Things That Matter

Don. Jr. Said Kamala Harris Wasn’t Black Enough And Democratic Presidential Candidates Are Not Having It

The Internet has been interrogating Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-Calif.) blackness since she announced her bid for presidency. The Oakland-born daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants has been told she’s not Black enough because of her South Asian ancestry. Now, expert on all things blackness Donald Trump Jr. is questioning her race, suggesting she’s not “Black American” because her family hails from outside of the US.

In a now-deleted tweet, Don. Jr. wrote “Is this true? Wow,” to a tweet claiming that Harris isn’t really Black.

Twitter

“Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican. I’m so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history,” wrote Twitter user Ali Alexander, who appears to be a right-wing operative and conspiracy theorist named Ali Akbar, or Ali Abdul Razaq Akbar.  

With Don. Jr.’s retweet, the original racist message went viral, with numerous people coming for the candidate and her blackness on the Internet. According to the Huffington Post, even bots helped magnify the tweet.

But Harris has also witnessed a lot of defense from people who, despite their politics or support of the contender, are calling out the ignorance and anti-blackness in the debate around her race. Many of her sympathizers are also her challengers in the Democratic Primary.

On Instagram, fellow presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was the first to come to Harris’ defense, even criticizing tech companies for not doing more to prevent social media attacks.

“The attacks against @KamalaHarris are racist and ugly,” Warren tweeted.” We all have an obligation to speak out and say so. And it’s within the power and obligation of tech companies to stop these vile lies dead in their tracks.

Former Vice President Joe Biden compared the assault to those made against his BFF Barack Obama. 

“The same forces of hatred rooted in ‘birtherism’ that questioned @BarackObama’s American citizenship, and even his racial identity, are now being used against Senator @KamalaHarris. It’s disgusting and we have to call it out when we see it. Racism has no place in America,” he tweeted.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro kept it 100 by calling the onslaught a racist attempt to delegitimize a powerful woman of color. 

“These disgusting and racist attacks are part of a right-wing effort to delegitimize an accomplished and powerful black woman. Senator Harris has lived an American dream story, and we shouldn’t give voice to those attempting to undermine it,” the Mexican-American politco tweeted.

Still, no candidate’s response has garnered as much attention and praise than that of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who used an expletive to fire back at everyone disputing Harris’ blackness.

“.@KamalaHarris doesn’t have shit to prove,” the presidential candidate said in the now-viral tweet.

Cory Booker also came to her defense as well.

He’s right.

As many of us in the Latinx community know — though we, too, have our own undeniable anti-blackness that must be confronted and challenged regularly — Black isn’t synonymous to African American. Black folk are present all over the world, including the Caribbean, where Harris’ father is from, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the US and more. Harris, a Black woman born and raised in the US, is a Black American woman who is just as much a member of the African diaspora as she is the Indian and Caribbean diasporas. All of these identities can co-exist, and they do, not just for her but for numerous Black folk living in the country.

To repeat, Harris and others whose blackness is denied because it doesn’t fit neatly into the US’ simplistic and unworldly racial dichotomy doesn’t have to prove — here’s another curse word — fuckin’ shit.

Read: Presidential Candidates At The Second Democratic Debate Stand Up For Undocumented Health Rights

Basically Everybody Who Isn’t A Billionaire Is Coming For Bill Gates Since He Said He Couldn’t Live Off Of $7 Billion

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Basically Everybody Who Isn’t A Billionaire Is Coming For Bill Gates Since He Said He Couldn’t Live Off Of $7 Billion

Nicholas Kamm / Getty

The wealth gap between the world’s wealthy and, well, the rest of us has been amplified in recent years and particularly here in the United States. As the 2020 election nears, candidates across the political spectrum are ramping up their arguments and plans on how to combat income inequality.

In the US, the top 1% of Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 90%. This is an immense problem for America’s middle-class and is contributing the growing Social Democrat movement sweeping the country. Many candidates are releasing their plans and few have received more attention than Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In the interview, it’s what he didn’t say that spoke volumes.

Credit: Nicholas Kamm / Getty

Bill Gates, the second-wealthiest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $107 billion, declined to say Wednesday whether he’d vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for president, given her proposed plan to tax billionaires at a rate of 6 percent.

And after a glib comment that he’d have to “do a little math” about what his net worth would be in a world post-Warren, the under-45 crowd had a few choice words for the 64-year-old Microsoft co-founder.

And the consensus is basically this: ‘OK, Boomer.’

Twitter did what Twitter does best and came hard for the Microsoft founder.

“I’m not Bill Gates, so his math is probably better than mine, but he’s worth 106 billion dollars, so if you took away 100 billion, it seems like that would leave him with SIX FUCKING BILLION DOLLARS,” Carter Bays, the producer and screenwriter, tweeted.

Another user tweeted it out just how insanely wealthy Bill Gates would still be even if Warren taxed him by more than $100 billion.

I mean, just let that settle in. Like should anyone really be this wealthy? Twitter doesn’t seem to think so. Others laid the blame with the media who have largely let Bill Gates lead his wealthy life without holding him accountable.

The responses — some earnest, some dripping in irony — highlighted the cultural rift between the baby boomer generation and its younger counterparts. 

And if there is a culture war, the phrase “ok boomer” has become its de facto rallying cry, a way to dismiss the more conservative politics that older generations represent.

Politics like, for example, not taxing the ultra-wealthy to fund social services.

“If I had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine,” Gates said on Wednesday during a financial conference hosted by the New York Times. “But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”

He also declined to say who he’d cast his vote for given the choice between Trump and Warren. “I hope the more professional candidate is the electable candidate,” he said.

To be clear, Warren’s proposal would not tax Gates’ wealth at a rate of over 90 percent, as Gates suggested.

It would be six percent for people worth more than $1 billion. Warren has said the revenue from that tax would fund healthcare for the entire country. Even Tom Steyer, the 62-year-old billionaire funding his own race for the presidency, weighed in.

“@BillGates, a wealth tax is the right thing to do,” he tweeted Wednesday night. “Don’t panic — you’ll be alright.”

But Gates is far from the only billionaire to bemoan Warren’s plan. Financier Leon Cooperman publicly sparred with Warren last week after writing in a letter that she treats wealthy people like “an ungrateful child.”

“Warren’s tax could cut roughly in half the fortunes of the very wealthy over its first 10 years. The aggressiveness of her plan should not be understated,” Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, tweeted this week. 

He later told Vox in an interview: “No group of Americans should be treated as a tool to raise the welfare of the rest of society.”

But for all those worried billionaires, don’t worry. The Warren campaign has released this handy calculator to show just how much they may have to pay.

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign just rolled out a handy wealth tax calculator for any billionaires worried about what they’d have to pay under her proposed tax plan. 

The Massachusetts senator, who’s polling neck-and-neck with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said she’d double her proposed wealth tax on billionaires from 3% to 6% to fund her progressive health care, climate, child care, and student loan proposals.

Under the plan, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would pay $4.249 billion. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who happens to be the richest man in the world, would pay $6.697 billion. And Bill Gates, who declined to say whether he’d vote for Warren earlier this week, would pay $6.379 billion if her plan goes into effect.

“Don’t worry too much about Bill Gates — if history is any guide, if billionaires do nothing other than invest their wealth in the stock market, it’s likely that their wealth will continue to grow,” Warren’s website reads.

Beto O’Rourke Dropped Out Of The Presidential Race But Julián Castro Is Holding On

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Beto O’Rourke Dropped Out Of The Presidential Race But Julián Castro Is Holding On

juliancastrotx / Instagram

As the primary race draws closer, the restrictions on who is allowed on the debate stage are getting tougher. Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro had announced mid-October that if his campaign didn’t raise $800,000 by Halloween his campaign would be over. While fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke announced the end of his campaign on Oct. 31, Castro’s campaign successfully pushed to raise enough money to keep his campaign going. In fact, he announced that they raised over $1 million for the month of October, well above the campaign goal.

“We’re not going anywhere,” campaign manager Maya Rupert told Politico. “Julián will keep being a voice for the voiceless, and a champion for the Americans who have been left behind. We will keep lifting up important issues others choose to ignore, and demonstrating by example why Secretary Castro is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump.”

Castro implored his supporters to keep his campaign going.

Credit: @MauraBarrettNBC / Twitter

In an email sent out to supporters, Castro put it bluntly: “If I can’t raise $800,000 in the next 10 days—I will have no choice but to end my race for President. The truth is, for our campaign, these debates have offered our only guaranteed opportunity to share my vision with the American people. If I can’t make the next debate stage, we cannot sustain a campaign that can make it to Iowa in February.”

Beyond logistics, Castro acknowledged the integrity of the campaign donors. “I started this campaign on a shoestring budget in the neighborhood I grew up in. I didn’t grow up a frontrunner. I didn’t have personal wealth to pump into this race,” he wrote in the email. “And we’ve built this campaign without a cent from super PACS or billionaires.” 

The Mexican-American politician now needs to poll higher than 3 percent in four national polls to qualify for the next debate.

Credit: juliancastrotx / Instagram

With the funds needed to campaign in battleground states, Castro is better poised to meet that DNC qualification. He has the 165,000 donors required to qualify but is still polling in low single-digit numbers. According to FEC filings, Castro’s campaign only had about $672,000 on hand at the end of September. Money goes far in elections, but it isn’t the deciding factor for campaign longevity. Beto O’Rourke had $3.3 million on hand by the end of September, a significantly higher amount than Castro, and Beto conceded.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders remains the Democratic candidate with the highest sum of cash on hand, at a whopping $33.7 million by the end of September. Both Sanders and Castro refuse to accept donations from super PACS or billionaires. Trump, however, had a reported $83 million on hand by the end of September.

Even, AOC asked her supporters to make a contribution, though she’s endorsed Bernie Sanders for president.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

On Nov. 1, Castro shared the good news from the backseat of a vehicle, saying, “I am so happy to announce today that, because of grassroots contributions from all over the country, we hit our $800,000 goal for the month of October.” Even better, he said, “We raised just over $1 million.” Castro effused gratitude as he spoke to the individual donors that make his campaign possible, “I just want to express my appreciation and say thank you to each and every one of you…Whatever you gave, I appreciate it. Thank you for believing in a campaign that is focused on lifting up the most vulnerable folks in our country and making sure that all of us can prosper in the years to come.”

The night before the deadline, Castro’s team hosted a call-a-thon to raise the remaining estimated $200k.

Credit: @juliancastro / Twitter

Of course, Castro’s campaign has a long way to go. He made sure to tell his supporters, “I also want you to know that this campaign, not only is it going to keep on going, but it continues to need your support. Spread the word. Talk to your friends, your family, your coworkers. We’re going to make a strong push to try and get onto the debate stage and go on. Take care.”

Halloween wasn’t so scary for Castro’s campaign after all.

Credit: juliancastrotx / Instagram

“THANK YOU!” Castro tweeted Friday. “With the help of tens of thousands of donors across the country, we reached our $800k fundraising goal—and crossed the $1M mark for the month of October. We’re going to keep pushing to make the debates and raise issues others won’t address. Thank you for your support.”

In response, one supporter tweeted, “You are very welcome! Keep fighting for racial justice in public policy hermano! We stand with you and your vision for humane and dignified treatment for our communities 🦋.”

READ: Julián Castro Is Rolling Out A $10 Trillion Plan To Fight Climate Change