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Investigative Reports

Investigative Reports

Nigerian-Born Grandmother Anticipates Taking Oath to Become U.S. Citizen

Brief #4—Americans on America
By Linda F Hersey
Nigerian-born, mother of six grown children, Celine Suala emigrated to the United States in 2012, landed a job as a private security guard, and learned to speak English fluently, in addition to her native Swahili. At 65, she is not about to slow down either. In February 2021, Suala will formally embrace a new identity and complete a personal journey when she takes the official oath to become an American citizen, pledging to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the United States of America. In reciting the 140-word pledge, she will join millions of people who have become naturalized U.S. citizens. In the last decade, more than eight million people became U.S. citizens, with California having the largest foreign-born population, at 27 percent.

read more

AMERICANS ON AMERICA: WHAT MY COUNTRY MEANS TO ME

Brief #3—Americans on America
By Linda F Hersey
Yemer Augilar ( Son of  Guatemalan Immigrants ) – Safety is the most important value for them;  living in a California community where they are not threatened by gang violence and can help provide the basics for their siblings here, as well as their mother back in Guatemala. Jaime Aguilar left his wife, children and the only home he had known to make a new life in America, without the entrenched poverty and threats of violence that were all too common in Guatemala. After 15 back-breaking years working menial jobs, Aguilar saved enough money and processed the needed paperwork to bring his three children to his adopted home of California.

read more

Retired Military Veteran, A “Shy Voter”

Brief #2—Americans on America
By Linda F Hersey
A rigged system that favored Democrat Joe Biden unseated President Donald Trump. That is the blunt assessment of Election 2020 by a Trump supporter so timid about candidly expressing views that he declined to give his name or other identifying information during an hour-long interview with US Resist News about America’s values that quickly veered into politics.

read more

Democracy At Risk

Brief #1—Democracy At Risk
By Ron Israel
Democracy, derived from the Greek word demos, or people, is defined as government in which the supreme power is vested in a country’s citizens.

read more

AMERICANS ON AMERICA: WHAT MY COUNTRY MEANS TO ME

Brief #1—Investigative Report
By Linda F Hersey
Tiffany Kay is the first to admit she does not fit neatly into a single category or group. With ancestry that spans Europe, Africa and Central America, Kay more often than not checks the “Other” box on applications and forms asking about ethnicity.

read more
Nigerian-Born Grandmother Anticipates Taking Oath to Become U.S. Citizen

Nigerian-Born Grandmother Anticipates Taking Oath to Become U.S. Citizen

A USRESIST NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

AMERICANS ON AMERICA: WHAT MY COUNTRY MEANS TO ME

BY LINDA F. HERSEY

Americans on America is a USRESIST NEWS investigative report  series in which we interview  ordinary American on the values  they believe their country stands for, and what their country needs to do to  live up to those values.

# 4 Nigerian-Born Grandmother Anticipates Taking Oath to Become U.S. Citizen

“Safety, equal opportunity for women and the quality of life in the United States mean a lot to me.”

By Linda F. Hersey

Nigerian-born, mother of six grown children, Celine Suala emigrated to the United States in 2012, landed a job as a private security guard, and learned to speak English fluently, in addition to her native Swahili.

At 65, she is not about to slow down either.

In February 2021, Suala will formally embrace a new identity and complete a personal journey when she takes the official oath to become an American citizen, pledging to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the United States of America.

In reciting the 140-word pledge, she will join millions of people who have become naturalized U.S. citizens. In the last decade, more than eight million people became U.S. citizens, with California having the largest foreign-born population, at 27 percent.

For Suala, who has been working in California as a lawful permanent resident, the journey has been highly individual and filled with emotional significance. and a belief in the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,” according to the Citizen Resource Center, run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, at the Department of Homeland Security.

Becoming a U.S. citizen is a personal quest, an opportunity to achieve a better life. More than anything, she enjoys the freedoms, both personal and economic, that living in a vital and dynamic democracy provides its citizens.

“Citizenship is a unique bond that unites people around civic ideals

Forging a New Life in a New Country

At 5’2” tall, and with a round cheerful face, Suala does not seem to pose a threat to anyone, even when she is proudly wearing her security guard uniform.

While she plans to maintain dual citizenship – keeping her birthright citizenship in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation – Suala said she feels more aligned with and connected to the United States than her birth country.

More than 250,000 naturalized citizens in the U.S. are from Nigeria. The Pew Research Center reported that a 2018 survey showed that up to 45 percent of Nigerian adults have considered moving from the West African nation to a different country, because of political strife and economic hardship. It was the highest share of any country surveyed.

Suala said it has been a worthwhile experience forging a new life in a brand-new country.  With some college education, she quickly learned to speak English fluently in the U.S., as she knew the language from her native Nigeria. Her large extended family remains in Africa, but she helps out by sending some of her earnings to assist her adult children, raising families of their own.

At 65, Suala says that having a career as a woman on equal footing with men, feeling secure and safe in her California community, and enjoying the many benefits of a free society transformed her life.

“I like having the opportunities here that are not [available] to everyone in Nigeria,” she said. “Safety, equal opportunity for women and the quality of life in the United States mean a lot to me.”

ENGAGEMENT RESOURCES

U.S. Citizenship Resource Center is a government-run website that provides helpful news, information and resources, including studying material for people seeking citizenship in the U.S.

American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by working toward a more fair and just immigration system.

A World Without Borders engages in open dialog and public advocacy for immigration issues.

AMERICANS ON AMERICA: WHAT MY COUNTRY MEANS TO ME

AMERICANS ON AMERICA: WHAT MY COUNTRY MEANS TO ME

A USRESIST NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

AMERICANS ON AMERICA: WHAT MY COUNTRY MEANS TO ME

BY LINDA F. HERSEY

Americans on America is a USRESIST NEWS investigative report  series in which we interview  ordinary American on the values  they believe their country stands for, and what their country needs to do to  live up to those values.

# 3   Yemer Augilar ( Son of  Guatemalan Immigrants ) Safety is the most important value for them;  living in a California community where they are not threatened by gang violence and can help provide the basics for their siblings here, as well as their mother back in Guatemala. 

Jaime Aguilar left his wife, children and the only home he had known to make a new life in America, without the entrenched poverty and threats of violence that were all too common in Guatemala.

After 15 back-breaking years working menial jobs, Aguilar saved enough money and processed the needed paperwork to bring his three children to his adopted home of California.

But Aguilar only had a short time with his children, now young adults, after he suffered an aneurysm in 2019 that rendered him unresponsive and in need of constant care. Jaime Aguliar passed away in December 2020.

Today, Aguilar’s eldest son, 25-year-old Yemer, is the chief breadwinner working at a menial job.

There are an estimated 1.3 million people from Guatemala making their home in the United States, according to federal statistics. Guatemalans are the sixth-largest Hispanic population in the United States.

The Aguilars’ story – which Jemer told to US Resist News in a series of interviews, with the help of a translator — shows that each immigrant’s journey is unique, rarely linear and not easy.

Limited Job Skills and Education

The promise of a middle-class life that brought European immigrants to the United States in the early 1900s is not the reality that many immigrants from Central America experience today. While there is opportunity, prosperity eludes workers who may not speak English with fluency and lack job skills and/or a college degree.

There is no clear path to follow. Yet Yemer Aguilar is determined to continue his father’s efforts to build a life in the United States, a better life than they had in Guatemala.

Yemer works at a fast-food outlet. He does not have a computer or access to the Internet to take English as a Second Language classes. Without a college education or specialized skills, opportunities are scarce for employment that can sustain his family.

Because he is in the U.S. on a visa, without permanent residency, he does not qualify for food stamps, general assistance or Medicaid, government benefits that are a crucial safety net for people in poverty.

He is working through the bureaucratic process and only recently connected with a nonprofit agency that can help put immigrants like him on a more certain path to security and citizenship.

While Yemer appreciates the opportunity and freedom that a democratic society brings, he admits that life here is “duro” – hard. It was not easy at first for him to find employment. While he now has a steady job, it is low-paying, part time and lacks health insurance.

Yemer’s sister, 18, works alongside him, filling fast-food orders. The younger son is disabled by seizures and cannot work; without a “green card,” he cannot qualify for Medicare, which provides benefits for people with serious disabilities. The two siblings care for him, which limits their time and ability to connect with the greater community.

U.S. Represents ‘Safety’ for Immigrant Family

Asked about the American values that he appreciates most, Yemer does not pause: “Seguridad.”

Safety indeed for himself and his siblings means the most to him — living in a California community where he is not threatened by gang violence and can help provide the basics for his siblings here, as well as his mother back in Guatemala.

He also is realistic. Yemer says it is best to wait before trying to bring his mother to the United States. He cannot handle much more responsibility than he has now.

Yemer is proud that he could have a small funeral that honored his father and the elder man’s dedication to family. He holds up a photo of his father’s white coffin; a slender vase with flowers was next to it on a dais.

Yemer now wants to have his father buried in his home country, in the village where he grew up.  He is trying to raise money toward that effort. It is unclear if he will be able to fulfill that dream. He is connecting with California organizations that may be able to provide a grant for such a request, which is not uncommon among immigrants from Central America.

Yemer also is aware that immigration is a controversial issue, with the Trump administration painting a stark picture of immigrants like himself as criminals and a threat to society. That could not be further from the truth.

A grocer where the elder Aguilar worked as a janitor recently held a modest fundraiser for the family to help defray funeral costs. A cardboard box asking for donations sat next to the register. A photo of Jaime smiling, with prominent Mayan features, was taped to the side of the box.

Marta, one of the store clerks, recalled Jaime, who was in his 50s, as a “protector” and “gentleman.”

She said that Jaime Aguilar used to sit and wait for her to finish her shift to ensure her safety, as she left the store alone. She would bring him homemade tamales every year at Christmas.

“Jaime cared about people,” she said. “He would send presents to people [in his village]. He was important to them. He was a success.”

RESOURCES

MAF Immigrant Families Fund has a vision is to create a fair financial marketplace for hardworking people, assisting applicants with grants and other types of funding resources.

Latino Economic Development Center is a Washington, D.C., based nonprofit that equips Latinos and other underserved communities with the skills and financial tools to create a better future.

Hispanic Federation seeks to empower and advance the Hispanic community, support Hispanic families, and strengthen Latino institutions.

Americanos sobre América

Una Historia de Oportunidades y Dificultades de una familia Gualtemalteca en los Estados Unidos

Por Linda F. Hersey

(Tradducion: Kris Sosa)

Jaime Aguilar dejó a su esposa, sus hijos y el único hogar que había conocido para hacer una nueva vida en los Estados Unidos, sin la pobreza arraigada y las amenazas de violencia que eran demasiado comunes en Guatemala.

Después de 15 años agotadores trabajando en trabajos de baja categoría, Aguilar ahorró suficiente dinero y procesó el papeleo necesario para traer a sus tres hijos a su hogar adoptivo de California.

Pero Aguilar solo tuvo poco tiempo con sus hijos, ahora adultos jóvenes, ya que sufrió un aneurisma en 2019 que lo dejó insensible y en necesidad de atención constante. Jaime Aguliar falleció en diciembre del 2020.

Ahora, el hijo mayor de Aguilar, Yemer, de 24 años, que solo estuvo un año con su padre en los Estados Unidos antes de que el anciano sufriera un aneurisma que lo dejó con daño cerebral, es el principal sostén de la familia. Sin embargo, Yemer Aguilar está decidido a continuar los esfuerzos de la familia para construir una vida en los Estados Unidos, una vida mejor que la que tenían en Guatemala.

Su recuerdo más constante de su padre era la dedicación del anciano al trabajo y al empleo. “Trabajaba todo el tiempo”, dijo Yemer a través de un traductor.

Yemer trabaja en un establecimiento de comida rápida y su inglés es limitado. No tiene una computadora ni acceso a Internet para tomar clases de inglés como segundo idioma. Sin una educación universitaria o habilidades especializadas, son escasas las oportunidades de empleo que pueda sostener a su familia.

La hermana de Yemer, de 18 años, ha trabajado junto a él, atendiendo pedidos en una cadena de restaurantes local. El hijo menor está discapacitado por convulsiones y no puede trabajar. Los dos hermanos lo cuidan.

Preguntado qué es lo que más valora en este país, no se detiene: “Seguridad”.

La seguridad para él y sus hermanos es lo más importante para él: vivir en una comunidad de California donde no se ve amenazado por la violencia de las pandillas y puede ayudar a proporcionar lo básico para sus hermanos aquí, así como para su madre en Guatemala.

Yemer está orgulloso de haber podido ofrecer un funeral que honró a su padre y la dedicación del hombre mayor a la familia. Un tendero donde el anciano Aguilar trabajaba como conserje recientemente llevó a cabo una recaudación de fondos modesta para la familia para ayudar a sufragar los costos.

Más que cualquier otra cosa, Yemer ahora quiere que su padre sea enterrado en su país de origen, en el pueblo donde creció. Está tratando de recaudar dinero para ese esfuerzo. No está claro si podrá cumplir ese sueño. Se está conectando con organizaciones de California que podrían proporcionar una subvención para tal solicitud, lo cual no es infrecuente entre los inmigrantes de América Central.

Aunque Yemer aprecia la seguridad y la libertad que brinda una sociedad democrática, admite que la vida aquí es “dura”. Al principio no le resultó fácil encontrar empleo. Los trabajos que ha tenido son trabajos duros con salarios bajos y poca o ninguna seguridad para el futuro.

Una empleada llamada “Rosie”, en el tendero de California donde trabajaba el mayor Aguilar lo recuerda como un “protector” y un caballero. Dijo que Jaime Aguilar solía sentarse y esperar a que ella terminara su turno para garantizar su seguridad, mientras ella salía sola de la tienda. Ella le traía tamales caseros todos los años en Navidad.

“Jaime se preocupaba por la gente”, dijo. “Él enviaba regalos a la gente [en su aldea]. Fue importante, un éxito “.

Nigerian-Born Grandmother Anticipates Taking Oath to Become U.S. Citizen

Retired Military Veteran, A “Shy Voter”

USRESIST NEWS Investigates

Americans on America: What My Country Means to Me

Americans on America is a USRESIST NEWS investigative reporting  series with ordinary Americans on the values that they believe their country stands for and what needs to be done to enable their country to live up to those values

# 2  Retired Military Veteran, A “Shy Voter”  

I believe America has lost its core values, namely respect at home and abroad. Our democracy,  freedom, and the right to privacy are all at risk.

By Linda F. Hersey

A rigged system that favored Democrat Joe Biden unseated President Donald Trump.

That is the blunt assessment of Election 2020 by a Trump supporter so timid about candidly expressing views that he declined to give his name or other identifying information during an hour-long interview with US Resist News about America’s values that quickly veered into politics.

Nourished by a steady diet of conservative opinions on radio talk shows that he turns on before dawn each day, this voter expressed reluctance about sharing his own opinions publicly for fear of being judged and ostracized. He worried that friends and neighbors may recognize him.

Dubbed the “shy voter” during the 2020 presidential election, this retired white military veteran expressed anger, confusion and a sense of betrayal about his own perceived status in a nation undergoing vast changes in demographics and the economy, in what many experts call the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This “shy voter” admits to feeling left behind and marginalized.

There are many other voters just like him.

Has the U.S. Lost Its Core Values?

More important, he believes that the U.S. has lost its core values, namely respect at home and abroad. “I got respect from my service in the military. But there is a big decline in respect today,” he said.

What are the traditional American values that this voter cherishes the most – and feels are at risk? “Democracy, freedom and the right to privacy,” he said, quickly ticking off a list. “I’ve had the freedom to live and work where I want,” he said. “But all of this seems threatened today.”

He blames the decline he sees in American values on entitlement programs. “There has been a breakdown in society of values. People have unrealistic expectations about what the government should do for them.”

In an interview with US Resist News, this so-called shy Trump voter admitted to voting the GOP ticket for most of his adult life. But he described the outgoing commander-in-chief as “the most important president of my lifetime. And,” he asserted, “The election was stolen right from under him.”

He said he admired Trump’s willingness to voice fears and concerns that people just like him share but keep to themselves.

Undercounting the ‘Shy’ Trump Voter

Dutch economist Arie Kapteyn, a researcher at the University of Southern California, aptly predicted that polls would undercount “shy Trump voters” like him, who were not disclosing their support for a second Trump term or the reasons behind it.

Robert Cahaly, founder of the Trafalgar Group polling company, echoed that conclusion prior to the election, telling Politico that it is difficult for many Trump supporters to talk candidly about their views: “We live in a country where people will lie to their accountant, they’ll lie to their doctor, they’ll lie to their priest. And we’re supposed to believe they shed all of that when they get on the telephone with a stranger?”

This “shy voter” – who served in the military for two decades prior to retiring — said he strongly identifies with Trump, whom he sees as a victim, just like himself. “Donald Trump and his entire family served this country, and never got a moment of peace,” he said. “Any country bumpkin can see he was robbed of his victory.”

Economic Structural Changes Lead to Uncertainty

He blames the struggling economy not on setbacks from the Covid19 pandemic but on people who are abusing the “welfare system and taking government handouts for generations.” A smaller government would serve everyone better, he argues.

Economists point to job layoffs from shelter-in-place orders to limit the spread of Covid19 for business slowdowns that may extend well into 2021.

In addition, there are structural changes in the U.S. and global economy under way that lead to uncertainty for many about the future, giving rise to the nationalism that Trump espoused.

Major disruptions in the U.S. economy and other advanced nations are occurring from automation of traditional jobs that used human labor, referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The growing knowledge economy, which has emerged in its place, has a smaller number of high-paying jobs filled by well-educated, technologically skilled workers, while middle and working class jobs have been “hollowed out.” That leaves increasing competition for low-paying, unskilled service jobs.

Trump, by contrast, presents supporters with an old-world view of the U.S. that is more about domination than the educational opportunities, cooperation and diplomacy required in a globalized digital economy. “Everything is moving too fast today,” said this voter. “I wish we could go back to simpler times.”

Engagement Resources

  • Politico is an American political journalism company.
  • Trafalgar Group is a U.S. political polling company.
  • Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C., that informs the public about policy, politics and trends shaping America.
Re-engaging with Allies and International Organizations

Re-engaging with Allies and International Organizations

USRESIST NEWS

Investigative Reports

Re-engaging with Allies and International Organizations

For 4 years the Trump administration pursued failed a go-it-alone foreign policy, withdrawing the US from its commitments to its allies and international organizations. The Biden administration has indicated its intention to reverse course and take a multi-lateral approach to foreign policy. In this series USRESIST Reporter Will Solomon analyzes the challenges involved in the US re-engaging with international organizations such as the International Criminal Court, the World Trade Organization and others.

# 1 The International Criminal Court (ICC)

By Will Solomon

Summary:

The United States has a troubled history with international law. And is that so surprising? Much of the architecture for contemporary international law was established as and after the United States became the dominant world power; the USA has had a long incentive and privilege to promote an international rules-based system that favored this country, and that if needed, it was free to break.

One institution in this nexus is the International Criminal Court. The ICC was preliminarily voted into existence by 1998’s UN Rome Statute—seven countries voted against its founding, including the United States. The ICC was then formally established in 2002—at which point the United States withdrew its preliminary signature (by Clinton in 2000) and announced it was not party to the treaty. This was followed by the 2002 congressional passage of the American Service-Members’ Protection Act, colloquially called the “Hague Invasion Act,” which effectively allows the United States to use force to protect any American or allied person who has been imprisoned or come under the court’s jurisdiction.

The American attitude towards the ICC has, in practice, only hardened in the nearly two decades since, and much of the discourse around the ICC may be seen as a rhetorical cudgel in the “national vs. international sovereignty debate”—i.e., “nationalists” seek to prevent the court from extending its jurisdiction over the US and nullifying this country’s sovereign laws. But this disagreement largely obscures US bipartisan opposition to the ICC and a major US position towards the court—namely, protecting American and allied (Israeli, for instance) complicity or active engagement in war crimes.

The Obama administration, in fairly typical fashion, signaled a willingness to cooperate with the ICC without rejoining it. Thus in practice, while the US adopted a less aggressive outwards posture towards the Court, it did not substantially alter its position. Predictably, the Trump administration renewed the Bush administration’s aggressive hostility towards the ICC. This was amplified recently after the ICC began investigating American war crimes in Afghanistan, in 2019. In response, the US withdrew the visa for the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

 

Analysis:

The US holds a unique position with respect to international treaties, and in particular, to organizations like the International Criminal Court. As suggested above, on the one hand, the modern international order came into effect largely due to US design in the post-World War II era. The US is thus incentivized to adhere to the system and promote its legitimacy. On the other hand, the US has always been careful to maintain a dominant position in that order, and has in many ways become more assertive in this respect since the collapse of the USSR and American emergence as “sole superpower” in the 1990s. Increasingly—particularly post 9/11—this has led the US to effectively function as a “rogue state” within the order it designed.

All this said, we are no longer in the world of the 1990s. In many ways this is a multipolar world, with China existing as dominant US competitor, and a series of secondary but significant powers around the world, including Russia, India, and others (notably, neither China, Russia, nor India are currently a party to the ICC). While an extraordinarily complex topic in its own right, Trump’s America-first posture ought to be seen in this light of this relative American decline.

This brief summary brings us to the present. The Biden administration seesms to be committed to rebuilding international alliances, perhaps the most practical way to advance national interests in a multipolar world. The reinstitution of alliances and multi-lateralism has the potential for addressing complex international issues like climate change and nuclear proliferation. Many of our traditional allies belong to and support the International Criminal Court.

The ICC has played and could continue to play an important role in prosecuting the practitioners of state-sponsored terrorism (Charles Taylor of Liberia) war crimes
(Slobodan Milosevic ) genocide, and human rights violations. The US should welcome the court’s ability to intervene in these matters. However, it is unrealistic to think that the US would be willing to have its own citizens tried by the ICC under international law. Unfortunately US domestic politics is not ready to recognize the court’s jurisdiction. We still cling to the outdated belief that we are better than and outside of the international legal system.

It is, for these and other reasons—above all, the longstanding bipartisan commitment to unilateral hegemony—unrealistic to expect that Biden will choose to seriously cooperate with the International Criminal Court. But he should. Democratic candidates further to the left have frequently said as much since the ICC’s founding, and it would be enormously significant as a gesture of international engagement.

At the very least—Biden must pursue a less antagonistic approach to the activities of the ICC. It seems likely Biden will remove the sanctions placed on Fatou Bensouda, and pursue a line more akin to Obama’s mediated approach. (Likewise, Biden will likely take a less hostile approach towards the United Nations than Trump has done). But the Biden administration ought to seriously consider the global implications of a multipolar world. Rising powers like China will increasingly hold sway in international relations, and graceful international cooperation is the best strategy in this respect. Reengaging with the international community, including the ICC, is a meaningful component to this approach.

Democracy At Risk

Democracy At Risk

USRESIST NEWS Investigative Reports

Democracy At Risk

By Ron Israel

Democracies across the planet are imperiled by a variety of forces—the failure to address the needs of rural poor and lower-income populations, the growth in income inequality,  populist authoritarianism, changing demographics,  the rise of social media and fake news, and the disregard for science and the rule of law. Are modern day democracies capable of withstanding these forces? What needs to be done to increase the effectiveness of democratic forms of governance? We will explore these and related questions in this new Democracy At Investigative Report series written by USRESIST NEWS Managing Editor Ron C Israel.

 Part 1 Democracy Necessities

January 14, 2021

Democracy, derived from the Greek word demos, or people, is defined as government in which the supreme power is vested in a country’s citizens. In small communities democracy can be exercised directly by citizens; in large societies it is by the people through their elected representatives.

Democratic governments are designed to protect basic human and civil rights, such as the right to free speech, freedom of religious worship, freedom of expression,  and freedom to associate and protest. In large communities and countries people elect others to make and enforce laws that ensure that these rights and the safety of citizens are protected, and that citizens  have access to the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, shelter, and work.

But democracy is fragile and depends on  social/political norms and institutional practices to keep it in place.  The following norm and practice guidelines can help t determine the effectiveness of a democracy. We will explore each of them in greater detail in subsequent episodes of this Report

# 1  A clearly defined and respected rule of law, i.e. a system of agreed upon laws and regulations that guide peoples’ behavior.

# 2  A means for holding elected officials accountable for their actions, for example by having them regularly run for re-election or by punishing them if they violate the rule of law.

# 3  A clearly defined set of citizens’ rights, and mechanisms (such as courts and police) that ensure those rights are protected.

# 4   The provision of equal opportunity for all citizens to have access to jobs, a fair minimum wage education, health care and other human rights.

# 5  An independent judicial system that ensures everyone access to a fair trial.

#6  A free, fair, and secure electoral system where all citizens have the right to vote on a regular basis, and where there are reasonable campaign finance limits.

#7  The separation between church and state that allows people to practice a religion of their own choosing.

# 8  Civilian  rule of the military.

# 9  The ability of  citizens to assemble,  peacefully protest, and express their opinions.

# 10 A free and independent press and media that is enabled to question and criticize the government.

# 11 . The regulation broadcast and Internet political advertising and hate speech.

# 12 Political parties with different perspectives and points of view on public policy.

# 13   Legislators who are have the ability to work together and, when needed, make compromises that put country over party.

# 14 Government ethics that help prevent and prosecute corruption

The United States has witnessed an erosion of the above norms and practices for the past quarter century, culminating with the Presidency of Donald Trump. Trump unearthed large holes in the ways that our democracy is supposed to work. Now that he is no longer President we have an opportunity to repair the damage that the Trump administration wrought. This series explores what is broken or near broken and how to fix-it.

Next: The Rule of Law

Nigerian-Born Grandmother Anticipates Taking Oath to Become U.S. Citizen

AMERICANS ON AMERICA: WHAT MY COUNTRY MEANS TO ME

A USRESIST NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

AMERICANS ON AMERICA: WHAT MY COUNTRY MEANS TO ME

BY LINDA F. HERSEY

Americans on America is a USRESIST NEWS investigative report  series in which we interview ordinary American on the values  they believe their country stands for, and what their country needs to do to  live up to those values.

# 1 Tiffany Kay ( Manager of a Job Services Nonprofit) – “My dream of an  America where equality and opportunity can flourish is now at-risk”

By Linda F. Hersey

Tiffany Kay is the first to admit she does not fit neatly into a single category or group. With ancestry that spans Europe, Africa and Central America, Kay more often than not checks the “Other” box on applications and forms asking about ethnicity.

Kay, who manages a San Francisco employment agency, is proud of her unique heritage, which reflects this nation’s history and personifies the American Dream.

Multiracial Americans like Kay are “at the cutting edge of social and demographic change in the U.S.,” with their numbers growing three times faster than the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center.

A California native, Kay grew up in an impoverished neighborhood, working her way through community college, earning an associate’s degree in early childhood education and steadily advancing her career to oversee the staff, budget and daily operations at a nonprofit company whose job services are stretched during business closings from the pandemic.

Kay credits her achievements to values of equality that her parents instilled in her, which have guided her life. “I live my values. That is how I was brought up,” Kay said. “I watched my dad treat people with respect. He taught me to treat others how I want to be treated. We followed the golden rule.”

But today that dream of equality and opportunity, the American Dream, is deferred and at risk to Kay and other Americans who report feeling marginalized by U.S. leadership and government, according to national polls.

Trump’s ‘Racially Divisive Rhetoric’

Kay says she is troubled by what she sees as a decline in traditional American values, “racially divisive rhetoric” by President Donald Trump and systemic racial injustice, most visible by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, videotaped by a teenage girl, that led to protests in the U.S. and across the globe.

“I have been on this earth for 37 years, and because of my ethnic background I always felt different than the next person. I did not identify with one group. That was OK,” Kay said, noting that she considers her diverse family background a positive source for opportunity and growth.

She did not see limits based on race, which she considered a “myth.”  She believes that Trump sought to change that.

“In the area of racial politics, Donald Trump has divided us. Until Trump, I never had seen a president name individuals by their ethnic group. ‘I help the African Americans,’ is one of the things he says often,” Kay noted. “He is trying to reduce people to broadly generalized groups and stereotypes attached to them.

“Donald Trump made our differences personal. He revealed things about our lesser selves as Americans,” Kay said referring to the highly visible rallies by the Proud Boys and other hate groups that espouse bigotry and white separateness – and that Trump refused to disavow.

Fringe groups carrying weapons were spotlighted on social media and national TV marching alongside white, mainstream Republican Trump supporters in MAGA baseball caps.

Trump Sought to ‘Socially Engineer a Whiter America’

Kay worries about the safety of her school-age nieces and nephews. She has sought to shield them from conversations on social media about race-based violence and white nationalist rallies, while also addressing their questions about unrest in this country.

Trump abused the power of the Oval Office to “socially engineer a whiter America,”  writes  journalist Andrew Serwer, in a November 2020 article, for Atlantic magazine,  “The Crisis of American Democracy Is Not Over.”

Serwer asserts that President-elect Biden will enter office during an economic — and moral — crisis in this country. Not only does he need to revive the economy post-pandemic, he also needs to restore faith in democracy. Biden received the most popular votes ever in a presidential election, but Trump holds sway over a sizable number of American supporters.

Indeed the incoming president needs to “make us comfortable and trust again,” Kay said.

She wonders what the future holds. Kay believes the nation needs to rebuild core values of racial justice, equal opportunity and freedom of speech that support democracy and define the American experience, not just for a select few but for everyone.

Said Kay: “We need to rediscover the moral leadership we once had.”

 

RESOURCES:

Here are resources to learn more about racial justice, equality and democracy.

NAACP: The NAACP fights for racial justice through legal advocacy, education and advocacy.

Home

 

National Equity Project: The National Equity Project provides consulting and coaching to leadership, teams and educators in helping transform organizations for equality and supporting diversity.

https://www.nationalequityproject.org

Alliance for Justice

Homepage

With more than 100 nonprofit members, the alliance mission is to advance justice and democracy and core constitutional rights.

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