Things That Matter

A Group Of White Supremacist Unwittingly Raised More Than $36,000 To Help Undocumented People

White supremacists might be getting louder and mobilizing in larger numbers, but they’re not getting any smarter. On August 17, the alt-right group called the Proud Boys organized another rally, misleadingly called “End Domestic Terrorism” in the streets of downtown Portland, Oregon. Before “End Domestic Terrorism,” the last time the Proud Boys organized a “rally,” it turned into an outright brawl with Antifa (a left-wing Anti-Fascist group). So when the Proud Boys announced their follow-up August 17 rally as an attempt to bait and classify Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization, Portland police prepared by spending $2 million on preventative security measures. 

Meanwhile, Popular Mobilization (PopMob), a Portland-based coalition of anti-fascist groups, decided they would prepare by soliciting donations to help fight deportation based on the number of white supremacists who show up to the rally.

By showing up to their own rally, white supremacists raised $36,017.69 for undocumented immigrants thanks to the quick thinking of Popular Mobilization.

Credit: @letsgomathias / Twitter

PopMob said that donations “flooded in from all over the country, and even as far away as the UK, ranging from two cents to five dollars a fascist.” At 300 fascists, that means people donated between $6 to $1,500 each. PopMob said its fundraiser was “in direct opposition to the anti-immigration rhetoric of the far-right and the current administration that emboldens them, showcasing the resilience and strength of a community coming together against hate.” 

All the donations went to Causa, a Portland-based Latino Rights organization that helps defend undocumented people in deportation proceedings.

Credit: Causa Oregon / Facebook

Causa works to improve the lives of Latino immigrants and their families in Oregon through advocacy, coalition building, leadership development, and civic engagement. They call themselves “Oregon’s Latino immigrant rights organization,” and they’ve earned the name for all the work they do to coordinate legal representation for undocumented people. Their mission is “to create a world where all people have the opportunities and resources needed to thrive.”

That means that every fascist who showed up personally raised $120 to help fight the deportation of the very people they protest.

Credit: @QuotesGavin / Twitter

The founder of Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes, was legally advised to step down from his post after his involvement in the Charlottesville, Virginia “Unite the Right” rally that left one counter-protester dead. McInnes spends his podcast air time dehumanizing immigrants.

“It’s such a rape culture with these immigrants, I don’t even think these women see it as rape. They see it as just like having a teeth [sic] pulled. ‘It’s a Monday. I don’t really enjoy it,’ but that’s what you do,” Gavin McInnes said on Get Off My Lawn. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t have the same trauma as it would for a middle-class white girl in the suburbs because it’s so entrenched into their culture.”

Some Latinos were scared to even go to work on the day of the rally.

Credit; @ThisisHans / Twitter

Thankfully, Portland police tricked the Proud Boys into crossing a bridge and then barricading it to put an entire body of water between the two sides. Officers confiscated several weapons on the day of the event, and wouldn’t allow flag poles in the crowd for fear of it being weaponized.

PopMob’s counter-protest fundraiser was inspired by the residents of Wunsiedel, Germany.

Credit: @ER_Bayern / Twitter

Neo-Nazis had been marching through their town every November for years. Usually, the town ignores the haters. Last November, the town flooded the streets to mockingly cheer the Neo-Nazis on. That’s because the town had pledged to donate ten euros for ever meter the Neo-Nazis marched to EXIT Deutschland, an anti-Nazi organization that helps folks escape white supremacist organizations. By the time the Neo-Nazis crossed the finish line, they were dazed and confused by the cheering, and the cheerful banner that notified them that, by marching, they had donated 10,000 euros to EXIT Deutschland.

You can participate in the cause and make a donation for every white supremacist who attended the alt-right rally.

Credit: @exitdeutschland / Twitter

This is the kind of counter-protest that might actually prevent future white supremacist rallies. If the Proud Boys know that, next time they show up in Portland, their presence might help even one undocumented person stay in the US of A, they might reconsider. Might as well put their presence to some good.

In the words of PopMob’s fundraiser itself, “Let’s take their hate and use it to fundraise for Causa so they can protect more immigrant families. Together we can build an Oregon that welcomes ALL Oregonians!”

READ: An Alleged White Supremacist Took The Life Of 6-Year-Old Steven Romero At California’s Garlic Festival And Our Hearts Ache

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

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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.”

Twenty Years Ago The US Sided With Fidel Castro To Send Back Elián Gonzales, Here’s Why His Story Still Matters Today

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Twenty Years Ago The US Sided With Fidel Castro To Send Back Elián Gonzales, Here’s Why His Story Still Matters Today

Associated Press

About 20 years ago, 5-year-old Elián Gonazalez arrived three miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale from Cuba, on a makeshift raft, in search of his relatives in the states and a better life. Gonzalez’s survival through the arduous waters that would drown his mother and a dozen others along the way, might have been the media’s narrative in a different circumstance. 

The 5-year-old would soon become embroiled in an international custody battle. Did Gonzalez belong back in Cuba with his father or in Miami’s Little Havana with his uncle which many believed was his mother’s dying wish? 

The communist leader of Cuba at the time Fidel Castro wanted him back — and although the U.S. government initially placed the boy with his Cuban-exile relatives, they would eventually side with the dictator

Elián Gonzalez arrived in Florida in 1999 over Thanksgiving weekend.

Up until 2017, the United States had a “wet feet, dry feet,” policy with regards to Cuban migrants — all were welcome. The policy from 1966 allowed anyone who entered the United States territorial waters from Cuba, legally or illegally, to reside. It was revised in 1995 by the Clinton administration so that any Cubans retrieved in the territorial waters would be sent back, but if they made it onto dry land they would be allowed to stay. 

Gonzalez was found by South Florida fisherman in 1999 over Thanksgiving weekend. The 5-year-old was welcomed by the anti-communist community of Cuban exiles. The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service placed Gonzalez with his paternal relatives who lived in Miami and wanted to raise him, however, his father in Cuba demanded his son be returned.

 Under the “wet feet, dry feet” policy, Gonzalez would have to petition for asylum because he was discovered before touching dry land. This small detail would cause a six-month, international legal battle and shift the way many Florida Cubans perceive American politics. 

Courts decide to send Gonzalez back to Cuba. 

While Cuban demonstrators and empathetic Americans supported the stay of Gonzalez — the governmental powers that be were building a case that suggested otherwise. A Florida family court granted custody to Gonzalez’s great uncle in Miami. However, INS had the superior authority to decide that his real legal guardian was his father in Cuba. Had the boy’s mother survived, things might have turned out differently. 

On March 21, District Court Judge Kevin Michael Moore of Southern Florida ruled that only a legal guardian can petition for asylum on behalf of a minor. But on April 19, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that Gonzalez could stay until his family could file an appeal. When government negotiations failed with the family, more extreme measures were taken to retrieve the boy.

On April 22, 2000, on orders from Attorney General Janet Reno, armed government officials raided Gonzalez’s home with guns and tear gas. A photo showing a crying 5-year-old Gonzalez with a large gun pointed to his face would later win the Pulitzer Prize. 

Gonzalez was safely repatriated back to Cuba.

The Gonzalez decision may have affected the outcome of the 2000 election.

Following the Clinton administration, the 2000 election was a turning point in American politics. Many Cubans felt alienated by the Gonzalez decision, and thus, walked away from the Democratic party altogether. 

“It was humiliating to Cuban-Americans, and the 2000 election was payback,” Miami pollster Sergio Bendixen told the Atlantic in 20001.

Republican George W. Bush won by 537 votes during a messy (and possibly corrupt) recount of the 6 million votes cast in Florida, beating out Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore. Known as “el voto castigo,” Gore received only 20 percent of the Cuban vote in Florida, compared to Bill Clinton’s 35 percent in 1996. Thus, 80 percent of Cuban American voters chose Bush over Gore — which should be a lesson to both parties trying to build Latinx coalition. 

Bush would go on to start the endless war in Iraq, utilize Islamophobic rhetoric in the wake of 9/11, trigger one of the worst recessions, and until recently, was considered the worst president in U.S. history. Gore would go on to warn us about climate change decades before the discourse entered the national conversation. 

What has become of Elián Gonzalez today? 

Gonzalez, in his 20s, is now a communist and staunch supporter of the Cuban Revolution. He was welcomed with a celebration upon his deportation. On his seventh birthday, Fidel Castro himself attended his birthday party. 

Whether Gonzalez is on the right side of history is beside the point because the 5-year-old boy could not have become who he is today without instigation by the United States. Communist-sympathizer or not — he was correct about one thing: 

“Just like her [his mother], many others have died attempting to go to the United States. But it’s the US government’s fault,” Gonzalez told CNN in 2013. “Their unjust embargo provokes an internal and critical economic situation in Cuba.”