Things That Matter

Joe Biden Wants You To Remember He Was Obama’s Vice President Until You Talk About Their Deportation Record

The Latina hired to facilitate outreach to Latinos, African-Americans, and women for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign has resigned out of frustration, according to two anonymous sources at Politico. Vanessa Cárdenas was Joe Biden’s most senior Latina staffer up until last week when she resigned and changed her Twitter bio to say she was “formerly with @joebiden.” According to Cárdenas’ friends, who anonymously spoke with Politico, Cárdenas grew frustrated that her continued reflection of Latinos’ policy concerns around immigration did not affect or change Biden’s policies at all. In response, Biden told the Associated Press that he will make Latino issues a priority for his 2020 campaign, and called Cárdenas “very, very good.”

Cárdenas reportedly was frustrated over Biden’s “hyperfocus” on white and Black voters in Iowa, erasing the importance of the Latino community.

CREDIT: VANESSA CARDENAS / LINKEDIN

“The campaign is just hyper-focused on whites in Iowa and African-Americans and it placed less value on Latino outreach,” an immigration activist and friend paraphrased Cárdenas to POLITICO. “Vanessa kept banging her head against the wall trying to get them to take the community more seriously and Biden just really won’t change when it comes to the way he talks about immigration,” the friend told the outlet. “It became too much.” Latinos are projected to make up 18.3 percent of the electorate in 2020, surpassing African Americans as the largest minority group in the United States. 

Soon after Cárdenas quit, Biden lost his patience with an immigration activist, Carlos Rojas, and interrupted him to tell him, “You should vote for Trump.” Rojas is just one among many immigration activists who have pressed Biden to talk on Obama’s deportation numbers, which are much higher than Trump’s. Rojas had volunteered for the Obama campaign and was horrified to see how the man he believed in went on to become the “Deporter-in-Chief.” Biden’s response to his story? “No. I will not stop all deportations. I will prioritize deportations, only people who have committed a felony or serious crime,” Biden responded.

“Biden just refused to talk about the issue in a compassionate way,” one of Cárdenas’ friends told POLITICO.

Credit: @CHRIS_1791 / TWITTER

“What happened last week was a perfect example of what Vanessa was dealing with,” a second friend of Cárdenas told POLITICO. “Biden just refuses to talk about the issue in a compassionate way.” It seems as if Biden still doesn’t quite understand Cárdenas’ frustration, even though he told the Associated Press that he could “understand her frustration in terms of the number of days” the campaign spends in certain states. “I’m getting the same thing, and I’m sure every candidate is — no matter what state you’re in — why you’re not spending more time in other states,” he told the outlet. “I wish her well. I’m sorry she was frustrated,” he added.

It should be unsurprising that Biden continues this trend of talking around the bush about Latinos and immigration issues, but we feel frustrated for Cárdenas. Cárdenas allegedly wanted him to acknowledge Latinos in his policies, and he’s even euphemizing the word “Latinos” for “other states.”

Biden has repeatedly avoided political events that might focus on his immigration policies, leading him to skip political forums where Latinos or immigrant rights activists have the strongest voice.

CREDIT: @CDNNOW / TWITTER

Biden received a lot of flack for skipping a Miami forum of Latino elected officials in June. In the week leading up to Cárdenas’ resignation, Biden received more negative press for avoiding California’s Democratic Party convention where he would be likely to be held to account for his immigration policies. While a campaign official, who asked to remain anonymous, told POLITICO that the campaign simply wants “to speak to the voters at our events that have real engagement,” we’d like to remind Biden that Latinos are real. They’re also real fed up, and demand to be heard. 

Biden’s understanding of Cárdenas’ concern about not spending more time in certain states is, at face value, true. To talk about California and Miami voters as “skewed” is to imply that the standard is white, and Latino voices are outliers. While Latinos poll as divided between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, a lot can happen in just a few months. Biden, we’re waiting for you to meaningfully acknowledge Latinos’ concerns over your immigration policy.

READ: Joe Biden’s Campaign Announced Their Latino Outreach Before They Secured The URL And Twitter Account

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Report Shows That Immigration Narratives on TV Are Latinx-Focused and Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives on TV Are Latinx-Focused and Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

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Kamala Harris Pledges That, If Elected, She and Joe Biden Would Decriminalize Marijuana Use

Things That Matter

Kamala Harris Pledges That, If Elected, She and Joe Biden Would Decriminalize Marijuana Use

On Monday, Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris vowed that a Biden-Harris administration would “decriminalize” the use of marijuana.

“Under a Biden-Harris administration, we will decriminalize the use of marijuana and automatically expunge all marijuana-use convictions, and end incarceration for drug use alone,” Harris said during a Facebook Live virtual round-table.

“We need to deal with the system, and there needs to be significant change in the design of the system,” she continued.

The decriminalization of marijuana would be a boon for cannabis-rights activists who have long said that marijuana’s potential health risks “pale in comparison” to the harm that criminalization has done to communities of color in America.

We’ve known for a while that the U.S.’s drug policies disproportionately affect people of color. While the stats suggest that Americans across all demographics use marijuana at roughly the same rate, Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be arrested and charged for possession.

For example, in New York City in 2017, the NYPD arrested 17,000 people for marijuana-related offenses. 86% of those were Black or Latino.

via Getty Images

Historically, politicians on both the left and the right haven’t done much to fix this disparity. Although both Republicans and Democrats were responsible for the largely ineffective “War On Drugs” policies of the ’90s that left a large number of people of color incarcerated, the Dems have recently changed their tune.

In the ’90s, there was an erroneous belief that marijuana was a “gateway” drug to harder, more destructive drugs, like crack-cocaine. Cracking down on marijuana possession was seen as a preventative tactic to keep people from trying crack.

The decriminalization of marijuana would be a marked change for Biden in particular who has held quite stringent anti-marijuana positions throughout his career.

“The school of thought was that we had to do everything we could to dissuade the use of crack cocaine,” Biden said in 2008 Senate hearing. “And so I am part of the problem that I have been trying to solve since then.”

This falls in line with what Senator Harris’s policy stances have been of late. She recently spear-headed a bill called the MORE Act that, if passed according to Politico, would “remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and erase some cannabis criminal records”.

It’s worth noting that there is a marked distinction between the decriminalization of marijuana vs its legalization.

via Getty Images

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, decriminalization means “no arrest, prison time, or criminal record for the first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption”. In essence, a marijuana-related offense would be treated similarly to a traffic violation.

Legalization, on the other hand, would mean a federal policy that “supports a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers can buy marijuana for personal use from a safe legal source.”

Whether it’s decriminalization or legalization, one thing’s for sure: the data shows that hyper-punitive laws towards cannabis possession has done the American people more harm than good. Especially in communities of color.

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