Paradigm Shift: Interracial Marriage

A Paradigm Shift:

Interracial Marriage

            “L is for the way you look at me. O is for the only one I see. V is very, very extraordinary. E is even more than anyone that you adore” (Cole). Love. It is a crazy idea that two people could be bound together on an emotional and spiritual level. “What were the chances, we’d be sharing love? Before the night was through” (Sinatra). Love. Two souls becoming one, sometimes even getting married. “Then come on, oh come on. Let’s get it on, oh baby. Let’s get it on, let’s love baby” (Gaye). Love. And in some instances, after some planning, or not, kids can be a result. However, during history’s progression, some people bound love up into a small box, only accessible to the people who fit the mold. Not long ago, interracial marriage casted a dark shadow on the Civil Rights movement. From the 1960’s to now, society has made leaps and bounds in the acceptance of love between different people. After all, “love makes the world go round” (Jackson).

To understand the importance of the shift in popular opinion from one of abhorrence to acceptance in regards to interracial marriage the stories of persecution faced by the engagers must be told. In the early 1960’s, a lovely couple formed in the midst of the segregationist south, specifically the state of Mississippi. Burleigh Lester, sergeant of the local police force, would sneak his love, African-American Sandra Ann Taylor, into the drive-ins. Obviously, they could not be seen together, as it would cause the utmost chaos in their small town. A scandal so big, it would probably outshine the soon-to-occur Watergate scandal. Nevertheless, love persisted. Their love began as all do, at first sight. Once he saw her, Burleigh simply could not stay away. He would eat at Sandra’s father’s restaurant constantly just to be around her. Eventually, he wrote her a note, “you sure are pretty.” They were smitten. Now, most of the Black community knew that they were going steady; but, they kept it a secret from the White community. That is not to say their relationship was without bumps. Upon their engagement, Sandra’s friends told her that it was a mistake to marry a White man. Likewise, Burleigh’s mother disowned him for marrying a Black woman. They knew what they were getting into, marrying in a state where the miscegenation penalty was punishable with a decade in prison, so they fled. Escaping north to Chicago, choosing flight over fight because their love was forbidden. Forbidden because of the colors of their skin; something which they could not control. However, they could control their fate, and they chose love, free from hate (Larsson 114-119).

Unfortunately, not all interracial relationships from the early 20th Century ended with such a happy ending. Some even resulted in legal action against the “perpetrators” of interracial marriage. In the case of Carl and Elaine Neil, the judicial system charged them with outlandish crimes such as prostitution and drug dealing as an excuse to removed them from a white-majority area of New York City (Larsson 120-130). Nevertheless, the shift in popular opinion around interracial marriage began to change in the late 1960’s with the Loving’s. The Loving’s were a small stone casted into a political ocean, which soon formed a ripple which turned into a tidal wave of equality and justice that barreled towards Washington D.C. with all the ferocity of a tsunami.

In 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter exchanged vows in the nation’s capital. Eventually, the biracial couple moved back to Virginia, which is apparently for lovers, just not for their love. They were arrested in the middle of the night and charged with breaking the law that prohibited interracial marriage within the state. The judge found them guilty and proceeded to offer a deal: if they left Virginia for a quarter of a century, the sentencing would be dropped. After leaving the state, the Lovings took their case to the Supreme Court after being approached by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Fortunately, the United States Supreme Court unanimously struck down the ban on interracial marriage, bringing love to the forefront of the Civil Rights movement (Oyez 1).

However, investigating under the surface of the ruling brings forth far more interesting details than just merely reading the synopsis of the case. Obviously, the Supreme Court represented a changing viewpoint towards interracial marriages; but, the court the case went through prior to the Supreme Court represented the idea that the more things change, the more they stay the same. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; this is true in physics and in cultural norms. In what is now an iconic, albeit infamously iconic, statement Judge Leon M. Bazile stated:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his [arrangement] there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix (Bazile 1).

The aforementioned statement, spoken by Bazile to the Loving couple in the Caroline County Circuit Court, highlights the ignorance of a millennia of thought manifested into a single court opinion. In contrast, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren proclaimed, “the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State” (Oyez 1). The Court recognized that the idea of anti-miscegenation law denies personhood and citizenship, much in the same way as slavery did. Citizenship within the United States brings about all the guarantees inscribed and enshrined in the Constitution. To deny one part is to deny the whole because they cannot possibly be extant outside of each other (Villazor and Maillard XVIII). By identifying this, Warren, as well as every single member of the Supreme Court at the time, secured the blessings of liberty to interracial couples and their posterity, signifying the changing public opinion in regards to interracial relationships.

It may be shocking to some, but after the ruling there was an outcry on both sides of the racial divide. Nannie H. Burroughs, the African-American woman president of the National Women’s Auxiliary, National Baptist Convention stated, “God has a purpose and plan for the races of mankind, and a protest against his color variety. . . weakens the temperament and settles nothing” (Larsson 2). Evidentially, this sentiment carries the same anti-miscegenation attitude as Judge Leon M. Bazile’s previously noted proclamation. Both Blacks and Whites seemed to forget their own ancestry as they criticized the unification of different races in holy matrimony. According to an Ohio State University study, “[an] estimated 21% of American whites- one out of every five- have African elements in their background, 28 million people.” On the other side of the fence, Melville Herskovits concluded that 71.7% of African Americans had White ancestors (Larsson 28). The overall conclusion: “The history of miscegenation in America, teaches that people can be legally separated by walls; but that history also teaches that no wall can be built high enough” (Larsson XI). In other words: nature is always colorblind, even if humanity is not.

Fortunately, over the relatively few decades that have passed since the Loving decision, society as a whole has come to accept interracial marriage. In 1990, 63% of non-Blacks opposed a member of their family marrying an African American. In 2016, this number plummeted to 14%. Likewise, in 1990, 21% of non-Hispanics held disdain for a member of their family to marry a Hispanic. In the present day this number rests at 9%. Overall, a study shows that 39% of people believe that people intermarrying benefits society as a whole. These sentiments show the drastic increase of interracial marriages per year. In 1967, after interracial marriage was universally permitted, only 3% of marriages were between members of different races. In comparison, 17% of marriages in 2015 occurred between members of different races (Livingston and Brown 1). The facts state what some people struggle to put into words: society is progressing for the better.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. It is becoming increasingly evident that while interracial marriages are on the up and up, the kids begot by such unions are at the center of an intense fascination. According to Clotye Larsson, “a major factor in resistance to residential, school, and social integration is the deep fear that creeping miscegenation will lead to an America which is neither black nor white” (27). Therefore, since interracial marriages inevitably result in biracial, or even multiracial, children, the investigation of such children is paramount to understanding the paradigm shift of interracial marriage. As per various studies, biracial or “mixed” African Americans are perceived as more attractive than their monoracial African American counterparts. Why? This is due to the apparent preference for “whiter features”. Everywhere from the media to the boardroom, the lighter you are, the righter you become. For example, Kanye West recently called for a fashion show featuring “multiracial women only”. It seems that even one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry cannot avoid personal bias. Overall, the rise in interracial marriages will cause an increase in multiracial African Americans, perpetuating white, or light-skinned, privilege (Reece 1-2).

Sadly enough, the Euro-centric preference of beauty in the United States is not the largest problem faced by interracial marriages. “The issue today is not simply whether he [African American male] has the right to carry a white bride across his threshold, but whether and where he can find the threshold” (Larsson 47). The most pressing problem facing interracial couples is housing discrimination. Far too often minority groups are shown or offered housing at a lesser rate than Whites. In fact, houses owned by Whites tend to be of a higher quality than houses owned by minorities. Furthermore, houses or apartments occupied by Whites are usually located in more affluent, safer neighborhoods compared to locations owned or rented by minorities (Turner et al. 6). According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Black homebuyers who contact agents about recently advertised homes for sale learn about 17.0 percent fewer available homes than equally qualified whites and are shown 17.7 percent fewer homes. Asian homebuyers learn about 15.5 percent fewer available homes than equally qualified whites and are shown 18.8 percent fewer homes (Turner et al. 11).

Thankfully, the Department also concluded that the amount of housing discrimination is declining since racial discrimination is declining amongst the general populace (Turner et al. 17). Even still, the fact remains that minority groups face some housing discrimination; thus, interracial marriages that include minority groups also face this dilemma. Housing discrimination proves to be the biggest problem in the way of interracial marriages because the denial of a home essentially murders the American Dream.

In the present day, the Gregersen’s story in many ways is the quintessential American family, two loving parents, a son, a daughter; however, there is uniqueness about them: the Gregersen family is biracial. “We forget about race until the world reminds us from time to time,” Rachel Gregersen said, “when I get asked for identification at the same store where my husband does not, then I notice.” The parents also worry about talking to their kids about what to do at a police stop, displaying the distrust between minority groups and the police. While a majority of the country believe interracial marriage is a beneficial idea, there are still 9% that are opposed to it (McCoppin and Wong 1). It seems that racism and discrimination permeate into the very recesses of the minds of some members of the populace. Generalizations rooted so deeply into the subconscious that it could take generations to fully uproot. The stories of modern-day interracial couples remind society that the battle for equality is an on-going one.

In 1965, Clotye Murdock Larsson wrote, “Intermarriage is the most provocative word in the English language” (5).  It suggests a challenge to the norm, a cultural norm that has undergone a dramatic change in the past half-century. Since the Loving decision, society has shifted its views on interracial marriage drastically. The overturning of the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States affected every aspect of life. It blossomed into a wider understanding and tolerance between many races and ethnic groups. Nevertheless, progress always sees backlash. Without a doubt, interracial marriage has succeeded at the cost of housing discrimination, as well as discrimination against darker-skinned African Americans. Hopefully, we can soon measure society in moments of boundless love, instead of its own prejudices. Then one day, we can all sit at the table of brotherhood, together at last.



Works Cited

Bazile, Leon M. “Transcription from Original.” Opinion of Judge Leon M. Bazile (January 22, 1965), 25 Mar. 2014,

Cole, Nat King, “L-O-V-E.” L-O-V-E, Capitol Records, 1965.

Gaye, Marvin. “Let’s Get It On.” Let’s Get It On, Golden World, 1973.

Jackson, Deon. “Love Makes the World Go Round.” Something’s Gotta Give, Carla Records, 1966.

Larsson, Clotye Murdock. Marriage across the Color Line. Johnson Pub. Co., 1965.

Livingston, Gretchen, and Anna Brown. “Trends and Patterns in Intermarriage.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, 18 May 2017,

“Loving v. Virginia.” Oyez, 25 Oct. 2017,

McCoppin, Robert, and Grace Wong. “Interracial Marriage More Common, but Acceptance Still Not Universal.”, 18 May 2017,

Reece, Robert L. “Why Biracial People Are Seen as More Beautiful (and Not Just by Kanye): Researchers Explain the ‘Cognitive Hiccup’ behind the Bias.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 5 Oct. 2016,

Sinatra, Frank. “Strangers in the Night.” Strangers in the Night, 1966.

Turner, Margery Austin, et al. “Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities.” 2012, pp. 1–21.,

Villazor, Rose Cuison., and Kevin Noble. Maillard. Loving v. Virginia in a Post-Racial World: Rethinking Race, Sex, and Marriage. Cambridge University Press, 2012.








Works Cited For The Quest for Self Determination

Works Cited

Aponte, Carmen I. “U.S. Navy Versus Vieques, Puerto Rico: Social Justice through Civil Disobedience.” Journal of Poverty, vol. 8, no. 4, 2004, pp. 59-73.

Baruffi, Russell. “Environmental Conflict and Cultural Solidarity: The Case of Vieques.” 2002,

Bergad, Laird W. “Toward Puerto Rico’s Grito De Lares: Coffee, Social Stratification, and Class Conflicts, 1828-1868.” The Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 60, no. 4, 1980, pp. 617–642. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Denis, Nelson A. War against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony. Nation Books, 2015.

“Frases De Pedro Albizu Campos.”

McCaffrey, Katherine T. Military Power and Popular Protest: the U.S. Navy in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Rutgers University Press, 2002.

“Puerto Rico Statehood, Independence, Free Association, or Current Status Referendum (2017).” Ballotpedia,,_Independence,_Free_Association,_or_Current_Status_Referendum_(2017).

Rigau, Marco A. “Mutual Respect: Congress must Act.” Hemisphere, vol. 5, no. 3, 1993

Streitmatter, Rodger. Voices of Revolution: The Dissident Press in America. Columbia University Press, New York, 2001.

“The United Nations and Decolonization.” United Nations, United Nations,

Venator-Santiago, Charles R. and Edgardo Meléndez. “U.S. Citzienship in Puerto Rico: One Hundred Years After the Jones Act.” Centro Journal, vol. 29, no. 1, Spring2017, pp. 14-37. EBSCOhost,

Gerrymandering Civic Issues Post #10

Justice portrays herself as a bronze statue brandishing scales.

She determines the weight of guilt with her hands. Fortunately, her eyes are covered with a blindfold. Thus, Justice holds no bias, but the populace does.

Equal representation holds the human condition of bias in check. However, equal representation cannot exist in a democracy hell-bent on gerrymandering.

This is not a new issue, as gerrymandering has existed within the United States since its inception. Nevertheless, the term was coined during 1812. The then governor of Massachusetts, Governor Elbridge Gerry, passed a law redistricting the state in favor of the Democratic-Republicans Party. In response, the Federalist editors at the Boston Gazette, coined the term “gerrymander” as a portmanteau of the last name of the governor and the shape of one of the new congressional districts (a salamander). This political commentary was accompanied by the following cartoon:

In its worst form, gerrymandering takes the people’s vote and makes it worthless. This is not only destructive to the election process but also to the essence of democracy. For when a single person is unduly disenfranchised then the government becomes tyrannical. A government that does not allow the will of the people to determine its action becomes tyrannical. In many ways, the United States, a beacon of democratic rule the world over, is the quintessential example of gerrymandering. For this the question must be asked: how many of our elected government officials would be in office if gerrymandering was extinct?

If we take a look back on United States Supreme Court cases, it is evident that gerrymandering is, without a shadow of a doubt, unlawful.

Take Baker v. Carr for example.

This landmark SCOTUS case helped set the precedent for “one man, one vote.” Moreover, it set the precedent that federal courts have the duty to  intervene on the people’s behalf when their state legislature impedes on their right to representation in their government.

Image result for baker v carr

Nevertheless, some of the dissenters of the Baker v. Carr case believe that the Supreme Court acted outside its jurisdiction by making political redistricting a part of its duties. The critics argue that the Supreme Court reacted in a power-hungry move. In a less contentious case,  Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that an independent redistricting commission has the right to draw the political districts of the state as long as the commission is put into place by the people of the state at the ballot box. Let’s take a closer look at the case: 

At the turn of the 21st century, Arizonans initiated the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) via referendum ballot in the form of Proposition 106. The Commission ordered for two Democrats, two Republicans, and one Independent. Furthermore, the Proposition altered the state constitution by depriving the legislature of redistricting power. The power transferred to the newly-founded AIRC due to the will of the people. However, the government never denies itself power without contention. In 2012, the Republican-majority-legislature accused the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission of unconstitutionality.  They concluded that the Commission contravened the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution. The Clause states, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof…”. The legislature brought their case before a district court arguing over the usage of the world legislature within the confines of the Elections Clause. Unfortunately for Arizona’s government, the court ruled in favor of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, stating that the Proposition fully aligned with constitutional boundaries. Arizona’s legislature appealed their case to the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, the Court ruled by a 5-4 majority that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission followed the Constitution flawlessly. 

Thus, it is important that the voting-age populace of the united States realizes that they have the power to change their congressional districts by a referendum. The struggle however lies within getting the topic on the ballot.

In current events, the gerrymandering question has been brought to Penn State’s own backyard.  Since the Republican legislature of the state and the Democratic governor could not compromise on a map, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stepped in and created a more competitive map.

It seems that gerrymandering may persist into the foreseeable future.

After all, those in power do not relinquish their power voluntarily.

Passion Blog Post #5

“Therefore, you should probably go to bed.”

“Okay. I will be back in early May.”

“Alright, love you bye.”

“Love you too, goodnight.”

A typical, weekly conversation comes to a very stereotypical end. Another phone call to my grandfather ends because he is, as he puts it, old. He really just is tired and once it is past 9:30 P.M. he typically falls asleep.

I am excited to go back to my hometown. Which is odd, because I hate where I live. Do not get me wrong, I love my friends and family. However, Johnstown is not the prettiest place to be. It is not the prettiest place to live. It is not the safest place to live.

I could continue, but I do not know how many hyperlinked stories you would want to read.

It is truly ironic. That the drug problem would follow my family.

My grandfather left the Bronx to escape the crime wave during the late 1970’s and 1980’s. The crack epidemic was rampant. People laid passed out on the streets.

Image result for 1980s drug epidemic bronx

And yet, after the “War on Drugs,” drugs are still a problem (I have opinions on the “War on Drugs” but that is not the focus of this blog). We moved from a crack epidemic to an opioid epidemic. I think when my family left the Bronx they thought they avoided an environment of hypodermic needles and people passed out in bathrooms. But, alas, crime does not care about what environment it finds itself in; it will adapt.

Last summer, I went on a run and almost stepped on a disposed needle.

Last summer, a police officer overdosed on heroin in the evidence locker of the police department.

Every month, someone passes out in the Sheetz bathroom on Broad Street after overdosing.

Thank God it is cold in Johnstown, that way the needle-scarred arms are hidden behind heavy coats.

My city might be crumbling, infrastructure failing, people dying, but I guess it still is home. But, it is not home like how some people adore the physical location where they live.

No, Johnstown is home because my family is there. And if my family moved, I would also. Because that is the story of my family, we move from an island, to the projects, to the city, to the suburbs.

After all, as Francisco Alarcon said, “I carry my roots with me all the time rolled up, I use them as my pillow.”


Johnstown on a nice day:


Freedom of Speech: Civic Issues #9

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

These words are the foundation of everything. I am not being dramatic. Anytime any of us decide to open our mouth, the first amendment protects what we are saying, with restrictions of course.

Rhetoric, Deliberation, Commonplaces. Everything we have learned in this class can be connected to the first amendment.

Some countries don’t have freedom of speech. Some countries look like this:

Well, we will never know what it said.

Some people are scared that freedom of speech is diminishing amongst the masses of the United States. These people believe that if your belief is in the minority it is not protected. These people are dumb and clearly do not recognize that the first amendment protects your right to believe in what you want.

The fact of the matter is that just because your belief is in the minority, and not accepted by mainstream society, does not mean that freedom of speech is somehow disappearing.

Stories like these are preposterous:

Free Speech is Disappearing, But Do We Care?

Moreover, the fact that you cannot say things now is somewhat progressive. So yes, you may say the n-word, spic, beaner, or faggot, because that is protected by the first amendment. However, mainstream society dictates that this is wrong; which it is. Therefore, free speech is not diminishing, your ability to say discriminatory things is.

Nevertheless, I am more than happy to let people say anything they like. Please tell me to “hop back over the border” because I will correct you and tell you why this is wrong. In this way, when ignorant people say ignorant things they can be corrected. That is the beauty of the free exchange of thought.

IF the right to free speech is under threat then why does this happen:

People can disagree, as most members of both of the above marches would disagree with each other.

That is what makes the first amendment so beautiful, its ability to survive the ages. There is always the idea that freedom of speech is being impeded. That is why you elect representatives that make it a part of their agenda. If you care so much about your issues then vote; vote for freedom.



Passion Blog #4

My grandpa is the best and funniest man alive. He is great at telling stories. He often repeats himself.

My grandpa once told me a story of when he went with my great-grandfather back to Puerto Rico to visit family.

Apparently, they had a fantastic time.

They cut papayas and mamey straight from the tree and ate the delicious fruits.

My grandpa wants to take me to the island to visit where he used to live. It would be a lot of fun and any travel to the island right now will help in the rebuilding of the economy of the island.

And honestly, with the weather we are having right now, I would jump at the chance to go somewhere warmer.


Civic Issues Blog #8 The Right to Civil Disobedience Within MLK Doctrine

“Cuando la tiranía es ley, la revolucíon es orden.” When tyranny is law, revolution is order. This is perhaps the best-known sentiment from the late Puerto Rican revolutionary Pedro Albizu Campos (Santiago 27). Extending far beyond just Campos, revolution resides in the veins of every Puerto Rican. After centuries of colonization, Puerto Rico holds the unique status of remaining a testing ground of tyranny. From Columbus’ landing to La Ley de La Mordaza to the situation in Vieques, Puerto Ricans have fallen prey to foreign powers that claim to have their best interests at heart.

This is not to say that Boricuas1have stood idly by as their natural rights were tread upon. They have risen up from time to time to protest injustices. During much of the 20th century, the United States Navy utilized the island of Vieques, part of Puerto Rico, as a testing ground for numerous weapons. Unfortunately, many of the actions by the United States would harm many of the island’s inhabitants. As a result, the Navy was met with much criticism and civil disobedience. Obviously, this idea of civil disobedience is nothing new.

Inspired by the musings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the citizens of Vieques revolted, not with arms, but with words.

After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.

First and foremost, to determine the validity of Puerto Rico’s participation in civil disobedience, it is obligatory to define the validity of civil disobedience in the first place. Basically, the justification of civil disobedience is found within a strict test established by Dr. Martin Luther King.

He constructed a litmus test for the African-American community to participate in civil disobedience during the Birmingham protests, which can be expounded upon to include all civil rights movement.

First, a marginalized community must determine whether an oppressive majority suppresses their rights, infringe upon their humanity, and commit grave injustices.

Second, the marginalized community must negotiate with the majority in an appeasement to diplomacy, after all, diplomacy can save lives. Third, the oppressed minority should self-purify itself as to not commit the same grave acts as its oppressors. Lastly, if the aforementioned fails, direct action, in the form of civil disobedience, should be premeditatedly utilized to affect change (King 1).

In order to determine if any injustices occurred to the Puerto Rican populace, the scrutinization of its history is appropriate.

In 1493, Christopher Columbus landed his ships on the island’s beaches and everything changed. From then, until the present-day Puerto Ricans have been subjugated to the worst humanity can conjure up. Soon after his arrival, Columbus demanded the native people, the Taínos, to relinquish any gold they possessed (Rigau 5).

The Taínos would fight back, but would ultimately become decimated by disease and war (Rigau 5).

Hundreds of years later, the stubborn spirit of their ancestors inspired Puerto Ricans to rise up against their Spanish colonizers.

The Grito de Lares (Outcry of Lares) set a precedent that rests in the recesses of every Puerto Rican mind. Revolutionaries such as Ramón Emeterio Betances and Segundo Ruiz Belvis led an armed rebellion in hopes of creating an independent Puerto Rico free from social stratification (Bergad 617).

The rebellion eventually was quelled by Spanish counterattacks, but it delivered a strong message via the use of extreme social disobedience in the face of tyranny (Bergad 618).

Spain would eventually give Puerto Rico autonomy in 1898, a few months before the Spanish-American war (Aponte 61).  

After analyzing the history of Puerto Rico pre-United States, it is imperative to descend into its relationship with the United States after its annexation. The island’s unique citizenship status with the mainland has caused tremendous acts of civil disobedience by the islanders.

The main question is if Puerto Ricans have justification to disobey laws. Primarily, the first culprit of oppression, the Jones Act of 1917, delivered a blow to the Puerto Rican Independence movement. The Act gifted Puerto Ricans a statutory citizenship. This gave the United States the ability to draft Puerto Rican males into the United States Armed Forces during World War One (Santiago & Meléndez 16).

In other words, Puerto Rican males over the age of eighteen were obliged to obey the words of a Congress and President they did not elect. Therefore, did Puerto Ricans drafted into the war have the right to protest a seemingly unjust law?

Before answering the aforementioned quandary, it is of the utmost importance to define what is a just or unjust law.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is, “contrary to the public good or in respect to the author” (174). In laymen’s terms, an unjust law is defined by its utility towards a magnum opus, a greater good, or if the law is within the realm of jurisdiction of the leader who dictated it.

Drawing from this mantra, it is limpid that the Jones Act of 1917 is contrary to the public good as it denies the constitutional rights of United States citizens (Santiago & Meléndez 16).

Additionally, since the law was passed without “consent of the governed”, meaning that the author of the law had no right to create it, the law becomes null and void. Once again in the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, “the like are acts of violence rather than law” (174).

The next part of the litmus test, negotiation, must be met before Puerto Rican civil disobedience can be justified. Within this branch of the test, it is explicit that the Puerto Rican experience regarding negotiation parallels that of African-Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dictated that, “a law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had not part in enacting or devising the law” (4). Employing King’s rhetoric, conclusions can be drawn that any law passed by the United States Congress should be null and void in Puerto Rico.

This is due to the fact that Puerto Ricans on the island cannot vote for the President, and have no membership in Congress; thus, they have “not [taken] part in enacting or devising the law” (Murriel 1). Since Puerto Ricans have no voice in the basic workings of its government, then negotiation cannot occur.

Evidently, the absence of the ability to petition a citizen’s own government results in one thing: the failure of negotiation. Consequently, the second branch of Dr. Martin Luther King’s test is met.

Therefore, through civil disobedience, the Islanders took back their rights that a tyrannical government stole. Their disobedience was justified by their respect for the litmus test established by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”.

Deliberation Nation Response to Other Group

I attended a deliberation hosted in the State College Community Center on February 22nd. The topic was about “penny-pinching” to afford college. The introductory team talked for a short amount of time, so I was still generally confused as to what we were going to talk about.

The first approach made no coherent sense. There was no actual money-saving technique explained. Their approach was basically keeping the billing and tuition the same. In all, everyone in the audience was confused, as were some of their own team members.

The second approach proposed the idea of paying for Penn State amenities by how you use them. For example, if you do not use the gym you should not have to pay for it. Moreover, they talked about paying for college per credit or entering a better lab by paying more for it. I worried about how this would affect students of different economic backgrounds. I questioned the moderators about how the college, specifically the bursar and financial aid office, would handle the different billings of thousands of students. Apparently, there is no clear-cut answer for this. I felt that their second approach did a sub-par job at explaining their approach and most of the audience was confused.

The third approach was by far the best approach. The moderators articulated their proposal very well and it made sense. Their idea was to cheapen tuition by opening up some of the amenities to the greater Penn State community. This would include allowing alumni and citizens of the surrounding areas to utilize the library and gym facilities. Apparently, this was allowed before the Sandusky scandal. Many questions were raised about student safety. I answered these comments with the obvious: there is more student on student crime in State College than non-students on students. Most people also expressed concern about working out near “adults.” I expressed the idea that technically we are all adults. Furthermore, non-students can already use the library and have access to many public buildings like the HUB. Actually, most of the buildings on campus can be accessed by the public as a vast majority of buildings are not locked. I believed that the only actual concern for student safety was in the gyms. The moderators could have fostered a better deliberative atmosphere by moving the discussion away from the idea of safety in the gym. In all, this approach did the best.

Overall, I found this deliberation to be interesting as it pertained to me greatly. I am a college student paying for my own education, so any cut in expenses would be greatly appreciated. The deliberation team for this event did a fair job, and I learned a lot by attending and participating.

Civic Issues Blog Post 7 “Juan Crow”

Should it surprise us that racism still exists in the United States?

The answers vary to this question. The most common answer amongst the white population is yes.

After Obama got elected racism died, right (Alexander 2)?  

However, most other demographics would most likely profess no.

Far too often it is evident that racism persists to raise its ugly head in our beloved land of ‘equality’. Whether it be a violent lynching or housing discrimination, racism still has yet to be extinguished. Michelle Alexander expresses her concerns over a new tool of racism in “The New Jim Crow”.

It is irrefutable that a new racial caste system has developed in the criminal justice system.

In her enlightening expose, Alexander reveals the racist techniques of the American judicial system since the start of the War on Drugs. An interesting point she brings up is the idea of colorblindness. Often many white people describe themselves as colorblind. There is an inevitable danger with this idea.

Racial disharmony in prison systems do not need blatant prejudice to survive; it needs indifference (Alexander 14). This is paralleled in countless works on the subject. According to White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era, “claims of colorblindness really are modern-day bigotry” (Bonilla-Silva).

Interestingly enough, a Georgetown University study found that “A solid majority (58%) of white Millennials believe that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities” (Jones et al. 17).

This idea of “reverse racism” is a result of colorblindness. A threat to white supremacy, “reverse racism” inhibits the progress of real racial harmony. There can be no amending the racial caste system until white millennials cast aside the thought of institutional racism against themselves and the idea of colorblindness.

In response to Alexander’s plea, “I hope other scholars and advocates will pick up where the book leaves off and develop the critique more fully,”

I answer with my take: ‘The New Juan Crow’.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the criminal justice system has attacked Hispanics in the United States. The facts are incontestable.

Overall, the United States incarcerates, “more than 1% of Hispanics in seven states.”

Furthermore, “sixteen states have Hispanic rates of incarceration higher than the highest state rate (Oklahoma) for whites” (Mauer & King 13). Some places in the United States incarcerate at an even higher rate: specifically, Pennsylvania. The evidence is damning; Pennsylvania has a race problem. The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit in Washington D.C., strengthens this claim in its report “Uneven Justice: State Rates of Incarceration by Race and Ethnicity”. The report states that Pennsylvania’s incarceration rate for Hispanics is 1,714 people per 100,000. This is not only double the national average at 742; it is the highest in the nation. One of the highest incarcerating counties in Pennsylvania for Hispanics is Cambria County. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, Hispanics comprise 1.5% of the population of Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Shockingly, the jail population of Cambria County is a dizzying 46% Hispanic. Meanwhile, the white populace accounts for 93.9% of the county population and makeup 40.2% of the jail population (Vera Institute Incarceration Rates).

This confidently demonstrates discrimination in the criminal justice system on the federal level, as well as on the Pennsylvania state level towards Hispanics.

What can account for this? Some might suggest that Hispanics commit more crimes in Pennsylvania than whites. Facts prove to be an uneducated man’s bane. There is an increasing drug problem in the state (Neese 1).

Therefore, drawing conclusions from Alexander’s research, it is easily identifiable that Hispanics are, along will African Americans, punished at a higher rate for drugs in this “War on Drugs” compared to whites in Pennsylvania. It is also pertinent to know that, ‘whites [are] far more successful than Latinos in the plea-bargaining process; in fact, “at virtually every stage of pretrial negotiation whites are more successful than nonwhites”’ (Alexander 115).

Whites have an advantage of avoiding sentencing for drug-related crimes.

Overall, Michelle Alexander shines an important light on the racial backlash against progress. She demands for academics to carry on her thesis to other marginalized groups.

I do the same after reporting on the state of discrimination against Hispanics in the Keystone State. Hopefully, we will reach the day where all of us can “sit at the table of brotherhood”, but until that day we must stay vigilant. Then someday instances of racism will be far and few between. 


Works Cited

Alexander, Michelle. New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Place of

Publication Not Identified: New, 2016. Print.

Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era. Boulder, CO:

Lynne Rienner, 2001. Print.

Mauer, Marc, and Ryan S. King. “Uneven Justice: State Rates of Incarceration by Race and

Ethnicity.” (2007): 1-19. The Sentencing Project. Web. 3 Aug. 2017.

Neese, Brian. “The Worsening Heroin Epidemic in Pennsylvania.” Alvernia University Online.

N.p., 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 03 Aug. 2017.

Justice, Vera Institute of. “Incarceration Trends.” Vera Institute of Justice. N.p., n.d. Web. 03

Aug. 2017.

Transition, A. Generation In. Religion, Values, and Politics (2012): n. pag. Public Religion

Research Institute and Berkley Center at Georgetown University, 19 Apr. 2012. Web. 3 


Against Solitary Confinement Civic Issues Post 6

The Eighth Amendment states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments be inflicted.”

However, the United States presently violates millions of prisoners’ eighth amendment rights each year by subjecting them to solitary confinement.

This practice must be abolished from our prison systems due to the fact that it is cruel, unusual, and downright torturous.

For instance, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, “Researchers have demonstrated that prolonged solitary confinement causes a persistent and heightened state of anxiety and nervousness, headaches, insomnia, lethargy or chronic tiredness, nightmares, heart palpitations, fear of impending nervous breakdowns and higher rates of hypertension and early morbidity. Other documented effects include obsessive ruminations, confused thought processes, an oversensitivity to stimuli, irrational anger, social withdrawal, hallucinations, violent fantasies, emotional flatness, mood swings, chronic depression, feelings of overall deterioration, as well as suicidal ideation.”

These symptoms are evident throughout all inmates subjugated to the unfair practice of solitary confinement. Luis Esquivel, a prisoner currently placed in solitary confinement for the past 13 years, stated, “I feel dead. It’s been thirteen years since I have shaken someone’s hand and I fear I’ll forget the feel of human contact.”

The Center also found that, “International human rights experts and bodies have also condemned indefinite or prolonged solitary confinement, recommended that the practice be abolished entirely and argued that solitary confinement is a human rights abuse that can amount to torture. In August 2011, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, concluded that even 15 days in solitary confinement constitutes torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and 15 days is the limit after which irreversible harmful psychological effects can occur. Other independent human rights bodies at the UN have also expressed concern about the overall use of solitary in U.S. prisons. However, many prisoners in the United States have been isolated for far longer than just 15 days.”

And that would be an understatement. “At Pelican Bay, hundreds of prisoners have been held in solitary confinement for over a decade; 78 prisoners have languished under these conditions for over 20 years,” as per a congressional hearing on solitary confinement. Just think, 20 years in a cell block the size of a large closet. No windows. No sunlight. No talking.

No more.

No longer can we idly sit by and watch the systematic abuse of constitutional rights.

The international community has denounced the practice of solitary confinement based on countless studies and testimonies.

We as a nation cannot take pride in ourselves as a model of democracy for the world when we subdue our prisoners to cruel and unusual punishment.

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