RANT: You Thought the Rodney King Jury was Crazy? A jury awarded $1.6 million to Jeremy Morse, the former cop from Inglewood, California, who was videotaped slamming Black teenager Donovan Jackson onto a car and punching him in July 2002. Morse’s firing was considered “wrongful termination” by the jury, and it also amounted to racial discrimination, since the jury felt Morse was severely punished only because he is white. Is the entire jury pool in Southern California completely contaminated?
RAVE: Behind the Kitchen Door.
A new study proves what we suspected about restaurants. Because of racist labor practices, brown immigrants are confined to kitchen work, where low wages and health hazards are rampant. The study was spearheaded by the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, which is demanding legislation to revoke the licenses of restaurants that violate labor laws.
RANT: Drop It Like It’s Hot 97.
New York City’s hip-hop radio station, Hot 97, produced and aired a parody song making fun of the 300,000 tsunami victims. Sung to the tune of “We Are the World,” the song included tasteless lines like “There were Africans drowning, little Chinamen swept away.” The hosts played the songs four times in one week and prompted outrage across the country. The station fired a producer and agreed to donate over $1 million to tsunami relief, but morning show host Miss Jones kept her job.
RAVE: The Big Payback.
Mexico is finally getting around to paying back the money owed to thousands of its people who took part in the Bracero Program, a temporary worker agreement the country had with the United States between 1942 and 1967. While these migrants worked in agriculture and on the railroads, ten percent of their income was withheld by the U.S. government. An estimated $20 million was sent to Mexico but never reached most people. About 80,000 workers have registered to receive a check—some of these braceros have been owed back wages for more than 60 years.
RANT: Currency Exchange.
A New York appeals court ruled that when undocumented immigrants sue employers for unpaid wages, they can’t base their claims on U.S. wage rates. They can only sue for the wages they would have earned in their home countries. Now, if only the court would force their landlords to accept the rent in pesos, too.
RAVE: Not a Day Too Soon.
Ward Connerly, who led the charge against affirmative action in California, ended his term as the most controversial regent of the University of California. His tenure spawned thousands of student activists who will undo his damage over the next generation. Connerly paved the way for people of color in high-profile positions to promote a right-wing agenda, while personally gaining from the notoriety.
RANT: Social Security in the Black.
To express his concern that “African Americans die sooner than other males,” President Bush is proposing to ease the pain of a shorter lifespan—not by improving healthcare access, but by gambling away Social Security on the stock market. While there is a seven-year difference in the life expectancy of black and white men, it’s largely caused by the higher rates of black infant mortality. Bush isn’t proposing to do anything about that.
RAVE: Black Jack Was a Fightin’ Man.
Unforgivable Blackness, an excellent documentary about Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, aired nationally on PBS in January. His win in 1908 set off race riots 39 years before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in baseball.
RANT: Do You Speak Hispanic?
Tennessee Judge Barry Tatum has been requiring Latina mothers to learn English and use birth control as a condition for regaining custody of their children. Despite the controversial requirements, he has the support of many residents, including one who said, “I know if I was in Mexico, I would make an effort to learn Hispanic.”
RAVE: Always the Bridesmaid.
Obscured by Jamie Foxx’s Oscar win was legendary actor Morgan Freeman, who had never won an Academy Award. After 40 years in the business, Freeman finally took home his long-overdue statue for Best Supporting Actor. Next, he should get recognition for being one of the most widely used narrators in the history of storytelling.