Our place in history ...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Our truth.

If you've been sharing that post on Facebook that reads, “Bernie would have won in a landslide,” you need to stop. Neither party has been able to hold the White House for three terms since the passage of the 22nd Amendment, with only one exception. Further, the implementation of new state issued ID requirements, and long lines, suppressed the participation of voters of color in key swing states, and this would have been the case regardless of whose name appeared on the ballot. Further, white voters made up 69% of voters in 2016. The President-elect won 58% of white voters overall. 53% of white women voted for him. 63% of white men voted for him. All of my fellow Bernie Sanders Primary and Caucus voters out there need to acknowledge these facts and the data that demonstrates the role of racial prejudice in defining the white vote, regardless of gender, regardless of socioeconomic class, regardless of age, regardless of education. From the "Southern Strategy," to the "Reagan Revolution," to the present day, racial animus has been front and center in white voter targeting and mobilization. No Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 has won the majority of white voters in a presidential election. (Go ahead, Google it).

Talking heads, pundits, meme makers, and social media rant writers tend to put bias before all else. And this is fine when it comes to providing Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Jon Oliver, Trevor Noah, and other comics engaging in a social critique with material. But it’s not ok when it comes to making decisions that impact our lives. To paraphrase Daniel Patrick Moynihan, everyone is entitled to invent their own opinions, but no one is entitled to fudge the facts.

Here is why Hillary Clinton lost, and why Bernie Sanders would have lost as well:

The fact is that this was not an election decided by voters who were rejecting the establishment. If the President-Elect was a riding a wave of animus toward the elites in power, if voters were trying to send a message to the professional politicians, we would have seen a wave of Senate seats flip parties. But we did not see this. Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin all preserved the party in power. Only New Hampshire and Illinois saw a change. Republican Senate candidates explicitly pursued a strategy of ticket splitting. But ticket splitting did not occur. The same story can be told district by district in the House of Representatives. Voters in contested races did not reject incumbents, or their crony-insider political party machines. They reelected the establishment and gave them a mandate.

The fact is that this was not an election decided by voters who are socioeconomically poor.
The majority of voters who made less than $50,000 voted for her, and the majority of those making more than that amount voted for him. This disparity is not one that emerged as a result of tremendous General Election organizing efforts, or the absence thereof. The evidence that his support was not actually amongst those with low incomes was exposed by none other than Nate Silver on May 3, 2016—the day of the Indiana Primary—entitled, “The Mythology of Trump’s Working Class Support.” There’s plenty of good debates going on about the appeal of the economic populist message in this election cycle, but as Nikole Hannah-Jones pointed out on Democracy Now, the majority of folks disadvantaged by a neoliberal, globalized economy that relies on automation, outsourcing, depressed wages, and so forth, did not vote for him, they voted for her.

Further, she points out that we cannot ignore the role of state issued photo ID laws in states considered to be the bellwethers for those making economic populist arguments. In Ohio, and Florida, voters not possessing state issued IDs are forced to vote on provisional ballots. This was not the case in previous elections. In Indiana, and Wisconsin, you cannot vote without a state issued photo ID. This was not the case in previous elections. In Michigan, if you wish to vote, but do not have a state issued photo ID, you must complete an affidavit. This was not the case in previous elections. A
Harvard Law School study found the following:

The expenses for documentation, travel, and waiting time are significant—especially for minority group and low-income voters—typically ranging from about $75 to $175. When legal fees are added to these numbers, the costs range as high as $1,500. Even when adjusted for inflation, these figures represent substantially greater costs than the $1.50 poll tax outlawed by the 24th amendment in 1964.

In other words, not only was his support from wealthier folks, his support was from folks who were not impacted by state issued photo ID laws or long lines. Turning them out simply meant reminding them to vote. Her support, her turnout vote, because it came from low-income folks, was disproportionately and aversely impacted by state issued photo ID laws, and long lines. Translating her pool of support amongst registered voters into actual ballots cast was a Herculean task, because it meant fighting voter suppression,
whose egregiousness we don’t yet have a full grasp of, but whose deleterious effect is undeniable in places like North Carolina.

The fact is that this was an election decided by voters who are anti-immigrant. He launched his campaign by calling Mexicans criminals, drug dealers, rapists, and murderers. His most repeated refrain from the campaign trail and the convention was, “Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it!” He went on to propose a ban on Muslims. On the campaign trail he singled out
Syrian and Somali refugees. Amongst all of the election night bloviating, no one, not one single journalist or analyst pointed to the August survey of his supporters demonstrating that
91% of those who strongly supported him wanted that wall built. This survey occurred at the same time he met with Mexico’s President, and delivered his “modified” stance on immigration. When divided along partisan lines, 63% of Republicans and GOP leaning independents supported his border wall, and 84% of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents opposed it. This was all of course, before he started saying in nationally televised debates and widely broadcasted rallies that “illegal immigrants are pouring over the border to vote.” This led militant, white supremacist organizations, to grab their guns and deputize themselves to serve as
poll watchers.” Something that Comedy Central tried to find the humor in on Election Day, but became impossible to laugh at because of the well-documented record of hate crimes he inspired. 

The fact is that this was an election decided by white voters regardless of class, gender, or age. She won 90% of the Black vote, 70% of the Latino and Asian vote, and racked up similar margins in all other communities of color. In fact, one of the reasons why Arizona went from reliably red state to a contested one was because Native Americans offended by his “Pocahontas slurs,” including the Navajo Nation, supported her. White voters supported him. Half of white millennials voted for him, 40% voted for her, and 10% voted for a third party. Over 60% of white voters over 30 supported him. What makes this remarkable are the margins of both white men and white women voting for him. No Democratic Presidential candidate has won the white vote since 1964. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, he famously said, “We have just delivered the South to the Republican Party.” Lee Atwater became notorious when he explained exactly how the GOP could reliably use the Southern Strategy of white resentment toward people of color to win the White House. History proved them both right. The GOP won in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, 2004, and 2016 because of the white vote.

While it is true that white women saw some migration toward Democratic presidential candidates before September 11, 2001, the data show that the margins of white women voting for Republican presidential candidates have remained reliable and steady ever since, regardless of who runs. In 2004 Bush won 55% of white women, compared to 44% for Kerry; in 2008 McCain won 53% of white women compared to 46% for Obama; and in 2012 Romney won 56% of white women compared to 42% for Obama. The first woman to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency—she, herself a white woman—lost the white women’s vote. 43% of white women voted for her, 53% of white women voted for him. The only group of white women she won, were college educated white women. That said, despite the fact that 76% of college educated white women stated their disapproval of his sexual conduct on October 23, on Election Day—when it counted—college educated white women only voted for her by a margin of 51% to 45%. Bill Clinton did better than Hillary Clinton among white women. (Let that sink in).

According to Barney Frank “
gays and Jews” are the only white men who vote for Democratic presidential candidates. In an article called, “So Long, White Boy,” Thomas Schaller writes that the only white men voting for Democratic presidential candidates are Union members, and even in that specific demographic, white men in labor only skew Democratic by single digits. The data show that white men reject Democratic presidential candidates, even when aggressively courted:

What about Super-Bubba himself, Bill Clinton? By siphoning off 22 percent of the white male vote in 1992, Ross Perot would appear to have prevented Clinton from breaking the Democrats’ pattern. But more revealing is the fact that when in 1996 Perot’s support among white men fell by half, to 11 percent, Clinton’s support improved by a meager 1 percent. The truth is that Clinton was no more dependent on white male votes for his two wins than Gore and Kerry were penalized for garnering the same level of support from these voters in their two defeats.

Bill Clinton made inroads with white women when he ran for reelection in 1996, yet like all other Democratic presidential nominees since 1964, he lost white men by large margins. That said, Bill Clinton did not lose white men by the same margin Hillary Clinton did. White men handed the President-elect the keys to the White House. He won white men by 32 points. In 2012, Mitt Romney won them by 27. He didn’t just win by a larger margin of white men, he turned out a larger number of white men overall to the polls. In June of this year Nate Cohn wrote a column called, “There Are More White Voters Than People Think.” And indeed, overall voter turnout in 2016 was nearly what it was in the record setting 2008, but the difference was that a combination of the “enthusiasm gap” and voter suppression drove down turnout amongst voters of color by 10 points, while a self-proclaimed birther who in 2011 insisted that he was “more serious than ever” about running for president and sent “special investigators to Hawaii to uncover one of the greatest cons in history,” drove up white voter turnout to a record high.

The fact is that no political party has held the presidency for three terms, with one exception. Since
the 22nd Amendment established term limits for the presidency, there have been eight opportunities for a party to hold the presidency for more than two terms. 1988 is the one and only time that the incumbent party has emerged victorious. In May of 2015, in an article entitled, “The GOP and Willie Horton: Together Again,” Politico’s Roger Simon wrote:

The 1988 presidential campaign pitting George H.W. Bush against Michael Dukakis and the use of race to transform a losing campaign into a winning one is back in the news.
 
The ‘88 Bush campaign was run by Lee Atwater and Roger Ailes… They were both tough as hell, political knife fighters and proud of it. Atwater was the campaign manager, Ailes was the media wizard, and Bush was merely the candidate. And the candidate wasn’t doing that great a job.


Dukakis had built up a 17-percentage-point lead during the summer, and Atwater was afraid the lead would become insurmountable. So the Bush campaign went on the attack. It had all the usual stuff like taxes and defense, but it also had Willie Horton.

Horton was serving a life sentence without parole in Massachusetts for killing a man. He got a weekend furlough, fled and made his way to Maryland, where he broke into a home, tied a man to a joist in the basement, slashed his chest and stomach with a knife, then beat and raped the man’s fiancée. Horton was black. The couple was white. And Michael Dukakis was the governor of Massachusetts.

As Susan Estrich, the Dukakis campaign manager, would write: ‘There is no stronger metaphor for racial hatred in our country than the black man raping the white woman. If you were going to run a campaign of fear and smear and appeal to racial hatred you could not have picked a better case to use than this one.’

But how could George H.W. Bush, a Yankee Brahmin, a patrician known for his courtly manners and good nature, be persuaded to go along with such an attack? Atwater held a series of focus groups in an office in a shopping mall in Paramus, New Jersey, and then went to the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, with the results: Tell Dukakis voters about Willie Horton and they stopped being Dukakis voters.

Atwater told Bush… And Bush’s response? ‘After that,’ Atwater said, ‘it was an easy sell.’


The 1988 equivalent of a political action committee (PAC) partisan independent expenditure group supporting Bush ran the first Willie Horton ad on primetime television, and then the Bush campaign put up its own ad, using footage of prisoners going through a revolving door.
89% of Black voters supported Dukakis, 70% of Latino voters supported Dukakis, but only 40% of white voters supported Dukakis. The one and only time a political party was able to hold the White House since the passage of the 22nd Amendment was when the GOP directly tapped into a reservoir of antipathy and resentment that coalesced because it directly appealed to authoritarianism and the many forms of racial prejudice motivating white voters.

Today the data tells the same story. When the now President-elect launched his campaign,
54% of the GOP believed that “deep down President Barack Obama is a Muslim.” This when only 24% of Republicans had a favorable view of Islam. Therefore, his proposed ban on Muslims, promise to turn back refugees from Islamic countries, and plan to put mosques under surveillance struck a chord. At the same time, his support from those scoring high on the authoritarian scale was overwhelming and unyielding. He declared himself the “law and order candidate,” and referred to his supporters as the “silent majority” days after five police officers in Dallas were killed. He took the phrase “Make America Great Again” from Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign. And as Eoin Higgins wrote in April:

You’ve seen them. Printed on a white background with varying shades of blue and red, the signs are invariably held by middle-aged men and women. They’re waved in Donald Trump crowds alongside Confederate flags and dance in front of the stage while the billionaire speaks.

“The silent majority stands with Trump.”

Who are the silent majority? What does the term mean? And why are they coming out for Trump? The answer has its roots in the intense white backlash to the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Act. It’s a throwback to the coalition that helped Richard Nixon rise to power in 1968, and has much of the same connotations of white backlash to racial change and civil rights. Trump is tapping into that same coalition and ideology in his quest for the presidency.

White backlash is back. And so is the silent majority.

We can talk all day and all night about this that or the other. But the facts and available data demonstrate this was a white backlash election that no Democratic candidate could have won. 

I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Primary. It is easy to buy into the narrative that Bernie’s economic populist message would have won over white voters, but the evidence doesn’t support that conclusion. Hillary Clinton’s white supporters and Bernie Sanders’ white supporters are ultimately the same—low income, college educated,
Union members, etc.— with the exception of white millennials. but there aren’t enough white millennials in swing states to offset the white voters over 30 that the President-elect won. And the same “enthusiasm gap” and state issued photo ID laws, and long lines, leading to voter suppression would have applied. There are no models demonstrating that Bernie could have won more votes from voters of color than Obama.

Bernie wasn’t part of the Democratic Party machine, but as a holder of public office since 1981, he is the “establishment candidate” when pitted against someone who has never served in the military and never served in public office. That means Bernie would have been vulnerable to the same charge lobbed by the antithesis of a career public servant against Hillary Clinton:

"This is just another politician talking folks. Every few years they promise, but nothing changes. Why haven't you done it over the last several decades in public office?"

Bernie Sanders is a principled reformer, but so is Ted Cruz. And Cruz wasn't the GOP nominee. This was never a battle of ideas regarding the future of this country. This was an election, history tells us, any Democratic Party candidate was highly likely to lose. This was a backlash election in which white voters rewarded the following statements with their votes:

"They want open borders, amnesty, Muslims who are secret terror cell plants, and hell in the inner cities, and I'm the law and order candidate."

"They want to raise taxes and then turn around and give all of your money away to illegal immigrants and welfare queens instead of supporting our veterans and putting money back into your pockets."

"The rest of the world thinks President Obama is a joke because we won't fight, so we need to bomb them without warning, and take them and their families out—water board them and worse—without apology, which is the opposite of the all talk and no action they offer."

We need to stop repeating the lie that this election was decided by those left behind and those who feel as though they are outside of the system, and therefore must lash out against it. For all of the 
60 Minutes segments and other media spotlight segments on former factory workers, this election was not decided by socioeconomically poor white people. Economic hardship bearing white voters who were able to cast ballots did not defeat Hillary Clinton. She won low-income voters. She won Union voters. But the number of poor whites is smaller than the number of middleclass whites. And the same state issued photo ID laws and long lines that suppressed the votes of voters of color suppressed the votes of poor whites. He might have bragged about how he loved the “poorly educated,” but the truth is that white people with college educations and middleclass to upper class incomes—those with checking and savings accounts, ample credit lines, and pensions and/or 401k retirement accounts—are the ones defeated her. White voters, regardless of class, have consistently voted for the GOP. Bernie would have lost them too.

The President-elect attacked and mocked Muslim, Latino, Asian, Black, and Native Americans without apology. This distinguished him in a crowded field of GOP candidates with extreme right wing policies. He was rewarded for not being “politically correct” and “telling it like it is.” We need to stop claiming that Bernie Sanders’ economic populism could have won this election, because that ignores the role of racism and xenophobia in this campaign as a net positive in the Electoral College outcome, and it ignores what is well documented regarding the white vote and the inability of parties to hold the White House for more than two consecutive terms. There may not be much we can do in the short term about the latter, but if we care at all about the future of this country and people who call it home, then we need to be honest about white voter bias.

Racial animus was on the ballot. Chauvinism was on the ballot. White people voted for both.

If you have white skin and you're unwilling to confront white supremacy, institutional racism, and anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, anti-Native American, and anti-API sentiment, then you're part of the problem. This means doing intersectional work. On the campaign trail, she promised living wages and
he opposed increases in the minimum wage. She stood strong with equal LGBTQI rights and he promised to appoint Supreme Court Justices to overturn equal marriage rights. Thousands upon thousands just spent months chanting "Trump that b*tch!" and selling/buying/wearing t-shirts reading, "Hillary sucks but not like Monica." Again, either you're willing to confront sexism, misogyny, and the suffocating, oppressive, marginalizing force of patriarchy, or you're part of the problem. This applies to men and women.

White men have not supported a Democratic candidate since 1964. Not one. White women have been targeted and treated as swing voters because they narrowly supported Bill Clinton in 1996, and nearly broke even for Al Gore in 2000. Hence the endless fights for "white soccer moms," “young white women,” "single white women," “college educated white women,” "married white women," etc. And yet, when push came to shove, white women did not support a white woman. Overall, they preferred a white man who unapologetically incited and instigated racial violence, and serially and overtly perpetrated sexual violence. Black women, Native women, Latinas, Asian women, all other women of color made the opposite choice and voted for her—against him—by wider margins than men of color. There are substantive reasons for this.
The US ranks 33rd in the world when it comes to women in office. These are facts, not footnotes.

White Americans you either know that you fear, resent, and hate people of color, immigrants, and religious minorities, and don’t care that your heart is filled with fear, resentment, and hate. Or
like Lorne Michaels, Jimmy Fallon, Billy Bush, and other white celebrities who played along, egged him on, and sought to humanize, endear, and ingratiate him to those who vote on emotional impulse, rather than measured consideration, you think you get a pass because “some of your best friends are Black.” You simply aren’t willing to distinguish your lack of prejudicial intent from the very real, tangible, measurable, and egregiously harmful racist outcomes you’ve supported with your actions. Whether you voted for him or not, if you’ve been attacking Jose Antonio Vargas for simply making a documentary called, “White People,” and asking him and the other 11 million undocumented US residents why they “cut the line” and “didn’t follow the rules”; if you’ve been saying the Black Lives Matter movement is anti-white, and dangerous, and violent, and you’re quick to share “Blue Lives Matter” posts, but say nothing when trolls begin attacking the character of the Black, Brown, or Native person who was just killed; if you’ve been saying that you have the right to wear offensive Halloween costumes without criticism, use racial slurs in everyday speech without consequence, (because rappers use them in their lyrics) that “political correctness is an attack on free speech,” “white privilege doesn’t exist because Asians earn more money than whites and get higher test scores,” or “affirmative action is reverse racism”; if you’ve been saying you’re “pro-life” while unarmed, innocent children are killed by neighborhood watch vigilantes, police officers, border patrol agents, and poisoned by lead and toxins already in their water and soil, or oil pushed through new pipelines, you are a racist.

I’ve just written 4,000 well-researched words, but I know that the paragraph above this one is the only thing people will read. I know I will be labeled divisive and prejudiced. You can attack me as the messenger. But I’m reporting the facts. The only time in modern US history that a political party was able to keep the presidency for three terms was when anti-Blackness was placed front and center. White voting behavior in presidential elections since the passage of the Civil Rights act has been consistently and reliably anti-Democratic. Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012 but lost amongst white voters in both elections. The Democratic Party nominated white men to head the ticket in 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004, and lost the white vote in all of those elections. Don’t get me wrong white voters do not bear all of the responsibility for delivering the White House to a candidate who has never served in the military or in elected or appointed office. Between one in four and one in three Latino and API voters also cast ballots for him. Those whose families came to the US fleeing communism have been reliable GOP voters because of economic conservatism. Those who are adamantly anti-choice have been reliable GOP voters because they want to see Roe v Wade overturned. Those who are adamantly homophobic, trans-phobic, and hetero-normative, have been reliable GOP voters since George W Bush proposed a Constitutional amendment to “ban same sex marriage.” But just so we’re clear, there are many Latinos and API voters who enthusiastically cast ballots to uphold every form of racism. This was a white backlash election, but it was also one that revealed anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim, anti-Black, anti-Native, and anti-immigrant sentiments are deeply entrenched and very widespread in Latino and API communities.

If you’re still fixated on Wikileaks, and the DNC; if you’re still saying, “Hillary Clinton was the wrong candidate, Bernie would have won,” and all of the research I’ve done and presented above hasn’t convinced you, maybe
this video the Guardian US published in May will break through.



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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Testimonios: Our Experiences with the Latin American, Latino and Caribbean House - Solidarity with Georgetown University


https://www.facebook.com/groups/2218323684/10153419200693685/?notif_t=group_comment_reply

The LALACS residential resource center did not exist during my time in Hanover. Through student organizations, such as La Alianza Latina, and as one of the founding members of the Dartmouth Association of Latino Alumni, I was one of many who worked tirelessly over the course of a decade to make the LALACS residential resource center a reality.

I cannot overstate how important this space is to alumni, especially those who graduated in the 1990s. Making Latino and Latin American and Caribbean Studies a permanent part of Dartmouth's academic course offerings meant that we were able to revitalize a liberal arts curriculum that failed to adequately analyze contemporary and historical phenomenon. And the establishment of a physical space where we could host various events, convene organizational practice sessions and meetings, speak openly without fear of judgement or recrimination, and grow emotionally and intellectually through experiential and academic enrichment, meant that Latino, Latina, and Latinx students and alumni would forever belong at Dartmouth. We were no longer merely visitors paying rent in the form of tuition. We were owners of the College, and its past, present, and future.

As Georgetown Class of 2015 graduate, Citlalli Alvarez, remarked, "We cannot deny that our senior year has been a striking reminder of the lasting legacy of racial oppression in our country... the country is shaken, and rightly so... to stand on the side of justice: we must build bridges... we cannot leave behind the spirit of inclusivity, of justice... We will be key stakeholders in conversations that will shape the future of our world."

To some, the idea of affinity spaces are offensive. They insist that classifying people as African American, Asian American, Native American, and Latino is divisive. They contend that any place tied to a racial/ethnic identity in an academic setting promotes segregation, and prevents students from interacting with those who are unlike them. These people are wrong. The makeup of Georgetown's student and faculty population, is not a proportional mirror of the demographics recorded in the Census.

Like Dartmouth and its fellow Ivy League schools, like Stanford in California, like Rice in Texas, like Vanderbilt in Tennessee, and like the overwhelming majority of the elite institutions of higher learning in the United States, Georgetown's student and faculty population are whiter and wealthier and more privileged than the world around them. When Georgetown graduates head into the world, they are going to be dealing with a larger number of persons from different backgrounds and experiences than they encountered during their years in academia. The whiter, wealthier, and more privileged will have gained a world class experiential education from their peers of color. These students will be better prepared to operate in a world where they are not the majority. But if you were to survey their peers of color, you would find that they have been harmed through microaggressions, and more explicit forms of harm. Which is to say that the cost of a Georgetown education for students who are not white, wealthy, and privileged is much higher than the ticket price of tuition.

That said, the benefits or diversity are demonstrably real, regardless of the metrics one uses to measure them. Fortune 500 companies have noticed that investing in their workers of color, and placing women in leadership positions is great for the bottom line, and speeds up the process of innovation, for instance. Georgetown should think of a residential resource space for its Latino, Latina, and Latinx students as an investment in its overall academic environment, as well as an investment in the well-being of these students.

A space that consistently facilitates the perspectives of Latino students who are members of the Black Diaspora, or the Jewish Diaspora, or the Islamic Diaspora, or the Amerindian/indigenous/aboriginal/First People's Diaspora, or who come from families that have been citizens for a century but are still treated as immigrants, or who are first generation Americans but enjoy every privilege because of name or skin color, or whose family roots can be tied to both East Asia and Latin America, is a space that undeniably contributes to learning.

And such a space is one that provides safe harbor from microaggressions, as well as a place to work through misunderstandings. Public health, educational achievement, and other forms of research are replete with data demonstrating that "home visits" can change the trajectory of a "provider/teacher" who is good but not great, and a "consumer/student" who is doing fine, but not thriving. It turns out that it is not speaking the same language, or sharing a common background alone that yield the greatest benefit. It is the context of interacting in a home, with all of the cultural customs and psychological comforts that entails, which allows breakthroughs to take place. It might be difficult for Georgetown to imagine itself made even more exceptional by the creation of a residential resource center for Latino, Latina, and Latinx students. But the truth is that it will be.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Chinese Proverb: "If we do not change our direction, we will end up where we are headed."


CALIFORNIA

Women are doing everything anyone could ever ask another to do in order realize the middleclass promise of the American Dream. Women belong to smaller immediate families than they did a generation ago a generation ago. Women are succeeding as business owners and entrepreneurs. Women are committing fewer crimes than men, and therefore facing fewer criminal consequences, and experiencing lower recidivism rates. And most importantly, women are working and going to school.

Yet, one in three American women, live in poverty or at its brink. If you’ve seen Maria Shriver or the Shriver Report, in the news lately, you’re already familiar with this fact. If you watched the HBO Documentary Film, Paycheck To Paycheck: the Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert, (streaming for free online) you’ve also learned that 28 million children depend on these women for their education, shelter, food, clothing, and overall wellbeing. Ms. Gilbert works in a nursing home. She belongs to a community of caregivers populated by 65.7 million people—one in three Americans. As the head of her household, her three kids count on what she takes home, working as many as eight days in a row, for $9.49 an hour. After the bills get paid, it ain’t much.

We’re used to this kind of narrative. It doesn’t impact us in any way to hear about a young woman who can barely get by. In fact, it often evokes some rather unsettling stereotypes. Sadly, this narrative, these stereotypes, and all accompanying partisan talking points, are as predictable as they are wrong.

In California, everything is supposed to be coming up roses. Our budget is running a nearly $5 billion surplus. We’ve added over 1.23 million new jobs since 2010. And the value of California homes is steadily increasing. Yet, the Golden State boasts the highest rate of impoverished people in the nation. 4 million Californians rely on public assistance from CalFresh, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP) just to put food on the table. 77% of cash assistance and welfare-to-work services for low-income families (CalWORKS) resources go to meet the needs of children. And despite the state budget surplus, and the fact that 20% of California’s seniors live below the poverty line, regulated programs that allow the elderly, the chronically ill, and the disabled to live outside of costly nursing home facilities, such as in-home support services, (IHSS) are always on the chopping block. Unsurprisingly, nearly 9 out of 10 IHSS caregivers are women.

California Governor Jerry Brown wants to move forward with a 7% cut to IHSS funding, and has proposed capping the amount of hours for which IHSS workers can receive pay. This last move is an effort to avoid extending IHSS caregivers the overtime and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protections President Obama just ordered the Department of Labor to extend to homecare providers nationwide. This means, for example, the downgrading and disruption of continuity of care for seniors battling Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as children and adults managing low-functioning autism. It also means IHSS caregivers, who’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, swimming against the current of income inequality that has eroded and continues to erode the American middleclass, will get pulled into the undertow of poverty and drown.

These proposed cuts and caps do not benefit Cherilyn, the infirm family member she cares for, or her two kids—one of whom remains hospitalized, after being senselessly struck by a stray bullet. They do nothing for Lorijon, the disabled brother she cares for, or her partner, recently diagnosed with cancer. They will not benefit Sheila, who sold her home in Arkansas, and moved her son and husband to a studio apartment in California, so she could care for her mother as her health began to rapidly deteriorate. And they turn Guillermina’s life upside down, as a social worker has determined that she must provide 258-hours’ worth of IHSS care each month to her son with low-functioning autism, and multiple developmental and physiological diagnoses. The proposed cuts and caps would strip away nearly 40% of her income, and Guillermina would be forced to endanger her son’s wellbeing by trusting his care to a stranger, and/or accept a life of squalor.

You see, in California, and across the country, the proverbial rub lies at the intersection of earnings and expenditures: It’s not just that women are paid $.77 for every dollar earned by a man. It’s that women are (a) disproportionately represented in low paying jobs that come without fulltime hours guarantees, sick days, benefits packages, or even steady schedules that allows them to receive pay on a regular basis for all of the hours they’ve actually worked. And (b) forced to stretch their paychecks to cover the needs of their kids, their parents, and in many cases, their partners, as well.

By 2050 there will be 89 million Americans 65 and older. One third will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Millions more will have a variety of challenges related to aging and/or adult diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc. Before the end of the decade there will be a 70% increase in the demand for homecare. Meanwhile, the millennial unemployment rate that surged during the Great Recession, remains above 16% nationwide.

It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together.

The costs of higher education are breaking records. And student loan debt is at an all-time high—now exceeding $1 trillion, eclipsing even credit card debt. But so is the demand for caregivers. If millennial job seekers, including college students and recent graduates, were compensated fairly for homecare, then supply would meet demand, and the costs of education, and debt load would become more bearable. There is no reason to believe that caregiving and the other professions disproportionately populated by women will achieve gender balance in the coming years. But there is every reason to believe that increasing the pay of workers in these professions benefits us all. Women, and those they care for, including children and seniors, would escape poverty. Paying them middleclass salaries means their purchases of goods and services, investments in education, and entrepreneurial activities can create new jobs.

Women are doing everything anyone could ever ask another to do in order realize the middleclass promise of the American Dream. Yet whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not, the vast expanse between the 1% and the rest of us, is felt most acutely along gender lines. Two thirds of working women are found in 54 occupations. In order to meet the challenges posed by the costs of childcare, eldercare, and special needs care, and the increases in the costs of housing, higher education, and healthcare, these occupations need to stop paying poverty wages.

To do anything else is to condemn women to live as second class citizens because of their socioeconomic status, and promote the decimation the American Dream until it goes extinct.

NATIONAL

One in three American women, live in poverty or at its brink. If you’ve seen Maria Shriver or the Shriver Report, in the news lately, you’re already familiar with this fact. If you watched the HBO Documentary Film, Paycheck To Paycheck: the Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert, (streaming for free online) you’ve also learned that 28 million children depend on these women for their education, shelter, food, clothing, and overall wellbeing. Ms. Gilbert is the head of her household. Her three kids count on what she takes home, working as many as eight days in a row, for $9.49 an hour. After the bills get paid, it ain’t much.

We’re used to this kind of narrative. It doesn’t impact us in any way to hear about a young woman who can barely provide for her children. In fact, it often evokes some rather unsettling stereotypes about unwed teenage mothers of color, eschewing work in order to collect welfare checks. “Marriage incentives,” have formed part of the GOP’s national platform for generations, and even reemerged as recently as a plank in the most recent presidential election. Republicans have argued that the only way to escape poverty is to amalgamate as many households as possible where mothers and fathers are both present. On the other side of the aisle, Democrats, including President Obama, have argued that high school completion and continuing education represent the only guaranteed pathway out of poverty. Sadly, this narrative, these stereotypes, and all accompanying partisan talking points, are as predictable as they are wrong.

Single motherhood, without marriage, or after divorce, is a mainstream occurrence, not a marginal one. 41% of all American children are born into a household headed by a single mom. The fastest growth in motherhood without marriage, over the course of the last two decades, for instance, has occurred among non-Hispanic, white women, in their twenties, with high school diplomas, and multiple completed college course credits. Concurrently, over the course of the last two decades, teenage birth rates have declined, reaching an all-time record low—a trend true across all demographics, with a 34% decline in Latina teen births, a 24% decline in African American teen births, and a 20% decline in white teen births.

Between the Baby Boom and today, women of all ages, increased their participation in the paid labor pool, and came to consistently comprise half the workforce. In the 1960s twice as many men as women under 30 were college graduates. Today, for every 100 men in college, there are 135 women. And thanks in large part to women’s participation in the labor pool, and women’s continuous academic success, the workforce is more educated than it’s ever been. In 1968, approximately 48% of minimum wage workers completed high school. Today, over 79% hold diplomas or GED certificates. In 1968, only 1 in 6 minimum wage workers had attended or completed college. Today, nearly half have done so.

Again, thanks in large part to women the American workforce is more productive than ever. But you wouldn’t know this by looking at the paychecks women receive. From 1973 to 2011, worker productivity grew 80%, while median hourly compensation, after inflation, grew by just one-eighth that amount. Since 2000, productivity has risen 23% while real hourly pay has stagnated. The federal minimum wage, for instance, remains at $7.25, but it would be $21.72, if it had kept pace with increases in productivity. In over three-fifths of the country a fulltime minimum wage earner makes $15,080 per year. The federal poverty threshold is $15,825 annual income for a single parent with one child. The cost of meeting the basic needs of a family of four is between $42,000 and $64,000 per year.

The ten largest low wage occupations are populated by a majority of women workers: In fact, seven out of the ten occupations paying less than $10 an hour, are populated by two-thirds or more women workers.
72% of cashiers, 85% of housecleaners, 83% of personal care aides, and 95% of homecare workers are women. Women are the majority of retail workers, especially in food service and clothing stores. 67% of minimum wage workers are women. And an increase in the minimum wage to $10 would benefit 17 million women workers. But what’s more, 70% of tipped wage workers are women. Hourly pay for these workers has remained a meager $2.13 for twenty years. Restaurant workers experience poverty at a rate three times higher than the overall workforce. Raising the salary of any of these occupations by $5,000 per year would pull not only a woman worker out of poverty, but
a family of three as well.

With low salaries, and only 24 hours in a day, women are trapped in poverty or at its brink, because of structural obstacles, anachronistic public policy, and an institutionalized bigotry that shortchanges caregivers. 29% of working parents experience childcare breakdowns, resulting in absenteeism, tardiness and reduced concentration. Absenteeism resulting from childcare breakdowns, alone, costs US businesses $3 billion annually. Meanwhile, the cost of childcare has increased eight times faster than the rate of family income growth. In every state, the average cost of center-based infant care is over 25% of the median income for single parents. Yet, while the costs of childcare have risen, the salaries of childcare providers have not. This is, in large part, because 97% of childcare work is done by women.

The eldercare landscape is similar. The average cost of placing an elderly family member in a private nursing home is $94,170 dollars, and is increasing at a rate of 3.6% annually. Whenever possible, homecare represents a much more affordable option, with an average cost that is nearly 70% cheaper, and around one third of the rate of increase. Nevertheless, providing in-home care for someone who is elderly, ill, or disabled, requires a tremendous amount of time. 65.7 million Americans (nearly one in three) devote an average of 19 full days per month to caregiving. These services have $450 billion annual price tag, and the need for them will escalate dramatically, as the number of Americans who are 65 and older will double in a little over a decade, and come to exceed 71.5 million. Yet once again, despite the booming demand for caregivers to assist those managing chronic illness, disability, and/or aging, pay for those who provide care remains inadequate. And I contend that this is, in large part, because 95% of homecare workers are women.

Women are not irresponsibly throwing away educational or professional opportunities in order to raise kids on public assistance programs. Women are half the labor force. Women already own 30 percent of businesses nationwide. A percentage that’s growing, thanks in large part to immigrant women who establish 40% new businesses in their communities. In fact, women have been starting business at rates higher than men for twenty years. Women owned businesses will create over half of the 9.72 million new small business jobs expected to be created by 2018. And the unemployment rate among men is higher than the rate of unemployment among women. Yet women workers still lag behind when it comes to the amount of money they earn and can take home—even women with college degrees continue to earn less than men with college degrees.

Women are doing everything anyone could ever ask another to do in order realize the middleclass promise of the American Dream. Women belong to smaller immediate families than they did a generation ago. Women are succeeding as business owners and entrepreneurs. Women are committing fewer crimes than men, and therefore facing fewer criminal consequences, and experiencing lower recidivism rates. And most importantly, women are working and going to school.

The proverbial rub lies at the intersection of earnings and expenditures: It’s not just that women are paid $.77 for every dollar earned by a man. It’s that women are (a) disproportionately represented in low paying jobs that come without fulltime hours guarantees, sick days, benefits packages, or even steady schedules that allows them to receive pay on a regular basis for all of the hours they’ve actually worked. And (b) forced to stretch their paychecks to cover the needs of their kids, their parents, and in many cases, their partners, as well.

By 2050 there will be 89 million Americans 65 and older 65 and older. One third will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Millions more will have a variety of challenges related to aging and/or adult diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc. Before the end of the decade there will be a 70% increase in the demand for homecare. Meanwhile, the millennial unemployment rate that surged during the Great Recession, remains above 16% nationwide.

It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together.

The costs of higher education are breaking records. And student loan debt is at an all-time high—now exceeding $1 trillion, eclipsing even credit card debt. But so is the demand for caregivers. If millennial job seekers, including college students and recent graduates, were compensated fairly for homecare, then supply would meet demand, and the costs of education, and debt load would become more bearable. There is no reason to believe that caregiving and the other professions disproportionately populated by women will achieve gender balance in the coming years. But there is every reason to believe that increasing the pay of workers in these professions benefits us all. Women, and those they care for, including children and seniors, would escape poverty. Paying them middleclass salaries means their purchases of goods and services, investments in education, and entrepreneurial activities can create new jobs.

Women are doing everything anyone could ever ask another to do in order realize the middleclass promise of the American Dream. Yet whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not, the vast expanse between the 1% and the rest of us, is felt most acutely along gender lines. Two thirds of working women are found in 54 occupations. In order to meet the challenges posed by the costs of childcare, eldercare, and special needs care, and the increases in the costs of housing, higher education, and healthcare, these occupations need to stop paying poverty wages.

To do anything else is to condemn women to live as second class citizens because of their socioeconomic status, and promote the decimation the American Dream until it goes extinct.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Written July 15 @ 5 AM (the day after the verdict led to a sleepless night)

https://www.facebook.com/unaimi/posts/10151771490716354?notif_t=like

When my father was a teenager in Mexico City, he was known in the neighborhoods around El Monumento de la Raza as "the gorilla." He wasn't scared of anyone or anything. If some guy picked on a family member or friend, he would go to where he lived, knock on the door, ask that guy to step outside, and then proceed to pummel him. He once had his jaw broken by a baseball bat, but he never lost a fight. It wasn't until the Mexican government turned its soldiers with guns and tanks upon the high school and college age youth that spent the summer and fall of 1968 marching in the streets that my father feared violence. Not even "the gorilla" could win in a fight against the artillery unleashed in Tlatelolco. Thousands were killed and made to disappear. It would take more than a generation for the Mexican government to admit what it did.

My mother who deplored violence, and my father who came to realize its limits, raised me to avoid physical confrontations. They taught me to deescalate conflict, to "think about the consequences of my actions, and use my words whenever possible." This was a fine strategy until we were deported. In Mexico City I was a sitting duck for students who saw me as a descendant of Hernan Cortes, instead of Cuauhtémoc, and/or personally responsible for the killing of los Niños Héroes. I was a pale, skinny kid. Everyone knew I came to Mexico from the US. I stood out. Packs of bullies, older kids, several grade levels ahead of me, would beat me up before/after school, on the bus, during lunch/recess, and on field trips. Initially, I tried to run and hide. But one evening, as I explained to my parents that I hadn't eaten during the day, because I spent all of lunch hiding in the bathroom, sitting on a toilet in a ball, hugging my legs tightly with my arms, I caught a glimpse of what can only be described as shame in my father's eyes. I knew then that my days of running and hiding had to come to an end.

The next day several grade levels from my school were taken to an athletic facility with several soccer fields and an athletic track. This was an opportunity for us to run around in a wide open space, as my school consisted of a block building and paved playground -- a space completely devoid of grass, much less trees. The day was cut short by a sudden rain storm. We were instructed to get into single file lines and walk back toward the buses via the most direct route, one that took us within a few yards of an uncovered swimming pool. En route to the bus I was pushed to the ground and verbally assaulted by a pack of bullies. Humiliated, I wanted to cry. But I remembered that look of shame in my father's eyes. So instead, I ran toward the bully directly in front of me, using the force given to me by my momentum to knock him to the ground. He got up. So I ran toward him again. This time jumping in an attempt to tackle him. I succeeded. We fell into the pool. He didn't know how to swim. I didn't know this. He nearly drowned. I swam toward the adults who promptly punished me. And although my parents reprimanded me as well, I no longer saw shame in my dad's eyes.

When I listen to "legal experts" explain that George Zimmerman was found not guilty because he acted in "self-defense." When I read comments written by people who feel the system works because in the middle of the fight he started with a 17-year old child, a 29-year old man, feared for his life, and therefore needed to stand his ground, I am completely floored. I simply cannot understand how anyone can fault a 17-year old boy for fighting back after being followed by a strange man. Maybe there is a way that Trayvon Martin could have hidden himself in fear, or run away crying desperately for help. But if he hadn't stood up for himself, if any 17-year old boy in that situation hadn't done exactly what Trayvon Martin did, would that boy be able to look into the eyes of his father and/or other male role models and not catch a glimpse of shame? Whether this is all macho b*llsh*t or not, it is an undeniable part of our culture. There is not a film, tv show, comic book, etc. in which the male protagonist runs away from a fight. Regardless of how insurmountable the odds, our heroes never back down. I can't think of a single instant in which an adolescent has ever received praise from another adolescent for running away and hiding, or simply turning the other cheek when an aggressor delivers verbal and/or physical blows. When I was a teenager, the mere perception of disrespect toward you, or anyone in your set was enough reason to throw down. But it didn't end there. And once your high school yearbook features an In Memoriam section for those who lost their lives to gun violence, you long for a chance to escape. And forget.

But at 17, you want so desperately to be a man, that you mask your fear and insecurity as best you can. If someone wants to start something, you force yourself to rise to the challenge. At 29, the expectation when someone says, "Man up," the expectation is for your to be the bigger man and walk away. At 17, when someone says, "Man up," you throw down. This does not make you a thug, or a hoodlum, or a gangster (gangsta). It just makes you a boy trying to live up to the socio-cultural definition of what it means to be a man. If you've experienced this, or if you can imagine it, then please take a moment to wrap your head around what it's like for a boy from a community of color to try and be a man in a world that constantly tries to humiliate him in the ways most meaningful to young people. 86% percent of those stopped and frisked by police officers in NYC are black and brown, for instance. And if you've seen the film, Fruitvale Station, or remember the murder of Oscar Grant, at point blank range, by an officer in the Bay Area, you know that this phenomenon, of peace officers harming people of color, is common from sea to shining sea. So again, place yourselves in the shoes of a 17-year old black boy being followed by a stranger. There is no evidence available to you that compels you to believe that the police are going to treat you fairly, or much less come to your rescue. You know that you are on your own. And you know that men stand up for themselves; they don't run away from a fight.

A 29-year old with a gun and a delusional vendetta against "these a**holes [who] always get away" murdered a 17-year old black boy. The murderer is almost twice as old as the child he murdered. If that murderer had killed a 17-year old girl, or a 17-year old white boy, he would have been convicted, and would be serving jail time. If a 17 year old girl had been followed on her way home by a 29-year old man, the assumption would be that this stranger was following her because he sought to rob and/or rape her. In this scenario, the taking of the word of this murderer, claiming that it was necessary for him to brandish a firearm and discharge it because of "self-defense" would not occur. Since the majority of those who contributed financially to the "Zimmerman defense fund," would feel differently about this case, in this scenario, then gender matters. The fact that the media labelled George Zimmerman a "white Hispanic," and that those who sought to demonize a dead 17-year old posted a profile photo that was not from the murdered Trayvon Martin's Facebook page, and was not of the murdered Trayvon Martin, but a photo of a completely different and unrelated person with the same name and skin color, proves race matters (http://www.snopes.com/photos/politics/martin.asp). To quote Richard Wright, "the color of a Negro's skin makes him easily recognizable, makes him suspect, converts him into a defenseless target... [because] America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness.”

No matter what the jury or any of the talking heads on radio and TV say, there is only one person who exercised self-defense. There is only one individual who stood his ground. And that is a 17-year old black boy named Trayvon Martin. 29-year old George Zimmerman is the one who followed when the 911 operator told him not to. He is the one who got out of the car with a gun on his person when there was neither reason to get out of the vehicle or brandish a weapon. He sought out conflict. He targeted Trayvon Martin and pursued him. That a 17-year old made a 29-year old bleed, is not as important as everything George Zimmerman did leading up to the moment in which he murdered Trayvon Martin. You can't claim self-defense if you are the one who picked the fight. You can't pretend you're standing your ground, when you're following someone to the ground where that person's standing. As Sara Ceballos said, anyone who pretends justice was done, because the letter of the law was followed, doesn't understand the meaning of the word justice -- everyone from Jesus Christ to Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela engaged in civil disobedience to protest unjust laws. And watching every single hour, minute, and second of that trial does not make you an "expert," if you're not willing to admit that George Zimmerman would not have been found "not guilty" of killing a 17-year old white boy, or a 17-year old girl.