Things That Matter

Here’s Why Housing Advocates Are Warning Against Amazon’s Impact On Affordable Housing

After months of speculation, Amazon announced that the locations of its second headquarters will be in Long Island City, New York, and Arlington, Virginia. The announcement has been met with criticism from local community members and officials that say the influx of tech workers would fuel gentrification and hurt lower-income populations. Newly elected Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most vocal public officials to condemn Amazon for moving to Long Island. Ocasio-Cortez represents the 14th Congressional District of New York, which borders the district that includes Long Island City, and says the move “is extremely concerning to residents here.”

Residents and real estate watchers are monitoring the impact Amazon will have on rent and living costs in both New York and Virginia.

Housing displacement was a platform issue that Ocasio-Cortez ran on and is a vocal advocate for affordable housing. She took to Twitter to voice her displeasure about Amazon’s announcement. Ocasio-Cortez said that “shuffling working class people out of a community does not improve their quality of life.” Community members fear that Amazon’s decision to set up shop in New York will hasten gentrification, increase housing prices and displace current residents.

Northern Virginia realtor Jen Walker told NBC Washington that there has already been signs of the “the Amazon effect” on the local real estate marketplace. “They woke up this morning, saw the Amazon announcement and they decided they wanted to move forward with a contract,” she said. “They said, ‘We’re going to get priced out if we don’t do this now.'”

Alex Howe, a member of the group runs the website NoVa Says No to Amazon, echoed a similar message as Walker saying that the real estate market will drastically change now that Amazon is here. “Those already prospering will flourish and those who struggle in our region will be further pushed out and erased,” Howe said. “If Amazon comes here, it should be on our terms and they should pay their fair share in our community if they expect to set up shop here.”

Amazon says it will invest $5 billion and create more than 50,000 jobs across the two new headquarters locations but some are questioning if the company will follow through.

Rising home prices and cost of living have been huge concerns for many communities across the U.S. in places like San Francisco and Seattle, where Amazon is already established. Amazon says their new headquarters will generate millions of dollars in revenue and jobs opportunities. Yet many don’t see it that way as tech companies have been known to price out many long-time residents and hire from outside local communities.

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said in a statement. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”

Since Amazon’s arrival, Seattle has become one of the most expensive cities to live in the U.S, forcing many Latino and black residents to move to far-off suburbs.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in New York to voice their displeasure with the announcement of a new headquarters.

On Wednesday, protesters gathered near Amazon’s soon-to-be headquarters in New York City to voice their concern over the multibillion-dollar incentives being awarded to Amazon. Protesters warn of the potential impact it will have on their community.

Ocasio-Cortez has echoed many residents worries and said she is concerned not just about Amazon specifically, but rather about the relationships that the government has with its citizens and corporations.

“This isn’t just about one company or one headquarters. It’s about cost of living, corps paying their fair share, etc,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s not about picking a fight, either. I was elected to advocate for our community’s interests – & they’ve requested, clearly, to voice their concerns.”

Mitú reached out to Amazon but there has been no response as this time.


READ: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Victory Lap Rallies To Abolish ICE, Erase Student Loan Debt And Keep Organizing

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The Trailer For ‘In The Heights’ Is Finally Here And It Looks Like A Latino Fairytale

Entertainment

The Trailer For ‘In The Heights’ Is Finally Here And It Looks Like A Latino Fairytale

WARNER BROS. PICTURES / YOUTUBE

In the final weeks at the end of a decade that began with promises of a film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway musical, “In The Heights.” Well, the full trailer is finally here and it’s more rico than we could have imagined. Fans have been waiting for the movie since 2008 when Universal Pictures announced their plans to adapt the musical for theaters by 2011. Universal canceled the project. Big mistake. Huge. Then, The Weinstein Company gained rights to the film. After Harvey Weinstein was canceled due to heinous sexual misconduct, Lin-Manuel Miranda removed Weinstein from the credits in 2017. Finally, Warner Bros won the rights to the movie in 2018 and finally, finally, a decade later, the trailer is here, and it’s delicious. It’s no accident that the trailer begins with the voice of a young girl asking, “What does suenito mean?” Each frame and verse will inflate your heart with the immense weight of hope that our immigrant parents and many of us carry to this day in America. Anthony Ramos answers la niña’s question: “Suenito? It means “little dream.” 

“That’s it? No story?” another little boy asks Ramos’ character, Usnavi de la Vega. 

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“Alright, alright everybody sit down,” Usnavi tells the children on what seems like the beaches of the Dominican Republic. “It’s a story of a block that was disappearing,” he tells the children, “En un barrio called Washington Heights. The streets were made of music.” 

As the music begins to play, the trailer swells to fast cuts, showing countless scenes and characters.

CREDIT: WARNER BROS. PICTURES / YOUTUBE

We see Usnavi, named after the first thing his Dominican parents saw as they arrived in America – a ship with the sign US Navy open up his bodega and lock eyes with beautiful Vanessa, played by Starz’s Vida, Melissa Barrera. “These blocks, you can’t walk two steps without walking into someone’s big plan,” Corey Hawkins, who plays Benny, says. The trailer promises to be a story of a neighborhood full of dreams. “A dream isn’t a sparkly diamond. There’s no shortcuts. Sometimes, it’s rough,” Ramos tells the children.

Olga Merediz powerfully reprises her role of Abuela Claudia.

CREDIT: WARNER BROS. PICTURES / YOUTUBE

“We have to assert our dignity in small ways. Little details that tell the world we are not invisible,” Claudia softly touches a traditionally embroidered tea towel as she confides in another woman. If you’ve had the privilege of watching the musical, you know how Claudia’s story goes. For the rest of you, we won’t spoil it. Rest assured that the massive production of the film does Abuela Claudia justice, as we see velas lighting the streets as neighbors raise their hands and march in her honor.

Miranda’s America in the early 2000s is far different from 2019 America, and it seems that Abuela Claudia may face a different fate in the film adaptation.

CREDIT: WARNER BROS. PICTURES / YOUTUBE

“They’re talking about kicking out all the dreamers. It’s time to make some noise,” Gregory Diaz, who plays Usnavi’s cousin, Sonny de la Vega, calls his neighborhood to action. “This is going to be an emotional rollercoaster. The odds are against you,” we hear a lawyer tell Usnavi and Sonny. “But there’s a chance right?” Usnavi asks. From there, the trailer erupts into dance and song as we hear Ramos rap, “We came to work and to live here. We got a lot in common. DR, PR, we are not stopping until the day we go from poverty to stock options.” Intermingled we hear Merediz belt, “Every day, paciencia y fe” Usnavi and Vanessa dance in a club, a group of dancers perform in a classic Washington Heights fountain at the heat of summer, and the trailer’s final words: “Today’s all we got so we cannot stop, this is our block!” 

Fans are actually weeping at the release of the long-awaited trailer.

CREDIT: WARNER BROS. PICTURES / YOUTUBE

NPR Latino’s head journalist Maria Hinojosa tweeted, “I AM WATCHING ON REPEAT stuck on my plane and I can’t stop CRYING 😭❤️✊🏽!!!!” Another fan asks, “Why am I crying at a trailer??” while another says, “I might be full on bawling right now I can’t wait for this.” “Hydrants are open!!!!” tweets another knowing Washington Heights resident. This daughter of a Nuyorican is right there with y’all. 

“In the Heights” comes to theaters on June 26, 2020.

You’ll have to hold onto more paciencia y fe as we count the days until we can sneak mofongo and arroz con gandules into the theaters and watch Lin-Manuel Miranda’s student project come to life on the big screen. When Miranda makes it, we all make it.

READ: We Finally Got A Peek At Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Casting Picks For ‘In The Heights’ The Play That Made Him Famous

According To This Fox News Host, AOC’s District Is Dirty Because Of Undocumented Immigrants

Things That Matter

According To This Fox News Host, AOC’s District Is Dirty Because Of Undocumented Immigrants

Tucker Carlson and guest Seth Barron continued to espouse their conspiracy theory-driven worldviews on his nightly Fox News show, this time targeting the residents of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district. Carlson mocked AOC’s support of the clean energy bill, the Green New Deal, claiming that the areas of Queens and The Bronx she represents are not “clean.” 

The conservative news editor Barron then piled on saying the high percentage of undocumented immigrants in her districts is why they are “dirty.” The comments were immediately met with criticism and accusations of racism from members of AOC’s camp and other advocates. 

Carlson says AOC’s district is dirtier than others. 

“We’re connoisseurs of irony on this show, but if you claim to care about the environment, you’d think that the little piece of America you’re responsible for, that you represent in the Congress, would be clean but hers isn’t. Why?” Carlson asked of AOC during the segment.

The suggestion that AOC’s district NY-14 is dirtier than other neighborhoods is rooted in racism, not just because they’re targets of racism but because the reasons those neighborhoods might appear less tidy is racism. It has been well documented that the less affluent and white a neighborhood the less the state will invest in maintaining its appearance. Low-income neighborhoods are often the targets of dumps and hazardous waste sites

According to research by the University of Michigan, “Several decades of research in the field of environmental justice has established clear patterns of racial and socioeconomic disparities in the distribution of a large variety of environmental hazards. Hazardous waste sites, polluting industrial facilities and other locally unwanted land uses are disproportionately located in nonwhite and poor communities.”

This October the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest released a report claiming low-income neighborhoods in the Bronx and Queens, where some districts are represented by AOC, have become the reluctant receptacles of private waste haulers. 

“Private waste companies increased their use of truck-based transfer stations by 35 percent, with 81 percent of all commercial trash hauled through these stations via truck, the report asserts,” according to the Queens Daily Eagle. “The locations where they stations are, however, such as Southeast Queens, the South Bronx, and Northern Brooklyn, have left residents complaining about the strong smell, air pollution and road hazards from the increased number of trucks.”

Perhaps, this is the reason why AOC supports clean energy and sustainability initiatives: they are in the best interest of her district’s constituents. However, Barron claims that AOC’s district is just downright un-American. 

Barron claims the reason AOC’s district is dirty is because of undocumented immigrants.

“Well, part of the reason is because her district is actually one of the least American districts in the country,” Barron quickly responded. “And by that, I don’t mean that it’s not part of America, but it’s occupied by relatively few American citizens. A very high percentage of her district is, in fact, illegal aliens.”

According to the Huffington Post, there is little evidence that the immigrants who live in AOC’s district are there illegally or that undocumented immigrants, who commit fewer crimes than citizens, are somehow dirtier. Barron said undocumented immigrants ruin the environment by pouring pig grease, which is organic matter and biodegradable, into gutters. 

“So they wind up producing a lot of garbage that the landlords don’t want thrown out normally,” he said. “So hence, you wind up with a lot of garbage on the streets. You have illegal food vendors pouring their pig grease into the gutters. I mean I worked out there, it can be a little gross.”

This year Carlson came under fire for defending child rape and convicted child rapists, calling women “extremely primitive,” and saying he felt “sorry for unattractive women.” Carlson, along with Fox News has seemingly been bleeding advertisers during the Trump era largely due to revelations about intra-company sexual assault, sexist comments, and offensive remarks about immigrants.  

Critics respond to Carlson’s anti-immigrant remarks.

Former AOC strategist WaleedShahid said Carlson was “broadcasting the oldest variety of anti-immigrant bulls**t: ‘they’re dirty'” to target the popular congresswoman. 

Many thinkers on the left called Carlson’s and Fox News racist for the anti-immigrant views they espouse. 

“Every citizen is 100% American no matter where they’re from,” said Young Turks host Cenk Uygur. “This is what GOP thinks of the rest of us—dirty immigrants. Then they wonder why we think they’re racists.”

Barron later tried to defend his attack claiming that 46.2 percent of AOC’s district is foreign-born and that proves his point. However, Mediaite notes, “It is completely false for Barron to imply foreign-born immigrants are also undocumented or are not US citizens. Notably, the Trump administration abandoned its attempts to add a citizenship question to the census this past summer, after losing a high-profile Supreme Court fight.”