Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Former Undocumented Immigrant Leo Manzano Wins Silver Medal for U.S.

Former Undocumented Immigrant Leo Manzano Wins Silver Medal for U.S.

On Tuesday, Mexican-born American runner Leo Manzano won a silver medal in the men’s 1,500-meter final, running the fastest time ever by a U.S. athlete at the Games. Manzano, 27, entered the U.S. at the age of 4 without papers, according to LetsRun. He didn’t gain legal residency until 10 years later.

“Silver medal, still felt like I won! Representing two countries USA and Mexico!”, Manzano tweeted shortly after his win. Most of his tweets throughout the Olympics have been in both Spanish and English.

“I am honored and excited to represent both the United States and Mexico by earning this silver,” Manzano told the Associated Press. “Standing on the podium has been a dream of mine and I share it proudly with my family, friends, coaches and all my supporters from Austin, Marble Falls, and Granite Shoals, Texas as well as Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico.”

On the track Manzano celebrated with the U.S. flag and the Mexican flag.

Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara Shooter Talked of ‘Racial Holy War’

The more authorities find out about Wade Michael Page, the man who shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on Sunday, the worse it gets.

Christopher Robillard, who told CNN Page was his “closest friend” when the two were in the military, said that Page talked often about a “racial holy war.”

“He would talk about the racial holy war, like he wanted it to come,” Robillard said. “But to me, he didn’t seem like the type of person to go out and hurt people.”

Page was trained as a psychological warfare specialist and rose to the rank of sergeant before he was discharged for showing up to formation drunk. Robillard nonetheless said Page as a “very kind, very smart individual.”

Authorities also know that Page fronted a white supremacist band. They know that Page was once in the military, before he was discharged. They know that the he was tattooed with the logo of Stormfront, an online community of white supremacists.

For many, those pieces of information are enough to settle the whys of Page’s brutal last act. But authorities insist they are continuing to look into Page’s motives for an act they’re investigating as domestic terrorism.

Gabby Douglas Too Busy Competing to Care What You Think About Her Hair

Gabby Douglas Too Busy Competing to Care What You Think About Her Hair

No one was mystified by the uproar over her hair more than Gabby Douglas, the two-time gold medalist and history-making Olympic gymnast.

“I don’t know where this is coming from. What’s wrong with my hair?” Douglas told the Huffington Post. “I’m like, ‘I just made history and people are focused on my hair?’ It can be bald or short, it doesn’t matter about (my) hair.”

“I don’t think people should be worried about that,” she said of all the fuss about her hair. “We’re all champions and we’re all winners. I just say that it’s kind of, a stupid and crazy thought to think about my hair.”

Today’s the Voting Rights Act’s Birthday. What’s It to You?

The Voting Rights Act, it seems, is not going to be allowed to ease into middle age quietly. There ought to be festivities greeting the Act today, on the 47th anniversary of the day President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the bill which outlawed voter discrimination that disenfranchised African-American voters. Yet, this year in particular it’s come under aggressive attack by states intent on dismantling the Act. Forget the birthday cake. It may be time to light a candle for the civil rights law.

Colorlines.com’s Voting Rights Reporting Fellow Brentin Mock says the VRA’s been under attack for a while now, but this year’s been different. “Certain counties and states have been sling-shotting at the Voting Rights Act for years, but this year they’ve pulled out bazookas and hope to blow a hole right in its heart: Section 5, which protects voters in certain states and counties that have histories of racial discrimination.”

As the court case dealing with Section 5 of the VRA winds its way toward the Supreme Court, so much is at stake.

An Olympic-Sized Income Gap Even Among Our World Class Athletes

An Olympic-Sized Income Gap Even Among Our World Class Athletes

The division between the 99 percent and the 1 percent extends to the U.S. Olympic team.

The United States sent 529 athletes to compete in 25 sports. The gaping income inequality seen in the wider society is stark even amongst this group carrying the nation’s pride in London.

Sure, Gabby Douglas just garnered a multi-million dollar endorsement deal from Kellogg’s with her two gold medals. Millionaires populate the US Olympic Basketball Team. The seven-figure Williams sisters dominate Olympic tennis. And high-performing runners in track and field events might break six-figures.

But for every Gabby, Lebron, and Serena, there are medal-winning Olympians in less well-known sports, like shot put and archery, who must work two and three jobs to represent the world’s richest country. Even Gabby’s mom had to sell her jewelry and do without to keep her daughter in the running until fortunes could turn.

NBC paid almost $2 billion to carry the games and the U.S. Olympic Committee budget is $170 million, but little of it flows to the actual competitors. Even top athletes in key events struggle.

According to CNN’s Money, “only 50% of American track and field athletes who are ranked in the top ten … earn more than $15,000 a year in income from the sport.” Many struggle to pay their bills.

Wisconsin Sikh Temple Shooter Bought His 9MM Gun Legally

Lethal weapons are not so difficult to come by, even legally. Wade Michael Page, the identified shooter who gunned down six Sikhs at a temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, this weekend, bought the firearm he used in the attack legally, law enforcement authorities said today, Reuters reported.

According to FBI special agent in charge Teresa Carlson, Page had no criminal record before the attack, though the Southern Poverty Law Center had been tracking Page’s white supremacist ties for years.

Page wasn’t the only shooter who acquired his weapons legally. James Holmes, the man charged with killing 12 people in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater just weeks ago, bought all four of his guns legally as well.

The Wisconsin attack is being investigated as an act of domestic terror, authorities said. Those who belonged to the Wisconsin gurdwara have called it a hate crime, though.

State Legislatures Passed 20% Fewer Immigration Laws in 2012

When Arizona rocketed to national notoriety when it passed SB 1070, it kicked off an anti-immigrant craze in state lawmaking. But state lawmakers found other things to occupy their time this year. Fewer states passed immigration bills this year, according to an analysis released by the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Immigrant Policy Project today.

In the first six months of the year 41 states enacted 114 immigration bills and passed 92 immigration-related resolutions, down 20 percent from the more than 250 laws and resolutions state legislatures passed in the first half of just last year, when lawmakers introduced a record number of immigration bills. States still tackling immigration are doing so namely to restrict the lives of undocumented immigrants by empowering law enforcement officers to engage in immigration investigations.

But the costly, protracted Supreme Court battle over SB 1070 gave state lawmakers pause. “States took a bit of a pause on the issue of immigration as they waited for the Supreme Court to rule,” Senator John Watkins of Virginia, co-chair of the NCSL Immigration and the States Task Force said in a statement.

In the meantime, state lawmakers went back to other, more pressing issues, like tackling budget deficits, and restricting voter access to the polls.

Read the NCSL report for more.

Jeremy Lin on the Upside of Others’ Low Expectations

“I think the advantage of being an Asian basketball player in America is that no one expects anything from you, and no one thinks you are going to be good.” So says Jeremy Lin, the former Knick whose fantastic winning streak sparked the short-lived but high-flying sports craze known as Linsanity.

“The reason why I said it was an advantage is because everyone takes you lightly, and the minute you step out on the court, you give it to them and you immediately earn their respect, but no one is going to give it to you right away, not in America at least,” Lin said in Taipei this weekend, USA Today reported.

It’s a generous way of making lemonade out of the lemons that are the subtle bigotry which has stalked Lin the entirety of his NBA career. As one of the precious few Asian Americans who’ve made it to the NBA and the only Asian American in the league today, Lin has often been asked to make sense of the role his race played in his career, and his star-making turn this year. Sometimes he’s soft-pedaled the reality of race in America, and other times he’s been straightforward. After all, it was Lin who told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008 that basketball’s seen as “a sport for white and black people. You don’t get respect for being an Asian-American basketball player in the U.S.”

Yet before being sidelined with a knee injury this season, Lin demanded just that. Since signing a deal with the Houston Rockets, Lin’s been gearing up for the next season, and on a tour of Asia. On his agenda? Hosting basketball camps for young players there.

Wisconsin Sikh Temple’s Shooter Was Long Known As White Supremacist

The details coming out in the aftermath of the Sunday’s tragic shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin are just as grim and terrifying as folks expected. Wade Michael Page, the identified shooter, was not just a 40-year-old military veteran before he shot and killed six people gathered at a Wisconsin temple. He was also being tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center, who’d long ago identified him as a member of white supremacist circles, including as a band leader of a group called End Apathy.

Page gave an interview to a white supremacist website in 2010, and told them he’d been part of the white power music scene since 2000, until he formed his band in 2005 with the goal of ending his own and others’ apathy. Prior to his white supremacist ties, Page was an enlisted Army man who joined the military in 1992 and was discharged in 1998, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

But on Sunday, Page turned his gun on American Sikhs who were gathering for Sunday services. He killed six people before a police officer shot and killed Page.

How Will Deferred Action for DREAMers Work? New Details Released

After several delays, the federal government has finally released guidelines about how DREAMers can begin to apply for deferred action starting August 15. The federal government is beginning the public rollout of information after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on June 15 that the Obama administration would halt, immediately, the deportations of those who would be eligible for the federal DREAM Act, a narrow legalization bill aimed at young undocumented immigrants who immigrated to the U.S. as children and were raised in the country. Along with the deportation halt the federal government has made an allowance for those who are eligible to receive two-year work permits, with an opportunity to renew work permits for another two years.

As of August 15, those eligible for deferred action, and a two-year work permit are those who:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Dominique Dawes: ‘So Thrilled to Change My Website’ After Gabby Douglas’ Win

Dominique Dawes: 'So Thrilled to Change My Website' After Gabby Douglas' Win

Before Gabby Douglas, there was Dominique Dawes. The 1996 Olympic gold medalist spoke with Fox Sports about Douglas’ history-making moment on Thursday, and spoke through proud tears through most of the interview.

Dawes, who is in London and was in the arena cheering Douglas on said, “I am so thrilled for Gabby, her mother, her sisters, her dad, and all the little young girls looking at her being impacted by what she did. I’m so thrilled now to change my website and take down the fact that I was the only African American with a gold medal. It couldn’t go to a better kid, to a better mom, who wants to see her daughter excel.”

Dawes had more to say on Twitter: dominiquedawestweet_080312.jpg

Why Chick-fil-A Hasn’t Reconciled Itself With the Future of America

Chick-fil-A’s present and future have collided. The result is not pretty.

The problem is that the region from where it gets most of its profits and the areas where it’s looking to grow have two totally different sets of values.

Smarter enterprises would avoid the resulting cultural IEDs of social issues and, instead, would concentrate on pushing chicken and waffle fries. But Chick-fil-A became a must-stop for hungry Southerners, in part, because they constantly highlighted the beliefs that their below the Mason-Dixon line customers held dear. Check out this Wall Street Journal graphic to see the sales divide:

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Gabby Douglas Wasn’t Thinking About The History She Was Making

Gabby Douglas Wasn't Thinking About The History She Was Making

When Gabby Douglas won her gold medal in all-around gymnastics on Thursday, she was also making history. Not only was Douglas the first woman of color to win an all-around gold medal, the most coveted title in her sport, she is also the first American to win both an individual and team medal at the same Olympics.

But that’s not where Douglas’ mind was yesterday. “I kind of forgot about that,” Douglas told the AP, when asked how it felt to be the first black gymnast to win an all-around gold. “Man, that’s awesome, that’s definitely an amazing feeling. I forgot about that.”

Making Mental Health Awareness Year-round

Exactly a month ago we celebrated No Shame Day, organized by mental health advocate and writer Bassey Ikpi to coincide with National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

“We’re encouraging people to tend to their mental health that day without shame,” Ikpi said. Well July 2, and the entire month, are now behind us, but the quest for mental health wellness is an ongoing one. But when it comes to communities of color, the stigma surrounding mental health issues makes the fight to normalize and legitimize mental illness, let alone seek help, that much harder.

It’s easy to feel alone when so few people talk about mental illness. Disgrasian’s Jen Wang wrote a moving post about her experiences:

Even though I witnessed it in various family members, I didn’t even know growing up that depression had its own name. Instead it was called “not trying hard enough,” “not working hard enough,” “not achieving enough,” “being lazy,” “lacking decorum,” “lacking pride,” “losing self-control,” “not caring enough about what other people think,” “embarrassing your family,” “selfish,” “rude,” “failure.” All of the language I heard to describe what I would only later understand to be mental illness made it clear you could always “work” your way out of it-alone, naturally, because you didn’t want to bother other people with your problems-and if you couldn’t, well, you had no one but yourself to blame.

Rep. John Conyers Protests, In Spanish, Rep. Steve King’s English Only Law

Michigan Rep. John Conyers responded to Iowa Rep. Steve King’s absurd anti-immigrant congressional shenanigans today with a showy statement of his own today. King had convened a House Judiciary Committee hearing to unveil the latest version of his English Language Unity Act, a bill which would mandate English-only government documents and services. The bill would make English the official language of the U.S., something that’s already true in practice but not codified in law.

“The Judiciary Committee hearing … reflects the need to get a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives on this popular issue- 87 percent of Americans say that English should be the official language of the United States,” King said in a press release last week. King’s been trying to get a version of this law passed since 2003.

But today, Conyers stole back some of the spotlight by opening his remarks with a few words in Spanish. Univision’s Jordan Fabian offered a transcription and a translation:

“Hoy en día, los inmigrantes de Asia o América Latina son los objetivos de la demonización y la discriminación,” he said. “Un día, nuestro país mirará hacia atrás a este período con vergüenza y arrepentimiento.” (Translation: Today, immigrants from Asia or Latin America are the targets of demonization and discrimination. One day, our nation will again look back on this period with shame and regret.)

Deported Dad Wins Rare ‘Parole’ to Re-Enter Country for Custody Hearing

Deported Dad Wins Rare 'Parole' to Re-Enter Country for Custody Hearing

In a highly unusual decision, the federal immigration enforcement agency, ICE, has granted a deported father temporary permission to enter the U.S. so that he can attend a court hearing regarding on his parental rights and the custody of his three young children. Yesterday, Felipe Bautista Montes walked out of the airport in Charlotte, N.C., and made his way to Sparta, the town where he lived for nearly a decade with his wife, Marie Montes, where his kids were born, and where the children now live in foster homes.

Montes was deported from his home nearly two years ago following repeated stops for driving without a license. After his deportation, Marie Montes, fell on hard times, struggling with mental health and addiction issues, and the local child welfare department removed the children from her custody, placing them in foster care.

Montes wants his children to be reunified with him in Mexico, where he’s lived since he was deported. But the Alleghany County child welfare department argues that the U.S. citizen children will be better off in the U.S., in the custody of non-relatives.

Following national and international media attention and the collection of over 20,000 signatures on a petition calling for the family’s reunification, the Mexican Consulate in North Carolina hired a private law firm to apply to ICE for what’s called Humanitarian Parole, or permission to enter the United States. Last week, the Mr. Montes received a call telling him that he’d been granted permission to attend his custody hearing.

Gabby Douglas’ Mom Sold Her Jewelry To Keep Her In Gymnastics

Gabby Douglas' Mom Sold Her Jewelry To Keep Her In Gymnastics

Gabby Douglas just won her second gold medal of the 2012 Olympics in the all-around gymnastics competition, making her the first black female to win gold in that competition. But before she became an Olympics hero, her mother Natalie Hawkins had to figure out even how to keep her daughter in the sport.

Hawkins told CNN: “After years of persuading me I finally gave in and took her to a trial class. She just never wanted to come out of the gym. She loved it. She would practice all the time. So I saw then the hard work.”

“I didn’t realize when I got into this sport how expensive it was. Just the commitment over the years, sometimes it felt crushing. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep her in thesport. But then I’d think about it and say: you’ve got to fight. If I had to sell. I sold almost all of my jewelry, if I had to pick up extra shifts at work. Whatever it takes.”

Watch the rest of the video, and bask for a bit in the glow of the Douglas family’s love for their Olympics star. Congratulations Gabby!

Obama Comes Out Against Undocumented Law School Grad’s Lawyer Dreams

The Obama administration has taken a stand in a case before the California Supreme Court concerning Sergio Garcia, an undocumented law school graduate who passed the bar exam and has applied to be admitted to the state bar. And it’s not good.

In an amicus brief the Department of Justice filed today, the federal government said that the state’s Supreme Court doesn’t have the right to grant a license to Garcia, even though he’s otherwise cleared the requirements laid out in the state bar’s admissions policy. The Obama administration said it was Garcia’s immigration status which made him ineligible, citing a 1996 federal immigration law which bars undocumented immigrants from accessing public benefits like welfare and healthcare unless a state passes a specific law granting them those rights. The Department of Justice argued that California’s Supreme Court, which usually handles matters of who should and shouldn’t be admitted to the state bar, therefore doesn’t have the right to admit an undocumented immigrant to the bar.

Garcia is one of three undocumented law school grads who’ve successfully passed their state bar exams and are petitioning to be admitted to their state bars. Similar cases in Florida and New York and moving ahead.

Oprah and Her Natural Hair Cover O Magazine

Oprah and Her Natural Hair Cover O Magazine

For the last twelve years Oprah has been on the cover of every issue of O, her eponymous magazine. Sometimes twice at a time.

But for the first time ever she’s covering her magazine in her natural hair. For the September 2012 issue of O magazine Oprah’s showing off her natural hair. It was such a big cultural moment that O magazine hailed the event on its own site. Oprah’s hair debut unsurprisingly set off ripples of conversation, and debate, throughout the blogosphere.

The cover debut comes the same week that the Internet’s been up in arms over Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas’ hair. As Dodai Stewart writes, “The point is that hair — black hair, especially — remains a hot-button issue. Hair is political, laden with subtext and meaning.”

Still, as big a deal as Oprah is making about her hair, and as much time as she’s spent on makeovers on her TV shows and in the pages of her magazine—September’s is even O’s official makeover issue—she insists the only real and sustainable personal changes are, “those in which something inside the receiver clicks, aligning with that which is being received. The only way to real transformation is through the mind.”

DREAMers Send Themselves to Detention, And Find So Many More DREAMers Behind Bars

DREAMers Send Themselves to Detention, And Find So Many More DREAMers Behind Bars

Viridiana Martinez and Marco Saavedra, DREAM Act activists who are undocumented, have done what many consider the unthinkable: the two activists approached immigration agents and placed themselves into deportation proceedings. Saveedra and Martinez, along with five other activists, are being detained in the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida.

While in detention they’ve met dozens of people who ought to be granted deportation under the Obama administration’s memo outlining who ought to be a high priority for deportation and who ought not be detained and deported. Among those the Obama administration has said it doesn’t want to waste its resources deporting are those with no criminal convictions and those who have long ties to the U.S. Yet, Saveedra and Martinez have found and catalogued the cases of many whose cases make them perfect candidates for deportation relief, confirming what experts and advocates have long argued—that the Obama administration has consistently promised sharper, more discriminating enforcement and reneged on even his own administration’s reforms.

“Everyday I am meeting new people who have been detained for months and months for nothing more than driving without a license, we have one case of a father detained after dropping off his 11-year old wheel chair bound son at school,” Martinez said in an email appeal sent out this week. “These stories are not supposed to be happening, but they are, right in our communities.”

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