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NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Activist and Poet William Brandon Lacy Campos Dies at 35

Activist and Poet William Brandon Lacy Campos Dies at 35

Poet, writer, and activist William Brandon Lacy Campos has died. He was discovered on Friday night in his apartment in New York. The cause of death has not been announced. Campos was 35.

Campos authored the poetry collection “It Ain’t Truth If It Doesn’t Hurt,” was a contributor to the anthology “From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction,” and authored a blog called “Queer, Poz and Colored: The Essentials” at TheBody.com. He was also the former co-executive director at Queers for Economic Justice, a non-profit organization committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation.

Campos was born in Minnesota and became an activist in his teens, becoming the co-chair of the National Queer Student Coalition at age 20. He wrote and spoke passionately about not only the broader political landscape, but also about his own emotional journey and challenges as a queer person of color.

According to Rod 2.0 a Facebook status update made by Campos’ father confirmed his son had passed away. The news rocked LGBT and progressive organizing and artist circles this weekend, prompting an outpouring of support and grief on Facebook pages.

Campos was multi-racial and as Rod 2.0 points out, discussed the intersections of race, colorism, sexuality and gender just days before he passed away in a keynote address he delivered at Tuft University’s annual Black Solidarity Day on Monday, Nov. 6. The speech was called “A New Kind of Blackness.”

An excerpt from “A New Kind of Blackness” is published below.

“I’ve spent a long time thinking about blackness. About, roughly, all of my 35 years walking around this planet. I guess that makes me some sort of an expert, but mostly it makes me confused, angry, celebratory, conflicted, colonized, dehumanized, aggrandized, powerful, vulnerable, righteous, and a whole host of other adjectives.

“I am standing in front of you a black, white, Ojibwe, Afro-Boricua, HIV positive, queer man. And I am just as black as any of you. You are my community, you are my salvation. I am in community with my queer and trans black family and being queer or trans doesn’t make you less black than anyone else. It’s time for us to realize that HIV stopped being a white gay disease a long time ago, it’s now a black and Latin[o] disease and it’s time to hold up our positive brothers and sisters as our own. No more high yellow and midnight blue conversations when talking about skin unless its to talk about how that high yellow or midnight blue person rocked your socks last night.”

Victoria’s Secret Sexy Native American Headdress Runway Disaster

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Victoria’s Secret has apparently learned nothing from the uproar that occurred after the band No Doubt released their latest music video that depicted lead singer Gwen Stefani as a hyper-sexualized Native American. The band removed the music video from YouTube after they received thousands of negative comments on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

No Doubt’s video premiered on Facebook on November 2nd and was removed shortly after.

But days later on November 7th, the creative minds at Victoria’s Secret sent model Karlie Kloss down the runway wearing a headdress and jewelry usually reserved for special ceremonies. And of course, she was a sexy “Victoria’s Secret angel.”

To add insult to injury the headdress that reached the floor appears to be one usually reserved for tribe Chiefs.

The American Indian Studies Center at UCLA issued a statement after No Doubt’s that offers some context of why such costumes are culturally insensitive. An excerpt is published below:

The American Indian Studies Center is a research institute founded in 1969 at the University of California, Los Angeles, dedicated to addressing American Indian issues and supporting Indian nations. The Center also serves as a bridge between the academy and indigenous peoples locally, nationally, and internationally, with a goal of advancing understandings between Native and non-Native communities. One particular challenge faced by American Indians in the United States is a perceived invisibility and a corresponding lack of understanding of the contemporary existence and relevance of Native peoples. We work to dismantle such barriers at the American Indian Studies Center, which remain due to a lack of knowledge about Native communities, including, for example, the fact that Los Angeles is home to the nation’s largest urban Native American population.

This perceived invisibility holds numerous consequences for Native peoples, including perceptions that American Indians are mere historical relics, frozen in time as stereotypically savage, primitive, uniquely-spiritualized and - in the case of Native women - hyper-sexualized objects to be tamed. No Doubt’s recent “Looking Hot” music video, released to fans via its Facebook page on November 2, 2012, is replete with such highly offensive and destructive images of Native peoples in general and Native women specifically.

The music video demonstrates the height of cultural misappropriation and a complete indifference towards and ignorance about contemporary Indian people. The video at once employs Native imagery and symbols, many of which still hold deep spiritual and ceremonial significance for Native Americans - including feathers, tipis, and fire - while at the same time situating such imagery in a (largely inaccurate) set of depictions of Indians at the turn of the century as primitive peoples fighting cowboys (and losing) in the Wild West. In this sense, the video diminishes Native people and Native cultures while, simultaneously, co-opting Indians and indigeneity for exploitative gain. In essence, it represents the grossest kind of cultural misappropriation.

Most importantly, however, the video is rife with imagery that glorifies aggression against Indian people, and, most disturbingly, denigrates and objectifies Native women through scenes of sexualized violence. Much like the 19th century paintings advancing the ethos of manifest destiny1 - the belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent, bringing civilization and light to a primitive people - the video draws on familiar tropes of the conquest of the continent and, concomitantly, the ravage of the Native female. As lead singer Gwen Stefani writhes, partially dressed (as an Indian) and shackled in ropes while overseen by domineering white men brandishing pistols, today real Native American women in the United States are in a state of crisis.

November is Native American History Month.

Photo: Model Karlie Kloss walks the runway during the Victoria’s Secret 2012 Fashion Show on November 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS)

L.A. Mariachis Woke Up Latino Voters With Serenades at 7:30am

L.A. Mariachis Woke Up Latino Voters With Serenades at 7:30am

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) along with a group of DREAMers went door to door early Tuesday morning to remind Latinos in Los Angeles’ Sun Valley to vote. The group, which started canvassing door-to-door at 7:30am, brought their own alarm clock in the form of mariachis.

The group urged voters to vote for those who can’t.

“They say it is a shame / say it’s a shame / that makes you cry” sang the mariachi band, singing lyrics especially written to wake up the of Sun Valley community and urge them to get up and vote.

One of the DREAMers accompanying the mariachis was Zuleyma Barajas who recently benefited for the Deffered Action program President Barack Obama approved earlier this year.

“This is something that matters to us,” Barajas told the San Fernando Sun. “Latinos [who can vote] are the voice of us who can not do it,” she added.

Jorge Mario Cabrera, a CHIRLA spokesman, told the San Fernando Sun the decision to have DREAMers visit homes was a way to illustrate the need for an immigration reform in the Presidential term. “The young Dreamers have joined this campaign because even though they can’t vote, they’re asking voters to protect their dreams and fight so that the next Administration approves something beyond a Deferred Action,” Cabrera said.

Of the 52 million Latinos in the United States, 24 million are registered to vote, representing 11% of the entire electorate. In 2012, President Obama set a new record, winning his second term in office with the support of 75 percent the Latino electorate.

Arizona Groups Demand DOJ Intervene as 631,000 Uncounted Ballots Pile Up

The nation was able to choose a new president without incident on Tuesday night. But three days after the presidential election, the state of Arizona is not only not done tallying up votes—it’s now actually tallying up the number of uncounted votes. And the number is getting larger by the day. Today Arizona advocacy groups are demanding the Department of Justice get involved to figure out what exactly is going on and protect the integrity of the state elections.

Some 631,000 ballots cast in Arizona have yet to be counted, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said in a statement Thursday. The number was 602,334 on Wednesday. Hanging in the balance are several hotly contested races, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s effort to hold onto his seat for a sixth term. In Maricopa County alone 459,000 uncounted early and provisional ballots surely could swing the race either way—as of Tuesday night Arpaio held a 90,000-vote lead over Democratic challenger Paul Penzone.

“We’re deeply concerned by these shocking allegations and the notion that days after the election, nearly half a million Arizona ballots haven’t been tallied,” Monica Sandschafer, executive director of the Arizona Center for Empowerment said in a statement. “If true, this means that the voices of 1 in 15 Arizonans are simply being discarded. Nearly half of all early ballots in Maricopa County have yet to be counted.”

Map Shows You Where Those Racists Tweeting After Obama Election Live

Map Shows You Where Those Racists Tweeting After Obama Election Live

Data-mapping experts from the Floating Sheep blog mapped geo-located Tweets that contained hate speech and were made after President Barack Obama was re-elected late Tuesday night. The analysis collected tweets that contained the text “monkey” or “nigger” AND also contain the text “Obama” OR “reelected” OR “won”.

So what state had the most racist tweets? Mississippi and Alabama came in first place. Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee trailing them behind.

Rhode Island had no hate tweets that Floating Sheep could identify.

Here’s an excerpt from a Floating Sheep post that explains the methodology:  

Using DOLLY we collected all the geocoded tweets from the last week (beginning November 1) with racist terms that also reference the election in order to understand how these everyday acts of explicit racism are spatially distributed. Given the nature of these search terms, we’ve buried the details at the bottom of this post in a footnote [1].

Given our interest in the geography of information we wanted to see how this type of hate speech overlaid on physical space. To do this we aggregated the 395 hate tweets to the state level and then normalized them by comparing them to the total number of geocoded tweets coming out of that state in the same time period [2]. We used a location quotient inspired measure (LQ) that indicates each state’s share of election hate speech tweet relative to its total number of tweets.[3] A score of 1.0 indicates that a state has relatively the same number of hate speech tweets as its total number of tweets. Scores above 1.0 indicate that hate speech is more prevalent than all tweets, suggesting that the state’s “twitterspace” contains more racists post-election tweets than the norm.

A bit more information based on the findings from the analysis:

The prevalence of post-election racist tweets is not strictly a southern phenomenon as North Dakota (3.5), Utah (3.5) and Missouri (3) have very high LQs. Other states such as West Virginia, Oregon and Minnesota don’t score as high but have a relatively higher number of hate tweets than their overall twitter usage would suggest.

The Northeast and West coast (with the exception of Oregon) have a relatively lower number of hate tweets.

States shaded in grey had no geocoded hate tweets within our database. Many of these states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota) have relatively low levels of Twitter use as well. Rhode Island has much higher numbers of geocoded tweets but had no hate tweets that we could identify.

Visit Floatingsheep.org for more information and take a look at their interactive map.

Meet the New Gerber Baby: Mary Jane Montoya

Meet the New Gerber Baby: Mary Jane Montoya

On November 6, 2012, the same day millions of Latinos took to the polls to vote, Gerber announced the winner of their latest Gerber baby photo contest: an 8-month-old Latina.

Baby Mary Jane Montoya of Fresno, Calif. is the new face of the Gerber Generation! Mary Jane’s picture was the grand prize winning photo in a photo search that attracted more than 308,000 submissions.

Mary Jane’s mother will receive a $50,000 cash prize, and Mary Jane will have the opportunity to appear in future Gerber advertising.

“Our baby looks just like the Gerber baby, but we still can’t believe the photo of our baby won the Grand Prize!” said Sara Montoya, Mary Jane’s mother. “Like parents everywhere, we think our baby is cute, but to have this honor is something we’ll cherish for forever. To us, winning $50,000 is like winning a million dollars!”

Montoya’s home state of California is one of two states in the nation where the majority of young people identify as Latino. The 2010 Census found that for the first time in the nation’s history young people in both California and New Mexico identified as Latinos.

By 2050, Latino youth are expected to comprise 29% of the U.S. youth population. Currently, an estimated 50,000 U.S. born Latinos turn 18 every month.

Watch President Obama Cry During Thank You Speech to Campaign Staff

Watch President Obama Cry During Thank You Speech to Campaign Staff

President Barack Obama got all emotional when thanking the people who’d helped him run his campaign for president.

Trying to Stay Relevant, Boehner Says GOP Will Back Immigration Reform

Trying to Stay Relevant, Boehner Says GOP Will Back Immigration Reform

Reeling from Romney’s loss on Tuesday against Obama’s multiracial majority, House Speaker John Boehner made a bold attempt last night to keep his party relevant, telling ABC’s Diane Sawyer that Republicans would get behind immigration reform.

“This issue has been around far too long,” he said, “and while I believe it’s important for us to secure our borders and to enforce our laws, I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

The comments were an effort by the Speaker to get out in front on immigration and a major shift for the party that’s stood firmly in the way of any legislative action on immigration.

Democrats pulled at least 70 percent of Latino and Asian votes at the ballot box on Tuesday and the Republicans inability to garner any significant support from communities of color played majorly in Romney’s loss.

Romney took an unwaveringly hard stance on immigration in his campaign, saying he would repeal Obama’s administrative decision to halt deportations of young undocumented immigrants. Polls before the election showed that the deferred action policy played into Latino’s overwhelming support for Obama, support that’s now heralded as a central factor in securing his second term.

Romney’s position on immigration in the campaign was widely seen as an effort to secure white votes in conservative districts. Ultimately, the strategy backfired, insufficient to mobilize enough white support to pull off a win.

Republicans appear now to realize it’s time for change. Also yesterday, Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, announced he’d “evolved” on immigration. “We’ve gotta get rid of the immigration issue altogether,” he said on his show.

But both Hannity and Boehner repeated the standard Beltway line that “securing the border” and “enforcing our laws” must precede immigration reform. As the last decade of legislative wrangling reveals, the enforcement-first approach to immigration reform has in the past led only to more deportations, not a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Sen. Charles Schumer, who is Chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, released applauded Boehner’s comments.

“This is a breakthrough to have the Speaker endorse the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform,” Schumer said. “Democrats in the Senate look forward to working with him to come up with a bipartisan solution.”

The Obama administration, for its part, is on shaky ground when it comes to immigration. Though the deferred action policy gave the president a boost, his administration is also responsible for deporting historic numbers of people—about 1.5 million in the last four years.

Advocates Say Arpaio Hasn’t Won Yet, Urge County to Count All Votes

Advocates Say Arpaio Hasn't Won Yet, Urge County to Count All Votes

I reported yesterday that after a set of hard fought races in Arizona, Tea Party Republicans logged major wins. This included another four years for Joe Arpaio, the firebrand sheriff of Maricopa County who’s made a career in harassing immigrants and treating prisoners like livestock. He was reported to have beat Democrat Paul Penzone by nearly 90,000 votes.

Based on initial results, I also reported a loss for Richard Carmona, a Democrat who ran on an anti-SB 1070 platform against Republican Jeff Flake.

Now, advocates and alternative media in Arizona are questioning these results. They say hundreds of thousands of provisional and early votes have yet to be counted.

The Latino advocacy group Presente.org sent out a petition today calling for all the votes to be counted. The petition reads, “Arpaio is leading by 90,000 votes but there are over 300,000 ballots that haven’t been counted yet—likely most are from Latino neighborhoods!”

Arizona Latinos voted early more than twice the rate they did in 2008, the NY Times reports.

New America Media’s Valeria Fernandez reports:

Arpaio’s critics, among them Unite Here, Promise Arizona and Citizens for a Better Arizona (CBA) - groups that were behind a get-out-the-vote effort — expressed concerns over a large number of provisional ballots that were cast.

“We’re focused on the people that were not allowed to vote. We’re concerned about how the county recorders run the election,” said Randy Parraz, co-founder of CBA. “There were people that were not allowed to vote at all.”

Brendan Walsh, political director with Unite Here echoed those concerns.

“We were finding that people went to the polls and were being asked to cast provisional ballots,” said Walsh, when they should have received the ballot in the mail.

The Phoenix New Times reports that a reversal is unlikely in the sheriff’s race.

The gap between Penzone and Arpaio may narow, but is likely too deep of a hole to dig out of. 

The county counted more than 44,000 ballots yesterday, but the numbers in the Penzone-Arpaio race have not budged by much. Currently the spread there is 9.48 percentage points.

But, the New Times reports:

It’s a different story when it comes to the Rich Carmona v. Jeff Flake U.S. Senate contest, where Flake is up by a mere 79,867 votes, or 4.8 percent. 

Republican golden-boy Flake must be sweating big ol’ bullets right now. Yesterday, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office announced that there are more than 600,000 provisional and early ballots remaining statewide to be counted. According to one of the savviest political experts I know, Democrat and former legislator John Loredo, Carmona could make up that gap with that’s left to count, especially considering that many of the “late” ballots turned in at the polls will tend to be Democratic.

We’ll keep watching Arizona and send updates.

Meanwhile in Arizona, as I reported yesterday, the state’s legislature remains solidly in Republican hands. The GOP hold, however, is a little less secure. Republicans in the Arizona legislature, which has long been a testing ground for far-right policies, no longer have a super majority after Democrats picked up four seats in the Senate and a few in the House as well. 

To be sure, Republicans remain in charge in Arizona and will for at least another two years, but the Democrats small legislative gains do indicate a shifting landscape. 

Stacey Dash Sounds Off on Race, Supporting Romney and ‘Welfare’

Clueless star Stacey Dash became the object of racially charged shade when she tweeted her endorsement of a Mitt Romney presidency and posed for a picture with vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

“If Romney wins we going back [to] the fields and she’s not light enough to be in the house, soooo…,” one user tweeted about the Bajan- and Mexican-American actress who was last seen on VH1’s Single Ladies. Others invoked Dave Chappelle’s NSFW “Racial Draft” skit. “Stacey Dash just got traded to white people for Robin Thicke,” wrote one user. Others requested Katy Perry and Eminem.

Now, in the wake of Obama’s reelection, the self-described fiscal conservative and newly minted conservative darling released a detailed explanation of her unpopular decision.

“People get it wrong. My vote for Romney isn’t a vote against Obama,” she reasoned in an 1,000-plus piece posted by TMZ. “Like most Americans I was insulted with the idea that Obama was only elected because he was black, that people of color wanted one of their own, regardless of what sort of leader he would make. The same idiots make the argument that white guilt is why so many Americans voted Obama into office in the first place.”

Dash, who voted for Obama in 2008, claims her Romney support was about the economy, despite her “progressive” stance on “social issues”:

I like the simplicity of the plan to lower taxes. I feel I’ve paid out a substantial amount over the 20 plus years I’ve been working. … I voted for the Romney ticket because I was inspired by their promises of working tirelessly to create a strong economy as their first objective. I have other issues that are close to my heart like equality, and women’s rights, and the benefits of strong public schools. I realize on these issues I’m entirely progressive. There are plenty of moderate Republicans who feel exactly the way I do on these issues. I don’t think we have to trade one for the other. The main objective of our nation must be repairing the economy. All our social concerns must come after this. Without a stable economy our great nation falls.

Without acknowledging blatant Republican congressional obstructionism, Dash also urges the Obama administration to “work a whole lot harder to bridge the divide between political parties.” Then, confusingly, she calls for “welfare reform” based on a stereotype of EBT users:

An elderly woman stands in the same grocery line pinching pennies to buy a can of soup while a woman is buying marshmallow fluff with food stamps. As times have changed, welfare policy needs to keep stride, just like every other issue.

The Marshmallow Fluff lobby must be extremely unhappy.

Two Maryland Women Get Engaged at Obama Rally in Chicago

Keesha Patterson of Maryland got down on one knee and proposed to her girlfriend Rowan Ha at President Obama’s victory rally Tuesday night in Chicago.

Maryland joined Maine in making history on Election Night by becoming the first states in the nation to back same-sex marriage at the ballot box. Maryland is also the first state in the Southern United States to legalize gay marriage.

Looks like it was a good night for Patterson, her favored President won, Maryland approved same-sex marriage, and Ha said yes.

election-rally-proposa2l.jpg (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

Asian American Voters Back Democrats Despite Being Ignored By Both Parties

Asian American Voters Back Democrats Despite Being Ignored By Both Parties

Asian Americans may be roughly 4 percent of the nation’s population, but their political leanings are often misunderstood or neglected altogether. An election eve poll found 51% of Asian American voters were not asked by any campaign, political party or community organization to vote or to register to vote.

While only 41 percent identify as Democrats, Asian American voters supported Barack Obama by a huge margin, with 72% voting for the President and 26% for Mitt Romney, according to The Asian American Election Eve Poll. In Congressional races, 73 percent of Asian American voters backed Democratic candidates, while 27% backed Republicans.

The Asian American Election Eve Poll surveyed 800 Asian Americans over the pre-election weekend. The poll was a joint project of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).

The vast majority of Asian American voters (58%) said that fixing the economy and creating more jobs was the most important issue that politicians should address.

“Mitt Romney had room to win the overlooked Asian American community,” said Lisa Hasegawa, Executive Director of National CAPACD. “While Barack Obama’s narrative attracted Asian American voters, Mitt Romney missed an enormous opportunity to offer a direct appeal to this group.”

Another key issue for Asian American voters and perhaps the reason why they sided with Obama is healthcare.

Other key findings from the Election Eve Poll:

Health care 60% of Asian American voters supported the federal government’s role in ensuring access to health insurance, compared to 23% who believe that people should secure their own health insurance.

Budget deficit. To address the national budget deficit, 45% of Asian Americans supported a combination of tax increases and spending cuts, with 26% stating that taxes on the wealthy should be increased. Only 14% of Asian Americans supported spending cuts alone to reduce the deficit.

Immigration reform. 57% of Asian American voters supported comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. This support was much higher among U.S. born Asian American citizens (73%), compared to foreign-born Asian American citizens (50%).

Undocumented youth. 35% of Asian Americans said they were more enthusiastic about President Obama because of his new policy to stop the deportation of undocumented youth who attended college or served in the military (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). 40% of Asian Americans said their vote was not affected by this policy directive, but nearly half (49%) of Asian American voters aged 18 to 30 were more enthusiastic about Obama after he announced the new policy in June 2012.

“Asian Americans were hit hard during the recession — and this poll shows that they are focused on finding solutions to the economic downturn,” Congressman Mike Honda, Chair Emeritus for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said in a statement. “This poll provides critical information about what’s important for Asian Americans and should be used as a resource for elected officials as they develop policies that will have an impact in our communities.”

Women and People of Color Will Be a Majority of Democrats in the House

Women and People of Color Will Be a Majority of Democrats in the House

Bloomberg Businessweek notes changes in the House that, in many ways, mirror the demographic shifts that have altered the country’s landscape:

Here’s more from Bloomberg:

Come January, women and minorities for the first time in U.S. history will hold a majority of the party’s House seats, while Republicans will continue to be overwhelmingly white and male. The chamber, already politically polarized, more than ever is going to be demographically polarized, too.

“One thing that’s always been very startling to me is to see that on the floor of the House of Representatives when you look over on one side where the Democrats caucus and you look to the other side and it looks like two different visions of America,” Edwards, 54, a black woman who has served in Congress since 2008, said in a telephone interview. 


Those changes are symbolic, but not enough. As Rinku Sen noted yesterday, “demographics alone aren’t going to run a policy agenda through the system.” Take a look at our roundup of racial justice thinkers making sense of the election.



Election Night Sadness: White People Mourning Mitt Romney [Photos]

Election Night Sadness: White People Mourning Mitt Romney [Photos]

Since President Obama’s re-election on Tuesday, there’s been plenty of soul searching among conservatives. But a new Tumblr shows just how deep the heartbreak is for some of Romney’s supporters. Meet the new Tumblr: White People Mourning for Romney.

Tulsi Gabbard, First Hindu-American Elected to Congress, Crushed GOP

Tulsi Gabbard, First Hindu-American Elected to Congress, Crushed GOP

On Tuesday night Tulsi Gabbard became the first Hindu-American to have entered the U.S. House of Representatives, winning her Hawaii seat by crushing her Republican rival.

Gabbard, 31, is an Iraq War veteran who born in American Samoa to a Catholic father and a Hindu mother. She has served on the Honolulu City Council and in the state Legislature.

Gabbard is a rising star earlier, earlier this year she spoke at the Democratic National Convention, appearing with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi. I should note that her extreme margin of victory is largely due to the fact that her opponent Republican Kawika Crowley is homeless, lives in a van, and didn’t receive the backing of the Hawaii GOP party.

In an interview with Religion News Service earlier this month, Gabbard said she hopes to be a bridge between cultures and nations. “Hopefully the presence in Congress of an American who happens to be Hindu will increase America’s understanding of India as well as India’s understanding of America,” she said.

“Although there are not very many Hindus in Hawaii, I never felt discriminated against. I never really gave it a second thought growing up that any other reality existed, or that it was not the same everywhere,” Tulsi said in a statement Tuesday, the New York Daily News reported.

The Washington Post points out the two highest-profile Indian-American politicians are both Republicans and converts to Christianity: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was raised Hindu, while South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was raised Sikh.

Gabbard, whose first name refers to a tree sacred to Hindus, follows the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism that believes in the Supreme Lord Vishnu, and his 10 primary incarnations.

Miami TV Reporter at Obama Rally Confuses Will.i.am for Wyclef Jean

Miami TV Reporter at Obama Rally Confuses Will.i.am for Wyclef Jean

Just take a look at Miami’s WSVN-TV reporter’s nod at the 0:19 second mark. He thought he was being so slick.

(h/t Gawker)

Redistricting Protects the 2010 Republican Surge in State Legislatures

Republicans are no doubt feeling sour today after Romney’s defeat and a failed attempt to take control of the Senate. And while last night’s elections were a victory for Democrats, a deeper examination of the post-election playing field suggests Republicans remain well positioned to pursue a conservative agenda just as aggressively as they have for the last two years.

This is especially true in the states where for the last two years tea party candidates used Republican majorities to push a radical policy agenda. In the wake of yesterday’s elections, Republican control of state politics appears largely unchanged.

The 2010 election was a wave for Republicans, launching conservatives into control of a 29 governor’s mansions and 59 of the country’s 98 partisan state legislative chambers. This put Republicans in position to dominate the shape of state policy, passing dozens of bills restricting abortion access and voting rights, maligning the safety-net and attacking immigrants.

After last night, the numbers look nearly the same.

Jackie Lacey Becomes Los Angeles’ First Black District Attorney

Jackie Lacey Becomes Los Angeles' First Black District Attorney

This year’s race for Los Angeles District attorney is in the history books in more ways than one. On Tuesday night, Jackie Lacey became first woman and African American to ever hold the office.

“When you look at my resume and what I’ve accomplished and the experience I had that was relevant to running that office, I had those things. And what the voters of L.A. County said was that the fact that I am a woman, the fact that I’m African American has no bearing on it.”

Lacey, a registered Democrat, had endorsements from California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as well as the current Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who is retiring after three terms

Lacey won 55 percent of the votes. Running against her was veteran prosecutor Alan Jackson.

Did Obama’s Victory Speech Include Nod to DREAMers?

Did Obama's Victory Speech Include Nod to DREAMers?

During President Barack Obama’s victory speech Tuesday night he briefly spoke about the “dreams of an immigrant’s daughter,” perhaps alluding to a select number of undocumented sons and daughters in the country who could have a path to citizenship with the DREAM Act.

“We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag, to the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner, to the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president,” Obama said during his victory party in Chicago in the early hours of Wednesday.

Insiders say it’s safe to assume he was speaking about DREAMers but note Obama didn’t get to that position on his own.

“Obama was very clearly referencing the immigrant youth who he’s supported with his backing of the DREAM Act and deferred action,” said Julianne Hing, Colorlines.com immigration reporter. “But it should be noted that his support came largely because immigrant youth have put his feet to the fire and relentlessly demanded more humane treatment of undocumented youth and their families.”

But while Obama has been open about letting young undocumented people with “good moral character” have a path to citizenship, his administration has deported an unprecedented number of immigrants.

“We are hopeful that in his second term-when he no longer has to worry about re-election-that the President will be in a better position to advance a national and international agenda that represents the interests of the majority,” read a statement from PresenteAction, the largest online latino advocacy group.

“Millions of Latinos supported the President in his re-election with the very clear expectation that he will expand the use of his executive authority to provide relief to the millions of other immigrants facing a difficult situation because of initiatives like the SCOMM program, which many of us want the President to either fundamentally alter or abolish altogether because of the documented pain, discrimination and fear caused by this program. While it’s clear that the President must exert real leadership on a congressional solution on immigration reform, we expect the President to act immediately to stop the suffering of our families,” PresenteAction’s statement went on to say.

Arpaio Gets Another Four Years to Harass Latinos In An Unchanged Arizona

Arpaio Gets Another Four Years to Harass Latinos In An Unchanged Arizona

Latinos in Phoenix went to bed last night with the news that they’ll face another four years of harassment from Joe Arpaio and his deputies. The 80-year-old sheriff told supporters at his victory party that he looks forward to another term “just enforcing the law,” by which he tends to mean racial profiling and prisoner abuse. The Arpaio victory is not a surprise, but it is a disappointment for immigrant and civil rights advocates who hoped the county was ready to turn a corner.

Arpaio’s victory came amid a generally good day for Republicans in the state, despite Democratic hopes that the party could turn the state by organizing Latino residents. Arizona has acted as a testing ground for far-right laws that incubated in the imaginations and white papers of conservative think tanks. Despite two years of organizing to register growing numbers of Latinos, and waning support for bills like the state’s SB 1070 in the face of broad national challenges, it appears that Arizona may still be a Tea Party petri dish.

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