Human Rights

'Parental-rights activists' are pushing an 'authoritarian' agenda — with Trump’s help

When Donald Trump called for "patriotic education" for public schools in September 2020, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice was vehemently critical — telling CNN's Erin Burnett that Trump's idea sounded like something out of Mao Tse Tung-era China.

Three years later, Trump and other MAGA Republicans, including the far-right group Moms for Liberty, haven't given up on their idea. In fact, New York Magazine's Sarah Jones stresses that he is making it a priority in his 2024 campaign.

"Parents simply want to protect children from smut and indoctrination, activists say," Jones explains in an article published on September 19. "'Parental rights' is veneer, though: The movement exclusively opposes LGBT content, sex education, and anti-racist material. They've banned books and threatened librarians and fired teachers. These activists are extremists, and so are their allies in office."

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Jones continues, "If anyone doubted that, Donald Trump's latest education proposal should enlighten them. The former president's top priority is to 'restore' parental rights, he announced last week. By this, he means he wants schools to out LGBT children to their parents — or, as he put it, notify parents 'if a teacher or other school employee' has changed a child's 'name, pronouns, or understanding of his or her gender.' Many of Trump's policies are designed to push children back into the closet, all at the behest of far-right parents."

Jones notes that Trump is calling for a "credentialing body" for teachers who "embrace patriotic values and support the American way of life."

"Parental-rights activists and Trump have much in common beyond their hatred for LGBT people," Jones comments. "They both share an authoritarian tendency."

READ MORE:Moms for Liberty: ‘Joyful warriors’ or anti-government conspiracists?

Read the full New York Magazine article at this draft.

Moms for Liberty: ‘Joyful warriors’ or anti-government conspiracists?

Motherhood language and symbolism have been part of every U.S. social movement, from the American Revolution to Prohibition and the fight against drunk drivers. Half of Americans are women, most become mothers, and many are conservative.

The U.S. is also a nation of organizing, so conservative moms – like all moms – often band together.

Lately, the mothers group dominating media attention is Moms for Liberty, self-described “joyful warriors … stok[ing] the fires of liberty” with the slogan “We Don’t Co-Parent with the Government.”

Others see them as well-organized, publicity-savvy anti-government conspiracists.

The rambunctious two-year-old group was founded in Brevard County, Florida, to resist COVID-19 mask mandates. It quickly expanded into the Southeast, now claiming 120,000 members in 285 chapters nationwide. Their mission is to “figh[t] for the survival of America by unifying, educating and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government.”

By “parental rights” they mean limiting certain content in schools and having local councils and boards run only by “liberty-minded individuals” – which sounds like rhetoric from the American Revolution.

There’s historical precedent in this. Change the clothes and hairdos and these ladies could look like the conservative white women who opposed busing in 1970s Boston, supported McCarty anti-communism or blocked integration in Southern schools. Those women also formed mom-based groups to protest what they saw as government overreach into their families’ way of life.

But as a scholar of American politics with a focus on gender and race, I also see differences.

21st century conservatism

Moms for Liberty skillfully leverages social media, drawing on a population activated by the 2009-2010 rise of the Tea Party followed by the Trumpian MAGA movement. Mask mandates were the trigger for the group’s formation, but opposition to gender fluidity and queerness has become its bread and butter – more 21st century than 20th.

How racial equality is talked about animates its work also, in a distinctly new way. The conservative position on race and government’s role in the past century has pivoted from enforcement of segregation and hierarchy to a kind of social “laissez-faire” – hands off – position to match the Reaganite view that government is bad.

The extreme, hyper-male form of this anti-government, pro-traditional gender-roles ideology took shape as the Proud Boys, a number of whose leaders are now under indictment and sentence for their part in the Jan. 6 Capitol attacks. Moms for Liberty, while not going this far, shares similar beliefs and apparently has ties to the Proud Boys organization and leaders. They don’t march with guns, but their actions undermine and impede local government.

‘One minute you’re making peanut butter and jelly, and the next minute the FBI is calling you,’ said Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice, testifying in the U.S. House of Representatives about government investigation of her group.

New kids in town making themselves heard

The group’s roots stretch back to a heated 2020 school board election in Brevard County. Incumbent school board member Tina Descovich, a local conservative activist mom, was challenged by progressive newcomer Jenifer Jenkins. When Jenkins won, the conservative board majority ended.

Having lost electorally, Descovich – and the corps of like-minded moms she now represents – began to shift the conversation from the outside. They joined with moms in many red states angered by what seemed fast-moving changes involving race, gender and sexuality, like the increasing numbers of people identifying as trans, queer or nonbinary, even at young ages, the vast changes in marital laws and family structure, and changing ideas about whiteness, inclusion and equity.

Moms for Liberty soon found success with disruptive tactics a VICE News investigation called a “pattern of harassment” of opponents that include online and in-person targeting of school board members, parents or even students who disagree with the group.

Members in many chapters generate ill will by turning up to school board and other meetings – sometimes to the homes of public officials or teachers – yelling insults like “pedophile” and “groomer” at opponents.

For a newcomer, Moms for Liberty has had real victories. It has disrupted countless meetings, forcing local governance bodies to focus on topics important to the group such as lifting mask mandates and, more recently, removing curricular content that they deem controversial, such as texts on gender identity and racial oppression.

The group’s success in getting talked about is perhaps its greatest strength so far, moving it from outside disruptor to political player, at least locally. It has successfully supported many local candidates and book bans.

Specific examples of banned books include “Push,” which inspired the award-winning movie “Precious,” and “Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl,” also made into a movie.

Disciplining members

Despite its many chapters, Moms for Liberty is untried nationally, its total membership is still relatively small, and Federal Election Commission filings show it raising and spending little money. The group lacks control over members, who have publicly embarrassed it. In one case, the Hamilton County, Indiana, chapter quoted Hitler in a newsletter – later apologizing.

At another point, an Arkansas member avoided criminal charges for saying, in a discussion about a librarian, “I’m telling you, if I had any mental issues, they would all be plowed down by a freaking gun right now.”

These incidents mark the group not only as green, but also as part of the new right wing. Republican-leaning groups used to take a top-down approach to setting agendas and managing people, while Democratic organizations historically cited democracy and equality as both tools and goals, even if it meant disorganization and failure.

In the traditional top-down Republican party of yesteryear, Moms for Liberty would likely be marginal. In today’s disorganized, divided, hyperpolarized GOP, it may do quite well – which is not good news for democracy.

Out of step, but useful

A poster encouraging people to run for school board.

A poster helping those who want to run for a school board position is seen in the hallway during the inaugural Moms For Liberty Summit on July 15, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.

Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Pro-mom language is sometimes, in the old idiom, the velvet glove hiding the iron fist.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks organized hate activity, labeled Moms for Liberty “extremist.” Its empirical evaluation concluded that the group’s chapters “reflect views and actions that are antigovernment and conspiracy propagandist.”

Moms for Liberty is ideologically out of step with the country and more anti-government than most Republicans. The majority of Americans are not in support of lifting mask mandates in the middle of a pandemic or banning books.

Among Republicans, there is disagreement over the teaching of controversial topics like racial justice, but book bans find low support. Despite the current bitter political climate, most in the U.S. appreciate government and want it to work.

Yet, some media refer to Moms for Liberty as a “power player” – and no wonder, when Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis show up to court the group. Moms for Liberty may be fringe, but its members could be of use to presidential hopefuls.

Why? The answer lies in some distinctly post-2010 electoral math. These days, only a quarter to a third of voters align with each major party, and less than a third of registered partisans turn out for primaries.

So a sixth of each party – a small fraction of the overall population – now selects the nominees. And that sixth is not representative – it is far more opinionated and angry. Moms for Liberty, having organized small, ideological voting armies in swing states, is in the envious position of representing a concentrated and potentially decisive voting bloc.

The mom rhetoric may be real, but as a political scientist, I can say confidently that the framers of the Constitution would not endorse this brand of liberty. Book bans are weapons of autocrats, and democracy ends where political figures call each other “pedophiles” in public.The Conversation

Shauna Shames, Associate Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How Pennsylvania’s governor is taking the fight to MAGA 'election deniers': report

Pennsylvania, the consummate swing state, is considered a must-win by President Joe Biden's reelection campaign. Biden's campaign realizes that if he loses Pennsylvania in 2024, he's likely to lose the election.

MAGA conspiracy theorists suffered a major disappointment in 2022, when Democratic now-Gov. Josh Shapiro defeated far-right election denier Doug Mastriano, the GOP gubernatorial nominee, by around 15 percent. Nonetheless, Mastriano and other MAGA Republicans in Pennsylvania have clung to the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump in their state.

In an opinion column published on September 19, the Washington Post's Greg Sargent praises Shapiro for taking the fight to election deniers with an ambitious campaign to make voting easier in Pennsylvania.

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"Perhaps no Democrat campaigned as aggressively in defense of democracy in last year's midterm elections as Shapiro did," Sargent argues. "As state attorney general in 2020, he fought Donald Trump's efforts to reverse his loss, and in 2022, he vowed to use the governorship to prevent a future stolen election, parlaying all that into a landslide victory over ultra-MAGA opponent Doug Mastriano."

Sargent adds, "In Pennsylvania, the state GOP continues to elevate election deniers to positions of local importance, in effect feeding doubts about the state's voting system itself.But if automatic voter registration is well received in Pennsylvania, it could act as an antidote to that MAGA mania."

According to Sean Morales-Doyle, director of the Brennan Center's Voting Rights Program, automatic voter registration is a good way to demonstrate that "the people who are attacking our democracy are wrong."

Morales-Doyle told Sargent, "The answer to people undermining faith in our democracy is to give people a democracy that works."

READ MORE:Doug Mastriano is 'inducing panic' among Republicans — including Trump — over possible PA Senate run: report

Read Greg Sargent's full Washington Post column at this link (subscription required).

A Texas principal was arrested after paddling a high school student – renewing debate over corporal punishment

A high school principal in East Texas was arrested last week after paddling a student, causing her bodily injury and sparking national headlines that renewed the debate over whether corporal punishment belongs in schools.

Texas is one of just 17 states that allow corporal punishment — which includes hitting, spanking, paddling or deliberately inflicting pain to discipline students — in its public schools. Texas educators can use physical means of punishment if the school district’s board of trustees adopts a policy allowing it. Parents can opt their child out of receiving corporal punishment by providing written notice to the district.

Texas lawmakers have long discussed a ban on the practice, which dates back to the 19th century. Only a decade ago, lawmakers in Austin added a provision that allows a parent to opt their child out of corporal punishment. State lawmakers debated the controversial practice this year after Rep. Alma Allen, a Houston Democrat and former public school teacher, carried a bill that would prohibit public school employees from using corporal punishment on students.

Education advocates and child development experts argued that the practice inflicts fear and negative mental health impacts on students. Lawmakers rejected the policy shift, with several Republican lawmakers advocating for keeping the practice because it is referenced in the Bible.

Nationally, the number of students who receive corporal punishment has declined significantly in recent years. A U.S. Education Department report found that the number of students who received corporal punishment dropped by more than one-third between the 2013-14 school year and the 2017-18 school year, the most recent data available.

In March, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urged governors and school leaders to ban corporal punishment in schools. In a letter, he encouraged districts to replace the practice with evidence-based methods, such as positive behavioral interventions. Two states, Colorado and Idaho, passed bills this year to ban the disciplinary practice. And U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, has introduced a federal bill to prohibit corporal punishment in any school that receives federal funding.

Although the practice is legal in Texas, Overton High School principal Jeffery Hogg was arrested Wednesday on one count of assault in relation to the incident that occurred on Aug. 14. According to the arrest affidavit, Hogg hit a female student on the butt three times using a wooden paddle to discipline the student for an undisclosed infraction. The student, whose name has not been released, had visible bruising at least 48 hours after the paddling and reported a complaint with the Rusk County Sheriff's Office.

The case has been referred to the Rusk District Attorney’s Office and is currently being investigated. Hogg has not been formally charged and has returned to his duties as principal.

Overton is home to about 2,300 people. It sits nearly 22 miles east of Tyler.

Overton Independent School District Superintendent Larry Calhoun defended Hogg, saying he acted in accordance with school district policies. In a statement posted on the district’s Facebook page last month after Hogg punished the student, the district said it would reflect on current corporal punishment policies, which are set by the school board. But Calhoun told The Texas Tribune on Monday that the district is not currently considering any changes to its policy.

“We want to get to the other side of this and to be able to reflect objectively,” Calhoun said, adding that he regretted that this incident was garnering attention, as opposed to more positive district news. “I wish we could just let the investigation take its course, but it has become a frenzy on social media and elsewhere.”

It’s unclear what the female student was being punished for. However, per the school district’s policy on corporal punishment laid out in the school handbook, the student had the option to undergo paddling or be sent to in-school suspension. The student chose paddling and the student’s parent and another female witness remained in the room, according to arresting documents. After receiving two hits, the student said she was hurt and didn’t want the third hit, the affidavit states. Both Hogg and the student’s mother encouraged the student to complete the punishment, and the student decided to follow through and receive the third hit.

The following day, the student was interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center, a statewide organization that supports victims of child abuse, and examined by a nurse who took photographs of the injuries, which included substantial bruising and swelling. A forensic pediatrician who evaluated the photographs said that physical punishment that results in injuries that last longer than 24 hours is consistent with child physical abuse.

Parents in Overton ISD, which serves about 470 students, have defended Hogg on social media and questioned why he was arrested even though the student’s parent was present for the punishment.

“If a student is a distraction in class then yes I believe they deserve corporal punishment,” Autumn Holland, who has two sons in Overton schools, said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. “I’m a firm believer in the Bible and it says ‘spare not the rod.”

Holland said one of her sons has received paddling once and she doesn’t think it caused him to suffer bruises or other injuries. Holland questioned why the student’s parent would not have intervened if the principal was in fact being too aggressive with the hits. And she said that if the principal was arrested, the parent should have also been held accountable.

Craig Sweeney, an investigator in the Rusk County district attorney’s office said he had never seen a corporal punishment case brought to his office and that many districts have done away with the practice in recent years.

According to federal data from the 2017-18 school year — the most recent year for which data is available — 8,758 Texas schools used corporal punishment on 13,892 Texas students. That number of students is higher than in any other state aside from Mississippi.

A significant body of research has found that corporal punishment does not benefit students and can cause them substantial harm, including worse mental health, increased aggression and antisocial behavior, and increased likelihood of abusing one’s own children.

“I sympathize with the principal who said he is trying to teach students — I understand that’s the goal,” said Elizabeth Gershoff, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who has studied the effects of corporal punishment on children. “But the only thing hitting children teaches them is that A, if you are powerful you can hit people to get what you want and B, you should try to avoid being around those people.”

Allen’s office has told the Tribune that the lawmaker would bring a bill to ban corporal punishment during the next legislative session if she’s asked.

Disclosure: Facebook and University of Texas at Austin have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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‘You think that you’re dumb’: Graduates of Arizona's English immersion model say it was traumatizing

As the Arizona Department of Education continues its fight to teach English language learners through full immersion, the department’s deputy chief said that she’s never heard that the learning model contributes to mental health issues for students.

But several former students who learned English that way told the Arizona Mirror that their experience with full English language immersion contributed to an educational experience that felt isolating, confusing and sometimes even depressing. It also left them lagging behind their peers in other subjects.

Reyna Montoya, founder and CEO of Aliento, an immigration advocacy group, was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and moved to Chandler with her family in 2003 when she was 13 years old. At the time, she knew almost no English, but Montoya had been an exceptional student in Mexico, where she excelled in math and participated in poetry contests.

But at Gilbert Junior High, she was pulled out of regular classes for four hours each day to learn English, and some of her peers in mainstream classes treated her like she was less-than because of it.

“I would cry myself to sleep,” she said. She would pray to God, saying, “I’m trying but I can’t.” She also had intrusive thoughts like, “I don’t want to be here anymore.”

Now, she said she worries about how that same model might impact students today. And she’s not alone, as at least one study has shown that the model can contribute to students’ psychological distress.

“I think my biggest concern is their self-confidence and the mental health toll it takes,” Montoya said. “At that age, you’re trying to fit in. You’re trying to belong, to be part of something. And by doing that, you’re segregating kids and you’re pointing out that, those kids here, you’re the dumb kids — and they internalize that.”

Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Margaret Garcia Dugan, who helped to author Proposition 203, the voter-approved law requiring English learners in K-12 schools to learn through full English immersion, said she and her nine siblings — along with 160 first cousins — all learned English through that model with zero mental health impacts.

“I’ve never heard of anybody having mental anguish,” Dugan told the Mirror. “I think this is ideological.”

Dugan, who grew up in Bisbee and whose first language was Spanish, taught students in sheltered English immersion classes at Glendale High School, and said all the students who she promoted to mainstream classrooms were “very, very appreciative that they came to this country to learn English, and they did.”

But Dugan’s time teaching English as a second language ended more than 35 years ago, when the stigma surrounding mental health issues limited students from seeking help or talking about their problems in a way that doesn’t exist at the same level today.

Dugan taught English and English as a second language at Glendale High School from 1974 to 1986. She went on to serve as the school’s principal from 1992 to 2002, when she joined Republican Tom Horne’s administration at the Department of Education. (Horne was first elected superintendent of public instruction in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. He was again elected to the post in 2022.)

Dugan added that, if parents don’t want their children to participate in ELL, they can opt out and just send their child straight to a mainstream classroom. But unless that child’s school has adopted a learning model that includes additional support for English learners in mainstream classrooms, she said that students would essentially be learning by “sink or swim.”

That’s exactly what happened to Erick Garcia, the digital manager at Aliento, who moved to Mesa from a small town in the state of Vera Cruz, Mexico, when he was 11 years old.

Garcia started out attending English as a second language classes in fifth grade. But once he began attending Stapley Junior High, he opted out of those classes because there weren’t enough English learner students at the school and he would have had to split his days at another junior high to continue them.

Even though Garcia went on to become a first-generation college graduate, he said he still sometimes struggles to find the right words in English.

“I kind of got lost,” Garcia said, adding that, although he soon understood conversational English, comprehending more complex subjects in his textbooks was a challenge.

Even though Garcia still managed to get As and Bs, the experience took a mental toll.

“It’s frustrating because, at that age, you second guess yourself and think that you’re dumb,” he said.

You’re segregating kids and you’re pointing out that, those kids here, you’re the dumb kids — and they internalize that.

– Reyna Montoya

Garcia credits his high school Russian teacher for inviting him to take advantage of Westwood High School’s career center, where he learned the importance of SAT scores and extracurricular activities for helping him make it to college.

He worries that if current ESL students are pulled out of their regular classes for four hours each day to learn English, it will limit their opportunities.

Montoya experienced just that, when a teacher recommended she take an honors math class that wouldn’t work with her schedule because of her ELL classes. It also prevented her from taking dance classes, which she had loved participating in when she lived in Mexico.

But Dugan and her boss, Horne, are adamant that full English immersion is the best way for ELL students to learn the language quickly, which they say is essential for them to be successful in the United States.

They say that students should graduate from the program within a year, but that is often not the case.

No one at the Department of Education spoke with current ELL students or recent graduates before pushing for a re-institution of the full English immersion model, Dugan told the Mirror. Instead they looked at the “abysmal” rate — 4% to 6% — at which Dugan said students were learning English through dual language models, compared to 9% for all learning models in 2022

But an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Justice Department found that, from 2006 to 2012, thousands of Arizona students were incorrectly promoted from ELL programs, or never identified as English learners in the first place, because of changes in scoring that the Arizona Department of Education made to English proficiency tests.

And Horne is looking to make those tests easier again, saying that they were made too difficult in response to the investigation.

On Sept. 7, Horne filed a lawsuit asking a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to settle a disagreement between his office and Gov. Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes, both Democrats, over the interpretation of the state law governing English language learning in K-12 schools.

Horne argues that a 50-50 dual-language immersion learning model, used in as many as 26 school districts across the state, violates the law that he and Dugan championed and that passed through a voter referendum more than 20 years ago. The law requires ELL students to be taught English in English-only classrooms.

Hobbs and Mayes say a law passed in 2019 by Arizona legislators, which ordered the State Board of Education to develop alternative, research-based teaching methods to the full English immersion curriculum, is protected by the authority of the board.

Many Arizona districts now use one of those four alternative models, including dual-language immersion, in which students are taught half the day in English and the other half in another language, usually their native language.

“For some reason, people think they know what’s best for Hispanic children and how to learn English,” Dugan told the Mirror. “I’m just so tired of people trying to tell Hispanics how they best can learn. And to me, that, really, is very insulting.”

I’ve never heard of anybody having mental anguish. I think this is ideological.

– Margaret Garcia Dugan, Arizona Department of Edcuation

Georgina Monsalvo, organizing director at Stand for Children, an education equity group that campaigned for the 2019 changes in English language learning models, learned through the English immersion model herself, as did her son.

Although Monsalvo and her son were both born in the U.S., they each grew up speaking primarily Spanish at home.

When Monsalvo’s son, 13-year-old Jorge, was learning through the full-English immersion model, he wondered why he was segregated from his peers and he fell behind in science and math, Monsalvo told the Mirror.

After the law change in 2019, Jorge is now pulled out of regular classes for only an hour each day to learn English, and has additional help in core classes, through an individualized education program.

“I could see his attitude changing,” Monsalvo said.

She could tell he was feeling more integrated in his classes, and even though he is still not proficient in English, his grades have improved.

“The difference has been night and day,” she said.

Monsalvo added that she saw the impact that the ELI model had on her own classmates, who were often treated like they were special education students, she said.

“Most of my friends that were with me didn’t even go on to college,” she said. “They felt like it was a waste of time.”

Monsalvo said she often wonders how their academic outcomes might have been different if there were more inclusive learning models back then. Monsalvo graduated from Douglas High School in 2010.

“It makes me really sad,” Monsalvo said of her friends in ELI classes. “They always thought they were worth less.”

Dugan told the Mirror that she believes the backers of dual-language learning models don’t actually want Latinos to learn English, and added that those models also segregate students from native English speakers. But Montoya countered that most immigrants, and especially children, are hungry to learn English. She just believes there is a better way.

Montoya is not an advocate of dual-language programs, but believes in a more inclusive model that fuses dual language learning with integration of English learners into mainstream classrooms, with added support.

As a former classroom teacher, Montoya said she sees a huge disconnect between what elected officials think instruction and acquisition of a new language should look like versus what is good practice, not only from an academic acquisition perspective, but also for the social and emotional development of the students.

“These policies are not really rooted in research and best practices, and, more importantly, human decency,” she said.

Dugan told the Mirror that none of her students ever fell behind in other subjects because of their four hours outside of regular classes each day, when using the ELI model.

She said she believes that lack of motivation and skipping school was the only reason that any of those students fell behind, and adamantly denied that either of those things might be due to mental health issues caused by the immersion programs.

“The kids that come to school on a regular basis do well,” she said, adding that, when students do well in school, it helps their self esteem.

“Our Hispanic kids are very smart and they can learn English, that’s all. And there’s so much proof of that,” Dugan said. “I want people to understand they don’t need to give us, I guess, a low standard and a low expectation.”

Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Racial trauma has profound mental health consequence

Since European expansion into the Americas, white people have demonized Black people and portrayed them as undesirable, violent and hypersexual. Originally, the intent of this demonization was to legitimize the conquest and sale of African people.

One consequence of this negative portrayal has been the documented psychological impact on Black people themselves. It includes self-hatred, internalized racism and an erosion of Black consciousness within the Black community.

During the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. recognized the consequences of racist stereotypes and tried to change the language and symbols of racism.

“Somebody told a lie one day,” King said. “They couched it in language. They made everything black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionaries and see the synonyms of the word black. It’s always something degrading and low and sinister. Look at the word white and it’s always something pure. …”

Though King longed for the day when the word “black” would be associated with beauty, Black people are still coping with feelings of alienation as a result of what is known as racialized trauma, the emotional impact of racism, racial discrimination and violence on mostly Black people.

I am a psychologist and professor of counseling. In our 2022 peer-reviewed article, mental health counselor Janeé M. Steele and I detail the mental injuries caused by encounters with racial bias, hostility, discrimination and harassment.

More important, our research has shown that healing from racialized trauma can help reduce the negative impacts of racism and provide the emotional resources necessary to challenge racial injustices.

Racialized trauma and mental health

The American Psychological Association defines trauma as “any disturbing experience that results in significant fear, helplessness, dissociation, confusion, or other disruptive feelings intense enough to have a long-lasting negative effect on a person’s attitudes, behavior, and other aspects of functioning.”

Common ways people are exposed to racialized trauma include everyday slights such as a store owner following a person of color around the store, racial slurs, denied opportunities, racial profiling and hate crimes.

These encounters, known as race-based events, may occur directly between individuals or groups of people, or they may happen indirectly – for example, as a result of watching a video of police brutality.

Whether they occur directly or indirectly, race-based events have a negative psychological effect on people of color and often leave them feeling wounded. Some of these wounds include increased rates of hypervigilance, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and low self-esteem.

During our research, we interviewed a 29-year-old Black woman who grew up in a lower-middle-class neighborhood near Detroit. She attend predominantly white private schools and went on to become the first in her family to graduate from college and later earn a master’s degree in counseling.

Two women are sitting at a table and one of them is using a pencil to take take notes.

A Black social worker listens to a client.

Silvia Jansen/Getty Images

But when she started her first full-time job, she noticed that it was dominated by white males in a work environment where the voices of people of color were not regularly heard. For instance, the woman told us that during staff meetings she was often ignored, except on rare occasions when issues of race were discussed.

As a result, the woman explained that she felt that she was devalued and began to feel anxious, sad and hopeless. Her self-esteem also suffered.

How to heal

Healing from racialized trauma is possible.

Yet current incidents of social injustice combined with centuries of violence, poverty, undereducation, mass incarceration, family dysfunction and health disparities have made it difficult for some Black people to maintain hope, a necessary element in undertaking the work to overcome this trauma.

Nevertheless, by learning new ways of thinking and coping, it is possible to find hope and overcome the wounds of racialized trauma.

Based on research and nearly 20 years of clinical experience, we have found tangible tools to address these wounds in five holistic ways.

As we write in “Black Lives are Beautiful,” a first step is identifying and understanding the psychological impacts of racialized trauma, as well as knowledge of strategies for wellness.

A second step in healing is the active promotion of higher self-esteem.

In our research, we learned that affirming one’s personal strengths and replacing negative beliefs can help individuals deal with racialized trauma.

A Black man looks hopeful as he sits near a window and looks outside.

Boosting self-confidence is one way to minimize the impact of racialiized trauma.

Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

The third is developing resilience. Tenacity during adversity is important. The ability to bounce back and persevere can come from connecting with individuals, family and community.

For some Black people, this work is especially powerful, as research indicates that spending time engaged in activities that focus on cultural strengths can increase feelings of personal control and lead to higher self-esteem.

The fourth way is to promote empowerment. Finding strength in one’s personal choices is fundamental to achieving a higher self-image. Those choices could include supporting Black-owned businesses, attending cultural events and developing a strategy to gain financial independence.

The last way of healing is found in promoting a sense of community. By doing so, an individual can increase a sense of belonging and counter the feelings of isolation triggered by racialized trauma.The Conversation

Char Newton, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of North Dakota

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

'A new and troubling low': Alabama Republicans’ Supreme Court defiance blasted by legal expert

In a 5-4 ruling in June, the U.S. Supreme Court infuriated Alabama Republicans by striking down a GOP-drawn voting map as racially discriminatory. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, both right-wing Republicans, shocked legal experts when they sided with the High Court's three Democrat-appointed justices — Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson — and agreed that the map discriminated against Black voters.

The four dissenting justices were Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, all appointed by Republican presidents.

The High Court ordered Republicans in the Alabama State Legislature to create two heavily Black districts. But University of Baltimore law professor Kimberly Wehle, in a scathing article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on September 12, argues that the Alabama Republicans are behaving shamelessly by dancing around a Supreme Court ruling.

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"Not only is the legislature knowingly violating the Voting Rights Act and multiple federal court orders directing it to create two, not one, majority-black voting districts," Wehle writes. "But in a new and troubling low for Republicans, the state's GOP lawmakers have also openly and admittedly flouted a June 8, 2023 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court holding that two black districts, not one, are required by law."

Alabama Republicans, Wehle adds, behaved "like belligerent toddlers" when they "responded to the High Court's ruling with another plan containing only a single Black district."

"Alabama is correct to anticipate that this right-leaning Court will issue more rollbacks of longstanding constitutional protections on the basis of race and other immutable characteristics," Wehle laments. "But the fact that Alabama is pushing that outcome while at the same time testing the legitimacy of the Court's precedent is pretty scary."

READ MORE:Federal court blocks Alabama’s congressional map, orders new lines drawn

Read Kimberly Wehle's full article for The Bulwark at this link.

Florida principal resigns after holding Black-only assembly, telling students to improve test scores or ‘end up in jail’

A Florida elementary school principal has resigned several weeks after African American students were singled out with an assembly where they were told to improve their academic performance — or face the consequences later in life. “Donelle Evensen, principal at Bunnell Elementary School, has informed Superintendent LaShakia Moore that she is resigning,” the Flagler County school district said Thursday in a news release. Evensen and teacher Anthony Hines were placed on leave days after the Aug. 18 assembly, during which the school’s Black fourth- and fifth-graders were collectively told to imp...

Infamous neo-Nazi blog praises Mayor Adams’ claim that NYC is being ‘destroyed’ by migrant crisiss

NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams is receiving praise from some unsavory corners of the internet over his claim that the migrant crisis will “destroy” New York City. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi blog operated by notorious far right conspiracy theorist Andrew Anglin, published a post Friday that said Adams’ comments made him “based,” a phrase used in online chat forums to describe a proudly unfiltered person. The post went on to claim that Adams’ remarks were also “insightful.” Asked whether the mayor’s office wanted to distance itself from the Daily Stormer post, Adams spokeswoman Kayla Mamelak acc...

Ron DeSantis is fighting for an anti-Black congressional map already struck down as unconstitutional

On Sunday, September 3, Leon County Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh struck down a GOP-sponsored congressional map as unfair to Black voters and sent it back to the Florida State Legislature to be redrawn. But Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Republican allies, according to The Guardian's Sam Levine, aren't giving up on their gerrymandering plans.

"From 2016 until last year, Florida's 5th Congressional District had stretched more than 150 miles across the northern part of the state, from Jacksonville to just west of Tallahassee," Levine explains in a report published on September 7. "It was a portion of the state once home to the Ku Klux Klan and lynchings. In 2022, it was represented by Al Lawson, a Black Democrat, and 46 percent of eligible voters were Black."

Levine adds, "That year, DeSantis went out of his way to chop the district up into four majority-white ones, all of which elected a Republican last fall."

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DeSantis has wasted no time appealing Marsh's ruling, and according to Levine, the case is "likely to be decided by the Florida Supreme Court" — where five of the seven justices are DeSantis appointees.

"While there are legal battles over Black representation in redistricting underway across the U.S. South," Levine observes, "the fight in Florida is unique. Other cases are focused on whether states like Alabama and Louisiana are required to add districts to ensure Black voters can choose their preferred candidate, but the Florida case is the only one that involves dismantling an existing district that was allowing Black voters to do so."

READ MORE:'No facts': Wisconsin judge smacks down GOP lawsuit against voting rights effort

Read The Guardian's full report at this link.

Kansas awards $2 million unplanned-pregnancy contract to group moored in anti-abortion politics

TOPEKA — Kansas awarded a $2 million contract to start a state program aimed at influencing women with unplanned pregnancies to give birth and to accept guidance of a new nonprofit organization directed by some of the state’s most vocal and dedicated opponents of abortion rights.

State Treasurer Steven Johnson, a former Republican member of the Kansas House, was given responsibility by the 2023 Legislature for choosing an entity to launch a statewide public awareness program steering women away from abortion clinics and to provide services useful in carrying a pregnancy to full term. On Tuesday, he confirmed the deal was signed last month and became effective Aug. 23. It allowed the organization to receive a $50,000 cash advance as start-up capital.

The Alternatives to Abortion bill was vetoed by Gov. Laura Kelly, but the GOP-controlled House and Senate overrode the governor.

Johnson selected the Kansas Pregnancy Care Network headquartered in Mission and founded June 30. The nonprofit’s directors include former state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, former U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp and Vicki Tiahrt, the wife of former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt. State documents indicated Huelskamp, who served in the Kansas Senate prior to Congress, was named president of Kansas Pregnancy Care Network.

Another director is Ron Kelsey, the president of Planned Parenthood Exposed who claimed the 2022 defeat of the proposed Kansas Constitutional amendment designed to restrict abortion rights could lead to an annual increase of 100,000 abortions in Kansas. His wife, Donna, is executive director of Kansas City Pregnancy Clinic, which operates in Kansas City, Kansas, and provides services the Legislature was targeting with the $2 million.

“I am pleased that a group of Kansans has organized in response to our request for proposals and submitted the successful bid,” Johnson said.

Based on Texas model

Johnson said Kansas Pregnancy Care Network was the only Kansas-based entity to submit a qualified bid to the Kansas Department of Administration. Other bidders were Real Alternatives of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Human Condition, of Plano, Texas; and Life Alliance Kansas, of Lawrence.

The state treasurer said the Kansas nonprofit landing the contract would collaborate with the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, which was financed through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

In Texas, the program provided women assistance so they could “feel supported and confident in choosing childbirth.” The network in Texas sought to engage with pregnancy support centers, maternity residences, social service agencies and adoption centers to deliver “life-affirming” aid to women and to actively discourage abortion.

“KPCN’s ability to draw on the experience of their affiliated organization in Texas will allow them to hit the ground running in implementing this program as the Legislature intended, serving women facing the difficulties of an unplanned pregnancy,” Johnson said.

State law mandates the Kansas organization submit a report on their activities to the Legislature and Johnson by June 30, 2024.

Transparency ‘crucial’

Pilcher-Cook, who served in the Legislature from 2005 to 2020, said the $2 million would bring to the forefront a network of people with a history of dedicating time and passion to women with unplanned pregnancies. She said women in Kansas deserved the counsel of “trustworthy” organizations.

“It is an honor to work with the state treasurer’s office to support and enhance the efforts of Kansas pregnancy resource centers to empower a woman to welcome her child into the world,” Pilcher-Cook said. “It will be crucial to provide transparency, while ensuring the essential care is provided for these vulnerable women and families.”

Earlier this year, the Kansas governor vetoed a budget provision that earmarked $2 million in the current state budget to an anti-abortion contractor. Kelly said she didn’t believe oversight of a pregnancy program fell within duties of the state’s elected treasurer and expressed concern the Legislature was standing up an organization that would get involved with “largely unregulated pregnancy resource centers.”

“This is not an evidence-based approach or even an effective method for preventing unplanned pregnancies,” Kelly said.

The Legislature voted to override the Democratic governor with the required two-thirds majorities on votes of 29-11 in the Senate and 86-38 in the House.

The GOP-dominated Legislature crafted the legislation after Kansas voters rejected in August 2022 the proposed amendment to the Constitution that would have made it easier for lawmakers to restrict access to abortion.

Supporters of the amendment had sought to nullify a decision by the Kansas Supreme Court identifying a foundational constitutional right to bodily autonomy, which included the right of a woman to terminate or continue a pregnancy. Prior to that statewide vote, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Roe v. Wade decision establishing the nationwide right to abortion.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

Gay conservative podcaster: Republican Party still 'inherently hostile' toward LGTBQ+ Americans

Over the years, members of Log Cabin and other gay Republican groups have argued that the gay community limits itself by being closely allied with the Democratic Party. And many Democrats have responded that they are naïve to downplay the anti-gay attitudes that are so common in the GOP.

Conservative podcaster Brad Polumbo, who is openly gay, believes that homophobia has grown worse among Republicans than it was during Donald Trump's presidency. During an interview with New York Times opinion writer Jane Coaston published on September 4, Polumbo argued that "the trans debate" has led to an "extreme backlash and reaction on the right, which is catching up to gay rights."

Polumbo told Coaston that the Trump years brought "something of a détente on gay rights issues on the right."

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"After Trump was elected president, and despite his many faults on many things," the podcaster noted, "he had a more tolerant approach on gay issues than most Republicans had at that time…. He's a narcissist. So if you like him, whether you're gay or whatever, he'll like you. But he came in saying he was fine with gay marriage."

Polumbo went on to say that the right has long had a division between libertarians and social conservatives.

"I think it's deeply divided, and there's different pockets," Polumbo told Coaston. "There's a pocket of the right that always is and always has been homophobic, that thinks gay people or transgender people are degenerate and disordered. That's part of, although not all of, the Religious Right, I would say. There's a part of the right that's always been pretty socially moderate or libertarian and has been fine with gay people and continues to be fine with gay people."

The podcaster added that "a lot of gay people aren't on board with the excesses of woke politics."

READ MORE:'I was shaken': Gay NY broadcaster fears new 'threats of violence'

"They would be gettable by the GOP if they didn't feel that the Republican Party was inherently hostile to them," Polumbo argued. "A lot of Republicans aren't. But parts of the official party platform still are."

READ MORE:'Homophobia always will be' a key part of 'MAGA populism': journalist

Read Brad Polumbo's full interview with the New York Times at this link (subscription required).

Marjorie Taylor Greene: God is punishing 'brainwashed' Burning Man attendees

United States Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) suggested to Info Wars' chief conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Sunday that attendees trapped in mud at the annual Burning Man electronic music festival are being punished by "God" and "brainwashed" to blame climate change for the freak flooding that struck the event over the weekend.

"But I really believe that the next thing is going to be this climate change crisis. They're going to create it into an emergency and Alex I wanna talk about Burning Man for a minute. We are watching, you know, from a distance, there are approximately like 73 or 75,000 people in Nevada..." Greene began, though Jones quickly interrupted.

"And they're locked in there from the floods, and I'm glad, I look, I, I, just was gonna raise that," Jones said. "They literally did a mock sacrifice and all this and then it flooded with these tornadoes. And it was — sorry. Go ahead."

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Greene proceeded, "Well, you know, God has a way of making sure everyone knows who God is. I'll say that about that. But let's talk about what is happening with these people. So, there's 73-75,000 in the Nevada desert right now at this Burning Man. They're locked in. They're not allowed to leave and they're basically probably being brainwashed that climate change is the cause of it, it's the root of all evil, and it's going to destroy the Earth. And they're, they're feeling the panic."

Jones claimed in response, "The media is saying that. 'Oh, this is because you didn't know about climate change.'"

Greene continued, "Yes. So, what's going to happen, Alex? It's the same thing, the same way they launch any kind of movement. After this is over at Burning Man, and these 75,000 people disperse and they go back home, they're gonna have these stories to tell about how terrible it is and how we have to do everything possible to stop climate change, it's caused by humans, and it's carbon. And it's the amount of carbon we put out. It's manufacturing. It's our, it's our gas and diesel engines. It's, it's, you know, agriculture. I mean, you know, AOC wants to get rid of cattle. Even population. 'We have too many humans putting out too much carbon.' You're going to start hearing all this stuff and this is going to build. And I believe this is the left's new lie they're going to put on the American people and try to get everyone behind and create it to where, 'Remember AOC and the left and many others saying that the Earth is going to literally explode in a ball of fire. We're gonna all die. It's gonna be the end of the world?' This is what they're brainwashing people to believe."

Jones added, "2030. I totally agree, and now Biden says he's set to announce a new climate emergency that Klaus Schwab said three years ago they'd do after COVID. So they literally cut our resources off and make it fancy."

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene sums up the GOP's cognitive dissonance on climate change in a single tweet

Greene and Jones then exchanged debunked ideas about what is destabilizing planetary climate systems.

"Well, let's be realistic though. The climate changes. It's been changing since the beginning of time," Greene asserted. "Since God created the Earth, the climate has changed. And that is the reality because we live on — our planet is, is, is moving. It's rotating through our galaxy."

Jones interjected, "The only constant is change."

Greene pressed on, "It always changes. It rotates around the Sun. It moves through the galaxy. Our galaxy rotates through the universe. Of course, our climate is going to change! But does that mean people are causing it? No. Does that mean we have to raise taxes to stop it? No, absolutely not. Does that mean we have to bow down to a globalist government? Absolutely not."

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene calls Muslims 'snakes' in misleading tweet about protests in France

Jones joked, "As if they can stop it anyways."

Greene concurred, "They can't stop it."

Jones concluded, "It's all the Sun, as you said, so."

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration:

The Sun can influence Earth's climate, but it isn't responsible for the warming trend we’ve seen over recent decades. The Sun is a giver of life; it helps keep the planet warm enough for us to survive. We know subtle changes in Earth's orbit around the Sun are responsible for the comings and goings of the ice ages. But the warming we've seen in recent decades is too rapid to be linked to changes in Earth's orbit and too large to be caused by solar activity.

One of the 'smoking guns' that tells us the Sun is not causing global warming comes from looking at the amount of solar energy that hits the top of the atmosphere. Since 1978, scientists have been tracking this using sensors on satellites, which tell us that there has been no upward trend in the amount of solar energy reaching our planet.

A second smoking gun is that if the Sun were responsible for global warming, we would expect to see warming throughout all layers of the atmosphere, from the surface to the upper atmosphere (stratosphere). But what we actually see is warming at the surface and cooling in the stratosphere. This is consistent with the warming being caused by a buildup of heat-trapping gases near Earth's surface, and not by the Sun getting 'hotter.'

Watch the clip below or at this link.

READ MORE: MTG’s boyfriend slams opponents as 'classless trash' after Iowa and Georgia voters give her the finger

Anthony Kennedy’s 'former clerks' are obliterating his Supreme Court legacy: analysis

After United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy's July 31st, 2018 retirement following three decades on the bench, then-District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh would become the second of two ex-Kennedy clerks to join the High Court upon being nomination by former President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate as Kennedy's replacement. The other, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, was chosen by Trump to fill the seat left vacant in 2016 by the sudden death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump went on to add a third Associate Justice — Amy Coney Barrett — in 2020, resulting in a 6-3 right-wing supermajority that set its sights on toppling long-standing precedents, of which many Kennedy had a crucial role in establishing.

On Sunday, The Washington Post's Robert Barnes explored how the men who earned their mettle under Kennedy became the jurists who would dismantle his legacy.

Kennedy "was almost sure to be found in the majorities that prevailed on the nation's most monumental concerns," Barnes recalled. "But on a Court that has moved decidedly to the right, Kennedy's mark is fading fast — and is already erased in some areas" thanks to Kavanaugh and Gorsuch. Like Barnes, seasoned legal professionals have noticed the pattern.

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Georgetown University Law Center environmental law expert Lisa Heinzerling, for instance, told Barnes that it "feels more like a hundred" years since Kennedy quit, observing that Kennedy's perspectives "are nowhere to be found on this Court anymore."

University of Michigan law professor and ex-Kennedy clerk Leah Litman said per Barnes that "I'm sure [Kennedy] knew no replacement was going to be exactly like him, and he had to have some sense which areas were likely to change," adding, "I don't know that he would have predicted how quickly it would change."

University of Virginia law professor Richard Re, another Kennedy protégé, simply noted, "Frankly, it's everything important" that Kennedy did which is being swept away.

"For more than a dozen years, it was Kennedy who cast the deciding vote when colleagues on the left and right were equally divided (in about two-thirds of those cases, studies showed, he leaned right)," Barnes explained. "But six justices on the current Court are more conservative than Kennedy, and three are on the left. That means fewer opportunities for a median justice to break a 4 to 4 tie."

READ MORE: An 'inadvertently omitted' update: Clarence Thomas discloses new trips paid for by billionaire megadonor

Barnes nails down several decisions in which Kennedy played a crucial role and then years later were reversed by his one-time staffers. These include abortion rights, "partisan gerrymandering" and the role that the federal government should have in regulating elections, affirmative action, environmental protections, capital punishment, and same-sex marriage.

According to University of California, Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, "The arrival of the two conservative successors gave conservatives more leeway to take controversial cases, and still prevail even if not all of the Court's right flank agrees," Barnes wrote. "That was the case with Roe, where Roberts voted with his fellow conservatives to restrict abortion rights but not to get rid of the precedent."

Moreover, per Barnes, "Chemerinsky noted that in Kennedy's last term on the Court, he did not side with the liberals in any of the close cases. He thinks it is difficult to predict with certainty how the justice would have voted on some of the cases that have come before the Court since then."

View Barnes' column at this link (subscription required).

White men have controlled women’s reproductive rights throughout American history

More than a year after the Supreme Court ended federal protection for abortion rights in the United States, disagreements over abortion bans continue to reverberate around the country. Candidates sparred over the idea of a federal abortion ban during the Aug. 23, 2023, Republican presidential debate. And abortion is likely to figure prominently in the November 2023 contest for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, removing women’s federal constitutional right to get abortions and giving states the power to pass laws about the legality of the procedure, the 6-3 vote was by a four white men, one Black man and a white woman majority.

Since that decision – Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – more than 1,500 state legislators, who are overwhelmingly white men, have voted for full or partial abortion bans.

This is not the first period in U.S. history when white men have exercised control over women’s right to bear – or not bear – children, including during slavery. Then, it was a matter of numbers. The more people they enslaved, the more money white male enslavers could earn either from selling the enslaved or from the forced labor of the enslaved. White men controlled people’s reproductive rights during the 20th century, too, with the American eugenics movement.

From the late 1800s until the 2000s, white proponents of eugenics – the selective breeding of people – tried to determine who was fit or unfit to have children. While the American eugenics movement affected people of other races and ethnic backgrounds, as well as men, it was particularly harmful to Black women who, data from 1950 to 1966 shows, were sterilized at “three times the rate of white women and more than 12 times the rate of white men.”

During both periods, Black women and their health bore the brunt of the consequences of white men’s control.

As a researcher who specializes in the history of race and racism in the U.S., I study historical issues related to race, gender and social justice.

Enslaved women forced to reproduce

African midwives, imported and enslaved as early as the 1600s, attended to the birthing needs of the enslaved and enslavers until the beginning of the 19th century.

But, after 1808, enslavers in the United States could no longer legally import enslaved people. With this shift, enslavers stepped up the forced breeding of enslaved women. White men raped the Black women and girls they enslaved, and then enslaved the children born from those rapes. White men also forced the Black women and Black men they enslaved to have sex with one another to generate more babies, who would be born into slavery.

This was a systemic way of ensuring enslaved women bore more children, which would increase profits for their enslavers.

Because the Black midwives and enslaved women often were blamed for or suspected of using birth control and abortions to resist forced pregnancy and the enslavement of their offspring, enslavers turned increasingly away from midwives and to white male doctors to figure out why nearly half of enslaved infants were stillborn or died within their first year of life and why so many enslaved women were infertile. These doctors also helped with difficult births.

In the two decades after 1810, the population growth rate of the enslaved averaged about 30%, despite the ban on slave importation. This was just under the 1800 to 1809 average of 31.6% which was a century high.

In the 1800s, as the slave population increased, profits in cotton did too. And after the legal importation of slaves ended, the value of Black women of childbearing age increased significantly. The forced breeding of these enslaved women was linked to the profitability of southern economies.

Eugenics and control over women’s bodies

Eugenicists believed that increased breeding by white people, whom they assumed had high IQs, would benefit American society. But people who did not embody their idea of racial perfection, such as Black people, Native Americans, certain immigrants, poor white people and people with disabilities, should be sterilized – typically via tubal ligation and vasectomy.

A Black woman, surrounded by large plants, sits with both hands resting on her crossed legs as she stares ahead.

Elaine Riddick, pictured at her home in Marietta, Ga., on July 15, 2022, was sterilized without her consent when she was 14, in North Carolina.

Tami Chappell for The Washington Post via Getty Images

In this debunked pseudo-science, eugenicists often used intelligence tests to determine who was fit or unfit to reproduce and to predict who would commit crimes, end up in poverty or have children who were mentally ill or intellectually disabled. And they worked to incorporate their ideas into state laws.

Thirty-two states, between 1907 and 1937, enacted forced sterilization mandates to prevent births by people eugenicists considered socially inadequate.

State-mandated procedures resulted in the coerced sterilization of women, particularly African American, Native American and Hispanic American women, and those from Southern and Eastern Europe.

Beginning in 1948 with President Harry Truman’s executive order to integrate the military, which extended to other areas, including education, employment and commerce, sterilization rates for Black women increased. For example, in North Carolina, which had the country’s third-highest sterilization rate, far more women than men were forcibly sterilized. And in the 1960s, Black women in the state made up 65% of the women sterilized, while only making up 25% of the population.

With people standing around her, a woman wearing a shirt that reads,

Abortion-rights activists counter-demonstrate as anti-abortion demonstrators gather for a rally in Federal Building Plaza on June 24, 2023, in Chicago to mark the first anniversary of the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Between 1930 and 1970, close to 33% of the women in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, were forcibly sterilized. In California, between 1997 and 2003, 1,400 female inmates, mostly Black, were forcibly sterilized.

The post-Dobbs era

White nationalists and some right-wing politicians in the U.S. see the nation’s demographic changes as dangerous. The Census Bureau projects that in the 2040s, non-Hispanic white people will no longer make up a majority of the U.S. population. The nation’s racial and ethnic makeup will then be what some call “majority-minority.” Those projections scare racists, who believe in a conspiracy about white people being destroyed, which they label the great replacement theory because they fear losing social, political and economic power.

There is no way to know if this theory factored into the majority’s votes in the Dobbs decision, but the argument that not enough white people are being born has been a common historical thread in the American anti-abortion movement.

But, while believers in the great replacement conspiracy want white women to have more babies, actual anti-abortion decisions like the Dobbs ruling harm Black women more than any other group. Black women represent 39% of the country’s abortion patients, but many live in communities that have limited access to family planning clinics. And they have disproportionately higher rates of complications during pregnancy.

As a result, Black women – who experience higher maternal complications and mortality rates – will be forced to give birth to more babies.

This is another period in the country in which the reproductive health decisions made by mostly white men will harm Black women.The Conversation

Rodney Coates, Professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Miami University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Florida judge blocks DeSantis’ redistricting map 'that targeted Black voters with precision': report

Florida 2nd Judicial District Judge J. Lee Marsh on Saturday determined that Governor Ron DeSantis' new voter redistricting map is unconstitutional, Fox News' Anders Hagstrom reports.

"Marsh ruled that the redistricting plan diminishes the ability of Black voters to elect their chosen candidates, particularly in the state's northern region. Marsh's order mandates that the state government begin producing a new map for congressional elections, though DeSantis' administration is likely to appeal the decision," Hagstrom explains.

"Central to the case is former United States Representative Al Lawson (D-Florida), whose district splintered under the new map. The lawmaker, who is Black, had previously enjoyed support from a wide base of Black voters in the district, but he lost his race by 20 points under the new map," Hagstrom continues. "Republicans in the Florida legislature had previously introduced a redistricting map that likely would have allowed Lawson to win re-election, but the DeSantis administration put forward its own version of the map and vowed to veto any other."

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Marsh told the court that "Plaintiffs have shown that the Enacted Plan results in the diminishment of Black voters' ability to elect their candidate of choice in violation of the Florida Constitution," Politico's David Kihara and Gary Fineout noted on Saturday, adding, "The section violated is commonly referred to as the Fair Districts Amendment, which states that lawmakers can’t redraw congressional districts that 'diminish' minority voters' ability to elect someone of their choice."

According to Politico, Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd texted reporters "that he disagrees with the decision and that the state will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court."

Meanwhile, per Politico, National Redistricting Foundation Director of Litigation and Policy Olivia Mendoza lauded Marsh's ruling in a statement.

"This is a significant victory in the fight for fair representation for Black Floridians. As a result, the current discriminatory map should be replaced with a map that restores the Fifth Congressional District in a manner that gives Black voters the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice," Mendoza said, stressing that DeSantis "pushed for the discriminatory map that targeted Black voters with precision."

READ MORE: How Ron DeSantis is taking advantage of Hurricane Idalia

View Hagstrom's analysis at this link. Kihara's and Fineout's report is available here.

California teacher accused of 'writing the 'N'-word to describe one of her students' quits: report

A California teacher who was accused this week of captioning a student's picture with a "racial slur" has quit her job, according to local media reports.

"It took less than 48 hours for a Lincoln Unified teacher to resign after a public attack on the educator for allegedly writing the 'N'-word to describe one of her students," writes The Stockton Record's Hannah Workman.

Workman recalls, "Parents spoke out at a Lincoln Unified school board meeting Wednesday, bringing light to a photo taken by a student. Liz Manipol-Lee told trustees that her daughter, a student in Kelly Nordstrom's class, saw the teacher write the racial slur on a seating chart. The slur was above a Black student's photograph, Manipol-Lee said. Her daughter confronted Nordstrom. It's unknown how that conversation went down."

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Lincoln Unified School District spokesperson said on Friday that "while LUSD will continue to address the issues and harm resulting from the incident at one of our schools, we can confirm that the teacher has resigned from employment with our district."

Per TheRecord, Manipol-Lee alleged that Nordstrom "said she was taking notes" and that "I understand that children were able to see" what Nordstrom had written.

"In a photo sent to The Record, the photo appears to be edited, with student names and individual photos being blurred and the slur written with quotation marks around it," Workman notes, adding, "Ironically, Nordstrom began teaching the cultural awareness and diversity class at Sierra Middle School in August 2022. Parents said they were disappointed that a teacher who was supposed to foster cultural awareness in students could do the opposite."

Meanwhile, Sierra Middle School has begun searching for a new dual-language instructor, per ABC10's Vicente Vera. He recalls that Manipol-Lee revealed to the outlet that "we're told... the seating chart is where the teacher uses to take her notes and notate points. From my understanding, she might have heard this kid say a form of that word and very casually notated it on her clipboard. But not in the same way he said it, in the form of a racial slur."

READ MORE: DeSantis’ laws 'set the scene' for racist Jacksonville shooting: professor

Workman's report is available at this link. Vera's is here.

How Ron DeSantis is taking advantage of Hurricane Idalia

The way that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis portrayed himself managing the response to Hurricane Idalia's impact on the Sunshine State could provide his distressed 2024 White House bid its "best opportunity for a reset," according to a Saturday analysis by Emily Mahony of The Tampa Bay Times

Through "a photo of him sitting in a Florida-style Situation Room," an appearance on Fox News, and an "on-camera interview with Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore," DeSantis crafted "a snapshot of an executive hard at work during a crisis," Mahoney writes, noting, "They are also a departure from the churn of news about his struggling presidential campaign. Hurricane Idalia may provide DeSantis with the best opportunity for a reset yet, after weeks of more artificial ones attempted by his campaign, including staff shakeups and messaging pivots."

Mahoney explains that "all the free media coverage of DeSantis during the storm added up to the equivalent of $17 million worth of paid ad time, according to The Messenger, which cited a media tracking service. That TV time is even more crucial after DeSantis' campaign burned through much of its cash in the second quarter of this year, prompting his operation to rely heavily on a super PAC with the ability to raise unlimited funds."

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As pro-DeSantis political action committees were "quietly at work" finalizing plans for an "ad blitz in Iowa and New Hampshire between Labor Day and Halloween," Mahoney continues, "Idalia provided a respite from negative coverage" of DeSantis' attempt to secure the Republican Party's nomination.

And while "how much it gives him a positive boost remains to be seen," Mahoney says, "it wouldn't be the first time" that a natural disaster has benefited DeSantis.

"Last year during his reelection bid, the catastrophic Hurricane Ian was largely viewed as the knockout hit to the campaign of his longshot Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist. After that storm, DeSantis held a news conference with President Joe Biden, during which the Democratic president praised DeSantis’ response, leaving Crist with little room to criticize the governor," Mahoney recalls.

"Of course, the dynamics of 2024 are far from comparable to DeSantis' 2022 reelection, when he was the heavy favorite and at one point had more than 80 times more campaign money than his opponent," Mahoney adds, stressing, "This time, DeSantis is running from far behind, with former President Donald Trump dominating the Republican primary field.

READ MORE: DeSantis’ school voucher program gives parents taxpayer dollars for PlayStations and paddleboards

View Mahoney's full report at this link.

'I was shaken': Gay NY broadcaster fears new 'threats of violence'

In late August, Canadian government officials in Ottawa warned gay and transgender Canadians about traveling to parts of the United States —where, they warned, laws that could negatively affect them have been passed. The officials emphasized the need to know the laws of any U.S. states they plan to visit.

In an op-ed published by The Guardian on September 1, New York State-based broadcast journalist Dan Clark (who hosts the program "New York NOW" for PBS affiliate WMHT-TV) argues that Canada's warning was totally justified. Clark laments that in 2023, anti-gay attitudes from the far right are now causing him to fear for his safety.

"When I came out of the closet in rural Upstate New York almost two decades ago," Clark explains, "I never thought I'd go back in. I was wrong. In the last few months, I've started to change my appearance to accommodate a growing hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S. — even in New York, a state often touted as a beacon for queer communities."

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Clark cites specific incidents that trouble him.

"I started to change how I present myself in public this spring, when someone approached my open car window in traffic, screamed a slur in my face, and walked away without another thought," the broadcaster notes. "I was shaken…. Laura Ann Carleton, a 66-year-old woman from California, was shot dead in August after her killer took issue with an LGBTQ+ pride flag that was hung outside the store she'd owned and operated for the last decade."

Clark continues, "She had a husband and a family. At least 15 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been violently killed this year alone, according to data compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, in some cases in possible hate crimes."

The broadcast journalist points out that "threats of violence against the LGBTQ+ community," according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), "have been on the rise."

READ MORE:DeSantis defends widely-criticized anti-LGBTQ ad

"The agency even warned that public spaces, and healthcare sites, could be the site of an attack," Clark laments. "And now, Canada is warning its LGBTQ+ residents that some states in the U.S. have enacted laws and policies that may affect them, creating a new, unspoken guidance for our queer neighbors to the north: be careful."

READ MORE:NC governor vetoes 'dangerous, cruel and deeply unpopular' anti-LGBTQ+ bills

Read Dan Clark's full op-ed for The Guardian at this link.

NC Supreme Court justice threatened with sanctions after calling out racism and sexism

In contrast to its deep red neighbor South Carolina, North Carolina is more of a swing state. North Carolina has a moderate two-term Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, but President Joe Biden lost the state to former President Donald Trump by about 1 percent in 2020.

North Carolina Democrats are often frustrated by the state's Republicans, including those who would like to sanction State Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls.

Earls, the only African-American woman on the Court, has been openly critical of fellow justices where race and gender are concerned. And the conservative-leaning North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission has been investigating her comments as possible violations of North Carolina's Code of Judicial Conduct. On Tuesday, August 29, Earls filed a lawsuit against the Commission.

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Popular Information's Judd Legum reports that the Commission is probing comments Earls made during an interview published by Law 360 on June 20. During the interview, she called for more Blacks and more women to make arguments before the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Legum explains, "Earls noted that none of the Court's clerks, a feeder for high-level attorneys who later appear before the Court, were Black. She also attributed the racial and gender discrepancies among oral advocates to 'implicit bias'…. Earls observed that, during oral arguments, she is 'interrupted by more junior colleagues' and sometimes even by attorneys, which 'doesn't happen to my male colleagues.'"

Earls' lawsuit argues that she shouldn't be sanctioned for expressing her views on racism or sexism.

The lawsuit states that the "1st Amendment allows Justice Earls to use her right to free speech to bring to light imperfections and unfairness in the judicial system. At the same time, the 1st Amendment prohibits the Commission from investigating and punishing her for doing so."

READ MORE: DeSantis touts 'anti-woke' Florida policies that are being targeted in courts: report

Read Popular Information's full report at this link.

Watchdog argues Obama admin's cave on white supremacy paved way for Jacksonville shooting

As the community of Jacksonville, Florida reeled from the killing of three Black Americans by a white supremacist at a Dollar General store last Saturday, a government watchdog said that the "lion's share" of blame for the proliferation of racist, white nationalist violence in the U.S. can be placed on Republican politicians including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump—but noted that the Obama administration helped allow white supremacy to fester by caving to the GOP at a crucial moment more than a decade ago.

Chris Lewis, a senior researcher at the Revolving Door Project, pointed to the Democratic administration's response when Republican lawmakers complained about a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report in 2009 that warned of the growth of right-wing extremism, including the white supremacist movement, and the danger it posed to communities across the United States.

The report prompted calls for then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's resignation from Republicans including then-House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who said the report could be about "two-thirds of Americans, who, you know, who might go to church, who may have served in the military, who may be involved in community activities"—suggesting this was evidence that the threat should not be addressed rather than a dangerous sign of the influence of white supremacy across American life.

Instead of defending the report, Napolitano told journalists that the document "was not well-written" and "should not have gone out in the form it did," adding that she had formally apologized to veterans who were offended by the document's warnings about white nationalism in the military.

But as Napolitano withdrew the report and, according toThe New York Times, "essentially disbanded" DHS programs aimed at fighting white supremacist domestic terrorism, the problem was in fact intensifying within the military and other institutions. One 2020 Military Times poll found that "more than half of minority service members say they have personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideologically-driven racism within the ranks in recent months."

"In the 14 years since the report was released and then quashed, right-wing groups have increased the size of their ranks and unleashed violence against marginalized individuals with growing frequency," wrote Lewis. "In addition, they have increased their presence in the nation's military and policing institutions. Far-right extremists' infiltration of the armed forces and law enforcement now poses an internal threat to the state's security apparatus."

After withdrawing the report, Lewis noted, DHS reduced the number of staffers analyzing all domestic terrorism that was unrelated to Islam, canceled state and local law enforcement briefings about the threat of white nationalism, and declined to publicize more than a dozen reports on the matter.

"There was some talk in the administration about the potential harm it would do to turn a blind eye to those groups," he wrote. "And yet, that's precisely what the White House did, deferring to Republicans and ultimately contributing to this dangerous moment in history."

The shooter in Jacksonville last week perpetrated just one of at least 267 right-wing domestic terrorist plots that have been planned or carried out since 2015. More than 90 people have been killed in those attacks, with the majority murdered by white supremacists who targeted Jewish people, Black people, immigrants, or people in the LGBTQIA+ community.

The Biden administration now has "an opportunity to rectify this problem," said Lewis, by declaring white supremacist violence a national emergency and allocating federal resources to fighting the threat.

Following the attack, Sherrilyn Ifill, a senior fellow at the Ford Foundation and former president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, called for "a federal investigation into white supremacist violence, using the power and investigatory tools available to every federal agency."

"We cannot be expected to live like this," said Ifill. "It is not 1877. We must not be fooled into treating each massacre as its own tragedy. The tragedy first lies in the unchecked proliferation of the violent racist ideology coupled with the unchecked access to weapons of war."

The Obama administration, wrote Lewis, silenced a report that "could have saved lives."

"Instead of ignoring House Republicans crying wolf over the Department of Homeland Security daring to scrutinize right-wing extremists, and brushing off the falsehoods of conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh who claimed that 'there is not one instance they can cite as evidence where any of these right-wing groups have done anything,' the Obama administration bowed its head to the mob and neutered its own ability to combat domestic terrorism," he added in a statement. "Now, a decade later, here we are. The Biden administration should not repeat this mistake and should allocate resources to this."

Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, noted that the "broader context" for the Jacksonville shooting includes "elected officials like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other state legislators are intent on implementing racist policies and passing anti-Black legislation designed to stoke racial animus, which inevitably leads to violence."

"Congress must allocate more funding and resources to investigate and prosecute hate crimes on a national scale," Hewitt added, "and to provide more training for state and local law enforcement to effectively police hate crimes—which must include stronger regulations on the ability to obtain firearms."

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