Community Voices Reflect on the
2020 Civil Rights Agenda
Voting, Democracy and Civil Rights
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Dan M. Brown
Executive Manager -
Ho-Chunk Gaming
Madison
Dr. King’s Legacy Seen through a Native Lens

The world is a scary place…or at least that seems how our society is influenced by politics and the media.  The government appears to want to corral its citizens
by fear-mongering while our media — with its desire for higher ratings/readership for added advertising dollars — tends to sensationalize events that further
foments a culture of fear.  Add to the fact that people seem to generally be fearful of the unknown, and, well…the world is a scary place.

In recent years, we have heard more and more about unconscious bias.  Perhaps this is driven by an innate suspicion or fear of “others” and exacerbated by
movies, television, and other forms of media — say nothing of social media — perpetuating stereotypes and shaping uneducated perceptions.

As an enrolled Ho-Chunk tribal member, I am an immersed student of social behavior toward a person of color.  Following my four-year stint as the vice president
of the Ho-Chunk Nation, I became the executive manager at Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison.  In my quest to discover the genesis of a historically strained relationship
between the local government and a skeptical attitude by some in the local community toward my tribe (and perhaps our primary industry, Indian gaming), I
postulated that any such chasm might be explained by fear and that once people got to know and understand us and our people, we could collaboratively move
forward.
For several years my team and I have been giving presentations to various local business and civic organizations in an ongoing effort to educate local residents
about Ho-Chunk history and Ho-Chunk today.  We endeavored to dispel myths about us:  We are not rich; we do not seek to take over the world; we never had
designs on buying the Overture and turning it into a casino; we are not 100 percent inwardly focused.  We give back generously to local organizations and causes
that resonate with us Ho-Chunk and the community.  And we prefer to personally engage and build relationships as opposed to writing a check and walking away
from the cause.

The strategy has essentially been to humanize our tribe. The simple theory was that once people got to know us personally, their unconscious biases and fears of
the unknown would dissipate, and we could move forward together.

It goes without saying what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did for civil rights and how he employed a strategy of civil disobedience to get the public’s attention and
ultimate government support for sea social change. But one of my big takeaways from his mission was to humanize the cause.  As people of color, African
Americans, Latinos, Asians et al all share a history of having been dehumanized by the dominant culture.  Be it slavery or land takeovers of the more distant past
or internment camps of Japanese-American citizens during World War II or the far more contemporary history of caging Latin people at the US southern border;
dehumanizing has been a key to justifying inhumane treatment of “the other.”  

Dr. King was a master at displaying his immense intelligence and transcendent charisma. He was able to pull people together, thus creating a world-wide
following, hence, he had to be extremely engaging.  His efforts would be joined by Native American tribes who had long been fighting for civil rights and
sovereignty rights, and he embraced those like-minded efforts keenly recognizing the historic plight of his Native American brothers and sisters. The profundity of
his understanding is within his quote below:

“Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race.  Even before there were large
numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured the colonial society… We perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of
national policy to wipe out its indigenous population.  Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade.”

Dr. King gained the trust and admiration of millions, and the above-sited traits are not those of a being that is sub-human. Yes, there have been leaders of color
who have gone down in the annuls of history as smart, strategic, charismatic, engaging, inventive and righteous, so this is not to suggest he alone made people
pause and contemplate people of color as being human; but he led a cause that made that point critical, and I believe that in employing and exhausting all of his
innumerable gifts for the cause, he managed to figuratively transform perceived lesser, alien beings of color into three-dimensional human beings and neighbors
not to be feared.

Although since 2016 portions of this country seem to have backslid into a by-gone era of dreadfully fearing the “other,” the words and actions of Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. remain a beacon of light by which we may all be guided. Tolerance is made difficult when there is an absence of understanding.  It is incumbent upon
everyone to learn about one another and try to better understand each other.  We owe it to the vision of the man who gave the ultimate sacrifice in attempting to
truly unify this amazing country; the dream lives on.  

Native communities owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement as they joined forces for a common cause, having shared sordid respective
histories in this country.  Yes, he undoubtedly recognized there was more power in larger numbers, thus inviting the Native community into the cause, but his
quote above demonstrates his compassion and understanding of the suffering of fellow human beings.

As we continue our local efforts to pull back curtains and demystify and see our local communities of color as individuals who love, who laugh, who mourn, who
care, who dream — we see all those around us as humans who have far more in common than we possess differences.  And as this societal progression
continues its evolution through ongoing individual two-way-street efforts, we shall continue to realize much more clearly…our world isn’t so scary.     
Alfonso Zepeda-Capistrán
Co-Founder of LUChA
2020 Es Año de elecciones, ¡Haz Que Tu Voto Cuente!
Sin importar nuestra inclinación política, es importante participar en los comicios, tanto locales, como estatales y nacionales. Generalmente hay elecciones en la
primavera y en el otoño. Este año 2020 es particularmente importante porque está en juego la presidencia estadounidense.  

Localmente, esta primavera en varias localidades se elegirán nuevos miembros de consejos escolares, concejales de la ciudad, supervisores del condado,
alcaldes, y jueces municipales. Además, hay elecciones para juez de la Corte Suprema del Estado de Wisconsin, el Tribunal de Apelación, y el Tribunal de
Circuito. Las primarias presidenciales del partido demócrata se llevarán a cabo también esta primavera, el 7 de abril.

A nivel nacional, además del presidente y del vicepresidente serán escogidos 34 de los 100 senadores y la Cámara de Representantes en su totalidad. Los
resultados pueden cambiar la dirección política de nuestros estados y nación.

Históricamente, no siempre todos hemos tenido el derecho al voto. Ejercitemos nuestro derecho. Tengamos en cuenta que las personas elegidas tendrán en sus
manos representarnos durante el término de sus mandatos. No sirve que nos quejemos de cómo se hacen las cosas si no nos movilizamos para intentar
cambiarlas. Si nuestro deseo es mantener o mejorar nuestra democracia, votemos. Solamente así podemos lograr una democracia mejor y más representativa.
Al votar, es nuestra obligación estar bien informados sobre los candidatos y sus políticas y así darle mayor relevancia a nuestro voto.

El voto hispano es cada vez más numeroso y, por lo mismo, más importante y decisivo en los comicios. En elecciones recientes, el voto hispano ha marcado la
diferencia. Este año, dado el constante crecimiento de la población hispana a nivel nacional, se especula que el voto hispano será igualmente importante. Y
codiciado. Con razón. En muchas partes del país, el número de votantes hispanos registrados ha crecido mucho más que el de los no hispanos.

Por ejemplo, de 2014 a 2018, en California, el número de votantes hispanos registrados creció casi cuatro veces más que el de los no hispanos. La oficina del
censo de Asociación Nacional de Funcionarios Latinos (NALEO, por sus siglas en inglés), informa que en las elecciones de 2018 el movimiento de latinos hacia
las urnas “creció abrumadoramente” con un aumento de más del 40%. Este crecimiento de participación de voto de los latinos es particularmente evidente en
estados del suroeste como California, Nevada, y Texas, pero también significativo en otras regiones como Nueva York, New Jersey, Florida, e Illinois. Arturo
Vargas, director ejecutivo de NALEO, asegura además que este año 2020 hay gran "emoción” por participar. No dejemos que Wisconsin se quede atrás.

Si salimos a votar, los hispanos podemos ser un factor importante y positivo en el destino del país. Por lo tanto, me gustaría hacer un llamado a que nos hagamos
presentes.  

Recomendaciones:
Registrarnos para votar.  
Enterarnos sobre los candidatos para asegurarnos de que nuestro voto vaya dirigido
a apoyar a aquellos que mejor representen nuestros intereses.
Saber cuándo y dónde votar.
Presentarnos a votar.
Hacer lo posible por ayudar a que otros estén enterados y participen en las
elecciones.

Cómo registrarse:         
Con una tarjeta de identificación o licencia de conducir válida puede uno registrarse
completamente en línea a través de MyVote Wisconsin: https://myvote.wi.gov/. En
esta misma página también puede uno confirmar si está o no registrado. Basta con
entrar el nombre, domicilio, y fecha de nacimiento. Además, puede uno informarse
sobre las próximas elecciones y el lugar para ir a votar.

Para registrarse, se requiere: 1, ser ciudadano estadounidense; 2, haber cumplido los
dieciocho años para el día de las elecciones; 3, haber residido en un domicilio por lo
menos 10 días antes de las elecciones, sin intenciones de mudarse mientras tanto; y
4, no estar cumpliendo sentencia o encarcelamiento, libertad condicional, o periodo
de prueba bajo supervisión debido a condena por delito grave.

También se puede registrar en persona a través de las oficinas del secretario del
condado, o el mismo día de las elecciones en el lugar de votación.
El día de los comicios presentarse a votar con una identificación válida, dar nombre y
domicilio, presentar identificación, firmar el libro de registros de votantes, y VOTAR.

Nuestro voto es nuestra voz. ¡Hagamos que cuente!

Recursos:
Wisconsin Elections Commission:
https://elections.wi.gov/
MyVote Wisconsin: http://myvote.wi.gov.
League of Women Voters: https://
www.lwvdanecounty.org/