The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Advisory Board
Over the last several weeks the Advisory Board for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario provided reasons for all voters, particularly the Latinx community, to register and vote in the election November 3. Several local and statewide ballot candidates and issues necessitate voting, as do races for Senator and U.S. President. Among other issues, we addressed the Trump administration separating families at the border and putting our children in cages; the attacks against our DACA recipients and students; and the decline in U.S. international rankings including because of discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities.
Below we raise in brief more reasons for the Latina/o community to Get Out the Vote for Biden/Harris and Hickenlooper.
How Do You Like Your Jaime Cuervo/Jim Crow Now?
The Post-Reconstruction period in the U.S. South saw the introduction of Jim Crow laws legalizing segregation, including intimidation of African Americans to prevent them from voting. These tactics included requiring them to take bogus I.Q. “tests” such as counting the number of jelly beans in a jar, paying a “poll tax,” or citing arcane facts. In many cases this included physical harm and, in some instances, the deaths of Southern Blacks who dared practice their right to vote.
While Jim Crow laws were legally overturned with legislation including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and subsequent actions by the Department of Justice, the past decade has seen the de-scaffolding of these protections. Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013) scuttled two provisions of the Act which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices (Wikipedia, 2020).
The Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 decision, ruled Section 4(b) exceeded the “principles of federalism and the requirements of disparate treatments [which were] based on 40-year old facts that have no logical relationship to the present day” (Shelby County v. Holder, 2013). Yet today in Trump’s America we are witnessing resurgence of Jim Crow practices.
Two types of intimidation practices have emerged. First is the action of two southern states, Texas and Georgia, where the governors reduced the number of polling sites as part of their attempt to ensure supposed “voting security.” In Texas, for example, voting sites have been removed from predominantly ethnic minority (Hispanic/Latinx) communities. There is only one voting site per county, making voting more difficult for those communities.
Second is a tactic of thuggery. President Trump has exhorted his followers to patrol polling sites “to ensure the legitimacy of the votes.” The impact has been that militia members, in Michigan and other states, have stated they will “hang around” polling sites in an attempt to intimidate voters, especially in Democrat-leaning districts.
The result is a 21st century version of Jim Crow, in the South and the North, which the President and his followers have attempted to install. The term “eating crow” refers to humiliation after being proven wrong after a strong position. We have a choice: Reintroduce Jim Crow or have the voter suppressors eat crow. How do you like your crow now?
U.S. Supreme Court
President Donald Trump recently nominated his third Supreme Court Justice, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative. To understand the implication of this appointment we must first appreciate the enormous power the Supreme Court has and how it affects our day-to-day lives. The Founding Fathers had incredible wisdom and an understanding of humanity and our thirst for power and the inevitable abuse of that power.
With great insight they created a new Government with three branches: Executive (President of the United States); Legislative (House of Representatives and Senate); and Judicial (Supreme Court). The three branches of government served as checks and balances on each other.
It is apparent that President Trump has trampled over our Constitution, with the help of the Republican Party. Under the Trump Administration there have been no checks and balances, only chaos. The framers of the U.S. Constitution are literally turning over in their graves.
President Trump has no ideology or understanding of the American people. He is a narcissist, with supporters like Senator Cory Gardner, who is complicit in fostering the great division and dissention in our country, and history will take notice. Senator Gardner will cast his vote in favor of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to tilt the balance of power to a more conservative Supreme Court. The implications of Judge Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court are immense:
-Millions of Americans can lose their health care during the Coronavirus epidemic.
-A woman’s right to choose—Roe v. Wade—could be reversed.
-LGBTQ rights, with the progress over the last 50 years, will be eroded.
-Trump will build his political platform with more hateful rhetoric against immigrants.
-Erosion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and voter suppression of People of Color.
-Affirmative Action will be shelved, with reverse discrimination cases on the docket.
It is imperative to muster every vote and elect VP Joe Biden as President and Governor John Hickenlooper as Senator. Join us in this campaign for change. Your vote is the respect you give to those who fought and died for this right.
Latinos’ Battle with COVID-19
It is well documented that the Coronavirus is a major threat to the overall U.S. economy with a disproportionate effect on Latinos. Nationally, the Pew Research Center states median incomes have dipped as Latinos struggle to maintain a decent living. Many Latinos are essential workers that include farm workers; leisure, hospitality and service industries; restaurant personnel; factory and garment industries; and packing house workers. Other essential jobs include nonprofit and public sector servants that form a crucial part of the labor force fighting the virus. Pew’s analyses indicate Latinos are overwhelmed by the threat of COVID-19 and agonize over how they will survive as América heads toward a deeper recession.
The Pew Research Center states, “Latinos’ concerns are more pronounced than those of the wider public. About two-thirds (65%) of Latino adults say the coronavirus outbreak is a major threat to the health of the U.S. population as a whole, compared with about half (47%) of the general public. More Latinos than Americans overall say the outbreak is a major threat to their personal financial situation (50% vs. 34%), day-to-day life in their local community (49% vs. 36%), and their personal health (39% vs. 27%).”
Jessica Seaman, Denver Post reporter, writes that Colorado’s battles mirror those nationally. She states, “Hispanic Coloradans make up about 24% of the 1,627 COVID-19 deaths, despite them representing 21.69% of the state population….The reason for the higher rates of deaths has been attributed to the fact that people of color make up a larger share of essential jobs. Blacks and Latinos are also more likely to have health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease, that make people more at risk for complications from COVID-19” (Denver Post, 10/19/2020). Seaman stated from one of her conversations with Karla Gonzalez, policy director for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, “We are talking about this whole entire system that has set up our communities to literally die…And we have felt this for a long time.”
Psychological and emotional responses to the pandemic that affect entire Latino families include high levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Persistent issues in Latino communities such as police brutality, racism, and economic discrimination are always present and add fuel to the fire. Lack of affordable insurance, coupled with fear of deportation for some, are persistent barriers for community residents as they remain apprehensive in accessing community services.
Education for Our Community
Latinos have made significant gains in education over the last several years, in Colorado and nationally. Latino high school completion has increased significantly, with dropout rates for Latino males decreasing from 25% in 2007 to 10% in 2016. Such gains are shown in “Latinos in Higher Education: Compilation of Fast Facts,” by the Washington, D.C. agency Excelencia in Education. Latinas (women) have made impressive gains, representing 58% of Latina/o enrollment in higher education by 2016. According to Excelencia, “Latino males saw higher increases in baccalaureate degrees in the last 10 years than other males. Between 2007 and 2016, Latino males increased baccalaureate degree attainment by 108%, compared to African American (41%), Asian (33%), and White (9%) males.” Such progress is a tribute to the Latina/o students, their families, and our community advocacy over the years for education.
However, we face severe challenges. The Inside Higher Education article, “ACT and SAT Scores Drop,” reveals that for all students who took the exams, “Average ACT composite scores declined this year from 20.7 to 20.6—the lowest level in 10 years” (October 15, 2020). For ACT scores, Latinx scores declined from 18.8 in 2018, to 18.7 in 2019, to 18.5 in 2020. “Half of underserved students (low-income, minority and/or first-generation college students) met none of the four benchmarks.” SAT scores showed similar declines, from 1059 in 2019, to 1051 in 2020, but for Latinx students, a current composite of 969, a grim 135 points below Whites.
In Colorado, many educators have praised the bill HB19-1192, passed by the State Legislature and signed by Governor Polis in 2019. It calls for the “inclusion of matters relating to American minorities in the teaching of social contributions in civil government in public schools… to include the history, culture, and social contributions of American Indians, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans” in public schools in K-12. Our community must ensure this bill realizes its potential. However, it is threatened by such directives as President Trump’s September 22, 2020 “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.” Contrary to its wholesome-sounding name, this Executive Order rides on combatting “offensive and anti-American” depictions in education about the racial and ethnic minorities have had to endure. It could endanger teaching of such history as slavery, the brutality and violence against Native Americans including Colorado’s Sand Creek Massacre, and “redlining” and resultant segregation. Our true history could be considered anti-American.
We the Advisory Board for The Weekly Issue/El Semanario are not only deeply concerned but also fervently optimistic about our community’s future and that of our country. To advance further, we ask you to join us in voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for President and Vice President and John Hickenlooper for U.S. Senate (Colorado).
Members of The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Advisory Board: Ramón Del Castillo, Ph.D.; Ray Ayón, retired Denver Police Detective; Steve Del Castillo, Ph.D.; and Luis Torres, Ph.D.
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