New American Media - Thu, 06/13/2013 - 02:18
David S. Lee, a professor of economics and public affairs, was appointed provost at Princeton University, making him the first Asian American elevated to the administrative post.Lee will take over for Christopher L. Eisgruber, who was elected to be the... Koream Journal http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New American Media - Thu, 06/13/2013 - 01:06
A week after passing legislation to allow immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses, the Connecticut state legislature voted unanimously to enact the Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act, which limits its participation in the federal Secure Communities (S-Comm) program.... New America Media http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 22:09
Six-year-old Grace Colbert, star of the Cheerios commercial, and her parents, visited MSNBC's Thomas Roberts to share their take on the racist backlash the ad received soon after it premiered.
"Being part of a biracial family, it's just the reality," Christopher Colbert, the father of the six-year-old Grace, told MSNBC on Tuesday. "We're also part of the face of America."
Colbert added that he was "excited" about the reactions to the commercial, both good and bad.
"Being a biracial family is just a reality. We're also a part of the face of America, and so America just needs to see that this is just a way of life and that this is just the way life is today," Colbert said during the interview. "I wasn't upset or anything I was pretty much really excited to have this type of reaction so we could see where we still stand in America."
The six-year-old actress' mother, Janet Colbert, said that her daughter thought all the attention the commercial was getting must have been because of her great smile.
According to Census data, among opposite-sex married couples, one in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial, a 28% jump since 2000. In 2010, 18% of heterosexual unmarried couples were of different races (1.2 million couples) and 21% of same-sex couples (133,477 couples) were mixed.
The number of mixed-race babies has also climbed over the past decade. More than 7 percent of the 3.5 million children born in the year before the 2010 Census were of two or more races, up from barely 5 percent a decade earlier.
Colorlines - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 21:49
This essay was originally published at Salon.com on June 9, 2013.
There are a few dictums that have enjoyed pride of place in black American families alongside "Honor your parents" and "Do unto others" since at least Emancipation. One of them is this: The road to freedom passes through the schoolhouse doors.
After all, it was illegal even to teach an enslaved person to read in many states; under Jim Crow, literacy tests were used for decades to deny black voters their rights. So no surprise that from Reconstruction to the first black president, the consensus has been clear. The key to "winning the future," in one of President Obama's favorite phrases, is to get educated. "There is no surer path to success in the middle class than a good education," the president declared in his much-discussed speech on the roots of gun violence in black Chicago.
Rarely has that message resounded so much as now, with nearly one in seven black workers still jobless. Those who've found work have moved out of the manufacturing and public sectors, where good jobs were once available without a higher ed degree, and into the low-wage service sector, to which the uncredentialed are now relegated. So while it has become fashionable lately to speculate about middle-class kids abandoning elite colleges for adventures in entrepreneurship, an entirely different trend has been unfolding in black America -- people are going back to school in droves.
It's true at all levels of education. Yes, black college enrollment shot up by nearly 35 percent between 2003 and 2009, nearly twice the rate at which white enrollment increased. But we're getting all manner of schooling as we seek either an advantage in or refuge from the collapsed job market. As I've reported on the twin housing and unemployment crises in black neighborhoods in recent years, I've heard the same refrain from struggling strivers up and down the educational ladder: "I'm getting my papers, maybe that'll help." GEDs, associates degrees, trade licenses, certifications, you name it, we're getting it. Hell, I even went and got certified in selling wine; journalism's a shrinking trade, after all.
But this headlong rush of black Americans to get schooled has also led too many down a depressingly familiar path. As with the mortgage market of the pre-crash era, those who are just entering in the higher ed game have found themselves ripe for the con man's picking. They've landed, disproportionately, at for-profit schools, rather than at far less expensive public community colleges, or at public universities. And that means they've found themselves loaded with unimaginable debt, with little to show for it, while a small group of financial players have made a great deal of easy money. Sound familiar? Two points if you hear troublesome echoes of the subprime mortgage crisis.
Between 2004 and 2010, black enrollment in for-profit bachelor's programs grew by a whopping 264 percent, compared to a 24 percent increase in black enrollment in public four-year programs. The two top producers of black baccalaureates in the class of 2011 were University of Phoenix and Ashford University, both for-profits.
These numbers mirror a simultaneous trend in eroding security among ambitious black Americans with shrinking access to middle-class jobs. It's true that the country's middle class is collapsing for everyone, but that trend is most profound among African-Americans. In 2008, as black folks flocked into higher ed, the Economic Policy Institute found that 45 percent of African-Americans born into the middle class were living at or near poverty as adults.
For too many, school has greased the downward slide. Nearly every single graduate of a for-profit school -- 96 percent, according to a 2008 Department of Education survey -- leaves with debt. The industry ate 25 percent of federal student aid in the 2009-2010 school year. That's debt its students can't pay. The loan default rate among for-profit college students is more than double that of their peers in both public and nonprofit private schools, because the degrees and certificates the students are earning are trap doors to more poverty, not springboards to prosperity.
There's been growing, positive attention to this problem, and the Obama administration's ongoing efforts to rein in the excesses of for-profit schools are arguably among its most progressive policy goals. But few have understood the for-profit education boom as part of the larger economic challenge black America faces today. The black jobs crisis stretches way back to the 2001 recession, from which too many black neighborhoods never recovered. Workers and families have been scrambling ever since, trying to fix themselves such that they fit inside a broken economy. And it is that very effort at self-improvement, that same American spirit of personal re-creation and against-all-odds ambition that has so often led black people into the jaws of the 21st century's most predatory capitalists. From subprime credit cards through to subprime home loans and now on into subprime education, we've reached again and again for the trappings of middle-class life, only to find ourselves slipping further into debt and poverty.
Kiesha Whatley is an example.
Colorlines - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 19:17
At one time, a majority of people in the U.S.--a full 61 percent--supported affirmative action. That day is long gone. Today, support for affirmative action is at record lows, with just 45 percent of people in the U.S. saying that such programs are necessary today, according to a new poll conducted by NBC.
Since 1991 when those lofty highs were recorded, support for affirmative action has been on a steady decline. One reason is that affirmative action is a divisive tactic which inspires endless, exhausting debate. The other is that many people think there's less need for racial remediation programs like affirmative action these days, what with our black president and all.
But people of different races have differing opinions; 56 percent of whites oppose affirmative action but support among people of color is quite strong. Eighty percent of black respondents support affirmative action, along with 60 percent of Latinos.
The poll comes amidst tense anticipation ahead of the Supreme Court's ruling on Fisher v. Texas, the latest challenge to race-conscious admissions policies in higher education.
Colorlines - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 19:14
In March, Virginia passed a strict photo voter ID law that won't go into effect until 2014. It's the second voter ID law they've passed in as many years -- the first one enacted last year only after a review by the federal government made sure that it would not disenfranchise voters of color, even by mistake. The U.S. Department of Justice reviewed and cleared it just in time for the November elections last year. The much stricter version of Virginia's voter ID law passed this year may not enjoy the same federal scrutiny given its 2014 start date. Reason being, if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Section 5 is invalid -- and a ruling is expected within weeks -- then the voter ID law would go into effect regardless of its impact on people. Over 870,000 Virginians, mostly people of color, may lack the appropriate ID to vote, according to a letter sent from the ACLU to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell asking him to veto the new voter ID law.
So, it has to be asked: Is Virginia holding the new law to escape racial discrimination review? It's tough to think of Virginia in that context given its governor just went through the trouble of lifting voting bans on citizens formerly incarcerated for nonviolent felon charges. But if those who've left prison are unable to get government ID or a driver's license -- not uncommon for many formerly incarcerated, as pointed out by the Legal Action Center, due to missing vital documents like birth certificates -- then they may suffer disenfranchisement under the new law next year anyway.
Virginia isn't the only state holding back on passed election legislation. A report from the Brennan Center for Justice, "If Section 5 Falls: New Voting Implications," shows that many states have voter ID and other election laws on ice, and could quickly thaw them out for implementation immediately upon a SCOTUS ruling killing Section 5. It is not a foregone conclusion that SCOTUS will do this, but Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have all indicated that they want to strike it.
The Brennan report points to the Section 5-covered Alabama, which provides two examples similar to Virginia:
- In 2011, Alabama passed a law that requires residents to submit proof of their citizenship to register. The state submitted this law for review last year, but then withdrew it a month ago, after the Justice Department requested more information.
- The state also passed a voter ID law in 2011 that, like Virginia's, isn't slated to go into effect until 2014, and has not been submitted for federal review.
Laughlin McDonald, a veteran voting rights attorney and leader of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, told Brennan he believed Alabama's withdrawal of the proof-of-citizenship law might be "motivated by a desire to avoid an objection in the short-term," and the hope that the Supreme Court would ultimately remove the Section 5 review as a barrier.
"There are experts in the field and on the ground who are very concerned that certain [election law] changes that are anticipated are being stalled in moving forward for section five preclearance and the concern is that it is being done with the hopes of section five not being a barrier in the future," said Myrna Perez, deputy director for the Brennan Center for Justice's Democracy Program and co-author of the report, in a call with Colorlines this morning.
There are other consequences, unintended or maybe intended, if Section 5 is deleted from the Voting Rights Act, according to the report.
There are election laws recently blocked under Section Five that could be revived if it's struck and with no heavy lifting. "Of particular concern are those election changes that could be resuscitated with little delay and little public notice." Changes to polling place locations and for assistance for voters with limited English could be changed without a vote or new legislation. But there is some legislation that has been blocked that have remained on the books, even while not enforced. They could be dialed up immediately in some places.
And then there's the election legislation waiting in the wings in states like North Carolina, another Section 5 state that is looking to impose a strict voter ID requirement, cut early voting and disenfranchise those convicted of felonies. The bills have not become law yet, but it's possible that the Republicans who voted for them are awaiting the SCOTUS decision so perhaps they won't have to submit them for review. Meanwhile, North Carolina's attorney general Roy Cooper has filed an amicus brief asking that SCOTUS keep Section Five in tact.
Thousands have come out in North Carolina's state capital to protest these laws and others that would cause low-income and middle-class families there to suffer. Many of them have been jailed. These are the Section 5 headwinds the Supreme Court Justices will fly
Colorlines - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 19:11
As the full Senate prepares to begin debate today on the sweeping immigration reform bill, President Obama gave a speech from the White House urging Congress to pass the legislation. Focusing on the economic benefits of reform and trumpeting his administration's significant expansion of deportation and border enforcement, Obama said that Congress has no excuse not to pass the bill.
"If you're actually serious and sincere about fixing a broken system, this is the vehicle to do it," Obama said. "There is no good reason to engage in procedural games."
But immigration advocates say that the President must take a leading part in the move toward immigration justice by slowing deportations, which have separated hundreds of thousands of families and left communities riddled with holes.
A group of Congresspeople and immigrants with the support of nearly 500 organizations will deliver a letter to the President tomorrow morning calling on his administration to stop removing immigrants at the current rate of over 400,000 each year. "The best way to open a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is for you to immediately suspend deportations," the letter reads, "at a bare minimum, for those who would eventually be eligible for the Senate bill's legalization program. "
In his speech, the President said his deportation policies, which have removed historic numbers of people each year, have worked. "Today deportation of criminals is at its highest level ever," he said.
Advocates are not having it: "There continues to be a wide distance between the President's rhetoric and his record," said Pablo Alvarado, the director of the national Day Laborer Network, said in a statement. "To close the gap, the President must cease the 1,100 daily deportations he currently oversees."
In his speech, Obama also responded to Republican calls for more border security saying, as he often has, that the border is now more secure than ever. "We made border security a top priority," the President said, adding that his administration doubled the number of agents on the border.
The Senate immigration bill, which supporters say can pass with more than 60 votes, is expected to face significant challenges from Republicans who will introduce amendments to harden border enforcement provisions and make the path to citizenship more difficult, especially for low-income immigrants.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, who helped draft the legislation in the spring as a member of a bipartisan Gang of Eight Senators, has said recently that the current bill will become law as written. Rubio, along with Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma are threatening to introduce an amendment to give Congress power to draft and certify a border enforcement plan that the administration would then need to implement. Currently, the bill requires that the Department of Homeland Security implement new border enforcement measures before those on a path to citizenship can move ahead. The congressionally drafted plan could result in even more build up of armed agents and technology on the US-Mexico border. Advocates say the region can't sustain more militarization. But other members of the Gang of Eight Senate group, including New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer, have said they are open to considering the proposal.
Another amendment, from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., would expand border enforcement to require that border patrol apprehend at least 90 percent of attempted crossers before any undocumented immigrant can gain a green card. The amendment could derail the path to citizenship entirely since the 90 percent goal is by most accounts unattainable. Senate Majority Leady Harry Reid called the amendment a "poison pill." Another amendment from Sen. Paul Rand, R-KY., would require that Congress to stage a vote each year on the progress of border security.
Other Republicans will propose amendments to make it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship by increasing costs. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, plans to introduce an amendment that will require unauthorized immigrants to pay all unpaid back taxes from the entire period since arriving in the US. The bill already requires significant tax payments by applicants to the provisional path to citizenship. Though many undocumented immigrants now pay taxes, those who have not always paid income and other taxes may find the requirement impossible to meet, especially for those who've been in the country for decades.
While the Senate is expected to pass legislation in the next month, the fate of immigration reform in the House is less clear. House Speaker John Boehner said on "Good Morning America" today that he's confident the House will pass a bill. "I think, no question, by the end of the year we could have a bill. No question," he said. But for immigration advocates who say immigration enforcement has already reached an extreme, the bill's likely rightward drift to gain Republican support in the House raises concerns about what the law will ultimately mean for non-citizens.
Colorlines - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 17:40
Los Angeles Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig became the National League Player of the Week shortly after his first game in Major League Baseball. And that's not the only record he's breaking.
The Dodgers sold more Puig-related merchandise from Thursday to Sunday than they had ever sold of any player over a four-day period -- more than even Manny Ramirez, Fernando Valenzuela or Hideo Nomo, according to a team spokesperson.
The team sold approximately 3,000 units of Puig-related merchandise in that four-day window, including 1,600 t-shirts ($28), 400 "Viva Puig" t-shirts ($28) and 600 jerseys ($225 for the authentic version, $110 for the replica ones).
In his first week in the Major Leagues, Puig led baseball with 27 total bases and was tied for the Major League lead with four home runs. His .964 slugging percentage was second-best in the Majors and was the top mark among National Leaguers. The 22-year-old native of Cienfuegos, Cuba also ranked among league leaders with a .464 (13-for-28) batting average (2nd), 10 RBI (3rd), 13 hits (3rd), and a .483 on-base percentage (7th).
The Los Angeles Dodgers signed the Cuban defector to a seven-year, $42 million contract last summer.
Colorlines - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 16:41
Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall tried to tell us. "We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act," they wrote in a public letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last year. They were correct, both in thier warnings and in their judgement of the public's stunned response. The senators are bound by oath from offering details, since the Obama administration's collection of mass data about Americans' phone calls and Internet communications is classified. But thanks to good journalism we know the truth this week: In the name of fighting terror, President Obama has continued and expanded George W. Bush's secret trampling of basic civil liberties. The administration has routinely violated rights that American law and culture hold sacred and that this president has repeatedly claimed to defend.
But Wyden and Udall aren't the only ones who've warned, loudly and repeatedly, that the national security apparatus is out of control, verging on lawlessness. Since 2001, Muslim American communities have been under siege. Religious and racial profiling has become the norm, from the FBI down to local police agencies. Some of the most shocking behavior--among the practices we know about, at least--has come from the New York Police Department. Following what we've now learned to be common logic at the federal level as well, NYPD has engaged in widespread, indiscriminate spying on Muslim residents across the Northeast. In mosques, universities, restaurants--wherever Muslims gather, NYPD has sent spies and collected information. Everyone making a life inside a Muslim community is guilty until proven innocent.
Muslim community leaders and civil liberties advocates have insisted this sort of preemptive surveillance is unjust and unproductive. But following the logic of the Obama administration, Ray Kelly and Mike Bloomberg insist they must spy on everyone they deem dangerous, because a terrorist could emerge at any moment.
Others have warned of this reckless expansion of "national security" as well. Like Muslim commmunities, immigrant communities of all sorts have been battered by it since 2001, and with particular force by this president. The Obama administration has deported more people than any previous one. It has done so using legally questionable enforcement programs that shrug in the direction of things like due process--of the systems we've created as a nation to protect residents from the whims of the state. Anecdotal evidence suggests detainees are deliberately housed in places that make it more difficult for them to access legal support. States and localities have been compelled to turn over to the feds information about people accused of crimes, in order to begin the deportation process. In one border-state program, which is poised to expand as part of the Senate's immigration reform bill, detained immigrants are processed together in mass hearings that make a mockery of measured justice. They accept plea deals en masse and with limited legal counsel for the crime of crossing the border without authorization, deals that land them in detention for anywhere from a couple of weeks to 20 years. In fact, border crossing has been prosecuted with such haste and so little measure that, according to one study, "illegal entry" and "illegal re-entry" were the most prosecuted crimes in the federal judicial system in 2011, accounting for more than 70,000 prosecutions.
Immigration reform advocates have for years been warning that these processes are un-American. They have argued that the legal and political justifications for our breakneck deportation system degrades our basic values as a nation. But the administration has defended its deportation pipeline, successfully and with vigor, by draping it in national security. It is necessary, we are told, to keep us safe. We must violate our ideals to defend our laws and hold our border.
And we can't stop with Muslims and immigrants. The same logic has long been used to justify the so-called war on drugs. Our political leaders long ago exempted many urban, black communities from due process protections. Our prisons and jails are filled today with hugely disproportionate numbers of black men and women not by accident, but because Congress and states passed laws that, like the Patriot Act, declared the state could do as it pleased when pursuing those it deemed dangerous. Prosecutors and police were given unchecked power; judges were stripped of their balancing authority. Today in New York City, in the name of keeping my neighborhood safe, the police routinely detain and search young black men with no more justification than their desire to do so.
It is comforting to believe these things have nothing to do with one another, to insist that the administration's shocking spying program is a distinct issue from the trends we've witnessed in communities of color for years. But the logic used to defend secretly collecting the communications data of people not accused of any crime is the same logic used to defend NYPD's stop-and-frisk program and Homeland Security's deportation apparatus. The logic of "national security" was developed and honed by law enforcement practices inside communities of color. It is one of the more striking examples of a basic truth: racial injustice is cancerous; it eats the national body from the inside out.
"The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue," the New York Times editorial board wrote in a withering June 6 op-ed. Indeed, but a fair review of the record must conclude that credibility was lost long ago, perhaps somewhere along the way to deporting 400,000 people a year via morally, if not legally questionable powers. It's a cautionary tale for people across the ideological spectrum on state power. Injustice ignored will surely spread.
Colorlines - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 16:28
Today, as we all enter into a likely media whirlwind surrounding the trial of Goerge Zimmerman, I'm turning over my Movement Notes space today to my long time friend Eric Mann. Eric is the founder of the Labor/Community Strategy Center and the architect of the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union. He has spent decades working on racial, gender and economic justice, and he's applied his considerable intellect and outrage here to helping us all prepare for dealing with the predictable direction of the trial.
Make Demands, Try the System
George Zimmerman will go on trial today for the murder of Trayvon Martin. But let's be clear, within the defense's opening arguments, for many who follow the trial--which will be televised!--it will be Trayvon Martin who will be on trial.
He in fact already is. On May 23, the Orlando Sentinel offered the following news:New evidence in Zimmerman case: Trayvon texted about fighting, smoking marijuana about a week before he was killed.
The evidence that George Zimmerman's attorneys have uncovered on Trayvon Martin's cell phone paints a troubling picture of the Miami Gardens teenager: He sent text messages about being a fighter, smoking marijuana and being ordered to move out of his home by his mother.
And photos from that phone offer more of the same: healthy green plants--what appear to be marijuana--growing in pots and a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun.
So here we go again with a script deep in the white American psyche: the impossibility of Black innocence.
My first experience with the horror of racism was the murder of Emmett Till in 1955; he was only a year older than me when he died. It was alleged that Till, a 14-year-old Chicago black boy visiting Mississippi for the summer, did not know his place and whistled at a white woman in a store. That evening the husband of the woman and his friend came to the house of Emmett's grandfather, kidnapped Emmett, beat him beyond recognition, and then drowned his body. When his mutilated body was found, Emmett's Mother, Mamie Till, insisted that his casket be left open because, in her words, "I wanted the world to see what they did to my baby." The images shocked the black community and attracted great anger and sympathy from anti-racist people all over the world.
And yet, for some, the debate focused on whether Emmett had or hadn't made any flirtatious advances toward a southern white woman--with many believing that if so, he had brought his murder on himself.
When I worked in the Newark Community Union Project in 1966-1968 in the city's black south and central wards, we worked on many community issues including police brutality. In each case we worked to identify the facts of the story and document the specifics of the brutality. I still remember George Richardson, a militant black political figure explaining to us his views on the realities of police brutality cases as if it was yesterday. You know, Eric, in these police brutality cases, we are always looking for the perfect black victim, the completely "innocent" black man, but he doesn't exist. In our ideal case, a white cop beats or shoots a black man and it turns out it was a black doctor walking down the street doing absolutely nothing when a white cop comes up to him and beats him badly. But that is never the way it is. The guy usually is poor or working class, has a criminal record, he was drinking, he talked back to the cop, he ran a traffic sign, he shoplifted, he 'resisted arrest', he yelled at the cop, he raised his hand whether in self-defense or even to fight back. But that has nothing to do with the fact that he was beaten half to death for being black. In every case, the black man is on trial, guilty until proven innocent and you what, for most of these folks, even our hypothetical black doctor could never be innocent enough. Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black manchild leaving a gated community and shot down in cold blood was as close in reality to that hypothetical black doctor as one can imagine, but it did not save him from an early grave.
So now, in this important test case, it's essential that the civil rights movement and organizers in communities of color put the system on trial--for this trial is not about George Zimmerman alone, but also about how a system that sanctioned the murder of an un-armed black teenager until mass national and international pressure forced a trial. We have to win the argument that there are no extenuating circumstances in the stalking and murder of unarmed black men, and while we are there, we have to win the argument that a pen, or a knife, or a shopping cart, or a parked car or "something that looked like a gun" are not lethal weapons at 15 feet, and that lethal force is not an option.
Every time someone raises any questions about Trayvon, and we can be assured that as the trial goes on, the character assassination of Trayvon Martin will escalate, we have to counter with the most radical and structural demands on the system possible, to shift the therms of the debate and put the system on trial. This tactic--what's been called "counter-hegemonic demand development"--was the great contribution of the civil rights movement and is rooted in Frederick Douglass' advice: Power accedes to nothing without a demand.
We have to roll back all the stop and frisk laws, all the "hold your ground laws," all the "war on drugs" laws, the endless web of laws that have put one million black people in prison and millions more in probation and parole. We have to demand President Obama enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act and use his statutory power to withhold federal funds from any agency using those funds in a racially discriminatory manner--from Los Angeles to Chicago, from New York to Houston and everywhere else in between. We need to demand the social welfare state, not the police state--1,000 more buses, 1,000 more teachers, 1,000 more nurses, 1,000 fewer police. When we say Trayvon Martin did not die in vain, we have to fight for the maximum program that his life and his death and his innocence deserve.
Eric Mann, a veteran of the Congress of Racial Equality, United Auto Workers and Students for a Democratic Society, and is the director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles. He is the host of KPFK's Pacifica Voices from the Frontlines and the author of "Playbook for Progressives: 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colorlines - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 16:14
We held a live chat with Colorlines readers and southern LGBT organizers as part of our ongoing LGBT Pride 2013 coverage. You can watch the recorded discussion in the video above.
As the Supreme Court mulls over two historic marriage equality cases, we're turning our eye toward the ways in which activists in the South are wedding that high-stakes fight with the ongoing struggle for racial justice.
Culturally, the country has become much more friendly toward LGBT folks. We see them openly on TV, in government, on our sports teams. But that heightened visibility hasn't gotten rid of the structural inequalities that still plague many queer folks. Jobs are scarce, especially for LGBT would-be workers of color. State and community violence still threaten the lives and safety of queer people in general, and transgender folks of color in particular.
Fresh off of the release of a new research report from our publisher at the Applied Research Center, I'm talking with one hardworking activist who's working at the intersection of sexuality and race in the South. Bishop Tonyia Rawls is the founder and executive director at The Freedom Center for Social Justice, which is in the middle of launching the region's first Transgender Employment Program.
The live chat is now over -- watch the half-hour video recording at the top of this page!
New American Media - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 16:00
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY, Calif. -- “My daughter was never home late,” George Shi says, his English slow but determined. “She was never out dancing or drinking. She was a good girl. Why they kill her?”The middle-aged Chinese man sits in... Nasrin Aboulhosn http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New American Media - Wed, 06/12/2013 - 11:05
(The Root) -- Wednesday will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, and the timing couldn't be more significant: Any day now, the Supreme Court could strike down a pair of landmark remedies owed... Corey Dade http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Tue, 06/11/2013 - 23:03
The heat in Louisiana has been unbearable the past few summers. So imagine what it's been like for inmates of the "prison capital of the world" where sun heat turns prison facilities into something like ovens.
Three inmates at the Angola Louisiana State Penitentiary in Louisiana are suing the state's department of public safety and corrections for failing to provide relief for those suffering on death row in cells that trap heat indexed as high as 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Inmates spend 23 hours a day in these cells with little ventilation. An investigation by the Advocacy Center into death row prison conditions found that it gets so hot that prisoners sometimes sleep on the floor where it's somewhat cooler, suffering fire ant bites in the process. The inmates' requests for relief have been rejected by the prison officials.
The Promise of Justice Initiative is suing on behalf of Elzie Ball, who is 60 years old and is a diabetic, Nathaniel Code, who is 57 years old and has hepatitis, and James Magee, 35 with depression. Because of their conditions they are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Heat is the number one weather-related killer according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, killing more people yearly on average than floods, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.
"The conditions on death row at Angola are horrifying, and a fundamental violation of Constitutional protections," said Mercedes Montagnes, Promise of Justice Initiative lawyer and lead attorney on the lawsuit. "There is no question that the lack of climate control puts these men in a dangerous situation. Because they are confined to these block cells, their ability to take any step to maintain their health is severely limited."
While visiting areas of the prison are air-conditioned, the cells get little more than fans that blow hot air around. The metal bars and cinder block walls of the cells meanwhile become too hot to touch. The lawsuit is asking that the temperature be controlled so that the heat index doesn't exceed 88 degrees and that ice water be distributed to the inmates on a regular basis.
Climate change may exacerbate these conditions if proper mitigation isn't achieved. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, cities in North America that regularly experience heatwaves -- and virtually all of Louisiana would qualify -- "are expected to be further challenged by an increased number, intensity and duration of heat waves during the course of the century, with potential for adverse health impacts."
The IPCC's special report "Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation" states that "It is virtually certain that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes and decreases in cold extremes will occur in the 21st century at the global scale. ... a 1-in-20 year hottest day is likely to become a 1-in-2 year event by the end of the 21st century in most regions, except in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, where it islikely to become a 1-in-5 year event."
Meanwhile, 2012 was the United States' warmest year on record, by "a wide margin." Not providing air conditioning certainly feels cruel during these unusually hot seasons.
Colorlines - Tue, 06/11/2013 - 22:53
The world will be able to take a closer look at New Orleans-based emcee Big Freedia. The reigning bounce music diva's new reality show, "Queen of Bounce," will premiere this fall on Wednesday, September 18 on Fuse TV. The show will follow Freedia and other bounce artists, including Katey Red, Sissy Nobby, and Mr. Ghetto.
More from the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
"Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce" is one of three new music-focused programs on Fuse debuting this year. On July 24, the network premieres "G-Thing," a show that follows Italian-American rapper G-Fella and his family as they try to launch an independent record label, and "Insane Clown Posse Theater." The latter is a program featuring the infamous clown-faced rappers Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope: the show includes the pair's commentary on new music videos and pop culture phenomena as well as comedy sketches and interviews with special guests. "Insane Clown Posse Theater" previously was available as an online series; this summer, it graduates to the TV screen.
Earlier this year Pitchfork released an intriguing 27-minute documentary on Big Freedia. Check it out if you haven't already. Seems like it's just a taste of what's to come this September.
Colorlines - Tue, 06/11/2013 - 22:52
After a 30 year absence from Broadway, Cicely Tyson became the oldest person to win an award for her starring role as Miss Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful. Rod McCullom noted that received the "longest standing ovation of the night", reported The New York Times. Watch her acceptance speech in the video above.
The Times also notes that black actors had a huge night at the Tonys in general last night:
...at a time when only 15 to 20 percent of actors on Broadway are black, half of the major acting awards went to African-Americans. Cicely Tyson, at age 88, won her first Tony for best actress in a play as a neglected mother in "The Trip to Bountiful"; Patina Miller, best actress in a musical as the Leading Player in "Pippin;" Mr. Porter, best actor in a musical as the drag queen Lola in "Kinky Boots"; and Courtney B. Vance, best featured actor in a play as a newspaper editor in "Lucky Guy."
Colorlines - Tue, 06/11/2013 - 22:47
Today the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed lawsuits against two companies, BMW and Dollar General, for allegedly discriminating against workers and job applicants who'd had interactions with the criminal justice system. The EEOC lawsuits charge that both companies' practices had a disparate impact on black workers.
Dollar General, the nation's largest small-box discount retailer, makes job offers contingent on applicants' first clearing a criminal background check. One worker filed a complaint with the EEOC after she was fired because of a felony which showed up erroneously in a convictions report on her. Even when she cleared her name with the company they would not give her back her job, EEOC says.
And a BMW manufacturing facility in South Carolina kept an exclusionary policy which barred employees and employees of subcontractors from entering a facility if they had certain criminal convictions, EEOC says. They held onto the policy when it came time to transition workers from a phased-out contractor, even though those workers had already cleared the contractor's background checks. Workers, even longtime employees, who didn't clear the new checks lost their jobs and could not get them back, according to the EEOC.
New American Media - Tue, 06/11/2013 - 22:07
The decision to award the National Journalism Prize to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is being met with incredulity in the U.S. Latino media. Chavez, who died in March from cancer, was accused of persecuting the press during his... La Opinión http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
It’s Not Over: Jeffrey Chen, Former Medina Police Chief Awarded $2 Million for Discrimination Claims, Awaits Post-Trial Decision
New American Media - Tue, 06/11/2013 - 20:47
Though an eight-person federal jury unanimously awarded former Medina Police Chief Jeffrey Chen $2 million for discrimination claims against the city of Medina at the end of March, the city’s request for an appeal in April will delay any of... International Examiner http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New American Media - Tue, 06/11/2013 - 11:30
The 21st century is a world where data -- bits of information about what we do, what we say, and how we spend money -- has become as important as the story narrative. It’s hard to make any kind of... Mark Trahant http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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@JamilSmith The distorted #media depiction of African American men & boys has real life consequences, again. #mediadiversity #Tremaine