Facing Race on Capitol Hill

By Malena Amusa Mar 23, 2007

Brian Palmer On the back of the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq last week, the second plenary of the Facing Race conference Facing Race on Capitol Hill met Friday to discuss if the change of Congress will have meaningful consequences for racial justice. The panel featured Moderator: Gary DelgadoDeepak Bhargava, Center for Community ChangeBertha Lewis, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)Judith LeBlanc, United for Peace and Justice The discussion spun around the war in Iraq–the who goes and who stays– and whether or not movements for racial justice should be carried out on national, state or community levels. With all three panelists concluding that battles for legislative policy changes must remain a part of movements to banish racial inequality, room opened up to discuss more internal issues within racial movements such as conservative voters within communities of color and the predominance of women activists for peace. The panelists also focused on the failure of America’s two-party system to deliver open and direct discussions about race and policy and brought into question the Democratic presidential candidates’ commitment to facing race effectively to better clarify their stance on big issues such as immigration. No matter how we cut it Immigration is a race issue that demands a race conscious policy. Here are some notable quotables from the plenary: "The world is browning. It’s not an issue of will we overcome; we will overrun," Lewis "The challenge is to imagine how we make every issue a racial justice issue," Bhargava "People like Rice and Gonzales; they thought there would be power and success for Neo-cons," LeBlanc "We need to break this two-party business; (because) people of color get lost in the democratic sauce," Lewis "There’s a conservative crack-up. They don’t sound crazy to just us (progressives)," Bhargava "We need a policy that understands the link with foreign policy–war, which causes refugees and American immigration," LeBlanc "Three of the most prominent faces endorsing (ill treatment of immigrants, "enemy combatants," and Arabs), Gonzales, John Yu, and Condoleezza Rice. What’s the relationship between the face of the policy and how it plays," Delgado On Gonzales, Yu and Rice: "Racism and sexism are like viruses. They infect you. These have infected these people. It’s the height of insult and racism to put these folks up there," Lewis "Bush is supporting this war (in Iraq) by cutting education, housing..," Leblac "We have to go where no leftie (progressive) has gone before; We have to cross lines to talk to conservatives and moderates," Lewis "The first woman to die in Iraq was a native American woman (who wouldn’t get released from her interrogation unit duties). She committed suicide. The military didn’t tell her family for two years," Leblanc