Presentation by Jose Zapata Calderon
NAACP—Sponsored Forum and Candle Light Vigil in Solidarity With Family and Friends in Louisiana and Minnesota
Madedonia Baptist Church in Pomona, CA
July 8th, 2016
We are all here, as we have gathered before, to reflect – and to continue our work to stop the senseless violence in our communities. We cannot, for one moment, put aside the conditions in this country – and those who use these conditions to spread fear, hatred, negative stereotypes, and hostility. These conditions include the state of the ECONOMY, growing demographic changes — conditions that are forcing our diverse communities to compete, rather than collaborate, for the diminishing resources in health, education, employment, and quality of life. With an increasing global society — it is easy to scapegoat the most vulnerable among us and create anger toward our increasingly diverse communities.
We are all here today – remembering the lives of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castil in Minnesota – two African American men whose deaths once again bring to light the issue – that more than 500 people have been killed by police in 2016 – and that racial profiling and excessive use of force are on the upswing.
We are also here to reflect on what happened in Dallas – and that a peaceful demonstration was turned into a stage of violence – with the media tending to blame “the Black Lives Matter” movement – when the violent acts were clearly carried out by individuals who had nothing to do with this movement. As we have said in the past, there is a foundation to the anger and frustration in our communities – but it is important not to take this anger out on one’s self, or on others (particularly those close to us in our communities) – but we need to turn frustration into organizing to change the conditions which are creating our anger.
It is no accident that we have an increase in hate crimes. When presidential candidates, such as Trump use the frustration of working people with the economy – to call for a ban on Muslims’ entry to the U. S. and targets Mexican and Latino people – and influences public attitude with the help of the news media — to call for the deportation of the eleven million undocumented — and force Mexico to fund a wall to keep them out – there is a direction being promoted here that targets specific groups as a threat to national security – and influences public opinion – (with 25% approving of such policies as religious profiling, surveillance, special ID’s, and incarceration).
There is no getting around the issues of poverty and race in our communities – and the problems of crime, violence, substandard housing, unemployment, lack of jobs, and environmental degradation. Mass deportations and mass incarcerations have been expanding to unconscionable levels in recent years – leading to separation of families – children left without parents – poverty, unemployment, homelessness – in our communities. We do have to change the stereotypical media portrayal of our Muslim and people of color communities. We do have to change the reality of a renewed form of racial segregation, profiling, and criminalization of our communities. We do have to take concrete steps such as those proposed in a report by the Center for Popular Democracy and Policy Link titled Building From the Ground Up: A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing:
- Stop criminalizing everything: de-prioritize enforcing and prosecuting low-level offenses.
- Stop using poor people to fatten city budgets.
- Kick ICE out of your city. The report suggests that cities sever ties between ICE and local police department. ICE should not be able to request these holds. Nor should they have access to the address and names of family members of people detained by local police.
- Treat addicts and mentally ill people like they need help, not jail. Some issue – like acting erratically due to mental illness or possessing and using drugs due to addiction – are actually better served by medical attention, not incarceration.
- Make policy makers face their own racism. The report recommends that policy makers should have to evaluate the potential racial impact of any new laws they create, and involve community organizers and people who work with disadvantaged population in every step of the process.
- Actually ban racist policing. But at the very least, cities, counties and states should provide avenues through which private citizens can take the police to court when they believe they’ve been profiled.
- Obey the Fourth Amendment – prohibiting “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
- Involve the community in big decisions. Every city should have an adequately funded community oversight board with significant investigatory and disciplinary powers.
- Collect data obsessively. The report says that cities and departments should maintain a transparent and searchable database on every stop, frisk, summons, use of force, arrest, and killing they conduct.
- Body cameras. Body cameras are far from the solution. But they can be important and helpful, especially when the local community supports their use, guided by clear regulations.
- Don’t let friends of the police prosecute the police. Cases against police officers would be tried by independent prosecutors, not the district attorney who works with them all the time.
- Oversight, oversight, oversight. The report proposes external oversight committees – ones that oversee the implementation of reforms and proactively identify issues in police operations and practices.
- No more military equipment. President Barack Obama did recently issue and executive order prohibiting police departments from obtaining specific equipment – namely tracked armored vehicles, grenade launcher, large caliber weapons, ammunition, and bayonets.
- Establish a “use of force” standard. The report says that all departments should issue a statement affirming that their officers should use minimum force to subdue people. They should develop clear and transparent standards for reporting, investigating, and disciplining officers who do not comply.
- Train the police to be members of the community, not just armed patrolmen. Police should be trained on how to develop better relationships with their communities – training that incorporates culture, diversity, mental illness training, youth development, bias, and racism.
Brothers and sisters – it is time to build a movement to not take our frustrations, conditions, and fears on oneself – or take it out on our friends, families, and neighbors – but to use our energies and abilities to build unity in our communities – to fight for legislative actions (at the local, state, and national levels) that directly address racial profiling, excessive use of enforcement – without addressing the foundations. With so many problems being faced by our society, there is the need for coalitions to develop between all of us — in advancing a leadership that combats prejudice, racism, sexism, and homophobia — and builds our unity in advancing solutions to the structural issues of racism, poverty, and inequality in our communities.
Closing Plenary Presentation: “Summary Themes of URBAN Research, Action, and Activism Conference”
CUNY Graduate Center
Jose Zapata Calderon
April 1, 2016
First of all, I want to thank Celina Su and organizers of the URBAN Research, Action, and Activism conference. We have come a long way at a time when we are in a critical time period in this country. Thank you for including the elders (of which I am one) alongside the voice of the community-based organizations at this conference that are carrying out exemplary work – and leading the way in making the “road by walking.”
One of the overall themes that I take with me, from this conference, and that the speakers and participants consistently mentioned throughout the conference, is the need to develop and advance liberatory spaces – where we cross borders of self-determination and solidarity – where the resources that we produce are used, not to create a patriarchal greedy society that defines achievement on the basis of profit for a few – but that unites our communities in using what we produce to build a more just and equitable society. We have the power to do this! We have the power to build such spaces of equality! And we have the power to turn this country around!
We have the power to decolonize our educational system so that our Black and Brown children, our children of color, are no longer seen as criminals but are allowed to develop to the fullest of their capacities and to be treated like the geniuses that they are. It is true that every child is born a genius but this system destroys that capacity very early on. We have the capacity, as all of you have reiterated in the break-out sessions, to stop the school to prison pipeline by creating “safe spaces” where students are exposed to a curriculum that looks at the systemic and structural aspects of inequity, that brings to center stage the contributions of our diverse communities – who – because of poverty, racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, immigrant status, and physical/mental challenges have been historically excluded without a voice. Without this, our students will be taught to blame themselves and to take their frustrations our on themselves, on their families, on their neighborhoods – instead of taking out on the structure that is creating those conditions. As all of you have spoken – to get there – we need to love the children, our parents, our grandparents, our families – and organize our communities in solidarity – to advance a democratic movement that includes teachers, professors, and students to use research and data to advance new model of open spaces, collective spaces – where our children, our young people, are allowed to develop the highest levels of their potentiality.
We have the capacity to create new models of development – new models of research, teaching, and organizing that stops gentrification, stops the creation of homelessness, and stops charity-driven top-down pedagogies (that keep our communities without the needed information and new technologies to raise their voices). Yes, new technologies such as we have experienced at this conference in the application of Pluto data to expose gentrification and the ills of corporate capital where the sole measure of development is based on profit — the use of new “public space” research and engagement technologies that advance the historical beauty, culture, art, music, knowledge, and contributions of our diverse communities.
We have the power to make immigrant rights a human rights issue. We have the power to unite our diverse communities, our people of color communities – to defend the rights of our LGBTQ, Muslim, women, children, immigrant brothers and sisters – to stop the criminalization – the mass deportation – and support DACA/DAPA and full citizenship rights – while realizing that citizenship in itself is not an end all in ensuring long-term full equality rights. We know, as pointed out by the immigrant rights panelists today, that without the labor of our immigrant brothers and sisters, many industries in this country would be in economic distress – and that these industries are literally demanding the need for these workers – but want them, as in the past to continue as a cheap labor force. Our undocumented brothers and sisters have earned the right to full legalization, to keep their families together, and to receive back the benefits that they have already contributed to this economy and to economies abroad.
We have the power to create new examples of sustaining ourselves, sustaining our organizations, sustaining our communities, and building alliances through creating quality of life models such as URBAN, where we not only hug each other in acts of unity but support each other through our bold and non-compromising research and pedagogy. This was the character of Marilyn Jacobs Gitell, why we have celebrated her life at this conference, and why we have brought to center stage the stories of others who, like Marilyn, used their research, teaching, and organizing to advance spaces in our communities that are liberatory, restorative, and transformative.
We have the power to create new spaces and new models of the future. We have the power to combat those forces that, rather than promoting policies to invest in quality of health, jobs, housing, education, and enrichment — advance the blaming of immigrants, the poor, people of color, women, the physically and mentally challenged, working people, and our LGBTQ communities – to divide us – to keep us fighting with each other over diminishing resources – and to keep our communities from coalescing around the issues that our people confront every day in their communities.
This conference, as Dee Dee Williams pointed out – has “lit a fire” in all of us – to keep us going – to not stop here – to leave this conference with the passion and vision to build new “spaces of equity” – true democracy – and where our research, teaching, and organizing serve the overcoming of systemic and historical injustices to build the kind of just and equal society that we all want to live in.
The Future of Public Education
At the The Next System Teach-in at UC Santa Barbara on
April 16, 2016
By Jose Zapata Calderon
Muchisimas Gracias por la invitacion. Hay momentos en nuestras vidas que nos transforman. Yo se que muchos de ustedes se acuerdan de momentos transformativos en sus vidas. La base de me mi transformacion era entre la connecsion de mi educasion, mi trabajo, mi familia, y movimientos para desarollar cambios. Mis palabras hoy vienen de mis experencias como trabajador, profesor, padre, abuelito, y – mas que todo – como un hijo de padres inmigrantes — y como lider y organisador por la mayor parte de mi vida — en los campos, en uniones, en escuelas, en colegios, y en varias comunidades.
- Siempre comienso mis presentaciones en español para enseñar la fuerza del lenguaje – y tambien para enseñar un ejemplo de algo que se puede usar como forma de opresion o de liberacion. Si uno no puede participar – es muy duro desarollar las mas altas posibidades de desarollar nuestras capacidades. Cuantos de ustedes me entienden? Bueno, a todos ustedes que me entienden – Les damos una A y a los demas una F.
- El poder de la palabra es muy fuerte y sabemos que puede resultar en excluir estudiantes – puede resultar en bajo autoestima – en ellos creer que la culpa es de ellos y no de un Sistema que da la culpa a los maestros y no a las condiciones historicas y estructurales que son el base del problema. En este momento estoy usando el poder de la palabra para oprimir.
I will stop here because I know that there are many of you who do not understand Spanish. I began my presentation by thanking all of your and especially the Next System teach-in coordinators Emily Williams and Gary Lytlefor inviting me to be here with you today. I explained that there are moments in our lives that are transformational and that everyone here can point to transformational moments in their lives that became the foundations of principles and values for long-term change. The foundations of the transformations in my life had all to do with the connections between education, labor, family, and social change activism.
It is in this context — that my presentation today is based on — my lived experience as a worker, professor, father, grandfather – and most importantly – as a son of immigrant farm workers – and as a social justice organizer in the fields, in unions, in the schools, in colleges, and in diverse communities. I always begin my presentations in Spanish to reflect power relations – and to show, for a moment, how exclusion can be used as a form of oppression. If one is not able to participate, there is no way that one can develop one’s capacities to the highest levels. I asked how many of you understand me – and shared that those who understood me would receive an A and those who did not – an F. We know that this form of structural exclusion can result in low self-esteem in our students with a belief that they are responsible – and a power structure that places the blame on our teacher – and not on the historical or systemic conditions that are the foundations of the problem.
It is this systemic and structural oppression that I want to talk about to you today – and I am so heartened to be speaking to so many of you who are building and constructing with the tools of education – for, as we know, education is truly a tool for overcoming domestication, scapegoating, and exclusion.
With the growth of a global economy, there is the need for a type of educational system that promotes the building of new models toward a democratic society. However, there is a trend emerging in our present educational system that wants to take us back to the days of reproducing individuals to fit a more authoritarian philosophy. This trend seeks to promote a managerial “banking” system where the power of disseminating knowledge is being transferred to the needs of the business and political establishments. This shift fits into the early twentieth century industrial model of schools where students were socialized in assembly-like rows to be taught the status quo and not to be heard from. With the promotion of standardized tests and quantitative methods that evaluate the performances of both teachers and students, there is a diminishing of the space for the creation of democratic bridges between what is being learned in the classroom and the challenges of democratic decision-making in our communities. This trend is characterized by the growth of for-profit corporate charter schools and companies who are redefining the meaning of education by taking money out of public schools. In the debate over the state of our educational system, unfortunately — many taxpayers have been led to believe that the issue is only about the quality of our teachers and not about the poverty and racism – the structural inequities that many of our underrepresented students and their families confront every day in their communities. There is no getting around that in many of our cities half of all black and Latino young people are not graduating from our high schools – and that most are finding themselves on the unemployment lines, in poverty, or in jail. Einstein once said that every child is born a genius – but we all know now how easily this capacity can be taken away before and after birth. Think of the mother working in the fields in her 8th month of pregnancy – and pesticides swarming all around her – affecting whether that child is going to be born with hands, with legs, with the brilliant mind of our generations. Think of the child who is born without access to good nutrition, good health care – and immigrant parents who work double shifts without the time needed to fully care for the needs of that child. Think of the young woman who is scorned in school for not being able to speak English – scorned for having an accent – the young woman who is paid less because of her skin color, because of her gender – and the young man and young woman bullied because of their sexual orientation. There are structural issues here and that is why we have to fight for structural solutions such as supporting the campaign of Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds – for we know that the success of our students is also tied to the state of their health and the conditions in the homes and communities from where they come from.
Of course there are those who think that the success of our educational system can be done just by changing the curriculum or improving our teacher training. There are others who hail the growth of charter schools and advocate voucher systems to solve the problem. What we already know is that these efforts have been attempted and that there are consistent flaws in their implementation. We know now that the method of standardized testing has resulted in minimal improvements. And we know that charter schools are overall not doing any better than public schools – and, in fact, educating fewer English learners and special needs children – and contributing to racial segregation.
In this realm of thinking, there are those who advocate that low test scores are caused by bad teachers – and that if you Get rid of the bad teachers — all students will get high test scores. The reality is, as we know, that teachers do not give tenure to themselves. Instead of acknowledging that test scores are highly correlated with family income – instead of acknowledging the structural issues of large class sizes, the lowest per pupil funding rates of k-12 schools in the nation, the decrease in programs and services for students with the greatest needs, the rise in tuition and fee increases in our system of higher education, and the limited access to public preschool — they prefer to blame teachers and the very idea of public education. We know otherwise – we know that the improvement of education will not be done through laws that blame all teachers, campaigns by privately-funded corporations, and solutions that leave out the economic, resource, racial, and historical factors ( the foundations of many of the problems in our educational system). This trend, brothers and sisters, — rather than tapping the passionate reason as to why so many college graduates become teachers — vilifies teachers and is forcing many to turn away from the educational world as a career.
The real issue, we know, is not the quality of education — but it is the issue of inequality. There is no getting around, as Professor Mark Warren in his article Transforming Public Education points out that children from poor families score lower than those from higher-income communities and that there is a growing achievement gap between high and low-income students. There is no getting around that students of color, particularly Black and Latino, end up in schools that have less qualified teachers, larger class sizes, fewer and older textbooks, older facilities, and fewer computers than schools in more affluent communities.
There is no getting around the issues of poverty and race where more than a third of all black children are in poverty – where large numbers of African American and Latino Children grow up in poverty neighborhoods – with problems surrounding them of crime, violence, substandard housing, unemployment, lack of jobs, and environmental degradation. These conditions affect the lives of the young children – young people. These conditions result in Black and Latino have the highest suspension and expulsion rates – with Black students, for example, who make up 16 percent of public school students have over 31 percent of the suspensions and expulsions. And we know where many of these students who drop out or who do not graduate – end up — in what is called the school-to prison pipeline.
Mass deportations and mass incarcerations have been expanding to unconscionable levels in recent years – leading to separation of families – children left without parents – poverty, unemployment, homelessness – in our communities. Our prison population has exploded from about 300,000 to more than 2 million in a few decades. The majority of those incarcerated are black and brown. There are more African Americans under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. And these realities are connected to the right to vote. As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.
Yes, we know the outcomes — And with a felony conviction – we know that these young people cannot get a job when they get out – they cannot vote.
With so many problems being faced by our society, there is the need for coalitions to develop between our parents, teachers, students, unions, and community-based organizations, and in advancing new forms of research, learning, and practice that can help develop a citizenry and a leadership in the future that takes up the structural issues of racism, poverty, and inequality in our communities. Brothers and sisters, we do have to change our schools. We do have to change the media portrayal of our Black and Latino brothers and sisters – and the low expectations and bias – and the blame of parents — that some of our teachers and administrators have of our people of color as a result of some of these stereotypes. We do have to change the reality of geographic segregation – and the amount of resources that go to higher-income – upper-middle class schools – resulting in these students having less expulsions, more graduating – having privilege pathways to higher education and ultimately higher incomes and better jobs. We do have to change our schools but we also have to change how they interact and deal with the communities of inequality from where many of our students are coming from – yes we have to do this- – by accepting the reality of geographic segregation and that our focus also has to include organizing against all forms of racial segregation and taking up the issues in the communities where our students are coming from – the issues of housing, development, jobs, health, and immigrant rights. This is why, in my work, we are in unity with the movement to amend Proposition 13 so that, while homeowners and small businesses can be protected against escalating property taxes – that large businesses are properly assessed based on the fair market value of their properties – and that there is equality in ensuring equality of resources in all school districts – regardless of where they are located.
We need a movement – an educational justice movement – the seeds of which we are already beginning to see among young people nationally, among teachers, among parents that are focusing on both changing the schools from within but connecting to the larger issues of poverty, racism, inequality in our communities – which are often the source of many problems in our schools.
As an example – In Pomona, a city, which is 70% Latino, 10% Black, and 7% Asian Pacific Islanders – my students used community-based engagement and research, alongside parents, in helping to defeat a bill that would have wiped out district elections (which have resulted in more representation of people of color). We have advanced community and coalition-building (again, with parents, students, teachers, and community-based organizations in transforming a city-based strategy of dealing with “gangs” simply through enforcement and incarceration to one that understands that “gang violence would not exist if they (gangs) did not satisfy the desperate needs of young people for family, education, mentoring, housing, employment, health, spiritual, and social support.” It has been these grassroots efforts that have been effective in developing an “economic justice plan” that includes the capacity-building strategies of quality jobs, housing, health, education, and pre-school/after-school programs (particularly in the low-income sectors of the community). More recently, we have brought Pomona Unified school and city officials together with parents, students, and our community-based organizations in joining together to implement the concept of “community schools.” This partnership has led to the school holding forums with the Center for Democracy – the school being a co-sponsor with community-based organizations and parents in implementing DACA immigrant rights clinics, driver’s license workshops, Matricula clinics drawing thousands – and Cesar Chavez Pilgrimage marches on the issues of funding for education, ethnic studies, and support for the minimum wage. More recently, our coalition has endorsed and is actively organizing support for SB 1050 (introduced by one of my former students, Senate Pro Tempore Kevin De Leon) which, if passed, will help to level the playing field and create a pipeline of educational opportunity and success for K-12 public school students — especially those who are low income(with 58% who are from low income families) and includes English learners – and foster youth of all backgrounds — to be better prepared for and graduate from California’s public universities.
Our support for these initiatives needs to be based on an educational justice movement that is proactive in our schools — that is based on a type of teaching, learning, and organizing where: there is a passion for creating spaces of equity; but – where at the same time – connects to the issues of poverty, racism, exclusion, and inequality in our communities — where students are exposed to a curriculum that does not just deal with the problems in the society but that looks at the systemic and structural aspects of inequity; that brings to center stage the contributions of communities who (because of poverty, racism, sexism, classism, or homophobia) have historically been excluded from our textbooks; and that involves students in working alongside excluded communities on common projects to implement transformative social change.
As we seek to develop coalitions, it is important for us to look toward new ways of carrying out democratic forms of learning and curriculum building in our classrooms – that include a vision goes beyond the measurement of the quality of one’s capacity merely on standardized testing – to one that that allows for the fullest potential, creativity, and capacity of our students, of our teachers, of our parents, of our community leaders – to connect to new models of building democratic participation in our communities– new models that can help in advancing a more democratic and socially just culture in our schools and in the larger society.
There are too many media commentators, too many books, too many politicians, too many pessimists — that have us believing that we cannot cultivate. The reality is that our communities know a lot – but are diminished in the possibilities for positioning and taking back the legacies of creation that have been so much a part of our history.
We know that there is no secret to reaching this level and that it takes our organizing efforts – and the support of each other to change the structural obstacles. Whether the optimal possibilities can come to be realities for our children – for our young people – for our brothers and sisters in the future – has a lot to do with the engagement of all of us here and our communities in advancing an educational justice movement locally and nationally for the resources, leadership, and changes that are needed to meet the needs of our children, parents, and families.
I want to urge all of you – to leave here with a passion – to use whatever opportunity the past and the present have developed – to go as far as you can – in accumulating all the knowledge that you can –and using that knowledge to build new schools — a new society – on the level of the future – in trying out new prescriptions of cultivation in how we structure our communities, our schools, our cities, our spaces of higher education. This is the real challenge – to not shirk our responsibilities of cultivation to the legacies of past generations – and take on the problems of our communities – This is the real meaning of why we need to build strong coalitions again and a strong movement locally and nationally.
We are geniuses – and we have to change the mentality of a society that begins to stratify one from the time one is born – according to the village that raises us – and the resources available to deter or advance the resources of potentiality.
We need you to cultivate – to create spaces in our homes, programs, and with families that are examples of the kind of world that we want to live in.
But, in addition to cultivating and creating those spaces- it is essential to build a powerful and political social movement – where we are together – not alone as individuals – but in coalitions, — in partnerships — finding a common ground with students, parents, and community-based groups – to take on the challenge of organizing our co-workers – in our schools, in our communities to build a strong movement for the future of public education – for the future of social and economic justice — to get involved in building new collaborations to ensure that the priorities of this country are not just about profit for a few – but are about sustaining and ensuring the resources necessary for the many. Let us all cultivate together — then — so that our families – so that our future generations — have the type of high quality education, employment, nutrition, healthcare, and caring that they deserve. Si Se Puede!
Presentation at NAACP Journey for Justice Rally at Civic Plaza in Pomona, CA
By Jose Zapata Calderon
September 30, 2015
It is important to bring to center stage those who have contributed so much to the advancement of building unity in this country around the issues that affect our communities. Julian Bond was one who knew how to take up the issues of the African American community (such as racial profiling, incarceration, and segregation) while building coalitions of people from all colors, genders, and sexual orientations – to build a more just, equal, and democratic society. Julian Bond was a scholar at Morehouse College in Atlanta – but he did not just theorize or write or teach – but turned his theories and his learning into organizing as a social activist and leader in the 1960’s in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was an example of one who, not only fought to ensure the enfranchisement of our communities, but he turned voting power into being an example of a community-based organizer who got elected to the Georgia House of Representatives and the State Senate, to the chairmanship of the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center – and never lost his principles and values – or his connections with the communities who helped elect him. It was when Julian Bond was in the Georgia House of Representatives, in 1970, and I was Student Body Vice President at the University of Colorado – that I met Julian Bond. We invited him to speak on the campus – and I was honored to have dinner with him before he spoke. This was one of those moments that touched my life – and was part of making who I am today.
This was a time when Julian Bond was a symbol of the election of eleven African Americans in the Georgia House of Representatives as a result of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was an example of the voter registration and voter turn-out efforts – that he personally had helped to organize – to end the disenfranchisement of African Americans – and end the discriminatory practices which systematically excluded them from being able to vote. This was a time when I, and ten thousand other students, voted – at the University of Colorado to go on strike in protest of the Viet Nam War. He reminded us that evening that on January 10, 1966 – the Georgia State representatives had voted 184 – 12 to not allow him to take his rightful seat in the House of Representatives (when he had been voted in) because of his public support of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s position opposing U. S. involvement in the Viet Nam war. Imagine – Julian Bond took this position in 1966 – when it was at all not popular to take such a position. It took a decision by a United State District Court to rule that this exclusion was unconstitutional and ensure his position in the Georgia House of Representatives.
A good way to remember Julian Bond is to continue the efforts that he led in support of our diverse communities – in support of the disenfranchised.
The reality is that the demographics of the largest twenty cities in the U. S. today are now majority Black, Brown, and Asian Pacific. In New York City, three-fifths of those residing in the city are foreign-born with the majority not being able to vote. Among these are the undocumented who contribute much to the economy, pay taxes, but cannot vote. A 50-state study, Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, shows that they collectively paid $11.84 billion in state and local taxes. We know that their legalization would lead to an additional $1.4 trillion as a stimulus to the economy. This means that the places where immigrants live are highly overrepresented but they are structurally excluded. This is also true for other historically excluded groups.
This is a time when Mass deportations and mass incarcerations expanding to unconscionable levels in recent years – leading to separation of families – children left without parents – poverty, unemployment, homelessness – in our communities. Our prison population has exploded from about 300,000 to more than 2 million in a few decades. The majority of those incarcerated are black and brown. There are more African Americans under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. And these realities are connected to the right to vote. As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.
These realities come at a time when there are a a record number of Latino and Asian voters that have become the country’s fastest-growing voting blocs and have formed coalitions with African Americans, Native Americans, and progressive white voters to change the political landscape.
Alongside Deportation and Incarceration – as well as increased enforcement – as part of ongoing efforts to stop the growing political power of our diverse communities – is a case before the Supreme Court that could redefine “one person, one vote” and voting rights law. This case, Evenwel vs. Abbott, is aimed at changing how electoral districts are drawn across the country (revamping who comprises electoral districts) and reshaping who is ultimately represented by elected officials. The challengers in the Texas case, represented by the conservative legal group Project on Fair Representation, argues that the practice of drawing Congressional districts should no longer use total population from census figures as a marker for creating electoral districts – but that it should exclude those ineligible to vote, such as undocumented immigrants, felons, and young people below the voting age.
What this would mean – is that in areas where there are a large number of these groups – those districts would get diluted representation – because the districts would now be drawn just on the basis of the numbers of voters and not based on the total population. Again, this is another example of cutting back on the growing political power of our diverse communities – and the potential of the political strength of the diverse people of color, women, LGBTQ, labor, faith-based, and community-based coalitions – that have manifested themselves more than ever in recent years.
It is important to understand the foundations of these efforts to disenfranchise our diverse communities — as having a foundation in the successful organizing in recent years, in advancing the legacy of Julian Bond – in the development of broad multi-racial coalitions, and our growing political strength. In this context, it is important to not react to these attacks, to not be afraid – to not be passive –but to do as now has become our tradition – to organize as we always have – to vote with our feet, with our hands, and with our minds – to unite around our common efforts to have resources channeled for jobs, health, education and quality of life – to support efforts for simplifying voter registration – to get out the vote – to support candidates who support our communities – to hold those that are elected accountable — to not let them scapegoat us – to not let them divide us – but to respond with creative alternatives that can move us forward in implementing our vision for a more just, equal, and humane society.
Lessons from an Activist Intellectual (Book)
Over the years, I have written a number of articles as an activist intellectual and organizer. A number of colleagues, former students, friends and family members had proposed that I compile the articles and publish them as a means of sharing the lessons learned from making the connections between teaching, research, and organizing for social change. It is in that spirit that I have published a book, Lessons from an Activist Intellectual. Although the publishing date is not until August 16th, there are various options to pre-ordering the book:
1. Pre-order by sending $25 to: Jose Z. Calderon, Pitzer College, 1050 N. Mills Ave., Claremont, CA 91711
2. Order through Amazon, cost of $32.95 at: http://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Activist-Intellectual-Teaching-Organizing/dp/0761865888
3. Order through Barnes and Noble at $26.39: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lessons-from-an-activist-intellectual-jose-zapata-calderon/1121871729?ean=9780761865889[p
4. Order through Rowman & Littlefield at:
Description of book:
Lessons from an Activist Intellectual provides examples of how an academician can combine the roles of teacher, researcher, and activist with a community-based critical pedagogy for democracy and empowerment. This book discusses the interconnections made between José Calderón’s pedagogy and his history as an immigrant, student, social movement leader, researcher, professor, and community organizer. At the same time, it provides examples of an interactive, intercultural, and interdisciplinary pedagogy that involves both students andcommunity participants as both teachers and learners in social change projects. This style of pedagogy has a particular salience for historically excluded individuals from diverse racial, class, gender, and sexual orientation backgrounds, for whom the educational experience can be both an alienating and empowering experience.
Jose Zapata Calderon
Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Chicano/a and Latino/a Studies
Presentation at “Changing Landscape of the U. S”
Presentation at “Changing Landscape of the U. S.: 50 Years Since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act at Chinese American Museum Panel by Jose Calderon
I want to thank the Chinese American Museum and staff for organizing this most important forum. I am honored to be part of a panel which includes three prominent leaders (Linda Vo, Stewart Kwoh, and Mike Eng) which I, and our communities – strongly respect. I would like to begin with a background to the 1965 Act, bring in a particularity connected to how the ACT affected Latina and Latino immigrants, while promoting the ongoing need to unite our diverse communities.
It was after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that Congress passed the 1965 Immigration and Nationality (Hart-Celler) Act – an act which did away with the aspects of national origin, race, or ancestry as a basis for immigration to the U. S.. The act eliminated the restrictive national origins quota system that was originally passed in 1924 when nativism and xenophobia were at an all-time high (favoring Northern and Western European immigrants because they were thought to be genetically superior and restricting others because of their supposedly genetic inferiority). The Act replaced this quota system and replaced it with an allocation of immigrant visas based on a seven-category preference system for relatives and permanent resident immigrants (based on the policies promoted — for the reunification of families) – policies which took into account occupational skills, relatives living in the U. S., and political-refugee status.
Although the U. S. government expected that most of the immigration would come from Europe, many European immigrants had already come earlier and the European economy was doing well. This reality opened the doors to unprecedented numbers of Immigrants from Asia, Mexico, Latin America, and other non-western nations – and dramatically changed the demographics in the U. S..
This is a point to emphasize — Since 1965, the majority of family-sponsored immigrants have come from Asia and Latin America rather than Europe. It is also important to point out that , between 2009 and 2011, immigrants from Africa have outnumbered Europeans. Hence, in the three decades following the passage of the 1965 ACT, more than 18 million legal immigrants have entered the U. S. – more than three times the number admitted over the preceding 30 years.
This happened as a result of this 1965 ACT which limited Eastern Hemisphere immigration to 170,000 and placed a ceiling on Western Hemisphere immigration to 120,000 — with a cap of 20,000 per nation. This Act, for the first time, placed a quota on immigration from Mexico and Latin America – and, given the proximity of the border – this had a particular effect on the Mexican people – many in the thousands who began to cross over without documents.
This fact is important because, as many researchers have written (such as Kevin R. Johnson and Douglas Massey) – not all was equal in the passage of the act – and as it can be argued – did not fully result in equal treatment under the law. The 1965 Act, although appearing to be impartial and fair, included a form of racial discrimination – less visible than the national origins quotas system. There was an anti-Latino underside of the immigration act. Congress backed reforms with a hope of significantly restricting the number of Latina/o immigrants to the U. S. – expressing the fear that, absent bold new restrictive steps in the ACT – that Latino immigrants might overrun – and possibly destroy American society. There was an intent to cap immigration from Mexico as well as Latin America – and thus, establishing a foundation for modern immigration enforcement that resulted in a series of U. S. immigration laws and enforcement measures directed primarily at Latinos. Those measures have continued to the point – where we have had up to 400,000 immigrants being deported yearly today. There is no doubt that the Act created a new path for eliminating discriminatory laws that had excluded Asian immigration. On the other hand, by placing an artificial ceiling on legal migration from Mexico – (coupled with the end of the Bracero program in 1964) the legislation advanced the growth of an undocumented immigrant population subject to removal from the U. S.. It can be argued that this trend in immigration to the U. S. contributed to changes in the racial demographics of American society in the post-1965 period, the public’s view of immigration, and ultimately the overall direction of U. S. Immigration law and its enforcement. With an increase of undocumented, particularly from Mexico and Central America – there was an increase in enforcement of U. S. Immigration laws (a total of fifteen restrictive immigration bills from 1965 to 1995 and 16 enforcement operations between 1993 and 2010)). The restrictive process, primarily directed at Mexican migration, contributed greatly to the steady growth of the undocumented Mexican population. The ACT marked the beginning of a series of escalating restrictions on Mexican migration, greatly bolstered immigration enforcement in the U. S./Mexico border region as well as the entire country, and contributed to a growing concern with the number of Mexican immigrants in the U. S.. The law built on and greatly reinforced the deeply entrenched anti-Mexican racism in the U. S. – which advanced a perspective that undocumented immigrants were an economic and social threats. So, although eliminating the discriminatory national origins quotas system, removing rigid barriers to immigrate to the U. S. from Asia, and offering the appearance of neutrality and objectivity to the American immigration system – the ACT also had some questionable results in limiting the extent of migration to the U. S. from the Western Hemisphere.
On the positive side, we know that the large numbers of immigrants from Asia and from Latin America – have led to major demographic changes with a rise of ethnic enclaves and rise of ethnic businesses. These new arrivals have transformed the demographic, economic, and cultural environment of many communities. At the same time, as we all know (from our experiences in places like Monterey Park), the demographic changes have also led to ethnic/racial conflict between old-time residents and the new immigrants – with some movements, such as the English Only movement, proclaiming that the immigrants are taking over the country and destroying American culture.
The demographic changes have been dramatic. In 1960, the foreign-born share of the population was just 5% – whereas by 2013 – it had doubled to 13%. Further, the ethnic composition of immigrants has changed. In 1960, according to a PEW Research study, the overwhelming share of immigrants were of European origin and few were Latin-American/Caribbean or Asian. By 2013, a census survey found half of immigrants were Latin-American/Caribbean and 27% were Asian, while the share of the immigrant population had fallen to a mere 13%. And the future is no different. Based on the most recent census data, the Pew Research Center is projecting that the first and second generation immigrant segment of the American population will swell to 37% by 2050 as compared to 15% back in 1965. Since passage of the 1965 Hart-Celler Act, family preferences have been the central pathway to legal immigration to the U. S.. In 1970 and 1980, 25% and 40% of legal permanent immigration resulted from family reunification – and in the 1990s about 55 percent used family preference for immigration. Between 2001 and 2010, family reunification represented nearly two-thirds of the total documented immigration to the U. S..
While attention in 1965 focused on fixing policies for regulating immigration, the immigrant rights efforts today are focused on legalizing the 12 million undocumented in the U. S. An argument that is still in the forefront today – which was one of the main arguments for the implementation of the 1965 Act – is the call to not separate families – that to separate families is to go against the values of principles of a just and equal democracy – and that there is the need for legalization measures that can ensure family unification and reunification. This argument makes sense when there are an estimated 8.8 million families with a head of household or spouse who is undocumented – and, when among these mixed-status families (which include 16.6 million persons, there are more than 80% of the children who are U. S.-born citizens (an estimated 4.5 million).
In this context, it is important to understand our diverse histories and how the 1965 ACT affected our particular communities. If we do not absorb and appreciate these particularities, there is the danger of allowing a historical systemic strategy that is used to divide our families and to blame the victim rather than building the types of coalitions which, in recent years, have made California an exemplary state in its support of undocumented immigrants. It is no accident that, alongside the demographic changes, there have been dramatic changes in public opinion – and this has been due to the Dreamers, labor, and people of color coalitions that have united. It is no accident that — In 1990 – over a majority of Americans saw immigrants in a bad light and saw them as a threat. It is no accident that by 2014, 57% saw immigrants as contributing to the country through their hard work – and only 35% now see them as a threat. We need to thank everyone here – and all those who have sought common ground – for these transformations – and we cannot stop here.
The legacy of any gains made from 1965 to the present need to continue in uniting all that can be united in building these exemplary coalitions — such as those that we have seen in recent years that have united our communities of all colors – in working together on a state level for policies such as driver’s licenses for undocumented, collaborating together” on a national level against enforcement policies which racially profile our communities – and “fighting together for” executive orders such as DACA and DAPA – and not stop until there are policies in place that will immediately lead to permanent residency and citizenship for our 12 million undocumented immigrant brothers and sisters- a legalization with no expansion of temporary guest worker (bracero) programs and with labor law protections.