Delving into race issues for Election 2012

A Berkeley-based public policy advocacy group working for communities of color is urging the presidential candidates to “play the race card” and answer tough questions at tomorrow’s debate, even as a major documentary on race in U.S. politics is set to air at tomorrow as well.

“People of color are well on the way to becoming America’s new majority, but neither the major-party candidates nor the media have done much to address the real needs of our communities,” Greenlining Institute Executive Director Orson Aguilar said in a news release. “We hope debate moderator Candy Crowley and town hall participants will borrow some of our questions and press both candidates for real answers about poverty, the racial wealth gap and growing divisions in our country.”

A column by Aguilar titled “Obama, Romney: Please play the race card” appeared in select newspapers across the nation this past weekend. Now he and the institute want the candidates to answer questions like these:

    Racial Divisions: During this campaign, we have seen what many believe to be racially coded appeals and campaign advertising. Meanwhile, surveys have found that whites, blacks and Latinos have starkly different beliefs about the level of racial discrimination and racial inequality in our nation. As president, what will you do to heal these divisions?
    Unemployment: Over the past forty years, black and Latino unemployment rates have consistently been higher than that of whites. What long-term strategies do you propose to reduce the racial disparity in unemployment rates?
    Homeownership: While foreclosures are down since 2010, 1,887,777 foreclosure filings, auctions and bank repossessions occurred in 2011. The foreclosure crisis has hit communities of color hard. While blacks and Latinos represented 7.8 percent and 11.2 percent of people who received a home loan from 2007-2009, they represented 11.6 percent and 16.2 percent, respectively, of all foreclosures. What will you do to reduce foreclosures, both overall and specifically within communities of color?

Meanwhile, the Public Broadcasting System is teasing its “Race 2012” documentary, set to air at 8 p.m. Tuesday – right after the second presidential debate – and again at 9 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 19. Directed and produced by Phillip Rodriguez, it aims to document the changing face of America and how that face may affect the nation’s political future, according to a news release.

PBS today offered “a sneak peek of five surprising facts” from the documentary, presented here verbatim:

    1.) As recently as 1980, 80 percent of the United States was white. The 2010 census showed that the country’s overall population is now slightly less than 64 percent white.
    2.) In contrast to the 19th and 20th century move to change the names and cultural identities of U.S. immigrants to appear more “Americanized” or “white,” white Americans and African Americans increasingly are adopting Latino names and cultural touchstones to fit the diversifying communities in which they live. A growing number of African Americans in San Francisco’s Bay Area hold quinceañeras for their children, and have piñatas at their parties. And El Paso politician Robert O’Rourke, who is white and speaks fluent Spanish, goes by the traditional Latino nickname “Beto” and unseated a Latino incumbent in the Congressional primary.
    3.) Conservatives tend to assume Asian-Americans vote conservatively because as a group they’re considered hard-working, industrious and entrepreneurial – characteristics stereotypically associated with white Americans. Yet the Asian-American community consistently votes 2 to 1 for liberal candidates.
    4.) For the first time in 70 years, the majority of white parents believe their children will not be financially better off than themselves, while African Americans and Hispanics are now considerably more optimistic about the next generation.
    5.) Although conservative policies are perceived as harder on immigration, in the past few years the U.S. has had a record deportation level. In each year of the Obama administration, deportations outnumbered any year of the Bush administration.

The film already is making waves. John Ziegler, a documentary filmmaker who was interviewed for “Race 2012,” issued a statement today saying it’s “fundamentally biased against both whites and conservatives, and also makes unsubstantiated charges of racism against the Romney campaign.”

Ziegler, a conservative former radio talk show host who created www.HowObamaGotElected.com and the documentary “Media Malpractice… How Obama Got Elected,” has written a scathing critique of “Race 2012” for the Media Research Center, a conservative organization dedicated to “exposing and combating liberal media bias.” In that piece, he calls it “nothing more than a PBS-sponsored liberal hatchet job on conservatives which doesn’t even pretend to be fair.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Truthclubber

    From the article: “…the majority of white parents believe their children will not be financially better off than themselves, while African Americans and Hispanics are now considerably more optimistic about the next generation….”

    Yessiree Bob! The elevated status afforded white babies at birth purely and simply by virtue of their skin pigment has largely disappeared in this country, and those who have had their silver spoon yanked from their mouths are PISSED!

  • JohnW

    There is a picture online of a middle-age, shaved-headed man at a campaign event in Ohio. He wore a blue t-shirt with a Romney-Ryan decal on the back. Stenciled underneath in huge letters: PUT THE WHITE BACK IN THE WHITE HOUSE.

    Romney campaign people condemned it, as would the overwhelming majority of people who identify as Republicans. Still, the fact that such creeps are somehow attracted to the GOP won’t make it any easier for the GOP to broaden its appeal to the emerging non-white majority. Nor will the current GOP strategy of using every outrageous trick in the book to reduce the number blacks and Latinos who vote.

    On the other hand, it’s not like Democrats have come up with a lot of good answers either.

  • Elwood

    “We hope debate moderator Candy Crowley and town hall participants will borrow some of our questions and press both candidates for real answers about poverty, the racial wealth gap and growing divisions in our country.”

    Don’t hold your breath.

  • Truthclubber

    @2 —

    You mean this guy?

    Kinda looks like “some lowlife who blogs here a darn lot” from the back, don’t you think?

  • Elwood

    Hi ho, hi ho, it’s under the bus she goes! Poor Hil is being sacrificed to save the chosen one.


  • JohnW

    According to the Sunday NYT, the additional security that had been requested (actually an extension of the security already in place) wasn’t even for Benghazi. It was for the embassy in Tripoli, 400 miles away.

  • Truthclubber

    @5 — It took you THAT long to see that coming? I told my spouse that (“Hillary, meet bus. Bus, Hillary.”) the moment I heard Joey Bid-a-wee state that “we knew nothing about security needs” during last week’s debate.

    Geez, talk about S-L-O-W.

    Truth be told, it WAS her responsibility — why do you think she’s been sooooooo quiet and out of sight (until yesterday) on this most precious subject? Because she KNOWS that SHE screwed up, BIG time, and until now she and Bubba were hoping it would blow over and not damage her for 2016, and O’Bammy was also hoping it would, so his relationship with “Bubba the Wonder Campaigner” would not sour with a mere three weeks left to the finish line.

    Bid-a-wee’s having to dodge a literal silver howitzer shell last week in public with millions watching was the final straw (and I’m sure HE had words with O’Bammy afterward) — she takes what was hers to take all along (one for the team) and drops in credibility, whil Bid-a-wee gets elevated in their own race against each other in 2016.

  • JohnW

    Hillary’s statement has been grossly distorted. All she’s saying is the obvious. That, as Secretary of State, she is ultimately responsible for embassy security. That’s not the same as saying “it’s my fault.”

    Interestingly, she made these same comments several days ago during an interview with the Wall Street Journal. They chose not to report that. It obviously didn’t fit in with their narrative that Obama somehow screwed up.

    Frankly, I see this as a “no fault” situation. It’s a dangerous world out there, and bad stuff happens. The regional security officer who testified has already said that, even if all requested security assets had been in place, the outcome probably would have been the same. Being Ambassador to a country like Libya is not the same as being the Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Ambassador Stevens was fully aware of that.

    To suggest that Hillary is being thrown under the proverbial bus is crazy. She has absolutely no reason to be party to that. She’s already planning to leave in January, regardless of who wins the White House. She may or may not run in 2016. But she is hardly to type to let anybody throw her under the bus — Obama or anybody else.

  • JohnW

    Latest on Libya (Saturday about 12 Noon) from ABC OTUS News:


    The latest intelligence assessment of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi indicates there was little if any pre-planning for it and that it was in part an opportunistic response to the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo [which were about the video].

    “Right now,there isn’t any intelligence that the attackers pre-planned their assault days or weeks in advance,” said a U.S. intelligence official. “The bulk of available information supports the early assessment that the attackers launched their assault opportunistically after they learned about the violence at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”

    What? You mean U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and the administration spoke truthfully? Based on available intelligence information at the time — that turns out to have been accurate? Horrors. Mitt will need a rewrite of his Benghazi talking points for Monday night’s foreign policy debate. Or we could just move on and talk about other important foreign policy matters.

    But, if Mitt really wants to talk about Benghazi, perhaps we could get back to why he shot off his mouth while the protests in Cairo were still underway. Or why Rep. Issa’s committee released intelligence reports including the names of Libyans working covertly with the U.S.? Or why Paul Ryan cut the State Department embassy security budget by $300 million.