Five States, and a Dozen Counties, Consider Minimum Wage Hikes

Five States, and a Dozen Counties, Consider Minimum Wage Hikes

Should voters in the five states considering minimum wage increases today approve those measures, more than half of U.S. states, along with the District of Columbia, will have minimum wages higher than the federal floor. The proposals range from $8.50 per hour in Arkansas and South Dakota to $10.65 in Illinois’ non-binding ballot initiative. In the middle are Nebraska—where voters could raise the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour—and Alaska, at $9.75.

Those ballot measures can be interpreted as frustration with Congress’w inaction on the issue, especially since four of the five states “lean conservative,” write Emily Graham and Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post

It’s not just statewide ballot initiatives on the line. Nine counties in Wisconsin are considering a boost to $10.10 per hour via non-binding referenda, and three counties in California—Eureka, Oakland, and San Francisco—could raise the minimum wage in those counties all the way to $15 per hour, according to the National Employment Law Project. The national conversation about low-wage work and the minimum wage is moving along, whether Congress can handle it or not.

Special Report: Where Asian-American and Latino Issues Meet

Special Report: Where Asian-American and Latino Issues Meet

What are the “real clear moments of collaboration between Asian-Americans and Latinos” is the question driving journalist Maria Hinojosa’s new hour-long podcast, “Hyphen-Americans.” Abigail Licad, editor in chief of Asian-American life magazine, Hyphen says, “[Collaboration] is exactly what’s being forgotten in all the negative media hype especially when it concerns issues like affirmative action and immigration.” From school desegregation to early 20th century inter-marriage between Sikh men and Mexican women to the farm worker movement, Licad fills in the historical record. 

Next, Hinojosa introduces listeners to a University of California, Davis resource center that welcomes young Asian and Latino students who are undocumented (7:30); examines the effects of California’s affirmative action fight on communities of color (15:00); talks food (like Filipino-Americans’ leche flan) and where saki meets salsa (35:05) and ends with words of wisdom from a Japanese-American woman reflecting on the first years of her life in an internment camp (47:55). Listen, on Latino USA above.

Election Day, Mexican Mayor Arrested, Nasal Spray Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise

Election Day, Mexican Mayor Arrested, Nasal Spray Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise

Here’s what I’m reading up on today:

  • Ukraine separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko is sworn into office as the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mass Incarceration?

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Mass Incarceration?

There appears to be a widening consensus among policymakers if not the general public that mass incarceration in the U.S. is a problem. If so, now what? How do you stall or unwind a penal system that imprisons and supervises 7 million people—just a million shy of the population of New York City? Where blacks and Latinos make up 30 percent of the U.S. population but nearly 60 percent of the prison population? Many around the country are watching California’s latest initiative. Tomorrow voters will decide on Proposition 47, which could reduce sentencing for tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders annually and shift savings to schools, victim services and mental health and drug treatment. If Prop 47 passes it could be a signal to other states similarly experimenting with or hesitant to pursue sentencing reduction that they should forge ahead. 

More than 60 percent of California voters favor Prop 47, according to a September poll cited in Governing magazine, but law enforcement and crime victims groups have lined up against it. Once laws are on the books it’s extremely difficult to change them, a former ‘tough on crime’ legislator told Colorlines. And complicating substantive reforms, too, is fear and bias. Read Lauren Kirchner’s overview of the latest research in Pacific Standard for more.



Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I Used to Push Back on Being Identified as Black

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I Used to Push Back on Being Identified as Black

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes a common experience for many immigrants: pushing back against “black identity” in the U.S. “I found myself taking on a new identity, oh, no rather I found a new identity thrust upon me,” Adichie tells journalist Michele Norris who founded The Race Card Project to foster candid conversations about race. Adichie, of course, obliges in a substantive 15-minute interview. “It always makes me happy making people uncomfortable,” she says of reaction to her novel, “Americanah.” “Discomfort is a necessary condition for a certain kind of justice, a certain kind of progress.” For more Adichie, including her reaction to American coverage of Ebola and Africa, check out the interview, part of this weekend’s Washington Ideas Forum:

I like to say I’m happily black. So I don’t have a problem at all sort of having skin the color of chocolate. But in this country I came to realize…that meant something, that it came with baggage and with all of these assumptions. And that the idea of black achievement was a remarkable thing. Whereas for me in Nigeria, it wasn’t. It was not. And I think that’s when I started to internalize what it meant and that’s when I started to push back. So for a long time I didn’t want to identify as black. …

It’s very easy when you’re an immigrant and you come to this country it’s very easy to internalize the mainstream ideas. It’s easy for example to think, “Oh, the ghettos are full of black people because they’re just lazy and they like to live in the ghettos,” because that’s sort of what mainstream thinking is. And then when you read about the American housing policies for the past 100 years it starts to make sense. And it forces you to let go of these simple stereotypes.

(h/t The Atlantic)

Ferguson’s No-Fly Zone Created to Keep Media Out, Prince on SNL, Baby Robot Penguin

Ferguson's No-Fly Zone Created to Keep Media Out, Prince on SNL, Baby Robot Penguin

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

  • Brittany Maynard, the terminally ill woman who advocated for death with dignity, takes her own life
  • Ever feel like playing Super PacMan or 900 other retro arcade games? Now you can

  • Nik Wallenda walks a tightrope between two Chicago skyscrapers. Blindfolded
  • Baby robot penguin is about the cutest and perhaps most innovative development in behavioral ecology. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

How Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Defines Today’s ‘Race Beat’

How Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Defines Today's 'Race Beat'

The leading writer on racism in America today is the subject of a cerebral profile in the new issue of Columbia Journalism Review. Ta-Nehisi Coates, who this year resurfaced reparations for African-Americans as a relevant topic in the mainstream, sees himself not as a writer about race but about racism and white supremacy. The interview unpacks some of how Coates came to see and appreciate that difference, which determines how he covers what journalists in the 1960s termed, ‘the race beat.’ Some highlights:

Eventually, [Coates] came to see black respectability—the idea that, to succeed, African-Americans must stoically prevail against the odds and be “twice as good” as white people to get the same rights—as deeply immoral. It’s an idea that has permeated his work ever since: the absurdity that having a black president somehow indicates that the country has transcended race, when African-Americans get longer prison sentences than whites for committing the same crimes. For Coates, true equality means “black people in this country have the right to be as mediocre as white people,” he says.


[White supremacy] refers not so much to hate groups, but, as Coates defines it, a system of policies and beliefs that aims to keep African-Americans as “a peon class.” To be “white” in this sense does not refer merely to skin color but to the degree that someone qualifies as “normal,” and thus worthy of the same rights as all Americans. Reading Coates’ work you feel that his ideas—about blacks needing to be “twice as good,” about the force of history, about white supremacy—all cascade, one into another, permeating both his tweets and his cover stories, whether he is discussing the presidency or housing policy. The pool where all these ideas eventually arrive is a question: “How big-hearted can democracy be?” 

Chris Ip’s profile reveals a man who’s had the time and space to develop his thinking over a long period of time. It’s worth the read.

Read more at CJR.


Peshmerga Fighters in Syria, Zuckerberg Answers Your Questions, Dead Galaxies’ Ghost Light

Peshmerga Fighters in Syria, Zuckerberg Answers Your Questions, Dead Galaxies' Ghost Light

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

  • A Pennsylvania man who shot two state troopers, killing one, is captured after 48 days on the lam. 
  • WaPo breaks down why Republicans will likely take Tuesday’s election. 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Ebola Quarantine Showdown in Maine, Tim Cook Comes Out, Giants Win World Series

Ebola Quarantine Showdown in Maine, Tim Cook Comes Out, Giants Win World Series

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

  • Apple’s Tim Cook pens an essay revealing that he’s gay, says he’s looking to diversify (whites and Asians currently make up at least 70 percent of the company’s workforce; men also make up 70 percent of the workforce):
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.
  • The Weather Channel issues a statement confirming that global warming is real after co-founder John Coleman calls climate change a myth on network television. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Antares Explodes, Peshmerga Fighters Arrive in Turkey, F.B.I. Fakes Seattle Times Story

Antares Explodes, Peshmerga Fighters Arrive in Turkey, F.B.I. Fakes Seattle Times Story

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

  • NASA’s Antares rocket launch ends in utter catastrophe, raising questions about the future of the space agency’s commercial spaceflight program.  
TAGS: Morning Rush

Activists: Calling a Mexican Restaurant ‘Illegal Pete’s’ is Racist

Activists: Calling a Mexican Restaurant 'Illegal Pete's' is Racist

A growing fast-food chain is under scrutiny in Colorado.

Illegal Pete’s—a burrito chain that opened its first location in Boulder in 1995—is set to open its seventh location in Fort Collins on November 13. But some Fort Collins residents are calling the use of “illegal” in the name of the Mexican chain racist. 

Antonette Aragón, a professor at Colorado State University, was one of about 30 people who spoke with chain owner Pete Turner at a community meeting last week. “When you use this term [illegal] it has a power and is very disturbing,” says Aragón of why she participated in the discussion. “It’s disturbing in the sense that it’s racist and continues the status quo.”

Turner says that although he sometimes felt uncomfortable hearing people’s concerns, he felt great about the meeting because it was done in good faith. “People’s feelings are always valid,” he says.

Those feelings have also been expressed on social media, as well as in private and open letters addressed to Turner. In a letter published on Coloradoan, professor Antero Garcia explained the historical context in which people object to the restaurant’s name:

The restaurant will be located in the same area that current Fort Collins residents remember often seeing signs saying “No dogs or Mexicans.” It is under this legacy of American racist practices that the name Illegal Pete’s becomes unacceptable. I understand that this may not seem fair to you — as it may not be the origin of the name. However, the slippery nature of sociocultural context in the United States is something that cannot be dictated by us as individuals — they are a part of a culture of white supremacy that we remain entrenched within and which your restaurant’s name furthers.

The chain’s owner stresses that the name—which he says he took from a novel he read in college—was never meant to be a commentary on anything to do with immigration or race.

“There was no intent [with the name],” says Turner, who adds that he wanted customers to be intrigued by an edgy-sounding name and draw their own conclusions about it.


Turner does concede that one of the images on the restaurant’s website (see above)—which features his first employee, Orlando, with a black bar over his eyes—could be seen as linking crime to Latino people. He says he plans to take the image down soon and replace it with a similar image of himself or non-Latino employees.

But for people like Aragón, Turner’s intent is hardly what’s at stake.

“[Turner] is saying his intent is meaningless. But what’s the interpretation that people are taking this as?” she asks.

Meanwhile, both Aragón and Turner have been alarmed by explicit racists who are siding with the restaurant’s name—using what’s, so far, been a conversation where two sides have started a dialogue and turning it into fodder for hateful commentary.

Turner told Colorlines that he’s already made a decision and says that if he does drop “illegal,” it won’t be limited to the new location. “I’d have to change the entire thing,” says Turner. “[There’ve] been 20 years of branding and a lot to consider here.” Turner says he will share his decision with critics first, and then he will announce it to the public by Wednesday of next week. 

Investigating the Dearth of Black Males Among Science and Math Ph.Ds

Investigating the Dearth of Black Males Among Science and Math Ph.Ds

This week, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a suite of articles examining an enduring phenomena of academia: the dearth of black men in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Far from being a great mystery, the troublingly low numbers of black men in science and math fields is a well-tracked, if entrenched, issue. In 1992, black men received 138 of the more than 11,000 STEM doctorate degrees awarded in the U.S. In 2012, they were only 334 of 16,545 STEM doctorate degree graduates, The Chronicle of Higher Ed reported.

Stacey Patton, writing for The Chronicle, tracks some of the myriad contributing factors, as well as experts’ frustration with the undertones of the discourse:

Among the factors are academic and cultural isolation, the difficulty of performing in the face of negative stereotypes and low expectations among faculty members, a lack of mentors of color and friendship networks, concerns about financial debt, inadequate advising and emotional support during times of stress, and lack of exposure to hands-on research.

Some scholars have also argued, in reports and academic journals over the years, that the movement to broaden minority participation has tended to focus more on “fixing” the black male student than on addressing the structural and institutional forces that undermine his academic achievement and sense of belonging on campus.

The numbers have improved over the years, but are still a long way off from parity with blacks’ representation in the U.S. population. In 1992, 4 percent of those who earned doctorate degrees science and engineering were black, and 3 percent were Latino, according to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. In 2012, blacks made up 6 percent of those who received science or engineering doctorate degrees, while Latinos made up 7 percent. 

Head to the Chronicle of Higher Ed for their suite of articles on the topic.

Christie Defends Ebola Quarantine, Syria Fuel Prices Soar, Lava Threatens Residents in Hawaii

Christie Defends Ebola Quarantine, Syria Fuel Prices Soar, Lava Threatens Residents in Hawaii

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

  • The rate of babies born with symptoms on the spectrum of fetal alcohol symptom disorder in the U.S. is much higher than expected, at up to nearly 5 percent of all births. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Guess How Much Fast Food Workers Earn In Denmark?

Guess How Much Fast Food Workers Earn In Denmark?

Fast food workers in Denmark earn a minimum of $20-an-hour. Meanwhile, in the U.S., fast food workers earn on average $8.90-an-hour and roughly half rely on some form of public assistance. The provocative comparative analysis in yesterday’s New York Times drives home the difference through the choices available to two Burger King employees, 24-year-old Dane, Hampus Elofsson and 26-year-old Floridian, Anthony Moore.

At the end of a typical week, Elofsson still has spending money:

On a recent afternoon, [he] ended his 40-hour workweek at a Burger King and prepared for a movie and beer with friends. He had paid his rent and all his bills, stashed away some savings, yet still had money for nights out.

Across the pond, Moore, a shift manager and single father of two earns $9-an-hour and regularly falls behind in lighting and water bills. He receives food stamps and Medicaid for his daughters. He is uninsured.

Of course there are significant differences between the United States and Denmark, not least the cost of living, universal healthcare and collective bargaining. Read more to understand the differences at The New York Times.

Outrage Over Ebola Quarantine, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff Wins, #TaintedMeat

Outrage Over Ebola Quarantine, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff Wins, #TaintedMeat

Here’s what I’m reading up this lovely Monday morning: 

  • Gia Soriano, who was shot by Jaylen Fryberg in a school rampage on Friday, has died
  • The captain who abandoned a sinking ferry in South Korea, leaving more than 300 people—mostly school kids—to die, may face the death penalty
  • It was bad, or maybe it wasn’t so bad, that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told women not to ask for raises—and Rick Smith mansplains why
TAGS: Morning Rush

Goya Foods Ready to Bring Latino Food to the Rest of America

Goya Foods Ready to Bring Latino Food to the Rest of America

Goya Foods, a mainstay on corner store and supermarket shelves in Latino neighborhoods in the U.S., is making a run for the rest of the country. In California, that means a brand new distribution center nearly four times the size of Goya’s older, nearby center in the City of Industry, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The new facility is part of a $300 million expansion in California, Georgia and Texas as Goya, which sells some 2,400 products, prepares to jump from niche “ethnic” markets to a mainstream audience. With $1.2 billion in sales in 2012, Goya’s already well-positioned to make that leap. Latino foods are expected to become a $10.7 billion yearly market by the year 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The growth of Goya tracks the huge growth of the Latino population in the U.S., as well as a longstanding appetite for Mexican and Latino food from American eaters. In California and New Mexico, Latinos are already the largest ethnic group—outnumbering whites in both states.

Not everyone’s a fan of Goya though. Ubiquitous as they may be, “Using Goya products to cook Mexican cuisine is like making your Cuba Libre with Hornitos,” Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly executive editor and author of “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America,” once wrote in his syndicated column.

Native Appropriations Reminds You: Don’t Dress up Like an Indian on Halloween

Native Appropriations Reminds You: Don't Dress up Like an Indian on Halloween

Halloween is just 10 days away—and so are the annual nightmares that come along with it.

Over at Native Appropriations, Adrienne Keene provides a roundup of several years’ worth of posts about why it’s a really bad idea to dress up like an Indian. (A bonus post explains what to do when your friend dresses up like an Indian, too!) If you’re still not positive that you shouldn’t dress up like an Indian, then this post is for you.

Included are:

And if the list seems like a little too much to read, here’s Keene’s wrap up:

Native peoples are a contemporary, LIVING group of people, not a costume. Seriously. Stop putting us in the same category as wizards and clowns. Don’t believe me? Come to a Native event dressed like that, and see how many friends you make! Fun for everyone!

So, what are you dressing up as?

NYC Ebola Case, Border Deaths Drop, Amazon’s Stock Plunge

NYC Ebola Case, Border Deaths Drop, Amazon's Stock Plunge

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

New York City Council Wants To Tackle City’s Intense School Segregation

New York City Council Wants To Tackle City's Intense School Segregation

Coming on the heels of an embarrassing March report that the nation’s largest school district is among its most racially segregated, some members of the New York City Council today introduced measures to tackle the longstanding problem. They include:

The council exerts little influence over the school district. Only the bill is legally binding. But the package could add pressure on the department of education to revisit segregation.

The March report’s premise is that “school integration is still a goal worth pursuing.” Can separate be equal, the authors ask? Yes.

If measured by test scores, a few resegregated schools show high performance. But even if equality can be reached between racially isolated schools, students may never achieve the skills and abilities required to navigate an increasingly diverse nation.

Expert Who Analyzed Leaked Mike Brown Autopsy Report Says She Was Taken Out of Context

Expert Who Analyzed Leaked Mike Brown Autopsy Report Says She Was Taken Out of Context

One of two medical examiners the St. Louis Post-Dispatch enlisted to analyze Michael Brown’s leaked official autopsy report says that her comments were taken out of context. Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco told MSNBC, “You cannot interpret autopsy reports in a vacuum. You need to do it in the context of the scene, the investigation and the witness statements. Sometimes when you take things out of context they can be more inflammatory.” Melinek’s analysis concluded, according to the Post-Dispatch, that Brown was reaching for Officer Darren Wilson’s gun and suggests that his hands had not been raised in surrender as described by eyewitness accounts. 

Read the latest at MSNBC. And the backstory for those catching up on Ferguson this week: An official autopsy and a toxicology report obtained by The St. Louis Post Dispatch is intensifying the heat around already-controversial police, eyewitness and community accounts of how Wilson came to fatally shoot Brown. The leaked autopsy report, officially released to prosecutors but not the public according to the Washington Post, comes ahead of an expected St. Louis County grand jury decision on whether or not to indict Wilson. Questions have been raised about the source of the leak and its timing, as well as the integrity of the secret grand jury proceedings.

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