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Author: YES!

What America Denies: The racial myths and fabrications that Whiteness tells itself

On November 8, my daughter, Samantha Sencer-Mura, a professional educator, became the first Japanese American elected as a representative from her district to the Minnesota State Legislature. And yet the story of our family and community is not necessarily one of democratic celebration. In 1898, my grandfather came here from Japan, forbidden by laws to become a citizen or own property. During WWII, my parents and their families were imprisoned by the United States government in concentration camps placed throughout desolate areas of the American West. My parents were natural-born citizens from Seattle and Los Angeles, 11 and 15...

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How private organizations are filling gaps in Federal programs to help Dreamers fulfill their dreams

As a high school junior, Denisse Amezquita knew she wanted to go on to college and someday become a lawyer. But when she sought state and federal financial aid, she quickly learned assistance was not an option because she lacked permanent legal status in the United States. Although she was a recipient of the embattled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields from deportation people who were brought to the U.S. as children, the federal program does not include educational government benefits. Amezquita, who has lived in the U.S. since she was 2 years old, needed alternatives....

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The concept of Han: Understanding how the ancestral heart of Korea’s spirit can teach us solidarity

At the heart of the Korean spirit is a concept called “Han.” It is central to Korean-ness in the same way “aloha” is to Hawaiian-ness. Oddly, however, it is rarely mentioned in conversation or in the media. Its English translation is nonexistent. But I will try to describe it, because Han is the resilience of my ancestors, who have endured the unendurable for the past 9,000 years. There may be clues here on how we in the U.S. may also carry on, as we witness, stunned, our political and ecological systems in collapse. Defining Han is indeed elusive. Han...

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How shadow Think Tanks are used as sock puppets by Hate Groups to legitimize their poisonous doctrine

Imagine you are reading a news story about race relations in the United States, and the reporter interviews the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan to get his opinion on Black people. Sounds outrageous, right? Reporters would never do this, because the KKK is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the opinion of the Grand Dragon is not newsworthy, because his views are predictable and beyond the pale. The KKK is just one of over 1,000 SPLC-designated hate groups, and news organizations generally refrain from interviewing any of them, with one conspicuous...

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Unlearning Racism: Experiencing racial discrimination is not actually doing anything to combat it

The first time I learned about the history of race and racism in America was during my first year of college, when I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book “Between the World and Me.” Before then, I had plenty of lessons on race, only none of them had ever happened in the classroom. Growing up as a mixed-race Iranian American girl in the suburban Midwest, being the target of racism was as integral to my education as learning how to read. As a kid, my skin was much darker than it is today, and in my mostly White classroom, I was...

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The deep roots of America’s racial wealth divide and why it exists by historical design

In the more than 150 years since the end of the Civil War, Black American wealth remains a fraction of that held by White Americans. Just after emancipation in 1865, African Americans owned 0.5% of national wealth. By 2019, that percentage had not risen above 2%. An analysis by the Brookings Institution found that the median wealth of White families stood at $188,200 while the median wealth of Black families was a mere $24,100. What’s worse is that this chasm has continued to grow. Between 1983 and 2016, adjusting for inflation, median White wealth increased by 33%, according to...

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