Birthright Citizenship

Photo of me by Wesley Abney
Photo of me by Wesley Abney

Since 2015, the idea of ending birthright citizenship has been on my radar. Those favoring anti-immigration, view the bestowal of citizenship on children of foreign citizens as a problem. In their mind, pregnant women are invading the United States specifically to have children and force the country to keep the parents. (It may delay, but the parents are still deported and the children either go with them or stay with a relative in the US.) I guess they think of birthright citizenship as a loophole to encouraging or allowing undesirable immigration.

I am thinking about it because of the PotUS talking yet again about ending birthright citizenship through an executive order. Well, he’s probably echoing Stephen Miller again. The 14th amendment’s section 1 is what created it.

Amendment XIV
Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The original intent was to make African-Americans citizens in a way that could not be legislated away by the Southern states. Prior to this, we were in the North but not in the South. It established across the board that we are.

The legal principle is called jus soli which means “right of the soil.” It primarily is something that exists in Western countries only restricting it from people who are working for a foreign government. The US Supreme Court allows the denying of it to foreign diplomats or enemy forces occupying our territory. The current issue has not been tested, so I wonder if this executive order is really to set up that test with a court more friendly to the idea of ending it.

The alternative is jus sanguinis which means “right of blood.” Citizenship is determined by the nationality of one or both parents (or permanent residency). This is what got the paranoid-schizophrenic diabetic man deported to Iraq where he had never lived. He was born in Greece who did not have birthright citizenship, so his was Iraqi. He grew up in the US, so he only spoke English. When the US deported him, he was sent to Iraq where he knew no one, had no access to medication, and soon died. Countries are moving towards restricted birthright citizenship to solve this problem of statelessness.

There is also restricted jus soli where a child born of a permanent resident for some time gains citizenship at birth or at a certain age. The United Kingdom, for example, has jus sanguinis but allows the children of legal immigrant settlers to become citizens at birth or upon the 10th birthday. Greece now allows the acquisition of citizenship by children if they attend school in the country for several years, but only 22% of applications are approved.

I guess this last is something to worry about in that whatever the new system is designed to be, the Devil is in the details. As it is, the rumored executive order is either FUD to open immigration advocates or a blessing to anti-immigration advocates.

“Look Like Them”

Read an article about pay disparities by gender in the system by which I am employed which mentioned research that students get along best with faculty members who look like them. It made me laugh out loud.

I cannot recall a teacher who looked like me: male, tall, and half-white / half-black. Or at least of brown skin.

The only male teacher that comes close to matching this might be my 8th-grade math & science teacher who lectured by popping his wrist with a rubber band. He is also African-American, tall, and broad shoulders. Cannot say we got along that well so much as we students cowered in fear of him.

Certainly, that year, I got along much better with my literature teacher, but she is short, Caucasian, and female. My recollection of my 2nd-grade teacher was she was African-American but of lighter skin color.

 

Review: Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a couple hundred pounds of chains bearing down on the reader. A father who writes about the race in America in the time just before #BlackLivesMatter attempts to put into words what it means. This stands out as a better expression of the weight of it all than anything else I have seen.

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My Five Star-Rated Books Read in 2016

So, out of the many books I read this prior year, here are the ones I gave five stars.

  1. To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science by Weinberg, Steven
  2. Thinking: The New Science of Decision-Making, Problem-Solving, and Prediction in Life and Markets by Brockman, John
  3. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Isaacson, Walter
  4. Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Ridley, Matt
  5. White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Wise, Tim
  6. Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Haley, Alex
  7. Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World by Grant, Adam M.
  8. Eaters of the Dead by Crichton, Michael

I hope to make this a regular feature of the blog.

Last year was a banner year with 14. It looks like 2013 was about equal with 8.

Review: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Back in college, I was part of an anti-racism group. We worked with a local group and took their People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Tim mentioned them near the end of the book, which made me think part of why I liked this book so much is his perspective and approach to white privilege is very similar to how I have been taught to think of it.

I think given the current climate on race relations in this country, this is important for people to read and understand.

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Evoking the Mulatto

Ran across this video series on “Exploring black mixed identity in the 21st Century.” More than just discussing the offensiveness of mulatto, they discuss the doting on whiteness, family, and symbology.

One part I keep coming back to ties to where I’ve seen some stuff online on people who rail against calling yourself mixed. In their minds, if you have any black, then you are black period. In most of those comments, there is no explanation of how that person is coming into the conversation. She says:

I’m not pushing forward: I’m mixed. I’m mixed. I’m mixed.

I’m black.

I find myself tempted at times to rail back against it. I’m mixed. They are black. And that’s OK.

We all have a variety stories that shaped who we are and how we perceive ourselves and the world. Mine are not theirs. Theirs are not mine.

From my own personal experience I cannot really say I am either white or black. Mixed feels more appropriate. So, I guess I will continue to push forward: I’m mixed.

Review: Twelve Years a Slave

Twelve Years a Slave
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An autobiography about a mixed race free man kidnapped into slavery hit a little too close to home. His experience being free made acclimating to the difficult masters more challenging. More amazing me is he did not break under the weight of the life and give up on ever finding a way home.

Some of the quotes I highlighted:

Suffice it to say, during the whole long day I came not to the conclusion, even once, that the southern slave, fed, clothed, whipped and protected by his master, is happier than the free colored citizen of the North.

There may be humane masters, as there certainly are inhuman ones—there may be slaves well-clothed, well-fed, and happy, as there are surely those half-clad, half-starved and miserable; nevertheless, the institution that tolerates such wrong and inhumanity as I have witnessed, is a cruel, unjust and barbarous one.

Ten years I toiled for that man without reward. Ten years of my incessant labor has contributed to increase the bulk of his possessions. Ten years I was compelled to address him with down-cast eyes and uncovered head—in the attitude and language of a slave. I am indebted to him for nothing, save undeserved abuse and stripes.

They are deceived who flatter themselves that the ignorant and debased slave has no conception of the magnitude of his wrongs. They are deceived who imagine that he arises from his knees, with back lacerated and bleeding, cherishing only a spirit of meekness and forgiveness. A day may come—it will come, if his prayer is heard—a terrible day of vengeance, when the master in his turn will cry in vain for mercy.

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For 9/11

This seemed appropropriate to re-post today, the tenth anniversary of the event which inspired its need. The problems we are to overcome seem more prevalent and prominent today.

This statement was issued by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States in December 2001 as a response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. It first appeared as a full-page statement in The New York Times on December 21, 2001 and was subsequently reprinted in dozens of other newspapers around the country.

At this time of world turmoil, the United States Baha’i community offers a perspective on the destiny of America as the promoter of world peace.

More than a hundred years ago, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, addressing heads of state, proclaimed that the age of maturity for the entire human race had come. The unity of humankind was now to be established as the foundation of the great peace that would mark the highest stage in humanity’s spiritual and social evolution. Revolutionary and world-shaking changes were therefore inevitable.

The Baha’i writings state:

“The world is moving on. Its events are unfolding ominously and with bewildering rapidity. The whirlwind of its passions is swift and alarmingly violent. The New World is insensibly drawn into its vortex….Dangers, undreamt of and unpredictable, threaten it both from within and from without. Its governments and peoples are being gradually enmeshed in the coils of the world’s recurrent crises and fierce controversies….The world is contracting into a neighborhood. America, willingly or unwillingly, must face and grapple with this new situation. For purposes of national security, let alone any humanitarian motive, she must assume the obligations imposed by this newly created neighborhood. Paradoxical as it may seem, her only hope of extricating herself from the perils gathering around her is to become entangled in that very web of international association which the Hand of an inscrutable Providence is weaving.”

The American nation, Baha’is believe, will evolve through tests and trials to become a land of spiritual distinction and leadership, a champion of justice and unity among all peoples and nations, and a powerful servant of the cause of everlasting peace. This is the peace promised by God in the sacred texts of the world’s religions.

Establishing peace is not simply a matter of signing treaties and protocols; it is a complex task requiring a new level of commitment to resolving issues not customarily associated with the pursuit of peace.

Universal acceptance of the spiritual principle of the oneness of humankind is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace.

Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils, is a major barrier to peace.
The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality of the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged, prerequisites of peace.

The inordinate disparity between rich and poor keeps the world in a state of instability, preventing the achievement of peace.

Unbridled nationalism, as distinguished from a sane and legitimate patriotism, must give way to a wider loyalty, to the love of humanity as a whole.

Religious strife, the cause of innumerable wars and conflicts throughout history, is a major obstacle to progress. The challenge facing the world’s religious leaders is to contemplate, with hearts filled with compassion and the desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their God, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace.

Baha’is pray, “May this American Democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the standard of the Most Great Peace.”

During this hour of crisis, we affirm our abiding faith in the destiny of America. We know that the road to its destiny is long, thorny and tortuous, but we are confident that America will emerge from her trials undivided and undefeatable.

The source of the above text of The Destiny of America and the Promise of World Peace.

Martin Luther King, Jr. : Quotes to Make You Think

Various Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes my Facebook friends posted today. Strangely enough I did not already have any on the Quotes to Make You Think page.

The time is always right to do what is right.

Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. (from Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.)

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Some others:

Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another’s flesh. (from Why We Can’t Wait, 1963.)

All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

Of course, the The Vision of Race Unity: America’s Most Challenging Issue seems very applicable here. Dr. King’s views and that of the Baha’i Faith seem very much in sync.

Bicentennial for the Abolition of Slave Trade to US Tomorrow

An Even Better Reason to Celebrate has a nice longer version of this quote from a NYT OpEd piece on tomorrow being the bicentennial for the ablution of slave trade to the United States.

WE Americans live in a society awash in historical celebrations. The last few years have witnessed commemorations of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase (2003) and the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II (2005). Looming on the horizon are the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth (2009) and the sesquicentennial of the outbreak of the Civil War (2011). But one significant milestone has gone strangely unnoticed: the 200th anniversary of Jan. 1, 1808, when the importation of slaves into the United States was prohibited. Forgotten Step Toward Freedom – New York Times

Please read this article. It mentions the British celebrated their abolition of slave trade last year. Also, the lack of celebration may be due to the distinction here in the US between the end of importing of slaves vs the end of slavery. I found it a fascinating and well written article. Eric Foner has a several books on United States history between the American Revolution and the Civil War. I'll have to pick up some of them? I'm already 83 books behind reading everything I own.

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