Things That Matter

San Francisco Becomes Largest US City To Allow Non-Citizens Voting Rights In Local Election

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San Francisco just became the largest U.S. city to allow non-citizens to vote in local races. This gives all of those who live, work, and raise their children in the Bay Area an opportunity to weigh in on the school board without requiring citizenship. In 2016, San Francisco residents voted to allow non-citizens with children in the city’s school system to vote for school board members. The city has spent about $310,000 setting up a new registry system but are already facing one major issue. At this time, only 49 non-citizens have registered to vote and that may be due to fears the of being listed on a roll that could be used to identify them by immigration services.

San Francisco is allowing more undocumented people to vote in local elections.

The program has opened up school board elections to non-citizens who are over the age of 18, city residents and have children under age 19. Now they are taking the program and allowing all undocumented residents to vote on local elections.

California has been a leader when it comes to offering opportunities to those here without papers, including providing designated driver’s licenses, college tuition breaks and child healthcare. Voting is a first in the state and many see it as a reflections of California’s huge immigrant population. San Francisco had started registering non-citizens to vote in the Nov. 6 election back in July and each voter would cost the city to about $6,300 per voter. City officials say one-third of all parents whose children are in San Francisco public schools are non-citizens.

“It will speak to that sort of sense that change is coming to the United States and that change is being done extralegally somehow,” Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science at UC Irvine, told the LA Times.

City officials hope the program gets more non-citizen parents involved but getting them to register to vote might be the hardest part.

While San Francisco is a sanctuary city, many non-citizens are concerned about having their information out in public records. Following the election of President Donald Trump, fears that signing up to vote could expose non-citizens to immigration authorities might have put a damper on the program and a big reason why only 49 have registered.

Shamann Walton, a San Francisco Unified School District commissioner, says that the low-turnout this year isn’t indicative of the success of the program and sees why many haven’t come forward to vote.

“I share the same fear [as] our undocumented residents,” Walton told the LA Times. “I don’t expect people to rush to the polls and give the federal government the opportunity to attack our city residents.”

San Francisco follows the lead of a few other cities in the U.S. where non-citizens are allowed to vote in local elections, not state or federal.

San Francisco’s move to allow non-citizens to vote has caused some backlash from conservatives that are using it as a political issue. They say it’s yet another example of California’s efforts to protect people in this country illegally from the president’s immigration crackdown. Yet several cities in Massachusetts and Chicago have already allowed at various times non-citizens to vote in local elections.


READ: People Are Reporting Their Votes Are Being Switched. Here’s How To Properly Cast Your Vote

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A San Francisco High School Is Losing A Historic Mural After Backlash Against Imagery And I Shed No Tears

Culture

A San Francisco High School Is Losing A Historic Mural After Backlash Against Imagery And I Shed No Tears

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The United States is currently undergoing a significant transformation. The division of political parties, including having a divisive president, is not helping to ease racial tensions. With so much emphasis on trying to right the wrongs of our country’s embroiled history, many are demanding the removal of several historical statues that glorify racist leaders. Though, it’s not just ending at statues. Paintings and murals depicting the cruelty of this country’s minority population are now being reevaluated with a 21st-century mindset. However, the issue isn’t as cut and dry as it seems. There are others that say doing away with these historical artifacts goes against freedom of speech. That’s the debate roiling at a San Francisco high school.

Last week, a school board in San Francisco voted to paint over a 1936 mural inside a high school that shows the mistreatment of African slaves and Native people.

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The fresco, titled “Life of Washington” is inside the walls of the diverse George Washington High School in San Francisco and it shows the early presidential years of our nation’s first president. But according to those offended by the mural, they say that it glorifies “racism, genocide, Manifest Destiny, colonization, and white supremacy,” according to the National Review.

The 13-panel mural was painted by Russian-American painter Victor Arnautoff who studied and worked under Diego Rivera.

Credit: Public Domain

Arnautoff painted several murals in the city (as did Rivera), but Arnautoff’s pieces are much controversial. As one critic noted, Arnautoff’s painting “depicts the father of our country as also being the father of a genocide later claimed by the victors as Manifest Destiny. It is a position so contrary to the national mythology of the time that I have often wondered how the artist got away with such criticism in a public space.” It seems that time has run out.

The removal of the painting will cost $600,000 to paint over it, but people who are offended by it say taking it down is worth it, regardless of the bill.

“Think of all the families, the children who have walked through there,” Joely Proudfit, professor of American Indian Studies at California State University, San Marcos, told The SF Chronicle.”What images do they see? Dead Indians to the left and African Americans to the right in bondage.”

Historic preservationists say that removing it these works of art is a violation of free speech.

Credit: @katwalkssf / Twitter

“We don’t burn great art. It is unconscionable,” Richard Walker, director of the Living New Deal Project, that is currently which is documenting art from Works Progress Administration, told The SF Chronicle.  “It’s something reactionaries do, fascists, it’s something the Nazis did, something we learned from history is not acceptable.”

The school board felt that students of color should not have to subject themselves to that kind of art.

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“Painting it over represents not only a symbolic fresh start but a real fresh start,” Mark Sanchez, vice president of the school board and a third-grade teacher, told CBS News.

However, just because they voted to remove the painting, doesn’t mean it will happen any time soon. The SF Chronicle reports that the vote to remove the mural has brought forth more trouble and will be under litigation.

San Francisco is undergoing a massive and poignant overhaul in the city that is rectifying the audacities of the past and honoring beloved artists of color.

Credit: @thehill / Twitter

Just last year, the SF Board of Supervisors voted to remove a street named after James D. Phelan, a racist 19th-century mayor and renamed it Frida Kahlo Way. California Mayor Gavin Newsom held a special event in which he apologized the Native American community for the state’s part in their population’s genocide.

“It’s called a genocide,” Newsom said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “No other way to describe it… I’m sorry on behalf of the state of California.” He added, “We can never undo the wrongs inflicted on the peoples who have lived on this land that we now call California since time immemorial, but we can work together to build bridges, tell the truth about our past and begin to heal deep wounds.”

READ: While D.C. Debates Reparations, California Governor Issues The Long Overdue Apology Indigenous People Have Long Awaited

A Majority-Latino School District Is Choosing Between Two White Women For School Board In Los Angeles

Things That Matter

A Majority-Latino School District Is Choosing Between Two White Women For School Board In Los Angeles

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Voters in LA have a little-known election on May 14 that is proving to be another case of underrepresentation of communities of color.

Board District 5 of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is having a special election to replace a former board member who resigned due to corruption charges. Voters in this runoff election will have to decide between two white candidates in a district where 8 in 10 residents are people of color and nearly 90 percent of enrolled students are Latino.

The LAUSD Board will be largely white even though most students are Latino.

The election is occurring in Board District 5 which makes up LA’s lower-income Latino-majority cities. These cities include Maywood, Huntington Park, Cudahy, and South Gate along with the rapidly gentrifying communities of Los Feliz, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, and Silver Lake.

Many voters in the district know want they want in a board member. They want someone who will make the superintendent work harder and who will visit local schools more frequently. Yet, for the heavily Latino district, many also want to see someone who looks like us sitting on the board. They want someone who better understands the needs of the community because they are from the same community.

Unfortunately, that won’t be an option in Tuesday’s election.

Board District 5 is quintessential Los Angeles.

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L.A.’s Board District 5 closely mirrors the demographics of L.A. as a whole. More than a quarter of students are classified as English learners, more than 85 percent live in low-income households, and an estimated 2,000 are homeless.

However, Board District 5 topped LAUSD as a whole last year with its graduation rate of 83 percent, compared with 76.6 percent for all other schools. One reason for the higher graduation rates could be that there are a number of community organizations and Latino advocacy groups who partner with local high schools to help students go on to college.

Latinos not being represented is nothing new in politics, even on the local L.A. level.

People are fed up and letting themselves be heard on social media. With Tuesday’s turnout expected to be low (roughly just 10-20 percent of eligible voters), it’s so important that Latinos and all people of color make their voices heard so that we can finally see ourselves represented in all levels of government.

READ: LAUSD Just Made It Harder For ICE To Walk Onto Their School Campuses

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