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An America For Whites Only? Who is Behind the Anti-Immigration Push?

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By Charlene Muhammad, Special to the NNPA from the Final Call –

(NNPA) - The fall out over passage of an anti-immigration law in Arizona continued across the United States this week with people wondering is America being reduced to a nation “for Whites only?”

Anti-racism activist and author Tim Wise says a sense of “White racial anxiety,” has in his view, “taken over large segments of White America.”

According to Wise, the sense of entitlement that Whites have always enjoyed is being challenged by demographic data showing the growth of Black and Brown populations projected to become equal with the White population by 2050, as well as a change in the political landscape, demonstrated by the first Black president of the United States.

“This idea that White folks give voice to every now and then that they're losing their country, sometimes they mean with Black folks and the Black president and sometimes they're referring to Latinos and Brown folks. It seems that though, when White folks say that they're referring to some nostalgic sentiments of the past that they want to resurrect,” said Wise.

“They can't fathom a country wherein they are not the norm, the prototype of what an American is. The way they've grown up for years is when they hear the word American, they see their (own) face and people of color have never been able to have that reaction, that when they talk about American, they're talking about me, but White folks have, so when all of a sudden you've got to share that title, that symbol with Black and Brown people that have different names and faith traditions than yours, that shakes them up because they have that sense of entitlement.”

SB 1070, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, mandates that law enforcement stops anyone they reasonably suspect to be an undocumented immigrant and obtain their documentation. Anyone without it can be arrested, incarcerated, fined, and/or deported.

According to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, the bill signifies that she is for enforcing the law and against racial profiling but immigrant advocates strongly disagree.

“This law is a very racist law and it's persecuting people of color and very much affecting people of dark complexion. If you do not look Anglo you could be questioned and asked for your documents, but in our cases, even though we are of Afro descent, we have accents but they could ask for documentation from all of us,” and many people are now afraid to even go out of their homes in Arizona, said Eunice Escobar, a board member of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America and member of the Association of Afro Columbians in Displacement.

“The most important consideration is why is this law passing now? I think there's really a very strong interest behind it in an attack of America's new generation of Latino people who are coming into this country and making decisions. Most of these Latinos are dark people and they are looking for a change,” said Escobar, who is of Afro and Latino descent.

Part of the fear in America that drives such legislation is the unity of Blacks and Latinos, she said. For instance, the first Black President Barack Obama received a lot of support from Latinos and that makes Whites in America very afraid.

Another example she gave is how Latinos have come out into the streets in record numbers to proclaim their rights. “They thought they were done with this, with the Civil Rights Movement and they didn't think that minorities would come up again and ask for their rights. They're afraid of the new possibilities from these new coalitions and new alliances,” she said.

Javier Rodriguez, Director of the March 25 Coalition, said that obviously the legislation is a ploy by extreme right wing conservatives within the Republican Party to racially profile immigrants and the Latino population, starting within Arizona.

He concurred that the law is blatantly racist and discriminatory and said that it is unveiling the ultimate aim of the Republican Party's upcoming national electoral campaign. People must remember that immigration reform is the big prize that they must keep their eyes on, he said.

“The legalization of the 12 million people and their families is the most effective solution to the Arizona bill,” Rodriguez told The Final Call. He charged that the right wing plan is to create conditions for the undocumented that are so miserable and uncomfortable, people will self deport and to some degree, that occurred in the 1930s and 1950s with Operation Wetback, the United States' repatriation project that targeted primarily Mexicans.

Under Operation Wetback, the U.S. Border Patrol found more than one million undocumented immigrants when they raided Mexican American barrios in Southeastern states in 1954. They sought identification from “Mexican-looking” citizens they stopped on the streets and ultimately, many immigrants were deported and many others fled the U.S.

Now history is repeating itself and without swift, strategic action, opponents of the bill argued, its negative profiling implications could permeate America's entire infrastructure, including the Prison Industrial Complex, and its health care and education systems, for starters.

Wilmer Leon, a Political Science lecturer at Howard University in Washington, D.C., has joined the growing chorus of political analysts to question what other implications loom if SB 1070 is found to be constitutional.

“What will happen in Chicago as that city struggles to get a handle on the recent explosion of murder and mayhem and the alarming levels of violence among its schoolchildren? Will the state of Illinois be allowed to “stop and frisk” and detain individuals simply because law enforcement believes a particular individual fits a certain profile?” he asked in his latest commentary, “Now State Reaction to Illegal Immigration Should Matter to African-Americans.”

Not just Arizona

Already, other states are signaling that they could follow Arizona's suit.

“There were eight the last time I heard, who are thinking about copy cat legislation,” said Wise. “One of the things that makes that likely is that the folks who were behind this in Arizona are members of a loosely affiliated set of groups that have a history of White supremacy, White nationalism, like FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), (Sen.) Russell Pearce (R-AZ), the main sponsor in Arizona. Those folks have a connection to a larger network of national groups and individuals. No doubt, Arizona was just a test case,” he added.

On May 5, nearly 100 members of various Hispanic organizations protested outside the Major League Baseball (MLB) game featuring the Houston Astros versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is part of an on-going movement to oppose the recent immigration bill passed in Arizona and to send the message, “Not in our backyard,” to Texas lawmakers.

“The SB1070 is legalized racial profiling and we are 100 percent opposed to it,” Michael Espinoza told The Final Call. He is the lead organizer for Houston's SEIU Justice for Janitors group.

Espinoza was among those outside Minute Maid Park holding up signs that read “No Human Being Is Illegal,” “Boycott Arizona,” with a slash through the words “SB1070.” He says the local coalition is in agreement with boycotting Arizona-based companies and is demanding that MLB officials reconsider hosting the 2011 All-Star game in Arizona.

A Department of Homeland Security report released earlier this year shows that Texas was second only to California in the number of unauthorized immigrants in 2009, with 1.7 million and 2.6 million respectively. Currently, an estimated one million plus undocumented immigrants live in Texas, which is costing the state $4.5 billion annually.

Amidst the debate of the Arizona immigration bill, Republican lawmaker Debbie Riddle of Tomball, Texas is planning to introduce a tough immigration bill for Texas that will parallel the controversial new laws in Arizona. Rep. Riddle is pushing to present the law in the January 2011 legislative session.

“If our federal government did their job, then Arizona wouldn't have to take this action, and neither would Texas,” said Rep. Riddle.

Texas Governor Rick Perry agrees in protecting citizens, but has reservations about bringing similar immigration policy to the Lone Star State.

“Recently, there has been much debate over immigration policy in Washington and what has been implemented in Arizona. I fully recognize and support a state's right and obligation to protect its citizens, but I have concerns with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas,” said Gov. Perry in a written statement.

“We're not going to stop protesting. We're going to keep fighting to make sure that which Rep. Riddle is proposing will not get passed even if it means escalating our tactics,” said Espinosa. Some opponents of the bill from within Arizona itself include Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. According to reports, Chief John Harris of Sahuarita said he opposed the bill before Gov. Brewer even signed it, partly on the basis of manpower and budget issues that would only worsen under the law, and because traditionally, immigration has been a federal issue.

According to Rodriguez, the most blatant part that is absent from a lot of discussions and debates about the bill is that the sweeping racial profiling powers extend beyond just law enforcement. “The enforcement of identifying and arresting potential (undocumented) immigrants is to be done by any kind of municipal, county, or state institution in the health field, employment department, any department that suspects that anybody is an illegal immigrant, they are obligated by the law to inform ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” the activist said.

That would undermine the society by setting up a vast network of informants but ultimately, just like with apartheid in South Africa and fascism in Chile, that might deny people their freedom for a few years, even a decade, but eventually, freedom will be obtained, Rodriguez said.

A result of America's own foreign policy

Because America disrupts, or supports countries that work against, the well being of poor people, many people flee their own land for financial benefit in the U.S., Escobar said. Their only option is to come to the U.S. for a better living and America must change her foreign policy and the way she does business with other countries.

In Columbia, she said, gold mining corporations are exploding the gold mines for the wealth, but the mines are located where Afro Columbians live. Ultimately, people are being displaced, which is what happened to Mexican farmers under the Central and North American Trade Agreement. “They made it impossible for farmers in Mexico to continue farming and when 1.2 million of them could not work anymore, their only option was to come to the U.S.A.,” Escobar said.

Report: Black Students Carry More Debt Than White Peers

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspapers –

(NNPA) - Across the U.S., another group of Black students have earned their college degrees this month, and have progressed to the next stage in their lives. But they do so carrying the burden of greater debt than their White peers, according to a new study conducted by The College Board’s Advocacy and Policy Center.

The study revealed that 27 percent of Black bachelor’s degree recipients in 2007-2008 borrowed $30,500 or more compared to 16 percent of Whites, 14 percent of Latinos/Hispanics and 9 percent of Asians.

Sandy Baum, the report’s co-author, told BlackAmericaWeb.com that while the families of some Blacks and White students may have similar incomes from their jobs and other activities, there is an apparent gap in their other savings and assets, which can give White students an edge in paying for college and avoiding heavy debt.

Also, experts found that parents and students who take out private loans may find themselves in higher debt than those who take out federal loans, mainly because private loans often hold higher interest rates and there is no government protection to limit payment amounts.

“Some folks will sign the papers without looking at the fine print, and they end up with loans with high interest rates,” Wil LaVeist, co-author of “8 Steps to Help Black Families Pay for College” told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

LaVeist urged parents and students to pay close attention to all documents when signing for college loans. But he said students can avoid the loan process and the possible burden of future debt altogether by getting good grades before entering college.

“I see too many kids focusing on being social [in high school],” LaVeist told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “What is important now is to get good grades in high school...There will be a college that will accept you ….”

Huge Chinese Loan Will Build Major Ethiopian Railroad

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) - A Chinese loan of more than $100 million will help Ethiopia complete a major railway line linking the capital, Addis Ababa, to various regions of the country.

The project had been on the books for years but was frozen due to lack of funding.

China has been signing railway construction projects all around Africa, transforming the Asian giant into one of the most influential players on the continent. But in some cases the projects have run into obstacles.

With pressure applied by the U.S. and the IMF, a $9 billion deal signed between Beijing and Kinshasa shrank to $6 billion. Questions have also been raised over the disappearance of a $23 million signing bonus that Chinese companies were to have paid their Congolese counterparts.

Western critics say China is interested only in extracting Africa's natural resources to feed its fast-growing economy, and cares little for African development, acting like the new colonial power on the continent.

But Chinese experts see a lingering "Cold War" mentality. "Is China buying cheap and selling pricey to qualify as a colonial power?" asks Shen Jiru, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "Exactly the opposite - we are providing free-interest loans and aid, and we are a reliable backup for Africa's economic development."

Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi defended the railway deal. "It's in their interest to spend tens of billions of dollars in Africa, he said, “and it's in our interest to have access to those tens of billions of dollars."

Congolese Leader Wants Foreign Troops Out

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Special to the NNPA from the GIN –

(GIN) – U.N. peacekeepers’ days may be numbered in the conflicted Congo. Ten years after they arrived and billions of dollars spent, peace has not been achieved. President Joseph Kabila now stands firm that U.N. troops should be out of the country by the close of 2011.

The 20,000 peacekeepers guarding a country the size of Western Europe have been unable to protect children from kidnaps, women from rape and decapitations. Some of the peacekeepers themselves are even accused of sexual abuse, gold trading and corruption.

A decade-long war has pitted government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda, and DR Congo’s economy and stability has suffered ever since; most especially its civilian populace.

Information Minister Lambert Mende accused the U.N. of pretending "to help people while trampling their dignity" and suggested it is trying to seize power in mineral-rich Congo. "Don't do anything for us. We will do it ourselves," Mende said.

But human rights groups say it's too soon for the peacekeepers to leave. At least 8,300 rapes were committed in eastern Congo alone last year, the U.N. said.

The mission's mandate expires in less than two weeks and cannot continue without the government's consent. The U.N. Security Council plans to visit Congo at the end of this week and that U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon plans to come around the start of June.

Despite Widespread Appeals, Obama Fails to Appoint Black Woman to Supreme Court

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President Taps Elena Kagan As Supreme Court Nominee

By Hazel Trice Edney, NNPA Editor-in-Chief –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – In what could be considered as the most powerful public appeal to President Obama thus far on behalf of racial justice, 28 Black women sent the President a letter early this week, expressing concern that he might appoint Solicitor General Alena Kagan as the successor for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the U. S. Supreme Court and reasserted a request that he consider a Black woman instead.

But, the May 9 letter was too late. Less than 20 minutes after receiving the document, emailed to the NNPA News Service around 10:37 p.m. from Melanie Campbell, CEO and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR), a breaking news email from the Washington Post came headlined, “Obama to pick Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court”. By morning, the news was out and widely reported.

Still the letter was strong and clear, sending an “end-of-honeymoon” type message that President Obama must begin to listen to those he credits for having put him in office with hopes for Black progress.

“As we have throughout history, African American women played a significant role in the 2008 election because we were especially aware of the impact this presidency would have for generations to come,” states the letter, dated May 9. “Our trepidation regarding General Kagan is premised on the lack of a clearly identifiable record on the protection of our nation’s civil rights laws. As women leaders, we greatly respect General Kagan’s intellectual capabilities and highly accomplished record in the Administration and academia. Nonetheless, there is a dearth of a specific emphasis on the civil rights laws utilized in the protection of racial and ethnic minorities and those traditionally disenfranchised in this nation.”

The letter also asserted, “Especially disconcerting is the perceived lack of real consideration of any of the extremely qualified African American women as potential nominees. While we were very pleased to witness the placement of the Honorable Leah Ward Sears and Judge Ann Claire Williams on the reported lists of potential nominees, there did not appear to be any serious consideration of their candidacy, once again.”

The women’s names, listed on the bottom of the letter, represent a broad section of leadership in the Black community. The letter described them as members of the “Black Women’s Roundtable of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and African American female faith leaders and legal scholars”.

The letter not only appeals to the President’s espoused sensitivity to the plight of African-Americans, but reminds him of the staunch position of the late Dr. Dorothy Height who he eulogized only two weeks ago: “Mr. President, the nominations and appointments you make today will be far-reaching, particularly for the Supreme Court. As we continue to promote the legacy of our late founding leader and Co-Convener, Dr. Dorothy I. Height, we will always seek to highlight the concerns of Black women, our families and our communities. Thus, as Dr. Height stated in our previous meeting with your Administration, we believe it is time for African American women to be represented in all sectors of government – including the Supreme Court of the United States, which in its 221 year history has not had a Black woman nominated to serve on our highest court in the land.”

Supreme Court appointments are rare given that justices serve for a lifetime. Still Obama has nominated Kagan, a former dean of Harvard Law School rather than seize the opportunity to not only make history, but to further diversify the court with different perspectives. The BWR also cited “Justice Stevens’ leadership in protecting and defending civil rights on the Supreme Court” as a compelling need to appoint someone with similar views.

Political scientist and Black political strategist Dr. Ron Walters says the Supreme Court appointment is yet another revealing moment for the administration of America’s first Black president as close to 100 percent of African-American voters supported him.

“It is another one of those pin pricks where African-Americans are not happy with the president’s decision. These things were inevitable, but they continue to happen. And this was just another one,” Walters says.

Walters sought to explain Obama’s decision as disseminating from the “elite crowd of Harvard law school that’s the other world that he’s been traveling in since he was a very young person.”

He warns, “Don’t underestimate the strength of that culture because it is certainly there. And he is a part of that culture. As a matter of fact, I would dare say that he is more a part of that culture than he is of the civil rights culture.”

Another disappointing issue has been the President’s handling of Black economic justice as he has maintained a “rising tides lifts all boats” philosophy even as Black unemployment remains stagnant or continues to rise month after month.

A push for greater diversity on the court had been a major topic of discussion over the past weeks since Stevens announced his intent to retire late this spring. In a recent column, NNPA Columnist George Curry quotes Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer and former civil rights litigator, as predicting that Obama’s next appointee would be more conservative than Stevens.

The column quotes Greenwald: “‘(1) Kagan, from her time at Harvard, is renowned for accommodating and incorporating conservative views, the kind of ‘post-ideological’ attribute Obama finds so attractive; (2) for both political and substantive reasons, the Obama White House tends to avoid (with few exceptions) any appointees to vital posts who are viewed as ‘liberal’ or friendly to the Left; the temptation to avoid that kind of nominee heading into the 2010 midterm elections will be substantial… and (3) Kagan has already proven herself to be a steadfast Obama loyalist with her work as his Solicitor General, and the desire to have on the Court someone who has demonstrated fealty to Obama’s broad claims of executive authority is likely to be great.’”

Curry adds, “The most disturbing aspect of a possible Kagan appointment is her admiration of the Federalist Society, a network of conservative and libertarian students, law professors, attorneys and judges whose goal is to advance the conservative agenda by pushing America’s legal system to the right.”

According to the letter, “The Black Women’s Roundtable network comprises an intergenerational membership of Black women civic leaders of international, national, regional and state-based organizations and institutions that works collectively to advance policies and strategic initiatives that help to improve the lives of underserved women and girls. Our BWR members work in a wide range of social justice, civic, corporate, labor, academic, women and youth organizations.”

The following women were listed as co-signers of the BWR letter:

Melanie L. Campbell, CEO and convener, Black Women’s Roundtable, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Barbara Arnwine, national convener Black Women for Justice; Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams Skinner, president, Skinner Leadership Institute; co-facilitator, National African American Clergy Network; Dr. Barbara Shaw, interim chair of the board, National Council of Negro Women; Dr. Elsie Scott, president, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Lezli Baskerville, president, The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher education (NAFEO); Clayola Brown, president, A. Philip Randolph Institute; Vanessa Williams, executive Director, National Conference of Black Mayors; Ms. Felicia Davis, president, Just Environment; Makani Themba-Nixon, executive director, The Praxis Project; Rev. Dr. Judith C. Moore, executive director, Sisters Saving Ourselves Now; Lisa Fager Bediako, president, Industry Ears; Constance Berry Newman, member, Black Women’s Roundtable; Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, executive director, Center for Community and Economic Justice, Inc.; Rev. Marcia Dyson, member, Black Women’s Roundtable; Eleanor Hinton Hoytt; president & CEO, Black Women’s Health Imperative; Kathi Wilkes, president, Wilkes & Associates; Letetia Daniels Jackson, president and CEO, Tandeka, LLC; Sandra Fowler, founder and president, Brewton Enterprises; Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, director of Research, Policy, and Programs, National Council of Negro Women; Reverend Cheryl J. Sanders, senior pastor, Third Street Church of God and professor of christian ethics, Howard University; Barbara Perkins, executive life coach, Image Builders Etcetera; Claire Nelson, president & CEO, Institute of Caribbean Studies; Lakimba DeSadier, member, Black Women’s Roundtable; Gaea L. Honeycutt, president, G.L. Honeycutt, LLC; Carlottia Scott, board member, NCBCP; Rev. Gloria Miller, associate minister, First Baptist Church Glenarden; Joycelyn Tate, telecommunications policy advisor Black Women’s Roundtable.

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