Colorlines - Wed, 11/27/2013 - 17:42
San Francisco's increasing number of evictions have made national news this week. On Monday, the New York Times ran a piece on the "backlash by the Bay" that got lots of attention, and now former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown has taken up the issue in a recent column for the San Francsico Chronicle. At issue are the tax breaks -- which could cost $55 million -- that city leaders offered Twitter to move into downtown. Here's Brown:
There's a war brewing in the streets of San Francisco, and a lot of people could get caught up in it if the tech world doesn't start changing its self-centered culture.
Every day in every way, from rising rents to rising prices at restaurants to its private buses, the tech world is becoming an object of scorn. It's only a matter of time before the techies' youthful lustre fades, and they're seen as just another extension of Wall Street.
And when that happens, tenant advocates, community activists, labor unions and Occupy types are going to start asking why we're giving away the city to all these white-male-dominated businesses that don't even hire locals.
We've covered a handful of those evictions here at Colorlines, notably those of the Lee and Yañez families from their longtime homes in the city's Chinatown and Mission District. At the heart of many of these evictions is what's known as the Ellis Act, a local law that's been used to push longtime tenants out of rent controlled apartments. California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is pushing for legislation that could revise the law and make it harder for landlords to evict people from their homes, according to CBS Local News in San Francisco.
Colorlines - Wed, 11/27/2013 - 17:38
WNBA star Brittney Griner is the focus of a new segment on AOL's new original series "My Ink" and the openly gay baller took a minute to show off what she calls her "lesbian tattoo." The moment's at about the 1:45 mark in the above video.
Colorlines - Wed, 11/27/2013 - 17:21
There is so much to celebrate in Indian Country, but we don't always know where to look, and it's hard to keep track of small wins and big victories. Non-Natives sometimes dwell on history instead of embracing the fact that Natives are doing pretty great things today. This can teach us all lessons moving forward. As Native American Heritage Month winds down, here are five important things to celebrate about Indian Country:
We don't tend to think of English as a foreign language in the United States, but it is. Prior to contact with Europeans, it's estimated that there were some 600 indigenous languages spoken in North America. Today, there are fewer than 200 spoken in the United States and Canada. Revitalizing languages is important. As Anton Treuer writes in "Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask," "Tribal language education is a powerful tool for the development of everything from cognitive function to basic self-esteem." The Menominee Language Institute is a great example of natural immersion, and there are countless programs that are all aiming to keep language alive.
Jenny L. Davis is a linguistic anthropologist who researches languages revitalization and the way that language intersects with indigenous identity. Some of what she's found most surprising is the way that people are familiar with and know pieces of multiples languages--the result of social interaction, networking and activism at a multi-tribal level.
Davis says that most communities in North America now have some type of language program but that hasn't always been the case. "It's happening at a community level, and if you look at language revitalization programs in tribes, most have been founded in the last five or 10 years," says Davis. She adds that people like parents and those with full-time jobs often do the work of teaching Native languages, and do the work free of charge because they're passionate about the resurgence.
Laughter is often the best medicine, and that's certainly true in Indian Country. A new generation of Natives are using the Internet to keep the laughter rolling, while addressing a myriad of topics. Take The 1491s. According to their website, they are "a sketch comedy group, based in the wooded ghettos of Minnesota and buffalo grass of Oklahoma. They are a gaggle of Indians chock full of cynicism and splashed with a good dose of indigenous satire." The group is well known for its hilarious videos, including "New Moon Wolf Pack Auditions!!!!," "Blood Quantum Leap" and "The Adoption of Johnny Depp." And it's not just humor--check out the "1491s Represent series, which features Natives maintaining their practices, even in places like Ivy League colleges, which can sometimes be isolating.
And it's not just the 1491s who are making use of the Internet to spread humor. At the start of November, Andrew Curley launched Tlo'chi'iin News--a satirical news site that draws hilarity from otherwise serious topics like tribal sovereignty. In the Navajo language Diné, tlo'chi'iin means onion, which is a nod to the satirical site, The Onion. In a recent post, Tlo'chi'iin News claims that the Navajo nation is investigating the Kennedy assassination, and that the nation devised an elaborate test involving sheep and a sawed-off decommissioned cop car to find clues to the killing. Curley, who is a graduate student, has seen a positive response from younger people, but has also confusion from older folks and tribal officials who sometimes think the satirical stories are actually true.
Jason Pickel and Darren Blackbear grabbed headlines last month when the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes married the two because the marriage took place on tribal jurisdiction in the state of Oklahoma where same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Tribal sovereignty trumps state law, including in marriage and divorce matters, making their marriage valid.
But Pickel and Blackbear weren't the first to be issued a marriage license by a Native nation within a state where same-sex marriage is banned. In 2004, voters in Oregon made same-sex marriage unconstitutional--but that didn't stop the Coquille Tribe from recognizing same-sex marriage in 2008. To date, eight Native nations issue same-sex marriage licenses, including in some states it's illegal. Six Native nations, however, have banned it.
Highest Minimum Wage
Some Native nations are really hurting in this economy. The sequester, followed by the recent government shutdown, have made a bad economy even worse--and the U.S. federal government hasn't fulfilled its constitutional obligations to programs like the Indian Health Service. But some Native nations have thrived, despite the odds. So much so that the highest minimum wage has been set by the Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians--higher than the federal standard, and higher than any tribal, state, or local minimum wage.
Starting this January, all of the 1,135 workers at the Jackson Rancheria's resort in California will earn a minimum of $10.60 per hour. Workers--including those who aren't tribal members--also earn generous benefits, including medical, dental and vision insurance, life insurance, paid holidays and a retirement plan. Parents who work for Jackson Rancheria also enjoy on-site childcare. The wage increase will cost the Jackson Rancheria about $5 million per year--but will probably keep those workers pretty happy.
There are countless websites dedicated to Native news and many of them focus on a particular nation or region. Four sites that cover a variety of Native news in North America and provide excellent analysis on Native issues are Indian Country Today Media Network, Indianz.com, Last Real Indians and Native News Network.
Colorlines - Wed, 11/27/2013 - 17:11
Five years ago this month Marcelo Lucero, an undocumented immigrant living in the Long Island, N.Y., village of Patchogue, was stabbed to death by seven teens who were out on one of their "beaner-hopping" jaunts. Attacking Latinos for sport was one of the teens' late-night diversions. Some of the last words Lucero heard before his death were slurs. "Fucking Mexican, fucking illegals," Jeffrey Conroy and six other teens--Jordan Dasch, Anthony Hartford, Nicholas Hausch, Christopher Overton, Jose Pacheco and Kevin Shea--shouted at Lucero and his best friend, Angel Loja. (It hardly mattered that they were in fact Ecuadorian.)
But the horrific violence was hardly isolated to Long Island. For several consecutive years between 2003 and 2010 the FBI recorded steady, serious increases in anti-Latino hate crimes in the U.S. Back in Patchogue, Lucero's death shook the small village to its core. In her new book "Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town" (Beacon Press), journalist Mirta Ojito set out to understand how so brutal a murder could take place in so idyllic a town. What she found amidst the lasting scars of pain and confusion was a small town that seemingly ignored the warning signs that something so horrible could happen, but is determined not to let the past repeat itself. Ojito spoke with Colorlines about 'Hunting Season' soon after ; observed the fifth anniversary of Lucero's murder.
The years around when Marcelo Lucero were killed were full of many anti-immigrant hate crimes. Of all the hate crimes, of all the small towns, what drew you to this story in particular?
I was attracted to it for a variety of reasons. One was the type of crime. The fact that these boys went "hunting for beaners," quote unquote. I had never heard the term before; you had to explain it to me and it made me curious.
Two, this was in the state of New York, on Long Island, 60 miles from New York City. Years ago when I was working for the New York Times I wrote a piece that said immigrants were bypassing the cities and moving straight to suburbia. It seemed this was an opportunity to follow up on that story that I had worked on in 1996 in which a sociologist told me there would be consequences to the movement of immigrants to suburbia bypassing the cities. I though I could make a contribution with my book.
One thing you're really clear about is the anti-immigrant political sentiment that was so thick in the air at the time, and how the drumbeat of lawmakers and media personalities repeating that rhetoric made its way to school children, including the young people of the town. Can you say more about that connection and what you learned about how young people internalize the fear and the distrust in the ether?
It continues to be part of our political discourse that [undocumented immigrants] have done something so terrible that they do not deserve to be Americans. And at the time that message was exaggerated by what many elected officials were saying. [Politicians like Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy] were mocking immigrants. I had a hard time even writing down their words even though I was copying from published texts.
How do young people internalize that? As they internalize anything else. Young people learn from what the adults around them do and say. Particularly those they respect or those who take care of them, from their parents to their teachers to people they see, and people on TV. Children are like sponges, and these seven people grew up at a time when there was a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment in Suffolk County. They would have been witnesses to the way immigrants were treated and the language used to describe them and their actions. And I think to a certain degree they were taught to dehumanize immigrants. And, when you don't think of people as humans, you think of them as prey, and you can hunt prey.
You're very detailed in your descriptions of the killing and the responsibility these kids have for killing Lucero, but you also advance the idea that the young people who killed Lucero were failed by society.
I think so. I met the families of two of them and I didn't see anything in these homes and families to indicate that they were horrible people. I went to their homes. I saw what they have on the walls. I saw the way they live. Their home was not unlike mine. They had pictures of their kids on the walls, regular furniture. They were regular people. They were not horrible people. They were parents in terrible pain and they don't understand what happened. One in particular, the father of Jeffrey Conroy, said his son was blamed for all the failures of immigration [reform] in the U.S. and that it was unfair. I wouldn't go as far as that because his son did kill someone. But I do think that these young people were failed by the system. And what is really sad is no one seemed to be paying attention.
As you saw in the book, the high school was pretty divided and a lot was going on in the high school. It's pretty incredible that no one noticed it. If teachers were not paying attention, or did know and didn't want to intervene, that's serious. That's alarming. The police didn't know people were being repeatedly attacked in the streets of Patchogue, that is serious and is alarming. If the police knew it and didn't do anything, that is even more serious and alarming. So I feel that there were moments in which these activities could have been stopped. The signs were there, and the intent to do harm and harass people were there in six of these kids if not all seven. But at some point someone could have stepped in and said, "What you are doing is wrong." For an entire community to say, "We didn't know"--it seemed to me almost impossible that no one would have known. When one of the youth [who participated in attacking Lucero] was giving a confession he said, "Oh we didn't do it that often. We did it once or twice a week."
And ostracizing someone who does something so horrific is easier than looking inward at what role the community played in that act.
I actually think after it happened, after, some people did look inward. The mayor certainly did. The mayor of Patchogue, Paul Pontieri, just read a book on a flight to Denver. When he landed he sent me an email and said, "I didn't think I wanted to read this book, but I'm glad I did. I was crying on the flight." He sent me another email: "Use this in any way you want because everyone ought to read this book. It's a cautionary tale." And it wasn't just the mayor. People have stepped up and people have tried to help the community heal in many ways.
So many people in the town were willfully blind or studiously avoided the presence of the burgeoning Latino community. So many people had no idea of the names of their neighbors. It has become a cliché that many undocumented immigrants 'live in the shadows,' but to many in Patchogue, the immigrant community really was invisible.
I can see how that could have happened. But not every Hispanic person who lived in Patchogue was undocumented. Hector Sierra, the person who was attacked right before Marcelo Lucero and Angel Loja, was a naturalized citizen born in Colombia. So I think people who were Hispanic in Suffolk County were fair game. Nobody was going to stop and ask you, "Do you speak English? Do you have papers? How long have you lived here?" It was an anti-Hispanic feeling even if they wouldn't put it that way. In their words they would say it was against quote unquote "illegals." But I think illegality is difficult to separate from being Hispanic in this country.
During the trial, even the judge, when he was asking [potential jury members] about their biases, he asked the pool, "Do you have any 'Spanish' friends?" Spanish as in the language, or as in the country. So the language and the ethnicity have become intrinsically linked with illegality in certain areas of the country. Not so in others, but it was certainly true in Suffolk County.
Young people are the ones who commit the most hate crimes, and they attack in groups, they tend to be male, and they tend to be on drugs and alcohol. But they tend to be fueled more by seeking thrills than by bigotry. So they're hate crimes in the sense that they are clearly looking for a certain type of target. They utter certain words and phrases during the attack. But the real motivation may have been just thrill-seeking, just because it's fun and these people don't matter anyway and no one cares. And I think that's the message they were getting from the grown-ups. I don't mean their parents, I mean everyone, just about everyone in their community.
What has the path toward healing looked like for the town?
In Patchogue there was an immigrant attack in April. The mayor said it wasn't clear if it was a hate crime or a crime of opportunity. A lot of undocumented immigrants carry cash on them because they cannot be paid in checks. After that, two others were attacked in East Patchogue, nearby. It's kind of alarming that it keeps going on, but on the other hand the mayor was happy that the immigrants went to him first. That meant the lines of communication have been opened. That they did not go home quietly as they used to before and now are seeking help. To me, that's healing. Other than that, Marcelo's brother Joselo has picked up his brother's memory in a very graceful and courageous way. There's a vigil in the town every November.
I didn't go this year but in the past they were community events. There were truly many people from many segments of society at these vigils. It's hard to know what people have in their hearts or what they say at home but it seems to be a safer, nicer place now according to what some immigrants have told me. A high school student said there's no longer a hallway just where Hispanic students congregate at school. Some of them even have lunch together. There is a soccer tournament in which everyone plays. A lot of it is symbolic, but I think symbols, like words, add up.
Colorlines - Wed, 11/27/2013 - 16:56
"Young Lakota," a film about how South Dakota's anti-abortion battle has played out on the Pine Ridge reservation, will make its national debut tonight on PBS' Independent Lens series at 10pm EST.
More than just political commentary, the film follows the personal journeys of two young Native Americans who grapple with decisions about their own reproductive health.
Here's more from Christina Rose at Indian Country:
The documentary is the centerpiece of the filmmaker's reproductive justice campaign. From 2006 to 2008, women's rights were front and center when South Dakota sought to outlaw abortion. Cecelia Fire Thunder, the first woman tribal president in Pine Ridge, moved to establish a women's clinic on the reservation, and it have included the right to choose.
Fire Thunder was ultimately impeached for her unyielding position that all women deserve to make their own decisions about their personal choices. The film covers her impeachment and the effect it had on the 21-year-old Clifford twins. Their friend Brandon Ferguson, a young father, begins the film as a journalist covering the impeachment, but clearly is at odds with his feelings about abortion and friendships are tested. The impeachment had a direct affect on the lives of all three, who begin to question traditions that are brought to the fore.
Read more at Indian Country. And if you can't tune in tonight, you're in luck. It's set to be available for streaming on PBS' website through the week. Also, here's an update from one of the film's kick-ass stars, Sunny Clifford.
New America Media - Wed, 11/27/2013 - 12:00
Above: Jose Lopez in his home near the Central Valley city of Fresno, California.Ed. Note: As families prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, farmworkers across the country who help harvest the food that will be prepared this holiday season continue to struggle... David Bacon http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Wed, 11/27/2013 - 01:52
In a letter on Monday, leaders of the state Senate and Assembly criticized proposed regulations on state funding for the state’s neediest students as inconsistent with the intent of the new school finance law.Their letter to the State Board of... EdSource Today http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Wed, 11/27/2013 - 01:42
Nearly 40 percent of the nation's homeless population in 2012 were African-American, according to a report titled “The 2012 Annual Homeless Report to Congress: Volume II Estimates of Homelessness in the United States.”The 101-page study by the U.S. Department of... The NorthStar News http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 23:50
English Arriba: El inmigrante indocumentado Eddy Arias (al centro) habla durante un foro en Houston la semana pasada, que reunió a los líderes de las comunidades pro derechos de los inmigrantes, LGBT y de las mujeres. Houston - Eddy... Elena Shore http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 23:30
What do you do if your NFL franchise takes center stage on Monday Night Football? If you're Dan Snyder, owner of Washington DC's NFL football team, you use it another moment to troll your critics. Snyder has already steadfastly refused to concede to calls to change his team's patently racist name. But during last night's Monday Night Football matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, the team "honored" Navajo Code Talkers who developed and memorized a secret code based on their native languages to help American forces during World War II.
Snyder has maintained that his team's name is not racist but, in fact, a tribute to Native Americans. This was obviously a move to try to push that point even further. But no amount of spin can change the fact that the name is downright racist.
Watch the video over at Deadspin.
Colorlines - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 23:20
Pimprae Hiranprueck, who goes by Nancy, barely spoke English when she left Thailand for the U.S. at age 13. And while she now calls the U.S. home, for many years she's struggled to reconcile missing her home country, and the family she left behind. As a way of coping and investigating the layers of emotions she felt about her estrangement, and her imminent return to Thailand, she produced "Intersecting the Parallels," a photography project where inserts herself into landscapes and family photographs. In a recent interview in Slate, Hiranprueck says the project enabled her to, "reacquaint myself with friends and family and to create new memories." Read more on her website.
Colorlines - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 23:00
Today, the IRS announced that it will be issuing new guidance on the kinds of campaign-related political activity that social welfare nonprofits (501c4) can engage. This comes after a year of controversy where Tea Party groups camouflaged as "social welfare" organizations have cried foul against the IRS, accusing the tax agency of delaying or denying their tax-exempt status applications for partisan reasons. Organizations with 501c4 status historically have been able to support or endorse candidates running for office so long as that activity doesn't make up a substantial amount of the nonprofit's overall agenda. But what constitutes "substantial amount" has been vague, and as a result billionaire activists -- many of them on the extreme conservative side, like the Koch Brothers -- have taken advantage of that ambiguity by setting up shadowy 501c4s that in recent elections have collected millions in "dark money" for their favored candidates, or against candidates they oppose. Donors who contribute to 501c4s do not have to disclose their identity.
But new IRS rules plan to demystify what "subtantial amount" means and clarify what exactly 501c4s can and can't do when it comes to elections. According to this wire from the Wall Street Journal, the IRS and Deparmtent of Treasury are seeking to define "social welfare" by excluding "candidate-related political activity." What is included in "candidate-related political activity" [from WSJ]:
- Communications that expressly advocate for a clearly identified political candidate or candidates of a political party.
- Communications that are made within 60 days of a general election (or within 30 days of a primary election) and clearly identify a candidate or political party.
- Communications expenditures that must be reported to the Federal Election Commission.
- Grants and Contributions
- Any contribution that is recognized under campaign finance law as a reportable contribution.
- Grants to section 527 political organizations and other tax-exempt organizations that conduct candidate-related political activities (note that a grantor can rely on a written certification from a grantee stating that it does not engage in, and will not use grant funds for, candidate-related political activity).
- Activities Closely Related to Elections or Candidates
- Voter registration drives and "get-out-the-vote" drives.
- Distribution of any material prepared by or on behalf of a candidate or by a section 527 political organization.
- Preparation or distribution of voter guides that refer to candidates (or, in a general election, to political parties).
- Holding an event within 60 days of a general election (or within 30 days of a primary election) at which a candidate appears as part of the program.
Treasury and IRS are seeking public comment on their proposed new guidelines, but if the above definitions hold up, it seems it will set tough limits on what 501c4s can do close to elections. Many of the organizations affected by these new guidelines are those that have propped up Tea Party candidates: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, which spent over $70 million in elections activity last year -- and likely much more than that if you count the grants it issued to other nonprofits that performed elections-related work. Also impacted will be organizations like the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, the Koch Bros.-funded Americans for Prosperity, and the anti-marriage equality Focus on the Family Action. Non-conservative nonprofits like League of Women Voters might also be impacted, though.
Ultimately, this is about checking organizations that have been abusing their tax-exempt status to ride for candidates in violation of IRS policies.
"This proposed guidance is a first critical step toward creating clear-cut definitions of political activity by tax-exempt social welfare organizations," said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark J. Mazur in a statement. "We are committed to getting this right before issuing final guidance that may affect a broad group of organizations. It will take time to work through the regulatory process and carefully consider all public feedback as we strive to ensure that the standards for tax-exemption are clear and can be applied consistently."
Colorlines - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 22:05
UCLA announced late Monday that it will open an internal probe into claims made by David Cunningham III, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, who alleged that UCLA campus police used excessive force when they stopped him Saturday morning as he was exiting a gym parking lot in Westwood. It's safe to say Cunningham, who is black, knows the definition and gravity of such claims--he's also a former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission.
Cunningham had just paid a parking lot fee and was leaving an L.A. Fitness gym Saturday morning when campus police pulled him over for not wearing a seat belt.
The stop unfolded badly, according to Cunningham's complaint, the Los Angeles Times reported:
Officer Kevin Dodd asked to see his driver's license. Cunningham handed them his wallet, then the officers requested registration and insurance.
When Cunningham reached for his glove box to retrieve the documents, an officer "yelled at me not to move," he said in the complaint. "I became irritated and told him that I need to look for the paper."
A prescription pill bottle rolled out of the glove compartment, prompting the officer to ask if he was carrying drugs. Douglas said the medicine was for high blood pressure.
Cunningham couldn't find his registration and insurance paperwork in the glove compartment and told officers he thought it was in the trunk.
"When I got out of the car to search my trunk, Officer Dodd shoved me against my car, told me I was under arrest for resisting and locked me in the back seat," Cunningham wrote in the complaint.
Cunningham, 60, said the officers shoved him against his car, handcuffed him, locked him in the back of their police cruiser and told him he was being detained for resisting arrest.
Cunningham was later released. He limited his complaints to excessive force but his attorney Carl Douglas asked the broader, and perhaps more pertinent question: "Do you think this would have happened if he was a white judge?"
In a statement issued late Monday, CBS reported UCLA said, "During the course of the traffic stop, police officers instructed the driver to stay inside the vehicle and returned to their patrol car to run a routine license and registration check. Despite these instructions, the driver left the vehicle -- an escalating behavior that can place officers at risk. The driver stood in the roadway and refused instructions to get back in his car. As a result, the driver was temporarily handcuffed. He was released at the scene shortly thereafter with a citation for failing to wear a seat belt."
New America Media - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 21:11
Image: Immigrant rights activist and grandson of civil rights icon Cesar E. Chavez Andres Chavez / Photo by Alfredo CamachoEditor's Note: As President Obama renewed his calls for immigration reform during a speech to his supporters in San Francisco on Monday,... Alfredo Camacho http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 19:41
James Franco and Seth Rogen's parody of Kanye West's "Bound 2" video is universally funny. But it's hard not to take pause at the very begining when Franco, doing a frame-by-frame impersonation of West, lip-syncs the n-word twice.
It's a word that defintely would have earned Franco, who's white, tons of criticism if he'd actually said it in his own voice. Context is very important, of course, and that's where this one gets tricky. For some general background on the public conversation around the n-word, here's Ta-Nehisi Coates in a recent guest column at the New York Times:
A few summers ago one of my best friends invited me up to what he affectionately called his "white-trash cabin" in the Adirondacks. This was not how I described the outing to my family. Two of my Jewish acquaintances once joked that I'd "make a good Jew." My retort was not, "Yeah, I certainly am good with money." Gay men sometimes laughingly refer to one another as "faggots." My wife and her friends sometimes, when having a good time, will refer to one another with the word "bitch." I am certain that should I decide to join in, I would invite the same hard conversation that would greet me, should I ever call my father Billy.
In this instance, does the context make it okay? For more, check out the Maynard Institute's recent collection of white writers who've joined the n-word debate.
Colorlines - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 19:09
Meet The Younger Lovers, a recording project of openly queer Bay Area songwriter Brontez Purnell. It's an adorable first look at the new album "Sugar In My Pocket," which drops on December 10.
Colorlines - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 16:44
Macklemore couldn't attend the American Music Awards in person, but he accepted an award over satellite from where he was stationed in Miami. He used his moment in the spotlight to memorialize Trayvon Martin and highlight the problem of racial profiling.
Here's text from his speech:
Now that I'm sitting here in front of millions of people, I'd like to address something extremely important to me. I was talking to my friend before the show and he reminded me of a great Martin Luther King quote. He said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' And due to the fact that we are in Florida tonight accepting this award, I want to acknowledge Trayvon Martin and the hundreds and hundreds of kids each year that are dying due to racial profiling and the violence that follows it. This is really happening. These are our friends, our neighbors, our peers, and our fans, and it's time that we look out for the youth and fight against racism and the laws that protect it.
It's inspiring to see an artist who's mindful of his influence and willing to put his politics front and center. And it matters because, despite what you think about his music, people are listening.
Colorlines - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 16:40
As Congress remains at a stalemate over passage of some measure of immigration reform, either piecemeal or comprehensive, the numbers of youth left alone in the U.S. because their parents are deported or detained is on the rise. The women-centered immigration advocacy group We Belong Together is organizing a holiday letter-writing campaign fueled by the young voices. With crayons and magic markers, kids and teens affected by failed immigration policies are asking Congress to keep their families together, and move forward with reform.
Colorlines - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 16:38
Today, workers at a Walmart store in Miami went on strike. They held a 7 a.m. protest this morning and will follow up with a 4 p.m. protest this afternoon. The action is part of the steady buildup toward Black Friday actions set for the day after Thanksgiving. Walmart workers with the non-union worker organization OUR Walmart have been calling for better wages and an end to retaliation for those who speak out. This year's Black Friday will be the second Thanksgiving shopping holiday that OUR Walmart plans to impact with its strikes and protests. Organizers announced last week that the retail giant can expect protests at 1,500 store locations this year.
In the last three weeks workers at Los Angeles, Sacramento, Seattle, Dayton, Cincinnati, Dallas, Chicago and Pittsburgh Walmart stores have gone on strike. In Florida, Miami's striking workers were joined for a 7a.m. protest this morning by workers from Walmart's Tampa store who went on strike this weekend.
Jaime Martinez, a Tampa Walmart store employee who works night shifts on maintenance, was one of them. "We went to Miami to let people know how the Walmart associates are being treated," Martinez told Colorlines. "A lot of them are being treated unfairly."
Martinez said he went on strike because he was sick of the treatment he received after almost 16 years at his job. He recalled an incident from earlier this year in September when he had to be admitted to the hospital for a ruptured appendix. "I called Walmart, and let them know that I'm not going to be able to return to work right away." When he did make it back, he found out that while he was hospitalized he'd been written up for being absent at work. Enough writeups and Martinez could lose his job. "That was a slap in my face," Martinez said.
Martinez said about seven workers from the Tampa Walmart where he works went on strike, and estimated that some 50 people took part in this morning's protest.
Colorlines - Tue, 11/26/2013 - 16:33
Remember when Katy Perry said she wanted to skin Japanese people and "wear them like Versace?" Looks like she's getting one step closer. The singer made headlines at last night's American Music Award's when she and her back-up dancers performed her hit song "Unconditional" in full Geisha regalia.
Ravi Chandara sums up why the costume was racist over at Psychology Today:
If you don't think Katy Perry was racist--let me ask you, what if she had performed in blackface? Perhaps a costume isn't the same as changing skin color to you, but it is agonizingly close for me--I remember Mickey Rooney in buckteeth for his role as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's; Jonathan Pryce in Yellowface in Miss Saigon; Gwen Stefani in her Harajuku phase. Every Halloween brings up the same issues. As I pointed out in my article, this kind of "costume" is a way of acting out a power relationship. "Whites have historically held power. Therefore Katy Perry has the right to use Japanese culture." Racism is defined as prejudice plus power--I think Katy Perry's performance meets the criteria for a racist performance. (An article by Jeff Yang linked below points out that her song, Unconditional, itself fits into the stereotype of the submissive, man pleasing Asian woman - the fantasized "geisha".)
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Dori Maynard tweets on Diversity, Media & More
@JamilSmith The distorted #media depiction of African American men & boys has real life consequences, again. #mediadiversity #Tremaine