Rants & Raves

By Anmol Chaddha Mar 21, 2006

RANT: Chain Gang Construction At Wal-Mart. In Wisconsin, Wal-Mart is using a new strategy to keep wages down—prison labor. Inmates at the Fox Lake State Prison are building a Wal-Mart distribution center in Beaver Dam. Their average wage is about $9 an hour, and according to a spokesman for the Department of Corrections those earnings are put toward the inmates’ room, board and transportation. The inmates, of course, can’t demand higher wages or better working conditions, like the 1.2 million Wal-Mart workers around the country who don’t have a union.
RAVE: Bridging Divisions With Bruce Lee.
Torn by civil war, the Bosnian town of Mostar is hoping to reconcile intense ethnic divisions through a world hero, Bruce Lee. A life-size statue of the kung fu star was unveiled in the center of town. Young people around the world, including Bosnia, have revered Lee as a model of justice, fairness and honesty. An initiator of the project, Veselin Gatalo, explained that “we will always be Muslims, Serbs or Croats. But one thing we all have in common is Bruce Lee.”

RANT: Cashing In On Model Minority Myth.
Two Asian American sisters have written a field manual to “Asian parenting.” In Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers – and How You Can Too, Soo Kim Abboud and Jane Kim shamelessly promote the virtues of a stereotypical Asian home where parents limit TV time and kids study incessantly. The sisters never point out that the model minority myth obscures how a 1965 immigration law selectively granted visas only to highly educated Asian professionals, like doctors and engineers—artificially inflating the average income of Asian households.
RAVE: Howard U. Students Not Backing Down.
Hundreds of students at Howard University greeted Laura Bush last October with a large protest against the war in Iraq, the inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina and federal cuts in education spending. The students were threatened with arrest by the Secret Service and local police but refused to back down.

RANT: Clean The Store But Stay Out Of The Country?
Illinois Republican Jim Oberweis gained notoriety in 2004 when he ran hyperbolic anti-immigrant TV ads in an attempt to rally support for his U.S. Senate campaign. Defeated in the primary, he’s back to run for governor this year. Undocumented immigrants have already showed up again in his campaign—but this time, it’s a group of undocumented immigrants who are suing him for paying them less than minimum wage for working as janitors in his eponymous dairy stores.

RAVE: The Whole World Was Watching.
San Jose State University in California is now home to a sculpture commemorating the Black power protest of 1968 by a pair of American track stars at the Olympics in Mexico City. Tommie Smith and John Carlos created an unforgettable image when they raised their fists while being awarded Olympic medals. Their defiant act brought global attention to Black poverty and political struggle in the United States.

RANT: Pinal County’s More Like Penal Colony.
The Sheriff of Pinal County in Arizona is looking to hire more than 60 detention officers to staff an expanded adult jail—one of eight jails and immigrant detention facilities in the town of Florence, which has turned to prisons for economic development. Of the 21,000 official residents of Florence, 15,000 are inmates who live inside the walls of the jails. One in six of the town residents work in the correctional facilities, and 85 percent of the Black residents are inmates.
RAVE: Colleges facing heat for mascots.
Last August, the NCAA banned the use of Native American mascots by college teams during post-season tournaments. The University of Illinois and Florida State University are just two of many universities that have shamefully continued using offensive caricatures of Native Americans as team mascots. Native American activists say that by not banning the mascots outright, the NCAA did not go far enough. But it is a step in the right direction.