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NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Silver Spring, MD Gets Its Own African Contemporary Dance Flash Mob [Video]

Silver Spring, MD Gets Its Own African Contemporary Dance Flash Mob [Video]

There’s not too many details of this African Contemporary Dance Flash Mob in Downtown Silver Spring area. All we know is that it was it took place last Saturday and that the music featured is by Roga Roga from Extra Musica.

DREAMers at NY High School Inspire Community to Drop The I-Word

DREAMers at NY High School Inspire Community to Drop The I-Word

A group of students at Flushing International High School (FIHS) that are part of a DREAM are raising awareness about the Drop the ‘I-Word Campaign and how the ‘I’ word impacts their life. 

For the past two months, members of Dream Team have been studying and discussing the negative impact of the use of the word “illegal” to refer to immigrants in the United States. The video above was created by a former FIHS student and captures the raw emotions of how young undocumented youth feel when they’re referred to as “illegals.”

The students say they were inspired by the Drop the I-Word Campaign, a project from the Applied Research Center and Colorlines.com.

The Drop the I-Word team recently met with FIHS students in Queens, NY at an event called “We Are Beautiful! Immigrant Rights Do Matter!” which was organized by the FIHS’ Dream Team and Multi Squad.

Mónica Novoa, Drop the I-Word Campaign Coordinator, said she is grateful and inspired by the students at FIHS and their work to reject the i-word for themselves and their community. “The students at FIHS have set a brilliant and brave example in their own community,” Novoa said.

“They’re taking on the i-word because they know it impacts their lives and the way they are treated. They are taking a stand against bullying, racism and violence - and they are affirming their belief in one another and their ability to create a brighter future,” Novoa went on to say.

Record Number of Deportations Continue Despite U.S. Review of Backlog

Record Number of Deportations Continue Despite U.S. Review of Backlog

The New York Times reports that after seven months of an “ambitious” review by the Obama administration of all pending deportation orders fewer than 2 percent have been closed.

The Obama administration announced the deportation order reviews last August as a response to criticism they received for its record-breaking deportation rate that included DREAM Act-eligible youth, parents of U.S. citizen children and people who had never been convicted of anything.

An excerpt from the NY Times story titled “Deportations Continue Despite U.S. Review of Backlog:”

Under the review of more than 411,000 deportation cases, the first of its kind, fewer than 2 percent have been closed so far. The numbers fall far short of expectations raised among immigrants, including many Latinos, when top administration officials announced they would comb through backlogged court dockets to close cases where the immigrants had strong family ties to this country and no criminal records. … The review started in November. As of May 29, immigration prosecutors had examined 288,361 cases, according to new official figures. To date, 4,403 deportation cases have been closed.

“The data confirms what advocates have been saying for the last year: a discretion based system of relief is unlikely to yield significant results as long as the whole ICE system is set up to deport hundreds of thousands each year,” said Seth Freed Wessler, Colorlines.com’s investigative reporter. “Programs like Secure Communities and the now expanding Fugitive Operations program continue to function as deportation dragnets, filling unspoken deportation quotas and jumping into high gear when these numbers are not met.”

Department of Homeland Security officials told the NY Times the review has been slowed by bureaucratic delays with criminal background checks of the immigrants. They said many thousands more deportations could be suspended in coming months.

“There’s significant irony in ICE’s claim that the low levels of discretionary relief are a result of holdups in the background check process. ICE has no problem running background checks on people the agency plans to deport,” said Wessler. “The agency’s flagship Secure Communities program deports tens of thousands each year because of automatic background checks run on people booked into local jails. Yet when it comes to providing people relief from deportation, ICE claims it can’t run the checks quickly enough.”

Dozens of Foxconn Workers Arrested After Riot in Chengdu, China Plant

Dozens of Foxconn Workers Arrested After Riot in Chengdu, China Plant

Hundreds of Foxconn employees living in company dormitories in Chengdu, China clashed with security staff Monday evening.

Want China Times has more details:

The world’s largest electronic contract manufacturer called in the police to calm down the crowd and dozens of those who took part in the disturbance were arrested, according to Molihua, a news website advocating democracy and human rights in China.

The clash broke out at a male dormitory for Foxconn workers in Kaoxinxi district in northwest Chengdu. When two security guards called out to stop a thief, some employees with grudges against the security officers took the chance to hinder them and forced them away.

The situation quickly escalated out of control with up to one thousand workers joining the fray, throwing trash bins, chairs, pots, bottles and fireworks from the upper floors of the bulding to the ground and destroying public facilities.

Foxconn’s Chengdu plant made international headlines last year after an explosion at the factory killed two workers and injured 16 others.

Wells Fargo Hit With Molotov Cocktail in ‘Solidarity With CeCe’

Wells Fargo Hit With Molotov Cocktail in 'Solidarity With CeCe'

A Wells Fargo bank branch manager in Portland, Oregon discovered a broken window and an unlit Molotov cocktail inside the building Wednesday morning. An anonymous message posted on an anarchist website took responsibility for the action they called a small gesture of solidarity with CeCe McDonald, the young black transgender woman the state of Minnesota has said will initialy incarcerate as a male.

“As a small gesture of solidarity with CeCe, and all others who suffer under the hand of the racist, trans-misogynist capitalist state, a Molotov cocktail has been tossed through a large window of a Wells Fargo in Portland, Oregon late last night,” reads the statement on Anarchistnews.org. “The flaming bottle flew easily through the window spewing fire and glass into the building, a delightful and brief escape from the monotony of the endless spectacle.”

According to a local news station, the manager found the Molotov unlit.

“Regardless of whether or not it was a successful arson, at least it’s bringing light to CeCe’s case,” wrote a commenter on the anarchist website.

Former NFL player Wade Davis Talks About Coming Out of the Closet

Wade Davis never came out while he was playing football for the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, or the Washington Redskins. These days he’s out, an advocate and a staff member at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth.

“I think subconsciously, I understood that being gay — the way I was raised — was wrong,” Davis told Amy K. Nelson of SB Nation. “And there was no way that my family, at least, in my mind, would accept me. And also that my football family would accept me. Just because of the perception of being gay meant that you were less masculine.”

‘Free CeCe’ Graffiti Left on County Jail Building CeCe McDonald Was Held In

'Free CeCe' Graffiti Left on County Jail Building CeCe McDonald Was Held In

Several “Free CeCe” messages of support were spray-painted on the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility where CeCe McDonald was staying Monday. Supporters gathered in front of the facility where McDonald—a young black transgender woman—was being held before being moved in to a Minnesota state intake facility in St. Cloud that will determine if she will be housed in a male prison permanently.

On Tuesday, state officials announced McDonald will initially be held as male inmate until the state make its own determination of McDonald’s gender.

The graffiti was found after McDonald’s supporters staged a protest demanding her release.

“The protest was held on the eve of McDonald’s transfer to the state prison system, where she will serve out a sentence of 41 months for “defending herself against racist and transphobic attackers,” read a statement issued by the The CeCe McDonald Support Committee.

According to the Committee, Leslie Feinberg was arrested in connection with the graffiti and is facing charges of property damage.

On Friday, Colorlines.com’s gender matters blogger Akiba Solomon will bring you more in depth reporting on the case.

Below is an excerpt from Feinberg’s statement released by the CeCe McDonald Support Committee.

Less Affluent Expected to Adopt iPhone When it Comes to Virgin Mobile; Insiders Warn Prepaid Market is Less Regulated

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Sprint’s Virgin Mobile is set to become the second carrier in the U.S. to offer Apple’s iPhone through their prepaid pay-as-you-go model. Analysts expect the less affluent to adopt the phone because prepaid services require no contract or credit checks for customers but others fear more people will enter a less regulated mobile space. 

Pricing for the Virgin Mobile iPhone, which is set for July 1, is still unknown, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. But Virgin Mobile currently has prepaid unlimited data plans that start as low as $35 per month.

“This contract-free model could help attract less affluent cellphone owners to the iOS platform, as well as those who are tired of paying premium prices on their monthly post-paid bill through other major U.S. wireless carriers,” Wired.com’s Christina Bonnington points out. “It’s a smart move, as the prepaid market has a limited number of smartphone options,” Bonninton added.

“It’s long been rumored that Apple was going to break into the contract-free market. While it’s exciting for users to have access to one of the industry’s most sought after gadgets, this move by Apple also shows that many smartphone users — especially those of color — are vulnerable to high prices and industry mood swings,” said Colorlines.com’s Jamilah King.

“For many low income users of color, smartphones are a primary way to access the Internet, but the FCC has left management of those phones in a regulatory gray area in which phone companies are free to make their own rules,” King went on to say. “If you’re paying more for less, that’s not exactly a good deal.”

The pay-as-you-go market isn’t all that niche, either. At the end of 2011, about 1 out of 4 wireless subscribers used prepaid plans.

Sprint’s prepaid service, which also includes the Boost Mobile brand, has been the carrier’s lone area of growth as contract customers have fled, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Less Affluent Expected to Adopt iPhone When it Comes to Virgin Mobile, Insiders Warn Prepaid Market is Unregulated

You Ready for ‘The Wire: The Musical’ Starring Michael Kenneth Williams? [Video]

You Ready for 'The Wire: The Musical' Starring Michael Kenneth Williams? [Video]

OK, so it’s a joke.

The cast of HBO’s “The Wire” partnered with “Funny or Die” to bring us this gem.

Funny or Die’s synopsis:

Michael Kenneth Williams stars alongside Sonja Sohn, Larry Gillard Jr., Andre Royo & Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from “The Wire” in “The Wire: The Musical” where they will allow you to experience America’s failing drug war through the magic of song!

There’s an App for That: Reporting NYPD Stop and Frisks

There's an App for That: Reporting NYPD Stop and Frisks

stop-and-frisk-app.pngThe New York Civil Liberties Union today unveiled the “Stop and Frisk Watch” app that allows New Yorkers to monitor police activity and report NYPD officers who conduct unlawful stop-and-frisk encounters and other police misconduct.

“Stop and Frisk Watch is about empowering individuals and community groups to confront abusive, discriminatory policing,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. “The NYPD’s own data shows that the overwhelming majority of people subjected to stop-and-frisk are black or Latino, and innocent of any wrongdoing. At a time when the Bloomberg administration vigorously defends the status quo, our app will allow people to go beyond the data to document how each unjustified stop further corrodes trust between communities and law enforcement.”

In February the NYPD released stop-and-frisk statistics to the City Council that revealed the highest number of stops ever recorded in one year. Out of 684,330 stop-and-frisk stops, 87% percent of those stopped in 2011 were black or Latino, and nine out of ten persons stopped were not arrested, nor did they receive summonses.

An NYCLU analysis showed that black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 41.6 percent of stops in 2011, though they make up only 4.7 percent of the city’s population. The number of stops of young black men exceeded the city’s entire population of young black men.

The app includes a “Know Your Rights” section that instructs people about their rights when confronted by police and their right to film police activity in public. Stop and Frisk Watch is intended for use by people witnessing a police encounter, not by individuals who are the subject of a police stop.

Jay Smooth to Gwyneth Paltrow: Don’t Get Too Comfy With N-Word

Jay Smooth to Gwyneth Paltrow: Don't Get Too Comfy With N-Word

Jay Smooth, host of New York’s WBAI-FM hip-hop show “Underground Railroad,” is back at it again. You’ll see his name more often now that he’s partnered with Animal New York and releasing two videos a week!

This week he’s taking on Gwyneth Paltrow.

He’s got some of advice on how Paltrow should’ve handle the controversy surrounding her tweeting the “N-word” this past weekend.

Mom Locked Up For Cheering Too Loudly at High School Graduation

Mom Locked Up For Cheering Too Loudly at High School Graduation

A South Carolina mom was arrested on Saturday for cheering at her daughter’s high school graduation.

Shannon Cooper got up and yelled “yay, my baby made it” when she saw her daughter walk across the stage Saturday night, but just moments later, she was handcuffed, escorted out through the auditorium in front of her daughter and jailed for several hours.

“Are ya’ll serious? Are ya’ll for real? I mean, that’s what I’m thinking in my mind. I didn’t say anything. I was just like OK, I can’t fight the law,” Cooper told WPDE. “I can’t argue with the police, but I’m like are you serious? I didn’t do any more than the others did. Which I feel like no one should have went to jail.”

“Humiliation. I don’t even think humiliation could describe how I felt. You know, because I feel from just my feelings and then looking at my daughter how she felt, I could take you know you know if I did something ,but like I said, yes they said you’ll be escorted out no problem. I’ll be escorted out. I’ll go nicely because I’m gonna cheer. It was hard work. I went through so much to get her to this point you know,” Cooper went on to explain.

Her daughter, Iesha, said she didn’t really know what was going on until friends told her her mother was being arrested. When the new high school graduate stepped outside and saw her mother waiting in a police vehicle she broke down.

“I couldn’t talk to her or nothing. Nothing at all. Just look from in the van in handcuffs for cheering,” Cooper said.

The high school grad says her high school graduation memories have been tainted.

“That’s all I can picture, me crying, looking at the police van knowing my mother is in there,” said Iesha Cooper.

Cooper was booked at the detention center and stayed there for several hours until posting a $225 bond.

Cooper maintains she didn’t cheer any more than others in the audience.

Donations to George Zimmerman Spike Since He’s Been Back in Jail

George Zimmerman went to jail on Sunday for allegedly misleading state officials on finances he raised online and since his return to jail the number of donations to his site are up.

ABC News reports Zimmerman has about $193,000 in his defense fund, of which $20,000 has been spent on living expenses, hotels and security at the time he went back to jail. Since being ordered back to jail, Zimmerman has seen an increase in contributions upwards of $1,000 a day.

America Ferrera Partners With Voto Latino For Election

America Ferrera Partners With Voto Latino For Election

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Voto Latino launched a campaign last Thursday called “America4America” to encourage young Latinos to vote. The campaign has partnered with the star of “Ugly Betty” America Ferrera.

Unrelated, but, let the record state I think “Ugly Betty” was a really big deal!

TAGS: Latino Vote

Janet Jackson To Produce Transgender ‘Truth’ Film

Janet Jackson To Produce Transgender 'Truth' Film

Janet Jackson is set to executive-produce a documentary that will help “stop the hate and find understanding” toward transgender people.

The documentary is titled Truth and described as “a journey through the lives of trans- and nongendered people around the world and their epic struggle for equality.” The film will be directed by Robert Jason and is expected to begin production this summer.

“All people are very important to me,” Jackson said in a statement released to the media. “I’ve been fortunate to make friends and learn about very different lives. Truth is our small chance to ask that you try and understand someone who lives their life in a way that is a little bit different from yours, even though all of our hearts are the same. We want to stop the hate and find understanding.”

Ramiro Gomez’s Cardboard Cut Outs Make LA Times’ Frontpage

Ramiro Gomez's Cardboard Cut Outs Make LA Times' Frontpage

Ramiro Gomez, the 25-year-old street artist who has been placing cardboard cutouts of domestic workers around Beverly Hills, made the cover of the L.A. Times Tuesday. Gomez and his work that seeks to call attention to the affluent neighborhood’s workers was featured on both the front page of the print edition and at the top of LATimes.com.

An excerpt from the LA Times interview:

For the last eight months, Gomez, an artist from West Hollywood, has made the invisible visible by installing life-size cardboard cutouts of nannies, gardeners, valet workers and housekeepers in Beverly Hills, the Hollywood Hills and other wealthy areas.

His acrylic paintings appear unexpectedly around the Westside, like pop-ups from a children’s book. Gomez puts them on display to raise provocative questions.

“We see the beautiful homes. The hedges are trimmed, the gardens are perfect, the children are cared for,” Gomez said. “We’ve come to expect it to be this way. But who maintains all this? Who looks after it? And do we treat the workers with the dignity they deserve? Do we stop and notice them?”

“I like that when people see my cardboard cut outs of real humans they stop and say ‘what is that’ and realize that what their seeing is a cardboard version of a housekeeper or gardener that they’ve just been driving past,” Gomez told Colorlines.com last month.

Learn more about Gomez’ work by watching the video below.

U.S. Appeals Court Will Not Hear Prop 8 Case, Clearing the Way For Supreme Court

U.S. Appeals Court Will Not Hear Prop 8 Case, Clearing the Way For Supreme Court

San Francisco’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided it will not revisit the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 gay marriage ban, which clears the path now for the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue.

Human Rights Campaign has more details:

In an announcement that could lead either to a return to marriage equality in California or a historic case before the U.S. Supreme Court, today the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined to review a February decision of that court ruling that California’s constitutional amendment stripping loving, committed gay and lesbian couples of marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. With today’s announcement, the proponents of Prop 8 are now likely to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit is likely to continue the stay of its decision until that process is complete. In the event that the Supreme Court decides not to hear the case, the lower court ruling would stand and gay and lesbian couples would again be able to marry in California.

Courage Campaign has even more details on the court proceedings:

An en banc rehearing at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is much different from other circuits. Generally, en banc means that the entire court will rehear the case, with all judges in the circuit participating. But the Ninth Circuit has an inordinately large number of judges, so they have a procedure wherein they have an ‘en banc panel’ consisting of eleven judges: ten randomly-chosen judges plus the Chief Judge (at the Ninth Circuit that is Alex Kozinski) presiding. If rehearing had been granted, the randomly selected panel could have heard arguments and issued new briefing in the case or they could have decided to forgo that and issue a new decision without it.

Now that en banc rehearing was denied, the proponents have 90 days to file a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court, seeking review of the decision striking down Proposition 8. It’s likely that Justices at the Supreme Court would have their conference to take up the petition and decide whether to grant review or not sometime after their summer break in October. Oral argument would follow a few months later, and then a final decision would be issued by June or July 2013.

DC Defies Federal Orders to Implement Deportation Program

DC Defies Federal Orders to Implement Deportation Program

District of Columbia council members announced Tuesday they plan to defy federal immigration enforcement orders and not implement Secure Communities as scheduled Tuesday. Council members plan to pass a law instructing local police to ignore requests from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold certain people who have been arrested for low-level crimes, according to the Huffington Post.

The Secure Communities program sends fingerprints of anyone who’s booked in a local or county jail to federal immigration officials who can then flag someone for immigration detention. Fingerprint data is shared even if that person is never charged or is ultimately cleared of their crime.

“It’s hard to argue that if a person commits a violent crime and is in this country illegally, that they shouldn’t be deported … and that’s what the federal immigration authorities have said they want,” D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, who will introduce the bill said on Monday, the Huffington Post reports. “That’s not what they’ve done. What we’ve seen over and over again is that people not convicted of a violent crime are being held, and are being held.”

The Council members cite community trust as one of the reasons for defying the federal orders to implement Secure Communities.

“Police rely on the trust of those community members that their immigration status will not be threatened by their cooperation in local law enforcement investigations,” D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said. “Secure Communities jeopardizes that trust.”

Hundreds Of Mormons March in Salt Lake City Gay Pride Parade [Photos]

Hundreds Of Mormons March in Salt Lake City Gay Pride Parade [Photos]

Here’s a quick feel good story: More than 300 Mormon church members wearing their Sunday best marched in the Utah Gay Pride Parade in downtown Salt Lake City.

Mormons have played a large role in helping to pass anti-gay legislation across the country with money, institutional support and dedicated volunteers. While their participation in the parade doesn’t mean institutional change it is a step forward.

Their participation marked the first time such a large group of Mormons took part in the parade, organizers told the Associated Press.

“Please come join Latter-day Saints in extending a message of love and support to our LGBT brothers and sisters by marching in the Utah pride parade. Each step we take will be an outward demonstration of our commitment to loving our neighbors,” Erika E.p. Munson wrote on a Facebook Event page inviting Mormons to the parade. “We are marching for the values of empathy and compassion that the Mormon faith teaches. Recognizing that silence (though coupled with good intentions) may leave some LGBT individuals to seriously question their self-worth in their homes, congregations, and before God, we are marching to save lives. “

Parade grand marshal Dustin Lance Black, an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, tweeted: “In tears. Over 300 straight, active Mormons showed up to march with me at the Utah Pride parade in support of LGBT people.”

Black Transgender Woman CeCe McDonald to be Housed in Male Prison

Black Transgender Woman CeCe McDonald to be Housed in Male Prison

CeCe McDonald, the young black transgender woman who accepted a plea deal and pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter last month will be incarcerated by the state of Minnesota as a male. McDonald was arrested after she stabbed a white male who was part of a group of that physically and verbally attacked her with transgender and racial slurs.

The plea agreement calls for a sentence of three years and five months in prison, according to the Star Tribune.

Upon sentencing, McDonald, 24, will be taken into custody by the state Department of Corrections and housed as a male “because he is being housed as a male with Hennepin County,” corrections spokeswoman Sarah Russell told the Star Tribune on Monday. “We will intake him as a male at St. Cloud prison.”

Russell went on to add the state will make its own determination of McDonald’s gender.

“We will assess him as any other offender would be assessed,” Russell said. “The assessments include, but are not limited to, screening for potential vulnerability to sexual assaults, tendencies to act out with sexually aggressive behavior and any disabilities” as defined by federal law.

The Transgender Law Center gathered testimonies from former prisoners, sheriffs, and others, about the risks that many prisoners face and found that sexual violence is an “ever present fact of life for far too many transgender prisoners.” [PDF]

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