Nathalie Baptiste

Nathalie Baptiste is a writing fellow at The American Prospect

Recent Articles

Latinos Remain Skeptical of Democrats’ Immigration Policy

For activists in Philadelphia, simply not being Donald Trump may not be enough.

Nathalie Baptiste
dem_convention_icon.jpg Hundreds of immigration activists of all races and ages chanted “¿ Cuándo?¡Ahora! ” or “When? Now!” as they began walking in the sweltering mid-summer heat. They had come together in a predominantly Latino neighborhood in South Philadelphia near the site of the Democratic National Convention for the nearly two-mile march north toward Philadelphia City Hall to call for an end of the federal deportations that are currently tearing families apart. The backlash against Donald Trump’s fear-mongering surrounding Mexican immigrants was swift, but Latinos and their allies haven’t necessarily cozied up to the Democrats just yet. President Barack Obama has presided over an unprecedented era of deportations. Philadelphia immigrant activists and other advocates from around country fear that the deportations will continue under a President Hillary Clinton and Vice President Tim Kaine. Simply being not as bad as Trump...

Congress Goes on Vacation While Zika Spreads

Florida reported the first possible case of mosquito-transmitted Zika Wednesday.  But the summer congressional recess is in full swing and Congress closed up shop without appropriating funds to combat the illness that can cause birth defects in babies born to infected mothers, leaving reproductive rights advocates and public health experts wondering what comes next.

House Speaker Paul Ryan managed to get the majority Republican House to pass a Zika funding bill as part of a larger military spending bill, but Senate Democrats voted down that version because it diverted unspent Affordable Care Act resources for health-care exchanges in U.S. territories and siphoned funds from anti-Ebola programs. The House version of the bill had included $476 million for The Centers for Disease Control for mosquito control efforts and public awareness campaigns and $230 million for the National Institutes of Health to support vaccine development.

Democrats also cried foul because the bill undercut Planned Parenthood, the family planning organization that Republicans have been trying to defund since last year. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that reducing unintended pregnancies and practicing safe sex are vital to fighting Zika. However, Planned Parenthood and other women’s health organizations did not receive any funding.

Planned Parenthood officials blamed the GOP for failing to come to grips with the gravity of the crisis. “Common sense would dictate that family planning services that help prevent transmission and prevent or delay pregnancy play a central role in combating this epidemic but apparently that is not the position of congressional Republicans,” said Dana Singiser, the group’s vice president of public policy and government affairs in a statement.

Excluding the case reported on Wednesday, every person in the U.S. who has Zika contracted it by traveling to an area where the disease is prevalent. Puerto Rico (which would have received federal funding) has already declared a public health crisis: Nearly 4,000 people have contracted the disease. Mosquitos that carry the Zika virus could thrive in Texas, Florida, and other states with subtropical climates. So far, Florida has over 300 reported Zika cases—43 of the infected people are pregnant women.

But officials don’t appear to be in a panic, despite the lack of funding from Congress. Florida Governor Rick Scott recently allocated $26.2 million for CDC Zika prevention kits (which includes a mosquito net, spray, and condoms), mosquito surveillance and abatement, and training for mosquito control technicians. However, Florida has a dismal track record on women’s sexual health and lack of funding for specific programs has alarmed public health experts who are concerned that not enough is being done.

There’s still a lot that health experts don’t know about Zika, and without funding for research learning more about the disease could prove difficult. In an exclusive interview with National Geographic, CDC Director Tom Frieden lamented Congress’s inability to pass a funding bill, “This is no way to fight an epidemic,” he said.

The mosquito-borne illness produces mild to moderate symptoms including fever, rash, and joint pain in most people, but pregnant women who contract the disease may gave birth to babies with smaller than average brains, a condition known as microcephaly. Zika is transmitted through a mosquito bite or sexual contact. More than 1,300 people have contracted Zika nationwide.

Q&A: Diversifying the Fed

National Urban League President Marc Morial recently met with the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors to make the case that more diversity in the U.S. banking system would have mitigated the devastation the recession inflicted on communities of color.

(Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster)
M arc Morial, the president of the civil-rights group the National Urban League, met recently with Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chair, to urge her to make a concerted effort to increase diversity in the U.S. central banking system. Several members of Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors and economists from the league also attended the meeting. The financial interests of communities of colors often take a backseat to the prerogatives of the big banks and the wealthy. The remedies that came out of the Great Recession were no exception: Restoring the health of the banking sector took precedence over trying to get struggling homeowners , many of them people of color, back on their feet. The National Urban League stressed that having a better mix of voices involved in Federal Reserve policy-making would go a long way to addressing the particular needs of minority communities. The American Prospect’s Nathalie Baptiste spoke with Morial about the benefits of a diverse...

Arizona's Blue Horizons

With increasing Latino activism, once-Republican Arizona is becoming contested terrain, though registration still lags. Will this be the year?

AP Photo/Matt York
This article appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Six years ago, as a response to a repressive anti-immigrant law, Silvana Salcido Esparza, who owns the popular Mexican restaurant Barrio Café near downtown Phoenix, began the Calle 16 mural project. Artists from the area came together to paint murals showcasing Mexican and Arizonian pride. Now, artists in Phoenix are poised to do the same thing in response to Donald Trump. In March, a famous anonymous street artist known as El Peezo resurfaced after almost two years of absence to paint a mural depicting Trump as Jabba the Hutt—the slug-like alien from the Star Wars film franchise—in the heart of Phoenix. (The mural has since been removed.) As a normally red state that borders Mexico, with a growing Latino population, Arizona is a breeding ground for both Trumpism and for the backlash against him. The state is an extreme case of the polarization afflicting America. Some...

Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling Sets Precedent for Pending Cases

The decision upholding the University of Texas at Austin's admissions program is a victory for affirmative action supporters.

(Photo: AP/Cliff Owen)
The Supreme Court’s recent ruling that upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admissions program sends a strong signal that pending lawsuits in the lower courts against other elite universities are less likely to be struck down. In Fisher v. Texas, Abigail Fisher, a white woman, alleged that she was rejected from Texas’s flagship public university in 2008 because of her race. (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the decision ). The Project on Fair Representation, an Austin-based nonprofit legal defense fund that represented Fisher, argued that the Supreme Court’s 4–3 decision weakens the country’s civil-rights laws. “As long as universities like the University of Texas continue to treat applicants differently by race and ethnicity, the social fabric that holds us together as a nation will be weakened,” Edward Blum, the project director, said in a statement. “[The] decision is a sad step backward for the...