Rob Bonta, California’s new attorney general, is known as a leading advocate for criminal justice reform.
From defending the state’s gun control laws to investigating fatal police shootings to eliminating cash bail and reducing incarceration, his work is cut out for him in that realm.
As the first Filipino American to hold the office, Bonta has another top priority — fighting anti-Asian racism at a time when hate attacks are rising up and down the state and across the nation. He plans to create a racial justice bureau to combat white supremacy and biased policing as well as to explore reparations for slavery.
In his office, he keeps a photo of a sign hung in a Stockton hotel lobby in 1920: “Positively no Filipinos allowed.”
Born in the Philippines, Bonta, 48, immigrated to the United States when he was 2 months old. As a child in the Sacramento area, he said, he was called racist names and never felt like he belonged.
His parents, Warren and Cynthia Bonta, shared stories about their activism over steaming bowls of sinigang, a Filipino stew. His father, who is white, marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala. His mother helped organize Filipino and Mexican American laborers for the United Farm Workers.
Bonta attended college at Yale, where he captained the soccer team, and he also earned his law degree there.
Before his election to the state Assembly, Bonta was a deputy city attorney for San Francisco and worked as a private attorney handling cases involving racial profiling and other mistreatment.
Bonta, a Democrat, was elected to the California Assembly in 2012 as its first Filipino American member.
His April confirmation to the state’s highest law enforcement office came after Asian American leaders called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to choose someone who would prioritize fighting anti-Asian attacks.
Read the complete article at: Los Angeles Times
American Idol’s Top 5 just became a Top 4. Finalist Caleb Kennedy has left the show after a racist Snapchat video featuring Kennedy sitting next to someone appearing to wear a Ku Klux Kan hood made the rounds on social media. American Idol confirmed the 16-year-old Kennedy’s exit in a statement to People, saying, “American Idol contestant Caleb Kennedy will no longer be moving forward in the competition.” Recently eliminated contestants Arthur Gunn and Hunter Metts will not be returning to the singing competition to replace Kennedy; instead, Sunday’s episode will feature the remaining four semifinalists, Chayce Beckham, Casey Bishop, Grace Kinstler, and Willie Spence, one of whom will be eliminated.
In the video, Kennedy is seen allegedly sitting beside a person wearing a KKK-style hood, a historic symbol of white domestic terrorism and racism. In an Instagram post, Kennedy revealed that he was leaving the singing competition, writing, “There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way.” The South Carolinian continued, “I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse. I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down.”
Kennedy’s mother, Anita Guy, told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal that Kennedy doesn’t have “a racist bone in his body,” and that the video has been misinterpreted. “This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie The Strangers: Prey at Night, and they were imitating those characters,” Guy maintained. “He loves everyone and has friends of all races.” A slasher film from 2018 starring Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, The Strangers: Prey at Night depicts people wearing white face masks and head coverings, albeit in different shapes and styles than the one clearly depicted in the alleged video of Kennedy.
Read the complete article at: Vanity Fair
A bill targeting school discussions of racism and social issues has been approved by the Texas House but not before lawmakers tacked on several amendments and debated the measure for hours.
The Republican authors of the broad legislation, with a companion bill that has cleared the Senate, say it aims to prevent political agendas in schools, but education advocates have expressed concerns that it will hinder student civic engagement and class discussions of history and racism.
Dozens of organizations — including business groups and school district leaders in Austin and the Dallas area — joined opposition to the legislation.
“The bill has gotten a great deal of attention for its focus on race and gender, but it is far more broad than that, and would limit discussion in classrooms potentially of almost any current issue,” Austin school board Trustee Lynn Boswell said.
It follows similar legislation passed in other states against the teaching of critical race theory, an academic framework of thought challenging white supremacy and systemic racism. In Texas, House Bill 3979, which passed 79-65 mostly along party lines, still requires Senate approval before it can potentially reach Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, who authored HB 3979, insisted it did not ban discussions of topics such as racism or current events, but he tweaked the bill during a Monday debate that extended into early Tuesday to say teachers may not be compelled to discuss “a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue.”
“The bill simply asks that we talk about these issues from a diverse and contending perspective,” he said ahead of the second vote Tuesday.
He also added an amendment specifically against requiring “an understanding of The 1619 Project,” an initiative from The New York Times examining the role of slavery in the founding of the United States that sparked criticism from conservatives.
Read the complete article at: Austin American-Statesman
One candidate for Beaverton School Board posted on her campaign Facebook page: “Let’s run from Critical Race Theory which teaches racism and go towards alternate solutions that creates unity and understanding.” Another candidate posted on her campaign Facebook page that “CRT (critical race theory) teaches hate.”
For an election that typically flies under the radar, the emergence of critical race theory as a campaign issue reflects the lingering influence of former President Donald Trump and confusion about what examining race in K-12 education actually means.
The mischaracterization of critical race theory is no mistake. It is a platitude that has emerged from the political right in recent years in an attempt to undermine the work of social justice and equity advocates to address racial disparities in education. Last November, Trump commanded the Office of Management and Budget director to order executive agencies to cancel any contracts for training on the topics of “white privilege” or “critical race theory.” The memo ends with a similar mischaracterization: “The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the Federal government.”
These criticisms of critical race theory are rarely accompanied with an explanation or definition. Critical race theory argues that any thinking about race should recognize that race is a social construct with no biological basis. Further, that racism is embedded in our society and institutions. Acknowledging these realities as a starting point can help leaders examine and better understand why racial inequities persist in education outcomes.
For example, in the 2018-19 school year, why did only 30% and 28% of Black and Latino 8th graders in Beaverton, respectively, demonstrate grade-level proficiency in math? Or why, more than 65 years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, are the majority of Black students still attending racially segregated schools? By investigating such phenomena with a critical race theory lens, one can uncover the often difficult-to-see manifestations of systemic racism and reach beyond crude judgements of values and ability.
Read the complete article at: Oregon Live
“Destroy white supremacy, not each other.”
That’s the message plastered on several new billboards across the Portland area. The provocative message is displayed between a large gold-colored bullet that includes a superimposed image of a slave ship.
At a Monday unveiling of one of the new billboards, the artist behind the image — Portland native Elijah Hasan — said the bullet, like a slave ship, is a vessel of trauma for Black people.
“It is my intention to remind the Black minds inside these Black bodies that they may think that these bullets fly because someone snitched or even killed a loved one,” said Hasan. “But I am suggesting that this is not the reason you’re shooting. But instead, it’s a symptom of the environment you find yourself in.”
Motivated by Portland’s recent homicide rate increase, community organizations and anti-gun violence advocates — including the No Hate Zone, the Portland Rotary Peace Builders Committee, Love is Stronger, and Books Not Bars Oregon — came together to create the billboards. Their goal is to “directly connect the issue of Black-on-Black gun violence to the self-hate that is procreated by racism.”
The organizers hope to “reveal the impact that anti-Black trauma has had on the psyche of Portland’s Black community,” said Sam Sachs, founder of The No Hate Zone, a Portland racial justice organization. “The billboard campaign is done out of love and compassion, with the intent to bring awareness, action and solutions to the overwhelming number of shootings that impact communities of color, but more specifically Black men in Portland.”
Portland Police Bureau data as of May 10 shows 30 homicides this year, which includes 22 deaths from gunshots, including one fatal shooting by a police officer. There have been about 370 shooting incidents, and 118 people injured in shootings.
Read the complete article at: Oregon Live
For people who experience racism, the pain sometimes comes as much from words as it does from actions. Indigenous people like Adam Goodes and Latrell Mitchell have spoken of the hurt they feel when they’re subject to racist slurs.
Words and actions used to demean people on the basis of race or colour can be found throughout everyday society and may even be seen as innocuous. Recent government bans on Australian citizens returning from India highlight one way non-white people can be excluded from society.
People of Indian or African heritage who were born in Australia or, as in my case, the United Kingdom, often face questions like, “Where are you from?” The answer is regularly met with some disbelief.
To be subject to t++-he continual presumption that skin colour other than white is country-specific and non-Australian is humiliating, no matter how subtle it may be.
Changing how people act in terms of race and colour means changing their attitudes towards difference. Learning about the context in which racial words originated and why they are hurtful is crucial to achieving this.
Why the history of words matters
Education is an important strategy in the campaign against racist behaviour and language. Intercultural understanding is part of the Australian Curriculum and mandated by its “general capabilities” — which must be taught throughout all learning areas where appropriate.
The current curriculum review recommends a reinforcement of this intercultural understanding. The draft changes offer greater emphasis on First Nations perspectives of Australian history and more acknowledgement of Australia’s multicultural society.
But it’s not enough to just passively incorporate such education. Changing children’s attitudes towards race and, in particular, the idea (or irrelevance) of skin colour, can be best done if they learn by experiencing the negative feelings people of different races, and with different skin, colours can feel.
Read the complete article at: The Conversation