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

After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

Entertainment

After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

James Gourley / Flickr

Spike Lee is returning to the 73rd Cannes Film Festival a couple of years after BlacKkKlansman debuted there, this time as the jury president. In over seven decades, the prestigious film festival has never had a black president overseeing the artists who decide which films will win an award. 

“In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere. When I got the call that I was offered the opportunity to be president of Cannes jury for 2020, I was shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time,” Lee said in a statement.

The 62-year-old director won Cannes’ Grand Prix for BlacKkKlansman which also earned Lee his first Academy Award. Prior to his recent release, Lee hadn’t participated in Cannes in 22 years despite having seven of his most beloved films like, She’s Gotta Have ItDo The Right Thing and Summer Of Sam, playing there. 

Lee releases a heartfelt statement about becoming the jury president.

Lee said this particular film festival is the most important in the world and that it significantly impacted his career.

“It started way back in 1986 – my first feature film She’s Gotta Have It, which won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Director’s Fortnight. The next joint was in 1989 – Do The Right Thing, an Official Selection in Competition. And I don’t have the time nor space to write about the cinematic explosion that jumped off, still relative to this, 30 years later,” Lee said in a statement. 

Do The Right Thing might be Lee’s most well-known project. The film which uses building racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood as an exploration of violence as activism was solidified as a part of history when it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and Libray of Congress. 

“Then Jungle Fever 1991 – Official Selection in Competition, Girl 6 1996 – Official Selection out of Competition, Summer Of Sam1999 – Director’s Fortnight, Ten Minutes Older 2002 – Official Selection in Un Certain Regard and then BlacKkKlansman 2018 – Official Selection in Competition where it won the Grand Prix, which became the launching pad for the world theatrical release which led to my Academy Award for screenplay,” he continued. 

Many have felt that Lee has not gotten the respect he deserves as a filmmaker — at least not until fairly recently.

Despite being nominated four times across three decades, Lee wasn’t awarded an Academy Award until 2019 for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

“Spike Lee’s perspective is more valuable than ever. Cannes is a natural homeland and a global sounding board for those who (re)awaken minds and question our stances and fixed ideas. Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up. What kind of president of the jury will he be? Find out in Cannes!” Cannes President Pierre Lescure and festival head Thierry Frémaux said in a statement.

In the New York Times profile leading up to his Oscar win, the paper examined the ways in which Lee has been relegated to the fringes of prestigious filmmaking: throughout his career, he has earned less money and received less funding than his white counterparts, and has had difficulty getting projects off the ground. 

Lee’s inclusion might be Cannes’ first big step in correcting its diversity issues.

“That’s the dilemma of a talented black artist in any field,” collaborator and author James McBride told the NY Times. “You have to recreate the genre, otherwise you don’t survive. Stevie Wonder is not a pop musician; Stevie Wonder is a genre. Michael Jackson is a genre to himself. Spike Lee has moved into that territory. Spike Lee is not short on talent. What Spike Lee is short on is friends in the industry, and the kind of space to fail. He has no room to fail.” 

While Cannes has struggled with diversity around black and women directors, Lee as a jury president could be a healthy step in allowing other perspectives in. 

“I’m honored to be the first person of the African diaspora (USA) to be named president of the Cannes jury and of a main film festival. The Lee family sincerely thanks the Festival de Cannes, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux and the great people of France who have supported my film career throughout four decades. I will always treasure this special relationship,” Lee said.

Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Believed DREAMERs Would Replace White Americans

Things That Matter

Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Believed DREAMERs Would Replace White Americans

Win McNamee / Getty

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller is still in office, despite mounting proof that he harbors white supremacist’s beliefs and numerous politicians and activists calling for his resignation. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” vertical published a series of Miller’s emails leaked by an ex-Breitbart news editor. 

In the emails, Miller expressed fear that DREAMERs would replace white Americans and suggested deporting immigrants on trains to scare them. SPLC’s Michael Hayden says Miller is a supporter of the “great replacement theory” championed by white supremacists who fear white people will become a racial minority. The theory has been echoed in the manifestos of mass shooters and prominent white supremacist leaders. 

Miller believes his fellow Republicans aren’t hard enough on immigrants. 

“Demanding DREAMers be given citizenship because they ‘know no other home.’ That principle is an endorsement of perpetual birthright citizenship for the foreign-born,” Miller wrote in an email.  “Not only will the U.S.-born children of future illegal immigrants and guest workers be made automatic U.S. citizens, but their foreign-born children will too because, as [former Republican House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor said, ‘Our country was founded on the principle.’”

Miller praised Florida’s very own former governor Jeb Bush for his use of moderate rhetoric to push extreme policies. The emails leaked are from around 2015, when Miller was an aide to Senator Jeff Sessions before being selected by Trump.

 “Jeb [Bush] has mastered the art of using immigration rhetoric to sound ‘moderate’ while pushing the most extremist policies,” Miller wrote in an email. 

Former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh provided over 900 emails to SPLC in which Miller expressed disdain for non-white immigrants. McHugh says she leaked the emails addressed to her from Miller to expose the hidden “evil” of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. 

“In a November 2015 email that Hatewatch has not previously published, Miller forwarded an interview with Phyllis Schlafly from far-right conspiracy website WorldNetDaily that argued undocumented immigrants should be shipped out on trains to ‘scare out the people who want to undo our country,’” according to SPLC. 

25 interfaith groups call for the resignation of Stephen Miller. 

Yesterday, 25 faith groups, among them many prominent Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders including the Anti-Defamation League, The Nation’s Mosque, and African American Ministers in Action, signed a letter calling for Miller’s resignation. 

“Stephen Miller authored many of these destructive policies and helped ensure their enactment via his network of anti-immigrant officials throughout the federal government. Further, these policies have been paired with heightened and unrelenting anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric coming from the White House,” the organizations said. 

The group also called out the Trump administration for allowing white supremacist views in the White House. 

“At one point in history, harboring a white supremacist in the White House could harm an administration. Today, President Trump appears unbothered by his close official’s ties to white supremacy. This cannot stand. As organizations of many faiths, who feel love and respect where Miller advances disdain and hate, we call for his resignation immediately,” the letter stated

Last November 100 lawmakers demanded Stephen Miller resign. 

Miller has been in the hot seat for a while. Last year 100 lawmakers demanded the advisor’s resignation, a couple of weeks ago 25 Jewish members of congress joined that call following Rolling Stone’spublication of a different set of leaked emails that further establish his support of xenophobic ideas. 

“A documented white nationalist has no place in any presidential administration, and especially not in such an influential position,” the 100 representatives wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump. “Miller’s white supremacist influence on your immigration policy, and it seems like that his perfidious adherence to extremist ideology has shaped your administration in ways that are not yet public.”

In the Rolling Stone emails, Miller called refugees “foreign-born terrorists” and expressed a fondness for a book called “Camp of Saints” which is a favorite of neo-Nazis.

“The dystopian 1973 novel is widely regarded as racist and traffics in fear-mongering about immigrant invasions. It is popular among white nationalist circles and has been invoked by former White House aide Steve Bannon and Iowa Congressman Steve King,” according to Newsweek

Other emails show Miller is using his influence in the White House to coordinate anti-immigration policies that reflect his views. 

“In the emails, [senior advisor at ICE Jon] Feere strategizes with Miller about how to use the federal government to amplify their anti-immigration message; tees up potential attacks on prominent Democratic politicians; directly briefs Miller in great detail about upcoming enforcement actions and policy changes in the works; and recommends to Miller people the administration should hire to expedite its immigration agenda,” according to Rolling Stone

While Miller has still not resigned, the pressure is continuing to mount in Congress and among activists.