Things That Matter

Georgia Is Discriminating Against Puerto Ricans Trying To Get Driver’s Licenses With A Cultural Questionnaire

Georgia has been requiring Puerto Rican natives seeking Georgia driver’s licenses to answer a special set of questions such as “identifying ‘what a meat filled with plantain fritter’ is called; where a specific beach is located; and ‘the name of the frog native only to Puerto Rico,’” according to a lawsuit filed against the state this week.

A Puerto Rican man has filed a lawsuit against Georgia for alleged discrimination and voter suppression.

Credit: @southerncenter / Twitter

A man is accusing Georgia of discriminating with driver’s licenses and requiring Puerto Ricans to answer trivia questions about fritters, frogs, hillbilly hats, baseball players and customs on their native island.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the US District Court for Northern Georgia, accuses the state’s Department of Driver Services (DDS) of violating the Civil Rights Act by engaging in “race-based stereotyping and implicit bias against Puerto Ricans.”

The lawsuit says Georgia holds residents of Puerto Rico, who are American citizens, to more stringent requirements than it does transplants from American states or the District of Colombia.

The quiz and other discriminatory practices prevent Puerto Ricans living in Georgia from traveling to work, school, and even doctor appointments. They also subject Puerto Ricans to the threat of a $500 fine and a year in prison if they drive without a license, the lawsuit says.

LatinoJustice obtained a copy of the quiz questions and shared them in a report.

A DDS document titled “Puerto Rican Interview Guide,” provided to CNN by LatinoJustice, includes numerous questions about the island, some of them are allegedly trick questions. Among them:

  • How long is the San Juan-Fajardo train ride? (There is no train.)
  • Who is Roberto Clemente?
  • What is the name of the frog native only to PR?
  • What is a pava?
  • What is alcapurria?
  • How do you celebrate San Juan Day?

A note in the interview guide says the questions are designed to better identify possible Puerto Ricans and discourage fraud. “While this guide can in no way positively determine if a person was born in or lived in Puerto Rico, it will help determine if the individual has a normal base of knowledge of their claimed birthplace,” it says.

Many on Twitter were using this as yet another example of Puerto Ricans being treated as second-class citizens.

Credit: @andreagonram / Twitter

“Puerto Ricans who are trying to start a new life in Georgia deserve access to the same benefits that are afforded to other citizens of the United States,” LatinoJustice PRLDEF attorney Jorge Vasquez said in a statement.

Driver’s licenses and identification cards issued in Puerto Rico aren’t subject to the same reciprocity extended to those issued in other states, the lawsuit says. Puerto Rico driver’s license holders must successfully pass the written and road exams to get a driver’s license, unlike other out-of-state license holders.

While others pointed out the shocking resemblance to a time when segregation was still a thing.

Credit: @KeithHi40841914 / Twitter

“The so-called quiz, applied to Puerto Rican drivers, bears a strikingly disturbing resemblance to the tests applied by segregationists to block voter registration of people of color,” Southern Center attorney Gerry Weber said.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s governor has come out swinging against the possible acts of state-sanctioned discrimination.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has weighed in, calling the alleged special requirements “absurd” and demanding that Puerto Ricans receive equal treatment in all US jurisdictions.

“If true, I ask Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to address the disturbing irregularities immediately,” Rosselló said in a statement. “The U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico cannot be subject to illogical and illegal requirements when procuring government services.”

There are more than 93,000 Puerto Ricans living in Georgia, according to the 2017 census estimate.

To many, this is just another sign of Puerto Ricans having to work extra hard to prove themselves as American citizens.

Credit: @carlitocenteno / Twitter

Other examples of Georgia’s allegedly discriminatory practices include refusing to accept any birth certificate issued in Puerto Rico before July 2010 and flagging Puerto Rican birth certificates for fraud review, the lawsuit states.

READ: Bad Bunny And Ricky Martin Killed A ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill In Puerto Rico Furthering LGBTQ+ Rights In The Caribbean

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This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

Culture

This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

@Keishlaheli / TikTok

People of all sorts of racial identities and backgrounds exist all over the world. However, many people remain ignorant to the ways in which different cultures and races change and take on new identities – especially as mixed race individuals are so often forced to walk a thin line between their identities.

Now, a popular Tik Toker from Puerto Rico is being forced to defend her identity as a Puerto Rican because trolls are accusing her of cultural appropriation. Although she might not look like what many expect a Puerto Rican woman to look like, Keishla is all about educating her followers and giving a voice to mixed race Puerto Ricans.

TikToker Keishla is being forced to defend her identity as a Boricua simply because she also has Asian heritage.

Mixed race communities and cultures exist everywhere. Facts are facts. But it’s obvious that not everyone is willing to accept these facts. Case in point: Keishla – a very popular TikToker, who is being forced to defend her own identity.

Keishla, who was born and raised on the island in the town of Borikén is obviously of Asian descent but she also claims her Puerto Rican identity with pride. Videos addressing the topic have gone viral and the comments that followed show a widespread lack of understanding about the diversity of race in Puerto Rico and beyond.

Keishla’s parents were born in China and later migrated to Puerto Rico, she explains in several videos. Some users, however, refused to accept the facts.

Keishla has had to deal with many ignorant comments across social media, but she’s got thousands of supporters also.

Ever since she launched her TikTok channel, users have come for Keishla and her identity and many have accused her of cultural appropriation.

While apparently trying to invalidate Keishla’s identity as a Boricua, one user wrote, “Lol u may consider her Puerto Rican but I don’t. Blood is more important than how she acts to me she can copy us but will never be us.”

And in typical Keishla fashion, she had the best response: “I respect your opinion, even though it’s a shitty opinion.”

Despite all the ignorance and trolls, Keishla has also seen an outpouring of support from fellow Boricuas, Latinos, and others among her more than 53,000 TikTok followers. The conversation has even moved over to Twitter, where many are supporting her identity while also addressing the hate from others.

“There’s a whole ass history of Asians in Caribbean culture,” one user wrote.

“Asians worked next to the slaves in the sugar cane fields in Cuba. Cuba has one of the oldest China towns in the Caribbean. So many Caribbean people have Chinese descent. Y’all don’t know how colonization work.”

Keishla is not alone: the Chinese have a long history on the island of Puerto Rico.

Credit: U.S. Library of Congress

Much like the mainland United States, Puerto Rico is a diverse community of cultures and races from all over the world. Anyone in the island or anyone who visits will notice right away that there is a major Asian community. Although it’s particularly conspicuous in the restaurant industry – with the traditional comida criolla – that’s not all. The Chinese community has contributed to Puerto Rico’s culture and economy in many significant ways.

Today, there are tens of thousands of Chinese Puerto Rican’s on the island. And although the most recent Census data only reports Asians as making up 0.2% of the population, many academics believe the count to be much higher.

Chinese migration has a long and varied history in Puerto Rico, with it reaching its peak in the late 1850s to 1880s. Many were fleeing war and economic devastation, and hundreds of thousands made their way to the U.S. – including Puerto Rico.

Some of these Chinese immigrants went instead to the Caribbean, though—some first to Cuba, where they were incarcerated due to labor revolts, then to Puerto Rico, where they served their sentence in what was essentially slave labor, working on major infrastructure projects.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with Keishla? Let us know in the comments.

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As Trump Does All He Can To Sabotage Mail-In Voting, He And Melania Request Mail-In Ballots

Things That Matter

As Trump Does All He Can To Sabotage Mail-In Voting, He And Melania Request Mail-In Ballots

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Trump has never done much to conceal his blatant hypocrisy. But this is shocking even for him. In recent weeks, the president has been on a crusade against mail-in voting, spelling out doomsday scenarios of “vote rigging” and of widespread fraud and illegal voting my undocumented residents – despite study after study showing this just isn’t true.

Now, Trump has poked holes in his own campaign by requesting mail-in ballots for himself and Melania for the upcoming primary election in Florida.

Trump has all but admitted he is working to sabotage the Postal Service in the run up to November’s elections.

Mail-in voting has been front-and-center in recent weeks as fears of the Coronavirus have forced states to make the voting process easier so residents can avoid going to polling centers where infection can potentially spread. However, at the same time, Trump and other Republicans have railed against the option, baselessly asserting that it will lead to voter fraud.

In an interview, Trump said the quiet part out loud, admitting he’s intentionally withholding money from the U.S. Postal Service to undermine its ability to handle mail-in voting in the 2020 election.

“They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said on Fox Business, speaking about the states that are implementing universal mail-in voting ahead of the November election. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”

Despite his claims, experts agree there is no widespread voter fraud in US elections, and nonpartisan experts say neither party automatically benefits when states expand access to mail-in voting.

Reports have circulated of mail boxes being taken out of cities and drivers being told to stop working.

Trump recently installed a major supporter, Louis DeJoy, as the new Postmaster General. Since DeJoy took control of the USPS, mail has been slowed down considerably in at least 19 states, an alarming sign heading into the election. DeJoy’s new operational changes have included overhauling the service’s senior leadership and directing carriers to leave on time — even if the mail hasn’t been loaded —immediately in the morning, resulting in them only delivering packages and letters sorted the prior night, according to Reuters.

There have also been reports of iconic blue USPS mailboxes being removed from city streets and giant sorting machines being taken out of busy post offices. These changes will result in widespread delays in ballot delivery that could disenfranchise millions of people, lead to widespread chaos, and potentially swing a close election.

Meanwhile, the president and First Lady have both requested mail-in ballots.

Although the president has repeatedly attacked mail-in voting over the past few weeks, he and the First Lady both requested mail-in ballots for the upcoming Florida primary. The records from the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections website show the ballots were mailed Wednesday to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, which he made his permanent residence last year.

And although Trump seems to be campaigning against mail-in voting, he recently claimed that Florida’s voting system is secure, tweeting earlier this month: “Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail.”

Many speculate that he’s OK with mail-in voting in Florida because it’s controlled by a friendly Republican governor and if things don’t go his way, he can count on that support. But this mixed messaging is giving his opponents (supporters of mail-in voting) further evidence that his opposition to it is purely political.

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