Things That Matter

Dear Mike Huckabee: When Did You Decide To Turn From God’s Light Towards Hateful Darkness?

Dear Former Governor Mike Huckabee:

I know I’m not alone when I say I am deeply disappointed by your racist tweet featuring MS-13 gang members. Before you go on dismissing me for using the “R” word, that big, bad label us liberals give to people we “disagree” with, I need to tell you the basis for my very careful choosing of that word, so that we may both learn something from this experience.

Your tweet depicting a group of gang members as “Nancy Pelosi’s campaign committee to take back the house” was intended to paint her as a gang sympathizer. There’s no doubt about your intentions. You must have known how this would look to your base. You were attempting to paint someone who is a leader of a party advocating for the rights of immigrants who deserve due process and basic human rights as a being soft on crime. Even before the 2016 presidential campaigns, you and other in the Republican party have equated immigrants to criminals. President Trump is included in the class of Republican politicians demonizing hardworking immigrants for minuscule political gains.

What you refuse to acknowledge in doing this is the many Latinx Americans who are painted in a negative light because of your fear mongering. Those of us of Latin American heritage have continuously been flagged by leaders of your party as “rapists,” “criminals” and “animals.” It is no wonder then, that so many Americans are now open to the idea of putting immigrant children in cages. Those are the confines to which (dangerous) animals belong.

I know many of your ilk are quick to distinguish yourselves as not being racist. When you make racist remarks, jokes, or generalizations, you quickly point out that aren’t talking about “us.” You certainly don’t want to ostracize any potential voting block, no matter their skin color. But, you are talking about us.

Governor Huckabee, I’m an American daughter of a Mexican immigrant father and a Mexican-American mother. I was born in Texas and was educated in Ohio. I have lived among upper-class white people my whole life. I am familiar with the defense “Oh, I didn’t mean you” when defending a joke or a controversially demeaning stance on immigrants, especially those of us from Latin American countries. This has been my whole life. As a white looking, American-educated woman of Mexican descent, I have privilege that isn’t afforded many of my Latinx brothers and sisters. It’s always assumed in my presence that people with your philosophy are in safe standing when airing your viewpoints. I can assure you, that this is not the case.

No one you encounter is fine with this casual racism, no matter how well you think you know them. Anyone you work with, share dinner with, or meet at campaign events, who is a member of any marginalized group, is exhausted with being told we are the exception to your unwitting hatred. We are all offended. We’ve just gotten so used to being offended that many of us swallow our true opinions at the risk of being viewed as “uncivil.” We ought not be compared to animals, after all. And of course, you’ll find those rare exceptions, who will gladly go along with the joke, or make themselves a case for how they are different. Perhaps their parent was a refugee in the 1950’s, but that’s ok because it was a different time. They will side with you, making a case that there are those from “el otro lado” who have no place here with real Americans. Those people are the saddest among us. They are so terrified and in need of ensuring their survival, that they will sever any source of empathy, and reject the instinct to identify with their ancestors.

We are living in sad times. I know it hurt your feelings when your daughter was lambasted at the White House Correspondents dinner, and when she was refused service at the Red Hen. I wonder, as a parent, if you are able to feel empathy for your own daughter (and she for her children). How exhausting it must be to reject empathy towards all people different than you. To reject the sights and sounds of caged children, to continuously tell yourself it’s for their own good. How difficult and sad it must be to distance yourself from God himself, by inspiring fear in others. How terrifying and lonely it must feel to have the ability to love but to be suppressing every instinct thus in order to perpetuate hate. As the book of John (2:9) tells us “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.”

I want you to know, as a Mexican-American, whose relatives have fought in wars for the United States, and contributed as business owners, mothers and therapists, you are hurting us. When you attempt to make the distinction of “I didn’t mean you” to any one of us, please know that’s not good enough.

Racism is uttered in the very attempt to defend your ignorance. I’m telling you now so that you can see the error of your ways. You were a reverend, isn’t that right? Do you believe that you are following God, even today? Because I’d argue that God’s way isn’t separation, and name-calling, and painting whole swaths of people with one demeaning stroke. You know this to be true in your heart, sir. As a father, I’d have to assume you see the damage you’re doing to God’s children. “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)

But, perhaps I’m being too idealistic.

Perhaps your brand of empathy only extends to your own children, wife, community, or, narrower perhaps, your political party, which you place before God and country. Perhaps you can’t be swayed by “civility,” which many in the Republican party have called for since Americans voiced outrage at the caging of innocent migrant children. Let the broken hearts of the citizens of this nation remind you of how to lead with love.

What I want to tell you, if you read this, is that we are already here, sharing the same country. No matter the language or tactics you use to stir hate and fear in white America with the threat of being “infested” or “invaded”, as your leader says, we are here. We walk among you and with you. We and the refugees from other nations deserve to be seen as human beings. If you cannot do this, I fear your heart will continue to plunge into the darkness you have begun to embrace.

As much as terrorists and gang members from other countries pose a threat to our nation, the seeds of hate you aid in planting do the same. Fear leads to hate, which leads to alienation, and ultimately violence. The same kind of hate and fear that led to the attack on protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. I implore you to turn away from the darkness and lead the way into the light.

Do not shirk the American or Christian tenants of due process, fair treatment, and loving of your neighbor (Galatians 5:14). God, and your Twitter followers, are watching.

Sincerely,

Sara Alvarez Kleinsmith

Rihanna Revealed A Childhood Experience That She Says Connects Her To Mexican Migrants In The U.S.

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Rihanna Revealed A Childhood Experience That She Says Connects Her To Mexican Migrants In The U.S.

Badgirlriri / Instagram

Rihanna has never been afraid to speak her mind. She’s a woman who speaks up for issues she cares about and people listen to her. That’s why so many love her – present company included.

The ‘Umbrella’ singer, how has been kind of off the musical radar as of late, spoke out in a new interview with British Vogue and she had a few things to say about her upcoming music, where she’s been living, and her relationship with migrant communities.

Rihanna continues to use her platform and reach of over 200 million followers across social media to bring awareness to social issues that are important to her.

Credit: Chesnot / WireImage

In an interview with Vogue, the creator of “Fenty Beauty” explained feeling empathy with Mexicans and Latinos who are discriminated against in the United States, since she says that she knows how it feels to be on the end of discriminatory policies.

“The Guyanese are like the Mexicans of Barbados,” she said. “So I identify—and that’s why I really relate and empathize with Mexican people or Latino people, who are discriminated against in America. I know what it feels like to have the immigration come into your home in the middle of the night and drag people out.”

Similarly, she recalled the times in which she suffered and the difficulties her and mother experienced when they emigrated from Barbados.

Credit: badgirlriri / Instagram

Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in St. Michael, Barbados to a Guyanese mother and Barbadian father.

In the Vogue interview, she added: “Let’s say I know what that fight is like. I have witnessed it, I have been there. I think I was eight years old when I had to live that in the middle of the night. So I know how daunting it is for a child, and if my father had been dragged out of my house, I can guarantee you that my life would have been a disaster.”

In that same Vogue interview, Rihanna confessed to something that few people outsider her inner circle even knew.

Credit: badgirlriri / Instagram

She explained that in recent years she has become a bit of a nomad, having a house in London, Paris, Barbados and Mexico, where she feels more relaxed.

“I just love Mexico. I really need to do my DNA test,” she jokingly told Afua Hirsch of Vogue. Perhaps she was an agave plant, in a past life, she pondered.

Rihanna has been vocal about immigrant rights in the past and takes great pride in her origins.

Credit: badgirlriri / Instagram

The Grammy Award winning singer and entrepreneur has very publicly thrown shade at President Trump over his cruel immigration policies.

Rihanna, who’s been appointed as the ambassador of her native country Barbados, is no stranger to political matters. She sent a cease-and-desist letter to President Donald Trump in early November after he played her music at one of his rallies. She also rejected the opportunity to perform during the Super Bowl LIII in February 2019 out of protest for Colin Kaepernick.

Plus, in an interview with The Cut last year about the word ‘immigrant’, she said: “For me, it’s a prideful word. To know that you can come from humble beginnings and just take over whatever you want to, dominate at whatever you put your mind to. The world becomes your oyster, and there’s no limit. Wherever I go, except for Barbados, I’m an immigrant. I think people forget that a lot of times.”

Iranians Are Being Questioned And Detained By US Border Patrol In What Appears To Be Racial Profiling

Things That Matter

Iranians Are Being Questioned And Detained By US Border Patrol In What Appears To Be Racial Profiling

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Iranian-Americans were held by U.S. immigration agents at the Canadian border over the weekend, following escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Traveling Iranian Americans now fear being racially profiled by Customs and Border Protection as they re-enter the county. 

CBP says they have enhanced security at ports of entry, according to NPR. Homeland Security is also on high alert as Iran’s leaders vowed they would retaliate for the U.S. airstrike that killed the military leader Qassem Soleimani. The country kept its promise yesterday when it fired over a dozen ballistic missiles at American bases in Iraq. 

Today President Donald Trump announced an increase in sanctions on Iran, rather than using military force (right now), as a response. 

Iranian Americans pay the price for U.S. conflicts in the middle east.

Roughly 200 Iranian Americans were held for up to 12 hours at the Peace Arch Border Crossing last weekend. 

“I’ve heard from people who are saying they’re going to cancel their vacations,” said Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council in Washington, D.C., told NPR. “They had planned to travel abroad or, you know, leave the country for spring break. And people are already saying we’re going to cancel those trips because we don’t know what we’re supposed to do.”

Travelers were detained and questioned, while some were denied re-entry into the U.S. The New York Times reported that a detained Iranian family told Masih Fouladi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), that an agent told them: “This is a bad time to be an Iranian.” 

“Those detained reported that their passports were confiscated and they were questioned about their political views and allegiances. CBP officials contacted at the Blaine Port of Entry provided no comment or reasons for the detentions,” Fouladi said in a statement. “We are working to verify reports of a broad nationwide directive to detain Iranian-Americans at ports of entry so that we can provide community members with accurate travel guidance.” 

CBP denies that Iranian Americans were held and questioned at all. 

“Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false,” said Matt Leas, a spokesperson for CBP. 

CBP instead claims that security has increased at ports of entry overall and that processing times at some ports had increased due to the holiday seasons. According to the New York Times, border officers are not allowed to refer someone to a secondary screening based on their national origin alone, but it is one of many factors. In fact, agents may place extra emphasis on the country of origin if it is one that can pose an alleged national security threat. 

“If you were an Iranian citizen returning from the British Columbia, you would be sent to secondary as a result of the increased tension with that country,” Girl Kerlikowske, former commissioner of CBP, told the paper. “It wouldn’t be the main factor in many cases, but certainly in this particular instance the country of origin would be the determining factor.”

While CBP denied any wrongdoing, immigrants’ rights advocates and attorneys begged to differ. Representative Pramila Jayapal and Representative Adam Smith expressed their concerns about the matter. 

“Let me be clear: Instituting xenophobic, shameful and unconstitutional policies that discriminate against innocent people, trample over basic civil rights, and put fear in the hearts of millions do not make us safer,” Jayapal said in a statement.

Many feel the treatment of Iranians is mimicking the circumstances that eventually led to Japanese internment during World War II. 

The kind of racial targeting evokes the same sense of American racial paranoia that resulted in Japanese internment and rampant Islamophobia following the September 11, 2001 attack of the world trade center. 

“It doesn’t make any sense, because these are individuals who are U.S. citizens and don’t have any individualized suspicion associated with them, other than the fact that they’re Iranian or of Iranian heritage,” Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project’s Seattle office, told Politico. “What’s clear is that they are being targeted for the secondary inspection because of their Iranian background, and there must be some kind of directive” to CBP officers to pull them over, he added.

Attorneys say detained Iranians were questioned about where they traveled in recent years, their work and education history, and were asked if they had family in the Iranian military. Iranian American historian John Ghazvinian was one of the 200 who was taken in for secondary questioning when he landed in JFK. 

“Well, just landed at JFK and — no surprise — got taken to the special side room and got asked (among other things) how I feel about the situation with Iran,” Ghazvinian wrote in a tweet. “I wanted to be like: my book comes out in September, preorder now on amazon.”