Press Release: Open Letter on Racist Political Rhetoric
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 4 ,2015
Oregon Leaders Speakout Against Hateful Political Comments
Oregon -- Responding to a rise in hateful political rhetoric heading into the Elections of 2016, Oregon elected and community leaders have issued an Open Letter calling on candidates and politicians to publicly pledge to reject xenophobic and racist political comments and focus on the policy issues such as comprehensive immigration reform and growing income inequality.
“Racist political speech causes real harm in our communities, fueling bullying and dehumanizing stereotypes. Staying neutral is not an option,” says Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Oregon’s oldest and largest statewide advocacy group for Asian and Pacific Islanders, adding, “we need leaders to publicly counter hate speech and refocus on the issues like policies to support low-wage working families and continuing to improve access to affordable healthcare regardless of citizenship.”
Signatories include electeds and Oregon’s leading community organizations working for racial equity and immigrant rights. Full text of the Open Letter is below.
Open Letter: Community Leaders Speak Out Against Hateful Political Comments
September 4th, 2015
As we enter the 2016 Presidential Election, and an ultra competitive Oregon landscape with ballot measures and statewide races, we feel compelled to call out increasingly divisive comments and actions. In the news recently, a City Councilor in Springfield OR publicly opposed a Salvation Army minister because his Pacific Islander race would bring a “minority element”, anti-immigrant forces are proposing statewide ballot measures targeting immigrant families, and Presidential candidates are engaging in hateful rhetoric that demean our communities to win political points. For the sake of our democracy, our diverse communities, and our future, we can do better.
The stereotypes of Asian and Latino communities as “anchor babies”, “birth tourists” and “criminals”, simply inflame racist and xenophobic attitudes of some voters who fear changing demographics, rising electoral power of communities of color, and distract from the real policy issues like living wage jobs, reproductive justice, and comprehensive immigration reform.
Voters deserve the facts - (1) Communities of color are strengthening America’s economy, boosting the average wages and stimulating investment., (2) Overall crime is on decline thanks to a shift towards prevention and restorative justice, and away from over-incarceration. (3) The vast majority of immigration is about keeping families together, protecting, providing and reuniting with loved ones.
The recent comments made by politicians in the media are stigmatizing, portraying Asian Pacific Islanders and Latinos as the perpetual foreigner, dismissing our strong roots, and ignoring the generations of contributions immigrants, refugees and people of color have made, and treating us as expendable. These expressed views can have damaging consequences that have historically led to the incarceration and removal of families, employment discrimination, bullying in schools, and hate crimes.
We are also mindful of how the struggles of Asians and Latinos are linked with Black communities, and how rhetoric around immigrants has been used to distance our communities from anti-Black sentiments, Black communities whose historical role in creating the wealth of this nation has never been fully recognized. We stand for the rights, resources and recognition for all communities to thrive, and against the over-criminalization, over-policing, economic disinvestment and political neglect that has disproportionately impacted Black communities.
We demand better from our leaders. We expect legitimate candidates and elected officials to engage in meaningful policy dialogue with constituents, not pit communities against one another with racially coded messages. We all have a responsibility to counter the anti-immigrant rhetoric with efforts to understand the root causes of economic inequality. We need solutions instead of scapegoats. We call on all candidates and political leadership to publicly pledge to reject dehumanizing and deceiving political rhetoric, and to instead promote collaboration with diverse communities. Oregon and our country can and will do better.
Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, Executive Director
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
Andrea Miller, Executive Director
Carmen Caballero Rubio, Executive Director
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury
Multnomah County Board of Commissioners
State Representative Lew Frederick
State Representative Jessica Vega Pederson
State Representative Rob Nosse
State Senator Michael Dembrow
Northeast and Southeast Portland
State Senator Chip Shields
Metro Councilor Sam Chase
Northwest/North & Inner Portland
Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey
Ramon Ramirez, President
Pineros y Campesinos Unidos (PCUN)
Kayse Jama, Executive Director
Center for Intercultural Organizing
Alberto Moreno, Executive Director
Oregon Latino Health Coalition
Tom Chamberlain, President
Ken Allen, Executive Director
AFSCME Local 75
Nancy Haque & Jeana Frazzini, Co-Directors
Basic Rights Oregon
David Rodgers, Executive Director
ACLU of Oregon
Michelle Stranger-Hunter, Executive Director
NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon
Meg Niemi, President
SEIU Local 49
Jonathan Ostar, Executive Director
OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
Julia Meier, Executive Director
Coalition of Communities of Color
Toc Soneoulay-Gillespie, Director of Refugee Resettlement
Anselmo Villanueva, Executive Director
DisOrient Film Festival of Oregon
Nikki Fisher, Executive Director
The Bus Project
Aubrey Harrison, Executive Director
Mel Rader, Executive Director
Upstream Public Health
Sharon Gary-Smith, Executive Director
Matt Morton, Executive Director
NAYA Family Center
Gloria Lee, President
Chinese American Citizens Alliance Portland
Darlene Huntress, Executive Director
Andrea Paluso, Executive Director
Family Forward Oregon
Pan Asian Community Alliance of Lane County
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