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 Black leaders also cast a nervous glance over their shoulder at

the shrill chorus of anger rising from many African-Americans,

especially the black poor, of whom a significant number

flatly oppose illegal immigrant rights

 

 

Old Civil Rights Groups Missing-in-Action

As Immigrants Hit the Streets

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Hispanic Media at the Forefront of Protest March: News Report, Eduardo Stanley

 

Editor's Note: As a groundswell of immigrant rights activism spreads across the country, the old-guard black civil rights movement is dragging its feet, writes Earl Ofari Hutchinson, an associate editor at New America Media and the author of "The Crisis in Black and Black."New America Media, Mar 27, 2006

LOS ANGELES--The great irony in the gargantuan march of hundreds of thousands in Los Angeles and other cities for immigrant rights is that the old civil rights groups have been virtually mute on the explosively growing movement. There are no position papers, statements or press releases on the Web sites of the NAACP, Urban League or SCLC on immigration reform, and nothing on the marches.

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) hasn't done much better. It has issued mostly perfunctory, tepid and cautious statements opposing the draconian provisions of the House bill that passed last December. The Sensenbrenner bill calls for a wall on the Southern border, a massive beef-up in border security and tough sanctions on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. The Senate Judiciary Committee will wrestle with the bill this week.

Only nine of 43 CBC members initially backed the liberal immigration reform bill introduced by CBC member Sheila Jackson Lee in 2004. The lone exception to the old guard's mute response on immigration-related issues was their lambasting of Mexican President Vicente Fox last May for his quip that Mexicans will work jobs that even blacks won't.

The silence from mainstream civil rights groups and the CBC's modest support for immigrant rights is a radical departure from the past. During the 1980s, when immigration was not the hot-button issue it is today, the Caucus in 1985 staunchly opposed tougher immigration proposals, voted against employer sanctions for hiring illegal immigrants and opposed an English-language requirement to attain legalization. That was an easy call then. Those were the Reagan years, and Reagan and conservative Republicans, then as now, pushed the bill. Civil rights leaders and black Democrats waged low-yield wars against Reagan policies.

In 2002, the NAACP made a slight nod to the immigration fight when it invited Hector Flores, president of League of United Latin American Citizens, to address its convention. The NAACP billed the invite as a "historic first." But it was careful to note that immigration was one of a list of policy initiatives the two groups would work together on. That list included support for affirmative action, expanded hate crimes legislation, voting rights protections and increased health and education funding. There is no indication that the two groups have done much together since the convention to tackle these crisis issues, and that includes immigration reform.

The CBC and civil rights leaders tread lightly on the immigrant rights battle for two reasons. They are loath to equate the immigrant rights movement with the civil rights battles of the 1960s. They see immigrant rights as a reactive, narrow, single-issue movement whose leaders have not actively reached out to black leaders and groups. Spanish language newspapers and radio stations, for instance, drove the mammoth march and rally in Los Angeles. Their fiery appeals to take action were in Spanish, and many of the marchers waved Mexican and El Salvadorian flags.

Black leaders also cast a nervous glance over their shoulder at the shrill chorus of anger rising from many African-Americans, especially the black poor, of whom a significant number flatly oppose illegal immigrant rights. But illegal immigration is not the prime reason so many poor young blacks are on the streets, and why some turn to gangs, guns and drug dealing to get ahead. A shrinking economy, sharp state and federal government cuts in and elimination of job and skills training programs, failing public schools, a soaring black prison population and employment discrimination are the prime causes of the poverty crisis in many inner city black neighborhoods. The recent studies by Princeton, Columbia and Harvard researchers on the dreary plight of young black males reconfirmed that chronic unemployment has turned thousands of young black males into America's job untouchables.

Yet, many blacks soft-target illegal immigrants for the crisis and loudly claim that they take jobs from unskilled and marginally skilled blacks. Black fury over immigration has cemented an odd alliance between black anti-immigrant activists and GOP conservatives, fringe anti-illegal immigration groups and racially tinged America-first groups.

Historians, politicians and civil rights activists hail the March on Washington in August 1963 as the watershed event in the civil rights movement. It defined an era of protest, sounded the death knell for the near century of legal segregation and challenged Americans to make racial justice a reality for blacks. But the estimated million that marched and held rallies for immigrant rights in Los Angeles and other cities dwarfed the numbers at the March on Washington. If the numbers and passion that immigration reform stirs mean anything, the judgment of history will be that it also defined an era, sounded the death knell for discrimination against immigrants and challenged Americans to make justice and equality a reality for immigrants, both legal and illegal.

The battle over immigrant rights will be fought as fiercely and doggedly as the civil rights battle of the 1960s. That battle forever altered the way Americans look at race. The immigrants rights battle will profoundly alter the way Americans look at immigrants. The silence of civil rights leaders won't change that. But there is no better time than now to end that silence.

Source: Pacific News

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To the Streets! Hispanic Media at the Forefront of Protest March

News Report, Eduardo Stanley, Translated by Elena Shore,
New America Media, Mar 27, 2006

LOS ANGELES, Calif.— It was the biggest protest in the city’s history, according to the local police department. More than half a million Latinos took to the streets Saturday, March 25 wearing white t-shirts, carrying signs and waving American flags, along with flags from their native countries including Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru.

On small stage on the corner of Broadway and Second Street, surrounded by huge speakers, cables and audio mixers, Spanish DJs kept up the crowd’s spirits, giving non-stop information and advice.

“We can’t see the flags. Where are all the flags?” called one of them over the speakers; and in response tens of thousands of flags waved in the air, above a river of white shirts that covered more than ten blocks of Broadway and extended in neighboring streets beyond.

The DJs were part of a campaign in which California’s Spanish media outlets played a pivotal role.

They helped to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people against HR 4437, introduced by Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner, and approved Dec. 16 by the House of Representatives in a vote of 239 to 182. Now in the Senate, the bill would criminalize undocumented immigrants—who total 11 million people in the United States—and punish those who help them, such as social workers or religious groups. In addition, the bill calls for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“At the beginning, about ten groups wanted to organize the protest in Los Angeles,” says Noé Hernández, an immigrant rights activist from the Central Valley. “Then they invited members of the Spanish press, and everything changed.”

According to Hernández, while organizations were prolonging their talks and negotiations, radio DJs decided to broadcast a call directly to the community. As more Spanish radio stations joined the movement—including stations in cities across California—they helped mobilize people across the state.

But in keeping with the march’s climate of anonymity, community and solidarity, the DJs on the stage did not identify which stations they were from. Organizations also kept their names out of the spotlight. The crowd itself dressed in white shirts as a symbol of peace and unity.

Well-known DJ “Eddie” Sotelo, known as El Piolín, launched an intensive broadcast campaign about immigration while mobilizing people to participate in the march. His radio show, produced in Los Angeles and aired nationally by Univision, is one of the most popular among Spanish-speaking listeners.

“El Piolín did an incredible job, he did various interviews and never failed to stress the importance of the march for the dignity of our community,” says Hernández, who was interviewed by El Piolín before the protest. “He also interviewed one of the ‘Minutemen’ and I think this convinced people to participate more than anything because that man insulted Latinos and said we should all be deported, even him, El Piolín!”

“Lots of people started calling the radio station asking for information about the protest, so we decided to do something,” says Diana Miramontes, DJ and programming assistant for KLOG 98.7 FM in Merced. “We interviewed an activist to explain the bill HR 4437 and we broadcast information about the march.” The number of calls about the protest increased, including one person who offered a free bus and was looking for a licensed bus driver to drive down a group of people.

“We invited people to participate,” Miramontes says with sincerity. “As a Latina I believe it was the right thing to do. A lot of people will suffer if this law is passed.”

Hernández says other local stations in the Central Valley conducted interviews with immigration activists, allowing a large segment of the population to have access to this information.

In Los Angeles, Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión published various articles in the days leading up to the protest. The day before the march, it published an extensive article with details for those interested in participating.

The headline on the front page of La Opinión Saturday, March 25 was “A las Calles!” (To the Streets!).

Spanish TV stations Telemundo, TV Azteca and Univisión helped mobilize people to go to the protest in Los Angeles in a campaign similar to that of 1994 when Spanish TV stations played an active role in protesting Proposition 187 in California.

In Fresno, the day before the march, a reporter on Univision announced what time and where people should meet to drive down to Los Angeles. The reporter even offered advice about the long drive, reminding viewers to check their cars’ oil and antifreeze before making the trip.

“Thank you DJs for awakening my people,” read a large sign carried by Aniceto Polanco, an immigrant from de Guerrero, México. “I want to thank the Spanish media,” she says. “They did a great job.”

“I found out about this through the radio. I remember the DJs saying that we have to wake up, we have to participate for our own good and the good of our families,” says Adrián López, who traveled from Madera to Los Angeles with his family. He says he is grateful for the role Spanish radio played. “They were right. Now I hope the politicians take note.”

Source: Pacific News

posted 29 March 2006

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
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#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.

"Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school's hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell's fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard's president and all of the school's black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination.

Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell's And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. Bell now teaches at New York University Law School.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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