“I just want to begin by saying Donald Trump is a racist, he’s a fraud, he’s a bigot and he’s a misogynist,” said Rhode Island State Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) on Sunday to a packed room at the Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island. “This country does not belong to Donald J Trump and his misguided followers. We’re all immigrants – We were simply dropped off in different ports.”
Ranglin-Vassell is a Jamaican immigrant. “My ancestors came from Ghana by way of the trans-Atlantic trade.”
[See here for all the speakers at the event.]
Ranglin-Vassell didn’t concentrate on Trump. Her five minute speech went deeper: She took on the systemic racism that pervades our country and our state, and offered solutions.
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“Racism, sexism, bigotry and misogyny is a horrible, horrible disease that can only be cured by faith, love and strong, progressive legislation,” continued Ranglin-Vassell. “We must be intentional about how we treat the middle class and a group of people that we don’t hear too much about, but they are our neighbors, and they are the very poor.”
The immigration system is broken and it has been for a long time said Ranglin-Vassell. She noted the racism inherent in the way visas are allotted. “So there is no secret. We all know that if you are white skinned and you’re European, those countries get more immigrant visas than if you’re black and brown and Caribbean. So let’s set that record straight and we need to fix it…
“On the eve of Dr Martin Luther King‘s birthday I am here to say we can fix it, but we can fix it right here in Rhode Island.”
Ranglin-Vassell then outlined a series of legislative ideas:
- “We can end systematic racism and structural poverty by making sure that people who work up to 80 hours a week do not live in poverty. We must pass a $15 minimum wage.
- “We fix it when we reduce the number of homicides by eliminating poverty, which is the root cause of violence in our neighborhood.
- “We fix it when we make sure there is equal pay for equal work regardless of gender.
- “We fix it when we ensure that families and seniors who utilize Medicare and Medicare Part B are not receiving substandard care or no care at all.
- “64 years after Brown v Board of Education in the State of Rhode Island, we still have segregated schools. We have segregated schools and we must invest in infrastructure support… The schools are literally falling apart. So we must make robust investments in education. And it shouldn’t mater your family’s wealth or your zip code to get high quality education.
- “We can fix it when we reduce the number of out of school suspensions that disproportionately affects children that are black, brown, poor white, and students who are receiving special education services.
“So this is our call to action,” said Ranglin-Vassell. “Let us get up, let us vote, let us register to vote and we shall: We shall overcome.”
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