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Written by Tirzah Thomas, this special edition list examines how action against racism can be taken through being conscious of your social behavior.
As Black History Month is coming to an end, it is vital to recognize the struggles of African Americans. Black people obviously go through political and economic discrimination, but what could help strengthen or help break an African American is the experience of social discrimination and ignorance. It is not necessarily anyone’s fault if they are ignorant but they are to blame if they decide to reject being educated in Black issues and therefore choosing to be ignorant. Nevertheless, here are two examples of social situations in which African Americans are discriminated against.
The Use of the N- word
Black people do have the right to freely use the N- word. That is a fact. It shows how African Americans were able to reclaim the word that was used to wrongfully describe their ancestors. But on the other hand, non-black people do not have the right to use the N- word. Before, the N- word was used to call slaves instead of using their names. In this day and age Black people are not slaves to call. So the N- word should not be used by the same people whose ancestors terrorized African Americans. It's also not enough to just not say the N-word. If you do hear someone who is not black using the N- word, you should attempt to educate them and explain to them why they are wrong for using the N- word. Tell them they need to stop using the word and if they continue you should report them to someone with more authority.
Dealing with Black Hair
Many Black peoples do not have straight hair that people are so used to seeing. Instead they have kinky, curly, coily hair. There are different processes that go into taking care of Black hair and they may be processes that some are not used to experiencing. Although you may not be familiar with the way African Americans style or care for their hair, you should be aware of the fact that Black hair is not a zoo animal where you get up close and inspect. In addition to the fact that Black people have to deal with people nonconsensually touching their hair, they are often pressured to chemically damage their hair in a professional setting to maintain a “professional” look. Black people are often told or have had people “suggest” that they should straighten their hair. Black hair is extremely sensitive towards heat and it is not healthy for an African American to straighten their hair constantly. A hair texture is not unprofessional. What is actually unprofessional is suggesting for others to harm their health in order to receive an education or their paycheck. This does not only happen in workplaces, but also in schools. Black students have been told that they can not come into school or school events with protective styling such as braids or afros. This is an issue because close minded people can not accept others who embrace their self. All types of hair are beautiful. When you witness an African American being discriminated for their hair, you should once again, educate the one that is discriminating and then you should report them if they choose to be ignorant.
These are only a few issues that Black people may have to deal with on a daily basis. But they are situations that stand as a life changing moment. That moment is often when African Americans understand the differences between races. They begin to understand the different treatment, different behavior, different features and, many more differences. This moment usually happens at a young age but does not stop developing at that age. You can not really do anything when that moment occurs. But while it is developing, do not try to tell them that their noticings are all in their head. Those are the moments when Black people can understand the reason for different treatment, which all boils down to how much melanin African Americans carry in their skin. Once they notice the problem, they can try to make a change and figure out a solution. That is why it is essential for Black people to understand the inequalities they will experience.
Black History Month is the month of recognition. Recognition of the struggles, recognition of the victories and, most importantly recognition of the unity that causes empowerment. Although Black History Month is unfortunately coming to an end it does not mean that the recognition and acknowledgement should come to an end as well, instead it should only be the beginning. Happy Black History Month!
Taking action in your daily life:
Hello Teen Resisters! Here at Teens Resist we enjoy the number 7. It's a prime number; the number of Von Trapp children; the number of years post-2000 that Ratatouille came out; number of chakras; number of colors on the ROYGBIV rainbow; and, of course, the number of days in a week.
Which means, the number of days we have until President Trump's deadline for an agreement on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in Congress.
What is DACA?
You've probably seen A TON of stuff about DACA in your social media feeds, and it's easy to assume a lot of things about it. Here's what it really is: there have been proposals for decades to make laws that would allow people (known as Dreamers) who were brought to the US before their 16th birthdays to have a path to citizenship and keep them safe from deportation.
For these kids, the United States is the only home they've ever known. They've grown up here, gone to school here, and know nothing of the countries they were born in. As far as immigration laws go, this is one that many can agree on. Even hard-line anti-immigration congresspeople can agree that these kids deserve an opportunity like this, and more liberal congresspeople see it as a first step in immigration reform that could also affect the children's deserving parents. 70% of Americans support it.
Specifically, the Obama-era DACA ruling allowed Dreamers to "come out of the shadows" (CNN) and obtain driver's licenses, get jobs and go to college. They also pay income tax. They didn't have to worry about deportation. This program lasted two years, and then people could apply for renewal. Unfortunately, the law did not really provide a path to citizenship; just deferral, an aspect that drew criticism from the left, arguing it left Dreamers "in limbo."
What did Trump Do about it?
Starting in September, Trump phased out DACA, allowing applicants to apply one last time for renewal. He then proposed a bipartisan bill that allowed a number of DACA recipients to keep receiving benefits, but cut programs to allow family members to sponsor each other and demanded a budget for a border wall and other programs. Democrats in Congress rejected it and Trump set a March 5th deadline for them to come to an agreement. If they don't do so by the 5th, ALL OF THE BENEFITS DACA RECIPIENTS RECEIVE will no longer apply and they will be left in a state of fear of deportation back to countries they barely know. There is also concern that, since DACA recipients' info is in government files, ICE will have access to it and they will be even more at risk for deportation.
FACT: each day that congress fails to pass a clean dream act, 122 dreamers lose their daca rights.
Is there hope?
Even before Trump announced the deadline, there was discussion of a bipartisan, clean Dream Act that would be a chance to take it from the beginning. As of TODAY (2/26), the Supreme Court has ruled to keep DACA alive for now while Congress works on the new decision. This is HUGE and means that Dreamers won't be immediately stripped of their rights. Dreamers can apply to renew their DACA, but new recipients cannot apply. But that doesn't mean that pressure isn't still direly needed on Congress to get a Dream Act NOW!
MORE INFO: Click here.
WHAT CAN I DO?
CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSPEOPLE: You guys. This is the #1 thing to do for this issue. They need to hear that people are concerned. Tweet them, write letters (this one is particularly great) and call them. Call 478-488-8059. Just tell them that you're demanding a clean Dream Act now and want them to fight as hard as they can to make it happen. This helps with all congresspeople: Dem and Republican.
TEXT HERETOSTAY TO 877877
SIGN THIS PETITION HERE. (less than 1 min)
Check out organizations like United We Dream, Make the Road, National Immigrant Law Center, and more, to find resources and ways to help.
Happy belated Valentine's Day Teen Resisters! We are ready to hop in this week with some super important issues.
What went down:
NOTE: Net Neutrality still needs defense! Click here. Very teen oriented issue!!
ALSO: Youth Progressive Policy Group is doing work to lower the voting age in New York and represent youth in the political process. Check out their website to attend events or receive updates on the immensely important work they do.
VINE COMPILATION OF THE WEEK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoJTZZBKOf4
All of our love, peace, power and confidence:
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