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I Do Not Believe you are a Racists

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At the Miami Democratic Presi­dential Debate, Kamala Harris questioned Joe Biden about his opposition to integrating the schools through court-ordered busing. Biden responded: “I did not oppose busing in America. What I op­posed is busing ordered by the Department of Education.” Af­ter the debate, Biden spoke at the Rainbow Push Convention in Chicago. He said, “I want to be absolutely clear about my record and position on ra­cial justice, including busing. I never, never, ever opposed vol­untary busing.”

As Harris noted in the de­bate, Biden is not a racist. He served the country well as a senator and as Barack Obama’s vice president. On this ques­tion, however, he has lined up with the opposing team.

In the struggle for civil rights, the stakes were clear. After the Civil War brought an end to slavery, the Reconstruc­tion — the effort to integrate the slave states of the South — was resisted widely, and rapidly brought to an end. The former slave states claimed to have state’s rights over laws concerning labor, voting rights, education, health care and civil rights. Under the banner of states’ rights, they enforced le­gal segregation — apartheid, stripping black citizens of their rights. Blacks were banned from restaurants and hotels. Schools were segregated. Vot­ing rights were suppressed. Blacks were forced to sit at the back of the bus.

In 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation — specifically segregation of schools — violated the Con­stitution. Separate but equal was inherently unequal. They ordered communities to inte­grate their schools. Once again resistance was immediate and widespread. African Ameri­cans were forced to go to court to enforce their rights. One re­sult was court-ordered busing.

For Dr. King and the civil rights movement, the claim of states’ rights was always the segregationist dodge.

It took federal intervention to gain the right to public ac­commodations, to enforce the right to vote, to enforce desegregation of schools. To this day, federal intervention is vital, as Vice President Biden knows, to deal with the struc­tural racism of police forces, voting rights, racially motivat­ed hate crimes and more.

When Ronald Reagan opened his presidential cam­paign in Mississippi talking about states’ rights, everyone got the message. There were two sides of history and he was on the other side from those seeking equal justice for all.

As a senator, Biden initially supported busing. Then the white backlash grew. Racially separate communities in the North — often forged with red-lining and restrictive cov­enants that effectively segre­gated communities — started to get challenged in court.

The schools in Black com­munities were often more crowded, shabbier and less well-funded than those in the white suburbs. Communities resisted integration — and so courts began to order busing and redistricting to integrate schools.

Communities like Wilming­ton, Delaware faced the threat of court ordered integration, so the pressure on Biden grew to oppose busing. It was then that he called busing “asinine,” and voted with segregationists like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond on resolutions de­signed to prohibit the federal government — specifically the Department of Education -from enforcing court-ordered busing.

The problem wasn’t busing. Children are bused to school across America every day. The problem was where the bus was going.

As Matthew Delmont, au­thor of “Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Deseg­regation,” concluded, “De­scribing opposition to busing as something other than resis­tance to school desegregation was a move that obscured the histories of racial discrimina­tion and legal contexts for de­segregation orders.”

In 1975, Biden offered his own amendment to the edu­cation bill, mandating that no funds could be used to “assign teachers or students to schools … for reasons of race.”

When the Biden amend­ment passed, Massachusetts Republican Edward Brooke, the only African American in the Senate, called it the “great­est symbolic defeat for civil rights since 1964.” It was later stripped from the bill.

Court-ordered busing to in­tegrate schools has remained unpopular, and courts have retreated from enforcing it. Schools, particularly in the North, remain deeply segre­gated by race.

And too often, schools pop­ulated by people of color are still unequal — with fewer re­sources, dilapidated facilities and less prepared teachers than those in the suburbs.

Like Harris, I don’t believe Biden is a racist. But I do know that he was on the wrong side of history.

Invoking states’ rights or community choice is not a de­fense. It is an admission.

(You can write to the Rev. Jesse Jackson in care of this newspaper or by email at jj­ackson@rainbowpush.org. Follow him on Twitter @RevJ­Jackson.)

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Activism

When I See George Floyd, I See an Asian American

 A modern-day lynching is specific and symbolic all at once. If you know Asian American history, then you know Asians in California, Chinese, and Filipino, were lynched in America.

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courtesy istock

You watching the trial of the now ex-Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, the person I call the “knee man?”

   That’s what he was. Chauvin’s on trial for the murder of George Floyd, but I’m wondering how the defense is going to play this. Say that Chauvin’s knee acted independently? 

     The evidence is piling up. In Monday’s testimony, no less than the Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo said that Chauvin’s actions were in violation of “our principles and values that we have.” 

    In other words, the placing of the knee to the neck of Floyd, who was face down with hands cuffed behind his back, was “in no way, shape or form part of police policy or training.”

    If you’re a juror and hear the chief come down on Chauvin, how can you possibly not find the officer guilty?

   The defense has said it will focus on Floyd’s fentanyl drug use, presumably to link that as the real cause of death. But the prosecution on Monday brought out Dr. Bradford Langenfield, the Emergency Room doc who pronounced Floyd dead. He noted the length of time before Floyd got any breathing aid, and said Floyd’s death was more likely caused by asphyxia, or a lack of oxygen. 

     From the drugs or the knee?

     The defense will claim it wasn’t the knee, which at times was also on Floyd’s shoulder. Is that enough reasonable doubt? 

    Remember it was when Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck, not when he was walking around with drugs in his system, when Floyd said, “I can’t breathe.” 

   So far, the trial’s most compelling moment came when Darnella Frazier, the teenager who took the cell phone video we all have seen, recalled her trauma at witnessing of Floyd’s death.

     “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all Black. I have a Black brother, I have Black friends. And I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them,” Frazier said. “It’s been nights, I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more. And not physically interacting.”

     Van Jones on CNN said Frazier had witnessed a lynching.

   “When you have a lynching, which is what this was,” said Jones, “you aren’t just torturing the individual who you’re strangling to death, you’re torturing the whole community.”

     A modern-day lynching is specific and symbolic all at once. If you know Asian American history, then you know Asians in California, Chinese, and Filipino, were lynched in America.

As my friend Ishmael Reed told me on my amok.com vlog, don’t let the media play “divide and conquer.” This isn’t a Black vs. Asian thing.

All BIPOC are fighting a common foe.  All people of color have been under someone’s knee at some time in America. It’s our common ground, our shared past in America’s racist history.

That’s why to paraphrase Darnella Frazier, when I see George Floyd, I see an Asian American. And so should you.

Emil Guillermo is an award-winning Bay Area veteran journalist and commentator. See his vlog at www.amok.com 

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Activism

Asian‌ ‌Americans‌ ‌Know‌ ‌Centuries‌ ‌of‌ ‌White‌ ‌Supremacy‌ ‌Too‌ ‌ ‌

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Vincent Chin, photo courtesy Wikipedia

I’m‌ ‌all‌ ‌for‌ ‌recycling.‌ ‌The‌ ‌good‌ ‌kind.‌ ‌Paper.‌ ‌Plastics.‌ ‌Just‌ ‌not‌ ‌the‌ ‌hate.‌ ‌

But‌ ‌what‌ ‌do‌ ‌we‌ ‌have‌ ‌with‌ ‌us‌ ‌in‌ ‌Atlanta?‌ ‌

It’s‌ ‌Vincent‌ ‌Chin,‌ ‌you‌ ‌know‌ ‌the‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌American‌ ‌killed‌ ‌in‌ ‌Detroit‌ ‌in‌ ‌1982‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌baseball‌ ‌bat‌ ‌by‌ ‌
a‌ ‌white‌ ‌auto‌ ‌worker‌ ‌angry‌ ‌at‌ ‌Japanese‌ ‌imports‌ ‌taking‌ ‌over‌ ‌the‌ ‌market.

But‌ ‌Chin‌ ‌was‌ ‌Chinese,‌ ‌not‌ ‌Japanese.‌ ‌Details.‌ ‌ ‌
That’s‌ ‌why‌ ‌I‌ ‌say‌ ‌Atlanta‌ ‌was‌ ‌Vincent‌ ‌Chin‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌names‌ ‌changed.‌ ‌
Soon‌ ‌Chung‌ ‌Park,‌ ‌74,‌ ‌worked‌ ‌at‌ ‌Gold‌ ‌spa.‌ ‌
Hyun‌ ‌Jung‌ ‌Grant,‌ ‌51,‌ ‌the‌ ‌single‌ ‌mother‌ ‌who‌ ‌worked‌ ‌at‌ ‌Gold‌ ‌Spa‌ ‌to‌ ‌support‌ ‌herself‌ ‌and‌ ‌her‌ ‌two‌ ‌
sons.‌ ‌
Suncha‌ ‌Kim,‌ ‌69,‌ ‌a‌ ‌Gold‌ ‌Spa‌ ‌worker.‌ ‌
Yong‌ ‌Ae‌ ‌Yue,‌ ‌63,‌ ‌a‌ ‌worker‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌Aromatherapy‌ ‌Spa.‌ ‌
Xiaojie‌ ‌Tan,‌ ‌49,‌ ‌the‌ ‌owner‌ ‌of‌ ‌Young’s‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌Massage.‌ ‌
Daoyou‌ ‌Feng,‌ ‌44,‌ ‌an‌ ‌employee‌ ‌at‌ ‌Young’s‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌Massage.‌ ‌
Those‌ ‌six‌ ‌names‌ ‌strike‌ ‌the‌ ‌discordant‌ ‌history‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌hateful‌ ‌treatment‌ ‌of‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌Americans‌ ‌in‌ ‌this‌ ‌
country,‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌Chinese‌ ‌Exclusion‌ ‌Act‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌19‌th‌‌ ‌Century‌ ‌to‌ ‌today.‌ ‌ ‌
Asian‌ ‌Americans‌ ‌know‌ ‌hate‌ ‌and‌ ‌racism‌ ‌from‌ ‌their‌ ‌first‌ ‌day‌ ‌in‌ ‌America.‌ ‌
President‌ ‌Joe‌ ‌Biden‌ ‌recognized‌ ‌it.‌ ‌And‌ ‌now‌ ‌suddenly,‌ ‌Biden‌ ‌has‌ ‌become‌ ‌one‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌
pro-Asian‌ ‌American‌ ‌presidents‌ ‌the‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌has‌ ‌seen‌ ‌since‌ ‌Reagan‌ ‌signed‌ ‌the‌ ‌bill‌ ‌giving‌ ‌Japanese‌ ‌
Americans‌ ‌redress.‌ ‌
Think‌ ‌about‌ ‌that.‌ ‌Did‌ ‌either‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Bushes,‌ ‌Clinton,‌ ‌or‌ ‌even‌ ‌Obama‌ ‌do‌ ‌anything‌ ‌that‌ ‌addressed‌ ‌
Asian‌ ‌American‌ ‌existential‌ ‌angst‌ ‌like‌ ‌Biden?‌ ‌
One‌ ‌thing‌ ‌for‌ ‌sure,‌ ‌the‌ ‌last‌ ‌president‌ ‌was‌ ‌the‌ ‌absolute‌ ‌worst.‌ ‌He‌ ‌slurred‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌Americans‌ ‌and‌ ‌
made‌ ‌us‌ ‌targets.‌ ‌
In‌ ‌contrast,‌ ‌Biden‌ ‌has‌ ‌shined‌ ‌a‌ ‌light‌ ‌on‌ ‌us‌ ‌and‌ ‌made‌ ‌us‌ ‌visible.‌ ‌
He‌ ‌selected‌ ‌Vice‌ ‌President‌ ‌Kamala‌ ‌Harris,‌ ‌who‌ ‌is‌ ‌half‌ ‌South‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌of‌ ‌Indian‌ ‌descent.‌ ‌
As‌ ‌he‌ ‌began‌ ‌his‌ ‌presidency,‌ ‌Biden‌ ‌signed‌ ‌an‌ ‌unusual‌ ‌executive‌ ‌order‌ ‌making‌ ‌sure‌ ‌everyone‌ ‌in‌ ‌
the‌ ‌country‌ ‌knew‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌attacks‌ ‌on‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌Americans‌ ‌were‌ ‌wrong‌ ‌and‌ ‌“un-American.”‌ ‌
He‌ ‌came‌ ‌out‌ ‌strong‌ ‌for‌ ‌us‌ ‌in‌ ‌his‌ ‌first‌ ‌national‌ ‌television‌ ‌address‌ ‌a‌ ‌few‌ ‌weeks‌ ‌ago.‌ ‌
And‌ ‌then,‌ ‌after‌ ‌meeting‌ ‌with‌ ‌local‌ ‌AAPI‌ ‌leaders‌ ‌after‌ ‌last‌ ‌week’s‌ ‌shootings‌ ‌in‌ ‌Atlanta,‌ ‌Biden‌ ‌
once‌ ‌again‌ ‌elevated‌ ‌our‌ ‌status‌ ‌simply‌ ‌by‌ ‌showing‌ ‌everyone‌ ‌he‌ ‌has‌ ‌our‌ ‌backs.‌ ‌His‌ ‌remarks‌ ‌are‌ ‌
worth‌ ‌remembering‌ ‌because‌ ‌they‌ ‌put‌ ‌him‌ ‌on‌ ‌record,‌ ‌as‌ ‌he‌ ‌described‌ ‌the‌ ‌impact‌ ‌of‌ ‌Trump‌ ‌
administration‌ ‌rhetoric‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌AAPI‌ ‌community.‌ ‌
“It’s‌ ‌been‌ ‌a‌ ‌year‌ ‌of‌ ‌living‌ ‌in‌ ‌fear‌ ‌for‌ ‌their‌ ‌lives,”‌ ‌Biden‌ ‌said‌ ‌of‌ ‌all‌ ‌AAPIs‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌country.‌ ‌“Hate‌ ‌
and‌ ‌violence‌ ‌often‌ ‌hide‌ ‌in‌ ‌plain‌ ‌sight‌ ‌and‌ ‌often‌ ‌are‌ ‌met‌ ‌with‌ ‌silence.‌ ‌That’s‌ ‌been‌ ‌true‌ ‌throughout‌ ‌
our‌ ‌history.‌ ‌and‌ ‌that‌ ‌has‌ ‌to‌ ‌change.‌ ‌
“Because‌ ‌our‌ ‌silence‌ ‌is‌ ‌complicity.‌ ‌We‌ ‌cannot‌ ‌be‌ ‌complicit.‌ ‌We‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌speak‌ ‌out.‌ ‌We‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌
act.‌ ‌For‌ ‌all‌ ‌the‌ ‌good‌ ‌the‌ ‌laws‌ ‌can‌ ‌do,‌ ‌we‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌change‌ ‌our‌ ‌hearts.‌ ‌
“Hate‌ ‌can‌ ‌have‌ ‌no‌ ‌safe‌ ‌harbor‌ ‌in‌ ‌America.‌ ‌It‌ ‌must‌ ‌stop.‌ ‌And‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌on‌ ‌all‌ ‌of‌ ‌us,‌ ‌all‌ ‌of‌ ‌us‌ ‌together,‌ ‌to‌ ‌
make‌ ‌it‌ ‌stop.”‌ ‌
Strong‌ ‌words,‌ ‌from‌ ‌no‌ ‌less‌ ‌than‌ ‌the‌ ‌president‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌United‌ ‌States.‌ ‌
It’s‌ ‌enough‌ ‌to‌ ‌unite‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌Americans.‌ ‌Is‌ ‌our‌ ‌fear‌ ‌enough‌ ‌to‌ ‌unite‌ ‌a‌ ‌country?‌ ‌
Not‌ ‌with‌ ‌Republicans‌ ‌like‌ ‌Texas‌ ‌Congressman‌ ‌Chip‌ ‌Roy,‌ ‌who‌ ‌couldn’t‌ ‌find‌ ‌the‌ ‌empathy‌ ‌at‌ ‌last‌ ‌
week’s‌ ‌Judiciary‌ ‌Subcommittee‌ ‌hearing‌ ‌to‌ ‌change‌ ‌his‌ ‌heart‌ ‌and‌ ‌join‌ ‌in‌ ‌condemning‌ ‌the‌ ‌murder‌ ‌
of‌ ‌eight‌ ‌people‌ ‌in‌ ‌Atlanta,‌ ‌six‌ ‌of‌ ‌whom‌ ‌were‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌American‌ ‌women.‌ ‌
“My‌ ‌concern‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌hearing‌ ‌is‌ ‌that‌ ‌it‌ ‌seems‌ ‌to‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌venture‌ ‌into‌ ‌the‌ ‌policing‌ ‌of‌ ‌rhetoric,”‌ ‌
said‌ ‌Roy,‌ ‌a‌ ‌Trump‌ ‌backer‌ ‌who‌ ‌was‌ ‌trying‌ ‌to‌ ‌defend‌ ‌the‌ ‌ex-president’s‌ ‌“China‌ ‌Virus”‌ ‌and‌ ‌“Kung‌ ‌
Flu”‌ ‌remarks.‌ ‌
Asian‌ ‌American‌ ‌voters,‌ ‌a‌ ‌third‌ ‌of‌ ‌whom‌ ‌voted‌ ‌Republican‌ ‌for‌ ‌Trump,‌ ‌should‌ ‌remember‌ ‌this.‌ ‌The‌ ‌
Republicans‌ ‌who‌ ‌remain‌ ‌hell-bent‌ ‌on‌ ‌defending‌ ‌Trump’s‌ ‌big‌ ‌lie–that‌ ‌he‌ ‌won‌ ‌the‌ ‌2020‌ ‌
election–see‌ ‌“China‌ ‌Virus”‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌matter‌ ‌of‌ ‌Trump’s‌ ‌free‌ ‌speech.‌ ‌
And‌ ‌what‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌thousands‌ ‌of‌ ‌AAPIs‌ ‌victimized‌ ‌by‌ ‌his‌ ‌hateful‌ ‌turn‌ ‌of‌ ‌phrase?‌ ‌
Rep.‌ ‌Grace‌ ‌Meng‌ ‌(D-NY)‌ ‌let‌ ‌him‌ ‌have‌ ‌it.‌ ‌
“This‌ ‌hearing‌ ‌was‌ ‌to‌ ‌address‌ ‌the‌ ‌hurt‌ ‌and‌ ‌pain‌ ‌of‌ ‌our‌ ‌community,‌ ‌and‌ ‌to‌ ‌find‌ ‌solutions,”‌ ‌Meng‌ ‌
said‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌rare‌ ‌show‌ ‌of‌ ‌emotion‌ ‌and‌ ‌passion.‌ ‌“We‌ ‌will‌ ‌not‌ ‌let‌ ‌you‌ ‌take‌ ‌our‌ ‌voice‌ ‌away‌ ‌from‌ ‌us.”‌ ‌
That’s‌ ‌where‌ ‌we‌ ‌are‌ ‌today.‌ ‌
People‌ ‌are‌ ‌angry.‌ ‌And‌ ‌only‌ ‌the‌ ‌Democrats‌ ‌truly‌ ‌seem‌ ‌interested,‌ ‌not‌ ‌just‌ ‌in‌ ‌stopping‌ ‌the‌ ‌hate‌ ‌but‌ ‌
in‌ ‌recognizing‌ ‌it.‌ ‌
This‌ ‌week,‌ ‌Meng‌ ‌and‌ ‌Sen.‌ ‌Mazie‌ ‌Hirono‌ ‌continued‌ ‌to‌ ‌campaign‌ ‌for‌ ‌their‌ ‌Covid‌ ‌Hate‌ ‌Crime‌ ‌Bill‌ ‌
that‌ ‌would‌ ‌have‌ ‌the‌ ‌Justice‌ ‌Department‌ ‌conduct‌ ‌fast‌ ‌reviews‌ ‌of‌ ‌possible‌ ‌hate‌ ‌crime‌ ‌cases.‌ ‌This‌ ‌
was‌ ‌thought‌ ‌up‌ ‌long‌ ‌before‌ ‌the‌ ‌shootings‌ ‌in‌ ‌Atlanta,‌ ‌but‌ ‌it‌ ‌would‌ ‌seem‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌perfect‌ ‌timing.‌ ‌The‌ ‌
the bill‌ ‌also‌ ‌sets‌ ‌up‌ ‌an‌ ‌online‌ ‌reporting‌ ‌system‌ ‌in‌ ‌different‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌languages‌ ‌that‌ ‌would‌ ‌stop‌ ‌the‌ ‌
undercounting‌ ‌of‌ ‌hate‌ ‌crimes‌ ‌and‌ ‌make‌ ‌it‌ ‌easy‌ ‌for‌ ‌AAPIs‌ ‌to‌ ‌report‌ ‌them.‌ ‌
Robert‌ ‌Aaron‌ ‌Long,‌ ‌21,‌ ‌the‌ ‌Atlanta‌ ‌shooting‌ ‌suspect,‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌charged‌ ‌with‌ ‌eight‌ ‌counts‌ ‌of‌ ‌
murder‌ ‌and‌ ‌one‌ ‌count‌ ‌of‌ ‌aggravated‌ ‌assault.‌ ‌Long‌ ‌has‌ ‌admitted‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌shootings‌ ‌but‌ ‌told‌ ‌police‌ ‌
he‌ ‌was‌ ‌just‌ ‌a‌ ‌religious‌ ‌man‌ ‌battling‌ ‌‌ ‌sex‌ ‌addiction.‌ ‌The‌ ‌shootings‌ ‌Long‌ ‌told‌ ‌police,‌ ‌weren’t‌ ‌
racially‌ ‌motivated.‌ ‌
That’s‌ ‌what‌ ‌they‌ ‌all‌ ‌say.‌ ‌
Ronald‌ ‌Ebens,‌ ‌who‌ ‌killed‌ ‌Vincent‌ ‌Chin‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌baseball‌ ‌bat,‌ ‌said‌ ‌the‌ ‌same‌ ‌thing.‌ ‌
Ebens‌ ‌did‌ ‌get‌ ‌off‌ ‌without‌ ‌spending‌ ‌time‌ ‌in‌ ‌jail.‌ ‌Long‌ ‌is‌ ‌being‌ ‌held‌ ‌without‌ ‌bail‌ ‌while‌ ‌the‌ ‌police‌ ‌
continue‌ ‌to‌ ‌investigate.‌ ‌
That‌ ‌does‌ ‌nothing‌ ‌for‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌Americans,‌ ‌still‌ ‌grief-stricken‌ ‌and‌ ‌angry.‌ ‌Hate‌ ‌crime‌ ‌enhancements‌ ‌
could‌ ‌easily‌ ‌be‌ ‌applied‌ ‌if‌ ‌the‌ ‌new‌ ‌Georgia‌ ‌state‌ ‌hate‌ ‌crime‌ ‌statute‌ ‌that‌ ‌expands‌ ‌coverage‌ ‌to‌ ‌
include‌ ‌sex‌ ‌as‌ ‌well‌ ‌as‌ ‌race,‌ ‌is‌ ‌used.‌ ‌ ‌
But‌ ‌if‌ ‌that’s‌ ‌not‌ ‌forthcoming,‌ ‌it‌ ‌would‌ ‌definitely‌ ‌send‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌Americans‌ ‌a‌ ‌harsh‌ ‌message‌ ‌of‌ ‌our‌ ‌
real‌ ‌value‌ ‌in‌ ‌this‌ ‌country.‌ ‌
It‌ ‌will‌ ‌also‌ ‌test‌ ‌the‌ ‌community’s‌ ‌strength‌ ‌and‌ ‌courage.‌ ‌What‌ ‌will‌ ‌our‌ ‌response‌ ‌be‌ ‌then?‌ ‌Will‌ ‌
others‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌BIPOC‌ ‌feel‌ ‌our‌ ‌pain,‌ ‌join‌ ‌us‌ ‌in‌ ‌alliance,‌ ‌and‌ ‌speak‌ ‌with‌ ‌one‌ ‌voice‌ ‌in‌ ‌unison‌ ‌against‌ ‌
these‌ ‌crimes?‌ ‌
Or‌ ‌will‌ ‌AAPI‌ ‌be‌ ‌left‌ ‌wondering‌ ‌how‌ ‌we‌ ‌get‌ ‌justice‌ ‌for‌ ‌our‌ ‌six‌ ‌sisters‌ ‌killed‌ ‌in‌ ‌Atlanta?‌ ‌ ‌
Soon‌ ‌Chung‌ ‌Park.‌ ‌
Hyun‌ ‌Jung‌ ‌Grant.‌ ‌
Suncha‌ ‌Kim.‌ ‌
Yong‌ ‌Ae‌ ‌Yue.‌ ‌
Xiaojie‌ ‌Tan.‌ ‌
Daoyou‌ ‌Feng.‌ ‌
They‌ ‌are‌ ‌our‌ ‌dead,‌ ‌the‌ ‌latest‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌sad‌ ‌narrative‌ ‌of‌ ‌Asian‌ ‌Americans‌ ‌in‌ ‌this‌ ‌country‌ ‌since‌ ‌the‌ ‌
19th‌ ‌Century,‌ ‌the‌ ‌agonizing‌ ‌history‌ ‌of‌ ‌recycled‌ ‌hate.‌ ‌
Emil‌ ‌Guillermo‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌journalist‌ ‌and‌ ‌commentator.‌ ‌He’s‌ ‌a‌ ‌veteran‌ ‌Bay‌ ‌Area‌ ‌media‌ ‌person‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌
former‌ ‌host‌ ‌of‌ ‌NPR’s‌ ‌“All‌ ‌Things‌ ‌Considered.”‌ ‌Go‌ ‌to‌ ‌his‌ ‌blog‌ ‌at‌ ‌‌www.amok.com‌‌ ‌for‌ ‌an‌ ‌
interview‌ ‌with‌ ‌Oakland‌ ‌playwright‌ ‌Ishmael‌ ‌Reed‌ ‌about‌ ‌Reed’s‌ ‌new‌ ‌play‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌exploitation‌ ‌of‌ ‌
Jean-Michel‌ ‌Basquiat.‌ ‌ ‌

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Commentary

Time for the Mayor and the City to stop the Madness and Settle the Coal Dispute

A new developer, JMB Capital, has acquired the project and has offered to sit down with city officials to discuss the potential to not ship coal through the terminal despite having won the court fight over the matter.  Unfortunately, officials in the Schaaf administration have not accepted invitations to meet and try to resolve the dispute.

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We need the City Council to be the adults and step in to settle the controversy surrounding the Oakland Army Base once and for all.

For nearly a decade, the city has been fighting about the potential shipment of coal at a proposed bulk commodity terminal at the former Oakland Army Base, under a development agreement that it awarded to California Capital Investment Group (CCIG).

 

A new developer, JMB Capital, has acquired the project and has offered to sit down with city officials to discuss the potential to not ship coal through the terminal despite having won the court fight over the matter.  Unfortunately, officials in the Schaaf administration have not accepted invitations to meet and try to resolve the dispute.

 

The consequences of failing to voluntarily settle the coal issue could be financially devastating for the city.  Already, the federal courts have indicated that the city cannot deny the right to ship coal.

 

The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a May 15, 2018 ruling by US District Court Judge Vince Chhabria that the city of Oakland failed to prove that the transportation of coal posed a health and safety hazard to residents. Judge Chhabria found that a report presented by the city’s expert consultants, Environmental Science Associates (ESA), was “riddled with inaccuracies, major evidentiary gaps, erroneous assumptions, and faulty analyses.”

 

Thus, it appears that the city has already lost on the issue of whether it has the right to ban coal.  Now the city attorney and city administration hang their hats on a sketchy pending state court case where they argue that the master lessee of the property, CCIG, lost the lease because they failed to commence construction of the terminal within the timeframe specified in the development agreement.

 

The likelihood of the city prevailing on that argument is very slim.  The City caused a delay in the completion of the terminal when they denied CCIG’s permits to resume construction and then claimed that the developer did not act in a timely manner. Now the developer asserts it is ludicrous for the city to claim that it did not act in a timely manner.

 

I do not understand the city’s refusal to welcome a chance to resolve the issues short of a court decision.  If Oakland loses, the terminal will be allowed to ship as much coal as it can handle over the next 66 years.  In addition, the city likely will be on the hook for millions of dollars in losses caused by their dilatory maneuvers.  More important, the proposed terminal is a major revenue producer for the city and will create hundreds of jobs handling non-coal commodities and products and related financial benefits. As the city dawdles, Oakland residents lose.

 

By entering into a discussion with JMB Capital it could lead to a no coal agreement that gets the terminal built.  But, by refusing to talk it could lead to unlimited coal shipments and significant financial losses.  Why, then, doesn’t the city meet and try to come to a no coal agreement?

 

Some suggest the problem is the Mayor’s ego and a desire for revenge, or her plans for future political positioning.  In reality, it doesn’t matter.  Under the city charter, the City Council holds the ultimate power to decide whether to settle and resolve the issues on terms most favorable to the city.

 

As I see it, if the city meets with the developer and reaches a no coal agreement, everyone benefits.  But if the city doesn’t even try, and the courts rule against the city, the result will likely be a loss that the city will suffer for the next 66 years.

 

I urge the City Council to intervene and stop the nonsense. It has the duty and authority to protect the city from major losses and take advantage of a golden opportunity it seems determined to ignore.  Please end the madness and direct the City Administrator to negotiate a no coal settlement in good faith and get this case behind us.

 

Do it now, because if the city leaves it to the courts to decide, and they lose, there will be nothing left to negotiate after a court decision is made. Oakland residents will be stuck with the results of the city’s refusal to meet for decades to come.

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