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“No Surprise, Trump Again Loud And Wrong”: Trump Is Woefully Ignorant About Minority Youths In America

“Ignoramus,” according to Merriam-Webster, was the name of a fictional 17th-century lawyer who regarded himself as rather shrewd when, in fact, he was quite foolish and ignorant. Enter Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who denounced U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel as too biased to oversee lawsuits involving Trump University because the judge was, as Trump referred to him, “a Mexican.”

Senior Judge Theodore R. Newman Jr. of the D.C. Court of Appeals, former chairman of the U.S. Fine Arts Commission Harry G. Robinson III, D.C. venture capitalist James L. Hudson, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, NBC4 news anchor Jim Vance, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Wade Henderson, D.C. elder statesman Carl Anderson, former D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, D.C. Council member Brandon Todd, BET founder Robert Johnson and more than 150,000 members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, including this lifetime member and columnist, have another name for Curiel: We call him “Brother.”

Trump, no surprise, again was loud and wrong.

Curiel was born in Indiana, where he was initiated into predominantly African American Kappa Alpha Psi at Indiana University.

Labeling — or mislabeling — is pure Trump. Why bother to get to know anything about a person when pigeonholing into an ethnic, racial, religious or sexual identity will do?

But it is not Curiel’s name, his parents’ Mexican heritage or his fraternal choice that stand out. What lifts him up, as a fraternity leader said in a tribute to him against Trump’s bigotry, is Curiel’s decision to become part of a diverse membership of high achievers from all backgrounds who firmly oppose the practice of judging someone on the basis of race or ethnic origin.

Trump, in his ignorance, would never understand. His is a world of oversimplified compartmentalization: “the Latinos,” “the Muslims,” “the gays.”

And he knows it all, especially when it comes to — his words again — “the blacks.”

In the aftermath of the Baltimore rioting over Freddie Gray’s death, Trump pronounced, “And if you look at black and African American youth, to a point where they’ve never done more poorly. There’s no spirit.”

Thus saith Trump. He saith wrong. But, in truth, Trump has had help in reaching his crooked conclusions.

The local evening news brings tales of black community breakdowns, broken bodies and so much blood. Case in point: The Post’s feature story this week about a black teen in Baltimore trying to graduate from his troubled high school when so many of his classmates are dying. It’s regular newspaper fare, and the kind of stuff trumpeted by Trump.

But The Post’s account and Trump’s portrayal don’t capture the narrative of today’s African American and other youths of color.

Those stories are found where the denigrators of black and brown youths, and many in the media, fail to go.

Trump and his ilk should have been with me last month at the Sumner School Museum for the 28th Celebration of Youth essay contest sponsored by Global Harmony Through Personal Excellence, where dozens of Grade 4 through 9 scholars demonstrated wisdom beyond their years. “No spirit”? They made you want to stand up and cheer.

Too bad Trump wasn’t around last week to see the commencement celebration of Chavez Capitol Hill High School, a public charter school of mostly black and Latino youths, most economically disadvantaged — and most college-bound.

They, too, know what life is like for The Post’s young man in Baltimore. Many of them were the first in their families to graduate high school. Life for them has been hard, too.

They are youths who care about what’s going on in their communities. More important, they believe they can make a difference. Most will be off to college in the fall. Keep that “no spirit” garbage to yourself, Trump.

If last year’s high school graduation numbers are any guide, the Chavez students will be joined by more than 3,000 other D.C. high school students who received diplomas this spring. Many of them will also continue their education. They aren’t victims. They are spirited.

Kids “have never done more poorly,” declares Trump. Tell that to the more than 600 graduates of D.C. schools who have been awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships by Curiel’s Washington Alumni brothers and their Kappa Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Trump, the know-it-all, should have attended the 176-year-old Nineteenth Street Baptist Church last Sunday to observe the congregation honor the college and high school graduates at Youth Recognition Day. Take in the sight of their adult mentors, volunteers and financial supporters.

Those scenes at the Chavez graduation, Nineteenth Street Baptist’s service, the youth essay contest, all the fundraisers, show that family and community supporters are not isolated stories. Those experiences are replicated below the radar in black and brown communities, and in churches and mosques and places of worship across the country. They are the rest of the story.

But if Trump doesn’t know from Mexican, why should he know any of this?

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 17, 2016

June 19, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Gonzalo Curiel, Minorities | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Not The America Of The Future”: GOP A Bridge To 1960, When 90 Percent Of The Population Was White

It’s hardly news to observe that partisan polarization in this country is reinforced by sharp divisions in the demographic composition of the two major parties. But National Journal‘s Ron Brownstein offers one bit of data that dramatizes the issue as well as any I’ve seen:

In 2012, whites ac­coun­ted for about 90 per­cent of both the bal­lots cast in the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial primar­ies and the votes Mitt Rom­ney re­ceived in the gen­er­al elec­tion. The last time whites rep­res­en­ted 90 per­cent of the total Amer­ic­an pop­u­la­tion was 1960.

Think about that. If the Republican Party were a country, it would racially resemble the America of 1960, 55 years ago. Brownstein goes on to argue that Democrats are also out of alignment with today’s demographics — but it most resembles an America of the future, and the not-too-distant future at that.

Eth­nic groups now equal just over 37 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans. But voters of col­or ac­coun­ted for nearly 45 per­cent of Pres­id­ent Obama’s votes in 2012. Eth­nic minor­it­ies likely won’t equal that much of the total pop­u­la­tion for about an­oth­er 15 years.

If one party (whose average age of about 52 means that a sizable minority can actually remember the America of 1960) is composed of people who are both aware of their once-dominant position and of how quickly it is slipping away, is there any reason to be surprised that party is strongly influenced by feelings that the country has taken a wrong turn that must be resisted? And should anyone be shocked that reaction to cultural and demographic change might well begin to compete with free-market economics or universalistic values in shaping the party’s positions and leadership?

I don’t think so. When in response to Bill Clinton’s promise to “build a bridge to the 21st century,” 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole — first elected to Congress in 1960 — described his Republican presidential campaign as “a bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth,” he ironically hit on his party’s future message.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 22, 2016

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Demographics, Ethnic Groups, Minorities | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Is White Privilege?”: Something You Would Barely Notice Unless It Were Suddenly Taken Away

Taking it for granted that when you’re shopping alone, you probably won’t be followed or harassed.

Knowing that if you ask to speak to “the person in charge,” you’ll almost certainly be facing someone of your own race.

Being able to think about different social, political or professional options without asking whether someone of your race would be accepted or allowed to do what you want to do.

Assuming that if you buy a house in a nice neighborhood, your neighbors will be pleasant or neutral toward you.

Feeling welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

What is white privilege? It’s the level of societal advantage that comes with being seen as the norm in America, automatically conferred irrespective of wealth, gender or other factors. It makes life smoother, but it’s something you would barely notice unless it were suddenly taken away — or unless it had never applied to you in the first place.

In 1988, the professor Peggy McIntosh used the paper White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack to describe it as a set of unearned assets that a white person in America can count on cashing in each day but to which they remain largely oblivious. The concept has been percolating in academic circles ever since and is nearing widespread use among young people on the political left. Yet as Post reporter Janell Ross noted earlier this week, it’s also a term that many Americans “instinctively don’t trust or believe to be real,” despite reams of evidence to the contrary. Black children– 4-year-olds! — comprise 18 percent of preschool enrollment but are given  nearly 50 percent of all out-of-school suspensions. Job applicants with white-sounding names are 50 percent more likely to get called in for an interview. Black defendants are at least 30 percent more likely to be imprisoned than white defendants for the same crime.

Why does such a fraught piece of academic lingo matter now? Because people are finally beginning to talk about what it means in their own lives. At a time when minorities are becoming more vocal about the ways in which their experiences in America differ from those of their white counterparts, the term might be finally entering the mainstream. On Monday night, at a forum for presidential hopefuls held in Iowa, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was asked by an audience member to explain what white privilege meant to her, and how it had affected her life. Her response? “Look, where do I start?

Yet for every instance in which white privilege is acknowledged, there is an inevitable backlash.

Commentators quickly jump in to remind us that “not all white people are privileged,” a clear (and perhaps willful) misreading of the term. Obviously not all white people are wealthy, and yes, there are minorities who have achieved this and other marks of status. But white privilege is something specific and different – it’s the idea that just by virtue of being a white person of any kind, you’re part of the dominant group, which tends to be respected, assumed the best of, and given the benefit of the doubt. That just isn’t the case for people of other races, no matter how wealthy, smart or hard-working they might be.

Others denounce the term as a weapon used to guilt, shame, and silence, pointing at presumably well-meaning students told by holier-than-thou faculty and classmates to “check their privilege.” Yet while the term can be used to silence, that’s more the fault of a rude terminology-wielder than of the concept itself. All sorts of normally harmless words have been deployed to guilt people and suppress speech — “unpatriotic” and “elitist” come to mind.  A reminder to acknowledge one’s privilege is just a reminder to be aware — aware that you might not be able to fully understand someone else’s experiences, or that the assumptions you were brought up with may be blinding you to certain concerns. That awareness that is key to any sort of civil discussion, about race, class or anything else.

Before everyone gets too defensive (and let’s be honest — it’s probably too late), a few notes of clarification: Pointing out that white privilege exists isn’t the same as accusing every white person of being a racist. Acknowledging that you might benefit from such privilege isn’t equivalent to self-hatred or kowtowing to detested “social justice warriors.”

The thing about white privilege is that it tends to be unintentional, unconscious, uncomfortable to recognize but easy to take for granted. But it’s that very invisibility that makes it that much more important to understand: Without confronting what exists, there’s no chance of leveling the field.

 

By: Christine Emba, Editor of In Theory; Opionins Section, The Washington Post, January 18, 2016

January 18, 2016 Posted by | African Americans, Minorities, White Privilege | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Why Racial Profiling Is Still An Issue”: The Issue Is Real And We Need To Pay Attention

Back in the early 1980’s, I remember having heard the term “racial profiling.” But it didn’t mean much to me because, given that I’m white, it never happened to me or anyone I knew. One of my good friends at the time happened to be Native Hawaiian (often mistaken for being Mexican) and started telling me stories about how he couldn’t walk across the courtyard at his apartment complex without being stopped by security and escorted to his door to verify that he actually lived there. That’s when I started paying attention to the issue.

I suspect that my experience is probably not that different from a lot of other white people in this country. It’s easy to dismiss the issues around racial profiling if it doesn’t happen to you or anyone else you know. And so, this week when President Obama hosted a panel discussion at the White House on criminal justice reform, he took a few extra minutes at the end to say that, when it comes to the Black Lives Matter Movement, the issue is real and we need to pay attention.

I thought of that ongoing need to convince white people that racial profiling is real when I saw that the New York Times published a front-page above-the-fold story by Sharon LaFraniere and Andrew Lehren on the reality of “driving while black.” To be honest, I had mixed feelings when I saw that. On the one hand, it is an excellent piece and I am thrilled to see such an important topic tackled in a way that puts it all front and center. But I also get discouraged. How long do people need to keep pointing this out before we finally get the message and do something about it? I can only imagine the reaction of African Americans who have lived with this issue for decades. This is not something that started in Ferguson. Eight months before the shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014, the Washington Monthly published an article that reached the very same conclusions we find in the NYT article today.

I don’t take a lot of pride in the fact that it took a friend of mine experiencing racial profiling for me to wake up to the fact that it is a real issue that we need to address. It reminds me of a column Leonard Pitts wrote years ago when Dick Cheney had a change of heart about marriage equality because his daughter is lesbian.

In such circumstances, injustice ceases to be an abstract concept faced by abstract people, but a real threat faced by someone who is known and loved. Makes all the difference in the world, I guess…

Unfortunately for Cheney, conservativism has no place for him on this issue. It does not strive to be thoughtful or even noticeably principled where gay rights are concerned.

To the contrary, being persuadable is seen as weakness and being persuaded proof of moral failure. In Cheney’s world, people do not seek to put themselves inside other lives or to see the world as it appears through other eyes. Particularly the lives and eyes of society’s others, those people who, because of some innate difference, have been marginalized and left out.

Then someone you love turns up gay, turns up among those others.

One imagines that it changes everything, forces a moment of truth that mere reasoning never could. And maybe you find yourself doing what Dick Cheney does, championing a cause people like you just don’t champion. Doing the right thing for imperfect reasons.

As Pitts goes on to say, getting to freedom is going to take a very long time if it requires every conservative home to have a lesbian daughter. And if every white person needs to have a best friend who experienced racial profiling in order for us to finally take the issue seriously, justice comes too slowly.

So in the end, I’ll celebrate that the NYT is highlighting this problem once again and that President Obama continues to tell us that the concerns of the Black Lives Matter Movement are real. I just hope that more of us are listening and perhaps even persuadable.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 25, 2015

October 26, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Minorities, Racial Profiling | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Who Has A Seat At the Table?”: Walking His Talk, Obama Has Presided Over The Most Demographically Diverse Administration In History

Back in January 2013, Annie Lowrey wrote an article that surprised a lot of us titled: Obama’s Remade Inner Circle Has an All-Male Look, So Far.

…Mr. Obama has put together a national security team dominated by men, with Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts nominated to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as the secretary of state, Chuck Hagel chosen to be the defense secretary and John O. Brennan nominated as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Given the leading contenders for other top jobs, including chief of staff and Treasury secretary, Mr. Obama’s inner circle will continue to be dominated by men well into his second term.

From the White House down the ranks, the Obama administration has compiled a broad appointment record that has significantly exceeded the Bush administration in appointing women but has done no better than the Clinton administration, according to an analysis of personnel data by The New York Times.

Lowrey obviously wrote that when the administration was in the midst of transition, as many first-term appointees left their positions and the President was appointing their replacements. But it fed a meme that had been developed early on in the administration that the White House culture was dominated by men (at least until some folks decided to put a target on Valerie Jarrett’s back as the woman who was responsible for all of the President’s failings).

Recently, Juliet Eilperin revisited the whole issue of Obama’s appointments – not only of women, but a more broad perspective of diversity in the administration.

Obama has presided over the most demographically diverse administration in history, according to a new analysis of his top appointments. The majority of top policy appointments within the executive branch are held by women and minorities for the first time in history.

The transformation partly reflects a broader trend in U.S. society, but it also reflects the results of a calculated strategy by the nation’s first African American president. The shifts are significant enough, experts say, that they may have forever transformed the face of government…

O’Connell said that her research reveals that Obama has placed women and minorities in 53.5 percent of those posts. His predecessor, President George W. Bush, by contrast, installed women and minorities in 25.6 percent, while President Clinton’s number was 37.5 percent.

In order to chart that development over the last few presidents, the Washington Post provided some interesting graphs.

Due to the fact that the lead for this article was the announcement by the White House that President Obama will nominate Eric Fanning as the first openly-gay Secretary of the Army, Eilperin also notes the following:

And Fanning’s nomination punctuates the fact that members of the LGBT community have also made similar advances under Obama: There are now hundreds of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender appointees in the executive branch, compared with a handful in past administrations.

One omission in all this is the lack of any reporting on Native American appointments. I am not aware of any that the Obama administration has nominated to Cabinet positions, but the only Native American currently serving as a federal judge is Diane Humetewa, who was nominated by President Obama in September 2013 (the President previously nominated Arvo Mikkanen, but his confirmation was blocked by Senate Republicans).

When President Obama says that “everyone gets a seat at the table,” this is an example of him walking his talk.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 27, 2015

September 28, 2015 Posted by | Diversity, Executive Branch, Minorities, Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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