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Tone Deaf and Colorblind : The State of America

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Children restrained and detained by ICE Ross D Franklin/AP

This is America. This has always been America.

The infamous quote from James Baldwin that states “To be Black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage,” is not an exaggeration. I feel that it’s true for all persons of color in this country now. We are a nation built on a foundation of broken bodies held together with our ancestors’ shed blood as the mortar. The atrocities perpetrated against the people of the First Nations, stolen Africans, and Indigenous peoples of Mexico have led us where we are today. Yet, not once has an apology been issued or compensation been rendered for the horrors that saw families ripped apart, men broken, and women abused.

How could America even begin to repair the rift between the oppressor and the oppressed when even now families are destroyed by aggressive anti-immigration laws enacted by territorial usurpers?

 

At this moment, immigrant children are sleeping in detainment centers in cages on bare floors separated from their mothers. They are separated by age and gender, robbing many of the slight comfort having their siblings close by could bring. These children are facing neglect and abuse.

Thanks to the FOIA request by the ACLU, we now know the span of trauma immigrant detainees are up against. The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed approximately 4,600 pages of records documenting the complaints submitted by legal service providers and immigrants’ rights advocates on behalf of the children.

How could America even begin to repair the rift between the oppressor and the oppressed when even now families are destroyed by aggressive anti-immigration laws enacted by territorial usurpers? Click To Tweet

Vile Treatment

Many of the victims were seeking asylum and suffered physical, verbal, or sexual abuse from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials. While the report is truly expansive, it is imperative that we understand this may be just the tip of the iceberg. We have no idea how much has gone unreported for fear of retaliation.

In addition to the threat of physical or mental harm, the fear of never being reunited with their families looms heavy in their hearts. During the last three months of 2017, Steven Wagner, a top official within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), admitted to something heinous. The Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the DHHS, LOST 1,475 children it had placed into the homes of sponsors. How this happened is beyond the comprehension of many because of the stringent requirements and documentation necessary for sponsorship to be effective.

Sponsorship for immigrants is a legally enforceable contract, meaning the government or the sponsored immigrant can take the sponsor to court if the sponsor fails to provide acceptable support to the immigrant. An applicant must first complete an I-864, an affidavit of financial support. Defaulting on such an agreement can result in fines. With all of this at stake, the government office of DHHS insists it is not legally responsible, but if it were it would require a significant increase in funds/resources. If this were happening to anyone else in another country, the American government would be outraged.

#WhereAreTheChildren

The reality of this lapse is that it is very possible nearly 1500 children have been lost to human trafficking under the nose of the American government. An excerpt of the reports shows just what these minors could be facing.

As we wait in anger and disgust at the delay of response by Trump, many questions what actions we can take as citizens to get justice for the lost. The numbers below provide a way for us to reach beyond our borders in an effort to report or glean more information about the crisis affecting these youth.

International Human Rights Watch 212-290-4700 United Nations Human Rights 212-415-4026

 

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The Best Tributes You Didn’t See On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021

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Every year as the United States celebrates the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his lasting legacy, we see social media platforms littered with various MLK quotations, “love one another” captions, you know – the general bulls**t we all wish we didn’t have to see on an annual basis.

What we don’t see enough are actual dialogues about who MLK was and the type of radical he actually was. He was not a martyr – he died as the State turned a blind eye to the obvious plots against his life. He was not a capitalist – he died firmly abhorring capitalism. Toward the end of his life, he even grew increasingly concerned with Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.

MLK’s memory and legacy have been sanitized to make white Americans feel less guilty about their treatment of Black Americans and their complicity in white supremacy and its many atrocities. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King stated in no uncertain terms “that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice…” 

Every third Monday in January those white folks more committed to order than to justice put themselves on full display. They proudly wave their “I’m not racist!” flag in Black folks’ faces, as if we give a damn about their shallow tweet that quotes a radical they know nothing about or their vapid, over-filtered selfie on Instagram captioned by a “deep, thoughtful” Martin Luther King, Jr. quotation.

Instead of carrying on about the commercialism of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let’s take a look at a few of the best non-performative tributes the internet provided this year.

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Mob of Trump Supporters Storm U.S. Capitol, Sending Congress Into Lockdown

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On Wednesday afternoon an angry mob of Trump supporters, white supremacists, and what this website is calling “terrorists” stormed the United States Capitol as members of Congress were in session.

Earlier in the day, President Trump spoke to a crowd of several thousand at an event in Washington, D.C. called the “Save America March.” Of course, as you know, since he lost the November election to Joe Biden, he has vigorously promoted various unfounded conspiracy theories that the election was rigged and somehow stolen from him. Without a single shred of evidence to back up his claim, he rambled on in front of his supporters for over an hour, charging that he lost due to widespread voter fraud. At one point, he told the crowd:

“Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy… I think right here we’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and our congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

Shortly after the event concluded, videos flooded the internet of the mob not only attacking police, but also walking past multiple police barricades – sometimes at the invitation of police. They eventually scaled walls, smashed windows, and broke down doors as they raided the Capitol Complex. Meanwhile, Congress recessed and went into an immediate lockdown, interrupting their largely procedural vote to certify the electoral results of the 2020 presidential election.

Many Twitter users were quick to point out the glaring disparity in law enforcement’s treatment of these terrorists with their treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters last summer. As you’ll recall, Trump ordered police use tear gas and rubber bullets when clearing a crowd outside the White House all for a photo op with a Bible.

Throughout the afternoon, many around the world watched as the Capitol grounds became unrecognizable in a sea of Trump flags and other white supremacist colors. For over 4 hours, the terrorists were allowed to roam freely throughout government halls. Many proudly posed for pictures inside congressional offices, on the floors of Congress, and throughout the halls. In one video, a police officer inside a building gave a thumbs up as he posed for a selfie with a terrorist. The scenes that came out of this insurrection were jarring for many.

For over two hours following the terrorists’ rushing of the Capitol, President Trump was completely silent on the matter. As more time passed, it became apparent that he would not make any serious attempts to quell the violence unfolding in his own backyard. All Americans got was a now-deleted video posted to social media in which Trump told the mob, “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us… It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it – especially the other side. But you have to go home now… We love you. You’re very special.”

Of course the President of the United States calling armed insurrectionists “very special” lit people up. Today’s events were the last straw for many; even with only two weeks left in office, he still managed to make more enemies than he already had.

By the time police finally decided to respond, the mayor had already put a 6pm curfew in place. Despite multiple law enforcement agencies clearing the Capitol and blocking the area around it, terrorists still hung around the complex well into the evening. It wasn’t until 8pm – over 8 hours after the siege began – that Congress was able to return to counting the electoral votes (they didn’t finish the count until nearly 4am). 

When all was said and done, law enforcement made 52 arrests, safely detonated at least 2 pipe bombs found at the RNC and DNC headquarters, arrested a suspect connected to a vehicle found with firearms, ammunition, and explosives, and confirmed 4 terrorists died.

Photo Credit: Julio Cortez/AP

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Steve Bannon Arrested on Border Wall Fundraising Scheme

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Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former political adviser, and three other leaders of the“We Build the Wall” online fundraising campaign have been indicted on wire fraud and money laundering charges by federal prosecutors. 

Federal agents and officials from the United States Postal Inspection arrested Bannon while he was on a boat located off the eastern coast of Connecticut.


Bannon is expected to make his initial court appearance in New York later today, according to the US attorney’s office. Bannon’s attorney, Bill Burck, declined to comment on the matter. 

Audrey Strauss, acting Manhattan U.S attorney, issued the following statement: 

“As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction. While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle. We thank the USPIS for their partnership in investigating this case, and we remain dedicated to rooting out and prosecuting fraud wherever we find it.” 

According to the charges, Kolfage—one of the crowdfunding organizers, spent more than $350,000 of the donations on personal expenses. These expenses include a luxury SUV, a golf cart, cosmetic surgery, home renovations, jewelry, personal tax payments,  and credit card debt. 

The four individuals being charged—Bannon, Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea—are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, CNN reports

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