Speaker series to examine America’s colonies problem through a racial equity lens

by Oct 19, 2021American Samoa, Federal Government, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands0 comments

This Fall, Equally American is hosting a three-part series that will bring together a diverse array of thought leaders to examine the connection between racism and the ongoing disenfranchisement and discrimination faced by residents of US territories. Equally American is a nonprofit organization that advocates for equality and civil rights for the 3.5 million citizens who live in US territories—98% of whom are racial or ethnic minorities.

“Over the next few months all three branches of the federal government will be making major decisions that will either help bring an end to the second-class treatment of citizens in the territories or continue to perpetuate inequality,” said Neil Weare, president, and founder of Equally American. “Given all this, we wanted to host a series of conversations that look at what we call ‘America’s colonies problem’ through the lens of systemic racial discrimination. As the United States begins to seriously grapple with its legacy of racial discrimination, it is important that America’s colonies problem be a part of that discussion. Simply put, there should be no colonies or second-class citizens in the United States.”

Part I of the series is “Separate and Unequal”: The Insular Cases, Race, and Discrimination in US Territories, a virtual conversation on systemic racism and the legal foundation of America’s colonies problem with Guam Attorney General Leevin T. Camacho, DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine, Columbia Law Professor Christina D. Ponsa-Kraus, and ACLU Attorney Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux, moderated by Neil Weare. The event is timely as the Supreme Court will hold oral argument on November 9 in United States v Vaello Madero, a case that will determine whether it is unconstitutional to deny otherwise eligible US citizens access to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits on the sole ground that they live in Puerto Rico or other territories. The virtual conversation will take place on Tuesday, October 19 from 5:00 – 6:00 pm EDT (Wednesday, October 20, from 7:00 – 8:00 am CHST).

Part II of the series is titled The Left and Right’s Blindspot in Systemic Racism: America’s Colonies Problem and will be a virtual conversation with current and former elected officials from US territories on how residents of the territories are often left out of broader national conversations about systemic racism and what can be done about it. Speakers and dates will be announced in the coming weeks.

Part III of the series is titled Racial Equity and the Territories: What Can Philanthropy Do?, which will engage leaders in the philanthropic sector in a virtual conversation about what can be done to better address racial equity issues facing residents of US territories.  Speakers and dates will be announced in the coming weeks.