Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

SXSW: Who’s Making Money From Their YouTube? Not Black People

SXSW: Who's Making Money From Their YouTube? Not Black People

YouTube’s slogan is “broadcast yourself” and it’s been celebrated as the new media platform that will revolutionize how marginalized groups are presented in the media. But the network is not much different than old media—90 of the top 100 YouTube video creators are white and mostly male.

In 2009 YouTube launched what they call the Partner Program that allows some of the popular content owners to make money from the videos they uploaded to the video sharing site. YouTube will not say how much people are paid for their content but according to earning reports there are thousands of video content creators on YouTube who are making more than $100,000 a year.

Only two of YouTube’s top 100 personalities are black (DeStorm, Kingsley), according to Chase Hoffberger at DailyDot.com who organized a panel at South by SouthWest called “YouTube and Racism.”

In the Colorlines.com video above YouTube stars Franchesca Ramsey and Andre Meadows along with scholar Jenny Ungbha Korn discuss YouTube Racism and how black video content creators have to work much harder to be seen.

Zerlina Maxwell Offers 5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not to Rape

Zerlina Maxwell Offers 5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not to Rape

Just in case you missed it, Zerlina Maxwell went on FOX News this weekend and brilliantly put rape culture on blast. While appearing as a guest on Hannity, the prolific writer and social media commentator said that when it comes to preventing rape, we must look beyond the reactionary impulse to just give women more guns. Instead, we need to teach men not to rape.

“I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.”

Maxwell’s comments got lots of attention and caused a ripple effect on weekend social media. Implicit in them was that the problem isn’t just individual behaviors, but a culture of patriarchy. This morning, she followed them up with a piece at EBONY.com on five ways we can teach men not to rape. “Rape culture is a pervasive part of our society because of social conditioning,” Maxwell wrote. “Yet we struggle to find ways to avoid patterns of victim blaming and many of us would rather advise women on the precautions they should take to avoid being raped as opposed to starting at the root of the problem: teaching men and boys not to be rapists in the first place.”

Here’s a snippet of the five points that Maxwell makes. To read the entire list, march on over to EBONY.

1. Teach young men about legal consent: Legal consent is number one for a reason. Without it, sexual contact with someone is rape whether you intended to rape or not. A woman who is drunk, unconscious, sleeping cannot give legal consent. And it’s not about a woman simply saying “no,” it’s really about making certain she’s saying yes.

2. Teach young men to see women’s humanity, instead of seeing them as sexual objects there for male pleasure: There is a reason why women are shamed into silence and teenage boys in Steubenville, Ohio are caught on camera laughing about gang raping an unconscious girl at a party. The dehumanization of women spans all areas of American life.

3. Teach young men how to express healthy masculinity: The question that’s being asked about what women can do to prevent violence against them is the wrong question. It’s not what can a woman say or do that can prevent being attacked. We need to turn that paradigm.

4. Teach young men to believe women who come forward and not to blame the victim: The vast majority of women do not report their rapes to the police and many more only tell one or two people in confidence.

5. Teach young men about bystander intervention: Both Men Stopping Violence and Men Can Stop Rape have bystander intervention workshops for men of all ages. “It’s about community accountability,” says Pandit, “We require men to talk to other men in their lives and tell them about these programs. It is important that we have community networks that hold men accountable.”

TAGS: Rape

Celebrate The International Woman in Your Life With the ‘Meet My Immigrant Mom’ Tumblr

On this International Women’s Day, the Domestic Workers Alliance, a national group organizing for the rights of domestic workers, has rolled out the sweetest of tributes to immigrant mothers, those truly international women. It’s a tumblr called “Meet My Immigrant Mom,” and it is as simple as that. Each post includes a snapshot of a woman with a short introduction to her written by her child.

Christine, writes of her mother Anne, “What I respect the most about her is her deep sense of self-dignity and self-worth. Even if her English isn’t 100% perfect, she always stands up for herself and demands to be treated with respect. The funny thing is, when she first immigrated from South Korea, she was quiet and shy, but its hard to believe now! Sometimes we have to remind her to use her “indoor voice”!”

Julie from New Hampshire, pictured in front of a blooming garden with her mom, says she loves her mom’s fighting spirit:

She has hurdled some hard obstacles in her life, including breast cancer and has always persevered. My mother grew up in poverty, living with nuns in an orphanage at one point (because her mother couldn’t take care of her) in Mexico City and then she moved to Tijuana. My mother moved to the United States when she was in her mid 20’s. She was the first member of her family to immigrate. She put herself through community college and with little English behind her, she found a job working for a radio station.

In a very un-Internet-like move, the stories are entirely free of irony or sarcasm. The stories betray no hints of hurt or disappointment, it’s just love. They are affectionate public tributes to ordinary women who are heroes to their children for loving and living bravely. And, they’re looking for more. Send them your story here.

Colorado’s In-State Tuition ASSET Bill One Signature Away From Law

It only took ten years, but Colorado has finally done it. In a 40-21 vote Friday the Colorado House approved the ASSET bill, the state’s tuition equity bill, which would allow undocumented students who graduated from high school in Colorado to pay the same in-state tuition that their peers pay for college, the Yuma Pioneer reported.

The law addresses a fundamental inequity in higher education for undocumented immigrants. Because undocumented students are technically not considered residents of their home states, even if they grew up their their entire lives, they must pay out-of-state tuition when they’re ready to go for college. That tuition can be two and three times the in-state price, and because undocumented students are barred from accessing federal aid and loans, the price of college becomes prohibitively expensive. Colorado, like more than a dozen states before it, decided that such a move was shutting off young people’s futures and doing no good for the state itself.

The bill is now headed to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk, who has said that he would sign it into law.

McDonald’s Guest Workers Strike and Demand Meeting With Company CEO

McDonald's Guest Workers Strike and Demand Meeting With Company CEO

A group of student guest workers from Asia and Latin America walked out of the Pennsylvania McDonalds where they’re employed on Wednesday, saying that they’ve been paid less than the minimum wage and are housed in subpar and overcrowded apartments. The workers are all students who came to the U.S. on J-1 visas, which the State Department bills as a cultural and educational exchange program.

“I told my parents about where I’m living, and they were like, ‘what”…it really worried my parents,” said Sabrina Tan, a Malaysian finance student, in a video released yesterday by the National Guestworker Alliance, which is organizing the students.

The Alliance filed complaints with the State Department and Department of Labor.

“Each student paid at least $3,000 to participate in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 student guestworker program- a program designed to offer foreign college students a summer cultural exchange in the United States,” the complaint to the DOL read. “Instead, McDonald’s franchisee Andy Cheung/ Cheung Enterprises LLC and Geovisions used the J-1 program to source cheap, exploitable workers from Latin American and Asia and then treated them as a sub-minimum wage surplus workforce at the fast food chain franchises.”

According to a statement from Alliance, the students plan to deliver a written request for meeting to McDonald’s CEO today at 3pm.

Yesterday McDonalds said it would investigate the claims.

“We take the well-being of the employees working in McDonald’s restaurants seriously,” McDonald’s said in a statement to PennLive. “We are working closely with the franchisee to investigate the claims surrounding (Cheung’s) program.”

The strike comes as members of Congress are debating the future of guest worker programs as part of the broad immigration reform legislation. Human rights groups say that guest worker programs like the J-1 visa are rife with exploitation and abuse because workers’ immigration status is often tied to their employer.

Last Month’s Good Job Numbers Still Spell Trouble for Blacks and Latinos

Last Month's Good Job Numbers Still Spell Trouble for Blacks and Latinos

Welcome news came on the unemployment front this morning. The Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate in the U.S. fell to the lowest level in four years, dropping to 7.7 percent. With job creation at 236,000 jobs last month, America is approaching employment growth levels that could make a real dent in unemployment. Several more months at close to 250,000 and the economy may well be on it’s way.

But don’t break out the fireworks yet. Disturbingly, black and Latino unemployment remains frighteningly high. This fact pushes me to point out two giant yellow caution signs flashing before the February jobs report.

The first is that we’ve been at “good news” points before. Remember “green shoots” and “recovery summer” and the other economic cheerleading platitudes which never materialized? The bottom line is that one month’s bump doesn’t equal a trend.

Just last year, the economy seemed poised to take off. In the 3rd quarter of last year economic growth for example shot up to 3.1 percent into clear recovery territory. But the next quarter it fell back to earth, barely eking out any growth at all. Why’s that? The answer lays in Washington.

Political gridlock in Washington prevents the economy from getting any traction. The House GOP’s commitment to preserve a special place for the wealthy through tax cuts financed by budget cuts is creating enormous uncertainty. The schizophrenia in Washington is showing up in herky-jerky economic data.

Moreover the policies that DC ends up agreeing to also halts any forward momentum we might have.

As part of the fiscal cliff deal last month, the White House and Congress agreed to allow payroll taxes—which hit middle and low wage earners the most—to rise by $125 billion. This increase is forecast to shave growth in 2013.

And the downdraft of uncertainty and off-beat policies doesn’t end there.

With almost a million job cuts looming as a result of sequestration—alongside impending budget battles on keeping the government running for the rest of the year and raising the nation’s debt ceiling—who know’s what the true employment outlook for the rest of the year might be?

The other cautionary sign flashing is that black and Latino unemployment remain at economic-depression levels. One of out of seven blacks and one of out 10 Latinos is out of work. If this trend holds, it’s a worrying sign.

Blacks and Latinos falling behind as the rest of the economy falls forward is not where we need to be. With black and Latino wealth in the tank, the lack of jobs is a double blow. It could mean that the divide between black and brown communities and the rest of America becomes that much greater.

As I have long advocated, that’s why we need race-specific policies. Why? Because black and brown unemployment has race-specific dimensions that need targeted remedies.

Until Washington gets its act together and gets back on the side of average Americans, our jobless numbers—like all other economic indicators—are likely to be up and down.

Indiana Man Apologizes for Viral ‘Why I’d Hate to Be Asian’ Video

Indiana Man Apologizes for Viral 'Why I'd Hate to Be Asian' Video

Samuel Hendrickson is sorry.

The Indiana student sparked widespread outrage this week when he posted a video listing all the reasons he wouldn’t want to be Asian.

“Most Asians look alike,” Hendrickson says in the video. “I don’t want to look like everyone else.” The video also includes dumb remarks like “If I was an Asian man, chances are I’d probably be with an Asian woman and guess what? I don’t find Asian women attractive. Kill me.”

Hendrickson also lists not wanting to get “double chink eye” while smoking weed.

The video was initially posted on Facebook and then re-posted on YouTube by a disgusted viewer.

Hendrickson has been slammed as a “moron”, “ignorant”, and as a “loser” by outraged viewers on social media.

After the video went viral on Thursday, Hendrickson tweeted out an apology. “Well, I’m hated by the entire Asian race apparently over a joke #bummer’.

Later, he tried to get sincere. “I am honestly very, very sorry. I wlll take on your hate and words but I would like you to know, that I know what I was wrong. #imsorry”

TAGS: Videos

5 Really Bad Teen Pregnancy Prevention Ads

5 Really Bad Teen Pregnancy Prevention Ads

It’s often not the most ideal thing in the world for a teenage couple to get pregnant. But there are prevention strategies that work, and ones that simply don’t. That much was made clear to me while reporting on a controversial new series of teen pregnancy prevention billboards that are slated to go up around New York City.

“Fear-based messages just don’t work in teen pregnancy prevention strategies,” she says. “[And these] ads are saying—falsely—that teen pregnancy is going to make you poor and keep you poor, but we know that poverty keeps you poor,” Haydee Morales of Planned Parenthood told me yesterday on the phone.

Lecturing or shaming anyone into doing — or not doing — anything usually doesn’t work. And that’s especially true for young people who are often yelled at by their families, schools, and society at large. Gretchen Sisson is a Research Sociologist at the University of California at San Francisco and has studied methods to reframe conventional approaches to teen pregnancy prevention. And to get the point across about just how awful the history on this is, she put together a few of the most offensive ads on Tumblr.

“I compiled these public service announcements to stress the point that the advertisements in New York, as problematic as they are, represent the rule and not the exception,” Sisson wrote to me over email on Wednesday. “The majority of teen pregnancy prevention campaigns rely on shaming young parents — a stigmatizing, fear-based tactic that alienates young people. When ads like these appear in communities with higher rates of teenage childbearing and a young person sees them, she’s seeing an image that might be insulting to her older sister, her aunt, or her own mother.”

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Text: “I had sex so my boyfriend wouldn’t REJECT me. Now, I have a baby. And no boyfriends.”

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Justice Department Urged to Investigate Marco McMillian’s Murder

Justice Department Urged to Investigate Marco McMillian's Murder

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is urging the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service (CRS) and Civil Rights division to launch an investigation into the murder of Marco McMillian. The NBJC wants the agency to investigate the murder as a potential racially-motivated and/or anti-gay hate crime.

McMillian was a black gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi whose dead body was found beaten and burned along the Delta last week. Although authorities have arrested 22-year-old Lawrence Reed and charged him with McMillian’s death, they have said that the killing was personal, not political.

In a letter to the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, NBJC Executive Director and CEO Sharon Lettman-Hicks writes:

After speaking extensively with the family, community and anti-violence coalition members like the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), NBJC feels the perpetuation and validation of the “gay panic” defense is irresponsible. The conflicting reports as well as the current racial and anti-LGBT climate in Mississippi is justification enough for a federal investigation.

NBJC is standing firmly with Marco McMillian’s family so that their concerns do not fall on deaf ears. The details of this case just aren’t adding up. Whether on the basis of race or sexual orientation, hate is hate. If there is the possibility that McMillian was murdered because of who he is, that warrants the Department of Justice’s involvement.”

The letter goes on to cite the disturbing uptick in recent Mississippi hate crimes.

In 2011 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report released a report that detailed a spike in Mississippi anti-gay and racially-motivated hate crimes. According to NBJC’s letter, local activists expressed concerns that the numbers may be twice as high than what is officially on record due to underreporting and fear of retaliation. The report also revealed that more than two-thirds of Mississippi’s counties failed to file a report with the Justice Department.

In 2011, James C. Anderson, 48, died tragically in a Jackson, Mississippi, parking lot. Surveillance video shows two carloads of white teenagers beating and robbing Anderson. They later ran him over repeatedly with a truck. Witnesses report one teenager yelled “white power,” and the driver of the pickup shouted a racist slur. Anderson and his partner, James Bradfield, of 17 years were raising a child together. Last year, three men were convicted under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

Just last month, when an openly gay couple, Dr. Ravi Perry and Prince Paris, were invited to speak at a Mississippi Historically Black College and University, local pastors rallied and protested the lecture. The public outcry resulted in the institution scaling down the visibility of the event and distancing itself.

George Zimmerman Skips ‘Stand Your Ground’ Hearing

George Zimmerman Skips 'Stand Your Ground' Hearing

In a move that’s stunned observers, George Zimmerman announced on Tuesday that he would waive his right to a Stand Your Ground hearing.

The hearing was scheduled for April 22. If Zimmerman proved to a judge that he had indeed acted in self defense, the hearing could have led to the dismissal of his murder charges. But, as ABC News noted, the hearing could have also led to Zimmerman taking the stand and becoming his own worst enemy.

Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, Zimmerman is entitled to immunity and if he can prove he shot and killed Martin Feb. 26, 2012 self defense. If self defense was determined, all criminal proceedings would have immediately stopped, and Zimmerman would have walked free.

But Zimmerman’s legal team also risked the possibility that the judge would reject the motion and the hearing would give prosecutors an opportunity to pick apart Zimmerman’s testimony.

For now, George Zimmerman’s defense team will spend its precious time and money trying to pick apart Trayvon Martin’s high school and social media history. Stay tuned.

It’s Not Just Chicago: 100 Youth Homicides in Miami Since 2009

Miami is reeling from a wave of gun violence which, like in Chicago, has claimed the lives of youth and devastated communities along the way. Most recently, 17-year-old Jose Videa was shot in the stomach while he waited for a school bus last Monday. His was just the latest in a string of gun-related incidents over the last week which claimed the lives of two other Miami youth.

It’s been a deadly couple of years. Since 2009, more than 100 youth have been killed in Miami-Dade County, and at least 81 of those homicides involved guns, the Miami Herald reported. It’s wearing down those in Miami in charge of keeping kids safe.

From the Miami Herald:

And close to half were students of Miami-Dade County public schools, according to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who began campaigning against youth violence after Aaron was shot Dec. 19 while riding his bike from a friend’s house in Wynwood at 9 p.m.

“I made a promise when I became superintendent that I would attend the funeral, a viewing, a burial for every single child who would die a violent death in Miami. I am tired,” Carvalho, superintendent since late 2008, said during a news conference on the first day back from winter break. “We’ve covered this one time too many. I’ve attended over 40 such events, and it’s time to stop.”

Last week more than 20 pastors from Miami gathered to demand an end to gun violence. Their proposals? More community policing, youth mentorship and an end to the “don’t-snitch” culture which means those responsible for shootings often go free. They’re not new ideas, and much more will be needed to curb rampant gun violence. But the issue is about much more than just guns—it’s also about poverty and community safety and the disenfranchisement of communities of color—and it’s one that won’t go away on its own.

Miami leaders are starting to come around to this reality. From the Miami Herald, again:

Carvalho, who days earlier had canvassed Allapattah with the family of Bryan Herrera, a Miami Jackson sophomore shot dead on his bicycle Dec. 22, worried that the issue would “die out as a result of time simply passing.”

That hasn’t happened, in part because kids keep getting shot.

Proposed Welfare Drug Testing Bill Tells Poor to Sign Away Rights

Proposed Welfare Drug Testing Bill Tells Poor to Sign Away Rights

A week after a federal appeals court ruled against a Florida law that required welfare recipients to pass a drug test, a Republican congressman reintroduced similar legislation at the federal level.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn), would require states to gather urine samples randomly from 20 percent of adults who receive benefits from the Temporary Aid for Needy Families program.

“By allowing random drug checks, we can ensure families who receive TANF benefits use them for their intended purpose of feeding, clothing and providing shelter for their children, while cutting the tie that enables drug abuse,” Fincher said in a statement yesterday. “It’s not unreasonable to ask folks to stay clean in order to receive federal assistance.”

The TANF program currently provides some very poor families with an average of less than $400 a month, though many eligible families with children do not receive welfare checks.

Recent attempts by states to impose mandatory drug tests on welfare recipients have revealed the bills are solutions in search of a problem. In Florida, which implemented a drug testing program for several months until a court blocked it, nearly 98 percent of applicants passed the drug test.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling last week upheld the lower court’s decision blocking the Florida law. The decision also applies to a similar bill in Georgia.

The panel of judges said Florida failed to prove that drug abuse among welfare recipients is a serious problem. “The State has presented no evidence that simply because an applicant for TANF benefits is having financial problems, he is also drug addicted or prone to fraudulent and neglectful behavior,” the judges wrote.

The court’s core problem with the Florida and Georgia laws, however, had more to do with concerns that testing people without their permission and without any actual suspicion of drug use violates the 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Fincher’s bill attempts to sidestep these constitutional concerns by requiring all welfare recipients to sign “a waiver of constitutional rights with respect to testing.”

“The State may not use any part of the grant to provide assistance to any individual who has not signed a waiver,” the language of the bill reads. Said differently, the bill asks poor people to sign away their 4th amendment rights.

When Fincher introduced identical legislation in 2011, it failed to clear committee and few think the bill has much of a chance this year.

Oberlin President Says ‘Significant Progress’ Has Followed Campus Hate Speech

The president of Oberlin college says that the Ohio college is making “significant progress” investigating a series of hate speech crimes on campus during Black History Month. The college, known widely as a place that’s liberal and forward-thinking, canceled classes on Monday in order to hold a series of rallies to help unify students.

The incidents in question included a “whites only” being written above a water fountain and a swastika scrawled across a science center window, according to the college newspaper the Oberlin Review. The paper also reported a series of physical assaults on campus in which the assailant made derogatory remarks about a student’s ethnicity.

More from USA Today:

“All these reports are being investigated thoroughly,” President Marvin Krislov said at an afternoon rally at Finney Chapel, the The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported. “We have made significant progress in the investigation of these instances.”

“We believe these actions represent the work of a very small number of very cowardly people,” he told a packed audience of 1,200 students. “I am shocked that this happened at our college, which I love. It hurts all of us.”

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Did Somebody Say Malware? Bring on the Colorlines Community!

Did Somebody Say Malware? Bring on the Colorlines Community!

Once again, we’ve been reminded just how awesome our community is here at Colorlines. After a few harrowing days of battling a security breach on our site, we’re in suprisingly good spirits around here. Why? Because we couldn’t have fixed the problem without the amazing help of some of our eagle-eyed readers.

Many of you who visited Colorlines over this past weekend were met with scary warnings about malware attached to our site. Yikes! We were scared, too. But know that we have successfully chased away the evil demons of the Web. We submitted the site for review to experts at Google and they found it to be clean and malware free. Yay! But what happened?

Our content management system—or, the thing we use to publish stories—had a big, fat security hole that someone exploited. (We have no reason to believe we were targeted; rather, this is a problem many others have had with the same system.) We were first able to the identify the problem with the help of several readers who chimed in via email and social media to point us in the right direction. We thought we’d fixed it, but by Friday afternoon the problem had grown critical and Google placed us on its list of compromised sites.

Luckily, we were able to fully close the security breach over the weekend. And again, we asked both Google and outside consultants to give the site a once-over, and they confirm we’re in great shape. So we can now get back to the work of offering you daily news and analysis in which race matters. Thanks to all of you who helped out—and really, there were a bunch—and here’s to malware-free future!

TAGS: housekeeping

Female Veterans Are Fastest Growing Segment of Homeless Population

The Defense Department has found that about one in three military women has been sexually assaulted, a rate twice as high as that among civilians. Follow up studies have also found men and women who have faced sexual trauma in the military are now the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, with black females disproportionately affected.

This week Patricia Leigh Brown of The New York Times profiled several women who faced sexual trauma while in the military and are now homeless. The video below accompanied her story published on Wednesday.

An excerpt from Brown’s story is below

While male returnees become homeless largely because of substance abuse and mental illness, experts say that female veterans face those problems and more, including the search for family housing and an even harder time finding well-paying jobs. But a common pathway to homelessness for women, researchers and psychologists said, is military sexual trauma, or M.S.T., from assaults or harassment during their service, which can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. 

[…]

Of 141,000 veterans nationwide who spent at least one night in a shelter in 2011, nearly 10 percent were women, according to the latest figures available from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, up from 7.5 percent in 2009. In part it is a reflection of the changing nature of the American military, where women now constitute 14 percent of active-duty forces and 18 percent of the Army National Guard and the Reserves.

Women who have just completed an intensive therapy program for veterans in Long Beach, Calif., shared their experiences of sexual trauma in the military with the New York Times.

In December 2011 the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that found black female veterans are disproportionately affected by homelessness. [PDF]

According to the report 45% of homeless veterans they identified were black women, 41% white, 7.6% Latinas, and 1.3% were API. The majority of those homeless are veterans who fought in the Persian Gulf Period or after (8/90-present)—including conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Kansas, If You Can’t Beat Them Then Force Them to Take Drug Tests Too

In Kansas, If You Can't Beat Them Then Force Them to Take Drug Tests Too

Democrats in Kansas were unable to kill a Republican bill that would require welfare and unemployment recipients pass a drug test, but they were successful in adding an amendment that would require lawmakers to also face testing.

The bill approved by Kansas Senators on Thursday will require applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to undergo drug screenings before receiving assistance. Democrats approved the bill on the condition that the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and legislators also undergo drug screening tests.

The Kansas City Star explains:

State lawmakers may have to take a test to prove they’re not on drugs.

That’s because senators tentatively agreed Wednesday to add lawmakers to a bill that requires drug tests of any welfare or unemployment recipient who state officials reasonably suspect is using illegal substances.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” said Wichita Democratic Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, who opposed testing the poor and unemployed but wanted to include lawmakers if the idea were to pass.

Lawmakers, however, shot down another proposal that would have required drug tests of businesspeople controlling companies that get economic incentives from the state.

In the past two years at least 25 states have considered drug testing cash assistance applicants.

Earlier this week a federal appeals court struck a blow to a 2011 Florida law requiring drug tests for all applicants to the state’s welfare program.

The ruling, authored by Circuit Judge Rosemary Barkett, added that “there is nothing inherent to the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a ‘concrete danger’ that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use.”

Marco McMillian Had Big Plans for the Small City of Clarksdale, Mississippi

Marco McMillian Had Big Plans for the Small City of Clarksdale, Mississippi

Marco Watson McMillian was on track to make history in Mississippi. An ambitious, young, openly gay black politician, McMillian was running for mayor of Clarksdale, his hometown. It’s a city perhaps best known for the blues, the place where musician Robert Johnson said he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a guitar. Its roughly 20,000 mostly black residents may live in a place well versed in the music of heartbreak, but McMillian’s death has put a new tragedy in the national spotlight.

McMillian was a proud son of Clarksdale. At 34 years old, he was already accomplished. The Mississippi Business Journal listed him as one of its “Top 40 Leaders Under 40,” and in 2004 EBONY listed him as one of the nation’s best young leaders. He graduated magna cum laude from the WEB DuBois Honors College at Jackson State University. He was active in his church and served as the International Executive Director for Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. And he had big plans for Clarksdale.

Here are his political platforms on crime, education, and the economy.

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Man Arrested in Slaying of Black Gay Mississippi Politician Marco McMillian

Man Arrested in Slaying of Black Gay Mississippi Politician Marco McMillian

A 22-year-old man has been arrested in the apparent slaying of Marco McMillian, a promising black Mississippi politician who was openly gay. McMillian, 34, was running for mayor of Clarksdale, Miss., until his body was found along the Mississippi Delta on Wednesday.

Lawrence Reed, of nearby Shelby, was pulled from a wrecked car belonging to McMillian on Thursday. The accident happened about 30 miles from where McMillian’s body was found, according to ABC News. Reed was airlifted to a local hospital and is expected to be jailed for McMillian’s murder once he’s out of the hospital.

News of McMillian’s death has shocked his supporters and those around the country who admired his tenacity to seek office in such a conservative state. From all accounts, McMillian was a dedicated, accomplished young politician who stood a real chance to win elected office in a traditionally red state and worked toward changing the landscape of the state’s politics.

From CBS News:

McMillian, a Democrat, wasn’t running what many would consider a typical campaign for political office in Mississippi, which is known for its conservative politics. Campaign spokesman Jarod Keith said McMillian’s campaign was noteworthy because he may have been the first openly gay man to be a viable candidate for public office in the state.

McMillian, who was black, also forged ties while serving for four years as international executive director of the historically black Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. Photos on McMillian’s website and Facebook page show him with a younger Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat.

In addition to his role at the fraternity from 2007 to 2011, McMillian previously worked to raise funds as executive assistant to the president at Alabama A&M University and as assistant to the vice president at Jackson State University, according to his campaign. He was also CEO of MWM & Associates, described on its website as a consulting firm for nonprofit organizations.

A statement from the fraternity said he secured the first federal contract to raise awareness about the impact of HIV and AIDS on communities of color. It noted that Ebony Magazine had recognized him in 2004 as one of the nation’s “30 up-and-coming African Americans” under age 30.

After news of his death, McMillian’s campaign published this note to fans on its Facebook page:

Words cannot describe our grief at the loss of our dear friend, Marco McMillian. The shocking news of Marco’s death is beyond difficult for us to process. We remember Marco as a bold and passionate public servant, whose faith informed every aspect of his life. Tragically, that life has been cut short. At this time of loss, we ask that you keep the family and loved ones of Marco in your prayers.

GOP Finally Stopped Blocking Violence Against Women Act

The House voted on Thursday to pass the Senate’s bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA.)

The legislation that assists victims of domestic and sexual violence passed on a vote of 286 to 138, with 199 Democrats joining 87 Republicans to reauthorize the 1994 law.

President Obama has pledged to sign VAWA.

“Today Congress put politics aside and voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Eighteen years ago, I envisioned a world where women could live free from violence and abuse. Since VAWA first passed in 1994, we have seen a 64% reduction in domestic violence. I am pleased that this progress will continue, with new tools for cops and prosecutors to hold abusers and rapists accountable, and more support for all victims of these crimes,” President Obama said in a statement issued shortly after the vote.

ABC News/Univision politics reporter Emily Deruy points out House Republicans objected “to the fact that the bill includes a provision that allows Native American authorities to prosecute non-American Indians in tribal courts. It also includes protections for immigrants and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Akiba Solomon, Colorlines.com’s managing editor, said “it’s pitiful that it took the loss of a presidential election and a rethinking of the entire GOP strategy to convince some House Republicans that just because a bill is called the ‘Violence Against Women Act’ that doesn’t give them the right to obstruct measures designed to protect transgender people, gay men and reservation-based Native American women who are sexually assaulted by non-Native American men.”

“I’m still floored that not once, but twice, some House Republicans actually opposed a bill because it helps too many people suffering intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual violence. I’m glad, however that the bill passed and look forward to it becoming more effective,” Solomon went on to say.

Bloomberg Apologizes for Its Name-That-Racial-Stereotype Cover

Bloomberg Apologizes for Its Name-That-Racial-Stereotype Cover

Bloomberg has a message to readers: they’re sorry.

As reported by Dylan Byers over at Politico:

Our cover illustration last week got strong reactions, which we regret,” Josh Tyrangiel, the magazine’s editor, wrote in a statement sent to POLITICO. “Our intention was not to incite or offend. If we had to do it over again we’d do it differently.”

Read the full thing here.

TAGS: Bloomberg
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