ICE drops threat to international students

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reversed course on requiring international college students to take at least some courses in person or be deported or denied visas.

100 Questions and Answers About Americans book coverThe announcement did not come from ICE. Massachusetts federal district Judge Allison Burroughs, who was to hear oral arguments on the issue, announced the reversal Tuesday.

Several universities, governments and companies have sued the federal government about the change, which entangled visas, COVID-19, reopening schools and all kinds of budgets. The lawsuits charged that the new directive was arbitrary and capricious and violated a law about limits on the powers of federal agencies.

More than a million international students attend U.S. universities and many were already worried, because of the pandemic, about whether they could continue their studies.

The issue began in March when the pandemic and a rush to online instruction led ICE to release student visa holders from a requirement that they attend in-person classes to remain in the United States.

The push to again require in-person classes paralleled a push to open schools at all levels.

Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley had said before the reversal, “The worldwide pandemic we’re all facing together has only highlighted the need for more global collaboration, not less.”

“100 Questions and Answers About Americans” was created in the School of Journalism at Michigan State to help international students navigate U.S. culture and stereotypes about Americans. It is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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Redskins team name to be retired

A disagreement that festered for decades will reportedly take a new turn Monday when Washington’s National Football League team announces a new name for the team.

But that might not be the end of the story.

A change in the name, which some say was chosen to honor a Native American player and others say keeps a slur in our national conversation, will not likely pass quietly.

The times that deliver this change, resisted for so long by owners and some fans, are also witness to heightened battles over monuments, product brands (which is what a team name is) and equity. This battle could be the most widely debated of all. The Chicago Blackhawks hockey team last week defended its decision to stick with its name, calling it an honorific.

Usually, when a sports jersey is retired, it is a cause for celebration. This is different. People will be putting on the jerseys in defiance.

There will be a backlash that makes the name more prominent for a while, and then most of us will get used to the new name. Some news outlets retired the mascot name years ago, opting for “Washington’s football team” as a standard option or one that individual journalists may choose on their own.

One hopes that, after the initial splash, we can get down to talking about the issues that led to the choice of the name, its defense and now, apparently, its demise.

“100 Questions, 500 Nations: A Guide to Native America” is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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What is Native American tribal sovereignty?

A U.S. Supreme Court decision today reaffirmed the sovereignty of tribal land covering a large part of eastern Oklahoma.

Indian Country Today reported “The decision was hailed as a win for tribal sovereignty but also raised questions about its potential implications.”

Cover to a 100-question guide about Native AmericansThe 5-4 decision, McGirt v. Oklahoma, affirms the Muscogee (Creek) tribe’s reservation status, upholding the argument that Congress never disestablished its reservation. The decision does not affect land ownership, but does affect legal and criminal jurisdiction. The Native American Journalists Association explains in a reporting guide.

Michigan State University’s Bias Busters project worked with the association to re-release it guide,”100 Questions, 500 Nations: A Guide to Native America.”

The guide has a whole chapter on sovereignty, which is related to this court decision. Here is one question and answer from that chapter:

What is tribal sovereignty?
Just like states, tribes have attributes of sovereignty to govern their own territory and internal affairs as domestic, dependent nations. The status of tribes as self-governing nations is affirmed and upheld by treaties, case law and the U.S. Constitution. Legal scholars explain that tribes
are inherently sovereign, meaning they do not trace their existence to the United States.

“100 Questions, 500 Nations: A Guide to Native America” is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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Asians, Blacks report Covid-related bias

Couple wear face masks on sidewalk.

Couple wear face masks on sidewalk. Unsplash photo by Julian Wan.

The Pew Research Center reported July 1 that, besides the Covid-19 concerns that everyone is dealing with, Asian and Black people are experiencing a rise in virus-related discrimination.

Almost 40% of American adults said they have noticed a rise in anti-Asian bias connected with the epidemic and 30% have notice a rise in anti-Black bias, Pew reported.

Respondents also reported smaller increases in bias against White and Hispanic people.

Incidents ranged from jokes and slurs to aggression. Pew said some people reported greater sympathy to Black people, whose socioeconomics and health histories make them more susceptible to the disease.

Asian advocacy groups in California reported in July that more than 800 hate incidents related to Covid-19 were reported against Asian Americans from mid-March through mid-June.

The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and Chinese for Affirmative Action solicited reports from people and recorded physical assaults and potential civil rights violations including discrimination at work, establishments and in transportation. Asian American women reported almost twice as many problems as men.

Mental health care professionals have warned that the increase in bigotry and xenophobia will have a harmful echo for people who experience it.

The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council has asked for California’s involvement in stoping the discrimination. The organization has called on the White House to stop implying that Asian people are responsible for the disease. As recently as July 6, President Donald Trump tweeted about the “China virus.” On March 24, Trump had said he would stop calling Covid-19 the China virus.

“100 Questions and Answers About East Asian Cultures” is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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Online class rule targets international students, universities

International college students in U.S.

Source: Institute of International Education

With fall classes to begin in less than two months, international students and colleges in the United States had their already complicated plans upset again this week. The White House said that students may not be in the United States if all their classes are online. Universities have increased online offerings, and some students want them, as protection against the Covid-19 virus.

But the new rule means that international students on education visas will either be denied entry into the United States or will have to return to their home countries.

On July 6, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced, “Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

Reuters reported, “The announcement blindsided academic institutions grappling with the logistical challenges of safely resuming classes …” Reuters said this reversed federal rules from March that allowed international students to move online when the pandemic forced colleges to stop in-person classes.

With budgets cratered by Covid-19 and a major recession, colleges must figure out how to hang onto billions of dollars in international tuition.

The U.S. Department of Commerce report that international students put $45 billion into the U.S. economy in 2018.

The Institute of International Education reported that 1,095,299 international students were in the United States in 2018-2019. Some were in colleges and universities, and some were in Optional Practical Training programs.

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AP capitalizes Black; newsrooms should follow and explain

On June 13, this website wrote about newspaper style and advocated capitalizing Black when referring to race, ethnicity or culture. This was in exception to Associated Press style, used throughout the journalism industry. Our post explained that students in the Bias Busters class in the Michigan State University School of Journalism broke with the AP five years ago in publishing “100 Questions and Answers About African Americans.”

Book cover for 100 Questions & Answers About African AmericansThe students decided to capitalize Black, as well as White, and to carry that style in future guides in the series, which now numbers about 20 guides.

On Friday, the Associated Press changed its style.

John Daniszewski, vice president of standards, wrote Friday that AP’s decision to capitalize Black “conveys an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa. The lowercase black is a color, not a person.”

The AP has also begun capitalizing Indigenous for similar reasons.

The day before the AP made its move, CNN announced it would capitalize Black and White.

Three days before the AP changed, the Los Angeles Times made the same decision. Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine was quoted this way: “The conversation taking place at the Los Angeles Times and across the country reflects a necessary and long-overdue shift in thinking about racism. Without exception, The Times is opposed to racism.”

The Times noted that NBC-owned TV stations, McClatchy newspapers and the National Association of Black Journalists had recently adopted the capitalization. The newspaper noted that the Seattle Times made the change in 2019, and that others had followed.

The Bias Busters project at Michigan State applauds the change. It was a long time coming.

This is how we explained our break with Associated Press style in 2015:

“In ‘100 Questions and Answers About African Americans,’ we capitalize Black when it refers to people of the African diaspora. For consistency, we also capitalize White as a demographic term.

“Capitalization has been controversial. Some people who prefer to identify as Black want the term capitalized. They take capitalization as a sign of equality to African American, Native American, Asian American, Hispanic and Latino. Those terms are capitalized because, except for ‘native,’ all are proper nouns.

“The case for lowercasing is that this is convention. This is the way it is in the Associated Press Stylebook used by many journalists. Following AP style and our mainstream peers would seem to enhance professionalism and credibility. Certainly, it wouldn’t raise any questions. But no publication is bound by AP style. Many adopt exceptions that make sense for them.

“For us, in the context of this series, the reasons for capitalizing Black as a racial, ethnic and cultural identifier outweigh conventions. We will capitalize Black in this and future guides in the series and as we update earlier guides.”

We support AP’s reversal, but certainly take no credit for it. Rather, we would like newsrooms not to silently “follow AP style” as journalists so often do. We would like to see them deliberate, discuss and declare to readers and audiences why they are changing their past practices.

This is much more than a change of style. It is a change of heart and mind. Explaining it is rooted in our ethical obligation to be transparent and accountable.

“100 Questions and Answers About African Americans” is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media platform (think Twitter or YouTube) where people post short videos they make themselves. They are often dance videos, but don’t have to be, and are often funny, but can be serious, too.

Two incidents this week catapulted TikTok over the generational barrier into the attention spans of older people.

One was a TikTok in which singer/songwriter Kirby criticized the racial symbolism of Aunt Jemima pancake mix, saying Black Lives Matter, even at breakfast. With millions of hits, it was credited with hastening the end of that brand.

Then, at the end of the week, a legion of TikTok users reportedly trolled President Donald Trump by sending fake RSVPs to his Tulsa campaign appearance, leading him to claim interest from 1 million people. On rally day, June 20, the event could not fill a 19,000-seat arena and canceled an outdoor event that was set up to accommodate overflow crowds.

In response, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a shoutout on Twitter to TikTok users and Zoomers and referenced race.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweet

Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID

“100 Questions and Answers About African Americans” is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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What were the Stonewall riots?

This is the short answer, from “100 Questions and Answers About Gender Identity:”

The Stonewall Inn was a LGBTQ+ nightclub in Greenwich Village raided by police on June 28, 1969. Raids at such clubs were not unusual in the 1960s. This raid escalated into rioting, and protests followed. The following June, pride parades were held in memory of Stonewall. In more recent years, some activists have said the role of transgender people at Stonewall has been minimized.

Gay pride rainbow flag

That makes this month the 50th anniversary of the first pride parades. Plus, as the Stonewall riots were a response to police brutality, today’s demonstrations against police brutality are an echo of Stonewall.

The intersectional nature of gay and trans people who are also Black makes this an especially powerful time. Demonstrations at the Stonenwall Inn against police brutality began occurring early this month.

“100 Questions About Sexual Orientation” is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

“100 Questions and Answers About Gender Identity” is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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How many Dreamers are there?

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday announced a 5-4 vote to block a 2017 move by President Donald Trump to end DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Instituted in 2012, the program currently protects about 650,000 people brought into the country illegally from facing deportation.

New moves to rescind the program in ways that satisfy the court are possible.

Who are these 650,000 people? CNN gives a profile of DACA recipients.

  • Although they come from all over the world, about eight in 10 came from Mexico.
  • 45% live in California or Texas.
  • They pay an estimated $1.7 billion a year in taxes.
  • They have 250,000 children who are U.S. citizens.

On a 1-vote margin, the court ruled that the order to end the program was based on a failure to follow rules rather than the the merit of the program.

Want to know about immigration to the United States? Get “100 Questions and Answers About Immigrants to the U.S.” from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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What are reparations for slavery?

Protests of the killing by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis has re-energized calls for reparations for slavery in the United States. Today, the United Nations’ chief of civil rights called for reparations by countries around the world for slavery and colonialism.

Reparations are a highly divisive issue.

But what are they?

Book cover for 100 Questions & Answers About African AmericansAccording to “100 Questions and Answers About African Americans,” reparations “are made to right past wrongs. They are often payments. The United States has paid more than $1.5 billion to settle claims made by Black farmers in a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The case was called Pigford v. Glickman. It was about discrimination in farm loans and assistance paid between 1981 and 1996. In 1989, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) began introducing bills to create a commission to study more sweeping reparations for events dating back to slavery. Those bills have not advanced. Japanese Americans interned during World War II have received $1.6 billion in reparations and a formal apology from the U.S. government. Native Americans have received several payments including a $3.4 billion settlement in 2012. ”

Reparation is one of several controversial issues including racism, systemic racism, intersectionalism and white privilege explained clearly in this guide.

“100 Questions and Answers About African Americans” is available from Amazon or the Front Edge Publishing bookstore.

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