2023 Civics Edition
February 7-8, 2023
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A View From the Ground

We provide you with news and information about politics, government, civic participation and engagement from URL Media's network of Black and Brown publishers.
A group of people wearing traditional clothes pose for camera.

St. Paul students celebrate Karen New Year. Credit: Ellen Perrault | Saint Paul Public Schools

Banned for 60 years in Myanmar, Karen language classes make public school debut in Minnesota: This fall, St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota will begin offering Karen language classes at four high schools and online. Sahan Journal reports about 4,700 students come from households that primarily speak Karen, which is a language spoken by groups in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar. 

Karen is the fifth-most common home language among Minnesota’s public students after English, Spanish, Somali, and Hmong. It is believed that this will be the first time Karen language instruction will be offered in any public school district in the country. “Parents have been asking for this for many, many years,” said Saw Sunshine Timothy, a cultural specialist with St. Paul Public Schools. “It’s become reality now.”

The assault on Asian immigrants right now: Epicenter-NYC publisher and URL Media co-founder Mitra Kalita spoke with Yiyan Zheng, a reporter for the World-Journal, about issues affecting Asian Americans in the wake of recent mass shootings in Calif., and parallels in New York City, where Asian Americans have experienced a rise in hate crimes. "Yeah, [the community is] still afraid. The public safety in New York City is deteriorating, especially in Flushing. If you read our local page in the New York section, we have like a whole page of just crime happening in Chinatown, Flushing, or other Chinese/Asian communities," shares Zheng. The two also discuss Zheng's reporting on the social isolation of elderly Asian people.

🎧 LISTEN: World Journal's Yiyan Zheng on the loneliness of elderly Asian Americans

+: Candlelight vigil honors Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay mass shooting victims (Documented)

Keeping it Real: The murder of Tyre Nichols by modern day “Men in the Middle”: In her latest column, Black Voice News' executive editor S.E. Williams calls the five Black ex-officers of the Memphis Police Department who murdered Tyre Nichols today's "men in the middle." This phrase historically refers to enslaved people who served as intermediaries between the fellow enslaved and their owners. "It is difficult to believe the Black officers involved in this killing felt their uniforms placed them above their young brother. Did they forget who they are?" writes S.E. Williams. She uses those parallels to underscore how the current systems of power perpetuate false notions of safety in a society that still devalues Black lives. 

+: Commentary: Why the debate between advocates and Gov. Newsom over Black student funding is heating up

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Your immigration sponsorship questions answered: Due to a significant increase in people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new two-year parole program for Haitians and other Caribbean nationals last month. There have been concerns and confusion about sponsorship of the program since the announcement, according to The Haitian Times. Recently, the team connected with lawyers at Americans for Immigrant Justice, who provided information on the program’s sponsorship and financial assistance process.

WATCH: https://videopress.com/v/yM1FLvUG

Solidarity for Leonard Peltier: This week marks the 47th anniversary of Leonard Peltier's arrest. The Indigenous activist was arrested in Alberta, Canada, on Feb. 6, 1976. He is a member of the American Indian Movement. Peltier, following a controversial trial in 1977, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two FBI agents. Native News Online reports that "Rise Up for Peltier" events will take place in cities nationwide and abroad to remember Peltier's imprisonment and plea for clemency.

🎧 The growing crisis of US gun violence: Our Body Politic host Farai Chideya interviews senior news writer and founding staffer at The Trace, Jennifer Mascia, about the recent shootings in California, and the problems with gun regulations in the U.S. She also speaks with Dr. Thema Bryant, President of the American Psychological Association, about identifying people who are likely to commit domestic terrorism. In addition, they discuss how communities affected by violence can heal. 

🎧 Keir Bradford-Grey is a former Philadelphia chief public defender and a partner in Montgomery McCracken’s Litigation Department. She appeared on WURD's The Power Hour with Mark Kelly Tyler to discuss Tyre Nichols' death at the hands of police brutality.

After standoff, migrants say shelter in Brooklyn is addressing their needs: We featured reporting from Documented last week about migrants who opted to sleep outside a Manhattan hotel because they felt the standards of living at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Brooklyn were 'inhumane.' But despite the facility's shortcomings, migrants say that living at the shelter has helped them meet their basic needs. "They look after us well,” one migrant told Documented. “Honestly, [the city has] helped us a lot,” said another. 

The Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Manuel Castro, told the press that the City has been battling misinformation about the facility.

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