Seven (Yes, 7!) Slave-Themed Films Coming in 2013


2013 is going to be the year of the slave-theme movies.

Shadow & Act’s Tambay A. Obenson compiled a list of all the slave-themed films currently in production and found there’s seven films (that he knows of) in the works that will be released in 2013.

Obenson has dubbed the current Hollywood trend  the “slave movie fever” and says the 150 year anniversary of the Civil War may be why all the studios are flocking to the slave genre.

Steve McQueen’s “Twelve Years A Slave,” an adaptation of Solomon Northup’s autobiography, is perhaps getting the most attention. The film about a man living in New York during the mid-1800s that’s kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south has a respected black director and a spectacular cast. The cast includes Quvenzhané Wallis, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Ruth Negga, Adepero Oduye, Alfre Woodard, Lupita Nyong’o, Brad Pitt and Michael K. Williams.

Another film, “Big Ben Jones,” will star former NFL linebacker Jeremiah Trotter as an escaped slave. Cuba Gooding Jr. also stars in “Something Whispered,” and Danny Glover co-stars in the upcoming slave uprising film, “Tula, The Revolt.”

Feel overwhelmed? 

The good news is we may actually see a black actor or director win an Oscar in 2014. 

McQueen has said before that he “could never make American movies - they like happy endings.” (He’s also not afraid to talk about the politics of race.) “Twelve Years A Slave” is expected to come with a wildly different take on the subject compared to ‘Django.’ 

Visit “Shadow & Act” to read about the rest of the films.

Virginia Governor Says Restore Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felon Offenders

Virginia Governor Says Restore Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felon Offenders

[UPDATED 5:03 p.m.: This post was updated with a correction that changes the number of states that permanently bars felony offenders from voting from three, which I originally listed by error, to four. It also adds information from the NAACP on the number of people in Virginia whose vote was restored by Gov. Bob McDonnell to date — B. Mock]

Yesterday, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced in his 2013 State of the Commonwealth speech that he supports Republican-sponsored bills to automatically restore civil rights — including voting rights — for nonviolent felony offenders. Virginia is one of four states that permanently bars felony offenders from voting or running for office even after they’ve already served time in prison and any probation/parole sentence. The governor alone can restore those rights and only after a cumbersome process that includes a two-year wait for nonviolent offenders or a five-year wait for violent offenders. There are roughly 350,000 Virginians, most of then African Americans, disenfranchised due to this law.

Gov. McDonnell is now saying the wait is over for nonviolent offenders — or at least that it should be. Automatic rights restoration will only happen with an amendment to the state’s constitution, which can only be done by the state legislature. According to The Washington Post, Republicans in that legislature gave Gov. McDonnell’s appeal a lukewarm response, and those who head the committees responsible for creating such legislation oppose automatic rights restoration.

However, McDonnell was clear about his support for it, saying:

“While we have significantly improved and fast-tracked the restoration of civil rights process, it’s still an executive process. As a nation that believes in redemption and second chances, we must provide a clear path for willing individuals to be productive members of society once they have served their sentences and paid their fines and restitution. It is time for Virginia to join most of the other states and make the restoration of civil rights an automatic process for non-violent offenders.”

Civil rights advocates for voting rights and erasing felony disenfranchisement welcomed McDonnell’s support.

“The governor has embraced the principle of redemption and the legislature should follow his lead,” stated Judith Browne Dianis, co director of Advancement Project. “Evidence shows that voting reduces the likelihood of recidivism helping to strengthen our families and communities. These are citizens often trying to rebuild their lives. They live and work in our neighborhoods. They pay taxes. They should not be denied the right to raise their voice in the ballot box.”

“Governor McDonnell is again leading the way for states still practicing felony disenfranchisement to eradicate themselves from antiquated and racially biased disenfranchisement laws,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.  “As we continue to fight these battles on the ground, we hope that legislatures across the United States and especially in Kentucky, Iowa, Florida and Virginia make automatic restoration of rights a permanent fix in their state constitutions.”

According to the NAACP, McDonnell has restored the voting rights of 4,423 people to date, which is officially more than the number of people whose rights were restored under the previous governor Timothy Kaine, who currently represents Virginia in the U.S. Senate. McDonnell is in the last year of his term as governor of Virginia. Governors are limited to one term in the state.

Oscar Disaster: ‘Django’ Costume Designer Revealed in Glitch Didn’t Get a Nomination

Oscar Disaster: 'Django' Costume Designer Revealed in Glitch Didn't Get a Nomination

Earlier this week I wrote about an glitch that revealed a page announcing the ‘Djanco Unchained’ costume designer received an Oscar nomination. The news made international headlines after Vanity Fair published screen shots of the page that announced the nominee one week early.

“This is the third Academy Award nomination for Sharon Davis,” read the page on that featured images the costumes she created for ‘Django Unchained.’

But in the end it turned out Davis did not receive a nomination.

The worst part is Vanity Fair actually contacted Davis when they saw the page to get a statement.

“Oh my gosh! I haven’t even lost weight!” Davis told Vanity fair when the reporter delivered the news. “I never thought about an Oscar in my life. When they called me for Ray, I thought it was a prank call. I said, ‘Am I going to open the door and see one of those fake, standing Oscars?’”

TAGS: Django Oscars

Denzel and Quvenzhané Are The Only Actors of Color Nominated for Oscars

Denzel and Quvenzhané Are The Only Actors of Color Nominated for Oscars

Out of the twenty Oscar nominations for actors announced this morning, only two went to actors of color.

Denzel Washington was nominated in the best performance by an actor in a leading role category for playing the boozy airline pilot in “Flight.”

Quvenzhané Wallis star of the widely acclaimed “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” earned a best-actress Oscar nomination on Thursday morning.

This is Denzel’s sixth career Academy Award nomination, making him the most honored black actor in history, according to TheGrio. He’s won twice before: supporting actor for 1989′s Glory and best actor for his villainous role in 2001′s Training Day.

Neither Jamie Foxx or Kerry Washington were nominated for their roles in “Django Unchained.” However, Christoph Waltz, who played the man who saved them from the slave trade, earned a nomination in the supporting actor category.

A 2012 L.A. Times investigation found The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that votes for the Oscars, is nearly 94 percent white and 77 percent male, Blacks made up about 2 percent of the academy, and Latinos made up less than 2 percent.

Quvenzhané Wallis Is Youngest to Get Oscar Nod for ‘Best Actress’

Quvenzhané Wallis Is Youngest to Get Oscar Nod for 'Best Actress'

Quvenzhané Wallis star of the widely acclaimed “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” earned a best-actress Oscar nomination on Thursday morning.

‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ was also nominated for the coveted Best Picture award.

Wallis was only 6-years-old when she appeared in her first acting role in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” She competed with thousands of other elementary-aged girls for the role of Hushpuppy, a child who struggles to come to the gripes with the pending loss of both her father and her coastal home.

The full list of nominees in the performance by an actress in a leading role category are:

  • Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
  • Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”

This year the category includes the youngest nominee and the oldest nominee, as Riva is 85-years-old.

The 85th Academy Awards will air live on February 24.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Tells Colleagues She is Resigning

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Tells Colleagues She is Resigning

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is leaving her position in President Barack Obama’s cabinet, the Associated Press reports. Solis’ departure will make her the fifth member of the administration to leave the cabinet since the election.

The White House confirmed Solis’ resignation with the following statement:

Over her long career in public service - as an advocate for environmental justice in California, state legislator, member of Congress and Secretary of Labor - Hilda Solis has been a tireless champion for working families. Over the last four years, Secretary Solis has been a critical member of my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class. Her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers’ health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work. I am grateful to Secretary Solis for her steadfast commitment and service not only to the Administration, but on behalf of the American people. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

Solis’ resignation comes at a time when the Obama administration is receiving criticism for appointing less women to his second-term cabinet.

David Weigel at breaks down the demographics of the five cabinet members that have departed:

I’m told that Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will step aside soon, making her the fifth member of the administration to leave the cabinet (or announce her deparature) since the election. Only two of these departures — Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner — are white and male. Lisa Jackson, who’s leaving the EPA, is African-American, and Solis was the first Hispanic woman to take charge of Labor.

A NYT analysis published yesterday found Obama has named 33% more men than women as appointees in new cabinet.

From the White House down the ranks, the Obama administration has compiled a broad appointment record that has significantly exceeded the Bush administration in appointing women but has done no better than the Clinton administration, according to an analysis of personnel data by The New York Times. About 43 percent of Mr. Obama’s appointees have been women, about the same proportion as in the Clinton administration, but up from the roughly one-third appointed by George W. Bush.

The New York Times pointed out last month that while it has been 15 years since a white man served as secretary of state or secretary of labor, other positions of power have only gone to men.

Yet no woman or minority member has ever led the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency or the Treasury Department. The White House chief of staff has also always been a white man.

Solis’ resignation is published in its entirety below.

Megdar Evers’ Widow to Deliver Convocation at Inauguration

Megdar Evers' Widow to Deliver Convocation at Inauguration

The widow of slain Civil Rights organizer Medgar Evers will deliver the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration.

Myrlie Evers-Williams is believed to be the first woman, and layperson other than clergy, to deliver the prayer that precedes the ceremonial oath of office, according to The Washington Post.

The president’s inaugural planners also announced Cuban-American Richard Blanco will be the 2013 inaugural poet.

The inaugural ceremony will take place on Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

‘Cotton Club Parade’ Moves to Broadway

'Cotton Club Parade' Moves to Broadway

After two short runs at New York City Center, “Cotton Club Parade” - a musical revue celebrating the Harlem nightclub during the Duke Ellington years - will move to Broadway this fall, its producers announced on Wednesday.

“Cotton Club Parade,” according to press notes, “celebrates Duke Ellington’s years at the famed Harlem nightclub in the 1920s and ’30s, when the joint was jumping with shows featuring big band swing and blues music. The vibrant production features singers, dancers, and the world renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars, under the direction of Wynton Marsalis.”

A press release notes theatre, casting, creative team and ticketing information for the Broadway run will be announced at a later time.

ACLU Wins Full Severance Pay for Troops Discharged Under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

ACLU Wins Full Severance Pay for Troops Discharged Under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

After two years of ACLU litigation the Pentagon has agreed to pay full separation pay to all service members involuntarily separated from the military after Nov. 10, 2004, because of their sexual orientation.

As the ACLU points out, if you serve six years in the military and are then discharged involuntarily, Congress says you’re entitled to separation pay to help ease your transition to civilian life. But the military had a policy - not required by any law - of cutting that separation pay in half if you’re discharged, even honorably, for “homosexuality.”

Under the terms of the agreement, service members covered by the lawsuit will be contacted by the government and notified that they are eligible for payments, the New York Times reports.

A 2010 Service Women’s Action Network report found women and people of color were disproportionately discharged under don’t ask, don’t tell:

Even though black women comprise less than one percent of servicemembers, they represented 3.3 percent of all don’t ask, don’t tell discharges. Women in general appear to have been targeted under the policy. According to a 2010 Service Women’s Action Network report, women were 15 percent of the armed forces in 2008, but comprised 34 percent of the don’t ask, don’t tell discharges. People of color represented just under 30 percent of active duty personnel, but 45 percent of don’t ask, don’t tell discharges.

The Pentagon discharged more than 14,000 servicemembers under the policy between when it took effect in December 1993 and its official end in September 2011.

Tyler Perry Tops Razzie Nominations For Worst Achievement in Film

Tyler Perry Tops Razzie Nominations For Worst Achievement in Film

On Wednesday, The Razzies committee announced this years nominations for worst achievements in film for the past year.

Director-actor-writer Tyler Perry garnered multiple nominations, including worst actress for his recurring role in drag as Madea in “Madea’s Witness Protection,” worst actor for “Good Deeds” and “Alex Cross,” and worst director for “Madea” and “Good Deeds.”

Rihanna also earned a nomination in the Worst Supporting Actress for her role in “Battleship.”

This year’s winners will be announced on 23 February, the night before the Oscar show. Full list of nominees is below.

Huell Howser Redefined Who Could Become a Californian

Huell Howser Redefined Who Could Become a Californian

Huell Howser, the public television host that passed away earlier this week, took his show “California’s Gold” across the state to highlight different communities. Howser took his camera where no other broadcast television show dared to go and allowed many Californians to see fair representations of themselves on television for the first time.

Howser was born and raised in Tennessee and moved to Los Angeles in 1981. He went on to host several public television programs but he’s most often recognized for hosting the long running television series “California’s Gold.”

Howser took his viewers to parks, museums, libraries, historic landmarks and any other place he found interesting. He would visit these places and conduct informal—but thorough—on the spot interviews. One week you could be watching Howser exploring Frank Sinatra’s house in Palm Springs and the next week he’d be in the Tehachapi Mountains visiting The Cesar Chavez Foundation.

“California’s Gold” ran for 18-seasons and started out the same year that California voters approved Proposition 187, the 1994 anti-immigrant measure introduced in response to the state’s changing demographics.

The show started at a time when the state was divided but “California’s Gold” still went in to a diverse set of communities and highlighted our differences so we could better understand each other and find similar interests.

For example, Howser went to a Low Rider Magazine car convention and showed that brown men with mustaches spoke perfect English, liked vintage cars and that they too were part of California. He also went to other historical monuments and Latino owned business to illustrate Latinos had a rich history in California.

His show wasn’t afraid to highlight the state’s complicated past either.

He visited Angel Island and discussed the detention of Chinese immigrants from 1910-1940. In another episode he explored internment camps that Japanese Americans were forced into during World War II. He visited Camp Pendleton and explored the Vietnamese refugee history there too.

He traveled to the bay area to feature the Oakland Black Cowboy parade and went to South L.A. to visit the Watt’s towers and the African American Firefighter Museum.

Howser even visited affordable housing developments. He traveled to the Signal Hill area in Long Beach to look at Abode Communities’ Las Brisas Community Housing complex.

While this may all sound like it was geared for an older public television audience, the show reached people of all ages, including young people in schools. “California’s Gold” was endorsed by a number of organizations including: the California Teachers Association; the California Federation of Teachers; the California School Boards Association and the California Council for the Social Studies.

In a recent interview with SoCal Connected, producer Phil Noyes recounted a common interaction Howser had with some viewers.

“People would walk up [to Howser] and say ‘you’re not from California, you’re not a Californian, listen to your accent!’,” said Noyes, who worked with Howser for almost 19-years.

“Huell would lean back and say ‘now what’s a Californian accent exactly? Is it the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people that live here? Is it the millions of Hispanic and Latino people that live here?’ and you could see them shrinking back in to their shell and his point was well taken, there’s no such thing as a California accent.”

And with his work, Howser help proved that no matter where you came from you could become a Californian too.


Watch Noyes and Howser’s long time cameraman Luis Fuerte retell this storiy on So Cal connected below.

Gay Cuban-American Poet Richard Blanco to Read at Obama’s Inauguration

Gay Cuban-American Poet Richard Blanco to Read at Obama's Inauguration

On Wednesday the president’s inaugural planners announced poet Richard Blanco will be the 2013 inaugural poet. Blanco will become the fifth poet in history to read an official inauguration poem and the first Latino and openly-gay poet to be given the honor.

The biography posted on Blanco’s website identifies him as a Cuban-American. The bio also notes the 44-year-old poet was conceived in Cuba, born in Spain and “imported” to the U.S. when he was only 45-days old. Blanco was raised in Miami by his mother who was a bank teller and his father, a bookkeeper.

President Obama picked Blanco because the poet’s “deeply personal poems are rooted in the idea of what it means to be an American,” according to an inaugural committee spokeswoman who spoke to the New York Times.

Blanco says he feels a connection to the President also.

“Since the beginning of the campaign, I totally related to his life story and the way he speaks of his family, and of course his multicultural background,” Blanco told the NYT. “There has always been a spiritual connection in that sense. I feel in some ways that when I’m writing about my family, I’m writing about him.”

Blanco lives in Bethel, Maine with his partner. He has less than two weeks to compose an original poem for the president’s ceremonial swearing-in on the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 21.

N.Y. Judge Rules Part of ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ is Unconstitutional

N.Y. Judge Rules Part of 'Stop-and-Frisk' is Unconstitutional

New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk program finally had its day in court, and it lost. A federal judge in Manhattan has ordered the New York City Police Department to stop making stops for trespassing outside certain privately owned Bronx buildings without reasonable suspicion. Manhattan Judge Shira Scheindlin said the practice of stopping people suspected of trespassing outside private buildings in the Bronx was unconstitutional.

The New York Times has more details:

The decision appears to be one of the more significant federal rulings during the Bloomberg administration on the Police Department’s use of stop-and-frisk tactics, which the administration has credited with helping lower crime rates in the city.

The case was narrowly focused on police stops in front of the private residential buildings enrolled in the Trespass Affidavit Program in the Bronx. Under that program, which includes several thousand residential buildings, property managers have asked the police to patrol their buildings and to arrest trespassers.

But Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled Tuesday that the Police Department was routinely stopping people outside such buildings without reasonable suspicion that they were trespassing.

“While it may be difficult to say where, precisely, to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the N.Y.P.D. has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside TAP buildings in the Bronx,” Judge Scheindlin ruled.

“For those of us who do not fear being stopped as we approach or leave our own homes or those of our friends and families, it is difficult to believe that residents of one of our boroughs live under such a threat. In light of the evidence presented at the hearing, however, I am compelled to conclude that this is the case,” Judge Scheindlin went on to say.

Lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) who previously filed a federal class action lawsuit that accused the NYPD of racial profiling praised today’s decision.

“The stops held unconstitutional today - for alleged trespasses outside the plaintiffs’ own apartment buildings in the Bronx - are part of a pattern of unconstitutional NYPD stops in all boroughs that have disrupted the lives of New Yorkers, particularly Black and Latino New Yorkers, for over a decade,” said Vincent Warren, director of CCR said in a statement.

“By consolidating today’s case with the Center for Constitutional Rights’ class action stop-and-frisk lawsuit, Floyd et al. v. City of New York, et al., Judge Scheindlin has correctly recognized that the stops held unconstitutional today are part of a larger problem identified by Floyd,” added Warren.

You can read Judge Scheindlin’s full ruling below.

Low Wage Group Facing Eviction As University of Maryland Expands

Low Wage Group Facing Eviction As University of Maryland Expands

A Baltimore- based group that focuses on organizing low wage workers is losing their community space because of what they call the University of Maryland’s “expanding presence”. The group United Workers fights for fair development in their city and now they’ve become victims of real estate developers themselves.

A letter published on the United Workers website states their landlord has given them a 30-day eviction notice to vacate their office and community space.

An excerpt of the letter published on United Workers’ website that details the sequence of events is below:

The fight for Fair Development hits home. United Workers is being evicted from its office and community space due to the expanding presence of the University of Maryland (UM) in West Baltimore.

Over the last few years, UM has bought much of the property around our current office for its business school and biopark, setting in motion the dominos of displacement that development inevitably triggers. Due to the UM development, our non-profit landlord has been priced out of a number of community spaces and is now forcing us out to make room for its own relocated community programs. While fighting to keep open the precious few community resources, such as rec centers and fire stations, we see this eviction as part of the untold story of human rights abuses systemic across Baltimore. The actions of the University of Maryland have largely gone unnoticed - from demolishing low-income housing in the community to massive land purchases that led to our eviction and, no doubt, the displacement of other community residents and institutions. The result has been increased power for the few, while the livelihood and empowerment of the community has been completely undermined.

Our landlord is imposing an eviction deadline of January 31, 2013. We are attempting to push back and may need your help! We will keep you posted. What we need now are solid leads on new locations for our office and community space. Though this is a frustrating situation, it also allows us an opportunity to find a space that can make us even more accessible to our community. We want to stay in West Baltimore, particularly either in the Hollins Market area, where we are currently located (21223), or in Sandtown Winchester (21217). West Baltimore has been important to our organizing, particularly in recent years. It is where we have fought to keep the rec centers open and succeeded in saving the Truck 10 fire station. We have been working to launch a food distribution program in the neighborhood around our office this month. That being said we will consider any space that is available.

You can continue reading the letter and stay connected to the group by visiting

Oscar Website Glitch Reveals Nominee Page One Week Early

Put this one under the category for award season bloopers. An apparent glitch on the website resulted in a test page going live a week before it was suppose to be published. Vanity Fair broke the news and grabbed a screen capture of the page that reveals “Django Unchained” as one of the first nominees.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is staying quiet and calling it all a “website glitch.”


Vanity Fair reports:

The Academy Awards nominees won’t be announced for another week, but according to an accidentally published test page on, Django Unchained costume designer Sharen Davis has already clinched a slot. “This is the third Academy Award nomination for Sharen Davis. She was previously nominated for Dreamgirls (2006) and Ray (2004)” the site said. While we feel sorry for the poor sap responsible for her inclusion—and while we won’t know whether she’s really nominated until next week—we had to tell Davis. c “Oh my gosh! I haven’t even lost weight!” Davis replied. “I never thought about an Oscar in my life. When they called me for Ray, I thought it was a prank call. I said, ‘Am I going to open the door and see one of those fake, standing Oscars?’”

Davis was similarly incredulous when the Tarantino camp approached her for Django Unchained. “Are you sure you want the girl from The Help and Dreamgirls?” she asked. Although the bold, bloody Western is a departure for Davis—“I don’t even like violent movies,” she admits—her admiration for Quentin Tarantino trumped her sensitivity.

Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards will be announced Thursday by host Seth MacFarlane and actress Emma Stone.

TAGS: Django Oscars

Bill Cosby and ‘Cosby Show’ Daughter Tempestt Bledsoe Reunite After 20 Years

Bill Cosby and 'Cosby Show' Daughter Tempestt Bledsoe Reunite After 20 Years

Jimmy Fallon orchestrated a mini “Cosby Show” reunion on Friday’s episode of ” Late Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

Bill Cosby appeared on the show to talk about his new book alongside actress Tempestt Bledsoe who was promoting her new NBC sitcom, “Guys With Kids.”

Inmate Dies in Arpaio’s Tent City

Inmate Dies in Arpaio's Tent City

The Associated Press is reporting Maricopa County officials say a 60-year-old inmate in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent city has died from cardiac arrest.

Authorities believe the inmate died of natural causes but an investigation has been launched into his death.

Reporter Aurelia Fierros at published the inmates name along with more details of the incident:

Officers found Arthur Madril unresponsive in his bunk, at the Maricopa County jail, on Saturday.

Madril was in custody on a $4,000 child support warrant and had been booked into custody in September. He was on work release status, being able to work during the week and report to jail on nights and weekends.

The prisoner had returned to jail Friday night and was found unresponsive by detention officers in the morning. CPR was performed but a Phoenix Fire crew, pronounced him deceased.

Sheriff Arpaio celebrated Tent City’s 19th anniversary in August 2012. CBS affiliate KPHO reports there have been at least two other deaths in Tent City:

In 2003, Brian Crenshaw died after what was determined to be a beating by jail guards. His family sued and was awarded $2 million.

That same year, Phillip Wilson was serving two months for a non-violent offense and was attacked, beaten and killed by white supremist gang members. A suit was also filed in that death, but MCSO was not held responsible.

In June 2012, more than 1,000 demonstrators gathered at a rally to call for the closure of the sheriff’s complex of canvas jail tents. Organizers claim conditions in Arpaio’s “Tent City” complex are inhumane. Complaints include dangerous temperatures in the tents that rise above 125 degrees during the Summer.

U.S. Spends More On Immigration Enforcement Than FBI, DEA, Secret Service Combined

The federal government spends more on immigration enforcement than it does on the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, US Marshalls, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives combined, a new Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report released today finds. 

The report also found that more people are detained each year in immigration detention facilities than are serving sentences in federal prisons.

Among the report’s other key findings:

  • More than 4 million non-citizens, primarily unauthorized immigrants, have been deported from the United States since 1990, with removals rising from 30,039 in FY 1990 to 391,953 in FY 2011.
  • Fewer than half of the non-citizens deported from the United States are removed pursuant to a formal hearing before an immigration judge, with the majority removed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) via its administrative authority.
  • The nearly 430,000 non-citizens detained in the immigration detention system in FY 2011 exceeded the number serving sentences in federal Bureau of Prisons facilities for all other federal crimes.
  • Immigration enforcement spending has totaled nearly $187 billion in the 26 years since IRCA ($219 billion in 2012 dollars).
  • Spending on CBP, ICE and DHS’s primary immigration enforcement technology initiative, the US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program, reached $17.9 billion in FY 2012. In comparison, total spending for all other federal criminal law enforcement agencies (the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) stood at $14.4 billion in FY 2012. 

“There has been an historic transformation of immigration enforcement into a highly resourced, robust infrastructure,” said Muzaffar Chishti, one of the report’s co-authors. “This modern-day system extends well beyond U.S. borders to screen visitors against multiple intelligence and law enforcement databases before they arrive and also reaches into local communities across the country via partnerships with state and local law enforcement, information sharing and other initiatives.”

In response, National Day Laborer Organizing Network attorney Jessica Karp made the following statement:

“With shrinking budgets and increasingly rampant civil rights violations in the name of ‘immigration enforcement’, today’s study is a wake up call to our legislators. That the US spent almost $18 billion last year to detain immigrants and separate families for violating immigration laws that are widely recognized as outdated and impractical shows just how far anti-immigrant fervor has gone in spawning backwards priorities in Congress. 2013 should be the year that the administration invests in public safety and family unity by disinvesting from dead-end programs like Secure Communities.”

The full report can be downloaded by visiting [PDF]

‘Girls’ Spoiler: Donald Glover is Lena Dunham’s Republican Boyfriend

'Girls' Spoiler: Donald Glover is Lena Dunham's Republican Boyfriend

HBO’s “Girls” series got a lot of attention its first season for having an entirely white cast of lead actors. The second season of the show that premieres this coming Sunday is said to include a bit more color.

Before the show premiered in 2012 the reviews raved about the show because “there was nothing else like it on TV.” The twenty-something creator of the show, Lena Dunham, was said to have created an authentic portrayal for and by millennials. New York Magazine said that for young people the show was “FUBU” (for us by us).

But in the end not everyone saw themselves in the show… mostly because it was so white.

According to early reviews of the second season of “Girls,” the series will include a romantic storyline between Dunham’s lead character and actor Donald Glover

The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman’s review of the new season of provides more details on Glover’s role:

Season two starts with a pretty big — and unexplained — jump. Hannah is now dating a handsome black Republican named Sandy (Donald Glover)… When Sandy calls out Hannah’s knowledge of race and its ramifications, she goes on a self-righteous, defensive rant, and Sandy says, “You just said a Missy Elliott lyric.” There are attacks on fixie bikes, rich white girls dating black men, iPad-using gay DJs, what constitutes a “pretty person’s job,” and the smug cynicism of youthful people who haven’t earned the right to it.

Goodman described Glover’s character storyline as a pretty big unexplained jump… which could mean his role may appear to be the token black guy on the show.

But we’ll have to see because Dunham has actually spoken candidly about the diversity in the cast and specifically spoke to tokenism in casting. Below is a snippet of a May 2012 interview of Dunham speaking to NPR’s Terry Gross:

“I wrote the first season primarily by myself, and I co-wrote a few episodes. But I am a half-Jew, half-WASP, and I wrote two Jews and two WASPs. Something I wanted to avoid was tokenism in casting. If I had one of the four girls, if, for example, she was African-American, I feel like — not that the experience of an African-American girl and a white girl are drastically different, but there has to be specificity to that experience [that] I wasn’t able to speak to. I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls. As much as I can say it was an accident, it was only later as the criticism came out, I thought, ‘I hear this and I want to respond to it.’ And this is a hard issue to speak to because all I want to do is sound sensitive and not say anything that will horrify anyone or make them feel more isolated, but I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can’t speak to accurately.”

We’ll have to wait till Sunday to see if Glover’s character comes off as the token black guy on the show but what’s clear is he’s definitely the token black republican. There aren’t too many of them in real life—this last election, 90 percent of the black vote went to Obama.

The new season of “Girls” debuts on January 13.

California Teens Respond to Newtown Tragedy in New Video

California Teens Respond to Newtown Tragedy in New Video

Inspired by the “Demand a Plan” video that features more than a dozen of Hollywood luminaries, California youth have come together to demand a “real plan” to keep schools and communities safe.

In the 60-second video, 33 California young people say more guns are not the answer to keeping schools safe. The teens in the video call for a “real plan” to end violence that goes beyond gun control and does not turn schools into fortresses.

“Don’t lock down our schools,” says one teenager in the video produced by The California Endowment.

The youth who took part in the video are leaders in The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, which focuses on improving neighborhood and school environments.

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