Things That Matter

The Latino Community Overlaps With Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Identity And We Need To Support That Community

Many of us have rallied behind the youngest Latina ever to be elected to Congress. We’ve lambasted critics who pick apart what car her tía drives, what lipstick she wears, and her Spanish accent. Supporting strong women of color in politics does matter because they are under far more scrutiny than any other politician whose views might align with our own.

For Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, the magnifying glass is arguably worse than for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While Ilhan Omar’s ideology is most closely similar to AOC than of any other Congressperson to date, Omar is receiving death threats on a daily basis.

To fight against systemic oppression and racism towards Latinos and to ignore the Islamophobia and racism facing Rep. Ilhan Omar would be hypocritical.

CREDIT: @chadloder / Twitter

That’s why AOC supporters should stand with Rep. Ilhan Omar. Here are some reasons why the first Somali-American woman in Congress needs the support of other communities under fire by the current administration.

Her primary offense is that she’s a strong, black Muslim woman in Congress.

CREDIT: @MPower_Change / Twitter

Omar is the first refugee to be elected to Congress and she’s working to combat systemic Islamophobia in this country. Her campaign path to election rode on tearing down Trump’s Muslim ban. She’s not loved by the GOP.

During a speech, Omar defended her religion against the nationwide presumption that an entire religion is responsible for the actions of extremists.

CREDIT: @realdonaldtrump / Twitter

She was speaking to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), when she said, “Far too long we [Muslims] have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it.”

The horrible thing Omar said was that “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

Then, The New York Post published this on their front page:

CREDIT: @seanhannity / Twitter

Fox News personality Sean Hannity tweeted it out, as a means to persuade the public that Rep. Omar was downplaying the tragedy of 9/11. Conservative outlets are trying to tout that Omar doesn’t consider the event a terrorist attack. 🤔

Then, the President of the United States tweeted out this:

CREDIT: @realdonaldtrump / Twitter

It was a video stitched together of Omar saying “some people did something” with horrific footage of 9/11, along with the caption, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!”

“Since the President’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the President’s video.”

CREDIT: @ScottDAngelo / Twitter

One man has been arrested for a credible death threat to the Congresswoman and hundreds of Twitter users have directly tweeted unspeakable threats to her. The Anaheim chapter of CAIR has also since received a bomb threat.

Several Democrats have rejected Omar’s financial contributions to their campaigns.

CREDIT: @lucymcbath / Twitter

Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath rejected a $2,000 donation that was made on March 27. North Carolina’s 9th congressional district candidate Dan McCready even refunded $2,000 to Omar because of her “divisiveness.”

Some Twitter users noted that they wouldn’t be supporting McBath or McCready’s campaigns any longer.

The New York Times has published several pieces against the Congresswoman.

CREDIT: @tomscocca / Twitter

She got into some trouble in February for saying “money talks” in regards to the U.S.’s favor of the state of Israel in regards to its occupation of Palestine.

Rep. Omar’s supporters are calling out her critics.

CREDIT: @tomscocca / Twitter

The New York Times opinion piece entirely misquoted Omar as an effort to bring her down with one clause in a sentence. Critics are tweeting things like, “Ilhan Omar becomes the first Congressperson to refer to 9/11 as ‘some people did something.’ Unbelievable.”

The double standard for a black Muslim woman versus a rich, white male celebrity is appalling.

CREDIT: @RyanHillMI / Twitter

The country is in an uproar over Ilhan saying “some people did something” when POTUS called Charlottesville Nazis “some very fine people.” We cannot forget that the president of the United States also called himself a proud nationalist.

Minnesotans are rallying together to show their support for the Congresswoman.

CREDIT: @OrganizingWomen / Twitter

The attacks she’s experienced by the right are completely disproportional to what she has said, especially given the rhetoric of the president, who has sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Many feel this is just another example of how strong women of color are overly criticized.

AOC tweeted out this reminder for us all to support Omar:

CREDIT: @AOC / Twitter

If we, as Latinos, don’t come through to support Omar as she faces dog whistle racist remarks from our President, then how can we expect any non-Latinos to speak out against putting brown children in cages?

Omar is a living, breathing example of how Islamophobia derides any effort for Muslims to regain first-class citizen status.

Omar was simply speaking to her experience with unjustified islamophobia.

CREDIT: @AOC / Twitter

Nobody will ever forget what happened on September 11, 2001. It’s a tragedy has become part of our collective American consciousness.

There’s no question that America wrongly turned to our fellow Muslim Americans with suspicion and even violent hatred. Media began this islamophobic stereotype that Muslim values cannot align with American values and that Muslims are inherently un-American.

Democratic Presidential Candidate Julián Castro has publicly sided with Omar.

CREDIT: @juliancastro / Twitter

In a tweet, Castro firmly spoke out against Omar’s attackers:

“I am grateful for @IlhanMN‘s courage and leadership and I stand with her – and with others targeted by the President’s anti-Muslim rhetoric.”

“It is not anti-Semitic to be critical of a right-wing government in Israel.”

CREDIT: @DemSocialists / Twitter

During the #BernieTownHall on Fox News, Democratic Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, defended Ilhan against the incessant attacks she’s received in her short term. Bernie Sanders has cracked open the taboo subject of Israeli President Netanyahu’s occupation of Palestine by telling Intercept that he would cut US aid to Israel if the injustice continued.

An entire Presidential candidate is proof that you can be Jewish and stand with Omar.

CREDIT: @BernieSanders / Twitter

Trump has no qualms about his tweet. He told reporters that Omar has “a way about her that’s very, very bad, I think, for our country. She’s extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful to our country.”

If that’s not a dog whistle we don’t know what is.

Jewish organizations have voiced their support for Omar.

CREDIT: @jewishaction / Twitter

We are all entitled to speak about our experience of racism and fight to change the status quo. All this has prompted tweets like this one from POTUS:

“Before Nancy, who has lost all control of Congress and is getting nothing done, decides to defend her leader, Rep. Omar, she should look at the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and ungrateful U.S. HATE statements Omar has made. She is out of control, except for her control of Nancy!”

Amidst all this, Omar has officially introduced the No Ban Act to Congress.

CREDIT: @MuslimAdvocates / Twitter

In Omar’s own words, “I ran on a promise to end the president’s hateful effort to ban a single religion from entering this country. Last week, I introduced the #NoBanAct to finally end this discrimination.”

Omar may arguably be putting her life in more danger, but won’t back down from protecting Muslims in the U.S.

CREDIT: @IlhanMN / Twitter

“This country was founded on the ideas of justice, of liberty, of the pursuit of happiness,” she tweeted. “But these core beliefs are under threat. Each and every day. We are under threat by an administration that would rather cage children than pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

We stand with you, Rep. Omar.

CREDIT: @AdalahJustice / Twitter

“I did not run for Congress to be silent. I did not run for Congress to sit on the sidelines. I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our democracy,” she tweeted.

Thank you for your service.

READ: AOC Has Made Roasting Her Twitter Trolls And Haters An Art Form And We’re Mesmerized

AOC’s Average Priced Haircut Has Set Off A Twitter Storm On The Right But She’s Clapping Back

Things That Matter

AOC’s Average Priced Haircut Has Set Off A Twitter Storm On The Right But She’s Clapping Back

AP Photos

There is a lot that offends people about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: her Green New Deal, her socialism, her dancing, her previous employment as a bar-tender, and now, apparently, her hair.

On Wednesday, a story from a conservative news outlet that shall not be named—nor linked to—attempted to manufacture outrage over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s hair salon bill: There was a reported $80 cut, $180 for lowlights, and pure speculation about a $52 tip, for a grand total of approximately $312. The message? How dare a democratic socialist—and someone in the public eye whose appearance very much matters, for better or for worse—get a haircut at market price for a major metropolis?

Other publications have subsequently seized on the invented “controversy,” even if no one seems truly mad about it except for conservative talking heads. On the contrary, much of the outrage online seems to be on AOC’s behalf—that harping on her haircut is typical sexism and hypocrisy. How quickly the right is quick to ignore Mitt Romeny’s comparably priced $70 cut back in 2011, or John Edward’s $1,250 hair bills from 2007.

But as usual there isn’t much need to come to AOC’s defense when, in fact, no one is better at crafting the perfect response to hypocrisy and nonsense than AOC herself.

According to the paper, a self-described Democratic-Socialist shouldn’t be paying fair market price for a haircut.

“The self-declared socialist, who regularly rails against the rich and complains about the cost of living inside the Beltway, spent nearly $300 on her hairdo at a pricey salon she frequents in downtown Washington…” the article began.

Many on the right were incensed that the congresswoman hadn’t paid a visit to the subsidized Capital Hill barbershop.

Others drew attention to the article’s assertion that Ocasio-Cortez “could have saved roughly $100 for the same hairstyle at the government-subsidized Capitol Hill barbershop”.

“Her high-dollar hairdo stands in stark contrast to that of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former senator from Alabama who is a regular customer at Senate Hair Care Services,” the article said.

“At that place, open to members of Congress and the public, a men’s cut runs about $20, though men’s haircuts there and everywhere else are cheaper than women’s,” the article acknowledges.

Many questioned the choice of Jeff Sessions as a model. “Damn, why didn’t AOC ask for a rec from hair icon *checks notes* Jeff Sessions?” wrote one person.

Of course, AOC had the perfect response to all this BS.

The New York congresswoman noted that if you’re mad about her $80 haircut, which, by the way, she paid for herself, you’re bound to hate vice president Mike Pence’s $600,000 limo bill from his official visit to Ireland last month, which, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Pence billed to taxpayers.

Citing State Department contracts, CREW writes that Pence racked up the steep bill because, despite meetings in Dublin, the VP elected to drive four hours away in order to stay at…you guessed it…President Trump’s golf resort in Doonbeg.

So why is AOC’s private salon bill up for debate while Pence’s public limo tab flies under the radar? Sexism. Pure and simple.

And women on Twitter defended the Congresswoman, saying the ones who should be checking their privilege in the haircare wars were men.

It’s obvious men clearly have no idea how much women were routinely charged for haircuts and colour treatments.

“Sorry, you don’t get to create beauty standards that require women to spend hundreds or thousands a year to be considered presentable and then hate us for it,” tweeted the writer Jessica Valenti.

Right now it’s her hair, but the right has come for AOC for so many different things it’s hard to keep track.

And let’s be real. Even if AOC had followed the ‘advice’ and got a $20 bowl cut, she’d still drive them crazy because she is both effective and polished – a fact that makes her feel all that more threatening to her critics.

In the past, her clothes were the “controversy,” from that from-behind photo taken without her consent and tweeted (and later deleted) to the manufactured “outrage” over the borrowed $3,000 Gabriela Hearst suit she wore, fleetingly, for a photo shoot in Interview magazine. It’s almost as if people don’t think AOC deserves to dress, and look, the part of congresswoman.

Reliably, AOC had the sharpest reply to the latest wave of attention around her appearance. “Our policies, like Medicare for All, advance prosperity for working people,” she tweeted on Thursday of Democratic socialism. As for her critics: “They’re just mad we look good doing it.” Now that’s a hair flip.

A Twenty-One Year Old Man Overslept On His First Day Of Jury Duty And Now He’s Being Sentenced To Jail And Has A Record

Things That Matter

A Twenty-One Year Old Man Overslept On His First Day Of Jury Duty And Now He’s Being Sentenced To Jail And Has A Record

screenshot | NBC Nightly News

These days, it doesn’t take much poking around to know that our country’s judicial system is problematic, troublesome and inherently racist. A few months ago, when news broke out about the college admissions scandals, those following the news knew well that the wealthy parents who took part in the scam would walk away essentially scot-free. They weren’t wrong. 

Earlier last month, on September 13th, actress Felicity Huffman, one of the most recognizable names caught up in the admissions scandal, was sentenced to just 14 days in federal prison for her involvement in a case that saw her charged for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Huffman’s case highlighted questions of inequity in our judicial system. Many were quick to point out that Huffman, like the other three dozen parents involved, were from extreme wealth and would undoubtedly be treated differently from poor or nonwhite defendants accused of admission and education fraud. For severe charges that were lobbed at white-collar crime convicts like former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and took education opportunities away from students far less privileged than her own kids, Huffman received 14 days in jail. 

Twenty-one-year-old Deandre Somerville should have been so lucky. 

The Florida man from West Palm Beach was sentenced to 10 days in jail this past week after a judge found him in criminal contempt of court after he overslept and missed the start of a trial he had been selected to serve jury duty for. At the time, Somerville looked up the repercussions online and according to NBC News said that he “didn’t really see too much there. … [It looked like] nobody actually ever really went to jail for it.”  Because of this, he did not notify the court or its jury office.

Deandre Somerville was sentenced to 10 days in jail, one year of probation and 150 hours of community service for failing to show up for jury duty.

The 21-year-old was also told to write a letter of apology to the court and pay $223 to cover court costs. Speaking about his own sentence, Somerville told NBC that he felt as if he “didn’t need any rehabilitation… I just made a mistake.”

According to Somerville, his 10 days in jail were “traumatic.” Sommerville who recently moved in with his grandparents to help care for them had never been arrested before now has a criminal record for contempt and spent his 10 days in jail amongst hardened criminals and in fear. 

The judge who gave Somerville his sentencing stemmed from his duty to represent his Black community.

Speaking at Somerville’s formal apology in court, Judge John Kastrenakes, of Fort Lauderdale Florida, said that he wanted to “make an example” out of Somerville to ensure more people do not fail to show up to jury duty. “Mr. Somerville was the only African American on our jury and represented a very important cross-section of our community.”

But people of color have long been used to “make an example,” when privileged nonpeople of color have caused greater harm and damage and gotten off easy. 

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was quick to underline this point in a recent tweet shared with her profile. 

“Mass incarceration is our American reality. It is a system whose logic evolved from the same lineage as Jim Crow, American apartheid, & slavery. To end it, we have to change. That means we need to have a real conversation about decarceration & prison abolition in this country,” she wrote in a retweet of a post shared by comedian Chelsea Handler who also lambasted the judge for his decision. 

AOC’s retweet went onto highlight in a thread the flaws of our judicial system citing a recent experience she had meeting a woman who had been sent to Rikers as a teen.” Yesterday morning I spoke with a woman who was thrown in Rikers as a teenager. Put in solitary confinement for MONTHS, aka torture. Force-fed pills. The conditions were so bad, she too had drank out of toilets. A cage is a cage is a cage. And humans don’t belong in them,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

The young Congresswoman’s thread highlights the severe punishments people of color have and continued to endure at the cost of our country’s broken prison and judicial system. Her message is a reminder that the actual point of the prison system is to rehabilitate, not punish those who are incarcerated and sent to jail or prison.