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November 14, 2008

The Big Mean Ugly Government

After reading the Color of Wealth and watching Race the Power of Illusion, it truly astonishes me how the government is at fault for creating such an enormous wealth divide in our country. Even though we as society have done our part is creating this divide, the government has taken our societal inequalities and formulated them into law. After completing the sections on Native Americans, African Americans, and Latinos in the Color of wealth, I became sick to my stomach that such inequality exists now and has existed for centuries throughout our history. It may seem odd that I am so unaware to these harsh inequalities; however, I do not feel like I am entirely to blame. Up until now, I have been taught history only in one way-a way that makes the American government look like heroes and everyone else look like they deserved what they got. It’s really quite disturbing at how our education system works up until college. If you really think about it, up until college (at least for me) students are not exposed to the harshness and reality of what has occurred throughout our history. However, the truth is that the government is to blame for our wealth divide. The same government that preaches freedom and equality for all went and stabbed the Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians in the back. The government and the media especially like to paint the picture that minorities control their destinies and that they are the reason they are in poverty, barely surviving without good educations. Yet, it is the government that gave many Americans no choice but poverty, no choice but low income housing, and no choice but to extend the racial wealth divide that exists in our country today. In order to reverse this racial wealth divide a lot more needs to happen than just becoming a colorblind society. Our government needs to correct their wrong doings. Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians have suffered for long enough. These people never choose to suffer, rather they, like everyone else, are trying to lead productive lives and provide for their families. The government needs to create a new deal for our nation’s minorities in order to better our nation as a whole. They say we live in the richest and greatest nation of all, however, are we truly rich and truly great if all our citizens are not treated fairly and are not living the lives they deserve?

Race the Power of Illusion: The House we live in

Watching the last segment of the film "Race the Power of Illusion: The House we Live in" was like a slap in the face. The facts stated in the film made everyone realize the the racial wealth divide is real and has been since race was constructed. One thing in the film that stood out was the fact that America is called the melting Pot yet is not really the melting pot because no one is "equally spread out" in reality and the what comes with being human. There is no such thing as a single pure essence in America because no one is treated fairly, not even Whites when you think about it because they do not get their actual potential but privileges that were given to them.

I dislike the entire scientific racism theory because of the implications it has created in society. There are people that actually believe that science is what determines what race we belong to but that is not true and everyone should realize that if they are educated and not blinded by the hatred they evoke in themselves. It was like the use of scientific racism was also used to let racism continue in society because people do believe facts, people believe what science tells them because that is what we are conditioned to believe, things we read in books and what professionals tell us to believe. Now it seems that scientific racism is not the main fact that continues to let racism live, it's the geography factor that we do realize.

"Geography does the work of Jim Crow laws" which is true that it does just in a less explicit way yet we do see that people are separated in where they live based on their race. I'm from Milwaukee, WI and I see that everyday. We know where to find certain races in the North, West, South, and East. We know where everyone is located and go there to see or experience certain things. I've realized that at a young age but never really connected it to Jim Crow laws 40 years back until hearing someone speak about it on the film. We have inherited this concept of race into our lives today. We never asked to be separated by the color of our skin or the history of our ancestors, we never asked to have a racial wealth divide that continues to affect the process of advancement today. We never asked for it but we have to live with it until one day it does change and we can say that racism is slowing becoming non-existent. But that's not necessarily true either because racism will always be there just in a less explicit way, not of those back then when the N-word was used so frequently and signs were up everywhere prohibiting certain races from using those facilities but now separated by geography and space.

In conclusion I agree with one statement from the film that said that the only way to can change things is to accept race as what it is and get beyond racism. To be uncomfortable and not so used to they way things are now but willing to change your way of living; being color blind is not the way to go.

November 15, 2008

Video: The house we live in

I thought the video was very interesting as well as shocking. I found it interesting when it pointed out that physical differences doesn't make race; the social meanings attached to it does. The fact that blacks were explicitly being discriminated against by the government was outrageous. There were explicit laws that stated whites were on top and blacks were on the bottom. Blacks were not offered the same homeownership opportunities as whites. This lack of opportunity impacted the current class status for the average African American.
By redlining the neighborhoods, racial segregation was created; similar to the racial segregation that exists in the suburbs and cities today. The practices of decades ago are similar to the ones in place today, the only difference is that they're not as explicit. The racial discrimination of blacks was extended to immigrants and they wee denied citizenship. The only key to citizenship was whiteness. Jews, though their skin color is white, were discriminated against because they were considered "in between people in transition". The GI Bill that was intended to benefit all soldiers only benefitted white soldiers. The fact that they went to war and fought for their country and weren't valued as citizens when they returned is very depressing.
The laws that defined one's race were ridiculous. A person could literally change their race by walking across a state line because what was considered black in one state wasn't in another.
I enjoyed the video.

Latinos and Immigration Law

In this week’s reading in the Color of Wealth, one of the chapters focused on disparities and discriminations towards Latinos. Immigration law and policy is one of the main challenges that this community faces, and one that hits very close to home for me. In just the past 6 months the United States Government has deported/denied citizenship to two friends of mine, one of whom is very close to me.

The first was deported based on a false criminal claim. A woman accused him of striking her, and he was promptly arrested, thrown in jail, within days transferred to Arizona to ‘deportation camps’ (wonder about the conditions there?), and within a week back across the border and to Honduras. The woman’s claims were entirely false, and the evidence available makes this terribly clear. But he never received any kind of attempt at due process. The only way he had access to a Spanish-speaking lawyer was through a network of friends that pooled money to cover the costs, which he couldn’t afford. It did very little. Best part? He was here legally. Now his son is here and he will likely never be able to return; on his record it indicates he was deported on a criminal charge. Just because someone pointed a finger and told a lie.

The second was the first’s father. He has lived in the United States for 12 years. He has been paying taxes for 12 years. He is learning English. He was under the impression he was a legal citizen. Earlier this year he found out his father in Honduras is dying of cancer. He went to make arrangements to make a visit, and ensure his ability to return across the border. At a meeting with lawyers he was informed that, in fact, his papers had been temporary, and so they had not been renewed properly. Furthermore, they were not going to allow him to renew them now. He had totally misunderstood his legal status in this country, why? Because no one provided him with Spanish translations for the legal proceedings. Worse, no one had informed him when they had expired and offered a renewal process, instead they simply kept accepting his tax payments, knowing full well that if he were ever in trouble he would not receive the benefits and rights of citizenship he was providing to others with his tax money. The lawyers told him that if he were leaving, they would not tell the authorities (since they would deport him), instead letting him leave in his own time. A meager kindness in the scheme of things. He will leave this month to see his father, and will not be allowed to re-enter the states for 10 years. He has built his home here: his girlfriend is here, his career is here, his friends are here, and we will miss him terribly.

These are glaring examples of both the ethnic profiling that has increased since 9/11 and the discriminatory policies brought up in the Color of Wealth. These situations exhibit how these Latinos are being attacked from many angles: profiled as criminals and wrong-doers, families torn apart, wealth and career bases they have worked hard to achieve yanked out from under them, the ‘American Dream’ of opportunity closed off to them (regardless that much of the geography on which we ourselves pursue this dream was originally violently taken from minorities including Latinos), and being downright backhandedly mislead. The second man I discussed reminds me strongly of the Asian man (I believe he was Chinese? I may be remembering wrong) in “Race: The Power of Illusion? who, in petitioning to the courts for citizenship, claimed to be a better American citizen than some traitors who are allowed to call this country their own. History and our current legal system don’t just make things (such as wealth and stability) difficult for Latino immigrants to reach, they seem, to me, to put them entirely out of reach. How preposterous would it be considered if one American citizen pointed at another and accused him of wrongdoing, and the accused was immediately taken away without the slightest chance to defend himself/herself? This type of fear doctrine and domination is unacceptable, and violates basic rights of HUMANITY, not of citizenship. These people must live with accusations and the possibility of immediate and total destabilization hanging over their heads everyday, an inhibiting fear that many of us will probably never understand.