Things That Matter

It’s Been 18 Years And Bernie Sanders Still Hasn’t Explained Why He Favored Dumping Nuclear Waste In A Latino Neighborhood

Part of Bernie Sanders’s campaign has focused on speaking compassionately about immigrant communities and how they tend to be disproportionately hit by environmental and socio-economic troubles. That’s great and all, but the fact is that the Vermont Senator has not always toed this line. There is at least one dark moment in his political career that contradicts his current messaging. We’re talking about Sierra Blanca, Texas.

Sierra Blanca is home to a small, poor, Latino immigrant community in west Texas, population 553.

A photo posted by Rene Macias (@renemacias934) on

Credit: @renemarcias934 / Instagram

In 1998, national and state politicians from three states (Texas, Maine and Vermont) co-sponsored and championed a bill that would permit the transport low-level nuclear waste from the three states and dump it in Sierra Blanca, Texas.

The legislation is in direct contrast to Sanders’ views, which are outlined on his website.

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Credit: berniesanders.com

The Senator’s site even points out the specific link between neighborhoods where immigrants live and the presence of high levels of toxic pollution.

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Credit: berniesanders.com

A white, male politician fighting for la raza?!

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Credit: American Idol / Fox / American Idol / Giphy

It’s something that we have all been waiting too damn long to see.

Maybe he forgot about his very different point of view in 1998.

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Credit: Jane The Virgin / CW / janethevirgin-gifs / Tumblr

Sanders, who was running for re-election to the Vermont House of Representatives, was in favor of transporting the toxic waste from his state all the way down to Texas.

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Credit: c-span.org

And he strongly supported the legislation.

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Credit: c-span.org

There it is. In his own words. He even went so far as to refuse adding a provision that would have given residents of Sierra Blanca the political power to fight back.

Like:

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Credit: Broad City / Comedy Central / Broad City / Giphy

But that was then, and this is now. What’s his current take on the bill?

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Credit: MSNBC / Benjamin Armbruster / YouTube

And:

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Credit: MSNBC / Benjamin Armbruster / YouTube

Those comments are very much in line what he said back in 1998.

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Credit: c-span.org

The bill never passed, but it’s undeniable that Sanders strongly positioned himself in favor of legislation that goes against his current messaging.

READ: This Bernie Sanders Ad About Migrant Workers Will Give You The Feels

Register to vote today by downloading the Latinos Vote app for iOS and Android. Our voice matters. #WeAreAmerica

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Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Blames Indigenous Tribes For Amazon Fires

Things That Matter

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Blames Indigenous Tribes For Amazon Fires

jairmessiasbolsonaro / Instagram

President Jair Bolsonaro is blaming the indigenous community for the fires that raged in the Amazon. The fires set off international outrage as the rainforest faced unprecedented destruction by out of control fires. President Bolsonaro went against the rest of the international community during a speech to the U.N.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wants the United Nations to know that indigenous people were responsible for the Amazon fires.

In a remote session opening the U.N. General Assembly, President Bolsonaro spoke at length about the indigenous communities starting the fires. He also used the speech to speak out against the criticism his administration is receiving over his environmental policies and his response to Covid. Brazil is currently the second most infected country in the world with the second highest death rate.

The Amazon has experienced increased fires since President Bolsonaro took office.

For the first seven months of 2020, 13,000 sq. km. (5,019 sq. miles) of the Brazilian rainforest have burned. This year saw the second-highest level of fires on a global scale with fires raging across the Amazon, Australia, and the West Coast of the U.S.

President Bolsonaro openly contradicted expert findings to fit his narrative.

President Bolsonaro claims that the humidity of the forest contains the fires. According to President Bolsonaro’s speech, fires in the Amazon only happen in certain areas because of how well the humidity can keep the fires in check.

“The fires practically occur in the same places, on the east side of the forest, where peasants and Indians burn their fields in already deforested areas,” Bolsonaro said.

President Bolsonaro’s speech touches on the environmental record his administration is known for.

The Bolsonaro administration has made dismantling environmental and indigenous rights since taking power. The administration has worked to limit the amount of land available to indigenous people and to open up Amazonian rainforest to miners, loggers, farmers, developers, and other uses that are damaging and contributing to the fires. Deforestation by these industries are largely to blame for the out-of-control wildfires that burned for a very long time in the Brazilian Amazon.

Activists are getting ready to fight for the indigenous community and the rainforest.

“We must denounce this political catastrophe that destroys the environment and our future,” Sonia Guajajara, head of Brazil’s main Indigenous umbrella organization, to NBC News.

READ: Under Bolsonaro, The Brazilian Amazon Has Reached Record-Breaking Levels Of Deforestation

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