Saturday, October 11 will be a candidate forum with a focus on immigrant rights. A collective of organizations have come together to host the event.
Another candidate forum by many of the same groups is being held in Hamtramck on Sunday, October 26, which is on the events calendar.
I’m providing a copy here of the questionnaire sent to candidates with my answers. If the copy below is difficult to read I’ve pasted the content below it.
1. Why should New Americans like Arab, Asian, and Muslim American voters in your district vote for you? What expertise will you bring to this position sought?
I strive to offer an active listening for people struggling to be heard. American society is not as free and liberal as marketed around the world. Our harshest critics are in our immediate community. There is reluctance to embrace new ideas and people from different cultures, this is xenophobia. It divides not only new-comers, it divides classes of people. This includes those who have, denying access and friendship until proven in some manner or simply due to bias both personal and societal.
2. Do you believe schools are inclusive and meet the needs of immigrant and economically disadvantaged families? If not, why not and what solutions would you propose?
There is a great deal of information missing and misdirected in the lessons we teach students here. A great deal of injustice committed by the United States is removed from our textbooks. It is important that our lessons reveal truth, especially for our First Nations people (“American Indians”) and those who have generations of slavery in their history. Systemically our schools are the first place students experience evaluating differences between people from around the world. These are where bias and prejudice is taught and it will take teachers with experience and awareness to set a healthy path for our young to learn from. I do not support the continuing privatization and marketing of charter schools working to be profit centers for education. I believe a blend of teachers with years of experience and those with fresh new perspectives is healthy. Compassion and listening must be leading traits for our teachers, only then will students learn these themselves.
3. Is it important for Michigan to be a welcoming state for immigrants? Please comment. How familiar are you with current “welcoming” initiatives and what else should be done?
Immigrants bring fresh perspective. New eyes on situations long-standing. The biggest challenge will be listening for why and how things are as they exist now. I have to admit I’m not fully aware of current “welcoming” initiatives. I hope from my prior response you understand that I can imagine they would push information and perspective upon immigrants more than show, prove and answer questions of why. Critical dialog is important and few people face criticism without experiencing it as an attack upon what they know of themselves.
4. What are your views on ensuring equal access to the polls and voting materials for voters of all communities regardless of English speaking and reading ability?
The amount of assistance and access is quite often reflecting the attitude and awareness of the election commission and city clerk. One group are appointed, the other is an elected official. We need issues to be worked on by those most familiar with the situation. This is why civic engagement is so important, and doing this in a supportive community is vital. These support communities can strengthen their position by regularly bringing in officials and leaders from outside for workshop lessons that address issues the immigrant community is focused on.
5. What are your views regarding access to in-language, culturally appropriate healthcare?
Healthcare itself can be difficult to deal with since it mostly shows up when things aren’t going very well. The stress of health status compounds and magnifies when language or customs are a barrier. I support “Single Payer Health Care”, otherwise known as “Medicare for All”. I believe the relationship between doctor and patient is more important than having an insurance company dictate procedures. Doctors and patients could conduct an interview process to get to know each other better. Creating a structure for such an interview process could take into consideration language and culture, getting to know bias, prejudice, and appropriate actions within cultural norms. The quest for a good doctor should be a personal one leading to trust and great health. Mandates on insurance companies will be more difficult. This is why doctor and patient relationship is so important.
6. What are your views on preventing discrimination in the workplace? How will you address workplace issues generally?
Discrimination takes many forms and our workplaces can be difficult to manage through government. Unionized labor can either help prevent or it can more bureaucracy causing it tougher to be heard. I support workers rights. I’m opposed to right-to-work laws that grant corporations more rights than their employees. I also have seen OSHA disregarded in industrial settings which jeopardizes the well-being of workers. I support greater protections for whistleblowers reporting improper corporate and government behavior. The Green Party platform recognizes civil disobedience as a means toward demanding justice, and is one of the few parties to recognize this.