BMRS Debate Breakdown with Blacksite Pod

Debate and Racism Apocalypse Special!

GOOD MORNING BALTIMORE! Blacksite Podcast loves you. Donald Trump says many more racist things. The Democrats Debate. And in local news – Salt Lake city mayoral race, Utah might get Medicaid expansion, and United Utah wants term limits. Sarah Bourne of Blue Mom Red State guests on this week’s episode of… BLACKSITE PODCAST!

Listen now!

 

 

Concentration Camps Exist in America

AOC has recently taken a lot of heat after calling the detention centers at the border concentration camps.  Critics from both sides of the aisle say that the use of the term is extreme and makes a very unfair comparison to the death camps of Auschwitz.  So, is it an unfair comparison? In my view, the answer is no.

These detention centers are detaining people seeking asylum and taking their children.  The kids are forced to endure cold temperatures, lights on around the clock, filthy conditions, inadequate food and water with little to no contact with lawyers or relatives.  This is torture.  The US is torturing innocent children.  

Children are forced to care for toddlers/infants and pack limited supplies for incoming separated kids.  Illness is common due to overcrowding, moldy bathrooms and spoiled food. Kids have no diapers, soap, toothpaste or clean clothes.  Guards wear face masks to protect themselves from the unsanitary conditions.  Concerned US citizens have tried to donate supplies to the suffering children only to be turned away.  

This is all horrible, but is it a concentration camp?  Well, let’s start with the definition:

A place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned, for reasons of state security, exploitation or punishment,  in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities, sometimes to provide forced labor or to await mass execution. Persons are placed in such camps often on the basis of identification with a particular ethnic or political group rather than as individuals and without benefit either of indictment or fair trial

Now, here are all the examples that prove that this situation at the border is in fact America running concentration camps. 

A place where large numbers of people are held in a relatively small area? Check.

The Homeland Security inspector general has found “dangerous overcrowding” at a CPB facility in El Paso, Texas.900 people were found in this facility when the capacity is only 125!  People were forced to be in standing-room-only conditions for weeks!  Can you imagine? We don’t treat our dogs like this.. 

Cells designed for 35 occupants are holding 155 people.  80,000 people are currently in custody with more coming everyday.  The requests for more detention space made by Border Patrol get denied by the government, the agencies continue to detain noncriminals and there’s constant miscommunication between HHS, CPB, DHS and ICE causing many to be held longer than legally allowed.  Unbelievable.

The detained are often members of a persecuted minority?  Check.

Trump, Fox News and some employees of border agencies constantly dehumanize these asylum seekers.  There are countless examples of Trump trashing immigrants on his twitter.  We all watch him call them animals, rapists, bad hombres along with language like people crossing the border is like an infestation of our country.  There’s no question that he doesn’t care one bit about the well being of the people at the border.

Fox News recently had a segment that argued that these kids aren’t our kids trying to downplay what is happening to human beings at the hands of this government.  Seriously? A kid is a kid no matter where they are from! Innocent little souls that have no choice in this matter whatsoever.  The only reason they say these things is to make migrants seems like human or less valuable so Trump supporters will support these horrible policies.  Sadly, this strategy seems highly effective.

Right wing websites and media take every opportunity they can to paint immigrants in a terrible light.  We’ve all seen it. Accusations of migrants carrying deadly disease into the country, taking our jobs, mooching off the system, murdering innocent women and the like.  Viral videos zoom around social media of people yelling go back to your country or chanting build a wall at people of color.  It’s so discouraging to see.

There are many examples of border agents and other employees of the government treating people under their care with cruelty.  Remember the audio of the agent making fun of the crying children after their parents were removed?  Or how about the agent that mowed down a man with a government truck?  Text message exchanges between agents reveal a disturbing culture among the people charged with caring for migrants.  “Fucking beaners”, “guats” and “subhuman shit” are just a few terms that are commonly used. 

Wow… these are the people we are trusting to care for immigrants?  It makes me sick.

People are detained for reasons of state security, exploitation or punishment?  Check.

The Trump Administration is constantly citing national security as a justification for ‘cracking down’ on migrants.

  • State Security: Do I even need to explain?  How many times have we heard that Trump is the only guy that wants to keep Americans safe from rapists (except if it’s him), drugs, MS-13 and the rest?  Close the border then! Keep America safe!  It’s the entire premise behind building that wall.
  • Exploitation: There are numerous reports of sexual abuse and assault within these facilities.  People in power preying on those that have no protection, no support and no way to get justice is the definition of exploitation in my view.  Based on the culture among the agents highlighted in my last point, I assume there are agents that detain vulnerable potential victims or work to hide their misconduct.
  • Punishment:  Jeff Sessions said that zero tolerance would be used as a deterrent.  In other words, if you cross the border you will be punished. Also, as highlighted in the latest IG report, agents routinely punish people by withholding rec time, segregating them from others and using restraints without holding the required hearings before punishments are used.

Detained with inadequate facilities?  Check.

The Office of Inspector General found “immediate risks or egregious violations of detention standards at facilities.”  They did unannounced inspections at 4 facilities.  Here is what they found:

  • Spoiled, moldy and expired food in kitchens
  • Thawing meat with no indication of how long it had been sitting out
  • “At Essex, the food handling in general was so substandard that ICE and facility leadership had the kitchen manager replaced during our inspection”
  • Raw chicken leaked blood all over refrigerator
  • Outdoor space unavailable at 2 facilities (no fresh air or direct sunlight)
  • Bathrooms in poor condition
    • Mold in walls, ceiling, vents, mirrors and shower stalls
    • Peeling paint on walls, floors and showers
    • Unusable toilets
  • Improper sizes of clothing given and never replaced (3X and 4X only)
  • No underwear in stock
  • No shampoo or lotion given
  • Required detainees to purchase toiletries at commissary

And this inspection didn’t include the Texas facility that all those lawyers went to!  In addition to the IG’s findings, there have been multiple reports of no showers, no beds, no blankets, no diapers, no clothes, no soap, no toothbrushes, served frozen food, inadequate water, no contact with the outside, no medical care and no idea what is going on.  

Detainees sometimes provide forced labor?  Check.

The children are caring for the toddlers/infants.

Any parent knows how much work it is to care for infants and toddlers.  Most days I can’t wait to get in bed after spending the day with my two little ones.  Caring for children is hard even when you have diapers, beds, food, activities, tv and everything else.  My love I feel for my own children also helps get me through the hardest moments. I’m capable, 33 years old and have all the support I need.  Child rearing still breaks me fairly regularly.

Now, imagine a 7 or 8 year old child being forced to care for a child that they don’t know, that is sick, hungry, sleep deprived, dirty, relieving themselves with no diaper, snot stained clothing, confused, clingy and crying all the time with little to no adult support.  Even the strongest of adults couldn’t deal with this situation.  Lawyers interviewing the children reported some children falling asleep during the interview due to exhaustion from caring for one another.  Forced labor happening right before our eyes. 

People detained without proper indictment or fair trial?  Check.

Do asylum seekers and people detained by ICE get their day in court?  Eventually, but the average stay for asylum seekers in a detention facility is 102 days. Then, they wait another 577 days for their case to reach an immigration court. So, all this happens before a judicial proceeding:

  • Immediately detained 
  • The children are removed 
  • Remain in custody for 102 days where they must endure conditions akin to torture
  • Released with little support and perhaps an ankle bracelet
  • Track down their children without help from the government
  • Attempt to repair the trauma inflicted on themselves and their children (if they were able to find them)
  • Live in fear of ICE for roughly two years while waiting for the courts
  • Endure citizens/President treating you like subhuman for roughly two years
  • Can’t legally work

Plus, how fair are these court proceedings?  I’ve seen clips of two year olds facing the judge by themselves!  I’ve read of agents giving ultimatums to parents forcing them to sign their own deportation documents to get their children back before they are able to face a judge.  The government destroys families and makes it impossible for them to advocate for themselves.  This isn’t what America is supposed to be.

By definition, concentration camps are alive and well in America.  This should make every person in this country outraged and uncomfortable.  Don’t look away. The course of this nation is in our hands.  Stay informed, keep the pressure on and most importantly cast a vote against Trump in the next election.  It may be the only thing we can do for these little ones now.

Don’t Feed the Trolls

When my dad came to me to help him organize a political event I was thrilled and, quite frankly, honored.  The person that I admire most in the world wants to work with me on something he cares about. Let’s get started!  

Everything has been great thus far!  I guess I should say almost everything.  We’ve gotten the venue, food plan and got a schedule together of what we need to do.  We are both first time organizers so it’s been interesting working through the kinks together.  We’ve got over 40 attendees so we must be doing something right. The part that I wasn’t anticipating was exposing my dad to the ugly side of social media.

I should have known to prepare for this.  I’ve had my page for over a year now. I get hate all the time.  Maybe I’ve become desensitized to it because, honestly, I don’t even notice anymore.  What I didn’t anticipate was how angry I would feel when people do the same thing to my dad.  People go out of their way to be mean and sometimes quite aggressive. Some examples:

 

  • If your calling for a “revolution” then it shows just how treasonous you people really are.
  • Layton losers (This guy came back multiple times to post this.  He must have a lot of time on his hands.)
  • I shouldn’t have to pay more just because you made a choice to be a stay at home mom

 

Those are three from the roughly twenty negative comments that were received over the weekend.  I would include more, but most are deleted now. A direct threat of violence was also received. Seriously?  My knee jerk reaction was to respond to all of them! Tell them that calling us treasonous is the same as calling for our deaths, congratulating them on being enormous a**holes or calling them out on how uninformed their comment is.  This is my dad you’re talking about! How dare you?! But instead I decided to take a deep breath and remember my motto on my own page. Don’t feed the trolls.

Part of what makes pushing for change hard are the people that push back.  We’ve got to stay committed and keep our eye on the prize. Healthcare for all must become a reality in the United States.  Every person, including those that so wholeheartedly push against the concept, deserves healthcare. It should be a right in this country.  No amount of trolling will change my mind about that.

 

 

Our Next President Must ‘See Race’

There are plenty of reasons to disqualify Howard Schultz as a presidential candidate in my mind:

  • Not selling his Starbucks stock
  • being opposed to universal healthcare
  • me having a bitter taste in my mouth about a billionaire as president
  • him acting like taxing the rich is a ridiculous idea
  • his third party bid would help re-elect our current president

He’s been a nonstarter in my mind from the beginning, but the debate surrounding his candidacy has been interesting to watch. After the election of Donald Trump I can let my mind drift to things that I would have never thought possible. Maybe a third party candidate could win. Who knows? But then came his town hall on CNN. He was asked about racial profiling in America. His response is the number one disqualifier in my book:

‘I didn’t see color as a boy and I honestly don’t see color now.’

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Utah. My graduating class was roughly 2000 people. Of those about 3 or 4 students were black. We were white. Sure, there were some other ethnicities around, but we were white. I grew up believing racism to be a thing that used to happen long ago. I had a few experiences that should have told me otherwise, but I was young and didn’t see them.

For example, I got a job at Crown Burger and I was the only white person on staff. I got paid a dollar more than everyone else because, I was told, I speak English. Well, everyone else spoke English too. I was the only one not required to help clean after closing. I still don’t know how long it takes to close down a restaurant. One time around Christmas, paychecks were being withheld until a certain time. Everyone was very upset about it. I walked to the back like normal and the manager gave me mine before the allotted time without a second thought. Maybe I didn’t see it because I developed good friendships with many of my coworkers. I bought Lourdes 30 minutes on my phone so she could call her mother in Mexico. I went to a Mexican dance club with Leti. I attended a baby blessing and gave gifts for birthdays. I laughed and joked during work without a care in the world. One of the girls told me her uncle was hit by a car and killed.

I said, ’OMG what did the police do?’ She looked at me with such exasperation when she said, ‘Sarah, nobody cares about us. That includes the police.’ I should have seen race then, but I didn’t. I actually just didn’t believe her.

 


I was working at Buckle when one of my coworkers was expressing frustration about not being able to find a particular brand of clothing her son wanted. She went on to explain that her adopted son is black. He’s entering his teenage years and is struggling with figuring out who he is. I want to put my foot in my mouth when I think about what I said, ‘Doesn’t every teenager struggle with that? Why can’t he just wear something else?’ She said when you’re different from everybody else it can present unique challenges.

She, as a mother, wanted to do all she could to alleviate that inevitable struggle he faced. I should have seen it then, but I didn’t. I dismissed the whole interaction as a mom being overly sensitive about her child, perhaps even overcompensating for that fact that he was adopted. Silly, young girl I was. Now that I have a child that is different, I wish I could go back in time and give this woman a hug.


When my sister got engaged to a black guy I remember my grandma said, ‘Oh no, is she really gonna marry that colored fella?’ I should have seen it then, but I thought to myself, ‘Well, that’s a generational thing. What more can you expect from an old lady?’ When my sister became pregnant, I started to cry because I didn’t live near her at the time. My other grandma misread my emotion and said, ‘I know, what is your dad going to do when she shows up on his porch with a biracial child.’ I remember being confused about why having a biracial baby concerned her so, but, of course, I didn’t ask.


I wasn’t truly confronted with the issue of race until I moved to California. I worked at a clothing store at the Del Amo mall when I realized I had no idea how much of a bubble I lived in my whole life. A black woman entered the store and immediately I was instructed to follow the customer around in my earpiece. It’s not that abnormal to have repeat shoplifters so I assumed this customer was known to the team. The method I learned in Utah to prevent shoplifting is to give attentive customer service.

So, I approached the woman and I asked if she needed help finding anything. She said no thank you and kept shopping. The voice came over my earpiece again, ‘This isn’t Utah, stay on that lady.’ I felt awkward because I just talked to her. She was looking at some t shirts so I said, ‘We just got those in. They’re really cute.’

She looked me dead in the eyes and I’ll never forget what she said. ‘I’m not going to steal anything.’ In my surprise, I blurted out, ‘Oh sorry, they told me to watch you,’ gesturing over to my coworkers. She let out a knowing sigh, ‘Imagine that, out of all the customers in this store they told you to watch the black one.’

When she left the store, I got angry with the team. Why did they embarrass me like that?! My manager looked at me and said, ‘Black people steal Sarah. You have a lot to learn about how things really are.’ Well, she was right about one thing. I did have a lot to learn about how things really are.


The time I spent at that store taught me more about racial animosity than a lifetime in Utah ever could. I was speaking loudly and slowly to an Asian customer once. She said, ‘I’m Asian, not stupid.’ A black trans employee didn’t make it to work because she was beat up at the bus stop. I tried to break up an argument once when the girl turned to me and screamed, ‘I don’t need a white girl to vouch for me!’ I can give countless examples of tension while I worked at that store and lived in that city.

I struggled to figure out how to conduct myself once I started realizing people judged me for my skin too. People assumed I was rich, that my life was easy, free from the struggles of the people around me. In some ways those assumptions were right. I never had a problem getting a job or an apartment. I was pulled over once when I had a bag of weed in the car. I had it on the passenger seat, right in the open, when the officer approached the window. My car wasn’t registered and I didn’t have my license because I had lost it at a bar somewhere. Sounds like the recipe for disaster right? Nope. The cop took the weed and told me to go home. No ticket, nothing. It’s hard to imagine the same outcome happening if my skin wasn’t white. My own biases emerged as time went on as well. I visited my sister once and shocked her with my harsh rhetoric about the city I lived in. I was knee deep in the realization that it is easier to be around people that are similar to you.

When I returned to Utah, I was again culture shocked. I remember walking down my dad’s street and crying uncontrollably. After living in an impoverished neighborhood riddled with crime and uncertainty, I was struck by the beauty of the neighborhood. The safety I felt was so relieving it felt tangible. It was hard to explain to my family members the guilt this relief was causing me. The struggles in California are crushing people. I was able to just throw my hands up and decide I’m done with it. It was hard for me to square with the fact that people are born into impossible situations with no safety net. They don’t have the resources, knowledge about programs available, family financial support or anything else.


I began to realize what white privilege actually means. It doesn’t mean life isn’t hard for white people or white people don’t work for what they have. People don’t say it to somehow diminish who you are or make you feel shame about being white. It doesn’t mean that white citizens owe them anything.

What it does mean is that out of all the struggles a person can experience in life, race won’t be one of the ones that white people face. It’s a way to point out that racial issues often get overlooked because the majority of people don’t experience it, especially here. It’s an acknowledgement that problems that exist today are largely due to generational oppression of minority groups.


It’s easy to assume that racism is a thing of the past when it doesn’t have a negative impact on you daily or when you live in a place that is dominated by one group of people. I have the luxury of choosing whether or not to look at the subject closely. Others don’t have that choice. Racial bias is woven into the fabric of our society, but it is institutionalized as well. It’s built into:

  • the criminal justice system
  • the housing market
  • the banking system
  • the school system
  • the healthcare system
  • policing
  • employment opportunities
  • every other institution in our country

You can see it clearly in generational wealth or generational poverty patterns. Even our elected leaders don’t reflect the population, although it’s getting better. Racism has been a driving force in this country since its inception. That’s undeniable. Our leaders must understand and face that fact.

Not seeing race is a form of willful ignorance that will most definitely propel us forward on the path Trump has sent us on. We need a course correction, not fuel added to the raging fire of racial injustice. Howard Schultz can choose not to see race if he wants. If that’s his choice than he has no business running for president.

We need a leader that is prepared to call out racism, denounce it and educate the public about how to solve the problem. We need someone who will study the subject and listen to the outcry. We need a leader that can show people how to be an ally to oppressed groups especially when you might not be experiencing that oppression yourself. We need a leader that can help us take steps toward the perfect union that America is supposed to be. They need to be driven by empathy and a care for all people. We need to elect a president that believes that all people are created equal while at the same time acknowledging that our system and society are far from treating people that way.

I’m a Democrat. Here’s Why

The new year has caused me to be very self reflective. What are my strengths and weaknesses as a parent, wife and friend. All the normal resolutions bump around in my head. Cook more, eat healthy, read to the kids more, keep the house cleaner, etc. It is a familiar routine. There has been one major difference with this new year though. Last year I launched the blog. I have spent half of the year in a new, and often uncomfortable, place. Putting my political views ‘out there’ definitely threw a wrench in things! I struggled to cope with hateful comments and unsolicited sexually explicit pictures. I felt weighed down by the workload, pressure from my self imposed deadlines and constantly behind on the other duties of my life. I went through months of self doubt after opposing arguments made their way through my social media accounts on a near daily basis. Because of this, I spent many hours examining my own positions. Why do I feel the way I do? This was the question on my mind as I was reading through the Declaration of Independence recently. There’s a section in it that we all are quite familiar with:


“…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


After months of introspection, this line jumped off the page for me. This single line, and my firm belief in it, can explain the roots of my progressive views. First of all, the definition of unalienable must be understood. Unalienable, nowadays inalienable, means unable to be taken away or given away by a possessor. So, unalienable rights cannot be taken/given away. The rights that are specifically listed are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In my mind, the industries that impact these three rights, that cannot to be taken/given away, should not be for- profit.

Life: It’s time for universal healthcare

The right to life is directly impacted by the healthcare system. Every living and breathing human should be able to get the healthcare they need regardless of age, condition, financial position, housing status or any other factor if life is truly an unalienable right. Insurance companies, personal finances and employment status dictates an Americans right to life as it stands currently.

Liberty: No for-profit prisons

Prisons or immigrant detention facilities shouldn’t be financial goldmines for anyone. This only incentivizes longer sentences and more detainees directly impacting the unalienable right to liberty. The prison system and society don’t integrate former inmates back into regular life efficiently causing people to continually end up back in prison. If we treated liberty as the unalienable right that it is we would focus more on rethinking how we treat our incarcerated community to help ensure liberty is restored and sustained.

Pursuit of Happiness: Public education from PreK – Secondary Education

The pursuit of happiness is all about retaining the ability to change your circumstances. Education is vital in this pursuit and should be available to all from preschool through secondary education. As it stands now, banks and universities decide who gets to try, therefore deciding who gets the unalienable right to pursue happiness. There should be a public education option at every level of education to ensure that every American has equal opportunity to change their station.

These things, driven by empathy, are what forms my basic ideology. This is why I find myself on the left side of the political spectrum. Some call these ideas radical. I call them bold and ambitious. Having a healthy, educated population is an investment that is worth all the time and money that would have to be spent to make it a reality. 2019 will be full of surprises I’m sure. Hopefully some bold, ambitious policies will be one of them.