alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

classism

Trump’s Immigration Ploy Is to Pit Black and Brown Workers Against Each Other

President Trump has resurrected an old canard in his effort to sell a new effort to restrict immigration into the United States. The legislation he backs, he said at a White House ceremony, was necessary in part to protect “minority workers competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals” under the current immigration system.

Keep reading... Show less

AlterNet Comics: Keith Knight on How America Treats Black and White College Students

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"624280","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"7200","style":"width: 600px; height: 726px;","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"5953"}}]]

Our Aggressive 'War on Drugs' Is Not Actually About Drugs

In 2016, Colombian President Juan Miguel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for reaching a peace accord with FARC and ending a 50-year war that has ravaged Colombia.  In his address to the Nobel Committee, suggested that “The manner in which this war against drugs is being waged is equally orperhaps even more harmful than all the wars the world is fighting today, combined. It is time to change our strategy."

Keep reading... Show less

Punishing Students For Not Making Eye Contact? How Charter Schools' Prejudiced Policies Undermine Equality

This article is the first of a two-part series examining who is being left behind in the wake of charter school proliferation and the complicated web of profiteering that is driving the movement. Part I details many of the ways in which charter schools fail poor children, children of color and students with disabilities even as charter school supporters appropriate civil rights rhetoric. Part II will focus on the big business of charter schools.

Keep reading... Show less

'NY Times' Columnist Laments Woes of Rich Kids

Are you sick and tired of the poors getting all the attention and sympathy? Are you afraid you might end up living near scary, thuggish brown people? Then don't miss New York Times columnist Ron Lieber's work!

Let's start with the travails of those woebegone rich people and their kids, using the murder case of Thomas Gilbert, the 30-year-old trust-fund baby and Princeton grad who murdered his father when his father cut his allowance.

Keep reading... Show less

300,000 People Were Exposed to a Toxic Chemical in W. Va. - Why Is the EPA Investigating It Four Months Later?

America doesn’t give a rat’s ass about poor people.

Keep reading... Show less

The Poor and the Middle Class Will Save America Yet

A few days ago I had breakfast with a man who had been one of my mentors in college, who participated in the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s and has devoted much of the rest of his life in pursuit of equal opportunity for minorities, the poor, women, gays, immigrants — and also for average hardworking people who have been beaten down by the economy. Now in his mid-80s, he’s still active.

Keep reading... Show less

Punishing Students For Not Making Eye Contact? How Charter Schools' Prejudiced Policies Undermine Equality

This article is the first of a two-part series examining who is being left behind in the wake of charter school proliferation and the complicated web of profiteering that is driving the movement. Part I details many of the ways in which charter schools fail poor children, children of color and students with disabilities even as charter school supporters appropriate civil rights rhetoric. Part II will focus on the big business of charter schools.

Keep reading... Show less

"No Excuses" and the Culture of Shame: The Miseducation of Our Nation's Children

"Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear someone say that 'eliminating poverty in America is the civil rights issue of our day'? Since poverty is the single most reliable predictor of poor performance in school, poor health, poor attendance, dropping out, and almost every negative indicator, wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear some of the politicians addressing the root cause of inequality?" Diane Ravitch

The education reform debate is fueled by a seemingly endless and even fruitless point-counterpoint among the corporate reformers—typically advocates for and from the Gates Foundation (GF), Teach for America (TFA), and charter chains such as Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP)—and educators/scholars of education. Since the political and public machines have embraced the corporate reformers, GF, TFA, and KIPP have acquired the bully pulpit of the debate and thus are afforded most often the ability to frame the point, leaving educators and scholars to be in a constant state of generating counter-points.

Keep reading... Show less

Generation Y Refuses Race-Gender Dichotomy

I was born on the last hour of the last day of the last year of the '70s. So, like so many of my Generation Y peers, I was raised on Free to Be You and Me, hip hop, and feminism. I was 11 when Anita Hill changed the world and just about Monica Lewinsky's age when her blue dress dominated the headlines. So that just gives you some perspective on where young voters like me are coming from when we consider race and gender in the political environment, the topic of a panel I had the honor to speak on today at The Paley Center titled "From Soundbites to Solutions: Bias, Punditry, and the Press in the 2008 Election" (co-sponsored by The Women's Media Center, The White House Project, and The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education .

According to PBS News Hour, 5.7 million people under the age of 30 voted in the primaries, a 109 percent increase from the last presidential election. There's no question that young people are excited about this political moment; there's no question that we care deeply about issues of race, gender, class, and religion; we are not, however, endeared to partisanship. Chalk it up to Facebook, competitive college admissions, or all of the other phenomena that influence us to see ourselves as individual project, but it's clear that we resist groupthink. We shy away from taking on any sort of movement identity, preferring to vote for the individual candidate and his or her policies, and preferring to be seen as individual people -- not a texting, IM-ing mass of technologically superior and socially inferior sons and daughters. As my peer Keli Goff put it in her wonderful book of the same name, we're into "party crashing."

When we do take the leap to identify with a movement, as I have in the case of feminism, we still seem to buck against the idea that our affiliation determines our vote. I, for example, am an Obama voter, but was and will continue to be an avid Clinton supporter. I hate the sexist coverage that she endured, and have written and spoken out about it widely, but that doesn't change my vote. My feminism is not just about gender equality in government, but also about racial justice, global security, community ethics, etc., and I resent being made to feel as if there is a "right" way to vote if I am a feminist. I'm grateful for being challenged to justify my choice to pull the lever for Obama by feminist friends and mentors, but only when it's initiated in the spirit of dialogue, not a litmus test.

Our tendency towards thinking and acting solo isn't such a surprise when you consider the ethnic and cultural origins of this generation. The country is becoming more and more interracial, thanks to the increasing incidence of interracial pairings like Obama's parents, as pointed out by public education projects like Loving Day. And further, genealogy and genetic efforts like Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s The Root are pointing out that even before interracial unions had been destigmatized (at least in urban centers), plenty of our ancestors were crossing the color line behind bedroom doors. It's not so strange these days to meet a Chinese-Chilean guy living in Brooklyn or a Vietnamese Baptist in Houston. How could we affiliate with one party/movement/organization when we contain such a multitude of loyalties in our own little legacies?

The million-dollar question: How, with a generation bent on individuality and multiplicity, do we confront racism, sexism and all the other insipid -isms that have been brought to light by this unprecedented campaign? To my mind, we must continue to use novel interventions -- like the Women's Media Center's great montage "Sexism Sells, but We're Not Buying It," the brand-new blog Michelle Obama Watch, and the evergreen experts at Racialicious -- to educate people. We must use humor -- as my group blog Feministing often does, as the brilliant Sarah Haskins does on Current TV, as Ann Telnaes does through cartooning over at Women's eNews. (Note: It's not just the boys -- John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and the Onion crew -- that know the power of a laugh.)

We must take our roles as media consumers dead seriously, calling television executives and newspaper editors on their misguided choices and celebrating them when they get it right. In an increasingly corporatized media landscape, it is your dollar, not your disgust, that will most readily get big-wig attention. Don't buy sexist magazines, don't tune into to racist radio, and don't watch reductive, recycled infotainment being pawned off as news.

But most of all, it seems to me, we must continue to push for a deeper, more authentic conversation overall. We must let the mainstream media know that we don't want to debate "reject" or "denounce" for 24 hours or go on witch hunts for Geraldine Ferraro or Samantha Power. We want to understand what these women were trying to say. We want to explore the real issues. We want to, as my co-panelist Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now so brilliantly put it, call into question the whole idea of empire. The debate shouldn't center on the quandary: How can we make our empire more effective? But, do we want to be an empire in the first place?

And we must demand that our candidates rise to the occasion, as I believe Obama did so beautifully with his speech on race following the Reverend Wright controversy. He brought that conversation to a new level, and we are all better off for it. We need to continue to push for that kind of brazen truth-telling -- about gender, certainly, about class, for sure. That's what politics is supposed to be about -- not partisanship or strategic spinning, but honesty and uplift. Call me naïve, but that's what the young are supposed to be, right?