Tag Archives: race and racism

Video

Get With The Times, New York Times. Drop The I-Word.

Published on Apr 3, 2013
by http://colorlines.com/droptheiword

“The Associated Press just dropped the term “illegal immigrant” from its stylebook, becoming the newest news outlet to drop dehumanizing language and embrace good journalism. Will the New York Times follow suit?”

Produced by Qualified Laughter: http://qualifiedlaughter.com/

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Challenging the Roots of Norway’s Tragedy

The horrific murder of 76 people in Norway on July 22nd underscores the fact that, much like in the United States, migration is a giant issue facing Europe. The 1,500 page political manifesto released by Anders Behring Breivik, the confessed killer, blends together racist, anti-feminist and anti-marxist rhetoric with islamophobia and anti-immigrant vitriol. Yet Breivik’s diatribes are not such a far cry from the political tide gaining strength in many countries of Europe. New laws in France and Belgium banning the veil and the burqa and the rise of anti-immigrant political parties have served to strengthen an extreme right wing agenda on the European continent.

One of the goals of Uprooted is to draw connections between migration and other social / economic phenomena. What are the forces in the contemporary world that push people to leave home, family, neighbors, the familiar to cross barriers of mountains, oceans, deserts and language to go to other, often hostile countries?

Why does the extreme right focus on immigration? How does xenophobia reinforce the imperialist, white, male hegemony, so blatantly promoted by politicians and much of the media? And most chillingly of all: are attacks, like those perpetrated in Norway, the logical next step to arise from the political ideologies espoused by the far right – little examined,  frequently underplayed or even at times rationalized in the corporate media.

Deep Dish TV and the Uprooted team are working with European filmmakers and activists to develop a series of short documentaries that focus on the dimensions of the migration conflicts in Europe, including No Borders a group that challenge the very concept of nation-states and borders.

The following video is from a 2007  No Borders camp on the California/ Mexico border:

Uprooted will help to create an alternative to the mainstream medias discourse on immigration, which finds expression in and  fuels the rise of hate groups and the extreme right.

In their search for a narrative through which to filter the tragic attacks in Norway, many media outlets framed the bombing and shootings in an all too familiar way. Many outlets first pointed fingers at “Islamic terrorists” before anything was even known about the cause for the attacks. The Sun and the Washington Post, not only assumed the tragedies were the result of Muslim militant groups, but that they were attacks on “Western values,” tactical strikes in the so-called “Clash of Civilizations” between “the West” and Islam. In reality however, it was those very theories that state that Europe or “the West” is at “war” with Islam that drove Breivik to his actions. Those actions that he claims were a preemptive strike against the “Islamization” of Europe.

As Glen Greenwald points out in an article for Salon.com, the news media immediately stopped calling the attacks “terrorism” when they learned that the perpetrator was a white European nationalist. This is because, as Greenwald puts it, “Terrorism has no objective meaning and, at least in American political discourse, has come functionally to mean: violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes.” With attitudes like this perpetuated by the so-called “liberal news media” is it any wonder that members of the ultra-right have stated that they ideologically agree with Breivik, even if they don’t condone his violence?

The mainstream media has labeled Breivik a “madman,” an “extremist,” and even a “psychopath”. By dismissing him as a crazy individual they neglect to place his racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric in its rightful context: within the rise of right-wing extremism and white supremacy in Europe. The “lone madman” interpretation of events ignores the fact that in the past few years the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant hatred of the so-called “extremists also finds congruence within mainstream “reasoned” political discourse . Last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel commented that multiculturalism had “utterly failed.” Shortly before these comments, a German politician released a book criticizing Germany’s immigration policy for engendering the same “Islamization” of Germany and Europe that Breivik feared. Both British PM David Cameron and French President Sarkozy have cast multiculturalism as a threat to their societies.

In his manifesto, Breivik listed Dutch anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders as one of his greatest influences.  Wilders has compared the Quran to Mein Kampf. While Wilders has hastily denied any connection to Breivik, his influence, and that of others like him cannot be denied. As author, journalist and professor Jeff Sharlet stated in an interview on Democracy Now!, the right wing politicians and pundits “are engaging in a rhetoric that sort of walks right up to that step of violence, and Breivik took the step. And it’s a little disingenuous for them to say, ‘Well, we never imagined anyone would do that.’ Painting Islam and immigrants as a threat to ‘western society’ that cannot be reasoned with and must be stopped at all cost paves the way for violence.”

In a well reasoned argument on Democracy Now!, renowned Norweigian peace activist and scholar Johan Galtung, compared Breivik’s philosophy to Nazism in no uncertain terms. He also stated however, that, ” This is exactly the ideology of the Washington-led attack on Muslim countries.” Citing the bombing of Libya and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as policies that take the same philosophy used by Breivik to its logical conclusion. These are scary realities to confront.

Nevertheless, Galtung did offer some words of hope for a solution. He stated that what is needed is a renewed call for dialogue; with the extreme right as well as with those groups which they so fear. “What a fantastic symbol this would be” he said, “leaving these rightists behind, saying, “You are not a part of our history. You belong to the past. Come and join us in this endeavor. Talk with the Islamic people you are so afraid of.” And you will find them 99.99 percent very, very reasonable.”

Fighting dehumanization in this way is the best strategy for challenging the largely white, straight, male political and cultural establishment that so fears the power of a more culturally integrated generation. That is why Uprooted is devoted to reclaiming the humanity of migrants both documented and undocumented. By telling their stories and giving them a place to have their voices heard Uprooted hopes to contribute to this dialogue for peace. By examining how migration relates to labor, imperialism, patriarchy and globalization Uprooted will contribute to the arguments that stand against xenophobia and racism. We hope that this project will be a tool that can be used to help stem the flow of hatred and challenge the pathological path advocated by those like Anders Breivik.

To learn more about Uprooted and how you can get involved just click here!

A Nation of Poorly Educated Students?

In a post on peopleofcolororganize.com, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz deconstructs the myth of the United States as a “nation of immigrants.” For Dunbar-Ortiz, that myth sanitizes the fact that the United States as we know them began as a colonial enterprise. The first European men and women to settle this land were not “immigrants,” as there was no already-established nation to emigrate to, save for the nations of Native Americans already present. Those arrivals should, instead, be remembered as settlers that dehumanized and displaced millions of indigenous Americans while taking their land through a strategically administered combination of force and diplomacy. Continue reading

Uprooted is Partnering with “Drop the ‘I’ Word”!

Uprooted is proud to announce a new partner organization: the Colorlines “Drop the ‘I’ Word Campaign”!

“Drop the ‘I’ Word” is a campaign that aims to eliminate the word ‘illegal’ from the public discourse on immigration because it “creates an environment of hate by exploiting racial fear and economic anxiety, creating an easy scapegoat for complex issues, and OK-ing violence against those labeled with the word.”

Shifting the debate on immigration means changing the language that we use to talk about migration issues. Uprooted is very excited to be partnering with this important campaign to promote a new way of framing the national discourse.

To find out more about “Drop the ‘I’ Word” you can watch this powerful video about the damaging effects of hate language:

Uprooted at the Left Forum!

Check out these panel discussions, filmed by Uprooted in March, at the 2011 Left Forum, the largest annual conference of left and progressive intellectuals, activists, academics, organizations and individuals.  These two panel discussions “Race and Racism in the Immigration Debate” and “Pass the Dream Act: How the Student Immigrant Youth is Leading the Immigration Debate” provide some food for thought on some of the central issues addressed by Uprooted.

Watch it here:
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYK1lxgA%5D

Continue reading

Georgia State Legislature Passes SB 1070-inspired Immigration Bill

On Friday, Georgia state lawmakers passed House Bill 87, one of the harshest enforcement-based immigration policies in the country. Passed just before their legislative session ended, HB 87 is styled after Arizona’s SB 1070, and comes as Republican-controlled state governments across the country are adopting enforcement-only policies, including Indiana, Utah and others.

Though the bill takes cues from Arizona’s controversial measure, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has acknowledged that the goal in passing HB 87 is to enact state immigration policy while avoiding legal challenges from the federal government. To that end, HB 87 does not require immigrants to carry documents, but it does allow state and local police to use criminal investigations as a pretext to question suspects about their immigration status. Like SB 1070, critics argue that HB 87 “insists on demonizing people with brown skin and Spanish accents,” as Georgia State Senator Nan Orrock stated. She pointed out that enforcement-only policies that target undocumented immigrants make racial profiling acceptable and presume the guilt of Latino populations.

The bill also makes it illegal to knowingly transport undocumented immigrants and requires business with more than 10 employees to use a federal immigration database called E-Verify to check immigration status and minimize document fraud. Yet, it places the legal burden on document fraud entirely on workers, allowing for sentences of up to 15 years and fines of up to $250,000 for workers who forge documents. One could argue that such penalties verge on cruel and unusual. Georgia’s economy, particularly the agriculture sector, relies on undocumented labor. The bill’s E-Verify provision was a compromise, business lobbies would have preferred that verification be voluntary, precisely because so many of them rely on the substandard wages they can get pay undocumented workers who have little legal protection from underpayment.

Governor Deal has indicated that he intends to sign the bill. If he does not sign or veto it within 40 days, it will become law. HB 87 is the most recent move in the battle between states and the federal government over immigration. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a judge’s injunction blocking the most controversial parts of SB 1070, on the grounds that individual states cannot enact laws that punish violations of federal law. Yet, states continue to introduce and pass legislation similar to SB 1070, and the Department of Homeland Security continues to encourage states to act on their own by using the E-Verify database. The debate over immigration is not just about immigration, it is about labor, education, law enforcement, distribution of resources and fundamental understandings about what it means to be “American.” The way the debate plays out will necessarily impact the future of the United States. Organizers and immigrant groups around the country are protesting the passage of anti-immigration legislation. In Georgia, U.S. Representative John Lewis urged that protesters remain unafraid in the face of injustice, adding that he was arrested 40 times during the Civil Rights Movement.

HB 87, SB 1070 and other similar bills underscore the importance of a more robust dialogue on the politics of migration. Deep Dish TV’s interactive Uprooted series will critically analyze the current U.S. immigration debate from perspectives outside of the corportate media. The project will put forth a grassroots perspective that corporate media outlets rarely present. It will feature submissions from artists, activists, and videographers around the globe, who present their own visions of the politics of migration in a variety of contexts.

Drop the I-Word

In the debate over the future of immigration, one word has been used so much that it has become a shorthand used to describe all undocumented immigrants: “illegal.” Political pundits and journalists alike have relied on this blanket term to describe undocumented immigrants, casting them as criminals, when, in most cases, their only crime has been crossing the border themselves instead of struggling through the long, bureaucratic process to enter “legally.” This creates an atmosphere in which Latinos and people of color are presumed guilty until proven innocent, and that notion has manifested itself in state laws such as SB 1070. Recently, a “Drop the I-Word” campaign has been started to change the discourse and treat undocumented immigrants as human beings. Student groups, immigrant rights organizations and even some media outlets have joined the fight to change our perceptions of what is “American” by examining the words we use to talk about immigration.

The “Drop the I-Word” campaign has even made its way onto local news:

To read more about the campaign, and find out how you can help, visit COLORLINES.