RACE for Mayor 2018: Dear HBG Snowflakes – todays NOT the day for ICE

Considering the days popular topics of a Blizzard storm, recent ICE raids, and the role of race in our upcoming Mayoral election, please pardon these corney double entendres. 

As the snow accumulates and many of us fret over how to dig out of the snowy mess, we have neighbors – mothers and children who are now faced with serious problems that will not be relieved by a warm weather thaw. Families have been broken up and reports have surfaced that ICE agents have even targeted Spanish mass on Market St. Many are concerned about the social impacts of these raids, while on the other hand, the federal agents cite the need for security, law and order in our fair city. 

ICE is arresting and detaining people without immigration court orders, dressed as civilians and using unidentified vehicles,” said Maria Alejandra Hernandez, of MILPA, which stands for Movement of Immigrant Leaders in Pennsylvania. ICE refers to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. “Our families in the Harrisburg area have been targeted just on the fact that if they look Hispanic, they must be undocumented,” Hernandez said. – Pennlive

Local social/political activist & blogger, Sean Kitchen, alleges that Mayor Papenfuse’s has a “dismissive attitude towards families being ripped apart by ICE agents on the Hill,” and it was Mayoral Candidate Jennie Jenkins who exclusively offered her comment to Harrisburg100I feel compassion for the families affected by the raids.” This stark contrast in attitude and the ripple effect that it has on the community could help to illustrate the influence of race being a key factor in the upcoming Harrisburg Mayoral election. According to census data, the estimated demographic makeup of our city:

  • ~52% African-American
  • ~30% White
  • ~18% Hispanic 
  • <5% Native American, Asian, or other

Currently with 7 potential candidates in the race, this demographic picture is well represented. And of the current candidates for Mayor of Harrisburg, Lewis Butts has become the most engaged in taking on hatred and racial injustice, and says we must get started “building the bridges to racial harmony..starts with a plan that unites the base on principles of love and inclusiveness,” and believes that he has the solution which involves being able to talk openly about race without spreading animosity. 

    Of course, attaining this Jedi level of natural racial insight comes with its fair share of criticisms. Tara Leo Auchey, who also authors a blog, is a very pro-city advocate and a well respected community leader, who studied and discussed racial issues in depth, has expressed an extreme view. In a most ironic turn of events, during a recent Facebook exchange between Tara and Butts, the position taken by Auchey, a white woman who is sort of advocating against the typical white POV, and instead blaming racism on a systemic pro-white society structure, conflicts with that of her old friend Lewis Butts, who disagrees in his response, where he does not blame white privledge, but rather he sounds like he is spreading the cause and effect of racism out over the broad spectrum of humans. 

    In response to Harrisburg100’s coverage, Auchey’s commentary later described the debate as a “complicated exchange that has been boiled down to an ambiguous allusion to the “debate,” which I (didn’t have) had with Mayoral Candidate Lewis Butts.” This was followed by more of her thesis on structural white supremacy being responsible for all racism.  “I stated that only White People can be Racist because Racism is a socially constructed power structure that privileges Whiteness and operates to maintain that system of power and privilege.” 

    Now this narrative may hold some weight, but the ambiguity of her argument boils down to what she describes as a “difference between Racism and racial discrimination.” Contrary to her claims, these are two terms with nearly the same definition that can be used almost interchangeably. In a post-debate interview, Butts admits about Auchey: “Tara has some issues..that she feels she doesn’t have..real issues” and that “she is twisted..and she think she is right.”

    Question: Tara, can white people be racist against white people?

    And with all due respect for Tara, in disagreement with part of her ideology, it could be said that perhaps she has become overly-enlightened in this areana and in-turn, perverted the essence in the pursuit of equality. However on a more cooperative note, she does support discussions that elevate civic engagement and she is open to freely speak on race in a peaceful and productive manner, and that is very agreeable with the intentions of Harrisburg100. 

    Language continues to evolve and in this day and age, it has become increasingly prevalent that terminology are being redefined based on ones ideological, cultural or polical views. With so many fiercely divided opinions, the useage of various terms varies depending on the topic, and the views of the person who is using said terminology. Interpretations can vary depending on generational gaps, cultural differences experience or educational level, and language barriers. 

    So what is the definition of snowflake? It has been discussed in this USA Today article. A word that has been used politically to describe, in older forms – a type of fascist or Nazi, a claim that has been disputed by snopes. In the 1860s, a “snowflake” was a person who was against the abolition of slavery, according to Merriam-Webster. During the 1970s, snowflake was used as a derogatory term for white or black people who were perceived as acting white. And in more recent descriptions, it has been used with a negative connotation towards the millennial generation and sometimes the ultra-liberals and progressives. Recently, snowflake has been defined here as a (noun): the young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations. 

    ‘Snowflake’ is used in the title of this article as a reference to a large snow storm that we are experiencing, and simultaneously serves as a symbol in the ‘Battle‘ of ideology, and its influence in our neighborhoods. 

    We all spend our snow days in a different way. Some like to cuddle up with hot cocoa and a movie or book. Others enjoy the bundle up, snowball fights and sleding of our childhood. Some prefer to embark on the adventure of snow removal, and oh thank heaven for our first responders. The essential functions of places like hospitals and even some of our friends in the financial industry had to brave the blizzard weather this morning to serve their duty. There are so many differences between people, yet we all have a responsibility to live together in harmony in our fair city. And all of these differences lead to the beautiful chaos which makes our world go around. Everybody is different regardless of race, sex, culture, religion or other form of identity. Our job as good citizens is to treat everybody as equally important, even when we disagree. 

    Harrisburg100 ✌🏽

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