Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Contra Costa County Drops Costly Juvenile Record-Sealing Fee

Contra Costa County Drops Costly Juvenile Record-Sealing Fee

In early May, California’s Contra Costa County removed a $150 application fee adults were required to pay before they could petition to seal their juvenile records. Youth and juvenile justice re-entry advocates fought for the change, which was approved by Contra Costa County’s Probation Department, and both praised the change as an important step in allowing young people who’d been through the juvenile justice system to more fully move on with their lives.

“With the court’s consideration and final approval, we want to provide the most meaningful opportunity for our youth to focus forward and not be encumbered by a prior juvenile record,” Contra Costa County Chief of Probation Phillip Kader said in a statement.

The change comes as the California state legislature is considering a move to do away with record-sealing application fees across the state. The fee, say youth advocates, became a primary obstacle to young people’s ability to move on with their lives. Some states automatically seal juvenile records, but California requires that adults apply for record-sealing. And while a juvenile adjudication is not a technically a criminal conviction, potential employers, landlords, and schools often think of it as one. And for the disproportionately low-income and youth of color put through the juvenile justice system, that $150 fee is prohibitively expensive. 

“When a lot of people have a choice of whether to buy their little brother formula and diapers or maybe  get their record cleaned up, many people aren’t going to spend that $150,” said Stephanie Medley, the Youth Justice Director at the RYSE Youth Center in Richmond. 

Contra Costa County had already been making slow shifts toward doing away with this fee. In November of last year, the county Probation Department made fee waivers available to adults who were unable to pay the $150 fee. As of right now, that application fee no longer exists. 

In the past, an adult with a juvenile record would have to pay a $150 fee to petition for a court hearing, during which a judge would determine whether a person had rehabilitated themselves. Still, there was no guarantee. Some young people would pay the $150 fee and still have their request to seal their juvenile records denied. 

Medley praised the change as an important way “we can create a brighter path for young people and make things accessible so they can have a fresh start.” The juvenile record-sealing application fee is, however, just one of many fees that are levied against youth and their families when they get put through the juvenile justice system.

Child Tobacco Workers in U.S. Linked to Marlboro, Newport, Camel Cigarettes

Child Tobacco Workers in U.S. Linked to Marlboro, Newport, Camel Cigarettes

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a damning report that illustrates the conditions that child tobacco workers endure in the United States. The organization interviewed 141 child workers between the ages of 7 and 17 who work tobacco fields in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, where 90 percent of tobacco is cultivated in the U.S. The conditions that children endure—including likely poisoning—are horrifying: 

Nearly three-quarters of the children interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported the sudden onset of serious symptoms—including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headaches, dizziness, skin rashes, difficulty breathing, and irritation to their eyes and mouths—while working in fields of tobacco plants and in barns with dried tobacco leaves and tobacco dust. Many of these symptoms are consistent with acute nicotine poisoning.

Tobacco cultivation is hard work, and HRW has found that children are exploited to work the fields in every step, from seeding to pesticide application to harvesting—sometimes by hand, sometimes by machine. Working by hand includes literally working on hands and knees to pick weeds. But working with machines or tools increases the likelihood of grave injury from sudden lacerations.

Long hours and low wages aren’t uncommon: one child interviewed by HRW explains how he worked 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with only one five minute break and one half-hour lunch—and that was on a good day. Some child workers are discouraged from drinking liquids because no bathroom facilities are available in which to urinate. And while most child workers do earn the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, some are paid fixed rates, or have contractor fees or even drinking water allowances deducted from their pay. Child tobacco workers are rarely afforded protective gear—and cover themselves in garbage bags brought from home to provide some safety for themselves.  

Child tobacco workers in the U.S. are mostly Latino. And although their parents may be undocumented, the children themselves are usually U.S.-born citizens. HRW also found that some of the child workers are undocumented, but some applied and were approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—which provides temporary relief from deportation two years at a time. Some child tobacco workers also arrive to the U.S. with family members or even alone, just to work the fields.

The tobacco these child workers cultivate enters a supply market and is ultimately used to manufacture some of the best-known brands of cigarettes in the U.S., including Marlboro, Newport, Camel, Winston, Parliament, Virginia Slims, Pall Mall and more.

HRW points out that while U.S. law prohibits children under the age of 18 from buying tobacco products, it also “law fails to recognize the risks to children of working in tobacco farming.” The organization makes a long list of recommendations to the President, Congress, agencies, states, tobacco manufacturers and even employers themselves to address the horrors that child tobacco workers face in the fields.

You can read the report in full online

Peggy McIntosh Sets Record Straight on White Privilege

Peggy McIntosh Sets Record Straight on White Privilege

White privilege. It’s been a hot topic in mainstream media in recent weeks because of a young Princetonian’s controversial essay, “Checking my Privilege.” What is privilege? And maybe more important, what is it not? The New Yorker has a must-read interview with the original expert. Now 79, Peggy McIntosh’s 1988 essay, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” remains, more than 25 years on, the clearest elucidation of the topic. Some highlights:

How McIntosh came to write so authoritatively in the late ’80s about privilege:

… About six years earlier, black women in the Boston area had written essays to the effect that white women were oppressive to work with. I remember back to what it had been like to read those essays. My first response was to say, “I don’t see how they can say that about us—I think we’re nice!” And my second response was deeply racist, but this is where I was in 1980. I thought, I especially think we’re nice if we work with them.

On reaction, over the years, to speaking up about privilege:

Well, at first, the most common responses were from white people. Their most common response was “I never thought about this before.” After a couple of years, that was accompanied by “You changed my life.” From people of color, from the beginning, it was “You showed me I’m not crazy.” And if they said more than that it was along the lines of “I knew there was something out there working against me.”

On the value of honoring and telling individual stories:

I think one’s own individual experience is sacred. Testifying to it is very important—but so is seeing that it is set within a framework outside of one’s personal experience that is much bigger, and has repetitive statistical patterns in it.

There’re more gems from McIntosh, who’s still working on educational equity at Wellesley. Check out The New Yorker interview—as well as the Princeton essay that kicked off the mainstream media’s recent white privilege coverage.

Turkey Mine Disaster, Seven-Year-Old Tobacco Pickers and Possible MERS Outbreak

Turkey Mine Disaster, Seven-Year-Old Tobacco Pickers and Possible MERS Outbreak

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

  • A new report indicates that children as young as seven years old are picking tobacco in the U.S.—without so much as overtime pay or protective gear. 
  • NASA reveals a stunning video that illustrates two neutron starts colliding to form a black hole:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Google Told to ‘Forget,’ Twitter’s Mute Function and Melting Glaciers

Google Told to 'Forget,' Twitter's Mute Function and Melting Glaciers

Here’s some of what I’m reading this morning:

TAGS: Morning Rush

This Week: End of the Internet As We Know It?

This Week: End of the Internet As We Know It?

In response to public pressure and ahead of a vote this Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission has revised a draft proposal that critics say will for the first time build inequality into the Internet. The new language modifies but doesn’t fundamentally alter the rule’s intent.

All traffic whether Bentley or hoopty currently runs on the same massive highway, but critics say the proposed rule change will create a special lane for consumers and content creators able to pay for faster service and a slow lane for those who can’t. Many are calling the FCC plan, up for a vote this Thursday May 15th, the end of “net neutrality,” which says that online, all data should be treated equally regardless of who produces it.

New language, according to the Washington Post, citing an anonymous FCC official, “would explicitly warn Internet service providers such as Verizon and AT&T that they can’t unfairly put the content of Web companies that don’t pay for special treatment on a “slow lane.”” How the FCC would enforce non-discrimination hasn’t been explicitly detailed.

More than 100 Internet companies including Facebook, Google, Amazon and smaller tech firms last week sent a protest letter to FCC commissioner and Obama appointee, Tom Wheeler. And media advocacy groups like the Center for Media Justice are beating the drums about how the proposed two-lane highway hurts people of color and those living in rural areas.

The FCC is taking public comments through openinternet(at)fcc(dot)gov.

Sterling Interview, The Minority Report and a Solar Sibling

Sterling Interview, The Minority Report and a Solar Sibling

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

Paying to Get Locked Up: The High Fees of Juvenile Detention

Paying to Get Locked Up: The High Fees of Juvenile Detention

When kids are locked up in California, it’s common practice for counties to charge families for the cost of their kids’ detention. Parents are sent a bill, not unlike one they’d get if their child were staying at a hotel, for $25 a day that their kids are held in juvenile hall. At an average stay of 23 days in juvenile hall, the fees add up fast. But that’s not all.

Fees are involved at nearly every step of kids’ adjudication, detainment and probation. It’s an expensive process, and fee collectors still come calling for their money even if a child passes away, according to a new investigation by Youth Radio. Check out the full infographic of the many costly fees and fines that accompany kids’ punishment:

The Cost of Court Involvement

Black, Latino Kids with Autism More Likely Than Whites to Lose Motor Skills

Black, Latino Kids with Autism More Likely Than Whites to Lose Motor Skills

After a seemingly age-appropriate development, some young children with autism lose their motor, language and social skills. That kind of vanishing of skills is called developmental regression, and according to a study presented this week at the Pediatric Academic Societies conference, black and Latino children are more likely to experience that drop-off. 

More than a quarter—27 percent—of 1,353 preschool U.S. and Canadian children with autism surveyed experience developmental regression, according to researchers. Yet black children’s parents were twice as likely to report drop-off than white children’s parents. Latino kids were 1.5 times more likely than white children to experience regression, which can include losing the ability to make eye contact with their parents, or the ability to walk and talk. The disparity remained even when controlling for a child’s insurance status or their parental education levels. The study is called, “Racial Differences in Developmental Regression in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.”

Autism is complicated by myriad racial disparities. Research has found that black and Latino children are less likely than their white peers to be diagnosed with autism, and that when they are identified, black, Latino and Asian-American kids are less likely than their white peers to receive an early diagnosis.

“Lost skills are very difficult to recover,” the study’s lead author, Adiaha I. A. Spinks-Franklin, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in a statement. “Our research shows there is one more important factor that contributes to the developmental outcomes of African-American and Hispanic children with autism.”

(h/t SCPR)

Black Students at St. Louis Univ. Respond to On-Campus Hate Speech

Black Students at St. Louis Univ. Respond to On-Campus Hate Speech

Following a recent fatal shooting at two Jewish community centers allegedly by a former KKK leader, hate messages have been appearing on the campus of Saint Louis University (SLU), a Catholic university in Missouri. The St. Louis American reports that:

On Saturday night, someone accessed the computer connected to a projector in the Busch Student Center at SLU and changed the text on the large screen to read, “Nazis rule f*** niggers and fags.” The week before, students discovered a swastika arranged out of tealight candles outside the Marguerite Hall dorm.

About 100 students attended a Tuesday night press conference called by SLU’s Black Student Alliance.

“These actions … gives light to the reality that many students of African descent face while at Saint Louis University,” said Christopher S. Walker Jr., president of the alliance. “Students of African descent at Saint Louis University have been repeatedly subject to acts of racism, and in turn, receive idle resolutions, lack of transparency and stagnation from the administration.”

Immediately following the Busch projector incident, interim university president William Kauffman launched an investigation to identify those responsible. The Black Student Alliance is making a number of demands including increasing the number of black faculty and students.

“What really hurts us is that you can have a scholarship in Martin Luther King Jr.’s  name but only have 6 percent of the recipients be black students,” said Jonathan Pulphus, academic chair for the alliance and an upcoming sophomore. “What hurts us is when the strongest contingent of blacks on campus happen to be the people serving food and cleaning the campus.”

(h/t St. Louis American)

Benghazi Panel, ‘Experts’ Go to Nigeria and Apple to Acquire Dr. Dre’s Beats

Benghazi Panel, 'Experts' Go to Nigeria and Apple to Acquire Dr. Dre's Beats

Here’s some news I’m reading up on this morning:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Thinking of Formally Complaining to U.S. Border Patrol?

Thinking of Formally Complaining to U.S. Border Patrol?

Of more than 800 complaints filed in a three-year period against U.S. Border Patrol, the largest federal law enforcement agency in the country, 97 percent resulted in no disciplinary action. “Physical abuse” followed by “excessive force,” according to the American Immigration Council report, were the most prevalent reasons for complaints, which mainly registered in Arizona’s Tucson sector and Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Abuse complaints appear to have grown as U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Border Patrol have more than doubled in size in the last seven years.

There were seven sexual abuse complaints, McClatchy reports, including forced sexual intercourse and forcing females to bare their breasts. But 11 other cases not classified as sexual abuse involve descriptions of inappropriate touching and strip searches.

Federal officials say they take complaints seriously and point out they are small in number considering they apprehended more than 1 million persons during the three-year period, January 2009-January 2012.

The AIC obtained the data through a Freedom of Information request.

(h/t McClatchy and The New York Times)

Video: Portland Committee Reviews Arrest of Nine-Year-Old Girl

Video: Portland Committee Reviews Arrest of Nine-Year-Old Girl

Portland’s Citizen Review Committee heard testimony Wednesday from Latoya Harris, the mother of a nine-year-old who was arrested by two officers in Oregon a year ago. 

According to KOIN 6 News, the child was wearing a wet swimsuit when she was handcuffed, placed into the back of a cop car and taken into custody at an adult jail, where she was held in isolation. Police arrived to Harris’s home and arrested the child on suspicion of a fight with another child at a community center a few days previously.

Harris is also taking legal action against the Portland Police Bureau. 

Boko Haram Massacre, FCC Net Neutrality Letter and Simulated Universe

Boko Haram Massacre, FCC Net Neutrality Letter and Simulated Universe

Here’s what I’m catching up on this morning (especially the simulated universe video!):

  • This computer model of the universe is pretty amazing:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Fast Food Worker Protests Going Global?

Fast Food Worker Protests Going Global?

Coordinated protests by fast food workers are expected to occur in 150 U.S. cities and more than 30 countries on Thursday, May 15, according to early news reports. Small scale demonstrations by employees of McDonald’s—reported by Salon to be a target abroad—and other fast food chains have gained national attention since 2012. The planned global action would mark a significant escalation in U.S. fast food workers’ efforts to secure a $15-an-hour wage and other reforms. 

A major financial supporter of the global effort, reports the AP, is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the fastest growing labor unions in the country. With more than 2 million members, SEIU is also the union to which Constance Malcolm belongs. She is the mother of unarmed teen Ramarley Graham, shot and killed in February 2012 by the NYPD in their Bronx home. Malcolm’s local, 1199SEIU, was a key organizer of the city’s 2012 Father’s Day march against stop-and-frisk, which Malcolm believes led to her son’s shooting. 

Later this afternoon at a New York McDonald’s, the AP reports, is when labor organizers will officially announce the May 15 global protests.

Obama on Nigeria, Rich Homie Quan Collapses and Kevin Durant’s Speech

Obama on Nigeria, Rich Homie Quan Collapses and Kevin Durant's Speech

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

  • The NBA’s Kevin Durant says his mother is the real MVP: 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Devastating Climate Report, Nigerian Schoolgirls Update and Spotting Saturn

Devastating Climate Report, Nigerian Schoolgirls Update and Spotting Saturn

Here’s some of the news I’m reading about this morning: 

  • The FAA acknowledges that the 50 cancelled flights and 455 delays at LAX last week were caused by a Cold War-era spy plane. 
  • The health of the Indiana man who contracted the potentially deadly MERS virus is improving
TAGS: Morning Rush

Kansas City Bans Smoking Inside Public Housing Apartments

Kansas City Bans Smoking Inside Public Housing Apartments

In Kansas City, Missouri residents can no longer smoke indoors or in their own yards if they live in public housing. The smoking ban in all 1,700 units begins July 1 but smokers can seek a six-month extension to January 1, 2015. The Kansas City ban, which affects 5,000 families, 80 percent of whom are African-American, is part of a trend. Since 2009 and at HUD’s urging, according to The Kansas City Star, nearly one-third of public housing authorities around the country have implemented property-wide smoking bans.

Needless to say many KC public housing residents who smoke are, eh hem, unhappy. Besides the public health benefits, the ban raises privacy concerns and carries the potential for eviction if residents can’t control their addiction. Talk about new incentive to quit.

Former Abercrombie Manager Explains Systemic Discrimination

Former Abercrombie Manager Explains Systemic Discrimination

In an essay published on Salon, Oliver Lee Bateman, a former manager for Abercrombie & Fitch describes how he got recruited without so much as an interview—and perpetuated crass discrimination against people of color and people of size. Bateman, who’s now a history professor, explains how the company not only discriminates in the employee hiring process, but also how it encourages those employees to do its bidding on the sales floor: 

Allow me to recap:  there’s this awful, terrible, gross, maleficent company that I and thousands of other foolish young people have worked for. It’s run by some of the nastiest pieces of work in retail. Its reluctant employees, hired because they have college degrees and prepossessing, phenotypically Caucasian/Aryan bodies, are encouraged to join in the fun:  ridicule the brand representatives, laugh at fat people, and hate on everybody who isn’t “collegiate” and “quality.”

You can read the essay, titled “I sold my body (and nearly my soul) to Abercrombie,” in its entirety on Salon. 

Circus Accident, Target CEO Resigns and Astroid Bolts by Earth

Circus Accident, Target CEO Resigns and Astroid Bolts by Earth
Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:
 
  • Target’s CEO finally resigns after December’s massive data breach. 
  • You know when you don’t want to unfollow, but you don’t want to see that person’s tweets? You can mute them now
TAGS: Morning Rush
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191