Sunday, June 24, 2007

On the Immigration Debate, pt. 1

Peace and blessings,

Due to my "i'm glad the semester's over, now i'm going to big chill for a month" mode, the page has not been updated in a little over two weeks. Since beginning Monday I will be working and thus busy, the page will be updated more often as I'll be in "productivity" mode (at least that's the plan, lol).

For a while now, and especially within the last 2-3 years, the immigration debate has probably been the most important wide-scale civil and human rights issue facing the U.S. As with any debate, there are generally two sides that the media "portrays" as being in opposition to one another. One side generaly believes that immigration, especially illegal immigration has gotten so out of hand in the U.S. that it is affecting U.S. - born citizens' ability to receive health and social services, as well as employment. This view holds that the U.S. needs more stringent policies for illegal immigration, and possibly deport immigrants who are currently in the U.S. illegally. The other side generally believes that immigrants, legal and illegal, have and continue to contribute to the economy and culture of the U.S. Moreover, immigrants are first and foremost human beings who, like the everyone else, are doing the best they can to provide a stable, healthy life for themselves and their families. According to this view, any immigration reform should keep these two points in mind.

Actions have been taken on both sides to address this issue. Recently, some states have already
  • passed laws limiting opportunities for illegal immigrants.
  • On the other side,
  • faith-based institutions and organizations
  • are arguing for and taking steps to protect illegal immgrants from ostracism and persecution. This movement is known as
  • the new sanctuary movement,
  • which consists of organizations providing services, shelter, and solace to illegal immigrants.

    Regardless of which side you align more closely with, one thing's for sure:
  • immigration reform must be fair and just for all involved.
  • More on this issue will be coming soon, but I just wanted to try and frame the debate for those who may not be familiar with the issue (e.g. some people may live in a state where illegal immigration is not a serious issue), as well as for those who are aware of the debate, but feel that it is not important to them personally. My goal with part two of this post, will be to hopefully address how this issue is not only important for Christians, but for all humanity.

    What are your takes on the immigration debate? On which side do you align with? How do you think it should be addressed? Weigh in and speekonit...

    Saturday, June 09, 2007

    Worlds Apart

    Peace and blessings,

    The following topic I am about to discuss and the question I am going to pose to the readers stems from two influences. The first influence has to do with a graduate course I took about a year ago. It was an urban education course and we dealt a great deal with theories which sought to best explain the past and present educational disparities affecting children and their families. Most, if not all of these theories can be grouped in either one of two categories. On one end, there are "race-oriented" theories that generally argue that the main source of inequality within the U.S. is race, such that there is a dominant race and ideology which oppresses and trumps other races and ideologies. On the other end, there are "class-oriented" theories, which generally argue that to understand the extent of inequality in the U.S., we must understand the ways in which the U.S. is stratified based on class, and the effect of people's class levels on their(quality of)life chances. I'm not going to describe these theories in detail, but just wanted to provide a "snap - shot" to which to base the discussion. However, it is important to note that by categorizing these theories as race - and class - oriented I am not saying that they only focus on one or the other. Instead, these categorizations reflect the extent to which the theorists' in their respective camps felt that either race or class was more important in understanding injustice and inequality in the U.S.
    Ok, enough of the academic mumbo-jumbo, lol. I know that few would disagree with the idea that both race and class are important with respects to understanding inequality in the U.S. Furthermore, I agree with the idea that issues of race and class are related, and that they are in combination with, not in isolation from each other (Collins, 1990). For example, assuming that the socioeconomic status of both individuals are identical, most would agree that a poor white person would still be in a more privelaged position in the U.S. than a poor black or brown person. Although this may be true and I believe that any problem entails a myriad of factors, I think that in some instances, some factors are more important in explaining inequality in a given context than others. From my personal experience and point of view, it seems that whereas as race issues appeared to be more salient during the times of slavery up to the civil rights era, it seems that class - related issues have become more important in explaining contemporary injustice and inequality in the U.S.
    Despite witnessing and being a victim of racist beliefs and actions, my position on this issue stems from two related beliefs. First, it seems that at least within my experience, there is a difference (nowadays) between the effects of racism and the effects of classism. With regards to race, racist beliefs and actions have many effects on the individual or people to whom these beliefs and actions are directed. One can be affected symbolically (one interprets a racist comment about himself or herself to be "true"), psychologically (internalization of racist beliefs and actions), socially (some groups are privelaged over others), and/or materially (an applicant does not get hired because of his or her race). With regards to class differences, it appears that the implications of these differences are primarily social and material. In other words, in contemporary U.S. society it appears that one's life chances are more determined by the socioeconomic resources people, their parents, and/or ancestors have or had, than on their race. As mentioned earlier, this is not to say that race and socioeconomic resources are unrelated, because it is clear that there are serious race trends with regards to who belongs to the upper, middle, working, and lower classes. However, what I am saying is that one's economic resources, and the social networks one establishes as a result, have a significant bearing on the quality of instutions "made available" to him or her, and on their life chances.
    Second, it is this emphasis on social and material effects that I think makes class issues an extremely signifcant factor in U.S. inequality due to the sharp distinctions often drawn between upper and lower classes. I feel that in general (because there are always exceptions), distinctions based on race in the U.S. were more sharp in the past than they are now. For instance, there has been much collaboration and unity amongst races in certain contexts, such as friendships, relationships, and organizations. In contrast, there does not appear to be (or at least I am not aware of) such collaboration and unity among people of certain economic classes. It seems much more likely for one to have friends and relationships with people of different races, than for upper class people to associate with, let alone establish meaningful relationships with working class or lower class people. Because upper class people's life chances are often so drastically different than those of the working and lower class, there are less opportunities for these groups' paths to cross in meaningful ways. People of different races but of the same class level are more likely to come together on common issues than people of the same race but from different class levels.

    As these are only my thoughts from my own observations and experiences, I am interested in what others think. Based on your own experiences and observations, would you say that race or class is more important in explaining contemporary U.S. inequality? Or do you think that they are so intertwined that one cannot be viewed as a more important determinant of U.S. inequality than the other? Weigh in and speekonit..

    Collins, P.H. (1990). Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. NY: Routledge

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Featured Artist: Japhia Life

    Peace and blessings,

    The next artist to be featured is
  • Japhia Life.

  • I first heard him on a track called "Love" on Beatmart's "Best of the Submissions" vol. 1, and have been a fan ever since. He currently has three albums out, but the one I am featuring here is his first album,
  • Pages of Life.
  • Despite being a short album, it was critically acclaimed by various hip-hop sites. I'm not going to talk to much about his music, because the music speaks for itself. Enjoy and be blessed...

    The first track is called "Love is the answer," and is a hip-hop ballad dedicated to God and those who reflect God's love through their actions toward others. This track also features Rob Hodge (at the time his name was Solomon), who was featured on this site on a few tracks with Japhia Life in
  • January.

  • This next track is called "Precious Memories," and is a deeply reflective track about his life experiences and relationship with God. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Click play and you'll see why.

    This track is the title track, entitled "Pages of Life." Similar to "Precious Memories," this track addresses reflects and describes the experiences of those struggling to find their way, and the way in which our struggles are often directly or indirectly cries out to God.

    This album, as well as his other albums can be heard and purchased at
  • which is like iTunes for Christian hip-hop. What do you think of the tracks? Weigh in and speekonit...