By Chuck del Valle | Lifestyle and Society Contributor
For many people, dating outside one's race is hardly an issue. However, for a handful of individuals interracial dating is still considered wrong and many are passionately opposed. Amy Yee, a screenplay writer based in San Francisco, made note that many of her friends, who come from diverse backgrounds, see interracial dating as a challenge to their well-being.
“I have about three Asian friends who date outside of their race," she said. “But all the other friends of mine, it’s either they vocally say that they won’t or every time an opportunity comes up for them to date outside of their race, there’s some excuse why it’s not going to work." Yee, who is currently dating a Turkish-American from New York City, feels very passionate about discussing the issue of race and love. "Many of my friends will say things like, ‘Well, you know he works at such and such, and our schedules don’t match.’ But we’ll know really what it is. It’s because he/she is black, white, Latino, Arab, etc.”
In today’s ever-diversifying world, it would make sense for more people to begin dating outside of their race. It turns out, however, that there’s still a tinge of racism within even the new melting-pot mentality.
According to a 2012 piece from NPR, almost 7.2 percent of all marriages in the United States are now interracial
. However, not all interracial relationships are created equally:
As of 2012, just 0.3 percent of white men in marriages were married to black women, and just 0.8 percent of white women in marriages were married to Black men. By contrast, 2.1 percent of white men in marriages were married to Asian or American Indian women, and 1.4 percent of married white women had an Asian or American Indian spouse. That meant that last year, white Americans were in marriages with Asians far more often than with Blacks, even though the number of married African-Americans outnumbered Asians by more than 2 million people.
When compared to the number of Latinos dating Asian/Asian-Americans, the numbers were a bit vague, but a strong 1.2 percent existed between Latin men and Asian women. The most common Asian-American group to date outside of their race was Filipino while the least likely groups to date outside of their background included Pakistani and Korean-Americans. In a survey carried-out by the Pew Center in 2012, men were 67% likely to not date a black woman compared to women of other races.
The most popular women to date, according to the 72,672 male participants, were Latin and white women.
It’s a fact that Americans are still not dating outside of their race, despite the overwhelming 74% of the nation that approves of such. In addition, the NPR survey concluded that immigration and citizenship status also affect a race-based mindset, particularly as it relates to Asian women. That being said, the survey stated that whites are less open to the idea of marrying a black person than vice versa, Latinos are more likely to have an open-mind to date outside their race, and Asians prefer to marry other Asians or marry white-men, particularly as it relates to citizenship and visa status.
"I believe that the reason Asian-American women are not valued in society is due to the misconception that we want a visa in exchange for partnership," Yee stated. "The infamous 'visa for love' is quite common between Asian women and white men the world over, but it's a hurtful stereotype because many of us aren't looking for a visa."Josh O'Shea, an accountant based in Chicago, mentioned that racism isn't something he's consciously developed in a relationship. "I'm as white-bread as you can get," O'Shea laughed. "But I know that I am open to learning about other people, other cultures, and how life affects the woman I love." Josh, a native of Evergreen Park on Chicago's south-side,
knows that racism is a common way of life for many Chicagoans, particularly those hailing from working-class neighborhoods. "I got harassed so much for dating a black girl in college: we used to get called the foulest names," O'Shea stated. "When I dated an Asian girl last year, they asked if I was ready to sponsor her family and get the paper-work rolling: they were dead serious."
Despite the fact that it is 2013, racial barriers are still a major factor in people’s lives. Like Amy and Josh's experiences, the experiences that come with interracial dating reflect more than the moment someone makes a nasty remark."It's only the beginning of a long, overdone conversation," Yee commented. "I wish it were as simple as saying that one individual is playing ignorant, but the reality is that society doesn't embrace interracial dating, not just yet. As someone living in San Francisco, interracial dating is a bit more tolerable on this end, but I would never move to Kentucky or consider the Midwest a place to raise bi-racial children."
Old prejudices die hard, even where love is concerned.
By Sara Schwartzkopf | Society Reporter
November 30th concluded Native American History Month with some excellent news for the Native American community ;particularly for the Great Sioux Nation. Since September, tribal leaders have been struggling to raise $9 million for the purchase of Pe’Sla (pronounced pay-slah) and the surrounding area in the Black Hills of South Dakota. On November 30th, they announced that they had succeeded and officially purchased back the land from the Reynolds family.
The history of Pe’Sla and its significance to the Great Sioux Nation is a story that is rarely taught in public schools. In 1868 the U.S. government signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie, giving the Black Hills legally to the Lakota Sioux and closing the land to white settlement. Less than 6 years later, George Armstrong Custer’s expedition discovered gold, and white miners rushed into the land, sparking another war. By 1877, the U.S. government had taken control of the land again and removed the Lakota to reservations outside of their legal territory. Homesteaders and miners moved into the territory and claimed it as their own. In 1980, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the land had been taken illegally and that the government had to pay the initial offering price plus interest – close to $106 million. The Lakota refused the money, stating that they had never sold the Black Hills, never would, and that the land should be returned to them. The money remains in an interest-bearing account, now worth over $750 million. It has not been touched.
Pe’Sla itself is integral to the Sioux creation story and way of life. Together the Sioux are made up of Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota tribes, and are spread out between South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and Canada. Pe’Sla is considered the Center of the Heart of Everything and its location is reflected in the constellations above the area. There are a number of stories and beliefs connected to the area as well as prayers and ceremonies that need to be carried out on the land itself. The Sioux do this yearly for the benefit of humankind.
The near 2,000 acre stretch of Pe’Sla has been in the Reynolds family since 1876. During that time they left it mostly undeveloped, and allowed various bands of Native Americans to come onto the property for prayer and ceremonies that are integral to their way of life. The announcement of auction came in mid-July, proposing that the land be auctioned off in 300 acre parcels, most likely for ranchettes. After outcry from the public, the Reynolds family came to an agreement with the Rosebud Sioux tribe to let them buy back the land for $9 million, provided that it be paid by the end of November. Over the course of three months, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe came together with Crow Creek Tribe, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe, and countless individuals to raise millions.
Over time the effort received press from abroad, and endorsements by celebrities like P. Diddy and Bette Midler. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” star Ezra Miller travelled with music producer Sol Guy and Chase Iron Eyes from Last Real Indians to produce a video and raise awareness of the issue. Last Real Indians ultimately raised $900,000 for the purchase. Many of the donations came from some of the poorest communities in the United States. With many of the reservations sitting at poverty rates around 40%, these donations did not come easily. However, the importance and significance of buying back the land was not lost.
To be sure, the irony of having to buy back land that was legally declared theirs is not lost on many of the Lakota. Oglala Sioux president-elect Bryan Brewer said, “I’m still against buying something we own, but I’m thrilled the tribes are buying it.” The three tribes that did allocate official funds released the following statement Friday:
“The historic requisition of Pe’ Sla started today in Rapid City, South Dakota. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Crow Creek Tribe, and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe community gathered in a historic assembly of the United Tribes.
Pe’ Sla is sacred because it is related to the Lakota creation and it is the site for annual ceremonies. It has historically hosted many village gatherings. Black Elk, the Lakota visionary sought his visions at Pe’ Sla. It is the high mountain on a prairie in the heart of the Black Hills.
The land of Pe’ Sla was once protected by the 1868 and 1851 Sioux nation treaties. The United States violated those treaties and took the Black Hills in violation of the fifth amendment of the Constitution. Today the requisition is a historic event for the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people. The tribes will work together to form the Oceti Sakowin Sacred Land Protection Commission to protect Pe’ Sla. We will preserve the sacred site for traditional and cultural ceremonies and keep it in a pristine state for our future generations.
We are grateful to stand together before the creator and to help our people in reclaiming one of our most sacred sites. We are not waiting for the United States to deal with this justly on the Black Hills rights and we ask that now that we are exercising our inherent sovereign authority to protect this most sacred site. We must perpetuate our way of life for future generations.
We thank the members of the public who donated to this cause to create justice for all people and now we are more determined than ever that the United States must provide justice for our people. We thank the Reynolds family for working with us in our requisition of Pe’ Sla as a sacred site for Lakota, Nakota and Dakota people.”
Pilgrim and Indian-themed parties, like the many others conjuring up similar images associating different racial groups to stereotypes, have become increasingly popular in the last decade.
By Sara Schwartzkopf | Society Reporter
November is Native American Heritage Month. Similar to February being Black History Month and September/October being Latino History Month, November is meant to be a time to mark Native American contributions, history and contemporary issues. Coincidentally, it falls post-Columbus Day (or Indigenous People’s Day if you refuse to celebrate Columbus), and coincides with Thanksgiving.
In a grand display of ignorance though, this month has thus far witnessed the following: No Doubt released a video for their new single “Looking Hot” that featured Gwen Stefani in multiple headdresses and feathers, wearing very little clothing, hanging out with a wolf in a tipi, and being tied up and writhing while white cowboys pointed their guns at her. Victoria’s Secret sent supermodel Karlie Kloss down the runway wearing a leopard print bikini, fringe, turquoise jewelry and a floor-trailing war bonnet.
Even Friday, popular Native comedian/activist group ,the 1491s, brought attention to an Irish bar named McFadden’s that had put out a promo poster for an upcoming pre-Thanksgiving party, telling potential customers to “Party like a Pilgrim, Drink like an Indian [sic].” The interesting thing here is not necessarily that non-Natives have done something offensive, but that the responses on both sides of the issue have been incredibly similar.
In all three of these cases (and in others that date prior to this month) the Native community has responded quite loudly through social media. Twitter feeds flooded, Facebook was inundated with images, shares, and comments, more comments and dislikes on Youtube, as well as blog posts and online articles popped up within a few hours. Social media and networking means that groups and individuals across the United States can take part in the pushback. In the case of the No Doubt video, “Looking Hot” was released on November 2nd, and the band pulled the video offline and offered an official apology on November 3rd, stating that their “foundation is built upon diversity and consideration of other cultures” and that, “Being hateful is simply not who we are.” With Victoria’s Secret it took two days for them to announce that they were sorry they had offended people and would pull the footage before their show aired on December 4th. Even smaller, more local offenses like McFadden’s are being met with hundreds of phone calls and messages informing them of how racist their marketing campaign is currently being viewed. Late Friday afternoon, McFadden’s of DC emailed an apology, canceled the event and instead offered a complimentary cocktail hour from 8-9 PM on the 20th.
It is interesting that so many Natives and their allies take to social media to effect change. There’s a new breed of activists in the Native community, or as Native journalist, Simon Moya-Smith, coined them, Digi Skins, meaning those Natives who use the Web to raise awareness about issues important to them and to combat American ethnocentrism. This can be viewed as both a continuation of more traditional communities, and a solution to how dispersed Natives are across the United States, and even the world.
Social media allows for Natives to connect with each other on Native issues, regardless of living on reservations or in cities, regardless of tribal affiliation, and regardless of class or occupation. In the case of activism, it allows for a Lakota studying in Egypt to connect with an Alaskan Native at home, and for them both to petition their government to extend the Violence Against Women Act. This trend in Indian Country is helping to bridge physical space and pull the community together.
Voting is sexy.
"Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote."
Voting is a fundamental right under the United States Constitution. Make sure to exercise your right to vote today! Polling booths will close at 7pm, so ensure that your voice is heard by voting early.
Remember, if you don't vote others will decide for you.
By Sara Schwartzkopf
On October 15th, The Doctor Phil Show featured the story of Matt and Melanie Capobianco, a couple that adopted a Cherokee baby named Veronica more than two years ago. Under the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, Veronica was removed from their home in January 2012 to live with her biological father, who is also a Cherokee citizen. The case has received much attention nationally, and some opinions of the case see the court’s decision as positive for the ICWA, the Cherokee Nation, and Veronica’s biological family.
Others have criticized the decision as being traumatic to the toddler and wildly unfair to the adoptive parents. The presentation on The Doctor Phil Show has been criticized as one-sided by Native Americans, since much of the show ignored the reasons behind the ICWA and why it was applied in this case. Of course, the case is emotional for all involved. However, the grief of the adoptive parents was certainly highlighted.
The Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted by Congress in 1978 in order to help protect and preserve Native tribes and families. It does this by ensuring that tribes have jurisdiction over Native children both on and off reservations. Prior to this a 1976 study estimated that 25-35% of all Native children were removed from their families and placed in non-Native homes. In some cases the per capita rate for Native children vs. non-Native children in foster care was 16 times higher. These children presumably were growing up outside of their heritage and culture, and outside of their extended family networks. The intended effect was assimilation and the destruction of tribes as separate nations.
With the ICWA, preference for Native adoptions are given first to family members, then to other tribal members, then to members of outside tribes. If these are not options for a child, then the child can be adopted by a non-Native family.
Few, if any, of these facts were explained during The Doctor Phil Show. Instead Matt stated that, “The Child Welfare Act is destroying families,” and told of how he and his wife were selected by Veronica’s birth mother to be her adoptive parents. However, Veronica’s birth mother, Christina Maldonado, signed the adoption papers without the consent of Veronica’s biological father. According to reports, he was unaware of the adoption process for four months and was only informed shortly before he was sent to Iraq. In order to get her back, he sought help from his tribal government and his parental rights were upheld through three court decisions.
According to the National Indian Child Welfare Association, both the Capobiancos and their attorneys knew that Veronica is Native and that her adoption would fall under the ICWA. They state, “the Capobiancos were advised to circumvent the law, putting Veronica at high risk.” Indeed, the portrayal of the case ignored the fact that Veronica is now with her father, sister, stepmother, grandparents, and an extended network of community that will all serve to keep Veronica connected to her heritage.
By Sandy ChangInvestigative ReporterAna LopezSociety ReporterSome of the names involved in this developing story have been altered to protect the identities and safety of victims and advocates.CHICAGO - The Asian American Institute hired a group to harass and intimidate former victims of discrimination and journalists. On Friday, September 28th, 2012, AAI sent a combination of messages, both electronic and physical, to the private residence of a former victim of discrimination. The forwarded document sent to the victim by Laura Waller, a staff attorney, was deli
vered on Friday and claim "damages" to AAI. "I'm honestly shocked," stated Jabari, the Asian American Institute's victim. "How did they get my contact information and are they attempting to intimidate the very folks they discriminated against?"The Asian American Institute encountered investigations by the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and the Corporation for National and Community Service - Office of Civil Rights and Inclusiveness for alleged discrimination towards former applicants. In the document, the Asian American Institute via Laura Waller claim that Jabari, a Latino applicant who sought employment for an AmeriCorps Vista program through AAI, was "not discriminated against". To add insult to injury, they claim that evidence, which supports blatant discrimination by AAI towards the applicant based on race and ancestry,
"in no way referenced...race or ancestry".
Laura Waller claims this document, sent to former applicant by the Asian American Institute "in no way referenced...race or ancestry".
In addition to AAI sending intimidating, coercive, and harassing messages addressed to their former victim, they also include notes to members of the media, including journalists.
In an attempt to censor freedom of the press and freedom of speech, Waller claims that allegations by those claiming discrimination by the Institute are "stunning". Some of the journalists and members of the media Waller contacted are well-known reporters in Chicago - often investigating high-profile cases of discrimination in education, housing, business, and politics.
"AAI is an equal employment opportunity employer, and does not discriminate against any individuals...(AAI) is not under investigation...", states an email correspondence sent to the victim's personal email account.
However, records from both the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Illinois Human Rights Commission prove otherwise. Additionally, a charge was filed with the Illinois Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2011 against the Asian American Institute for failure to hire an applicant based on race and national origin.
The Asian American Institute claims it was "not under investigation by the Illinois Department of Human Rights". However, this document not only shows AAI underwent investigation by the IDHR, but also by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
"I don't understand why AAI would stalk their victims, collect their private information, and send strange men to their homes," Jabari stated. "I honestly fear for my safety and the safety of my loved ones. If anything were to happen to me, my family members, or the journalists involved I will hold the Asian American Institute and Laura Waller accountable."
As of Saturday afternoon, Jabari is reviewing his legal options to protect himself against further intimidation by the Asian American Institute.
2012 marks the Asian American Institute's 20th Anniversary. Photo Credit: Paul Lu
By Sandy Chang
CHICAGO - The Asian American Institute went under investigation by the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and the Corporation for National and Community Service - Office of Civil Rights and Inclusiveness for separate cases of alleged discrimination towards Latinos, African Americans, and physically handicapped applicants.
The Asian American Institute, or AAI as it is commonly known, was established in 1992 by community members to unite the Asian American political and economic interests in the Chicagoland area. Located at 4753 N Broadway Street, Suite 904, it is considered to be a mixed blessing by both the Asian American community and mainstream society.
Over the last year and a half, numerous complaints against the Asian American Institute have come to light for discrimination on the basis of ancestry, national origin, and disability.
A 26 year-old applicant who alleges the Asian American Institute discriminated against him based on his name and background agreed to speak to Le Prestige du Monde about his experience. Jabari, as he identified himself, applied for an AmeriCorps Vista position with AAI in September 2011. He applied for a vacant marketing position funded by AmeriCorps and was soon contacted by Ashley Tsuruda, an AmeriCorps Vista Development Associate.
"Ms. Tsuruda contacted me and had trouble pronouncing my name," Jabari mentioned. "I didn't feel it to be a problem until she mentioned that my last name 'sounded too Spanish' - that should have been the first sign."
Jabari, who is of Latino origin, spoke with Tsuruda over the phone and set up an interview with Gina Lee, former Communications Coordinator for AAI. While on the phone with Tsuruda, Jabari claims that a conversation erupted on AAI's end of the conversation regarding the pronunciation of his name. "They were laughing and asking if I was Mexican," Jabari stated. "They were making really inappropriate comments about my last name, and a man's voice - slightly muffled - asked Tsuruda if I was a thug."
On September 9, 2011, Jabari was explicitly barred from engaging in the recruitment process for an AmeriCorps Vista Program position because of his national origin. Primary contact was done over email, and detailed evidence showcases that Gina Lee bluntly discriminated against an applicant based on his ancestry and national origin.
"...due to the Asian American Institute's policy on bridging ties with Asian American communities and mainstream society, we really wanted someone who was better representative of the mainstream. In general, we believe that someone of your particular background (I'm assuming you're Mexican or some sort of Hispanic) would not fit in with our standards and culture at AAI. We are primarily interested in hiring professionals and students of Asian American or Caucasian backgrounds and this is simply our preference within our organization. I hope that this is not a personal attack on your professional ethics."
The Communications Department within the Asian American Institute sent this correspondence to an applicant stating interest in "hiring professionals and students of Asian American or Caucasian backgrounds and this is simply (AAI's) preference within (their) organization."
On a separate occasion, a young African American woman applied through AAI's website for a research assistant position in January 2012 but was rejected on "(her) distracting features and over-zealous speech that (was) hardly understandable."
While the young woman, who insists we not use her real name so as to avoid retaliation by the Asian American Institute, did not formally file a complaint with a state or national agency because her case exceeded the in-take window, she feels it is important to come out of the shadows regarding discrimination during the recruitment and employment process.
Monica, the name the 24 year-old resident of Avondale utilized throughout the struggle to have her voice heard regarding the incident, stated that the Asian American Institute did not formally give her a reason to bar her from applying for the position. "I personally walked into AAI's offices in Uptown and spoke to a young woman by the name of Ashley Tsuruda, who was very rude and hostile," Monica stated. "I told her that I was interested in applying for the research assistant contract job and Ms. Tsuruda first gave me a blank stare, then told me that the social services department was three blocks away."
Monica went on to mention that she initially did not pay much attention to Tsuruda's demeaning words, but instead asked to speak to the hiring director.
"She was rude, but then a young woman came out to greet me. This person stated she was the executive director of AAI and mentioned that the position 'had already been filled'. When I showed her on my smart phone that AAI's website still showed a vacancy for the position, she laughed and told me that I 'obviously didn't understand'. I'd become so upset that I asked for her business card and mentioned I was going to file a complaint, then left soon after."
A week after she met with Tsuruda and Tuyet Le, Executive Director of AAI, Monica tried to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau but had no luck. "I spoke to Rhonda Drew, the Dispute Resolution Specialist, about my situation with AAI. Drew basically laughed at me when I called to file a complaint because she said that nothing would get done - "things happen" is what she literally said."
Drew, who serves the Chicago and Northern Illinois branch of the Better Business Bureau, is indeed the Dispute Resolution Specialist with the BBB. Le Prestige du Monde spoke to Drew regarding her contact with Monica back in January. Her response was brisk: "Oh yeah, some black gal called about how an Asian organization discriminated against her for being black. Get over it, nobody cares." According to their website, the Better Business Bureau’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust and support best practices.
Members of the Uptown community - where the Asian American Institute's offices are located - have mixed reactions to such developments. "I'm honestly shocked because these people seem so nice," Maureen Richards, a staff accountant in downtown Chicago, told Le Prestige du Monde. "I know a few of the members and they're quite sweet, and I walk past their offices on my way to work - simply shocking."
Aaron Vo, a resident of Buena Park and current law student, expressed his concern. "Hearing about (AAI's) discriminatory behavior doesn't surprise me. Whether you're Asian, Indian, or Hispanic, no one should discriminate against another person based on stereotypes. I'm more surprised that someone didn't come forth sooner - the folks at AAI are rumored to be doing some pretty shady things around here."
The Illinois Department of Human Rights states that 72% of cases involving discrimination often go unreported due to lack of knowledge pertaining to agencies, funded by tax dollars, facilitating the filing process. In addition to knowledge of where to file a discrimination charge, there is a filing window period ranging from 30 days to 180 days after the initial discrimination began that must be considered.
Many victims also fail to file a charge with designated state and federal agencies in fear of encountering retaliation.
According to a Chicago representative of the Corporation for National and Community Service, one can file a complaint related to AmeriCorps VISTA with their Office of Civil Rights and Inclusiveness. A claimant is requested to file a charge "as soon as possible after the event that (one) believes was discriminatory. Failure to do so may result in the procedural dismissal of the complaint."
Mark Teng, a former volunteer with the Asian American Institute, discusses "how corrupt (AAI) has become" in recent years.
Concerns about the Asian American Institute's inclusiveness span deeper than the recruitment and employment process. Mark Teng, a senior at Loyola University Chicago and former volunteer with AAI, spoke to Le Prestige du Monde about his experiences. Teng, a Chinese-American, believes that the Asian American Institute's mission to promote "partnership with and supporting like-minded organizations and individuals to build positive interracial and inter-ethnic relations" is a sham.
"I was a volunteer with the Asian American Institute for 3 years - I know many of these people who claim 'to do good' across communities," Teng stated with confidence. "I have written correspondence by volunteers, employees, and other members that shows just how corrupt the organization has become. $256 on cocktails at a downtown lounge? Do you really need to use our budget on a night out?"
Teng went on to mention that the Asian American Institute's policy on hiring new staff members was "self-defeating". "You're going to tell me that you would rather hire a girl from Indiana with no background in Asian and Asian American communities, history, and culture over the African American guy with a 3.7 GPA from DePaul majoring in Global Asian Studies simply because she knows how to use social media? Did (they) even get the poor guy's name?"
Teng isn't the only one who insists that the Asian American Institute's practices are questionable. Vinh Tran, a former volunteer with the Institute and current intern at a state agency working to foster greater immigrant and refugee rights, spoke of the blatant discriminatory practices common to AAI members and partners.
"I won't mention names out of respect, but our coordinators - after a few drinks at the office - would express rampant anti-black sentiment and say mean things about the disabled folk in Uptown," Tran mentioned timidly. "If this were a bar, then maybe someone would find it tolerable. AAI is an organization that claims to pride itself on 'advancing justice', but I think it's the other way around when their own members openly say such dehumanizing things."
The Asian American Institute goes on a "members only" trip to Washington D.C. during this past Spring. According to Vinh Tran, members of AAI often expressed "rampant anti-black sentiment". Photo Credit: Mark Teng
The Asian American Institute is hosting the Advancing Justice Conference, an event claiming to "bring together a diverse group of stakeholders in one place to address a broad range of issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community". The conference, taking place on September 27th and 28th in Chicago, will include workshops entitled "Let's Get Offensive" and "Making Census Data Work for You".
A variety of students, advocates, and community leaders are said to be partaking in the conference, for which a stipend for accommodations, flights, and event fees was offered to a select few. According to a current AAI employee - who requested we not use her name - 7 students, 3 of Latino origin, 3 of African American ancestry, and 1 White American, applied for a stipend for the conference. Out of the 7 who initially applied, two stipends were offered: one covering room accommodations and the conference fees - offered to the white applicant - and another simply covering conference fees - offered to one black applicant.
AAI's members and volunteers discuss the important of the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) vote in the 2012 Elections. Photo Credit: Mark Teng
"The Institute has become almost as bad as Ascene Chicago under Lily Kim," Tran mentioned jokingly. "At least with Ascene, they talk to the black guys waiting in line before they shove them out."
The Asian American Institute has refused to comment regarding the investigations on charges of discrimination. While Jabari and Monica remain hopeful that justice will come, they share a common disappointment in the structures they worked so hard to empower. "I've worked with the Asian American community for years," Monica stated. "I can't help but feel slightly jaded that the people I've worked with to overcome barriers are now excluding me based on stereotypes and not on my ability to work."
Jabari, who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese, expressed a similar concern. "I've worked under some of the most influential Asian American activists to bridge ties with the African American and Latino communities in Chicago...and now these folks don't even bother looking at me twice because my name was too Hispanic for them," He calmly stated.
"I'm honestly hurt, and it saddens me that on (AAI's) 20th anniversary they choose to go backwards. Forget advancing justice: they seem to be stalling progress by perpetuating the exact discriminatory behavior they claim to fight."
This is a developing story.
By Ogilvie Zavala
Associate Arts Editor
As CTU strikes continued, protesters - educators, students, parents, and volunteers - sought to create a presence that would be felt across the city. As of Monday afternoon, Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools teachers had yet to reach an agreement.
Pennsylvania will require all voters in the 2012 Presidential Election to display a valid government-issued ID.
By Sandy ChangPolitical Reporter
A Pennsylvania law that would turn away voters who don't have a valid photo ID would disproportionately suppress voting in Philadelphia's minority neighborhoods, according to a new study.
The study compared lists of people in the state's ID database with its voter rolls. Officials found that an alarming 1.3 million of Pennsylvania's 8.2 million voters -- more than 1 in 7 -- didn't appear to have valid state IDs. In Philadelphia alone, the figure was 362,000 voters, or about 1 in 3.
Those numbers almost certainly exaggerate the sheer size of the problem; the Philadelphia Inquirer
, for instance, raised serious doubts about the state's methodology after finding false hits for people with any form of punctuation in their names. But even if the scale of the numbers is off, their distribution shows troubling variances among the city's ethnically and racially distinct neighborhoods.
Tamara Perlman, an analyst at Azavea, a Philadelphia geospatial software firm, plotted the addresses of people the state says are registered to vote but don't have valid ID, and found that voters who live in the the city’s most heavily African American census tracts are 85 percent more likely to lack a valid ID than a voter who lives in a predominantly white area.
Voters who live in heavily Latino areas, meanwhile, were 108 percent more likely to lack the right ID than those in white neighborhoods, Perlman said.
"It's clear to me that the intent of the law was to hit Philadelphia in just this way, in a disparate way," said Stephanie Singer, the chair of Philadelphia's election commission. Voter fraud is not the problem, she said. "The problem is that democracy is in a crisis in this country and the way we solve it is by connecting people to elections, not pushing people away from elections."
Republicans across the country have been pushing for stricter voter ID rules at polling places as one of a series of measures ostensibly intended to address the issue of voter fraud. The public is left to discern the Republican party's true goals from the effects of their actions. Evidence clearly suggests that the effect of their actions is to disenfranchise millions of mostly minority, poor or young voters, who are demographically more likely to vote Democrat.
Other tactics Republican state legislators and governors have recently pursued include the intimidation of voter registration groups and the purges of voter rolls.
Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled legislature passed the voter ID law in March, but its fate is uncertain. A state judge is expected to rule in the next few days on a case brought by voter advocacy groups claiming it violates the Pennsylvania constitution.
State officials have conceded that they had no evidence of prior in-person voter fraud, or any reason to believe that such a thing would be more likely without a voter ID law. The state's top election official, a Republican, acknowledged at trial that she didn't really know what the law said.
Contrast that with the recent comment by the Pennsylvania House Republican leader that passage of the state’s voter ID bill “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
Most states at this point don't require a photo ID for voting. Pennsylvania's law is one of the five strictest in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, because it only accepts a limited number of official IDs, and doesn't include IDs that have been expired for more than a year.
The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating whether the law discriminates against minorities. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, renewed by Congress in 2006, prohibits states from imposing any qualification for voting "that has the purpose of or will have the effect of diminishing the ability of any citizens of the United States on account of race or color."
One of the most effective champions of voter ID bills has until recently been the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group funded by major corporations to create and pursue model bills with a right-wing agenda at the state level. ALEC announced it was getting out of the social policy business after public exposure of the group's role in passing so-called "stand your ground" bills of the kind that were widely condemned after the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
The findings of the Philadelphia study are consistent with previous research that incontrovertibly show voter ID laws make it more difficult for poorer and minority voters to vote.
By Sandy Chang
Updated: 07/31/2012, 6:06 P.M.
WASHINGTON — Former President Bill Clinton will have a key role in this summer's Democratic National Convention, where he will make a strategic case for President Barack Obama's re-election and his economic vision for the country, several Obama campaign and Democratic party officials said Sunday.
The move gives the Obama campaign an opportunity to take advantage of the former president's popularity and remind voters that a Democrat was in the White House the last time the American economy was thriving.
Obama personally asked Clinton to speak at the convention and place Obama's name in nomination, and Clinton enthusiastically accepted, officials said. Clinton speaks regularly to Obama and to campaign officials about strategy.
Clinton's prominent role at the convention will also allow Democrats to embrace party unity in a way that is impossible for Republican rival Mitt Romney.
George W. Bush, the last Republican to hold the White House, remains politically unpopular in some circles. While Bush has endorsed Romney, he is not involved in his campaign and has said he does not plan to attend the GOP convention.
Clinton will speak in prime-time at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 5, the night before Obama formally accepts the party nomination. While the number two on the ticket often speaks that night, the Obama campaign has instead decided that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will speak on the same night.
Biden will speak before Obama on Sept. 6, in front of tens of thousands of people expected to fill an outdoor stadium in Charlotte, and millions more on television.
The vice president's speech will focus on outlining many of the challenges the White House has faced over the past four years and the decisions Obama made to address them, officials said.
"To us it's about deploying our assets in the most effective way," Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said. "To have President Clinton on Wednesday night laying out the choice facing voters, and then having Vice President Biden speak right before the president in prime time on Thursday, giving a testimony to the decisions the president has made, the character of his leadership and the battle to rebuild the middle class that's so central to our message."
Clinton's role at the convention was to be formally announced this week.
Clinton spoke at the 2008 convention, part of a healing process for the Democratic party following the heated primary battle between Obama and the former president's wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Since then, the ties between Obama and Bill Clinton have strengthened significantly. Obama has called on the former president for advice several times during his term and the two have appeared together this year at campaign fundraisers for Obama's re-election bid.