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NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Illinois’ African Women Entrepreneurs Fight For Their Right to Braid [Video]

Illinois' African Women Entrepreneurs Fight For Their Right to Braid [Video]

Hair braiding, done with time and care rather than with harsh chemicals, has been a connecting thread for African culture for a very very long time. But until recently, due to an Illinois law, professional hair braiders in the state were legally barred from operating a business without first attending 1500 hours of cosmetology school. It’s a regulation that not only posed a major barrier in terms of money and time, but which also didn’t make any sense, since most cosmetology schools don’t teach braiding; braiders could be perfect students and learn nothing relevant. As a result, high-skill African immigrant women entrepreneurs who’d learned their trade from their mothers were being pushed underground, and were vulnerable to legal action.

Then, in September 2011, groups like the Illinois Association of Hair Braiders and the United African Organization worked with state legislators to create a separate license for hair braiders. The new license requires 300 hours of classroom and practical experience, ensuring that applicants get relevant schooling and customers get qualified professionals. It’s a real victory for Illinois’ 24,000 professional hair braiders.

In this new video created by Emmanuel García at the Crossroads Fund, whose grant to the United African Organization helped with this lobbying campaign, the folks involved this victory discuss the old law’s skewed economic impact on African immigrant women and how they worked with the system to create a solution for everyone. Inspiring stuff!

20 Years Later: Live-Tweeting the L.A. Riots as They Happened

20 Years Later: Live-Tweeting the L.A. Riots as They Happened

As part of KNBC’s 20th anniversary coverage of the L.A. Riots they’re live-tweeting the events that led to the civil unrest in Los Angeles.

Each @RealTimeLARiots tweet corresponds to the actual date and time (sometimes down to the minute) of each major event as it unfolded back in 1992.

Currently, the account is chronicling the end of the trial of four police officers accused of beating Rodney King. On April 29 at 3:15 p.m., the verdict will be announced and the account will shift focus to the riots, complete with archive footage, photos and breaking news from around Los Angeles.

Supreme Court Skeptical of Striking Down Arizona’s SB 1070

Supreme Court Skeptical of Striking Down Arizona's SB 1070

I’ve just left the Supreme Court arguments over SB 1070. Check back at Colorlines.com for more analysis and coverage throughout the week, and read our SB 1070 primer here.


The federal government got beat up today in the Supreme Court and if the Justices’ line of questioning is any sign, at least parts of Arizona’s SB 1070 are likely to stand. In the hearings, which began this morning at 10am and lasted for more than 20 minutes beyond the allotted time of an hour, the justices launched an aggressive line of questioning of the attorneys for the government and the state of Arizona.

As a general matter, the majority of the justices were skeptical of the federal government’s claim that Arizona’s SB 1070, which was enjoined soon after it’s passage by a lower court, fully preempts federal authority.

Most fundamentally, the justices took issue with the the government’s claim that the state of Arizona cannot mandate its cops to enforce immigration laws and detain undocumented immigrants. The argument here, which was central to Arizona’s appeal, is that the federal government regularly uses local police to detain undocumented immigrants through federal programs like the Secure Communities and 287g, which deputizes local police as immigration agents.

Paul Clement, who represented Arizona in the court said, “The Federal Government doesn’t like this statute, but they are very proud of their Secure Communities program. And their Secure Communities program also makes clear that everybody’s that’s booked at participating facilities is — eventually has their immigration status checked.”

He said Arizona merely, “borrowed the federal standard as its own.”

Four African Men School You on Hollywood Stereotypes [Video]

Four African Men School You on Hollywood Stereotypes [Video]

Written by Benard, Brian, Derrick, Gabriel and the Mama Hope Team the video hopes to dispel Hollywood stereotypes about African.

The video was directed and edited by Joe Sabia.

Mama Hope is a non-profit organization focused on building self-sufficient communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mama Hope partners with Community Based Organizations and invests in high impact, cost effective projects, that meet their fundamental needs for food, water, education and health care.

Immigration Status on Restaurant Health-Grade Placards Proposal Rejected in Calif. County

Immigration Status on Restaurant Health-Grade Placards Proposal Rejected in Calif. County

San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry’s proposal that would have required restaurants to inform customers if they perform immigration background checks on their employees didn’t make it through the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. San Bernardino is located 65 miles east of Los Angeles.

Derry was the only one to vote for the plan which would have color-coded the A, B and C grade cards that restaurants receive during annual health inspections. His proposal suggested the cards that restaurants are required to display include a green background for restaurants that screen their employees and a red background for those that don’t.

“I am disappointed that my colleagues ignored the health of the public and endorsed the stealing of American jobs by illegal workers during this devastating recession,” Derry said in a statement after the vote.

Derry also described the issue as a public health one.

“Citing statistics by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention that the tuberculosis rate among foreign-born residents is 11 times higher than among U.S.-born residents,” according to local San Bernardino news site PE.com.

President Obama Slow Jams the News for Student Loans

When was the last time you heard a presidential pitch for extending lowered student loan interest rates over an r&b beat? Check out President Obama’s turn as he takes part in late night host Jimmy Fallon’s “slow jamming the news” segment to promote extending Stafford loan interest rates for students from low-income families. If Congress doesn’t act interest rates are set to double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent come July.

As it turns out, GOP candidate Mitt Romney and Obama happen to be on the same page about the issue. But it was President Obama doing the talking last night. How’d he do?

Meet Madison Moore, Ph.D. Candidate in Critical Fierceness Studies at Yale

Meet Madison Moore, Ph.D. Candidate in Critical Fierceness Studies at Yale

Meet Madison Moore. He’s a Ph.D. candidate in Yale’s American Studies program, specializing in popular culture. His dissertation looks at iterations of glamour in fashion, nightlife, and music.

Moore says he came to his area of study because of fierce women in his life.

“Well, it all starts with my grandmother,” Moore told Blackbook Magazine recently. “I grew up as the only boy surrounded by a bunch of fierce divas. My grandmother and her sisters, so my great aunts I guess, would always get dressed up to the hilt to go out to the casinos (“the boat”), to church or to a concert I was in, and especially for big family parties. I’m talking rhinestones, sequins, feathers, heels, wigs—they were always taking it there.”

Feds: Bias Against Transgender Employees Is Sex Discrimination

A federal agency has ruled that discrimination against employees for being transgender is sex discrimination after a trans woman was denied a job with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) when she transitioned from male to female.

Mia Macy worked in the military and law enforcement as a man, and had an expert background in ballistics—qualifications that didn’t change when she transitioned.

In its ruling, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission wrote, “intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, discrimination ‘based on … sex’ and such discrimination … violates Title VII.”

The decision means that Macy can now have her case reviewed by the ATF’s Office of Equal Opportunity—an opportunity she had been denied because the ATF argued trans discrimination was not covered by Title VII.

“Our national survey on transgender discrimination found staggering levels of workplace discrimination against transgender Americans,” said Rea Carey, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in reference to a recent report done in conjunction with the National Center for Transgender Equality. “This jeopardizes their ability to have or keep a job, have a roof over their head, and feed and take care of their family. Mia Macy’s situation is a case in point.”

The report found particularly high levels of both unemployment and reports of job discrimination among transgender people of color.

Two Years After BP Gulf Disaster, First Criminal Charges Arrive

It only took two years, but the Department of Justice has made its first arrest for the BP Gulf Coast oil spill, the largest oil spill to originate in the U.S.. And it’s over text messages which contained key information essential for gauging the criminal fines that BP will face.

The AP reports:

A BP engineer intentionally deleted more than 300 text messages saying the company’s efforts to control the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were failing, and that the amount of oil leaking was far more than what the company reported, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday.

In the first criminal charges related to the deadly explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010, the Justice Department arrested Kurt Mix and charged him with two counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying evidence sought by federal authorities, officials announced in a statement.

TAGS: BP oil spill

Mitt Romney on College Tuition: ‘Shop Around, Find One That Has the Right Price’ [Video]

Mitt Romney on College Tuition: 'Shop Around, Find One That Has the Right Price' [Video]

Worried about student loans? Mitt Romney thinks you should just find a cheaper college.

American Bridge, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, released the video above Tuesday morning that includes a sequence of Romney’s comments on education policy.

“My best advice is find a great institution of higher learning. Find one that has the right price - shop around,” Romney says in one of the clips that was shot in a Youngstown, OH townhall.

“In America this idea of competition - it works and don’t just go to the one that has the highest price, go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education and hopefully you’ll find that and don’t take on too much debt and don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on. I know it would be popular for me to stand up and say Im going to give you government money to make sure to pay for your college but Im not going to promise that.”

Sanford Stands by Disgraced Police Chief in Trayvon Martin Case

The Sanford City Commission, in a 3-2 vote Monday afternoon refused to accept disgraced Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee’s resignation. Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett, who gave Lee a vote of “no confidence” in March for his handling of Trayvon Martin’s killing, said on Monday that he wanted to wait for an that they wanted to wait for the dust to settle to make any lasting decisions about Lee’s status.

Lee had officially offered to resign early Monday. City Manager Norton Bonaparte told commissioners that with Lee already temporarily sidelined, his resignation would allow Sanford to “move forward” after the national uproar over Martin’s death. Sanford police refused to arrest George Zimmerman, the self-appointed neighborhood watchperson who shot and killed Martin, an unarmed teenager.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

“Is this something that can wait?” Triplett asked Bonaparte. “I’m not ready to have him [Lee] come back and run the Police Department yet. But I’m not ready for this, either. I’d rather wait for the investigation.”

Triplett was joined by Commissioners Patty Mahany and Randy Jones in rejecting Lee’s resignation.

According to CBS, commissioners blamed the ruckus surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death on “outsiders.”

Community Leaders in LA’s Chinatown Question if Wal-Mart Bribed City Officials

Community Leaders in LA's Chinatown Question if Wal-Mart Bribed City Officials

On Sunday, The New York Times made international headlines when it published an investigation that found executives from Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary reportedly used systematic bribery to receive expedited building permits across the country.

Now community leaders in Los Angeles say they’re suspicious of how Wal-Mart received building permits just hours before the city council voted unanimously to block the retail giant from building in Chinatown.

“Walmart fueled its rapid expansion in Mexico with millions in bribes paid to get building permits and land use approvals through quickly. Last month, Wal-Mart suspiciously received building permits only about 12 hours before the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to temporarily block those permits,” James Elmendorf, Deputy Director, of LAANE told Colorlines.com.

Net Migration from Mexico Has Been at Zero Since 2007, Deportations Still at Record High

Net Migration from Mexico Has Been at Zero Since 2007, Deportations Still at Record High

After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—more than half of whom entered the country without papers—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped—and may have reversed, according to a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of multiple government data sets from both countries.

“We don’t know whether the wave will resume, but we do know that the current standstill is more than just a temporary pause,” said Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Hispanic Center. “Net migration from Mexico has been at zero——and perhaps less——since 2007.”

“Heightened enforcement of immigration laws has made it more difficult, expensive and dangerous for Mexicans to try to enter the U.S. illegally,” said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center. “In addition, the sluggish U.S. economy has weakened the jobs magnet, and changing demographics in Mexico have reduced the pool of potential migrants.”

TAGS: immigration

CNN Visits Romney’s Mexican Cousins: The Liberal and Conservative Primos [Video]

CNN Visits Romney's Mexican Cousins: The Liberal and Conservative Primos [Video]

Univision News introduced us to Mitt Romney’s Mexican cousins months ago. This time around it’s CNN who traveled to the state of Chihuahua to meet with the Mexican Romneys: the conservative cousin and the liberal cousin.

Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments on Arizona’s SB 1070 Tomorrow

Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments on Arizona's SB 1070 Tomorrow

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over the constitutionally of the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” also known as SB 1070, Arizona’s draconian and game changing immigration law.

It is a big day for the future of immigration law in the United States. The court will consider whether to uphold a lower court’s injunction against the law and will grapple with questions about federal and state power when it comes to immigration policy making.

California Voters Will Face Death Penalty Repeal in November

California Voters Will Face Death Penalty Repeal in November

On Monday, the California secretary of state announced a measure to abolish the state’s death penalty qualified for the November ballot. If California voters approve the measure, 725 inmates on Death Row will have their sentences converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The measure, dubbed The SAFE California Act, far exceeded the half-million signatures required by the state to qualify and is one of the first initiatives the state cleared for the November ballot.

“Since 1978 we’ve built up the nation’s largest death penalty system, housing a full 20% of the nation’s entire death row population in the most expensive incarceration facility the state has to offer,” Jeanne Woodford, former Warden at San Quentin State Prison and Executive Director at Death Penalty Focus wrote on the SAFE California Act blog.

Sanford Police Chief Resigns Amid Criticism of Trayvon Martin Case

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee resigned from his position on Monday afternoon. The news comes 57 days after his department declined to arrest neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, according to a city official familiar with the matter.

Orlando Sentinel reports Commissioner Patty Mahany said she received a call from City Manager Norton Bonaparte just after 11 a.m., informing her that Lee has submitted his resignation.

Orlando Sentinel with more details:

“This is absolutely political,” said Mahany, a Lee supporter. “It’s solely political…The city manager felt he had no choice. That there could be no healing with Lee as the police chief.”

Lee, who became Sanford’s police chief in April after 27 years as a Seminole County deputy, stepped down temporarily in March, saying he had become a “distraction.”

“I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks,” said Lee, 52, in a brief March 22 news conference.

Lee announced that he was temporarily stepping aside on March 22, a day after Sanford’s city commission expressed a lack of confidence in his handling of the incident.

PHOTO: President Obama Sits In Rosa Parks Bus

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President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum following an event in Dearborn, Mich., April 18, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama is recreating Park’s famous pose in the image below: Rosa_Parks-bus.jpg

‘Think Like a Man’ Defies Studio Skeptics, But It’s a Bittersweet Celebration

thinklikeamanposter.jpg

“Think Like a Man,” the No. 1 movie in North America over the weekend came as a shock to the movie industry: the romantic comedy aimed at black audiences grossed $33 million, double what execs predicted. But it’s those same skeptic studio executives who end up winning because the film only cost $13 million to make.

“Think Like a Man,” is based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling book and stars an almost all-black cast.

There’s a common understanding amongst studio executives in Hollywood that films with black protagonists don’t make money and as a result they won’t take risks with films. For reference, Universal’s production budget for the recently released “American Wedding” was $50 million, excluding marketing costs. “The Lucky One” starring Zac Efron which was released last Friday cost about $25 million to make—double the budget of “Think like a man.” (I would argue that “Think Like a Man” had a bigger cast with more recognizable names and it was still a cheaper movie to make than other films opening this weekend…flagging another issue, of course.)

Even highly celebrated director Tyler Perry who consistently rakes in millions at box offices has relatively low budgets for his films. In January, when Perry learned “Star Wars” director George Lucas couldn’t fund his film “Red Tails” he said “movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct.”

“The first thing they’ll say is that DVD sales have become very soft, so it’s hard for a movie with an all black cast to break-even,” Perry wrote on his website. “Secondly they’ll say, most movies are now dependent on foreign sales to be successful and most “black” movies don’t sell well in foreign markets.”

Is ALEC on the Ropes? As Companies Flee, Critics Target IRS

Is ALEC on the Ropes? As Companies Flee, Critics Target IRS

The hits keep coming for the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Today, AP reports that Common Cause has filed a complaint with the IRS challenging ALEC’s tax-exempt status. Common Cause points to the obvious lobbying that the conservative organization conducts in state legislatures around the country, to push a mixture of pro-corporate and Tea Party policies.

The complaint comes as big-name companies like Coke, Pepsi and Kraft have been ditching the group. Color of Change and other civil rights advocates began hammering away at those companies for backing ALEC after it became clear the group helped spread the Kill at Will laws that protected George Zimmerman. The pressure led ALEC to announce last week that it’s scrapping its public safety and elections task forces. As Brentin Mock has reported for Colorlines.com, the elections task force has helped spread photo ID laws around the country that may disenfranchise millions of voters of color, young people and seniors this year.

Here’s Common Cause on ALEC’s lobbying:

“It tells the IRS in its tax returns that it does no lobbying, yet it exists to pass profit-driven legislation in statehouses all over the country that benefits its corporate members,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, in a statement. “ALEC is not entitled to abuse its charitable tax status to lobby for private corporate interests, and stick the bill to the American taxpayer.”

Julianne Hing reports for Colorlines.com this morning on another area in which ALEC is working hard: Education “reform.” ALEC has drawn up a playbook for state legislators to overwhelm opponents with bills that privatize public education. Hing profiles the way in which Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal—an ALEC star—used that playbook in the most recent legislative session to give his state the nation’s most expansive school voucher program.

(h/t Huffington Post)

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