was banned in 1968, however the areas that were once deemed “dangerous” or “hazardous” by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corp are still more likely to be home to lower-income, minority residents to this day. Black Americans also make up nearly half of the homeless population today, despite making up only 13% of the population. These disproportionate numbers reflect the impact of systemic racism and shows how old systems of discrimination can become ingrained in our society and have lasting effects long after those practices have been banned. 

Steps toward dismantling racism in the U.S.

To properly dismantle systemic racism, change must be made across the board and all institutions must consciously reflect how they may be contributing to the discrimination of people of color or hindering their advancement in society. 

To address the issue moving forward, NAACP President Derrick Johnson outlined three key steps: First, we must “acknowledge that racism actually exists.” Second, we must get involved with organizations that are fighting it. And third, we must elect leaders and policy makers who won’t reinforce or support structurally racist policies. 

“Racism is not a partisan issue, and we need to stop making it a partisan issue,” Johnson said. “It’s a question of morality.”

systemic racism

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

President Biden has pledged to address the issue of systemic racism in his Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity last month where he stated that, 

“By advancing equity across the Federal Government, we can create opportunities for the improvement of communities that have been historically underserved, which benefits everyone.  For example, an analysis shows that closing racial gaps in wages, housing credit, lending opportunities, and access to higher education would amount to an additional $5 trillion in gross domestic product in the American economy over the next 5 years.” 

Additionally, in his Proclamation on National Black History Month, 2021, President Biden reiterated these sentiments stating: 

“we are also launching a first-ever whole‑government-approach to advancing racial justice and equity across our Administration –- in health care, education, housing, our economy, our justice system, and in our electoral process.  We do so not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the smart thing to do, benefiting all of us in this Nation.

We do so because the soul of our Nation will be troubled as long as systemic racism is allowed to persist.  It is corrosive.  It is destructive.  It is costly.  We are not just morally deprived because of systemic racism, we are also less prosperous, less successful, and less secure as a Nation.”

You might be interested: How systemic racism is costing the U.S. trillions

Another step Congress is taking toward dismantling systemic racism in the U.S. is the possibility of granting reparations to the families of formerly enslaved African Americans. After the Civil War, reparations were promised to formerly enslaved families, but the promise was never fulfilled. Now, Congress is taking another look at the H.R. 40, the “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.” 

The bill has been introduced in every legislative session since 1989, and since the last time a hearing was held on H.R. 40 in 2019, it has garnered the support of 170 members of Congress and 300 organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, NAACP and ACLU. However, in the three decades since the bill was first introduced, it has yet to reach the House floor for a vote. 

Today, a House Judiciary subcommittee is hosting a hearing to discuss the H.R. 40 bill.

If passed, H.R. 40 seeks to establish a commission to study “and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes,” according to H.R. 40’s text.

latinos nominated to the cabinet

A closer look at the Latinos nominated to Biden’s Cabinet

Many changes are underway as we settle into the new presidency. Among issues of immigration reform and COVID-19 relief, another key topic is that of President Biden’s cabinet nominations. Representation and diversity have been central to President Biden’s choices for top White House positions. During the 2020 election, he promised to nominate “the most diverse Cabinet in history,” stressing that he wanted leaders that look like America. Among the Cabinet nominations are many historic firsts including multiple Latinos nominated to the Cabinet. 

Julie Chávez Rodriguez has been appointed as Biden’s director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations (Photo credit: White house photo office, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

“A Cabinet that looks like America”

The Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he or she may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office and comprises some of the most senior positions in the executive branch. Historically until now, these positions have remained mostly male and white. However, if all of Biden’s nominees are confirmed, his Cabinet will contain more women and people of color than any other Cabinet in U.S. history.

“It’s a cabinet that looks like America, taps into the best of America, and opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation,” Biden said. 

Data shows that among the Cabinet appointees confirmed in the first 100 days of the last three presidential administrations, almost 72 percent were white, and 73 percent were male. Additionally, women have never made up more than 41 percent of a presidential Cabinet, and Black Americans have never accounted for even a third of the Cabinet.

Among Biden’s first 100-plus staffers, around 60 percent were women, more than 50 percent were people of color and 20 percent were first-generation Americans. 

Latinos Nominated to the Cabinet 

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Xavier Becerra, nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services. (Photo credit: Office of the attorney general of California, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Xavier Becerra, nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services

Biden has nominated California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to run the Department of Health and Human Services, a critical Cabinet position as the nation grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and navigates a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine rollout. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Becerra would be the first Latino to serve as HHS secretary. Prior to becoming California attorney general, Becerra served 12 terms in the U.S. House, rising to a top leadership post and helping to steer the Affordable Care Act through Congress.

Miguel Cardona, nominee for secretary of Education

Connecticut Public Schools commissioner and former elementary school teacher Miguel Cardona is President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nomination for secretary of the Department of Education. With his nomination, President Biden delivers on his promise to nominate a teacher for the top education job. Now Connecticut’s top education official, Cardona began as a teacher at his former elementary school. He became the state’s youngest principal in 2003, and eventually the district’s assistant superintendent. 

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Cardona would be tasked with helping the administration get students and teachers back in the classroom after the COVID-19 pandemic forced at-home instruction in districts across the country.

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for secretary of Homeland Security (Photo credit: official Department of Homeland Security (government) portrait, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas previously served as deputy secretary of Homeland Security and as U.S. Customs and Immigration Service director during the Obama administration. In 1998, Mayorkas became the youngest U.S. attorney in the country. He served as the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California until April 2001. He’s currently an attorney at the global law firm WilmerHale. If confirmed, he will be the first Latino and immigrant to hold the job. 

Isabel Guzman, nominee for administrator of the Small Business Administration 

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Isabel Guzman, nominee for administrator of the Small Business Administration (Photo credit: State of California, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Latina business leader, Isabel Guzman is the first Latina named to a cabinet-level position. Biden nominated her to head the Small Business Administration as Latino businesses struggle to survive with fewer resources and less funding.

Guzman is currently the director of the Office of Small Business Advocate in the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Prior to her work in California, she worked in the SBA during the Obama administration as deputy chief of staff and senior adviser. Guzman has also started small businesses as an entrepreneur. 

“And as head of the SBA, Isabel will be leading that critical mission to not only rescue small businesses in crisis, but to provide the capital to entrepreneurs across the country so they can innovate, create jobs, and help lead us into recovery,” Biden said when introducing Guzman as his choice.

Latinos nominated in other areas of government

In addition to the Latinos nominated to the Cabinet, President Biden has also continued his mission for diversity in his selections for other positions. Other Latinos who have been appointed to high-level positions include: Julie Chávez Rodriguez who has been appointed as Biden’s director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, and Adrian Saenz has been appointed deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement. 

“It’s not going to be easy. I don’t go into any of this with rose-colored glasses,” said Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of the civil rights leader César Chavez.

Chávez Rodríguez will work with governors and local officials who are worried about security, pandemic surges, the challenges of mass vaccinations and states’ economic hardships. Despite the “overwhelming” challenges ahead, she said there’s “a real hunger” among governors of both parties and mayors to help solve problems.

“While, yes, we have multiple crises we are facing, I think there’s a real moment for a collaborative government that I am really excited and energized by.”

Confirmations for Biden’s cabinet nominations are expected to continue over the coming weeks. As of now two of Biden’s 23 nominees have been confirmed.

President Biden to propose immigration reform bill that will legalize 11 million

During his first days in office, President Joe Biden’s first agenda is to address the long-elusive goal of immigration reform with a groundbreaking legislative package and immigration bill that will grant a quicker pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the country without legal status.

immigration reform

Photo by Metin Ozer on Unsplash

Biden’s immigration reform bill: “Restoring humanity to our immigration system”

On Saturday, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, sent a memo to the administration’s senior staff that said the new president’s agenda includes “the immigration bill he will send to Congress on his first day in office,” which Klain asserted would “restore humanity to our immigration system.”

Biden’s proposal lays out what would be the most sweeping and comprehensive immigration reform package since President Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted legal status to 3 million people who were in the country without documentation.

In an interview with Univision,  VP Kamala Harris gave a preview of the bill’s provisions. The new immigration bill will provide shorter pathways to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of people, including automatic green cards for immigrants with temporary protected status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Wait times for U.S. citizenship would also decrease from 13 to eight years under this bill, and there would be an increase in the number of immigration judges to relieve backlog in cases.

This bill differs from many previous immigration bills passed under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The key difference being that the proposed legislation “would not contain any provisions directly linking an expansion of immigration with stepped-up enforcement and security measures,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, who has been consulted on the proposal by Biden staffers.

“This notion concerning immigration enforcement and giving Republicans everything they kept asking for … was flawed from the beginning,” she said.

Hincapié added Biden’s team would be able to bypass legislation to quickly make a number of administrative changes.

She expects him to announce several executive actions that would expand DACA, overturn Trump’s 2017 travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries and rescind Trump’s public charge rule, which allowed authorities to deny green cards to immigrants who use food stamps or other public benefits.

Setting a new tone: “It’s not going to be about walls.”

Under Biden’s immigration bill, immigrants would become eligible for legal permanent residence after five years and for U.S. citizenship after an additional three years — a faster path to citizenship than in previous immigration bills.

“I think this bill is going to lay an important marker in our country’s history,” said Lorella Praeli, an immigrant and longtime activist who has been talking with Biden’s staff, noting that the measure “will not seek to trade immigration relief for enforcement, and that’s huge.”

Praeli, president of Community Change Action, a progressive group based in Washington that advocates for immigrants, described the bill as “an important opening act.”

“If there is a silver lining to the Trump era, it’s that it should now be clear to everyone that our system needs a massive overhaul and we can no longer lead with detention and deportation,” she said.

You might be interested: “Kids in Cages” Warehouse detention center shuts down for renovations

On the topic of undocumented essential workers, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) said “It’s time for essential workers to no longer be treated as disposable, but to be celebrated and welcomed as American citizens. If your labor feeds, builds and cares for our nation, you have earned the right to stay here with full legal protection, free from fear of deportation.”

Additionally, Leon Rodriguez, who was director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2014 to 2017, said that, “the public attitude toward immigration enforcement is at a different place in 2021 than it was at any point prior to the Trump administration. I think there just has been a lot of things about how immigration enforcement was executed under the Trump administration that didn’t sit right with a lot of Americans.”

However, he believes Biden’s overall approach will set an entirely different tone in the conversation of immigration reform in America. He sees a more hopeful, positive era ahead.

“It’s not going to be about walls and keeping people in Mexico,” he said.

While the ambitious bill is a great first step for the new administration, the bill will likely face months of political pushback on Capitol Hill by conservative voters, even with Democrats holding the White House and slender majorities in both chambers of Congress.

Still, if the broader bill were to die or take too long to pass, there are alternate venues Democratic leadership can take to legalize a substantial group of people — specifically the estimated 5 million essential workers now in the country without legal status.

One possible alternative would be to take advantage of COVID relief measures. Democratic leadership could decide to include measures offering legal status to essential workers via a process known as budget reconciliation. This process would only need 51 votes to pass the Senate.

“We are talking about potentially 5 million workers who have put their own lives on the line as essential workers,” Praeli said. “You cannot be essential and deportable.”

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King’s Day: Which “DREAM” is dying in America?

Today, Martin Luther King’s dream seems more unreachable than ever, and his aspirations for a more equal and inclusive society feels like a defeat in light of recent events in Washington DC. But is Dr. King’s Dream really the one that is dying?

Martin Luther King

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr. at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Photo By Yoichi Okamoto – Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. Image Serial Number: A1030-17a. http://www.lbjlibrary.net/collections/photo-archive/photolab-detail.html?id=222, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1303469)

Thirty years ago, we moved to the United States seeking stability and a promise that our individual efforts would pay off to a better life for me and my children. We were tired of years of turmoil and unrest, violence and submission to anti-democratic regimes that took away our willingness to fulfill our dreams. We painfully left our family and friends believing that it was the right decision for our family.

When we decided to try the American Dream instead, little we knew that in the United States, the American Dream works if you meet certain conditions. The famous words of the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness” only works if you are white, or rich or educated in America -and even those conditions don’t work in all cases.

“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds. Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream”

After all those years of sacrifice, and working tirelessly to get ahead as immigrants and Latinos, we saw in dismay the assault to the Capitol by thousands of angry Americans who firmly believe there has been an attack to “their” democracy and voting rights.

It felt unreal. And then again, it was not.

Storming of the US Capitol, Martin Luther King

2021 Storming of the US Capitol (By Tyler Merbler – https://www.flickr.com/photos/37527185@N05/50812356151/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98641393)

Moreover, over 74 million people in this country voted for a President that has been the epitome of deceit and discrimination, enraging large portions of the population into believing that they have been left behind.

An they have been left behind, not by one party or by one government.

They are being left behind by history, and by economic forces that care little about their well-being. Donald Trump is just a messenger, a great marketer who was able to pack those pain points in the most successful branding campaign in the political history of this country.

Being left behind by history, the loss of the “White American Dream”

The U.S. population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, in numbers and its behavior. Minorities have reached new records in history. Latinos have now become the first majority minority, interracial marriage and births have grown at a fast pace -especially among post-Millennial generations-, immigration is now growing at a higher pace in the second and third generation of  the US born than from those coming from abroad, and women and minorities are flooding into a college education.

Americans have mixed views about how the country might change when minorities make up a majority of the population. Not everybody thinks it will be best for the country or for themselves.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.” Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream”

And social media has opened a window of opportunity for the country -and the world- to see how we as Americans behave in different circumstances. We cannot hold truth to our values of freedom and democracy, the “White American Dream”-which has certainly justified one too many interventions in foreign countries-;  we cannot judge other governments as anti-democratic or anti-human rights regimes when we show and brag on social media our darkest behavior in police brutality and assault to the nation’s site of government during an electoral process procedure.

Lastly, the archetypical American messages of “freedom” and “justice” have always been paired with “at any cost,” or “it’s not free,” or “by your own hands.”

From Westerns movies in the past to today’s normalization of injustice on popular crime TV series and the media, Americans are bombarded with messages that poison their minds into believing that “if it’s on TV, it must be true.”

The vivid power of images engages the brain in perceiving a “parallel reality” that might not even exist in the real world -a human brain feature that has been used by storytellers since the dawn of times. The brain has limited processing resources and relies on filtering mechanisms that process some external events at the expense of others. Those filtering mechanisms… well, they are acquired in childhood and with our life experiences, which brings us to the topic of poverty.

Westerns

Clint Eastwood in the Dollars Trilogy (marketed as “the Man with No Name” (By movie studio – eBay, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25888150)

Poverty and the economic forces behind the White American Dream

When you think “the poor,” or “poor people,” what image comes to mind? Men or women? White or Black of Hispanic? Old or young?

You probably do not think of yourself or your church’s friends, or even people who live down the block from you. Poverty is something that happens to people who do not work hard enough or do not save enough or they do not manage their finances in a reasonable way.

And then the pandemic hits and you lose your job or your business. You have some savings for maybe three months or have credit card debt or student debt because you thought an education will get you ahead.

Your rent or your mortgage payments fall behind, maybe your car payments or other lower priorities because your family needs food and heating and a connection to cable so the children can do home schooling.

You are now “officially poor.”

In 2018, the poverty threshold in the United States was defined at $25,000 or less for a four-person household earning but that means “abject poverty.” Main factors in being “officially poor” include place of birth and age, a person’s race, even their level of education and the role models they have seen at home.

Their health, family and their citizenship status are also big components of poverty in America, the so-called “richest country in the world,” which by 2019 had almost 11 million children living in poverty -and many were homeless.

“Most Americans fall into at least one of these conditions, while some might fit several. And while we might not think of ourselves as “poor people,” none of us are immune to poverty, now more than ever due to the pandemic and the economic crisis.

“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.

“But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream”

From there to here, when the “White American Dream” started to die?

The 3% of the richest population in America has grown 10 years in a row.

So, you start wondering why you have become poor while three percent of your American neighbors have grown super rich for the 10th year in a row. What are you doing wrong?

The economic disarray and vulnerability in which over 80% of the population in America lives today started in the eighties with the policies of “Reaganonics” that destroyed the American middle class, created the super wealthy, and paved the way for Trumpism, some economists agree.

After years of economic loss and feeling more vulnerable than ever, the American middle class is angry at everything and anything: immigrants, Blacks, China, you name it, Trump has brought it up. And fear brings the worst out in all of us -you flee or you fight.

Which brings us back to the recent events in DC on January 6.

You might be interested: La cultura de la pobreza, a stigma in minority communities

How we mend a “sick social body”

Somehow, we have all created the enemy from within, even those of us who believe in civil rights, social rights, equity and equality. We have created the enemy from within, the inside censor that prevents us to speak freely. “You don’t talk about politics or religion in any social encounter,” was one of the first warnings I learned from American culture.

We have come to think of others as a “basket of deplorables,” or people who “worship Satan and traffic children for sex,” both sides dropping a number of despicable offenses to each other including verbal and physical bullying and threats.

This is not the country I moved in 30 years ago, and the country I want for my American born granddaughters. As we teach them about their Latino roots, our past and our origin, we also help them understand that communication is key in a world that is getting sicker with hate and blame every day.

Because the real fight is not on the streets but forever in our minds and in our hearts. The love for people and country sits with us at the kitchen table every night. It may sound simple and it may look unimportant, but each word that comes out of our mouths in front of our children has the power to impact their minds, and that is no little task.

“We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time… Martin Luther King’s Speech “I Have a Dream”

You might be interested: How systemic racism is costing the U.S. trillions

 

 

 

 

 

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz behavior damages the Latino brand and leadership

Ted Cruz, Senator for Texas, continues to damage the Latino brand.  In light of the assault by extreme individuals to the Senate yesterday during the affirmation of the Electoral College vote,  I remembered an article I wrote in October 2013 –a version of which follows– that is appropriate still today. Although LatinasinBusiness.us is not a political publication, we still believe it is in our best interest as a community to discuss matters of branding and leadership.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz meets with President Trump and First Lady in El Paso, TX Aug. 7, 2019. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A personal brand is an asset that needs to be cherished and promoted. We, as professionals, business owners, leaders and influencers in our communities know this concept very well. There are certain values that, as Latinos, we all treasure and recognize as important such as personalism, respect, loyalty and a sense of community.

Despite our differences, based on country of origin, degrees of acculturation or even political views, when one member of the pack is attacked, then we react as a whole. We have earned our reputation of a hard-working community with no little pain and we would not accept otherwise.

So when the disturbing behavior of a U.S. Senator of Latino origin, beyond his political position and party, generates the type of damage that Senator Ted Cruz causes to the Hispanic people of this country, it is worth to analyze his position under the lens of a cultural approach.

A comment made to me in a conversation about the government shutdown put me over the edge, not politically but culturally. “One of your people,” said the person in question. It really hit home.

Is Ted Cruz one of “my people?”

Cultural characteristics of a Latino leader

As a community, Latinos have made incredible advances in economic and political power.  We represent the largest minority in the country at almost 55 million Hispanics and expected to reach 106 million by 2050 with a buying power projected to 1.5 trillion for 2015. The Latino vote also defined the last presidential elections of Republican President Bush and Democrat President Obama.  Moreover, those who dare to oppose the Latino community interests and concerns are politically doomed, and great efforts are being made by certain candidates to schmooze the Latino voter.

Ted Cruz position on immigration.

Ted Cruz position on immigration.

The need to increase leadership among members of the Latino community is, however, a matter of constant action and concern for Latino leaders from all walks of life and across the country. One particular concern is related to the lack of political representation of Latinos in federal, state and local governments.

So when “one of our own” reaches a position of power, it is desirable that he or she portrays the values that are close to our community’s heart.

What are those values that make us who we are as a people? What are those characteristics that unite us and project us to the leadership positions we deserve while making important contributions to the American society?

Latinos treasure and build interpersonal relationships around personalismo, respect, loyalty and leadership, with a high level of collectivism based on a deep care and concern for family and community.

True Latino leaders practice personalismo as a value that enhances the importance of the other person over the task at hand. Putting personal ambition over the interest of the community is an undesirable trait seen as self-centered and individualistic. The individual that practices such behavior is rejected as an outcast – un avivado or ventajero, someone who takes advantage of the rest to his own benefit.

Latinos also interact with others with this collectivist worldview that puts the interest of others over the interest of self, especially maintaining closeness and dependency with family members, which influences the way Latinos make decisions and perceive and respond to external stimulus.

Differences might be discussed among the members of a family but the young and inexperienced are never to stand up to their elders out of respect and loyalty. The same sense of fidelity towards family and friends is translated into the work environment, with respect for their work hierarchy chain or positions of authority.

Ted Cruz position on the American Healthcare Act (ACA).

Ted Cruz position on the American Healthcare Act (ACA).

Individuals who break from the pack are seen as deranged or defiant – locos, irrespetuosos or insolentes, someone who believes, in his or her immaturity, they know better than the collective wisdom of the pack.

Finally, true Latino leaders would look after their community, never building obstacles to impede the achievement of the common good. Based on Christian principles of charity and compassion, they would never refrain from offering aid and assistance to those that suffer or have unfulfilled needs, as we “see Jesus Christ in each other.”

For those who derail from the Christian principles of the faith to avoid finding solutions for ongoing social problems are deemed to face the wrath of God.

“Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.” Then they will answer and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?” He will answer them, “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matt. 25:41-45)

A version of this article was written for VOXXI on October 2013.

covid19 vaccination

COVID19 Vaccination marks historic day in New Jersey

As Covid19 vaccination marks a historic day in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, University Hospital President and CEO Shereef Elnahal, State health Commissioner Judy Persichilli and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. walked around the University Hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
They watched the first five New Jersey healthcare workers being vaccinated. A small medical refrigerator stocked with thawed vaccines stood next to three computer screens at the end of the room.
covid19 vaccination

Governor Murphy, University Hospital President and CEO Dr. Shereef Elnahal, Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Dean Dr. Robert Johnson, and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. visit and inspect University Hospital’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in Newark on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 (Edwin J. Torres 2020).

Maritza Beniquez, a resident nurse at the University Hospital emergency department, answered a series of questions from ambulatory care tech Sady Ferguson as pharmacists readied the coronavirus vaccine: Does she have allergies? Did she have a fever in the last 48 hours? Is she pregnant or planning on getting pregnant. Did she have recent exposure to COVID-19?“Every day in the emergency room,” Beniquez answered.

Maritza Beniquez was the first person in New Jersey to receive the vaccination. (Photo credit Edwin J. Torres 2020).

Covid19 vaccination starts with Pfizer vaccine

Beniquez smiled as Ferguson injected the Pfizer vaccine into her right arm at 8:10 a.m. on Tuesday, making her the first New Jerseyan to receive the coronavirus vaccine outside of clinical trials. She received her first dose of the two-dose vaccine on her 56th birthday at University Hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark.

“This is the best birthday present ever!” Beniquez said, as people clapped and cheered. “I can see that light at the end of the tunnel. This is it. It’s a great way to celebrate my birthday.”

Beniquez remained in her blue leather chair for fifteen minutes, until hospital staff told her she was free to go. She said she examined her arm after because she didn’t feel the shot.
Four other healthcare workers received Covid19 vaccinations during Murphy’s visit: Robert Johnson, dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Justin Sambol, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Yvelisse Covington, medical office assistant in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic at University Hospital; and Charles Farmer, an emergency room doctor at New Jersey Medical School.
Covid19 vaccination

Four other healthcare workers received vaccinations during Murphy’s visit: Robert Johnson, dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Justin Sambol, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Yvelisse Covington, medical office assistant in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic at University Hospital; and Charles Farmer, an emergency room doctor at New Jersey Medical School. (Photo credit Edwin J. Torres 2020).

On Tuesday, about 80 healthcare workers total will be inoculated at the University Hospital clinic. The clinic –which has the capacity to vaccinate 600 people a day–will be open from 8:30 to 7:00 p.m. each day, depending on supplies, according to Andre Emont, director of pharmaceutical services at University Hospital. The hospital received just under 3,000 doses in its first shipment.