Voices in Focus: Seen as a Foe of Immigrants, Pol Becomes Their Benefactor

On this unseasonably warm Friday morning, we were inspired by a new video from City Limits’ Brooklyn Bureau, in which city teenagers drop some serious wisdom about the importance of education.

In other news from the community and ethnic press:

* This story from Long Island Wins, about a longtime foe of immigrant rights groups who ended up unwittingly donating thousands of dollars to one of them, struck us as interesting:

Over the past eight years, former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy consistently battled local immigrant rights groups.

He supported policies that marginalized immigrant communities, like an attempt to authorize Suffolk police to act as immigration officials. After the 2008 hate-crime killing of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero, he callously referred to Lucero’s death as a “one-day story.”

Now Levy is inadvertently donating $17,500 to the Workplace Project, an immigrant rights organization that he would have once derided as a den of “anarchists” and “communists.”

Levy’s largesse came in the aftermath of his campaign finance scandal, Long Island Wins reported:

When Levy was busted for using questionable fundraising tactics last March, he turned over his $4.3 million campaign war chest to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. Some Levy donors asked for their money back, but not all of his campaign cash has been claimed.

According to Telemundo, immigrant rights activist Reverend Allan Ramirez advocated for a portion of the unclaimed funds—$17,500—to go to the Workplace Project, a group that fights for the rights of Latino immigrant workers on Long Island.

Angel Pérez, the executive director of the Workplace project, enjoyed the moment. “It’s completely ironic,” he told Long Island Wins. “But we’re happy.”

* We’re still puzzling over these new numbers from the New York City health department, reported by DNAinfo last week:

New data shows a dramatic decrease in deaths among black New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, though the same group disproportionately accounted for half of all new HIV cases in the city, the health department announced Tuesday.

The figures, released on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, shows a 41 percent drop in deaths among black people living with the deadly disease between 2001 and 2010.

Despite this progress, black New Yorkers — who represent 25 percent of the city’s population — accounted for almost half of all new HIV diagnoses (48 percent) in 2010, a proportion that has remained almost unchanged over the past five years.

Nationally, a fact sheet by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation released this month also shows a decrease in the number of deaths among blacks with an AIDS diagnosis, but otherwise the picture remained grim: “Blacks account for more new HIV infections, AIDS diagnoses, people estimated to be living with HIV disease, and HIV- related deaths than any other racial/ethnic group in the U.S.,” the report explained. “Analysis of national household survey data found that 2% of Blacks in the U.S. were HIV positive, higher than any other group.”

* The Jewish Daily Forward continued its coverage of allegations of child sex abuse in Jewish communities here and abroad with an article that looks into sexual abuse allegations against several men from the Australian Chabad community who have fled to the United States. The Forward goes on to explain:

Sexual abuse is difficult enough for many victims to report, but Orthodox Jewish survivors and their families often find it much harder, because of the tight-knit nature of their communities and because of concerns that they are violating religious laws such as mesirah, which prohibits reporting on a fellow Jew to secular authorities. Many are also worried about committing a chilul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.

Some Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, organizations, such as Agudath Israel of America, still instruct people that unless one has direct knowledge of abuse, such as being a victim himself or herself or personally witnessing such an incident, that person must consult a rabbi before reporting suspicions to the authorities.

* Lastly, Colorlines reported this Valentines week on an increase in interracial romance:

The number of new marriages between spouses of a different race or ethnicity increased to 15.1 percent in 2010, and the share of all current marriages that are either interracial or interethnic has reached an all-time high of 8.4 percent, according to a study released Thursday by the Pew Social & Demographic Trends project.

Of the 275,500 new interracial or interethnic marriages in 2010, 43 percent are white/Latino couples, the most common type of intermarriage couple.

According to the report, intermarriage rates are highest among Latinos and Asians. In 2010, more than a quarter (26 percent) of Latino newlyweds, and 28 percent of Asian newlyweds, married someone of a different race or ethnicity, or “married out.” By contrast, about one-in-six (17 percent) newlywed black non-Latinos married non-blacks, and less than one-in-ten white non-Latinos (9 percent) married someone who is not white, the lowest among all groups.

Whites are by far the largest racial group in the United States, meaning that marriages between whites and people of color are the most common types of intermarriage.

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