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

Donald Trump Taunts NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace And Promotes The Display Of Confederate Flags

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Donald Trump Taunts NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace And Promotes The Display Of Confederate Flags

Chip Somodevilla / Getty

As of late, many a user on Twitter are convinced that the President of the United States is attempting to stoke the fires of a race war. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen but there’s no doubt that at the core of Trump’s recent messages of hate, he has no desire at all to help our country heal during this time. Let alone assuage the current culture wars.

Recently, in another one of Trump’s twitter rants, he made a slew of racist attacks and defended the Confederate flag.

During a rant, he unleashed on Twitter, President Trump defended the display of the Confederate flag, attacked former Vice President Joe Biden, made false claims about coronavirus, and said he was victorious in his pandemic response. 

After putting blame on China for the coronavirus, Trump spat out a series of racist attacks which included his defense of the Confederate flag.

Included in his tirade was a verbal attack at Black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace. Recently, Wallace was involved in an incident in which FBI investigated a potential hate crime against him. The FBI investigation ultimately found that a noose found by his car’s stall wasn’t a racist attack against Wallace. It turned out that the noose had been hanging in the garage for months before he was moved to it.

About the incident, Trump wrote, “Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?”

Trump went on to rail NASCAR for its “politically correct” decision to ban Confederate flags from events.

Trump lampooned NASCAR for inciting its “lowest ratings EVER” because of the decision. Hours later, Trump made more callous comments, when he referenced recent announcements that the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland were considering changing their team names. Trump said American Indians “must be very angry.”

Later that same day, he attacked media outlets for their reporting on the coronavirus.”Deaths from the China Virus are down 39%, while our great testing program continues to lead the World, by FAR!” Trump wrote in a tweet that was untrue. “Why isn’t the Fake News reporting that Deaths are way down? It is only because they are, indeed, FAKE NEWS!”

While outlets like The New York Times recently reported that COVID-19 deaths in the United States are down to nearly 600 per day which is much better than the U.S.’s peak of 3,000 per day in April and May, Trump overlooked the fact that new infections continue to climb. According to CNN, “Public health experts say the increase in new cases and a simultaneous decrease in deaths and the death rate is likely a function of the virus infecting a higher percentage of younger people, who are less likely to be killed by COVID-19, improved disease treatment and expanded testing.” 

‘Ken’ and ‘Karen’ Strike Again: White Couple Blocks Latino Man From His Own Apartment Building

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‘Ken’ and ‘Karen’ Strike Again: White Couple Blocks Latino Man From His Own Apartment Building

SOMA Residences

Another day and another white person – or in this case, a white couple – have terrorized a person of color and gone viral in the process. Many are calling this white couple ‘Ken’ and ‘Karen’ after video shows them blocking a Latino man from entering his own apartment complex.

Michael Barajas, the Mexican-American man who the couple targeted, filmed the incident just as the couple became violent and threatened him with further violence.

The encounter is just the latest after a barrage of similar instances of racial profiling that have continued over the backdrop of anti-racism protests. 

A now viral video shows a white couple blocking a Mexican-American man from entering his own apartment complex.

Michael Barajas was pulling into his apartment complex’s garage in San Francisco, when he became the latest victim of a ‘Karen’ and ‘Ken.’ He had just returned home from grocery shopping and used his key fob to open the building’s garage door when suddenly a white SUV pulled in ahead of him and refused to move forward.

The couple in the white SUV claimed Barajas was trespassing, called him a criminal and threatened to call the police.

“That’s fine. Call the cops. Why are you even calling the cops about, Karen?” the video shows Barajas responding.

In an Instagram post, Barajas said the white man “thought I was trying to tailgate them to break in and rob them.” One of Barajas’ neighbors, who is also white, was outside smoking and intervened in the situation. The driver then got out of a white SUV with Florida plates, beat the neighbor up, “and threatened to shoot us if we didn’t leave,” said Barajas.

Barajas says he started filming the incident once the couple got aggressive and threatening.

Barajas, 28, told NBC’s Bay Area affiliate KNTV that the situation kept escalating and turned dramatic when the white man in the car got aggressive, which prompted him to start recording.

“Given the current political climate, and certainly I’m Mexican American, and that rhetoric of us being criminals, it just hit hard, it hit close to home,” Barajas told KNTV.

After several minutes, a bystander who also lives in the apartment complex, intervened. “Dude, pull into your space or go!” the bystander said.

The man, who has since been identified as William Beasley, then exits the SUV from the passenger side, confronts the person who hit his car and reportedly assaults him by knocking him to the ground, according to ABC7 News

According to Barajas, the woman in the SUV then got out to try and coax Beasley back into the car. She also allegedly tried to pay Barajas and the neighbor (who had been assaulted) to not call the cops or file charges.

Since the video’s release, the white man – William Beasley – has been fired from his tech job.

Barajas shared the video of the incident to his Instagram, where it has been seen more than 150,000 times.

Since the video was uploaded, APEX Systems, where Beasley was an employee, has fired him after conducting an internal review of the incident. In a brief statement, they said they would not “tolerate violent or racist behavior of any kind.”

And the apartment complex where the encounter took place, SOMA Residences, said in a statement that they’re ‘actively working to resolve’ the incident and do not condone ‘violent acts, aggression toward any residents, discrimination and harassment.’

Barajas said he’s satisfied with the outcome and feels inspired to keep speaking out on behalf of minorities.

Credit: Michael Barajas / Facebook

From his apartment complex to the bystander who intervened on his behalf, Barajas said he’s grateful for the response he’s received and for how far he’s been able to come in life.

“I’ve always been from a really poor, poor immigrant family, so I think what happened just struck very hard for me. I felt, for me, that I do not belong here,” he said in a now-deleted Instagram post.

In the same post, he questions what would have happened had this happened to an undocumented person and didn’t know how to handle the situation? It’s a very good point that will cause many people to pause and re-examine how they react to situations like this one.