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Watching the war on terror: the U.S. Army is shelling out more dollars to multicultural advertising.

Then They Came for the Muslim Girls

In March, the FBI detained two Muslim 16-year-olds who, they claimed, "plan to be suicide bombers." Citing evidence not produced publicly, the FBI insisted that the two teenagers posed "an imminent threat." But one government official told the New York Times that, "No evidence has been found that such a plot was in the works."


Both girls were released in May, after being held in a Pennsylvania jail for six weeks. One of them chose "voluntary removal" and returned to Bangladesh. The other girl, from Guinea, was facing deportation proceedings in early May. The government has been "targeting boys over 16, and now they're going after the girls," said Shoshi Doza, an organizer with the grassroots organization Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM).

Monami Maulik, director of DRUM, sees the current arrests in a larger context of criminalizing youth of color. "What's happening to South Asians, Arabs and Muslims is part of a longer history of the war on drugs and the war on crime that have jailed and destroyed the lives of so many youth of color."

Battling for Black Recruits

Black youth are increasingly saying "No" when Uncle Sam comes to prey, according to a U.S. Army study released this spring. "More African Americans identify having to fight for a cause they don't support as a barrier to military service," concluded an August 2004 study for the Army. The number of Blacks in the Army's recruiting classes has dropped 41 percent over the past five years, from 23.9 percent in 2000 to 14 percent last year.

The Pentagon tried to get closer to the truth, conducting a poll last year with 3,236 youth ages 16 to 24. It found that "Black youth were less supportive of U.S. troops' presence in Iraq, less likely to feel the war was justified, more disapproving of the Bush administration's handling of foreign affairs and more disapproving of its use of U.S. military forces than were whites or Hispanics."

PR Watch reported that now the "U.S. Army is adjusting its marketing pitch" by shelling out more dollars to multicultural advertising firms Muse Cordero Chen of Los Angeles and Cartel Creativo of San Antonio to target Black and Latino audiences, respectively. Muse Cordero Chen's website portfolio includes "Barbershop," a TV ad featuring a young Black man joking around at the barbershop, sharing his plan to have his own computer consulting company after his training with the Army Reserve. Another ad, this one on radio, lauds the "over one million" Blacks who have served in the Army since the Revolutionary War. This is not just people of color at ad firms selling out, however. Cartel Creativo's PR show, for one, is run by a gringo.

Shackles on Immigrants

In March, National Public Radio reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had launched a pilot program to track immigrants for 24 hours a day with electronic ankle bracelets. More than 1,700 immigrants have been forced to wear the bracelets since the summer of 2004, and the program is expected to last until this fall. Then, DHS might decide to require anyone applying for permission to stay in the U.S. to wear a bracelet, excepting "most people with green cards and visitors with valid visas," according to the radio program.

When NPR inquired if "it's possible that a few years from now, we could see hundreds of thousands of immigrants walking around in the country wearing these ankle bracelets?" a DHS official replied, "Yeah, I would not rule that out."

Vanessa Huang is an organizer, writer and ethnic studies student at Brown University.
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Title Annotation:RoundUps
Author:Huang, Vanessa
Publication:Colorlines Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2005
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