How ironic that we vilify black men and Muslims for their violent tendencies, when between 54 and 63 percent of the mass shootings in the U.S. since 1982 have been committed by white men. White men make up the majority of males in our country. Some might say statistically that makes sense. Some might say white men are the enemy. I say let’s stop exclaiming that all people who share the same ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs are the same. They are not, any more than all white men are the same.
October came and went without much fuss in Connecticut if you looked through the peephole of Filipino-American History Month observed by the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) in Seattle since 1991 and officially recognized by the U.S. Congress in a resolution in 2009. Who knew? And actually, who cares and who needs to know about Filipino-American history here in Connecticut? But wait, last month a ginormous news story, by the seat of your pants captivating, all-consuming, gotta watch 24-hour cable news channels, sent many in the Filipino-American (Fil-Am) community around the country running for cover.
The murder of 11 innocent worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue — the deadliest attack ever on the Jewish community in this country– occurred on the 80th anniversary of one of the most fateful events in Jewish history. On that day in 1938, in what the New York Times described as possibly “the greatest mass deportation of recent times,” the Nazi government began deportation of 17,000 Polish-born Jews living in Germany and Nazi-occupied Austria.
The following is the text of the speech given at community candlelight Vigil for the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last Sunday at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford.
How long, oh Lord, how long?
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, oh Lord, how long?
It is April 11, 1914. Fannie Saphirstein, 28, signs the Department of Labor’s Naturalization Form #2203 in which she describes herself as white of fair complexion, height 5 feet and weight 118 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. She was born in Bialistock, Russia, on the 25th day of March in 1886. She immigrated to America from Antwerp on the vessel Zeeland. She attests that her last foreign residence was Bialistock, Russia. Her occupation? A cigar maker.
The contrast could not be more stark. As the pace of preparation accelerates for the annual induction ceremony for the Immigrant Heritage Hall of Fame in Connecticut, the daily headlines trumpet a more hesitant, even hostile, view of immigrants and their continuing contributions to our state and nation. Immersed in the histories of immigrants thriving in our state, historically and currently, the invective aimed lately at the next generation of immigrants is concerning, as they, like others before them, seek to contribute to this nation while providing their families with the safety and opportunity that America has long exemplified.
Our children are drowning. The rate of drowning, in a literal sense, for children of color is three times that of white children in this country per Jeff Wiltse, author of Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America. The rate of academic drowning is much the same. Now New Haven has lost three more of its schools due to racial isolation standards. However, I can’t help but ask if districts that are predominantly white would also be forced to close due to their lack of minority student enrollment.
I was born and raised in Connecticut by my mother, a woman who was a strong advocate for my education. Looking back, I have no idea how she was able to be such a fierce and tireless champion of my education, while working incredibly hard as a single parent to provide for her only child. Meeting with my teachers on a daily basis and demanding more rigorous coursework to ensure I was prepared for college. Forcing school administrators to see past their own lowered expectations because of my race. Molding me into an avid (now, lifelong) reader. As a kid, my mother’s advocacy was something I took for granted until many years later in my academic and professional career.
If you were in Connecticut in the late 1960s and the 1970s, you might remember Ned Coll. He was the Hartford activist who, among other things, brought African-American youngsters from the squalid housing projects in the North End of Hartford to private beaches along the shore, which Coll believed should be open to the public.
Today is Equal Pay Day, which signifies how far into 2018 the average woman must work to earn as much as a man earned in 2017. Every year, Black and Latina women must work even longer to earn as much as their male counterparts. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day won’t arrive until August. Latina women must wait until November to achieve men’s earnings from the previous year. Equal Pay Day exists because women in our country – and our state – do not receive pay equal to their male counterparts.
The 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death is a perfect time to discuss the state of race relations and how to improve it. Race relations has been on the decline for the last ten years or so. It didn’t start with Trump, but he has only escalated the problem. It is time to reverse course, and yes, it can be done.
Connecticut’s shame is to continue to tolerate some of the most economically and racially segregated school districts in the nation.
Connecticut’s shame is to continue to tolerate one of the largest student achievement gaps in the nation.
An Education Adequacy Cost Study would ensure that the resource needs of all school districts – successful, struggling, and those in between – as well as the resources needed by regular and at-risk students are identified and quantified. It would then be up to policymakers and stakeholders to put these resource needs in fiscal context, determine a state and local share, and rationally develop an education funding formula and system that is based on actual student needs.
Last week the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth released a much-anticipated report that provides a business perspective on the causes and suggested responses necessary to cure our state’s economic woes. Overall, we support the report’s clear call for state investment to spur economic growth with a focus on education, workforce development, transportation, regional development, and core city revitalization. However, we fear the compressed time frame within which the Commission worked resulted in inconsistent — and in some cases unsound — recommendations, many of which are grounded in four fundamental errors. First, the vision and goals articulated at the outset of the report upon which the Commission bases its recommendations for “short-term, medium-term and long-term actions that will enable improved competitiveness and higher growth” omit any mention of the toxic impact of existing racial disparities and income and wealth inequity in the state.
It is not a surprise to see most college students outraged when a professor at Southern Connecticut State University was placed on leave after using the N-word. While I understand these students are upset and their emotions are high, it is more upsetting to me how they are addressing issues like these.
The provision of an adequate education for all young people living in Connecticut is a requirement, and access to quality education should not be dependent on a child’s family income or zip code. As reported by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas in her June 2, 2017, piece for the CT Mirror, in the 20 years since the landmark Sheff vs. O’Neill case ordering an end to the racial isolation of Hartford’s public school students, the state has enlisted 42 themed regional magnet schools in an attempt to integrate white suburban youth into minority Hartford student classrooms.