Things That Matter

A Colorado Political Committee Apologizes After Mailer Was Called Racist For Changing Latinas’ Names

A political committee has apologized after mailing out an attack ad against two Latinas who have denounced the ad as racist. After Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, endorsed Alexis Menocal Harrigan, Diana Romero Campbell and Tony Curcio in the race to claim a seat in the Denver School Board, independent political committee, Students Deserve Better, sent mailers calling the three “The School Shutdown Squad.”

The mailers depicted white-washed black-and-white photos of the candidates, and shorted Menocal Harrigan and Romero Campbell’s names to “Alexis Harrigan” and “Diana Campbell.” In a joint statement, the two expressed their outrage over the erasure of their Latina identities coupled with a misrepresentation of their stance on school closure.

At first, Students Deserve Better told local papers that the women’s outrage was just an attempt “to distract” the voters from “real issues.”

“Featured-Image Article-img.” Digital Image. Chalkbeat. 21 October 2019.

“When [the Denver Classroom Teachers Association] whitens candidates’ faces and puts our names — or what they have decided our names are — next to blatant lies and misrepresentations, they are lacking the very integrity we hope our students are learning,” Menocal Harrigan and Romero Campbell told Chalkbeat in a joint statement. 

Menocal Harrigan said the erasure is also offensive to the 93,000 Latino students Denver serves.

“Untitled.” Digital Image. Chalkbeat. 21 October 2019.

Romero Campbell called the mailer “an obvious personal attack” on her ancestry. “When you take away my parents’ name that is so much part of my identity — Menocal — you are taking away the lived experience of my parents and the generations before me who came in search of a better education,”  she said

Later, 18 officials of color joined together to issue a statement calling the attack “painful” and a perfect example of structural racism.

Credit: Julie Gonzales / Facebook

Senator Julie Gonzales issued a statement signed by fellow state Senators Robert Rodriguez and Dominick Moreno, state Representatives Alex Valdez, Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, and James Coleman, school board members Cobián and Lisa Flores, and Denver City Council members Jamie Torres, Amanda Sandoval, and Candi CdeBaca. All officials of color called it “painful” to witness the erasure of Latinidad for two candidates because it illustrates the additional challenges candidates of color experience. “We have each faced tough races and withstood critiques of our policies and we have each navigated the additional challenges of running for public office as candidates of color,” the statement said.

Even Romero Campbell’s own opponent stood by her, saying, “Diana is right to be offended by this bizarre and sloppy mail piece. I do not need or want any independent expenditure committee spending money on my behalf.”

Alexis Menocal Harrigan is proud to be a first-generation American. 

Untitled. Digital Image. Alexis for DPS. 21 October 2019.

Immigrant support is one of her key policies, and she plans to bring sanctuary status to the table for Denver public schools. She also wants to ensure students’ status and privacy is protected so that immigrant families feel safe to enroll in Free and Reduced Meal Applications once again.

Meanwhile, Romero Campbell’s campaign is built on dismantling systemic injustices within the district.

Untitled. Digital Image. Diana for DPS. 21 October 2019.

The opportunity gap for students is an inheritance of structural racism and injustices within the system. She’s ready to “name and call-out the racial, economic, and social disparities” that oppress students throughout the district. Her campaign page also lists mental health support as a top priority to ensure a “warm and welcoming” learning environment, “given today’s national climate.” Romero Campbell is a proud second-generation American.

Finally, Students Deserve Better issued an official apology.

Untitled. Digital Image. Diana for DPS. 21 October 2019.

Students Deserve Better issued a statement that took full responsibility for the pain and outrage the mailer caused for communities of color. It said it was never their intention to misrepresent the candidates, and issued a direct apology to Alexis Menocal Harrigan and Diana Romero Campbell. It also took the opportunity to distance the error from its donors, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and the Colorado Education Association.

The candidates were under attack for their stances on charter schools and school closure.

Untitled. Digital Image. Alexis for DPS. 21 October 2019.

In the world of public education, charter schools have long been a contentious issue of debate. Charter schools are publicly funded but are able to run independently from public school curriculums. Progressive reformers have backed Romero Campbell, Menocal Harrigan, and Curcio as the candidates who will ensure equitable access to education for all students, tailored to their specific needs. Meanwhile, the mailers claim that the three are “The School Shutdown Squad,” claiming they want to shut down public schools. In fact, they’ve simply said that school closure will always remain a last resort.

READ: A Viciously Racist Video Has Gone Viral In Which Two Girls Call For The Return Of Slavery And The KKK

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Six Dr. Seuss Books Are Being Pulled From Publication Due To Racist Imagery

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Six Dr. Seuss Books Are Being Pulled From Publication Due To Racist Imagery

Don’t call it a total cancellation.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises has made the decision of their own accord to no longer publish or license six of the books written and illustrated by the writer Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel. The American children’s author who passed away in 1991 was also a political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, and filmmaker. His first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), and his book  If I Ran the Zoo (1950) are among the books being pulled as a result of racist and insensitive imagery.

On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises shared a statement on their website explaining their decision to cancel the publication of the books.

Citing the four other books including McElligot’s Pool (1947), Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953), On Beyond Zebra! (1955) and The Cat’s Quizzer (1976) the company explained that they came to the decision citing the fact that they each “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” explained the statement.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises is a company that, according to Time Magazine, works to preserve and protect “the legacy of the late author and illustrator, who died in 1991 at the age of 87, also noted in the statement that the decision was made over the past year with a panel of experts, including educators, academics, and specialists in the field, who reviewed the catalog of titles.”

Children’s books by Dr. Seuss have long been considered a classic contribution to children’s literature.

The books’ colorful and fun illustrations and rhymes are still to this day instantly recognizable. Recently, however, the writer’s work has been re-examined and scrutinized for racial caricatures and stereotypes. This is especially when it comes to the depictions of Black and Asian people. Many have also pointed out that before he was known as Dr. Seusss, Geisel’s work had been strongly criticized for “drawing WWII cartoons that used racist slurs and imagery, as well as writing and producing a minstrel show in college, where he performed in blackface—a form of entertainment that some children’s literature experts point to as the inspiration for Geisel’s most famous character, the Cat in the Hat.”

Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s announcement of their decision to pull these books coincided with the anniversary of the writer’s birthday.

Geisel’s birthday coincidentally comes at the same time as National Education Association’s Read Across America Day, which has long been attached to his books,

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A Florida Doctor Is Being Charged with a Hate Crime After Assaulting a Latino Man at a Supermarket

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A Florida Doctor Is Being Charged with a Hate Crime After Assaulting a Latino Man at a Supermarket

Photos via MIAMI-DADE CORRECTIONS, Getty Images

It’s an unfortunate reality that Latinos face immense amounts of racism in America. Case in point: a Florida doctor is facing hate crime charges after assaulting a Latino man at a supermarket.

According to police, a 58-year-old woman followed a Latino man out to the parking lot, keyed his car, smashed his phone, and punched him–all the while hurling racially-charged insults at him.

The altercation happened on Jan. 20th at a Publix supermarket in Hialeah, Florida–a town with a large Latino population. It all started when the victim, an unnamed Latino man, asked Dr. Jennifer Susan Wright to maintain social distancing in Spanish. After she ignored him, the man repeated the question in English.

It was at this point that Dr. Wright, who is an anesthesiologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, became incensed and began muttering curse words under her breath. After the man left the grocery store, Dr. Wright followed him out to the parking lot.

She began to verbally berate him, calling him a “spic” and telling him “we should have gotten rid of you when we could.”

According to the police report, she also said: “This is not going to be Biden’s America, this is my America.” The woman then took her keys out an began to “stab the victim’s vehicle with her keys” while telling him to “go back to his country”.

The man took out his phone to call 911 and the woman allegedly punched him, causing him to drop his phone. When he bent over to pick his phone up, she allegedly kicked him and tried to stomp on his phone.

The woman fled before the police came, but she was arrested on Feb 12th at her home in Miami Springs.

The woman was initially charged with tampering with a victim, criminal mischief and battery with prejudice. The “hate crime” charge was later added, elevating the crime to a felony.

According to reports, Wright posted her $1000 bail and is now awaiting trial. Mount Sinai Medical Center released a statement saying that Dr. Wright is “no longer responsible for patient care” after assaulting a Latino man.

According to the Miami Herald, neighbors know Dr. Jennifer Wright as an ardent Trump supporter. Her social media pages are riddled with far-right, Pro-Trump memes and photos of her posing in a MAGA hat. She even uploaded a post that read: “It’s Okay To Be White.”

We can all agree that it’s “okay” to be white. It’s okay to be any race. We cannot, however, all agree that it’s okay to be a violent, racist bigot. We hope the victim has recovered and we hope Jennifer Wright will face justice.

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