Did you watch “The Lone Ranger,” only to regret it? Do you already know you don’t wanna waste your money or your time on it? Then check out “Universal VIP.” It was written, produced, directed by Natives, and features a phenomenal all-Native cast (hello, Tatanka Means!)—all based on a short story by Gyasi Ross.
Connecticut won’t be prosecuting parents for “stealing” their children’s public education anymore. Last week Gov. Daniel Malloy signed into law HB 6677, which prohibits felony arrests for parents who enroll their children in schools outside their zip code.
The law addresses recent high-profile cases of counties arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating parents—most typically poor mothers of color—for falsifying information to enroll their children in better school districts. It is a common practice, not just in Connecticut, but arrests and criminal prosecutions for such maneuvers have typically fallen squarely on poor women of color.
HB 6677 (PDF) explicitly says that falsifying information to obtain a “service” like public education for schoolchildren or those enrolled in public school districts will not count as larceny. Residency violations will now be dealt with by school districts themselves as a civil matter.
Before HB 6677 became law, Connecticut convicted Tanya McDowell, a black woman, of first-degree larceny for enrolling her son in the school district of Norwalk. She was eventually sentenced to twelve years in prison for, along with other charges, “stealing” an estimated $15,000 in public education, Connecticut’s WFSB reported. McDowell is not alone. Before her, Kelley Williams-Bolar was sent to jail for ten days for using her father’s address to enroll her daughters in a neighboring school district in Akron, Ohio.
But larger issues remain. Every child in the country may have access to public education, but a high quality public education is a privilege instead of a right. And it’s too often out of reach for the poor and families of color. A high quality education has become a private good, something a family must be in the correct tax bracket, or zip code, to deserve.
Presenting Miss Persia and Daddie$ Pla$tik with “Google Google Apps Apps.”
San Francisco was dealt a huge blow earlier this week when a private panel announced the stunning decision to revoke City College of San Francisco’s accreditation, citing, among other things, fiscal mismanagement. Since California law prohibits taxpayer money from going to unaccredited institutions, the decision may mean the college — a vital lifeline to 85,000 immigrant, working class, and elderly students — may be forced to close its doors. The decision could take effect on July 31, 2014 but will likely be appealed by the college.
“This announcement clearly shows that the (accrediting commission) is an out-of-control, rogue institution that must be stopped by the (U.S.) Department of Education,” Wendy Kaufman, an engineering instructor and leader of the Save City College Coalition, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Meanwhile, people reacted on Twitter with shock and outrage at the decision. Check out some of the chatter after the jump, and stay tuned to Colorlines for news and analysis.
This new Azealia Banks track with Pharrell is hot. Banks performed “ATM Jam” live at Glastonbury last week and then New York radio station Hot 97 debuted it to their listeners on July 2. Here’s the radio edit, which is still a banger. Enjoy.
Femi Kuti caught up with Wax Poetics recently to promote his new album No Place for My Dream. The son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti told the magazine’s blog, “I was being groomed to be like my father, even in the way I dressed. That wasn’t what I wanted. I needed something more challenging. I wanted to break away.”
Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. But this new track, “Nothing to Show For It”, shows that the apple clearly doesn’t fall very far from the tree. And in this case, that’s a good thing.
Trayvon Martin’s family is on the stand this morning in a Florida courtroom, where George Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. The prosecution’s first witness today was Sabrina Fulton, who testified early on, “My youngest son is Trayvon Benjamin Martin. He’s in heaven.”
Fulton went on to state that the screams heard on the 911 call are most certainly Trayvon Martin’s. Her son, Jahvaris Fulton, is also on the stand this morning. The prosecution will likely rest its case later today.
You can read details about what happened this morning at the Orlando Sentinal.
After a few initial hiccups, Jay-Z’s new album Magna Carta Holy Grail was released this week by way of an exclusive app for Samsung customers. But Adrian Chen over at Gawker points out that the app itself is a massive data mining opportunity:
Occupy-supporting Atlanta rapper Killer Mike noted on Twitter yesterday that when he tried to download the Magna Carta app—which has racked up more than a half million downloads, according to Billboard—it requested some oddly intrusive permissions from your Android phone. Why does Jay-Z need your GPS location? Is he going to cruise by on a platinum-coated jet ski, personally chucking out copies of the album to people who downloaded the app?
During his big media splash before the album’s released, the business savvy rapper said that his unconventional deal with Samsung was motivated in part by his belief that the Internet is the “wild, wild West” and that we — users — have a chance to rewrite the rules. I guess all of that is true except when it comes to your privacy.
SPOILER ALERT: Adrienne Keene, over at Native Appropriations, doesn’t like it. But don’t take our word for it, here’s part of her review, which draws attention to the many, many problematic stereotypes featured in the film:
The Lone Ranger fails the Bechdel test. There are not two (named) women, who speak to each other, about something other than a man. The portrayals of the Chinese laborers who built the railroad are super problematic too, they have them in rice paddy hats, and the only time they speak is to tell the bad guys they won’t go in the tunnel because there are “Indian spirits” in there. Then that guy gets shot. The only Black characters are one of Rebecca’s employees (who gets shot defending the house), and the driver/bouncer of the “House of Sin” where Helena Bonham-Carter works. This is also supposed to be Texas, but I can’t actually think of any Latino characters, besides a “Spaniard” (bad guy), and another of Rebecca’s employees.
And that’s just a tiny bit. You can read the review in its entirety here.
Still feel like you want to see the flick? Make sure you take Keene’s Lone Ranger bingo card with you. She was kind enough to create it for “all your cliched stereotype needs.”
A federal judge denied a preliminary injunction filed by attorneys for death row inmates in Louisiana’s notorious Angola state penitentiary who are suing the prison for subjecting the prisoners to cruel and unusual punishment due to extreme heat conditions there. The Promise of Justice Initiative attorneys were simply asking for Angola prison officials to control temperatures to more tolerable levels. In 2011, the heat index rose as high as 195 degrees.
The judge’s denial of having the prison turn up the fans is temporary, and contingent upon the attorney’s bringing him evidence that the prison will, in fact, get unbearably hot this month. Judge Brian Jackson asked the inmates’ lawyers and prison officials to record temperature data from inside the facilities over the next three weeks.
Lawyers for the prison said heat complaints were “not scientifically valid,” according to a Nola.com report, and based on “generally incompetent evidence.”
On death row, the inmates, who all have hypertension, remain in cells for 23 hours a day experiencing dangerous and potentially life threatening heat conditions in the summer — this according to two experts on thermoregulation and environmental safety provided by the inmates’ attorneys.
Federal courts have already ruled that extreme heat conditions count as cruel and unusual punishment, as seen recently in lawsuits successfully filed against Texas prisons. It’s also a matter of fact that American cities that currently suffer heat waves are expected to suffer even more of them, and at higher intensities, throughout the century according to the best available climate change information.
Check out this thought-provoking video by Sowjanya Kudva in which LGBT folks talk about their definitions of immigration, borders, and citizenship.
Startin’ ‘em young on white supremacy. From the Huffington Post:
Andrew Pendergraft is the grandson of Thomas Robb, the modern-day Ku Klux Klan’s national director. As a young boy with floppy blond hair and a slight speech impediment, Pendergraft hosted a number of short episodes of his very own amateur talk show, “The Andrew Show,” which presents the Klan’s ideology in a format aimed at kids — more specifically, white kids.
The episode above appears to have been shot around 2009.
It’s often a dangerous act of rebellion to be openly queer in many African countries. Back in 2011, Frankie Edozien reported for Colorlines on the sometimes deadly concurrent rise of U.S.-backed evangelical Christianity and a growing sense of pride among many in Ghana’s LGBT community. A 2011 report Human Rights Watch Report documented the rise of “curative rape” in South Africa and criticized that country’s government for “desperately failing lesbian and transgender people.”
Zanele Muholi is a visual artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa whose work focuses on sexuality. In 2006 she began a portraiture series called “Faces and Phases” that turns a different kind of celebratory spotlight on lesbian and transgender women in Africa.
“I need to underscore that naming ourselves and ‘being’ is more than a fashion statement or a research topic,” Muholi said while reflecting on her work in 2009, according to Creative Time Reports. “Rather, it is a political consciousness that we do not have a choice about. To be black, lesbian and African is by its very nature political in a world that is still overwhelmingly heterosexual.”
Check out the stunning series of portraits after the jump.
Citizenship Works is a free mobile app that launched this week to help guide green card holders through the process of applying for American citizenship. Though the app is designed to help people who are currently living in the United States as legal permanent residents, its designers hope that the approach could also be used to help the nation’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants once new immigration legislation becomes law.
The app, which is available in English and Spanish, helps applicants determine their eligibility to apply for citizenship, understand the application process, find legal resources, and study for the English and Civics tests.
It’s available for free in the iTunes store and on Google Play for Android users.
The app is funded by the Knight Foundation, the Silicon Valley community foundation, the New Americans campaign, and the Grove Foundation, in partnership with the Immigration Advocates Network.
A new comic book series titled Mayah’s Lot attempts to explain the everyday challenges of environmental justice advocacy through graphic novel storytelling. The main character of the series, Mayah, is recruited into the environmental justice movement when she discovers that a Los Angeles-based, greenwashed company is planning to use a lot in her neighborhood in New York to dump toxic waste. The community group Mayah joins helps her fight the company off by showing her the ropes of public policy advocacy. In the strip, Mayah becomes “Earth Girl,”a jade-costumed superhero armed with something of a zap gun.
The conflict is resolved not by a single, caped crusader with special powers, though, but through the empowerment of Mayah’s community, which is divided into task groups and then dispatched to raise awareness, monitor pollution and do research. The moral is that no one leader can protect communities from environmental hazards, but rather that environmental justice is about “people coming together to improve their community, standing strong, [and] finding a legal solution.”
Rebecca Bratspies, a professor at City University of New York School of Law and founder of the “Center for Urban Environmental Reform,” created the book along with graphic artist Charlie LaGreca and middle school students in Queens. In Greenversations, a blog run by EPA, Bratspies said that she and LaGreca help students “identify environmental problems in their neighborhoods,” which the students then will turn into comic book narratives.
The first story in the series is simple and accessible, but also keenly illustrates some of the more nuanced problems the environmental justice world faces, such as police keeping residents from working in lots in their own neighborhood, even to beautify them, or polluter companies serving obscured public notices buried in the back listings pages of newspapers.
Download Mayah’s Lot here, and also watch this video for more info:
Autopsy results for Kris Kross rapper Chris Kelly were released on Monday. Kelly, 34, was found dead on May 1, 2013. The official cause of death: a drug overdose.
From Rolling Stone:
Betty Honey of the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office in Atlanta said the specific drugs involved in the rapper’s death were unknown, but Kelly’s mother told investigators of her son’s history of drug abuse, and said that he had used cocaine and heroin the night before his death.
A broad cross section of social justice organizations — from environmentalists to immigrant reform-focused — came together last week to announce a concerted fight to restore voting rights lost when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a key provision of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional last week. Among the groups assembled for the “tele-townhall” conference call were the NAACP, the environmental groups Sierra Club and Greenpeace, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, NCLR, Voto Latino and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, all of which were represented by their leading directors pledging pro-active fights against voter suppression efforts.
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said that his organization’s 2.1 million members “are ready to fight” to preserve voting rights in America by “knocking on doors, making phone calls and lobbying Congress.” Brune said that the same people the Sierra Club is fighting for attacking clean energy and climate change protection laws are the same people who are trying to restrict voting.
“We know that to protect our environment we must protect our democracy,” said Brune.
Well before the Supreme Court decision, the Sierra Club joined forces with the NAACP for what’s called the “Democracy Initiative,” a coalition dedicated to defending progressive election reform initiatives and protecting the right to vote.
Last week, the Supreme Court and the U.S. Senate produced a number of victories and near-victories for organizations fighting for marriage equality and immigration reform. Groups representing those issues said they would not back down from counteracting the SCOTUS decision on the Voting Rights Act, which NCLR President Janet Murgia called “terrible and wrong-headed” on the call.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Rea Carey said the SCOTUS decision on DOMA was sweet but, “The sweetness does not erase the bitterness.”
“Those who seek to deny any of our votes seek to deny all of our votes,” said Carey. “I do have hope and we can’t stand for this, the LGBT community will not stand for this.”
Myrlie Evers-Williams, voting rights advocate and wife of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, sent a statement to the audience — which the call’s organizers number at over 17,000 — saying:
“My husband Medgar and courageous leaders risked everything to register citizens to vote. We knew what they fought for.
I never thought that I would say this, but today the situation is just as dire.
It is not enough to just remember the legacy of Medgar Evers. It is not enough to just be members of our respective organizations.
We will have to put action to our affiliations and we will have to remember what originally brought us here.”