I need to make something absolutely clear for all. I am actually a fan of Congressman Adriano Espaillat, the first dominican-American to serve in Congress.
I’ve been supportive of his historic congressional campaign ever since he attended the 2016 #AfricanVoicesMatter Town Hall I helped organize as the press contact – a service I routinely offer to the black immigrant community.
Having said that, I’ll admit that I lost a hold of myself at last night’s community board meeting in the Bronx, where the Congressman spoke on Pres. Trump’s first 100 days. It was a packed room at Tracey Towers, a strong-hold of the Ghanaian community in America, and I was there to hear from my Congressman and participate in my community board meeting.
If you know me as the journalist and social activist that I am, you will hopefully understand that my questions to the Congressman are well in line with the intensity I, sometimes, conduct myself. I won’t apologize for that because we are living in times of crisis in America. And after a dispiriting and wholesome assessment of Pres. Trump’s first 100 days in Office by the Congressman I was painfully reminded of the challenges ahead.
The first question I posed to the Congressman was whether he would go back to Congress, organize his fellow Democrats and find ways of shutting down congressional proceedings in light of the monstrosity of the anti-immigrant and anti-American initiatives of the federal government. I even cited Congressman Joe Louis’s shutdown of congress last year over the lack of assault weapons restrictions as an example of the pointed activism I was talking about.
In his response, the Congressman indicated that he intended to exhaust other less confrontational means of activating his congressional peers towards vigorous resistance in Congress. While the Congressman had a right to proceed in Congress in any manner he saw fit, I strongly felt his undocumented background coupled with the increasingly dangerous times for immigrant families necessitated a different kind of response. After all, a number of Democratic lawmakers on the national stage actually voted to confirm some of Pres. Trump’s key diabolical appointments before citizens around the nation clobbered them into resistance mode.
But, it was my second question to my Congressman that seemed to set the stage for my forcible removal from yesterday’s community board meeting. I asked the Congressman to take responsibility for shepherding State Senator Marisol Alcantara into the position he was vacating and her decision to join the Independent Democratic Conference – a group of 8 Senate Democrats who openly caucus with New York’s Senate Republicans in blocking or watering down progressive legislation in New York State.
As the video shows, a number of well-dressed men surrounded me as I pushed the Congressman for a response and even carried me outside the forum before the Congressman intervened to allow me back into the hall for his final response.
After things quieted a bit, the Congressman justified Senator Alcantara’s collusion with Senate Republicans with the usual recounting of her distinguished labor background. The Congressman also justified his support of the Senator by heralding the IDC’s part in pressuring Republicans in securing $10 million dollars towards an immigrant legal defense fund in New York State. Of course, that was a laughable accomplishment to tout when New York City alone needs well over $150 million to ensure all immigrants facing a judge for unlawful entry into the US or criminal/civil violations are provided with legal representation.
I invite you to watch the incidents I have described above to make your own conclusions, as this is only my recollection of the events described above.
I am also writing all of this in response to inquiries from individuals who have started criticizing my conduct in yesterday’s forum, although some of which is well-meaning, but misdirected. My unglamorous self-chosen occupations revolve around bringing voice to the concerns of marginalized communities in New York State as a journalist and activist. B
But, I saw the need to explain myself in full and to give you the chance to view a video of yesterday’s incident as not even one of the many media present have reported this incident in the news. I know that’s not a shocking revelation to all.
To all the detractors mobilizing to demonize me and cast me as some sort of an angry Black man, so be it. My previous employer, Bertha Lewis of The Black Institute said it straight when she warned that our President and the Republicans mean to kill Black and Brown people. There is simply no time for minced words and coddling of our elected officials.
But, to all well meaning critics who, still support and hold sway over the various IDC members, PLEASE become educated on the role of the IDC in increasing the vulnerability of immigrant families in New York and their culpability in helping Senate Republicans block or strip down the teeth of legislation that would bring single payer healthcare to New York, court-ordered funding for failing schools, increased access to women’s health and other other progressive measures passed in the Assembly but, but dead in the IDC-Republican controlled Senate.
We need everyone in New York to rise above regular politics because the worst is yet to come before things get better. Let’s think critically and mobilize to unite the majority Democrats in New York Senate so that we can finally begin to make progress for our vulnerable communities. There is no time for ignorant politics in our own backyards while we harp of national Democrats to toe the line of resistance.