On November 3rd 2020 vote yes on California Prop 16 because it will allow more diversity in public employment, education, and contracting decisions due to racial and gender bias. This year the covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis has revealed the ugly truth about race and racism in this country. Today people are quite agitated and annoyed at elected officials and institutions using race as an issue to keep people divided.
Historically it was peoples protests and the African American Civil Rights Movement that led to the signing of Executive Order 11246 (Affirmative Action Law) in 1961 by John F. Kennedy that ensured that all applicants are employed, and employees are treated fairly during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin. But in 1996 the victory of Prop 209 overturned the use of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin for education, employment, and public contracting. This proposition was created due to the backlash against the growing population of people of color. Unfortunately twenty four years later in 2020 California is one of nine states that that still bans affirmative action in education and in the workforce. But states with affirmative action give more public contracts to people of color small businesses.
Racism and racist attitudes still exist in 2020 as evident in the opposition to Yes on Prop 16, as well as, police brutality and violence against African Americans. Opponents deny and refute the existence of racism and discrimination as it relates to our country and society. These narrow and short-sighted attitudes will only keep people apart and divided. But recent demonstrations for social equity and justice are strengthening and opponents know social change is coming.
In higher education Latinos make up over half of our state’s public school students but just 25 percent of University of California undergraduate students. The Asian American admission rate at UC Berkeley is currently at 21% down from 30%. And women in California earn less than 80 cents for every dollar white men make – and for women of color and single moms it’s even worse.
Passing Proposition 16 is a seed to begin dismantling structural racism and sexism in our society. We can only hope in the future that all people can be treated equitably and fairly rather than becoming marginalized or disenfranchised people.
The banner Defund, Demilitarize (Black Lives Matter) was created and raised up by Khalilah Ramirez and her group The Dance of Peace in San Jose on June 9th 2020 in front of San Jose City Hall. Khalilah Ramirez is the creator of performance art called The Dance of Peace and its purpose is to effect inner light, joy, and peacefulness in people. She is an artist, educator, and author based in San Jose and works with groups such as Silicon Valley De-bug, Sangham Arts, and San Jose State University. Khalilah Ramirez and her members Calia Kammer, and Sharat Lin danced in front of San Jose City Hall for their performance. Sharat Lin said the banner’s purpose was for “Peace and love for the community, instead of police brutality and killings” as it relates to the recent George Floyd killing and protests.
On Tuesday June 4th, 2019 over 100 immigrants, activists, supporters, lawyers, and clergy held a rally at the Santa Clara County office in San Jose to support due process for immigrants and to prevent the Santa Clara County to collaborate with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). After a strong community presence inside the chamber, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted 5 to 0 to maintain the strongest Sanctuary Policy in the USA. The rally and mobilization was organized by the FIRE Coalition including: Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN), Silicon Valley De-Bug, Asian Law Alliance, Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), Pangea Legal Services, People Acting in Community Together (PACT), and Sacred Heart Community Service.
UNITE HERE Local 19 workers energetically continue to strike for the twelfth day at the San Jose Marriott Hotel in downtown San Jose to negotiate a better contract. The workers demand a livable wage, job safety, and job protections as some Marriott Hotel are using robot workers. Many working class workers in Silicon Valley often have to work 2-3 jobs to pay for the high housing costs and other living expenses. Meanwhile the owner of the San Jose Marriott Hotel Carey Watermark 2, a real estate investment trust, are being an irresponsible owner. Fellow Marriott workers are also striking in San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Detroit, and Boston.
Over a thousand people including families, students, community members, local church members, and hundreds of new activists gathered at San Jose City Hall on June 30, 2018 to protest Trump’s policies that separated immigrant children from their families. It was part of the larger nationwide movement of over 700 cities across America to protest Trump’s regressive immigrant policies.
Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy is reminiscence of the internment of Japanese-American during 1942 to 1945. The over 2,000 immigrant children still separated from their parents are housed in a modern day equivalent of concentration camps.
This rally shows that there is a growing movement to protect immigrant families from terror, intimidation, and persecution.
Thousands of people marching through the rain lead by hundreds of local high school students demanded the end of shootings of all type and for effective gun control. Most of the local organizers were from Prospect High School in Saratoga (near San Jose). March For Our Lives was organized and led by students across the country to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings sparked by the recent school killings in Florida. The students chanted “Vote Them Out” and blamed the NRA for the gun violence during their march. They demand a comprehensive and effective gun control bill be passed through Congress and they won’t stop until change happens.
Thousands of women marched on the streets on Saturday
Young, old, LGBT, moms, daughters, and immigrants
Coming together to make an impact in 2018 and beyond
A diverse crowd of over 200 people attended a town hall meeting about Google’s proposed mega-campus in downtown San Jose on Thursday August 24th 2017 at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. The meeting was coordinated by Silicon Valley Rising, a coalition of local groups such as Affordable Housing Network, Asians American for Community Involvement, Interfaith Council on Economics and Justice, Latinos United for A New America, NAACP San Jose Chapter, SEIU, Silicon Valley De-Bug, South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, Unite HERE Local 19, and Working Partnerships USA among others.
At the meeting residents addressed their concerns about the consequences of the Google campus such as increased costs of housing, inadequate high paying jobs, lack of diversity in employment, inefficient public transportation, lack local business support, and homelessness. Housing in particular is a major social issue and the Google campus will only exacerbate the problem.
Google has been in direct negotiations with City of San Jose but has neglected it’s own residents. Currently Google in in control of the plans for the mega-campus but this meeting and future meetings were organized to bring more equity and rational planning into the discussion. The meeting was a starting point to hear people’s voice and craft a more balanced plan that will hopefully benefit, Google, San Jose, and it’s residents.
Union workers picket Silvery Towers in down-town San Jose over hiring scab workers on May 31, 2017. According to Al Gonzalez, a business representative for UA Local 393, Silvery Towers was sold to Guangzhou R&F Properties in China. Full Power Construction an affiliate of Guangzhou R&F then hired non-union workers from outside the area.
It was also learned that Guangzhou R&F Properties lured Chinese millionaires to invest at least $500,000 in their project in order to obtain a US green card due to the EB-5 Visa program. The EB-5 Visa program is an archaic investor program enabling entrepreneurs to apply for a green card if they invest or provide jobs for workers.
Full Power Construction hired inexperienced non-union plumbers, sheet-metal workers, and electricians as low as $15 up to $30 a hour who are often inadequate for the work.
Full Power Construction are not paying workers family sustaining wages especially for the costly Silicon Valley area. They are not hiring local workers, apprentices, women, and veterans in order to cut costs and increase their profit margins. In addition the EB-5 scheme doesn’t really benefit local workers or help decrease local housing costs but only to make more money for Guangzhou R&F Properties.
In San Francisco on March 10, 2017, hundreds of Native people from different Nations and their supporters boisterously stood up for indigenous Native Rights and sovereignty. The nationwide protest was part of the four days of prayer, lobbying and demonstrations at the Nation’s Capitol. When President Trump gave the DAPL pipeline an approval for completion on January 2017, they showed the government wasn’t honouring any Native treaties. Most Native treaties were developed from 1774 to about 1832 to establish borders and behaviour between the government and Nations. These protests show that the struggle against DAPL will continue.