Last week’s presidential debate got heated at multiple points, as President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney shifted from talking in broad strokes about taxes and the economy to talking specifics about hot-button social issues. Following the debate, Colorlines writers offered a number of critiques of the way both candidates talked about and around these issues.

Akiba Solomon broke down the candidates’ double-speak around gendered issues such as pay equity, affirmative action, and Romney’s bizarre pitch of marriage as an antidote to gun violence. ARC executive director Rinku Sen explained how Romney offered a diversity solution to an equity problem with his “binders full of women” comment. And Julianne Hing fact checked Obama’s claim that the folks he’s deported are “gangbangers,” a term often indiscriminately applied youth of color.

You watched the debates, you read the commentary; now here’s what you had to say.

Rosa Nguyen described Obama’s use of the term “gangbangers,” as a:

Disturbingly racist word choice.

Alberto Tito Velazquez pointed out the Obama administration’s record-setting pace of deportations, saying:

I was disturbed by this… if Romney were strategic, he could’ve easily turned it around to say it’s not just ‘gang bangers’ he’s deported but entrepreneurs, and heads of family households.

Lex Steppling added some context, commenting:

[…] He’s deporting a record number of people, the vast number of whom are not criminals beyond being undocumented workers, here because unlike people, capital gets to cross boarders freely, thus displacing people throughout the world from land they live on so it can be used for cattle for McDonald’s, or water for Coca Cola or Nestle and on and on. Or because our military policies have de-stabilized places creating a refugee class. People are here because the US is there.

Kiki Dumaz pointed out the hypocrisy of Romney’s use of the word ‘illegal’ to describe undocumented workers, saying:

Believing that people who enter a land which is their ancestral heritage is illegal is like supporting the African slave trade because it was important to the development of this country, then turning around and posting a “No Negros Allowed” sign on your store front.

In response to Rinku’s article on the reasons Romney’s “binder full of women” answer fell flat, Steph Gauchel said:

I really appreciated this article as it lays out a great, easy to follow distinction between diversity and equity. […] While Romney did talk about workplace flexibility, it was still very problematic as he tied this need for flexibility exclusively to women (something about getting home to make dinner, i think). Wrapped up in this is the idea — based on traditional, hetero and gender normative roles and assumptions — that women are the only ones who need (dare say “are required” in many people’s thinking) to take primary responsibility for the home and family, even when working outside of the home. Workplace flexibility is needed, but it needs to be done in a way that is conscious of the multitude of family structures and needs (which may or may not include a female parent needing workplace flexibility) and it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t just maintain systems of oppression and marginalization.

Kimberley Gomez agreed, adding:

Diversity is fine and certainly makes for good photos. But equity involves really taking the time to look at qualifications, ensuring that all qualified applicants have an opportunity to be interviewed fairly, and, once hired, that all employees (especially those for whom, especially because of social class or other backgrounds characteristics, including ethnicity,) are appropriately developed in the position to which they were hired.

Nadia Isabella suggested this analysis could be extended beyond racial and gender diversity, saying:

Great article. Thank you for writing this. I would like to also suggest that the excellent points you made in this article can be extended to other minorities as well, such as (but not limited to) people with disabilities and people who are not part of the mainstream heterosexual culture.

In response to Akiba’s analysis of the way gender issues were handled in the most recent debate, Brenda Fletchall complicated the “binder full of women” story, saying:

The Binder wasn’t Romney’s initiative but his response to the pressure by the MassGAP initiative.

You can read more about the MassGAP initiative here.


Each week, we round up the best comments in our community. Join the conversation here on Colorlines.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/10/who_are_these_gangbangers_obamas_talking_about_reader_forum.html


Thank you for printing out this Colorlines.com article. If you liked this article, please make a donation today at colorlines.com/donate to support our ongoing news coverage, investigations and actions to promote solutions.