Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Indigenous Peoples’ Day, New Ebola Case, Evo Wins Again, Nobel in Economics

Indigenous Peoples' Day, New Ebola Case, Evo Wins Again, Nobel in Economics

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • A high school in Sayerville, New Jersey, cancels football season after allegations that seven players sexually assaulted four of their teammates. 
  • The Nobel Prize for economics goes to Jean Tirole, probably best known for his work on the ways in which regulators can tame privatized industries.
TAGS: Morning Rush

Weekend Reads: Ferguson, Young Black Men And Resistance

Weekend Reads: Ferguson, Young Black Men And Resistance

Not many people know the modern history in the video above. Head into the weekend with actor Jeremy Renner on “The Daily Show” discussing “Kill the Messenger,”the new film about the CIA’s role in bringing crack-cocaine to urban America. The opening clip about which kids America cares about is particularly prescient given the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations’ War on Drugs policies, in particular harsh sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders, of course.

But this week also saw St. Louis’ third deadly police shooting of a young black man in two months. As Ferguson’s Weekend of Resistance gets underway, a related selection of reads all in the vein of #BlackLivesMatter:

Faith leaders are among those most capable of bridging stark racial divides in St. Louis. Ahead of an interfaith dialogue this Sunday at St. Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena, evangelical Christian and founding editor of Sojourners magazine, Jim Wallis, touched on the most segregated spaces in America in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

…I think white Christians and white churches have to pay attention here. There shouldn’t be some terribly different conversation going on in our white churches and black churches. So, this is a challenge to the white churches to pay attention, to listen to our brothers and sisters, to care as much about our brothers and sisters who are black, as much as we care about our own kids who are white…. [When] we divide along racial lines — that’s a denial of the Gospel.

“[A] path can be traced from slavery to the killing of Michael Brown,” Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts writes in “The Worth of Black Men, From Slavery to Ferguson.”

Just out today, ProPublica’s analysis of 32 years of “[more than 12,000] killings by police shows outsize risk for young black males.” Note: That number is a “minimum count” of police homicides as violence researchers have long complained that the FBI’s database of police shootings “is terribly incomplete.” Read ProPublica to learn how.

And ahead of the midterms (and in the long lead-up to 2016), labor leader Richard Trumka continues to speak up about racial justice. He talked about race and Mike Brown in St. Louis last month and today, in California, he discussed drawing down mass incarceration. On the state ballot this November will be Proposition 47, which reduces harsh penalties for simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor.

‘Kill The Messenger’ Movie Revisits the CIA and How Crack-Cocaine Exploded in the US

'Kill The Messenger' Movie Revisits the CIA and How Crack-Cocaine Exploded in the US

I came of age in New York City overhearing older folks who’d lived through the crack era, ask a series of open-ended questions that began like this: “We didn’t own no planes. How you think crack got here?” How, indeed. That’s the subject of a new film opening tonight called “Kill The Messenger.” Actor Jeremy Renner plays investigative journalist Gary Webb whose controversial 1996 three-part newspaper series opens like this:

For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a Mercury New investigation has found. 

The drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia’s cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the “crack” capital of hte world. The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America and provided the cash and connections needed for L.A.’s gangs to buy automatic weapons.

The series rocked the country. One 1997 article described it as, “the most talked-about piece of journalism in 1996 and arguably the most famous—some would say infamous—set of articles of the decade.”

So what happened after? Three major newspapers—The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times—some in collaboration with the CIA, The Intercept reports—set out to discredit Webb. They did. In December 2004, Webb, an award-winning investigative journalist and 49-year-old father of three who reportedly suffered bouts of clinical depression, took his own life.

“Kill the Messenger,” largely viewed as a vindication of Gary Webb, opens nationwide tonight. It’s sure to stir memories for familes displaced by civil war in Nicaragua and those in the U.S. who not only came of age under crack-cocaine but, who also sought to rebuild their communities in the decades after.

As for the truth of Webb’s claims, from Nick Schou, author of the biography on which the movie is based, in The Intercept:

“I think it’s fair to take a look at the story objectively and say that it could have been better edited, it could have been packaged better, it would have been less inflammatory. … But these are all kind of minor things compared to the bigger picture, which is that he documented for the first time in the history of U.S. media how CIA complicity with Central American drug traffickers had actually impacted the sale of drugs north of the border in a very detailed, accurate story. And that’s, I think, the take-away here.”

 

Brooklyn D.A. Investigates Video Showing Cop Taking Money from Man

Brooklyn D.A. Investigates Video Showing Cop Taking Money from Man

In a video posted on the New York Times, an unnamed, white Brooklyn police officer appears to take a handful of money from a black man’s pocket. The officer then appears to indiscriminately pepper-spray the man, Lamard Joye. When his sister, Lateefah Joye, asks the officer for his name, she too is pepper-sprayed.

According to the Times, Joye was hanging out with friends celebrating his birthday in Coney Island in the early hours of September 16. The NYPD says it received a call about a man with a gun. Officers arrived on the scene. What happens next and was caught on video is now the subject of investigations by the Brooklyn district attorney, the Internal Affairs Bureau and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Joye wasn’t arrested—and he never got his money back. Joye’s lawyer, Robert Marinelli, says what happened to the money remains a mystery:

Mr. Marinelli said he has submitted pay and bank records to the district attorney showing his client, who works in construction, had earned a few thousand dollars in early September and had withdrawn a couple of thousand dollars, intending to celebrate his birthday with his wife.

“I believe that this officer made an assumption that any money Mr. Joye possessed was obtained illegally and therefore he would not report the theft,” Mr. Marinelli said. “This assumption was wrong. Mr. Joye is a hardworking taxpayer. An incident like this would never occur in a more affluent section of the city.”

You can read the full story over at The New York Times

$50K Reward Offered in Aniya Parker Slaying

$50K Reward Offered in Aniya Parker Slaying

It’s been just over a week since Aniya “Ballie” Parker, a 47-year-old transgender woman, was brutaly killed in East Hollywood. The Los Angeles City Council will announce on Friday during a press conference that police and community leaders are now offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her death, according to KTLA.

Based on a surveillance footage of the murder from a nearby business, Parker was approached by a group of two to three suspects last Thursday at 2:30 a.m. The suspects are described as men in their 20s, and after what appears to be a brief alteraction, one suspect shoots Parker in the head as she tries to run away from the group. Parker was later pronounced dead at L.A. County-USC Medical Center.

Family and friends have launched a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Parker’s funeral expenses, describing her as a woman with “a heart of gold.” 

Parker is the eighth transgender woman of color to be killed in the U.S. this year, and the second to die violently in Los Angeles since June. 

Nobel Peace Prize, St. Louis Protests, Stem Cells Key to Possible Cure for Diabetes

Nobel Peace Prize, St. Louis Protests, Stem Cells Key to Possible Cure for Diabetes

Here’s what I’m reading up on:

  • Clark County, Nevada, begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and Las Vegas chapels fill up with couples waiting to tie the knot.  
TAGS: Morning Rush

Is the Police Shooting of VonDerrit Myers Another Mike Brown?

Is the Police Shooting of VonDerrit Myers Another Mike Brown?

What’s known for sure about last night’s deadly shooting in south St. Louis is that an off-duty white police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old black man, discharging his weapon 17 times. Nearly every other major detail is unknown or in dispute. They include: why the young man, identified by the Post-Dispatch as VonDerrit Myers Jr. provoked the officer’s suspicion in the first place and whether as police say, Myers was armed with a gun—or a sandwich from the corner store, as some residents say. The wall between police and St. Louis’ black communities appears to be hardening.

Separately, out on the streets with the region’s young people until about 3 o’clock in the morning were two of St. Louis’ community leaders, Derek Laney of Missourians Organizing for Reform & Empowerment (MORE) and Rev. Starsky Wilson, pastor of Saint John’s Church. Both men shared their immediate impressions with Colorlines this morning. They were understandably weary. It’s been two long months of respectively organizing and pastoring to youth who are hurt, angry and mobilized in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder this August.

“No, this is not another Mike Brown,” Rev. Wilson tells me on the phone. “There’s not another John Crawford. There’s not another Kajieme Powell. These are all individual lives that matter, with unique lives and circumstance. So I want to push back on that [notion] a bit.”

“What I will say,” Wilson continues, “is that these lives add up. These young black lives are adding up in ways that’re stirring consternation and remarkable anger in the hearts of young people who see their own lives in jeopardy.

“What I saw last night, I think there’s more pain and more passion now than there was on Aug 10, the day after Mike Brown. And I think there is more fear and willingness to fight now than there was then, even for people who were [in Shaw] last night who also saw Mike Brown laying on ground [in Ferguson].”

Laney, one of the principal organizers behind this coming weekend’s Ferguson October, is admittedly tired, sad and angry this morning. He begins by acknowledging that not all the facts are in and notes in particular the deep conflict between official police accounts and what residents told him last night. What worries him after last night is that some people may become violent.

People are already on edge, angry and fed up with this absolute disrespect and disregard for black life. Some of those people, I fear, may consider using violent means to express [themselves]. And as a result of that choice, it’s just going to be more black lives lost—because they’re not going to outgun the police.”

“My prayer and hope is that cooler heads will prevail and justice will prevail in the case of Brown, Powell and this young man. The police must take responsibility for the use of lethal force and not just close ranks when they’re having such disproportionate impact on one community. They’re killing our children. 

Both Wilson and Laney say that St. Louis police showed remarkable restraint with last night’s crowd. “They didn’t take that militaristic, antagonizing stance that they did in Ferguson,” Laney says. “That can be called progress. When you start to treat people who’re protesting like human beings, that’s not kudos. That’s the very basic thing that we should expect from them.”

Read the Post-Dispatch for the latest developments in this quickly moving story. 

How A Jim Crow Era Holdover Hurts Domestic Workers Today

How A Jim Crow Era Holdover Hurts Domestic Workers Today

Many domestic workers in the United States are fighting to be paid for time worked. That’s about as basic as it gets for any employee. This Tuesday, according to The New York Times, the labor department delayed a rule change that would have allowed domestic workers to report employers who do not pay a minimum wage or overtime. Although this particular exclusion dates to the early 70s, rules specifically excluding domestic workers—mainly Latinas and immigrants—from minimum labor protections date back to Jim Crow. In The Case For Reparations, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates earlier this year chronicled a century of theft from black workers while federal programs expanded the white middle class. That included black women domestics:

The omnibus [New Deal] programs passed under the Social Security Act in 1935 were crafted in such a way as to protect the southern way of life. Old-age insurance (Social Security proper) and unemployment insurance excluded farmworkers and domestics—jobs heavily occupied by blacks. When President Roosevelt signed Social Security into law in 1935, 65 percent of African Americans nationally and between 70 and 80 percent in the South were ineligible. The NAACP protested, calling the new American safety net “a sieve with holes just big enough for the majority of Negroes to fall through.” 

Read more about this latest setback for domestic workers as well as how many of these women are organizing, here.

‘What Was America’s First Music?’

'What Was America's First Music?'

In his first feature-length documentary, Sterlin Harjo explores early American songs in what’s now the United States. The film, titled “This May be the Last Time,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will be available on VOD and DVD. November 11.

Harjo’s grandfather disappeared in Oklahoma in 1962, and Harjo set out to find out what happened to him. Seminoles supported him in his search along the way, singing songs that turned out to be from Scottish missionaries, enslaved black people and Natives. The resulting documentary casts new light on what we think about early American music. 

Indiewire posted a trailer:

(h/t Indiewire

Infographic Shows White Men’s Outsized Hold on U.S. Elected Offices

Infographic Shows White Men's Outsized Hold on U.S. Elected Offices

White men run the country. Little surprise there.

But what exactly is the demographic breakdowns of elected office holders? On Wednesday, Who Leads Us, a network of the Women* Donor Network, the New Organizing Institute, TargetSmart and Rutgers University’s Center for Women and Politics, shared the statistics. Who Leads Us analyzed data of 42,000 elected officials from the county level all the way on up to the president. 

Their findings may not surprise you, but they’re certainly sobering to see in infographic form.

wholeadsus_infographic_100914.jpg

wholeadsus_infographic2_100914.jpg

For more, including their methodology and raw data, visit wholeads.us.

*Post has been updated since publication to reflect that the proper name for one organization mentioned is “Women Donor Network,” not “Womens Donor Network.

Turmoil in St. Louis After Police Kill Vonderrit Meyers Jr. 18

Turmoil in St. Louis After Police Kill Vonderrit Meyers Jr. 18

Once again, people took to the streets of St. Louis to protest the killing of a black teenager by a white police officer. This time, the boy’s name was Vonderrit Meyers Jr.

From New York Magazine:

Angry and hurt protesters took to the streets in St. Louis on Wednesday night after a police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old in the Shaw neighborhood, near where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot in August. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, police and protesters have wildly different versions of how the shooting occurred. Police say four pedestrians fled after they were stopped by an off-duty officer on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The officer chased one of the men, later identified as Vonderrick Myers Jr., and claims the teenager jumped out of some bushes, struggled with him, then pulled out a gun and shot at him. The officer says he returned fire, killing Myers.

NBC News is reporting that the officer fired his gun 17 times after at least three shots were fired at him, but eyewitnesses have a vastly different perspective and say the teen was holding a sandwhich, not a gun. The shooting came nearly two months to the day that Mike Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson. St. Louis Post-Dispatch staff photographer David Carson captured some of the scene on Twitter:

Ebola Updates, St. Louis Police Shoot and Kill Another Black Teen, Nobel in Literature

Ebola Updates, St. Louis Police Shoot and Kill Another Black Teen, Nobel in Literature

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., dies in a Dallas hospital. A sheriff’s deputy named Michael Monnig, who entered the apartment Duncan was staying in without protective gear, is hospitalized with Ebola-like symptoms. Ashoka Mukpo continues treatment
  • According to a new CDC report, life expectancy in the U.S. reaches an all time high. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Boston Has a Stop-And-Frisk Problem, New ACLU Report Says

Boston Has a Stop-And-Frisk Problem, New ACLU Report Says

Boston police disproportionately stop black residents as compared to whites—even after controlling for crime. In a report released today from the ACLU Massachusetts chapter, a preliminary analysis of four years of stop data finds that neither neighborhood crime rate, alleged gang affiliation, nor arrest records explain the racial disparities in BPD’s recorded stops. The report highlights the disproportionately high number of stops of black residents (63.3 percent) relative to their percentage of the population (24.4 percent). But more consequential findings in the ACLU’s report may be:

  • BPD’s 2.5 percent hit rate out of 204,000 recorded stops, i.e. the rate at which weapons, drugs or other contraband were seized during stops;
  • unlike in New York City, Boston officers do not file reports when stops lead to arrest;
  • the final report on which this preliminary analysis is based was supposed to have been completed in 2012, then June 2014;
  • as of today, the final report is still pending so more information may be forthcoming; and
  • unlike in New York City, whose city council in 2001 mandated that NYPD release quarterly stop-and-frisk reports, the BPD’s data-sharing is by agreement with the ACLU chapter.

Read the ACLU chapter’s full report, “Black, Brown and Targeted.” “Preliminary findings,” it says, “make clear that now is the time for a meaningful public conversation about reforming stop-and-frisk practices in Boston.”

(h/t The Washington Post)

Study: For Black Students, Skin Color and Suspensions Linked

Study: For Black Students, Skin Color and Suspensions Linked

Black students, as a group, are more than three times as likely as white students to get suspended (PDF). Racial disparities in school discipline are well-established. But what about differences in rates of discipline among black students? 

Sociologists at Villanova University and the University of Iowa have found a striking pattern: the darker a black student’s skin tone, the higher the likelihood they’ll be suspended, particularly for girls. More specifically, an African-American girl with “the darkest skin tone” had triple the odds of being suspended “compared to those with the lighest skin tone,” wrote Villanova University professors Robert DeFina, Lance Hannon and University of Iowa professor Sarah Bruch (PDF). The pattern was weaker, but still present for black males. Black boys with the darkest skin tone were 2.5 times more likely than their lightest black male counterparts of being suspended.

The findings, drawn from data in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent health, held even when controlling for a host of other factors, including the socioeconomic status of parents, the students’ own behavior, and their academic achievement. The National Longitudinal Study of Youth, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, documents skin tone across a 10-point spectrum.

In other words, researchers say, this is evidence of colorism at work. “It is important to remember that colorism is not simply “black-on-black” discrimination,” researchers wrote. “Colorism is a broad phenomenon where, for example, continuous variation in skin tone affects the actions of privileged authorities, who tend to be white. Colorism is intrinsically tied to racism in that white privilege is central to both.”

(h/t Diverse Education)

New Video Captures NYPD Beating Unarmed 16-Year-Old

New Video Captures NYPD Beating Unarmed 16-Year-Old

Yet another example surfaced yesterday of police violence captured on video. Street-camera footage obtained by DNAinfo shows two New York City police officers alternately punching a young black man, Kahreem Tribble, with their fists and a gun on the night of August 29. The 16-year-old, who had been running, had already stopped and raised his hands in apparent surrender. He was arrested for marijuana possession. 

The two officers—Tyrane Isaac and David Afanador—have been disciplined, according to the New York Daily News, and a grand jury hearing into whether they should be criminally charged could begin as early as next week.

On October 2—and coming after Eric Garner’s death this July—police commissioner William Bratton vowed, according to The New York Times, to “aggressively seek to get those out of the department who should not be here.”

Read more about the Tribble incident on DNAinfo and at the NY Daily News.

Walmart Cutting Health Care For Part-Timers

Walmart Cutting Health Care For Part-Timers

Things are going to get a bit tougher at home for some of your local Walmart associates. Citing rising costs, the nation’s largest private employer recently announced plans to cut health insurance for 30,000 domestic part-time employees, or those working less than 30-hours-a week. Wal-Mart employs 1.4 million people in the U.S. Its decision to cut healthcare for part-timers puts it “among the last of its peers,” Business Insider reports, following in the footsteps of Target, Home Depot and others.

Read more at Business Insider, including plans to increase premiums for employees who will remain insured.

Kobane Protests, Ebola Updates, Nobel in Chemistry

Kobane Protests, Ebola Updates, Nobel in Chemistry

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • At least 14 people are dead following Kurdish protests in Turkey urging the nation to fight against Islamic State’s hold on the nearby city of Kobane, Syria.
  • The Supreme Court will hear a case today about whether Amazon’s warehouse workers should be paid for the approximately two-and-a-half weeks they spend waiting in a security line each week. 
  • Wal-Mart is ending healthcare coverage for the fraction of part-time employees that currently have it; it’s also raising its premiums in 2015 across the board. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

$75 Million Suit Being Filed by Eric Garner’s Family

$75 Million Suit Being Filed by Eric Garner's Family

The family of the Staten Island man who died this July shortly after viral video captured his being wrestled to the ground by police is seeking $75 million from the city of New York. Cell phone video showed several cops swarming Garner and him being placed in what appears to be a chokehold, a practice banned by the New York Police Department. In August, the medical examiner ruled 43-year-old Garner’s death a homicide, caused in part by “compression of the neck and chest.” On video Garner can be heard saying several times, “I can’t breathe.” 

Last week, police commissioner William Bratton delivered a blunt message to a conference of NYPD commanders. 

“We will aggressively seek to get those out of department who should not be here,” Mr. Bratton told a packed lecture hall [The New York Times reports]. “The brutal, the corrupt, the racist, the incompetent.”

The Times describes the speech as Bratton’s “most forceful public remarks on police misconduct since Eric Garner…died in police custody…after he was approached for selling loose cigarettes.”

Read more about the Garner family’s notice to file suit at Capital New York and the cost of police misconduct suits, nationally at The American Prospect.

Seattle City Council Passes Indigenous Peoples’ Day Resolution

Seattle City Council Passes Indigenous Peoples' Day Resolution

This coming Monday is a federal holiday recognized as Columbus Day, in honor of a colonizer who never even set foot in what is now the United States of America. But, starting this year, Seattle will celebrate it as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Local Natives, including Tulalip and Puyallup peoples, had pressed for the move, but not everyone’s pleased with the outcome. KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reports that some Italian-Americans feel like they’ve “been thrown under the bus” by the council’s resolution. A KIRO 7 Facebook post soliciting reactions to the decision garnered heated responses on all sides.

Berkeley, California, was the first city to institute Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1992, marking 500 years after Columbus’s arrival to the hemisphere. Mildred “Millie” Ketcheschawno (Mvskoke), who worked diligently with a group known as Resistance 500, was crucial in getting the local city council to adopt the change. 

When It Comes to Race, Uber and Lyft Give Taxis a Ride for Their Money

 When It Comes to Race, Uber and Lyft Give Taxis a Ride for Their Money

There’s a lot to be unsure about when it comes to ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. Uber’s been eyed for questionable labor practices and some shady schemes to steal riders from Lyft. This is not to menton the outcry from traditional taxi companies who fear losing customers to the companies. But as BuzzFeed’s Johana Bhuylan reports, Lyft and Uber are benefiting from the frustrated black customers who’ve been discriminated against by yellow cabs for years. Here’s more:

Though it’s hard for organizations to quantify this type of racial discrimination, historically, taxi drivers in many cities have refused to drive to certain destinations. In a 2011 undercover operation, the Taxi and Limousine Commission found that out of 1,330 cabs more than 336 refused to travel to places like the Bronx and northern Manhattan.

Many people of color like Lauren are turning to app-based car services like Uber, Lyft and Gett for relief from either discrimination or destination biases — a point that the companies have become quick to tout. For the ride sharing companies, what was initially an unintended byproduct of the app — or a happy accident of sorts — is quickly being marketed as a feature.

What’s more, according to BuzzFeed, is that companies are now marketing it as a feature:

Uber, for example, performed a neighborhood study in Chicago this year that determined “4 in 10 rides in Chicago start or end in underserved neighborhoods.” In New York, Uber has very publicly claimed that its drivers make more outer borough trips than taxis, though it did not provide any data to substantiate it and did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for data. And In Boston, Uber dug into its own data to address destination bias and found that neighborhoods where 35 percent of residents complained of a 20-minute wait for cabs were being served within 20 minutes — 30 days before the data was published the average wait time was 3.5 minutes, according to the blog post.

Read more at BuzzFeed. 

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