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2012 April

30 Apr

By

IL: Waseem Zaffar

April 30, 2012 | By |

Waseem Zaffar is a Labour Councillor for the Lozells and East Handsworth Ward in Birmingham, UK. He was elected on May 5, 2011, and he polled over 70 percent of the share of the vote.

Waseem has lived in the ward he now represents since birth. He not only addresses the challenges his ward faces, but he also works with local residents and groups as well as faith institutions to unite the community and provide strategic thought leadership. He also manages a social enterprise that assists young people into employment by providing them with relevant support and capacity building.

Upon graduating, Waseem pursued his passion of working in the community and became CEO of a third sector organization based in Handsworth developing initiatives to support the capacity building and development of young people as well as working on issues of Disaffected Young People and Community Cohesion.

He was appointed a Magistrate in 2008, originally serving on the bench at Sutton Coldfield Magistrates Court before moving to Birmingham Magistrates Court following the closure of Sutton in July 2011.

Waseem has won a number of community awards, including, the Lozells Community Awards 2010 Above & Beyond the Call of Duty Award and the United Streets of Birmingham Role Model Award 2009.

He has since held many different roles in the community including being a Director of Birmingham Tribunal Unit, Advisor to the Board of Directors of National Youth Works Board, Grant Awarding Panel Member for Birmingham Foundation, Grant Awarding Panel Member for Community Champions, Management Committee Member of Holte Leisure Centre, Chairman of North East Lozells Neighbourhood Watch, Chairman of Handsworth Central Neighbourhood Forum, Community Crime Fighter [Home Office Approved], Union Learning Representative for Unite the Union [Birmingham Private Hire Drivers], Founder Member of Independent Advisory Group for Taxi Sector, West Midlands Police and Branch Organiser for Unite the Union [Birmingham Private Hire Drivers]. Over the past 10 years, Waseem has gained substantial experience in a variety of fields, which has allowed him to work more effectively as an elected member.

You can follow Waseem on Twitter at @WaseemZaffar or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Waseem.Zaffar.

1.       What inspired you to pursue your current career path (to run for political office)?

I began my social and political activity at a relatively young age when I felt that young people were being neglected by the system but yet criticized for not succeeding. I began by holding elected members accountable. As a result, these same elected officials encouraged me to get involved and have supported me since. I am also proud that my work has broken ethnic barriers, having engaged with all irrespective of the skin color and, most importantly, promoted social cohesion.

I am also proud that I have tackled racism head-on, most notably when the English Defence League, a far-right organization that has travelled the breath of England spreading hate against Muslims. When the organization visitedBirmingham,I became the face of the opposition to them challenging the Home Secretary of the Government, Chief Executive of the local authority and Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police to ban their demonstration against Muslims.

Ultimately, I consider myself a campaigner against all forms of social inequality and injustice, and I strive to do just that as an elected official.

2.       You recently participated in a Trans-Atlantic Training for Young Political Leaders; why was that experience important or meaningful? Why is it important to participate inTrans-Atlantic dialogues?

There were two very important and simple lessons that I learned at this conference:

  • 1.     We have a long way to go before all forms of social inequality are eradicated in the United Kingdom, but we are miles ahead in the equality agenda compared to most other countries across Europe.
  • 2.     The perception of America and Americans amongst some sections of the community in the United Kingdom, in particular amongst young Muslims is very negative specifically because of the United States’ role in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, talking to, engaging with, and connecting with Americans at this conference has changed already changed my perception, and I am encouraged that this is a step in the right direction.

Without participating in this conference and engaging with the participants, these two very important lessons would not have been uncovered. It is hugely important, in particular because of the global village we now live in, for transatlantic engagement to learn about other cultures and morals and to share and appreciate our common values. Learning from the sharing of stories and experiences is incredibly valuable and was the most rewarding for me.

I am also pleased that we now have the opportunity to sustain the relationships initiated at the conference by sustaining dialogue through social media. Social media is an exciting and useful tool that makes transatlantic learning not only so much easier, but also instant and continuous.

3.     What is the key to balancing your professional and social commitments?

Like most people, I feel that there are not enough hours in the day; however, organizing and balancing my professional and social commitments is vital to my success. I feel that I am a relatively well-organized individual, which allows me to allot enough time to my professional and social duties. I believe that my energetic and motivated attitude also helps me stay balanced.

4.     What is the biggest mistake young professionals make?

Run before they can walk.

Patience is key. Many a time professionals have been set up to fail by being thrown into the deep-end before they are ready to take on the challenge. It is important that young professionals take the time to develop and fine tune relevant experience, skills, and knowledge within their occupation.

5.     What advice would you give other young professionals who desire to excel? Specifically in elected office?

Get involved because you want to make a change to the quality of life of those around you and your community and not because you want to become a leader. The intentions have to be correct to take up elected office—too often, this is where one fails and, as a result, becoming successful becomes difficult. There is nothing wrong in being ambitious but the heart and intentions have to be correct to be successful.

6.     What’s been the best experience of your career thus far (or the most rewarding)?

The best experience for me has been where a positive has been made of a negative. In my constituency, there were horrific riots in 1981, 1985 and 2005. During the most recent riots in the summer of 2011, many areas of the country were hit including all surrounding areas to the Lozells neighborhood in my ward. Lozells is widely recognized as a socially deprived area of the city of Birmingham.

During the most recent riots, I helped organize the community that stood together and prevented any form of rioting in Lozells; in fact, all sections of the community stood united and there was not one report of disorder in the neighborhood. This came as a pleasant surprise to all.

In a report commissioned by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Leader of the Opposition to look at the causes of the riots last summer across the UK, Lozells and my leadership were singled out as a positive case study. This was again highlighted by a former Home Secretary in the BBC flagship political program when discussing the report.

I would like to think my skills of community organizing and bringing people together as a unifying force were key to this success.

7.     What’s next for you in your career? What should we look out for?

I want to make my constituency and my community the center of the universe. I doubt if this will ever be achieved, but I would like to work hard to improve the quality of life of my constituents. As to where next in my career? I am not sure as I take each day at a time. God willing, I would like to continue giving back to my community.

8.     Lastly, give me three words to sum up Waseem?

Organizer, Activist, Strategic

30 Apr

By

Nations Best Advocates 2012

April 30, 2012 | By |

Do you know an African American Lawyer, 40 or under, who is doing great things in the legal community? Share their story with the world by nominating this young lawyer for Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40. This year, the National Bar Association and IMPACT will produce the third annual Nation’s Best Advocates (N.B.A.): 40 Lawyers Under 40 at the 87th Annual Convention in Las Vegas, NV. The purpose of this prestigious award is to recognize up and coming talented individuals (age 40 and under) within the African American legal community who have achieved prominence and distinction in their fields. Successful nominees will have demonstrated a strong commitment to empowering, uplifting, and advocating for the African American community. Nominees should represent a cross-section of legal professionals: solo practitioners, government lawyers, judges, academicians, corporate counsels, young elected officials, and others lawyers who are using their law degree in innovative ways. Winners are chosen based on: achievement, innovation, vision, leadership, and legal community involvement.Today is the last day for nominations with the Nations Best Advocates. Please make sure you are tapping your personal networks to get the word out about the contest and have people visit NationsBestAdvocates.com.

 

Why is this important?

There are a number of lawyers that do not receive recognition for their great work and therefore have to fight for promotion within their firms or work environment. By providing outside recognition to some of these up and coming lawyers we can help them continue to climb the ladders of their chosen profession and also expose those in their community to lawyers that are serving in their communities.

 

Who are some of the past nominees?

Since our first class was revealed in 2010 IMPACT and the National Bar has been proud to see the nominees continue their ascent from associates to Presidential Appointees, to judges, to partners and to other national figures. You may not know this but Attorney Ben Crump was in the 2010 class and has since gone on to help steer the legal team representing the family of Trayvon Martin. Many others, just like Attorney Crump, have continued serving their community in ways that are invaluable while also being supported by members of the National Bar Association. Please be sure to check out the video of last year’s event on NationsBestAdvocates.com

 

What is the benefit to being nominated?

Besides the recognition on NationsBestAdvocates.com and  at the program nominees are added to a unique network of lawyers and professionals around the world working to promote better communities. Additionally nominees are featured through the media partners of IMPACT and the National Bar Association for the subsequent twelve months.

 

When is the list revealed?

The full list of 40 nominees for this years class will be revealed in about a month at the end of May 2012 on NationsBestAdvocates.com. The nominees will also be featured at the Nations Best Advocates Gala on July 15, 2012 in Las Vegas, NV to kick off the National Bar Association annual meeting.

 

Thanks,

TEAM IMPACT

26 Apr

By

America’s Immigration Crisis Goes to the Supreme Court

April 26, 2012 | By |

By Audrey Nicoleau

The case of Arizona v. United States now before the Supreme Court shines a light on how the complexity of the American identity is wrapped in the immigration debate. Since the federal government created the U.S. Immigration Bureau in 1864, the question of who is let in permanently, temporarily, or not at all has always been tied to the politics of identity and the viability of the economy.

Identifying an immigrant versus a citizen is a process that includes profiling, separation, and exclusion. But how do you profile an American? Over time, PR agencies have helped shape the American identity around apple pie, blond hair, baseball and blue eyes. Anyone else who did not fit into this category either took on a second class citizenship or hid in the shadows, praying to stay, but ready for deportation.

Times are good? America welcomes you. Times are rough? America cracks downs. This pattern of campaigning to attract and reject the “others” has revealed itself like clockwork throughout our history, so why be concerned that the same conditions are driving the current debate on the constitutionality of Arizona’s 2010 immigration law, SB 1070?

Since many Americans and their political leaders are still caught up on promoting our differences versus our similarities, we have those who buy into the ‘us vs. them’ mentality, which drives our policy and enforcement process. Just as there were states that condoned slavery, and others did not. Just as some states currently respect marriage equality, and others do not.

The federal government is not off the hook here. Laws to expand state power and identity are on the rise because national leadership keeps passing the buck on when and how to take action. It’s campaign season for much of Washington’s public officials where the priority is to stay balanced on the tightrope of power. They are in no position to lead states to a solution with federal comprehensive immigration reform. The only section of the federal government free and clear to respond is the judicial branch. A Supreme Court ruling in support of the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070, will help expand state’s rights and their ability to dictate conditions within their borders.

Instead of a national discourse on American identity and how it relates to forming and enforcing humane, protective, and fiscally responsible immigration policy, state’s determined to tip on the side of exclusion versus inclusion may let xenophobia be their guide.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has already taken a preemptive strike against the possibility that the Supreme Court will decide in June to support the Arizona law by proposing legislative blockage of the controversial provisions. President Obama, who revived talk of the DREAM Act in January, has promised to prioritize comprehensive immigration reform as first on the agenda of his second term. In Romney’s thirst for the presidency, he is backing away from his initial support of SB 1070 to avoid alienating the Hispanic vote.

As Democrats and Republicans court the hispanic, black and female populations for their votes, how the immigration issue is handled over the next six months may be the wildcard ingredient that determines what American identity looks like after the November elections.

26 Apr

By

DC Young Professionals to Support Langston Junior Boys and Girls Golf Club at the Virginia Gold Cup Races on May 5th

April 26, 2012 | By |

A group of DC-area professionals informally organized as Leigh Chapman and Friends are putting their charitable support behind Langston Junior Boys and Girls Golf Club by hosting a tent at the Virginia Gold Cup races on May 5, 2012 from 10 AM-5 PM.

Rather than holding a typical fundraiser at a museum or restaurant, the group wanted to plan something unique and fun. Ladies will don their most extravagant hats, and men will wear their best seersucker suit or colorful blazer to watch the horse races in the countryside. Even better, attendees can socialize, enjoy good food and drink, and network with peers while raising money for a great cause, the Langston Junior Boys and Girls Golf Club.

The Langston Junior Boys and Girls Golf Club provides instruction to more than 200 area youth from underserved communities each summer—teaching them about the game of golf and the life lessons that accompany the sport, like learning discipline, determination, and organization. The organization does a lot for the community with a small operating budget. The few thousand dollars Leigh Chapman and Friends hope to raise from this event will make an enormous impact—just in time to expand the offerings for this summer’s programs.

The Langston Junior Boys and Girls Golf Club is a nonprofit organization founded in 1990 by Mr. Ray Savoy. It’s an all-volunteer organization that is located at the historic Langston Legacy Golf Course in Northeast Washington, D.C. The founder, Ray Savoy, will be joining Chapman and Friends at the event to meet the supporters and those interested in learning more about the organization and its goals.

Tickets are now on sale for $165 and $185. They include general admission tickets to the race, round-trip transportation to and from D.C., tent admission, open bar and lunch buffet. The Members Hill option also includes a ticket to the area by the Winner’s Circle. To purchase tickets online, please visit http://2012vagoldcup.eventbrite.com/. Corporate sponsorships are also still available. For more information, please contact Leigh Chapman at (619) 871-9281. More information on The Langston Junior Boys and Girls Golf Club can be learned by watching this short video: http://youtu.be/GfVJBxt5VXs

24 Apr

By

IMPACT and The Loop 21 Salute the 40 Most Influential Young Professionals Under 40 in Washington

April 24, 2012 | By |

As the leading networking group for young professionals of color, IMPACT teamed up with one of the fastest growing minority-focused news sites in the country, The Loop 21, to identify the most influential young people of color in our nation’s capital. Nominations were open to the public for a three week period from January through February of this year, with the goal of selecting 40 individuals, under the age of 40, who have made the greatest impact on our nation through their work with Congress, the White House, media, or with major advocacy groups or consulting firms.

A judging panel comprised of Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY-11), Jamal Simmons, Jennifer Stewart, Keli Goff, and IMPACT Director Joe Briggs selected the final 40. Each week in April, the list has been revealed, 10 at a time, on a special page on The Loop21′s website.

IMPACT congratulates the final 40, and applauds their tireless work in their respective positions and offices. Washington would not work without them! They are:

Mikael Moore, Chief of Staff, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35)
Janaye Ingram, D.C. Bureau Chief, National Action Network
Brandon Andrews, Legislative Aide, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Rep. Andre Carson, Member of Congress, Representing Indiana’s 7th District
Cynthia Gordy, Reporter, The Root
Alyssa Gowens, Director, TwinLogic Strategies
Brandon Neal, Director of the Office of Small Business, U.S. Department of Transportation
Michele Jawando, General Counsel and Senior Advisor, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Tonya Williams, Director of Legislative Affairs, The Office of Vice President Joe Biden
Nicole Isaac, Special Assistant for Legislative Affairs, The Executive Office of the President of the United States
Joshua DuBois, Executive Director, White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Cassandra Young-McClenny, Legislative Director, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
Rep. Cedric Richmond, Member of Congress, Representing Louisiana’s 2nd District
Lanier Avant, Chief of Staff, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02)
Virgil Miller, Chief of Staff, Rep. Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
Chaka Burgess, Director of Global Government Affairs, Amgen, Inc.
Jeff Johnson, MSNBC Contributor and Executive Editor of Politic365.com
Barvetta Singletary, Policy Director, Assistant Democratic Leader Rep. James Clyburn (SC-06)
Michael Long, Dep. Director of Member Services, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA-08)
Maisha Leek, Chief of Staff, Rep. Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
Hope Goins, Director and Counsel, House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence
AJ Jones, Principal, The Podesta Group
Courtney Snowden, Principal, The Raben Group
Shuwanza Goff, Dep. Director of Legislative Operations, House Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (MD-05)
Daniella Gibbs Leger, VP for New Communities Initiatives, Center for American Progress
Heather Foster, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement
Stephanie Mickle, General Counsel, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Kimberly Marcus, National Director of African American Outreach, Democratic National Committee
William Jawando, Dep. Director of Strategic Partnerships, U.S. Department of Education
LaDavia Drane, Legislative Director, Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
Hassan Christian, Special Assistant, Rep. Hansen Clarke (MI-13)
Melanie Roussell, National Press Secretary, Democratic National Committee
Cory Horton, Senior Staff, House Committee on Homeland Security
Kristal Quarker, Professional Staff, House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Albert Sanders, Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee
Ben Branch, Senior Policy Advisor, Rep. Gregory Meeks (NY-06)
Zakiya Smith, Senior Education Policy Advisor, White House Domestic Policy Council
Velvet Johnson, Counsel, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Megan Moore, Dep. Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of Treasury

 

12 Apr

By

Maximize Your Online Presence Professionally, Recruiters Are Watching

April 12, 2012 | By |

By Shanel Adams

In the last few years, professional development gurus have warned job seekers about the effects of social media accounts. Thus, people have become focused on cleaning their Facebook page of the slightest inappropriateness and blocking their tweets from being viewed publicly. However, your professional presence online is more than employers being unable to see what you do, but displaying all of your professional traits to attract them.

Job recruiters are relying heavily on the digital presence of individuals when seeking candidates of employment. From online resumes to portfolios, recruiters are becoming more and more attracted to people by how they look online. The key to maximizing your attractiveness to recruiters is to have an outstanding online presence.

When creating a digital presence, avoid creating accounts that have little information about yourself that stands out to recruiters. For example, do not simply create a Linkedin account, but maximize the features within the site to display all of your work and qualities. Include more details than your traditional resume displays. Show projects that you did while working at current and positions. Market yourself in a way that is attractive and creative.

Additionally, another great way to take control of your online presence professionally is
by creating an online portfolio, your own personal website, or simply a blog conveying your professional abilities. This gives you the creative control to display your work, interests, biography and more without recruiters having to assume.

In an ever-growing technological World, a digital presence is imperative when seeking professional opportunities. Use the web to your advantage by presenting your skills to attract recruiters, rather than only focusing on erasing the Facebook pictures that may ward them away.

 

03 Apr

By

IMPACT Your World… Spring 2012

April 3, 2012 | By |

IMPACT is transitioning to a quarterly newsletter through which we hope to provide you with thoughtful pieces about topics that are relevant to the lives of young professionals. This quarter’s newsletter focuses on the intersection of politics and policymaking. Ifoemasinachi “Ify” Ike, the April 2011 IMPACT leader of the month, is a Capitol Hill professional staff member who has dedicated her career to advocating as a voice for the voiceless. Most recently, she led efforts to produce a Washington, DC rally in honor of Trayvon Martin as well as the Congressional panel discussion that followed. Her path to the halls of Congress provides a blueprint for other young professionals seeking to leverage policy and politics in order to be the change they wish to see in the world.

Mavis Baah provides an overview of what African American voters can expect from the Republican Presidential candidates. Activist and scholar Kevin Powell discusses the importance of voter protection in the upcoming election cycle. Shanel Adams and Lara Cole also write about voter disenfranchisement and the need for young professionals to be educated about and engaged in the upcoming election. Audrey  Nicoleau provides tips for all individuals seeking to become more informed about civic participation. Finally, Danielle Moodie-Mills addresses the question of race head on by addressing the ways in which race has impacted recent national conversations. No matter what your political affiliation, we hope that after reading this newsletter you decide to become more civically engaged.
 


IMPACT LEADER: A “Peek” Into Ifeomasinachi Ike

 

Ifeomasinachi Ike (better known as “Ify” which means “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” James 1:17) is an artist, athlete, advocate, and attorney. On a full academic scholarship, Ms. Ike left her hometown of Trenton, NJ to attend West Virginia University, obtaining her B.A. in Communication Studies, Minor in Art History, and her M.A. in Communication Theory & Research. After working at the State University of New York at Old Westbury for a year, Ms. Ike matriculated at The City University of New York School of Law. During her tenure at CUNY School of Law, Ms. Ike became the first African­American Student Government President, and CUNY BLSA’s first Fundraising Chair. During her third year in law school, Ms. Ike was appointed to the National Black Law Students Association board as the Corporate Relations Director. Her efforts resulted in new corporate sponsors, stronger mentor alliances, and over $500,000 towards NBLSA’s programmatic efforts. At NBLSA’s 40th Anniversary Gala, Ms. Ike was awarded the “Board Member of the Year” Award.

Read More: http://www.impact-dc.com/ifyike

 


Where They Stand: The Republican Candidates
By: Mavis Baah

Let’s face it: we’re used to President Barack Obama. We’ve grown accustomed to his leadership style (even if we don’t always agree with it), and we know how he approaches critical issues. To make an informed vote in the 2012 presidential election, we have to be just as familiar with the Republican candidates. Here’s how Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul plan to address important matters for people of color:

Read More

 


Voter ID: the American anti-democracy movement’s weapon of choice
By: Kevin Powell*

Anti-democracy forces in the U.S. are relentless.

Each time our nation takes a step forward, sure enough, a collective of well-financed anti-democracy naysayers comes along to shoot holes in the social and political progress of this country. Never mind that voting is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. constitution. Never mind that people have been killed, through decades and centuries, so that ordinary working Americans, including blacks and other people of color, women, and 18 year-olds could have this basic human and civil right. Never mind that the 15th amendment to the constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were added as extra layers of protection to insure democracy for all.

Read More

 


Election 2012, Voters Disenfranchised
by Shanel Adams

First appearances of voter disenfranchisement occurred during the Reconstruction Era. Blacks were lawfully allowed to vote, but discrimination led to acts that prevented their success in doing so. These actions ranged from black prospective voters having to correctly guess how many jelly beans were in a jar, to unreasonable literacy tests. In 2012, many fear this same process of preventing minority voters has returned.

Currently one of the most prominent forms of voter disenfranchisement is the implementation of voter ID laws. 30 states have enacted voter ID laws that will be effective during the upcoming presidential election. These laws require voters to show some form of identification in order to vote. Though this may seem like a simple request, the law will discourage potential voters because of the restriction. Some states are strictly requiring specific forms photo identification to vote.

Read More 

 


Access to the Ballot Box: Voter Suppression Laws
By: Lara Cole

Overnight a rolling tide of disenfranchising legislation has moved across the country that will further exacerbate existing problems within our electoral system. This is a war on voting used to present barriers and constraints that voters must overcome in order to prove they are worthy of casting a ballot. In 2012 we should be creating access to the ballot box and not building more barriers.

Read More

 


Impact Democracy: Engage and Educate Yourself
By: Audrey D. Nicoleau

The art of politics in a society striving to reach its teleological end as a democracy involves a delicate dance between the citizenry and its leaders. Both must negotiate consensus on the appropriate policies and procedures needed to form a peaceful and orderly society. Ideally, everyone within a democratic society, whether it be on the local or national level—should be equipped with the educational resources and analytical tools to find solutions to identified challenges.

Read More

 


Our Collective Truth: Race Matters*
By: Danielle Moodie-Mills

Over the past month, conversations about race have found their way through tragedy back into our living rooms and Facebook pages. From a very young age in this country you are taught not to see color or mention it for that matter—and that silence has proven deadly.

Color matters.

Read More

 


Flash Mobs Into Flash Lights: The Need for Diversity on Capitol Hill
By: Brandon Andrews

In a place where the boss’ job is predicated upon the ability to represent the multifaceted interests, experiences, and needs of their constituents and vicariously, the nation—diversity suffers.

The National Journal’s quadrennial “Hill People” project affirms that the hallways of Congress have and continue to be exceedingly white; and no I am not referring to the marble floors and archways.

Read More

03 Apr

By

Where They Stand: The Republican Candidates

April 3, 2012 | By |

By: Mavis Baah

Let’s face it: we’re used to President Barack Obama. We’ve grown accustomed to his leadership style (even if we don’t always agree with it), and we know how he approaches critical issues. To make an informed vote in the 2012 presidential election, we have to be just as familiar with the Republican candidates. Here’s how Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul plan to address important matters for people of color:

 

Job growth and the economy

 

Romney wants to keep tax rates from going up on higher incomes. His jobs plan would reduce the corporate income tax and encourage companies to hire more. He believes states, and not the federal government, are more equipped to retrain those who have been out of work for a long time.

 

Santorum proposes slashing corporate income tax rates in half, and eliminating such taxes for manufacturers. He would also remove the estate tax, and triple personal deductions for each child.

 

Gingrich believes that the key to job growth is tax reform. He would make the Bush tax cuts permanent, set corporate taxes at 12.5 percent, and create a national flat tax rate of 15 percent.

 

Paul’s approach focuses more on balancing the budget than a specific job creation program. He would like to get rid of income tax and the IRS altogether.

 

Healthcare

 

Romney established a program similar to the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts, but he would still repeal President Obama’s health care plan on day one of his presidency.

 

Santorum would also repeal Obama’s legislation, and allow individuals to purchase their own plans with pre-tax money.

 

Gingrich vows to repeal and replace the healthcare overhaul, and ask states to cover the sickest individuals through high-risk pools.

 

Paul favors repealing the law, and would instead offer tax credits and deductions for any medical expenses.

 

Immigration

 

Romney believes in the need for tighter border security, and doesn’t think it’s a good idea to offer in-state tuition credit to those who entered the country illegally.

 

Santorum says that a border fence should be finished, and if rules are enforced, undocumented immigrants will “self-deport.”

 

Gingrich also supports securing the border. He wants to create a path to legality, but not citizenship, for those who have ties to America through families, churches, and communities.

 

Paul opposes a border fence, but believes in raising security around the border. If elected, he would end birthright citizenship to children born in the US to undocumented immigrants.

 

Values

 

Romney was pro-choice at one point, but he now contends that he is against abortion. He also believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

 

Santorum is against abortion in any situation, and thinks Planned Parenthood should be defunded. He maintains that marriage is between a man and a woman.

 

Gingrich is against abortion, and against gay marriage.

 

Although Paul is anti-abortion and does not support same-sex marriage, he would rather leave these policies up to states, not the federal government.

***

Mavis Baah is a freelance writer and public relations professional based in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared in TIME, ESSENCE, Sister 2 Sister, and other media outlets. You can follow her on Twitter at @_MavisB or on Facebook.

03 Apr

By

Voter ID: the American anti-democracy movement’s weapon of choice

April 3, 2012 | By |

By: Kevin Powell*

Anti-democracy forces in the U.S. are relentless.

Each time our nation takes a step forward, sure enough, a collective of well-financed anti-democracy naysayers comes along to shoot holes in the social and political progress of this country. Never mind that voting is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. constitution. Never mind that people have been killed, through decades and centuries, so that ordinary working Americans, including blacks and other people of color, women, and 18 year-olds could have this basic human and civil right. Never mind that the 15th amendment to the constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were added as extra layers of protection to insure democracy for all.

Anti-democracy forces could care less. For they are thumbing their noses at this history, at human and civil rights, and instead, are promoting for all they’re worth the  “voter ID law” movement, which has been in play the past few years but is now amplified in 2012 because of the presidential election. This means there are now eight American states with voter photo ID laws. These laws vary from state to state in terms of what is “identification.” Some require an ID card with an expiration date. Others mandate that an ID be only state-issued and for the state where that person is voting. Still others demand a full name and address on the ID card. While others specifically prohibit even valid college IDs as proof of identity.

Given these new sets of rules, and the very real possibility that more of America’s 50 states will adopt similar measures, despite the movement’s legal setback in Wisconsin this week, it is little wonder that the Brennan Center for Justice recently reported that as many as five million eligible voters could have difficulty casting ballots, come Tuesday November 6, election day in America, including an estimated 800,000 in Texas alone.

And the most vulnerable to voter ID laws? Poor people of all races, and people of color, who have historically had to do battle with laws preventing them from voting, as well as senior citizens and college students. Then, there are groups like newly-married couples, or newly-divorced ones, the transgendered community, Native Americans, American citizens with immigrant family members, and those who may have recently lost their homes due to the foreclosure crisis.

What this translates into are additional costs per voter to secure new IDs, or birth or marriage certificates, or transportation fees to get to hours-long lines, and away from work and other gainful activity. Many will simply shrug their shoulders and not bother to vote. And this, I feel, is the ultimate goal of the voter ID movement.

This is why Rose Sanders says there is one American  “law” that has never been repealed: the law of circumvention. Mrs. Sanders should know. Not only is she a long-time resident of Selma, Alabama (a city partially responsible for that Voting Rights Act of 1965), but she is also the founder of the National Voting Rights Museum and co-creator of the 21st Century Young Leadership Movement camp, which educates youth about, among many things, the history of voting in America. She is a daughter of the American South, having lived in North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama. Before settling in Selma, with her husband Hank, also a civil rights veteran and community leader, Rose Sanders lived in a neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama named  “Dynamite Hill”, because African Americans’ homes were often bombed as a terror tactic to keep them from voting.

Ironically, I first met Rose Sanders in the mid 1980s when I was among a group of college students who had journeyed to Alabama to re-register voters knocked from voter rolls by Reagan-era policies—not unlike the ID practice today. Sanders is clear that the more things change, the more they stay the same:

“Every means that was used to circumvent the 15th amendment has re-surfaced with new names. Voter ID is the new poll tax. Efforts to stop immigrants or relatives of immigrants from voting are no different than the fugitive slave laws and grandfather clauses that were once used.”

This is why Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, America’s oldest civil rights organization, has traveled this week to Geneva to speak before a United Nations panel in Switzerland. Generally the UN’s human rights council hears cases from such troubled areas as the Middle East and Africa. But this is not the first time Americans have done this. The irony that this is happening with an African American president sitting in the White House is not lost.

This is also why organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), must be exposed. Since its founding in the early 1980s, Alec has very quietly played a major role in American legislation, including dramatic changes to voter laws. Much of Alec’s base is Republican or conservative, and mostly white, and much of its funding comes from corporations, corporate trade groups and corporation foundations. Alec has, in turn, pushed bills it wants to see in place, state by state. Little wonder that when we hear the clarion cry “We want our country back,” it is really coded language to say, “we want an America where not everyone has access to the ballot or the American dream. Just as was the case in the years before the civil rights movement.”

This is why it is such a huge mistake for any leader to refer to what is happening as “voter suppression.” We need to continually call it what it is: anti-democracy. Because only anti-democracy forces would go to such lengths to make voting that difficult for that many, especially when the Department of Justice has stated, very clearly, that voter fraud is not rampant in our society. And we need to challenge it from every angle, including voter registration and education drives.

For this is much bigger than one presidential election. This is about the future of our democracy.

*This article was previously published on TheGuardian.com blog.

Kevin Powell is an activist, public speaker, and author or editor of 11 books, including his newest titled, “Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays.” Kevin is also a weekly blogger for The Guardian. You can email him at kevin@kevinpowell.net or follow him on Twitter at @kevin_powell.

03 Apr

By

Election 2012, Voters Disenfranchised

April 3, 2012 | By |

by Shanel Adams

First appearances of voter disenfranchisement occurred during the Reconstruction Era. Blacks were lawfully allowed to vote, but discrimination led to acts that prevented their success in doing so. These actions ranged from black prospective voters having to correctly guess how many jelly beans were in a jar, to unreasonable literacy tests. In 2012, many fear this same process of preventing minority voters has returned.

Currently one of the most prominent forms of voter disenfranchisement is the implementation of voter ID laws. 30 states have enacted voter ID laws that will be effective during the upcoming presidential election. These laws require voters to show some form of identification in order to vote. Though this may seem like a simple request, the law will discourage potential voters because of the restriction. Some states are strictly requiring specific forms photo identification to vote.

On March 12, Wisconsin’s voter ID law that was practiced in the beginning of this year, was declared unconstitutional by a state judge. However, many states continue to sign similar laws into action. On March 16, Pennsylvania, a battle state, signed a voter ID law into action.

Similar to voter ID laws, redistricting has served as a potential form of disenfranchising voters in 2012. Redistricting is the process of “redrawing” districts to separate voters who would typically be in the same district. This action is usually targeted toward minority-dense areas in hopes of separating the number of voters who would typically vote for progressive representatives.

The redistricting in Detroit is a prime example of this practice. A densely African-American city with a growing Latino population, Detroit’s plan for redistricting brought attention to the city’s NAACP branch and eventually the U.S. Department of Justice. The governor of Michigan attested that the redistricting met all regulations, and the new district will affect future midterm elections.

Whether it is redistricting or voter ID laws, the right to vote is at stake for minority groups in America. However, several organizations, such as the NAACP, are banning together to protect the vote of the minority. As the presidential election approaches, the fight against voter suppression is imperative.