Things That Matter

A Mexican-American Mother Was Beaten Until She Was Unconscious By Her Son’s Racist School Bully

We’re pretty sure this latest incident is our country’s newest low.

According to The New York Post, a 35-year-old New Jersey woman by the name of Beronica Ruiz was beaten until she was unconscious by a 13-year old boy who bullied her son.

According to reports, the day before the beating, Ruiz had filed a former complaint about her son’s tormenter and his alleged harassment of her son.

Her son, whose name is being kept private because he is a minor, claimed that he was bullied by the 13-year-old on June 18. At the time, Ruiz’s son said that the bully and a few other boys had chanted “Mexicans should go back behind the wall” to him other boys in the cafeteria.

In response, the Ruiz family’s lawyer, Daniel Santiago, says that her son replied: “We all come from immigrants.”

When Ruiz’s son received further threats from the students, he became fearful for his safety and reported the incident to a teacher who sequestered him from the other boys.

Attempts to notify Ruiz’s parents about the incident did not happen.

Santiago says that she did not find out about the incident until her son came home and he told her that he was too afraid to go to school the next day.

According to the Washington Post Ruiz and her husband returned to the school that evening and complained to the school’s assistant vice principal that they had not been alerted of the events. Santiago says that the vice principle replied that he had simply forgotten to call them.

“That’s a woefully inadequate response,” Santiago said. “’My bad’ is not a good excuse for not calling (the parents), not telling them.”

Ruiz picked up her son from school the day after the incident in the cafeteria happened.

She walked him home while pushing her 1-year-old daughter in a stroller. When they were just a few blocks away from the school, Ruiz’s son alerted his mother that they were being followed by the boys who had bullied him the previous day in the cafeteria. Soon after, the 13-year-old boy allegedly attacked Ruiz and her son. First, he punched Ruiz’s son in the face and then when the mother attempted to intervene he punched and “threw her to the ground” which caused her to lose consciousness.

This was a brutal hate crime, and it was committed by a 13-year-old,” Santiago said. “I don’t know what circumstances could give rise to a 13-year-old boy having such hate in his heart that he would commit this brutal attack and leave a woman essentially to die in front of her children without any remorse or any twinge of conscience.”

Ruiz was hospitalized for two days after the alleged attack.

Pictures of Ruiz’s face are brutal. In a photo circulating online, Ruiz’s face is marked with bruises and her eye is visible injured. She reportedly suffered from facial fractures and a concussion.

Earlier this week, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office announced that the 13-year-old bully, who fled the scene, had been arrested. He has been charged and faces one count of aggravated assault and one count of simple assault.

According to Santiago, the 13-year-old returned to the school the day after the attack.

Meanwhile, Ruiz and her husband are Mexican and in the United States awaiting green cards while holding work permits. Both of their children were born here and are American citizens.

Santiago says that he doesn’t “know that a child is able to fully understand and comprehend the implications of his words and saying things like ‘You should go back to Mexico… But this was clearly generated from hatred, and clearly, this young man has a great deal of anger in his heart, and that’s sad for a whole other list of reasons.”

After Many Accused Shakira And Jennifer Lopez Of Anti-Blackness, Shakira Defends The Decision To Perform At The Super Bowl

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After Many Accused Shakira And Jennifer Lopez Of Anti-Blackness, Shakira Defends The Decision To Perform At The Super Bowl

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When Shakira and Jennifer Lopez accepted the gig to perform at the Super Bowl Half Time Show in 2020, after many musicians, like Rihanna and Afro-Latinx Cardi B, turned down the offer in support of Colin Kaepernick, they were met with some strong feelings. 

Many believed the iconic singers were aligning themselves with an anti-black institution, a critique that was similarly leveraged against rapper Jay Z who recently partnered with the NFL along with Travis Scott and Maroon 5 who performed at the 2019 show. In 2018 Diversity Inc reported, according to an NFL Insider, “Nobody wants to be associated with it.”

In an interview with the Guardian, the “Hips Don’t Lie” singer spoke about her decision and what it means in Trump’s America for the very first. 

Shakira says performing at the Super Bowl Half Time Show is good for Latinxs.

“Well, you know, I think it’s the right thing to do for the Latino community because we’ve also been through so much in Trump’s America, with walls being built and …” Shakira told the newspaper. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate our culture, you know?”

Many began to wonder: the right thing to do for which Latinxs? After all, some are black. Nevertheless, Shakira has a semblance of a point. Increased visibility, in a time where hate crimes targeting Latinxs have reached a fever pitch, can present an alternative to the narrative of the Trump administration in which Mexicans are “rapists,” that there is a “Hispanic invasion,” and DACA recipients are “criminals.” 

However, betraying one sect of Latinxs and black Americans to benefit another sect may not help promote an anti-racist agenda overall or appease her critics. 

“I’m so honored to be taking on one of the world’s biggest stages in the company of a fellow female artist to represent Latinos and Latinas from the U.S. and all over the world!” Shakira said about performing. “This is a true American dream and we are going to bring the show of a lifetime!”

Some Twitter users accuse Shakira of anti-blackness.

“I am only one person, but as a Black Puerto Rican/Afro-Latina women Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, a Puerto Rican and Columbian in my opinion are engaging in anti-Blackness by performing at the #SuperBowl half time show this year,” Rosa A. Clemente, a lecturer and organizer tweeted. 

Another person tweeted: “Once again, white Latinxes are happy to perpetuate anti-Blackness in exchange for proximity to & acceptance by whiteness in the US,” one user Tweeted. ” (But ya’ll should know that this acceptance isn’t real b/c its  predicated on the oppression of others. A snake’s a snake.)”

While some admitted they were excited to see two Latinas take a major stage together but, nevertheless, were torn on the decision.

“I know I was happy for JLo and Shakira for being latinas performing the Super Bowl but after thinking I’m actually super upset that they said yes and we’re not willing to stand in solidarity w. CK. We (non Afro latinas) need to work harder to stand in solidarity with black folks,” another user Tweeted. 

While another user took their message right to Shakira, saying : “@shakira please don’t play the Superbowl. You don’t need the money. You stood for Palestine. You need to stand in solidarity with the American black community.”

Artists boycott the Super Bowl Half Time Show in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee to protest police brutality each time the national anthem played in 2016. Fueled by the right-wing media, Kaepernick’s protest became a national controversy, causing him to be fired from the NFL abruptly. Since then, artists, including Jay Z initially, have protested the sports league. 

“The majority of artists we’ve reached out to are standing in solidarity against the NFL. They do not want to be associated because of the protest that was started by Mr. Kaepernick against racial injustice and police brutality,” Gerald Griggs, VP of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP who reached out to multiple artists, told the Observer

Jay Z was criticized for changing his mind and partnering with the organization. A move many believed was performative justice or simply put a way for Jay Z to make bank while looking like he is doing activism. 

“Many black activists made similar market-based civil rights arguments through the 20th century, using the logic that wealth-building could undo the evils of racism,” Brentin Mock writes in City Lab. “None of those arguments have quite panned out for black people, as here we are in 2019 still struggling with these issues. The question is whether Jay-Z has learned from the failures of the past or if he’s simply employing more of the same.”

Needless to say, if Jay Z is going to catch heat for aligning himself with the NFL there is little reason Shakira wouldn’t. 

Some Colleges And Universities Offer Affinity Housing For Highly Diverse Spectrum Of Students, Including Women Of Color

Things That Matter

Some Colleges And Universities Offer Affinity Housing For Highly Diverse Spectrum Of Students, Including Women Of Color

@fairhousing / Twitter

The human race is no stranger to segregation. In the United States, Jim Crow laws and “separate but equal” doctrine kept people racially separated for decades. In Germany, there were the Nuremberg Laws. In South Africa, Apartheid. Today, segregation in our country takes a different form—no longer supported by law, it is pervasive yet subtle, an intersectional issue rooted in gender, race, and socioeconomic status. While legally dividing people based on their differences is indisputably wrong, a complex question emerges: Could the cultivation of ethnic, religious, and racial minority communities actually yield positive outcomes for the people within those communities? Many signs point to yes.

On college campuses, this question underscores the phenomenon of “affinity housing”—spaces where minority students can live alongside peers who share important aspects of their identities.

credit: vassar.edu

The debate around affinity housing has spanned the past 50 years, beginning with active calls for change from students at numerous institutions in 1969 (Williams College, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University, to name a few). At Williams College, the discussion began when members of the Williams Afro-American Society occupied Hopkins Hall until the school president responded to a series of requests, including the development of a residence hall specifically for Black students. While that demand wasn’t met at the time—leading to a reemergence of the issue last year—students at Vassar and Wesleyan were more successful, resulting in Wesleyan’s “Malcolm X House” and Vassar’s “Kendrick House”—dorms specifically designated to Black students, which still exist today.

Now, in 2019, a wide number of colleges and universities offer affinity housing for a highly diverse spectrum of students, including women of color, Asians and Asian-Americans, Latinx populations, and LGBTQ groups. Proponents of affinity housing argue that these communal residences provide minority students with a sense of safety and security, especially at institutions with largely white student bodies. However, many people believe that affinity housing hearkens back to a darker epoch of American history, reviving segregationist tendencies that are fundamentally harmful to our progress as a society. Without a doubt, our country’s fraught past has definitely made the legal aspects of affinity housing a bit sticky.

According to the federal Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against tenants based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and family status. 

credit: calstatela.edu

So, if a university offers affinity housing for Black students, it could get in trouble if white or Asian students were explicitly prohibited from living there. To avoid this, colleges provide students with the choice to reside in these spaces, using careful language to define their role on campus—for example, California State University’s website describes its Halisi Scholars Living Learning Community as having been “designed to enhance the residential experience for students who are a part of or interested in issues regarding the Black community.” While it focuses on fostering a sense of community for Black students, the Halisi Scholars LLC is available to any student invested in issues of Black culture. Thus, as long as the option to join an affinity housing residence is inclusive to all, there is nothing illegal about it.

Although it can make affinity housing tricky to navigate, the Fair Housing Act protects folks all over the country. In certain states and cities, the protections expand even further to include factors like age, sexual orientation, marital status, gender, and citizenship status. Given the diversity of the U.S. population, these measures are absolutely essential to maintaining liberty and preserving our rights; yet history reveals that in spite of this legislation, marginalized communities are still most affected by housing discrimination, which perhaps points to affinity housing as a productive response to a long and unsavory trend.

Netflix’s “Dear White People” touches on the topic of affinity housing, illustrating the polemic nature of this issue through its characters’ divergent opinions. 

credit: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images

While some characters, like Coco Conners—a Black economics student who serves as treasurer for Winchester University’s Coalition of Racial Equality—do not support the new Armstrong-Parker dorm (a residence hall for students of color), several other characters find community there. Yvette Lee Bowser, executive producer of the series, describes this point in the show as a “renaissance” for the predominantly white, fictional Ivy League school.

“Everyone wants to have a sense of community, no matter what their cultural background is,” says Bowser. “That’s really what Armstrong-Parker is about—a built-in sense of community.” As a woman of color, Bowser attended Stanford University, which also offers affinity housing. She reiterates that the housing assignments at Winchester are not meant to segregate, but to do the very opposite: the Amstrong-Parker dorm is designed to maintain connectivity within students’ own, preexistent communities. “You don’t choose to go to a predominantly white institution only to be with black people,” she says. “You want the diverse experience, but you also want to feel those creature comforts and culture comforts.”