Employer Sanctions, Border Security is Anti-Civil Rights

By Sarah Viets

Some folks vehemently believe US borders are weak and feeble. They believe porous borders threatens American security, strains American social services, declines US wages, and fosters unemployment. Now, I can either create a counter argument for each claim, or I can change how people debate immigration.

I choose the latter. But, it's also important to address American's hearts and minds. Each of us is frustrated by the direction of our country. And each of us desperately desires an alternative to our current status quo.

But blaming immigrants for old problems confuses me. Inadequate social services, educational resources, low wages, and high unemployment are not new problems. Broken borders aren’t responsible for each specific problem.

The amount of money spent on education, roads, bridges, levees, and health care has been declining for years, a decision made by elected politicians, like mayors, city councilpersons, senators, and house of representatives. They decide what programs to fund and what departments to cut. But that's not the only reason.

When largely unionized industries, like textile and steel mills and automotive industries moved outside American borders, so did high paying jobs with health care and pensions. In it’s place, low paying American service jobs replaced industrial work. Large malls, new hotels, restaurants and large retailers filled American landscape and replaced $2,000 monthly paychecks. In other words, American employers paid minimal wages at American's expense.

In result, real wages (American's income) stayed the same while the cost of living increased. To put it another way, every time light bills, monthly food budgets and gas prices went up, American paychecks stayed the same. If bi-weekly pay stubs increased with the cost of gas, minimal wages would exceed $10.00 an hour. Even more, Americans pay more health care bills and receive shaky pension plans unparalleled to previous decades.

None of these points are new information. In fact, you probably skipped them. (I don't blame you, it's depressing).

So, complaints about new immigrants are actually fights for resources. For instance, a fight for resources argues that there aren’t enough resources to feed the entire globe. Therefore, strict border enforcement and employer sanctions are needed to fight and maintain what little resources there are.

However, while this argument is justified, why should we reserve American resources specifically for Americans? Is it because we're citizens? If so, this argument says Americans deserve jobs and resources over people who aren't American.

These questions strike me as odd. And they're why I label strict border enforcement and employer sanctions as anti-civil rights, and here's way:

Civil rights are "the rights to full legal, social, and economic equality..." At the same time, some definitions say rights are only guaranteed to citizens. However, I would argue that "legal, social and economic equality" should apply to all human beings, not just citizens. But if I say only citizens should enjoy "the rights to full legal, social, and economic equality..." and not all human beings, regardless of citizenship, then I'm also defining who has a right to life. (Particularly since the majority of immigrants come to our country for jobs.)

Let me put this another way, if a human being doesn't have access to basic human needs, they'll die. For instance, if I give one-person milk, a nice juicy steak or chicken, a house, English and math school books, the ability to call their grandparents and brother or sister for money or a babysitter, and a reason to get up in the morning, or in other words, a J-O-B, while at the same time, limiting or prohibiting someone from working, nagging and fighting with their parents or family siblings (everybody has family drama!), buying their kids clothes and making their favorite meals gives one person more of a right to live than another.

But I don’t have more of a right to live simply because my birth certificate reads, “Born in the U.S.A. I don’t deserve my dad’s burnt hamburgers, writing tons of papers so I can graduate college, or building a family, like my mom and dad did, more than the next guy.

This is why I refuse to support any policy that says I have more of a right live and experience life more than the next person. I refuse to vote for any law that weakens my American identity. I refuse to support any policy that defines who should and who shouldn't aim for the American Dream. Even more, I refuse to blame immigrants for under funded schools and why my friend (who is an American citizen) had to declare bankruptcy because of insane hospital bills.

I have a better idea, instead of targeting immigrants, why not demand higher wages, better health care and education reforms? Why? If we clamp down on immigration, our current problems won't go away. It's not like our resources will suddenly increase if we advocate strict enforcement.

Even more, why delay American prosperity? Immigration reform organizations, like Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR), Numbers USA and Americans for Better Immigration, say strict employer sanctions and strict border security will increase wages and employment and improve our education and health care systems. But what they don't tell you is that immigration policies don't guarantee higher wages and employment, and educational and health care improvements. Their idea is a big fat theory with a bunch of holes.

But battles for educational reforms, employment, increased wages, and adequate health care do.

Why make life harder than it is? The clock is ticking, with no room for mistakes.

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In Support of Mother Nature

By Jill

A study released on June 16, 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences lends further evidence to the biological origins of homosexuality. It has become generally accepted that homosexuality is a predisposed orientation that cannot be rejected at will; although genetics is increasing being ruled out as a factor in that predisposition. In other words there probably isn't a "gay gene". This new study finds that the areas of the brain that develop according to the levels of hormones a fetus is exposed to during gestation may be the same areas that distinguish sexuality. Basically if a female is exposed to too much testosterone in the womb certain areas of her brain may develop more like a male brain and therefore she will eventually prefer women over men sexually.

The upside of this finding is that mother nature may be the ultimate decider in sexuality, and we no longer have to hear scientists densely debate why the homosexual genetic "mutation" hasn't been corrected by evolution. This also offers the sweetest retort thus far to homophobes who enjoy condemning homosexuality as an unnatural sin; it is in fact quite natural to be gay and mother nature rarely does anything without a good reason.

Here is the downside; we may not be able unlock all of nature's intentions, but we're not above manipulating them. Already scientists are testing other species to see if they can influence sexual preference by controlling hormonal exposure during pregnancy.

It doesn't take a genius to see where this is going. There may come a day when we have the option to control reproduction enough to effectively eradicate gayness. I'm sure many people will choose to exercise this given the choice, having convinced themselves that they are simply sparing their children social rejection. Perhaps all we can ask is that they consider our society's rejection of homosexuality insignificant when compared to nature's timeless acceptance.

Decisions make up each one of us, whether they be biological, parental or cultural, they’re decisions nonetheless that define us, and most of them are out of our control. When I think about the millions of uncontrollable factors that have made me who I am, I wouldn't change one of them, and I hope my friends who are gay wouldn't change their decisions either. I like them just the way they are.

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Forgotten Matter

By Nicole Hallengrogg

Mornings I still wake and find I must Talk myself
Back into existence.
That tuft of hair risen
Above me
A reminder of restless sleep.

There were times in my youth
That I could not wait
for morning
and lie awake
For the promises of dawn.

These days I lie awake
Anticipating tomorrow
Agonizing today
Left with that hope
That pride
That Sense,
That Nothing,
So frequent

Imagination is hopeless
My father would say
He believes that
His life
Is the one that counted
All male
And hardened
But death and wars
Trophies left standing
On mantles
Like Romans'.

Is that what is real?
Can those symbols
Show us some greater true
Those dead rise from
Unnamed graves
and tell us
What so many
Can't hear.

Left with matter
That shines
When polished

What makes him
Sit so proud?
And me, slumped over
Like some forgotten fruit
Telling myself
at night,
When all the words are
Buried in my forgotten grave
That tomorrow
I will make
Something happen.

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SPORTS: Unstoppable Forces of Nature

By Joel Ebert

Here in the United States, many of us idolize the unstoppable athlete. We love our most valuable players, Olympic Gold Medal winners, and first place finishers. But if there is something we love more it is the injured or flawed athlete succeeding while fighting an internal or near impossible battle.

Example 1: Paul Pierce injured his knee (some say it was sprained) in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals, only to come back less than 2 minutes later and rain on the Lakers parade. Pierce got into the locker room with trainer Brian McKeon and after they discovered he could put wait on both legs, they sent him back out on the court. Pierce later said "I had to get back out there to help my ballclub, That was all that was going through my mind, just being a part of it. I just wanted to get back out there."

Example 2: Tiger Woods won this year’s U.S. Open after playing with a torn ligament in his left knee for nearly 10 months and suffering a “double stress fracture” in the same leg two weeks before the tournament. Woods won the tournament in a playoff with Rocco Mediate only to turn around that same week and announce that he needed surgery to repair his knee that would prevent him from playing for the rest of the current season.

Example 3: In Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling pitched 7 effective innings and gave up only one run on four hits. Controversy swarmed around Schilling because of what was known as the bloody sock. Throughout the game Schilling’s right sock was focused on, revealing that there was blood on his ankle, where Schilling had sutures.

Now some people believe these athletes were exaggerating or faking their injuries.

Laker fans complained that Pierce was faking it, citing his instant turnaround by simply going to the locker room. L.A. coach Phil Jackson even said "Paul got carried off and was back on his feet in a minute. I don't know if the angels visited him in that time-out period or what, but he didn't even limp when he came back out on the floor.”

Fellow golfer Retief Goosen said that he believed Woods was exaggerating his injury as well. Goosen went as far as to say “It just seemed that when he hit a bad shot his knee was in pain and on his good shots he wasn’t in pain. You see when he made the putts and he went down on his knees and was shouting, ‘Yeah’, his knee wasn’t sore.”

And since 2004, when Schilling had two bloody sock games (the aforementioned one, and once during the World Series) there have been a host of critics calling the bloody sock a public relations move. Broadcaster Gary Thorne said that he believed the sock was painted, citing a conversation that never seemed to have taken place with Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli, who later denied Thorne’s claim.

I am not going to weigh in on those arguments, however. What I am going to weigh in on is the fact that these American athletes and a host of others (Michael Jordan and the famous Flu Game, Eight Belles, the horse that broke it’s legs at the Kentucky Derby, etc) feel the need to play when they are not 100% healthy.

It seems to me that the reason behind them doing this is because they feel the need to either a) prove that they are capable of doing miraculous things despite an injury b) they love the game/sport so much that nothing can stop them from playing or c) their team desperately needs them for support.

Once the task is completed, we (the audience) glorify these people. Maybe this is because we see ourselves in these athletes, at least in small doses. There are numerous occasions when we don’t feel like going to work or school but must tough it out because we don’t have a sick day left or our job is too important to miss.

I am worried that this idolization of the imperfect, yet unstoppable athlete may be part of a bigger problem within our society. What that problem may be I have not yet solved.

Maybe this is reflective in the rampant use of steroids in professional sports today. I am not suggesting that professionals such as Paul Pierce, Curt Schilling, or Tiger Woods are using steroids. But perhaps the fact steroids usage is so prevalent in American sports today is because American athletes want to be that big, bad, unstoppable force of nature (ie the aforementioned athletes) that we all idolize. I get the sense that this is a growing epidemic in American sports - do you?

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Is Don Imus Racist?

By Sarah Viets

Tuesday morning, Don Imus, a national radio host for MSNBC, got slammed a racist. (Again)?!

Here’s the gist:

The sports announcer on Imus' radio show, Warner Wolf, rehashed why the Tennessee Titans suspended Adam Jones (also known as Pacman) for the entire 2007 NFL season, and Jones’ recent involvement in a shooting in a Las Vegas nightclub. In response, Imus asked, “What’s color is he? Wolf answered and said, “He’s African American.”

(And here’s where it gets juicy.)

And then Imus said, “Oh, well there you go. Now we know.”

“Now we know?” What the heck is that supposed to mean?

Let’s not forget, last year Imus got slammed for calling young African American women basketball stars “nappy headed hoes.”

But instead of attacking Imus’ behavior, I’d rather talk about his comment. What’s Imus saying?

I think his comment has two different interpretations:

Here’s the 1st:

Since African Americans commit more crimes than white folks, its not surprising Adam Jones has been arrested six times.
And now the 2nd:
Since Adam Jones is African American, it’s not surprising he’s been arrested six times. Why? Not because African Americans are more likely to commit crimes, but because some folks assume African Americans are criminals because black people are more likely to be dishonest, untrustworthy, and break the law

In other words, police officers arrested Adam Jones because he’s black. They arrested Jones because they assumed he’d committed a crime, not because he actually did anything wrong.
Now, some of you are probably thinking, “That’s not true, the majority of black folks are dishonest and dangerous because African Americans commit crimes.”

But what about white Americans?

If you hear someone say that Black folks commit the majority of crimes - without asking why crime exists or without looking up any facts – they’re indirectly saying Black Americans are more likely to break the law and act dishonestly because they’re black. In other words, someone is using negative personal characteristics to define black skin.

Moreover, if you hear someone say African Americans commit the majority of crimes - which means you’re also saying black folks commit more crime than white folks – the person is also inadvertently categorizing white Americans as trustworthy and “well-behaved.”

So, if hear someone say there are more black criminals than white criminals, they’re also creating a stereotype about black and white Americans. And these stereotypes are popular. They are widely accepted and used to explain personal behavior. Moreover, crime isn’t linked to under funded and overcrowded schools, limited head start programs, lower income levels.

It’s kind of how people cited bible verses to justify slavery. But when that got old, white folks turned to biology. Folks said its okay to buy and sell black people like cattle because they’re not as smart as white folks. They said black folks are biologically inferior to whites . But when folks couldn’t use science to rationalize the “Whites Only” signs posted above water fountains and bathroom stalls, folks turned to culture.

Let me put it another way:

After the 1964 Civil Rights Act, racist ideas didn’t vanish; people didn’t stop categorizing blacks and whites differently. White folks didn’t stop searching for explanations to explain personal behavior. Folks’ arguments just changed. Instead of citing biblical scripture or scientific data, some folks started saying Black culture causes criminal behavior.

So the next time you hear someone say Black culture breeds dangerous, dishonest, and criminal behavior, remember that the person’s argument isn’t any different than before. They’re still using stereotypes.

And since people make culture, the person is still saying it’s easier to trust white people because they’re white, and black people are dangerous because they’re black. The individual just re-framed his/her argument so it’s accepted.

In other words, thank stereotypes for stories of triumphs, not hard work. Black stereotypes help white folks land jobs and promotions, influence whether or not politicians feed money into crime bills or public education and deter police officers from stopping white drivers behind $50,000 cars.

As a young white American woman, I don’t want any stereotypes attached to my white skin. I want to walk into any job interview, classroom, professor’s office, or crowded street without anyone using my skin color to categorize me. I want to earn my keep because of me, not because I’m white.

I can’t think of anything more un-American.

As for Don Imus, I’m not sure what he met, and it’s hard to believe his intentions when you examine how many racial slurs jump out of his mouth.

But I will say one thing:

Don Imus, your cowboy hat and Carhartt jacket makes me think of America’s beautiful countryside, open dirt roads, and spending Sunday mornings farming with my dad.

I just wish your words represented my American memories.

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St. Louis, MO: Ain’t She a Beauty!

By Eric K. Ward

Can I ask you a question? Have you ever had one of those “just incredible weekends”? You know what I mean. The kind of weekend that makes you wish you had a three-day weekend. The type that makes you want to retire at forty, the sort of weekend you thank American organized labor for winning on our behalf.

I just had one of those weekends, and I’m still giddy about it so I feel the need
to share. (Thanks in advance for being such a good listener, err I mean reader.)

I’m deeply in love and have been for nearly three years. Mia (that’s what I call her) likes to travel. And it works well for us because I have to travel extensively for my job.

Last weekend found us in St. Louis, also known as “The Gateway City.” St. Louis jazz is internationally famous and everyone knows if you haven’t had St. Louis Barbeque, you never had real BBQ. The world famous St. Louis Arch also stands aside the mighty Mississippi river, symbolizing the geographic gateway between the eastern and western halves of the United States.

As Mia and I strolled along the cobbled streets by the waterfront, it occurred to me that St. Louis represents one of the best definitions of American identity. I mean what better examples than the symbolism of jazz and Barbeque to prove the potential power of E Pluribus Unum? And what better icing on the cake of what our country will be than an interracial couple strutting their stuff along the avenue to seal the deal.

It’s times like these, when I’m feeling full of life that I like to remember the Americans who paved the way before me. There was such a couple who did that paving a little less than one hundred and fifty years earlier and I couldn’t help but notice that, just a few blocks away at the old courthouse, they made their presence known.

Dred and Harriet Scott were Americans who were considered slaves because their ancestors came from Africa. The people who treated them like property made the great mistake of moving Dred and Harriet Scott to Missouri, a state that outlawed slavery. Eventually, the Scotts sued for their freedom. At first they lost, then won, and then lost again.

The case finally reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857. The Court ruled against the Scott’s and issued one of its most embarrassing rulings. The court argued, “that the black man has no rights that are bound to be respected by the white man.” Eventually, Dred and Harriet Scott found their freedom, and on this incredible weekend the Scott’s trial reminds me of how far we have come and how far we still have to go.

As me, a black man walking down the street deeply in love and hand in hand with my Lebanese and Jewish partner, I knew in my heart that St. Louis should be seen as more than just a geographic gateway. St. Louis should be celebrated as the city that represents the gateway between our American identity of yesterday and of today.

I think that would make Dred and Harriet Scott happy. And after 150 years, I’d like to think they’ve earned that right. In fact, I think that we all have.

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Divorce: Social Ill or Social Progression?

By Jill

Growing up in the '80s (I was born in 1979), divorce among my friends' parents was common; as were blended families and single parent households. Despite its prevalence, divorce was still a scandalous affair to my parents; they had children later than most (between 30 and 40) and both came from conservative backgrounds where divorce simply wasn't an option. When my parents married in 1967, the divorce wave had yet to engulf them, but for most couples raising kids in the ‘80s and ‘90s divorce was already a routine fact of life.

One morning, around the age of seven or so, sprawled across my mom's side of the bed while my parents dressed for work, I recall asking if they were going to get divorced. After a few moments of reflection, my mom turned and asked "Don't you think if we were going to get divorced, we would have already?"

In my young mind they were two people who would never change and had been married forever already, but for me to have such a solid memory of that morning, something about it must have rung false. Over the years I've continually gone back to that moment; more and more I understand why my mom didn't have a reassuring answer. For the record my parents are not divorced, but they have had a quietly tense marriage for the last 40 years. In my extended family, marital problems were never acknowledged. On the rare occasions that my mom broke her silence on their married life, it felt like a dam was breaking, one of loneliness and despair. It has provided my siblings and I mere glimpses of a relationship wrought with anxiety and festering emotional wounds.

It doesn't sound very uncommon does it? Yet their strained relationship was emotionally draining for the whole family, and contributed to some very restless adolescent years for me. Don't get me wrong, I don't hold my parents accountable for my issues (they were all-around wonderful parents), but it did lead me to view divorce or I should say the freedom to divorce as a positive aspect of our lives as modern Americans.

In a recent Newsweek cover story entitled The Divorce Generation Grows Up, David J. Jefferson describes the statistics surrounding divorce:

Researchers have churned out all sorts of depressing statistics about the impact of divorce. Each year, about 1 million children watch their parents split, triple the number in the '50s. These children are twice as likely as their peers to get divorced themselves and more likely to have mental-health problems, studies show. While divorce rates have been dropping—off from their 1981 peak to just 3.6 per 1,000 people in 2006—marriage has also declined sharply, falling to 7.3 per 1,000 people in 2006 from 10.6 in 1970. Sociologists decry a growing "marriage gap" in which the well educated and better paid are staying married, while the poor are still getting divorced (people with college degrees are half as likely to be divorced or separated as their less-educated peers). And the younger you marry, the more likely you are to get divorced.

While the “marriage gap” between rich and poor is certainly troubling, there is one equally telling statistic that he leaves out: Even though women suffer the most financially from separation and in many cases shoulder the primary parenting responsibilities, 2/3 of individuals (on average) who seek divorce are women who largely report being happier post-divorce.

In regards to statistics about children from divorced families being twice as likely to divorce themselves and having a greater instance of mental-health problems; I believe these children, having already faced social disfavor in childhood through their parents' experiences, are more likely to give themselves permission to leave unhealthy relationships and probably feel more comfortable seeking help for mental-health issues, inevitably increasing the number of reports.

I'm not a psychologist, however I know that my cautiousness about marriage relates to my belief that if my mom felt she could divorce, she may have led a happier life, whether through the act itself or merely leveraging the option. I have spent a good part of my adult life ensuring that I’m independent enough to leave a dysfunctional relationship, and I’ve apologetically asserted my right to a happy, equal partnership. If I do marry one day, I’ll also protect my right to a divorce, even if I hope to never exercise that right.

Not to negate the serious affects from divorce, but a bad marriage is a bad marriage - whether you stay together or not. Perhaps the best way to strengthen American families is not to cast divorce in a negative light, but to concentrate on accepting the diverse journeys we all make in pursuit of individual happiness. Maybe American latch-key kids and broken-home survivors are a necessary growing pain on our path to a society where all people, young, old, rich, poor, hetero- and homosexual are able to discover loving partnerships free from social stigma.

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Building American Identity

By Sarah Viets

When I talk about my American Identity, I also talk about race. But when I do, some folks wonder why I bring it up. They say talking about race distorts or clouds the real problems, like family food budgets superceding monthly paychecks, gas prices over $4 a gallon, rising healthcare costs and even immigration. Or better yet, some folks say I’m pitting
black people against white people or white people against people. They say that by talking about race, I’m dividing Americans rather than bringing us together.

But I’m not trying to weaken and tarnish our American identity; I’m not trying to deepen the divide.

I want to honor my American Identity.

I want to strive for an unimaginable future. I want to live in an age where kids from my rural high school see more out of life than working as a correctional officer at one of the three prisons located just 5 miles outside of my hometown. I want to live in a time where my best friend can deliver her two babies, now six and four, without having to claim bankruptcy, like she did two years ago. I want to breath at ease and find a job so I can back my $65,000 college loan. (Last month I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago.)

But to solve America’s sunken stain, to build a bridge between America’s divided neighborhoods, we must first open our eyes. We can no longer ignore that African Americans, Asians, Latinos, whites, and the rich and poor, don’t receive the same opportunities. Each group receives a different amount of money for schools, different paychecks, different job and economic opportunities, access to health care, and criminal sentences.

But my grocery list of racial disadvantages is not new. People are aware; they’re just tired of hearing the same ole list.

But when we start to talk about solutions, we prefer to point the finger. Empty piggy banks in each neighborhood pits whites against non-white communities and rich against poor. So we blame affirmative action, we blame undocumented immigrants, we blame same-sex marriage, or we blame it on crime.

In result, we fight for what little money there is, which inevitably deepens our divide. It tears at the heart of what it means to be American.

We argue over what neighborhood deserves more money for schools. We cling to our paid tax dollars for our own neighborhood while forgetting about the guy next door. We don’t share. We don’t’ see the child on the other side of the tracks as our own. Instead, we define them as somebody else’s problem. Yet, when that child doesn't receive the same support and opportunities as our own, when that child starts stealing, doing drugs, or skipping school, we blame it on the child. We say it’s time for “personal responsibility.” Or we say it’s the parent’s fault.

But at the end of the day, what does it matter? Who cares whose fault it is. We can have a discussion over faults, or we can sit down and figure out how to stop the problem.

But when we do, when we finally decide to stop blaming each other, when we finally decide to stop pointing our fingers, we can’t forget how race is used to weaken our American Identity.

We can’t forget what divides our American identity when we build a unified nation.

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Attacks against Immigrants attacks Black America

By Eric K. Ward

I’m African-American and my family moved to California almost a hundred years ago after a lynching took place outside their hometown in Kentucky.

I’m also undocumented, or in the current anti-immigrant vernacular, “illegal.” I don’t have the necessary documents to prove my identity. Therefore, within four years, I won’t be able to vote, have access to social services, or receive state identification to travel.

Let’s start from the beginning:

In May 2006, I lost my passport and Social Security card at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (I don’t have a driver’s license because of a visual disability). When I went home to Chicago, I learned that in order to receive a state identification card, I needed to obtain a certified copy of my birth certificate, which allows me to apply for a Social Security Card to replace my passport.

Later in the week I contacted the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder and was told that in order to receive my birth certificate, I needed to present a copy of my passport, or driver’s license, to verify I was, in actuality, Eric K. Ward.

Since it was obvious, after twenty minutes of discussion, that I didn’t own a driver’s license, a passport, or a social security card, they told me to fill out the proper forms in front of a notary public in Chicago. I quickly opened the phone book and had a co-worker drive me to a notary public. But when I got there, the notary public said I needed a passport, social security card, or driver’s license to receive an official notary seal.

Lucky for me (when I’m in a pinch) I can become very persuasive. And since I had a number of newspaper articles with photos documenting my identity, the notary public accepted my articles with somewhat dubious satisfaction. Next, before anyone could change their minds, I walked next door to the Post Office and happily mailed my documents to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder and went on with my life.

Four weeks later my birth certificate arrived!

But when I arrived at the Post Office to pick it up, the attendant asked me to produce a passport, driver’s license and, most ironically, a copy of my birth certificate to obtain my birth certificate. After waiting an hour and pleading with two supervisors, I‘m proud to say that I now possess a certified birth certificate!

I wish I could say everything went smoothly from this point on, but the adventure only began and came to a screeching halt within a week.

A few days later I headed to the Social Security Administration to obtain a replacement social security card. But when I got there, the Social Security Administration said I needed more than just a copy of my birth certificate. They said I also needed a passport, driver’s license, or state identification card to prove my identity.

But since I went to the Social Security Administration to obtain a new copy of my social security card so I could get a new passport, the Social Security Administration didn’t know what to do with me. So, they told me to head across town to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office to get my social security card. But when I arrived, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office said I needed my social security card to obtain any official document to prove my identity.

Now I’m stuck in a Catch-22 and I’m not alone in this predicament. Almost nine percent of African Americans (18 or older) are unable to document their citizenship. * Roughly 2 million African Americans, eleven million native born citizens, and nearly twice as many low income Americans than citizens with higher incomes don’t have a social security card, driver’s licenses, passport, birth certificate or proof of naturalization. *

In 1950, Sam Shapiro, now Emeritus Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, conducted a case study for the journal Population Studies, and also found that, due to segregation barring black children from being born in white hospitals, one-fifth of African Americans born between 1939-40 were never issued birth certificates.

When you correlate Shapiro’s figures to the 2000 US Census Data on African American Population by Age, Shapiro’s figures show that by 2010, nearly half-a-million elderly African Americans born before 1941 may loose their right to vote and access to federal services. Remember, this is only for African Americans born before 1941!

Most recently, Tim Vercelloti, a professor at Rutgers University, found that 5.7% of African Americans are less likely to vote in states that require voter identification. And let’s not forget, voting is a right African Americans struggled to secure for all American citizens.

If U. S citizens don’t have the “required” documents to prove their identity, an increasingly large portion of U.S. citizens will be denied access to social services and the right to vote at the federal, state, and local level.

For example, in 2006, officials in Maricopa County, Arizona denied almost 5,000 US citizens the right to vote because they didn’t have the “required” documents. In 2005, The Draft Reduction Act denied anyone re-applying for Medicaid who didn’t posses the same “required” documents. And by 2010, the Federal Election Integrity Act (passed in 2006) will deny all American citizens the right to vote if they’re can’t produce the “required” documents.

What are the “required” documents? You guessed it: a passport, birth certificate or proof of naturalization.

Why is this happening?

Strict ID requirements that target immigrant and refugee communities also target African Americans, poor, and elderly communities. Federal, state, and local laws that attack undocumented immigrants and refugees threaten Americans’ voting rights, the right to travel without fear of imprisonment, and access to social services.

Anti-immigrant activists say strict ID requirements are a necessary burden that folks should be happy to shoulder in the fight against “illegal” immigration. But that’s pretty easy to say when you’re not African American, poor, or a member of the elderly community.

As African Americans we should be deeply concerned about the ongoing attack on immigrants and refugees. Why?

We know what it’s like to be second-class citizens---and it’s about to happen again.

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My Brain, My Body, Our World

By Nicole Hallengrogg

Does the old saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" really apply to me? Can I ever manage to truly change things about myself at will?

Now that I’m a single mother of two absorbent human beings, I’ve come to realize the importance of the way I live my life. I’ve realized that the choices and patterns in my own life aren’t just affecting me, but also the lives of my daughters. As I move through this life my children are watching my every move.
With that realization I’ve began to seek to change those patterns in my life that I do not wish to overflow into the lives of my children.

As I’ve begun this process of change, I’ve learned about how our brains work- how they process experience - and how we’re capable of re-routing our very way of perceiving, reacting, and interpreting experiences in life. And through these (new to me) concepts, I’ve begun to see them on a greater scale. Its not just how I interpret and change my life. It’s also how we, as a society, interpret and change the world around us. I’ve learned that by example we not only change on a personal level, but on a social level; one person influences another and those influences, through time, can slowly change the way in which the world views and reacts to certain circumstances.

So I have to ask; are we, as a society, stuck in perpetual cycles of destruction? Are politicians doomed to repeat the behaviors of their predecessors because it’s the way of our American democracy?

I know American society has slowly progressed and sometimes digressed, but are these only momentary changes? And is history doomed to repeat itself?

These questions haunt movements of change, and they haunt me in my personal life as I struggle with various destructive patterns. They make me question whether or not true change can ever reside and whether I must simply learn to live with my baggage instead of throwing it completely overboard.

As I said before, I’ve learned some promising information about the brain and how it understands change. Scientists used to think that the human brain's neurological pathways were unchangeable once it reached adulthood. But now they’re able to see how the brain functions through a Magnetic Resonance (MR) machine, and other devices, and researchers are discovering that the brain's pathways are able to change over time. But this change takes work. It isn’t a single decision that stops a person from doing a specific task a certain way in order to begin another. It’s a process of consistent decisions.

These patterns are what make us tick; the behaviors we’ve learned throughout our lives are actual physical connections between neurons. Those pathways are carved throughout our lives in accordance to the things we’ve experienced. "The specified functional roles of the neurons and their interconnections with other neutrons depend critically on experience" *. So in order to change these pathways we must be consciously aware of the changes we make, knowing that through awareness and dedication we can eventually make new cognitive pathways; changing our behaviors and responses.

Imagine a forest trail that you walk along everyday (this trail would be the pathways between neurons). The path is well trod and void of most branches and roots that may hinder you along the way. Imagine now that you decide to create a new trail. It’s difficult to clear the path of brush, weeds and branches, but you continue anyway. When you’re at a critical and difficult time along the way, it’s easy to go back to the old beaten path. But if you continue to work on the new trail, and use it more often, the old trail becomes less used because you take it less frequently.

This is how our brain works - you make a conscious decision to change, and yet many times along the way you return to that old way of doing things. It’s only with frequent and consistent effort that we’re able to change our old ways of thinking.

If you look at society as a single organism with trillions of cells, sometimes working together, sometimes apart, sometimes against itself, it’s not that different from our own personal bodies and how they function. Change can’t happen all at once. Sometimes it’s discouraging to see the changes we thought occurred become more of the same.

Change is something that happens through slow consistent effort. And this seems promising to me. For example, knowing that change is a process and not a leap means that it’s possible for this country to move in the direction of compassion, humility, and empathy: First through awareness and then through perseverance.

So as I step into this new life, one of change and hope, I find solace in knowing I’m not alone, and that maybe my choice to change is not just helping me in my personal life, but the lives around me.

*From Research in the CNBC "Exploring the Emergence of the Mind from Brains"

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Who You Calling Illegal, Pilgrim: Children of Men review

By Walidah Imarisha

“As a struggle for the rights of immigrants and against discrimination emerged, Haitians and Dominicans began to coalesce, but the Irish were a bit stand-offish. Immigrant rights activists were at first perplexed until they uncovered that the Irish were being encouraged by Irish American politicians to keep themselves separate from other immigrant groups because it was likely that a 'special' deal could be cut for them. To put it another way, the Irish were being trained to become and accept becoming white,” Bill Fletcher, a civil rights and labor activist, said in “Another Side to Race and Immigration,” in ZNet’s July 30, 2007 issue.

Shot: Pan across a cage full of people, being watched
over by military personnel and police with machine guns and dogs. They’re all refugees/immigrants, called “fugees” in this context. We see a tall black man, then right next to him a very small old white woman. The white woman is speaking German, and if you understand German, you know she’s complaining about being put next to a “schwartze” (German for black). The depth of this scene, that a white woman fugee is more worried about being next to a black man fugee than the fact that the military and police are going to put a bullet in her head. This is a powerful statement about the dialogue about immigration today, that it can never be severed from a discussion of race. And if you don’t understand German, you would have missed it.

That is the only mention of race at all in Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 science fiction/dystopic release Children of Men. And again, if you don’t speak German, you didn’t get it. The film, set in London in 2027, looks to a future where humans aren’t reproducing: the last baby was popped out 18 years before. The world is falling to pieces, the economy is at an all time low.

An innovative, daring but ultimately disappointing exploration of and reflection on immigration policies as they stand today, Children of Men runs screaming from having any dialogue where it links race and immigration. Without the discussion of race, we end up with this film, which has so many gaping holes we could drive a mack truck through them.

It is never explained why so many fugees are coming to England. There is no discussion of the world outside of England, except for this ad shown on the subway: “The world has collapsed; Only Britain soldiers on.” Soldiering on means lining up fugees and shooting them in the street. Because the film refuses to discuss race overtly, we’re left to fill in why so many people are trying to get into England: that in a global economic collapse, the third world would be the hardest hit, and would flock to the centers of capital, i.e., countries that have benefited from white supremacist patriarchal capitalism. But to say that clearly would mean acknowledging the exploitation of the third world by world superpowers. It would mean talking about race, and as important, power.

“Recognizing the racialization of immigration should help one understand that much of what we’re witnessing is a scapegoating of Latinos for much larger forces and factors that are underway in US society… the restructuring of capitalism that has been underway and that immigrants are the victims rather than the source,” says Bill Fletcher.

In the end, this story in the film is not, and can not, be the story of fugees and their struggle to get free and have self-determination, because to tell their story would be to tell the story of racism. The fugees, pretty much throughout the film, regardless of the country they originated from, are faceless, nameless, powerless, voiceless and usually grotesque stereotypes, like the Middle Eastern fugees riding horses screaming “AllahuAkbar.”

It is not even the story of Kee [Clare-Hope Ashitey], an underage black fugee prostitute who gives birth to the first baby born in almost two decades, and is trying to escape both government repression and the exploitation of her baby as a symbol by the “revolutionary” pro-Fugee organization called the Fishes. The reality is that for any young black immigrant sista to stay alive on the mean streets of London as a sex worker, she’s gotta have some pretty baaaad survival instincts and intuition of her own. But if they showed that, they’d have to talk about why young immigrant women of color are so disproportionately forced into sex work, and a whole lotta other subjects Cuaron was clearly not willing to touch. So she becomes a mindless automaton, being told by someone else what to do.

And that someone else is, predictably, the male hero, and predictably a white man: Theo, [Clive Owen], a white former radical on his journey to find something to believe in again, and finds it through helping Kee reach the Human Project, a group of scientists who will supposedly take care of her and also help the world repopulate. This film is told through Theo’s eyes, and the movie ends, not when Kee reaches the Human Project. We don’t even know what happens to Kee at the end of the movie. The movie ends when Theo dies, because the film was about Theo’s journey, and when that journey is over, the credits start to roll.

That is because ultimately Children of Men replicates the same conversation that this nation and the world are having about immigration. Regardless of whether it’s the left or the right, we are listening to u.s. born white men’s voices, interpretations and perceptions about immigration. The voices, power and self-determination of people of color, are lost in the sauce, and instead wer’re left simply waiting for a great white savior to come tell us what to do. The true failing of Children of Men is that it was an opportunity to reframe the debate, and truly put immigrant populations and people of color at the center of the discussion, and finally allow those voices to be not only heard, but respected.

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American by default

By Marjorie N.

One of the things I struggled with while studying abroad was taking on the label of an “American.” I was born a US citizen, and have lived on the U.S. mainland for most of my life, but I have never felt that long-time U.S. citizens, particularly Americans of European decent, saw me as a fellow American. The perceptions of others was not, however, the only reason I struggled to see myself as an American.

When people would ask where I was from, I would say Puerto Rico. The fact that I did not have a “traditional” Latino accent often prompted people to ask
why I spoke like an American. I would have to explain that Puerto Rico was a U.S. territory, and so it began. The people I maintained a relationship with while I studied abroad seemed conflicted about labeling me as an American, but they did not know much about Puerto Rico, so they assumed certain things about me as an American. When they talked negatively about the U.S. they would excuse themselves from having to apologize, because I was not really an American, so according to them I shouldn’t have been offended.

It seemed like not only was I conflicted about my American identity, but so was the rest of the world. I could just never come to terms with identifying with a country with such a marred history.

What I didn’t realize was how offended I would become with the anti-American commentary I would come to hear. I would find that after establishing a dialogue with people who decided I was American, an onslaught of questions would begin. “Why did you Americans vote for Bush?” “Why are Americans so ignorant?” “Why are American women so ‘easy’?”

At first I’d laugh, but after it sank in that people were seeing me as an American - by default - I found myself trying to speak on behalf of all Americans. I had to explain that not all Americans are white; that we didn’t all vote for Bush; that American women are not ‘easy’; and my favorite, that not all American men wear white socks up to their mid-calve. I had to explain that Americans are from Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean. And that’s when it hit me, I was American too.

The more I spoke on behalf of Americans, the stronger I found I identified as “American,” and the more offended I became when people expressed anti-American sentiment. The toughest part was taking on the privilege that is associated with being an American. Sure, I had no problem acknowledging that on a global scale, as an American, I have access to resources that aren’t readily available. However, seeing myself as a privileged person was new. I had a tough time reconciling this idea with my identity as a minority, who is, in a sense, at the mercy of an elite group of society who distinguish themselves from the rest of us on racial and economic grounds.

Upon returning to the U.S., I noticed that I felt different. I had the opportunity to reflect on what it meant to be an American and the energy we invest in trying to make this experiment in diversity work. The longer I stay here, however, the more I find that I am returning to that feeling of an outsider, of not really having a place here.

I watched in awe as some media personalities laughed at the idea that Puerto Rican voters could actually have an impact on the democratic primaries. And it all has made me wonder when I would be included in the global branding of America? When will I stop being an American by default?

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Is there a Woman in the House?

By Jill

Like many progressive women across the nation I faced a tough decision leading up to the democratic primaries. I began to question my friends about who they would choose and why. One friend told me she voted for Hillary in the primary because her seven year-old daughter asked that she vote for a woman. Other friends have told me they voted for Clinton simply because she’s a woman, not because they identified with her on particular issues. Then there are the women who wanted to vote for her, but didn’t. One friend conveyed her discomfort with Clinton’s adeptness at playing a man’s game. I can’t blame her for suspecting Clinton is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Oddly enough, both sides of the debate resonate with my inner feminist.

Part of me argues that if we want a woman to win we have to be prepared to let her play like a man, we must stand with her unequivocally. But then I watched Clinton stoke the embers of racial tensions and inconceivably support McCain’s plan to suspend the federal gas tax this summer, and I find myself ashamed that she’s pulling the same cheap tricks of Washington’s old men.
Clinton made it abundantly clear that she was going to fight to the bitter end for her campaign, but I wondered if she was going to fight to the end for our nation? Was she going to fight for the embittered working-class or the increasingly homeless middle-class? These are the people that desperately need real solutions to energy costs and cultural reconciliation in their communities.

Despite the generational debate recently between feminists, feminism hasn't been the movement du jour for some time. I believe the women’s movement can be resurrected, but I’m not sure I’d want Clinton cast as leader or divider. Exactly what the movement has sorely lacked (an inclusiveness of women of color) is what Clinton cannot bring. She has certainly got the tough-as-nails, no-nonsense side down pat, I applaud her on that front, but she would have to possess true compassion for the people to be a feminist in my book. I want a woman in the White House not just for the sake of electing a woman, but because I truly believe that a progressive woman can do a better job. I believe that the lives of oppressed women and therefore all of the oppressed will be better with a woman’s leadership.

I am grateful for her work; she has undoubtedly advanced the cause for women in governance, and I have the inkling that, as a woman, I am supposed to be disappointed by her loss. Though the feminist in me says as a woman, as an American woman, I’ve compromised enough. I’ll hold out for the day that a tough, compassionate woman gets to the top without having to follow anyone else’s rules.

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"The Nation," Advertising, and Bigots, Oh My!

By Eric Ward

Before I get to the point at hand, let’s set a few things straight. Before you accuse me of censorship you should know that I oppose any government interference that infringes on freedom of speech, curbs freedom of press, or restricts American’s ability to petition the government. Maybe it’s the civil libertarian in me, but I embrace the concept of free speech whole-heartedly. So, you may find it strange to hear that I’m pissed at
The Nation for utilizing our First Amendment right to run a full-page advertisement sponsored by some bigots in the June 16, 2008 issue.

The Nation is part of a long line of venerable political magazines in the United States, like the right-conservative National Review to the left-liberal Mother Jones. The magazine is one of America’s oldest political rags and runs current political news stories and commentaries. Founded in 1865, The Nation made history when it took leadership against slavery to strengthen American identity by proclaiming itself an abolitionist newspaper. Nearly 150-years later, The Nation appears eager to jettison its past by selling America’s oldest political magazine to the highest bigot.

Nearly one year ago (May 14, 2007),
The Nation allowed an organization called The Coalition for the Future American Worker (CFAW) to run a full-page advertisement that contained a plethora of misinformation to exploit and divide the African American community. Even more, The Nation failed to tell its readers that CFAW is really a front group for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national anti-immigrant organization that has accepted millions of dollars from a foundation that funds scientific research to prove that white Americans are biologically superior to African Americans.

The Nation accept a full-page ad by the Ku Klux Klan? Would The Nation accept a full-page ad endorsing domestic violence? Would The Nation accept an ad denying the Holocaust? If not, why should demonizing immigrants be any different?

The Federation for American Immigration Reform has very little to do with the national debate on immigration. Instead, FAIR repeatedly injects bigotry and racism into America’s national dialogue on immigration reform. For instance, FAIR does have an interesting history of accepting 1.2 million dollars from a racist foundation (the Pioneer Fund), employing a staff member who belonged to the reconstituted white citizen’s council (Council of Conservative Citizens), and has a board members who maintains ties to political extremists, including white supremacists.

Thru front groups, like CFAW, FAIR is committed to turning Americans against one another. FAIR and its ilk can’t be satisfied by dividing conservatives, they have to split liberals as well. You would think that after twenty years of sustained attacks on liberals by conservatives during the so-called “Culture War,”
The Nation would have learned a valuable lesson. Perhaps it has, but I think the wrong one.

The Nation should want its readership to have proper information to make informed opinions, particularly when it comes to advertisements that serve to promote racism and bigotry. Instead, The Nation has decided to show its readership that if someone is trying to divide and confuse your country, the best thing to do is assist racists’ in their effort while making a buck too.

This June,
The Nation ran another one page ad sponsored by FAIR, twice! This time, along for the ride, are four other organizations (American Immigration Control Foundation, Social Contract Press, NumbersUSA and Californians for Population Stabilization). Each organization claims to be concerned about immigration, but seem more comfortable associating with organized racism. This time rather than just allowing these bigots access to The Nation’s Black progressive audience, The Nation decided to expand access to progressive environmentalists as well. Once again, instead of giving readers the tools to defend themselves against a racist assault, the magazine hides behind its advertising policy. Unbelievably, The Nation attempts to cover its own derrière by telling those of us committed to one America that they have no control over what type of advertisements are published. Here’s what The Nation says:

On page 27 readers will find an ad paid for by America’s Leadership Team for Long Range Population-Immigration-Resource Planning. Needless to say, we disagree with the ad’s premise and politics. Our ad policy can be found at www.thenation.com/mediakit/policy/.
Instead of writing a flimsy excuse, The Nation should have used the valuable editorial space to tell its readers that the groups running the ads have relations to political extremists including white supremacists. Here’s what The Nation failed to tell its readers:

• American Immigration Control Foundation (AICF) executive director John Vinson has spoken often to the white nationalists Council of Conservative Citizens. AICF has also
utilized funding from the white supremacists/eugenics Pioneer Fund.

• Social Contract Press editor is Wayne Lutton, who is also on the advisory board of the
white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens.

• NumbersUSA executive director Roy Beck spoke to the white nationalists Council of
Conservative Citizens and writes for the racist Social Contract Press.

• Californians for Population Stabilization is funded by the white supremacists/eugenics
Pioneer Fund. One board member also attempted to recruit vigilantes to help overturn
affirmative action in Missouri.

Is this information left-liberal readers of The Nation would most likely like to know? Probably. Is it information readers will get from The Nation? Not likely. The Nation is too busy making a buck off of suffering immigrants.

Somewhere along the way, The Nation has forgotten the most important lesson of the 1st Amendment (freedom of speech for us regular folk). While even bigots have the right to free speech, none of us are required to build their platform.

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Hurricane Zambrano

By Joel Ebert

Having two baseball teams in one city can be pretty interesting at times. Only Chicago and New York have cross-town rivals in the Major Leagues, both of which have high levels of scrutiny of the players, coaches, manager and owner coming from the media. Chicago has Ozzie Guillen on the South Side and the Lovable Losers (newly turned winners) on the North Side.

Last week, Guillen took a beating from the press after his tirade, including his boss Ken Williams. Chicago sports writer Jay Mariotti called for Guillen to be fired. They said his latest explosion was the icing on the cake of a man who has said some pretty crazy things over the past few years. A few weeks ago Guillen ranted about Hulk Hogan and complained about the cross-town rival Cubs. But the media attention surely seems to flock around Guillen because you never know what he’s going to say next.

Ozzie’s North Side rivals certainly don’t lack their share of clowns. From the soap opera love affair with the streaky and unsteady leftfielder Alfonso Soriano to Lou Pinella’s ramblings, the Chicago Cubs have their share of enjoyable moments in the media. Perhaps there is no greater clown under the giant tent of the Chicago Cubs than Carlos Zambrano. Known for his emotional outbursts in times of frustration (although he claims he doesn’t know this word) and grand displays of passion in times of exultation, Zambrano is as unpredictable as the hurricane season.

Big Z’s career has been full of outbursts. Last June, Zambrano, and then Cubs catcher Michael Barrett, battled it out in the dugout after a bad inning. This year, Zambrano broke a bat over his knee after striking out, saying he was “ticked off” during a game, which his team was winning. As recently as June 7, Carlos Zambrano added yet another chapter to the book after a five minute implosion, which saw the Cubs lose their lead and the game. Zambrano went into the dugout and took his anger out on a few Gatorade coolers. Big Z raged it as his teammates and coaches avoided his flailing arms and the flying jugs.

I find it funny that reaction to Zambrano’s tirades isn’t the same towards Guillen’s rants. People laugh and are amused by both, but never once has Zambrano’s emotion gotten him in trouble like Guillen’s mouth has. Cubs manager Lou Pinella said that he doesn’t have a problem with Zambrano’s emotional tantrums. He said “if I was in the dugout, I probably would have enjoyed it.”

I’m not so sure Zambrano should be encouraged. He will probably eventually injure himself or someone else, thinking that his outbursts are acceptable. This kind of treatment is sort of like handing a kid who has a propensity to yell “FIRE!” in a megaphone. The Chicago sports media’s lack of criticism of the Zambrano circus only encourages a beast that needs to be reigned in.

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Immigration Strengthens our American Identity

By Sarah Viets

Over the last few years, the topic of immigration has filled our hearts and minds. Is it good for our country? Who benefits from the flow of immigrant labor? What about our schools, our local hospitals? What about our jobs?

All we hear is how little money we have for education, how much our health care plans have increased because the state must pay the tab for uninsured patients, like undocumented immigrants, or how American businesses prefer to hire immigrants because they work at a low wage.

How can any of these concerns strengthen, preserve, and protect what it means to be an American?

Being an American means to inspire the people you love to hold onto their dreams. It means to stand tall and let go of your fears. It means hope, aspiration, optimism, perseverance, freedom, and liberty. Being an American means to take what you’ve been given, and transform it into something unimaginably new.

None of here, as citizens, has succeeded on our own. We are who we are today because of the support of our family, friends, schools, and jobs. That’s what being an American is all about. It’s not about protecting “number one,” it’s about looking out for each other, no matter where we come from.

Our American strength - our individual courage - comes from each other, not just from ourselves.

What makes us strong is our ability and courage to challenge ourselves. What makes us strong, like our ancestors, is our willingness to plunge into the unknown, to see hope in unpredictable futures.

There are three different reasons why most of our ancestors left their family and friends and everything that defined who they were: they were fleeing religious or political persecution, they were looking for jobs to feed their families, or they were stolen from their homeland and used as slaves to help build our nation. And in each of these reasons, is a contradiction in what we stand for. At the root are two different meanings about what it means to be an American.

What defines who we are, what defines our great nation in my mind, were the two actions that followed.

Some people persecuted thousands of families who already lived here. And some stayed strong and remembered their history, their painful past, and created and fought for a brighter future. They stood tall and side-by-side with something unfamiliar. And the fact that our ancestors remained hopeful in times of darkness shows how much strength we have hidden inside ourselves.

New cultures, customs and people may seem foreign, at odds with who we are. But opening ourselves to new challenges and the unknown is what makes us strong; it’s what makes us American.

So today, just like our ancestors, we have two choices:

We can sit back and blame the rise of healthcare costs, low wages, the environment, population growth, and our under funded public schools on undocumented immigrants, or we can open up our American hearts and minds and fight to preserve human dignity for all people, no matter what language they speak, the house they worship in, or the national flag of their homeland.

I’m not saying this is going to be easy, change never is. We prefer the familiar. We prefer our mom’s home-style cooking when we’re not sure where our next meal is coming from. The idea of opening our homes - our country - to someone we don’t even know when we barely have enough time and money to support ourselves seems unreasonable. It doesn’t make sense.

But every time we do, our country doesn’t die. We become stronger.

So when you ask yourself, what immigration can do for you, how can immigration strengthen who I am, my American Identity, think of what makes you strong. Think of what makes you proud to be an American.

They said any white man who didn’t own property couldn’t participate on Election Day.
They said black men and women must remain slaves, that there was no room or need for them to participate in the American dream. They said Mexicans, Asians, or any person without white skin must stand on the sides, not front and center. They said women must stay home and not participate in American Democracy.

But every time America opens her doors, every time each one of us steps outside our comfort zone, every time we open our hearts and souls to an idea we’re unfamiliar with, we become stronger. We become honorable.

We become an American.

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Audio: 2050 Inaugural Blogcast!

Posted by: Noah Chandler

Yes, the Imagine 2050 blogcast is here! It's a simple beginning for a wonderful project. I invite you to send in your ideas and input to 2050audio(at)gmail.com. This week we hear the opinions of some people "on the street" about this projected 2050 demographic shift and how that might impact our identity as Americans.

If you are reading this post through blogger.com and don't see the audio player, you may download this weeks program by here.

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