Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Breaking: Alabama Gov. Signs Awful Anti-Immigrant Revision Bill

On Thursday Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said he was sending the state legislature back to work on scaling back the harsh provisions in HB 658, an anti-immigration bill lawmakers passed the previous today. This afternoon, Bentley reversed his decision, and signed HB 658 into law.

“I still have concerns about the school provision in the original law,” Governor Bentley said in a statement. “That provision is currently enjoined by a federal court, so it is not currently in effect, and we can re-address this issue if the need arises.”

Bentley said he also disagreed with a provision that immigrant rights activists have coined the “scarlet letter provision,” which calls for the state to create an online publicly searchable database of every undocumented immigrant who appears in Alabama state court for any reason. HB 658 was intended to be an attempt to address the fallout of HB 56, the anti-immigrant law modeled after Arizona’ SB 1070, which allows police officers to question and detain anyone who they merely suspect may be undocumented. Yet the revision bill keeps unchanged many of the harshest provisions of the original.

Ultimately, Bentley said he signed the bill because after another hectic day of back and forth on the bill, it was clear the legislature “did not have the appetite for addressing further revisions at this time.”

“The bottom line is there are too many positive aspects of House Bill 658 for it to go unsigned. I don’t want to lose the progress we have made,” Governor Bentley said.

New Federal Rules Aim to Curb Sexual Assault in Prison

After years of discussion, the Department of Justice announced new federal rules to address high rates of sexual assault on rape in prison. The regulations apply to inmates in federal, state and local prisons and jails, and primarily concern prevention tactics, better reporting tactics and getting prisons to change their institutional culture.

They’re also binding rules; prisons that violate them stand to lose five percent of their federal funding, the New York Times reports. The regulations are the first of their kind, and come after Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act back in 2003.

“In popular culture prison rape is often the subject of jokes; in public discourse, it has been at times dismissed by some as an inevitable — or even deserved — consequence of criminality,” the Department of Justice’s summary of the rules, released Thursday, read. “But sexual abuse is never a laughing matter, nor is it punishment for a crime. Rather, it is a crime, and it is no more tolerable when its victims have committed crimes of their own.”

Sexual assault in prisons remains an all too common and frequently ignored issue; nearly one in ten inmates reports having been the victim of rape of sexual assault in prison according to a new Bureau of Justice Statistics report (PDF), and the rates are higher for LGBT respondents. Nearly 40 percent of gay males report being targeted with sexual assault by fellow inmates.

Calif. Court to Decide if Undocumented Immigrant Can Practice Law

The California Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to consider whether an undocumented Mexican immigrant who attended law school and passed the State Bar can practice law

The Silicon Valley’s Mercury with more details:

In their weekly closed-door conference, the justices unanimously decided to consider the case of Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who graduated from Chico State University, a Florida law school and passed the State Bar exam in July 2009 but has been stalled in his bid to secure his California law license.

A State Bar committee concluded that Garcia should be admitted to practice law in California, but the issue is up to the state Supreme Court. The justices indicated they must explore a host of legal issues to resolve the question. They asked for legal arguments from a range of groups, including California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the U.S. government.

Garcia was born in Mexico and brought to the United States by his parents when he was 17 months old, according to the Daily Journal, a legal newspaper.

“This is a guy who has been waiting 18 years for a green card, got through undergrad and law school and paid his own way, the kind of person we want as a citizen and as a lawyer,” Jerome Fishkin, Garcia’s attorney in the admissions case, told the SF Chronicle on Thursday.

The Supreme Court in Florida and New York are also reviewing similar cases.

It’s a Big Day for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook — and Hoodies Across America

It's a Big Day for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook -- and Hoodies Across America

Well, if you’re white.

Though he’s taken his share of criticism for wearing his iconic hoodie in the lead up to Facebook’s monumental IPO, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t hesitate to once again break out his favorite clothing item to announce his company’s foray onto Wall Street.

No word yet from Geraldo Rivera. But warning to steer clear of hoodies only applies to men of color.

Native American Mascots Banned in Oregon Schools, Board of Education Rules

By a 5-1 vote on Thursday, the Oregon State Board of Education voted to ban schools from using American Indian mascots, The Oregonian reported. Schools may keep their “Warriors” or “Chiefs” team names, but must replace logos that reference American Indians or American Indian culture.

At least 15 of Oregon’s schools will need to update their logos, or risk losing state funding. The vote came after six years of efforts to pass such a policy, and makes it one of the strictest in the country.

“I’m overwhelmed, but I’m holding back on my emotions — I have a meeting to finish,” the board’s Chairwoman Brenda Frank, a member of the Klamath Tribes, told the Oregonian. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Romney Releases First Spanish General Election Ad and Does Exactly What Latino Marketers Say Not to Do

Romney Releases First Spanish General Election Ad and Does Exactly What Latino Marketers Say Not to Do

GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney just released his first Spanish general election ad called “Día Uno,” which is the exact replica of his English ad except for the Spanish voice and copy on the screen.

That’s exactly what Latino marketing experts have been saying not to do for decades: don’t just translate, relate!

Michel Gondry’s New Film Follows Black and Latino Teens in the Bronx

Michel Gondry's New Film Follows Black and Latino Teens in the Bronx

French director Michelle Gondry premiered his new film “The We and the I” at Cannes Film Festival on Thursday. The film is said to explore the group dynamics of a dozen or so black and Latino teens from the Bronx as they make their way through town on a bus. But if you’re familiar with Gondry’s work, you know that there is probably a lot more to the story.

Depending on who you ask Gondry is famous for his music videos or his Oscar winning film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” He’s directed a whopping seven music video for the Icelandic artist Bjork and others like the electronic music duo Daft Punk. In 2006, Gondry also directed the documentary “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” which followed comedian Dave Chappelle as he attempted to hold a large, free concert in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Gondry, who now lives in Brooklyn, said after a Cannes press screening that he was inspired to make the film after watching a group of high school students take the Number 80 bus in Paris.

Indiewire’s Simon Abrams was present at the film premiere and offers a bit more insight on the film that currently has no release date:

The We and the I’s plot largely concerns the roundabout way various disparate high school cliques interact with each other. For example, Michael and Theresa (Michael Brodie and Theresa L. Rivera, two stand-out amateur performers), a pair of estranged ex-lovers, serve as the film’s emotional anchors. But Michael’s group of bullies also teases the hot girl and her dorky best friend, who in turn razz the arty nerd, whose nose is buried in his sketchpad, who also was picked on earlier by Michael and his friends. The film’s plot is an amorphous series of testosterone and estrogen-fueled encounters spurred on by maniacally catty urges that are, thankfully, not all redeemed at the film’s eleventh hour.

None of the reviews mention race or the race dynamics of the film and the director is a white male showing an intimate portrait of black and Latino teens in New York City, so there may be more to explore on that end. But as a fan of Gondry’s work I’ll venture to say he’ll probably stay away from stereotypes and instead take the teens on that bus on some bizarre sci-fi journey.

Trayvon Martin Autopsy Said He Had Weed in His System — So What?

Trayvon Martin Autopsy Said He Had Weed in His System -- So What?

Travyon Martin had traces of a chemical found in marijuana in his blood and urine, a medical examiner found, CNN reported.

He also had been suspended three times, the first for graffiti, the second for truancy and the last time for being caught with “drug residue” at school. It was after this last suspension that Martin’s father had brought him to Sanford, four hours away from his home.

Martin was shot within 36 inches, a medical examiner found. Yet a newly released medical report also showed the extent of Zimmerman’s injuries that night, which include a broken nose and cuts at the back of his head. Ultimately though, Martin’s death was “avoidable” if Zimmerman had not left his car and approached the teen, an investigator determined. A local prosecutor wanted to arrest Zimmerman and charge him with manslaughter but was overruled.

The information was released with a bevy of documents which give a more complete picture of what happened the night that George Zimmerman killed the Florida teen.

For Rep. Gwen Moore, the Violence Against Women Act is Personal

For Rep. Gwen Moore, the Violence Against Women Act is Personal

At a news conference Wednesday to push for the unrestricted reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis. shared her personal experience with abuse in an effort to get both chambers of Congress to reconcile the House bill with the Senate-Passed version.

In the video clip above, Moore shares an emotional testimony of being raped and sent a direct message to her colleagues:

As a woman of color I am particularly aggrieved that this bill ignores the special circumstances of women who are minorities, women who are in the shadows.

Stop playing games with the lives of women. They don’t want to hear us talking about a war on women, but I mean this is a direct assault on womens lives. Three women a day die because of victimization. And I would implore my colleagues to stop playing games.

A few weeks ago, the Senate approved the reauthorization of the VAWA with a 68 to 31 vote—31 opponents were Republican men. The “games” that Moore refers to are the obstacles the bill faces getting through the Republican-led House.

Colorlines.com gender matters blogger Akiba Solomon notes that the opposition to VAWA doesn’t just affect women:

Republicans take umbrage when they’re accused of waging a war on women. That pearl clutching seems awfully hollow given that the Republican-backed House version of VAWA seeks to roll back common-sense extensions of the Senate version of VAWA including more U-Visas for immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence, the elimination of red tape that contributes to one in three Native American women being raped in their lifetimes, and protections and shelter for LGBT folks in abusive relationships. If anything, I would expand the “war on women” language to be more inclusive. Let’s just start calling it a “war on people.”

(h/t Buzzfeed)

Class-Action Suit Challenges NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Program

A federal judge on Wednesday granted class-action status to a lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) stop-and-frisk practices as unconstitutional and racially discriminatory. The ruling allows all persons unlawfully stopped and frisked since January 2005 to be plaintiffs in the lawsuit that could change the police department’s policies.

In 2011, stop-and-frisk data released to the City Council by the (NYPD) revealed a record 684,330 stops and nine out of ten persons stopped were not arrested, nor did they receive summonses. Eighty-seven percent of those stopped in 2011 were Black or Latino.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan said in a written ruling that there was “overwhelming evidence” that the centralized stop-and-frisk program has led to thousands of unlawful stops. [PDF]

“The Court has rightly recognized that illegal stops-and-frisks are not limited to a few rogue police officers but are the product of a program designed at the highest level of the police department and affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of New Yorkers,” Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) senior staff attorney Darius Charney said in a statement.

“As a result of today’s ruling, all those for whom this practice is a daily reality will now have an opportunity to challenge it as a violation of their fundamental constitutional rights and to ask the Court to order real changes in NYPD stop-and-frisk policy,” Charney went on to say.

The plaintiffs are represented by the CCR and the law firms of Beldock, Levine, and Hoffman and Covington & Burling, LLP. The 2003 lawsuit, Daniels, et al. v. City of New York, et al., brought on by CCR led to the NYPD collecting data on stop-and-frisk stops.

On Thursday—a day after the lawsuit was granted class-action status—NYPD Commisioner Raymond W. Kelly announced the department has plans to implement its own measures to curtail the number of “illegitimate” stops.

Ya Es Oficial: White Births No Longer a Majority in the U.S.

Ya Es Oficial: White Births No Longer a Majority in the U.S.

For the first time ever the majority of babies in the U.S. were born to parents of color. The findings were released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday — less than 24 hours after Alabama state lawmakers passed a revision to the nation’s harshest state immigration law, which was aimed at cracking down on the state’s growing immigrant population.

The tipping point came on July 1, 2010 when 50.4 percent of the nation’s population younger than the age of one was of color. Of the births that took place between July 2010 and 2011, about 26 percent were Latino, followed by 15 percent black, and 4 percent Asian.

Latinos continue to be the nation’s fastest growing group with their population increasing by 3.1 percent since 2010. Latinos made up 16.7 percent of the nation’s population in 2011, with Los Angeles having the highest percentage of Latinos of any county.

These are exactly the kinds of large demographic trends that are reshaping the country,” said Julianne Hing, Colorlines.com’s immigration reporter.

“Anti-immigrant laws like H.B. 56 passed in Alabama yesterday are an example of how powerful the fears about the growing population of Latinos and people of color in the country can be,” Hing went to say.

Ice Cube Says He’s Cool with Gay Marriage

Ice Cube Says He's Cool with Gay Marriage

“I’ve had people in my family, myself and a lot of my ancestors have been victims of discrimination. So I don’t want to discriminate on nobody,” rapper Ice Cube tells AdAge Magazine. His comments come a week after both President Obama and rapper Jay-Z said they support same sex marriage.

Cube went on to discuss race and advertising. 

When Ad Age asked Cube for his take on how blacks are portrayed in advertising he called out fast-food restaurants:

He called out fast-food restaurants for targeting African-Americans “a little bit” too much. “I always thought the fast-food industry slants the advertising too much. There are more fast-food restaurants it seems like in the neighborhood. That’s really affecting obesity and things like that,” he said. “People who don’t have money are going to buy that inexpensive food.”

So naturally, the conversation moved on the Burger King and Mary J. Blige’s Krispy Chicken Snack Wraps ad fiasco:

“I think she was used wack,” Ice Cube said. “I didn’t like it. It’s just sensitive for any black person to be singing about chicken. It’s just not cool because of all the stereotypes and the pain in the past. “It touches a nerve.”

The full interview will be available in the new issue of AdAge available Monday.

Manny Pacquiao: ‘I’m Not Against Gay People, I Have a Relative who is Also Gay’

Manny Pacquiao: 'I'm Not Against Gay People, I Have a Relative who is Also Gay'

Dozens of news organizations-including Colorlines.com-referenced a misleading story that alleged boxer Manny Pacquiao made anti-gay comments.

In a recent National Conservative Examiner Pacquiao said he was against gay marriage but the writer of the story decided to expand on the boxer’s comments by citing and quoting Leviticus 20:13 which states “a man lies with a man” should be put to death.

Pacquiao issued statements to a publication based in the Philippines to inform everyone those comments were not his, in fact he’s never read Leviticus 20:13.

“I didn’t say that, that’s a lie… I didn’t know that quote from Leviticus because I haven’t read the Book of Leviticus yet,” Pacquiao told Mph8.ph.

“I’m not against gay people… I have a relative who is also gay. We can’t help it if they were born that way. What I’m critical off are actions that violate the word of God. I only gave out my opinion that same sex marriage is against the law of God,”Pacquiao went on to say.

Petition for Trans Fire Victim: New York Times’s Apology Isn’t Enough

Petition for Trans Fire Victim: New York Times's Apology Isn't Enough

Last Thursday the New York Times published a story about a young woman who was found dead after her apartment building was engulfed in flames but instead of focusing on the fire investigation the writers focused on the victims gender and her alleged sex life.

“She was 25 and curvaceous, and she often drew admiring glances in the gritty Brooklyn neighborhood where she was known to invite men for visits to her apartment, her neighbors and the authorities said,” read the first line of the story written by Al Baker and Nate Schweber. The story went on identify the victim as someone “called Lorena,” as opposed to saying she was “named Lorena” or that she simply was Lorena.

The 25-year old who was found dead was a transgender woman and LGBTQ advocates say the sexualized coverage of the incidents is “exploitative.”

Aaron McQuade, GLAAD’s Director of News and Field Media questioned how the Times would have covered the story if the word “transgender” was out of the equation. In a blog post on Glaad.org McQuade went on to say his organization had reached out to the NY Times to ensure this didn’t happen again.

Writer Admits to Beefing Up Manny Pacquiao’s Anti-Gay Comments

Writer Admits to Beefing Up Manny Pacquiao's Anti-Gay Comments

UPDATE 5/16/2012 1:16pm EST: Conservative Examiner writer Granville Ampong has published a new story on his column stating “Pacquiao never said nor recited, nor invoked and nor did he ever refer to such context.” Ampong says he included the reference to simply remind readers of his column “how God made it clear in the Old Testament time that such practice of same-sex marriage is detestable and strictly forbidden.”



The same week that President Obama and rapper Jay-Z came out for gay marriage, boxer Manny Pacquiao referenced scriptures that say a man who lies down with another man “must be put to death.”

In a recent interview with the National Conservative Examiner the beloved boxer cited Leviticus 20:13 when asked what he thought of President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage (Pacquiao referenced Bible verse, the writer of the story expanded with the scripture):

If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Pacquiao went on to say:

God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other. It should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old.

Up until recently Pacquiao was seen as a charming man who lived his life with integrity and was respectful in and out of the boxing ring. That admirable lifestyle got him endorsement deals with the likes of Nike, Hewlett Packard and Hennessy Cognac.

Now, after his recent anti-gay comments, gay-rights advocates are questioning why anybody would want to endorse him.

Zimmerman’s Medical Report Shows Broken Nose After Shooting

Zimmerman's Medical Report Shows Broken Nose After Shooting

According to a medical report obtained by ABC News, Trayvon Martin’s murderer George Zimmerman was diagnosed with a “closed fracture” of his nose, a pair of black eyes, two lacerations to the back of his head and a minor back injury the day after he fatally shot Martin during an alleged altercation.

The three page document compiled by Zimmerman’s family physician could be used as evidence by his defense team.

ABC News describes more details of the medical report written the following day after Martin’s death:

The record shows that Zimmerman also suffered bruising in the upper lip and cheek and lower back pain. The two lacerations on the back of his head, one of them nearly an inch long, the other about a quarter-inch long, were first revealed in photos obtained exclusively by ABC News last month.

But the report also shows Zimmerman declined hospitalization the night of the shooting, and then declined the advice of his doctor to make a follow-up appointment with an ear nose and throat doctor.

The news comes after local news sources in Florida report FBI investigators are actively questioning witnesses near the murder site seeking evidence for a possible federal hate crime charge.

DREAMers Sue U.S. Senate for Blocking DREAM Act with Filibuster

DREAMers Sue U.S. Senate for Blocking DREAM Act with Filibuster

Potential DREAM Act beneficiaries and the government watchdog group Common Cause have joined as plaintiffs to sue the U.S. Senate for blocking DREAM Act legislation with the filibuster rule. The 52-page complaint argues that the filibuster allows senators representing as little as 11 percent of the population to prevent votes in the Senate.

“Most Americans have lost confidence in Congress and its ability to act in the best interest of the American public,” Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause said in a statement. “They have good reason. Congress is mired in gridlock as partisan factions put political advantage over the national interest. Requiring 60 votes to do anything in the Senate is a big part of the problem. It creates a disincentive to compromise, and allows powerful special interests to call the shots behind closed doors.”

Representing the plaintiffs is attorney Emmet Bondurant of Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore. The National Law Journal named Bondurant one of the top ten trial lawyers in the United States. He has litigated critical civil rights and constitutional law cases over his career.

Below are more details on the DREAMers involved in the lawsuit, via a press release by Common Cause:

Plaintiffs in the case also include members of Congress and three promising young people whose future in America is being held hostage because of the filibuster of the DREAM Act.

Congressional plaintiffs include U.S. Reps John Lewis, D-GA., Michael Michaud, D-ME., Hank Johnson, D-GA, and Keith Ellison, D-MN, all of whom have seen legislation they sponsored win overwhelming bipartisan support in the House only to be denied debate and a vote in the Senate because of the filibuster.

Plaintiffs Erika Andiola, Ceasar Vargas and Celso Mireles were brought as children to the U.S. from Mexico by their parents. Each earned a college degree with honors and would be on track to become a U.S. citizen under an immigration reform measure, the DREAM Act. Passed in the House of Representatives, and supported by a majority of Senators, the DREAM Act was killed when just 41 senators refused to end the filibuster blocking it.

Details on this case are emerging. Colorlines.com will bring you more information as it becomes available.

TAGS: DREAMers

Newsweek Cover Calls Obama ‘First Gay President’ [Photo]

time-mag-cover.jpgNewsweek Magazine isn’t going let TIME Magazine steal all the headlines with controversial covers. Last week’s TIME mag cover included an image of a mother breast feeding her son, now Newsweek’s cover includes an image of President Obama with a rainbow halo above his head with the headline “The First Gay President.”

The cover story is said to focus on President Obama’s recent shift on gay marriage.

“Obama’s earned every stripe in this haloed rainbow,” Newsweek’s editor-in-chief Tina Brown wrote on Twitter.

The cover story was written by openly gay Newsweek contributor Andrew Sullivan. Newsweek has released an excerpt in which Sullivan argues the president’s move to support same-sex marriage was not just a political ploy.

first-gay-president-time-mag-obama.jpg

“When you step back a little and assess the record of Obama on gay rights, you see, in fact, that this was not an aberration. It was an inevitable culmination of three years of work,” Sullivan writes.

Sullivan goes on to draw comparisons between Obama’s growing up in a white household and the experience of gays who grow up in heterosexual families.

“He had to discover his black identity and then reconcile it with his white family, just as gays discover their homosexual identity and then have to reconcile it with their heterosexual family,” Sullivan writes.

Jay-Z: Same Sex Marriage Opposition ‘Holding the Country Back’

Jay-Z: Same Sex Marriage Opposition 'Holding the Country Back'

On Monday, rapper Jay-Z told CNN’s Poppy Harlow he supports gay marriage.

When asked what he thought about President Obama’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriages, the hip-hop superstar said: “I’ve always thought it as something that was still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.”

When asked if he thought Obama’s comments would hurt his re-election campaign, Jay-Z said, “I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s not about votes. It’s about people. It’s the right thing to do as a human being.”

In the interview Jay-Z also admitted to being unfamiliar with Romney, and said he did not “want to talk about the man.”

FBI Considering Hate Crime Charge in Trayvon Martin Death

FBI Considering Hate Crime Charge in Trayvon Martin Death

George Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watchman from Florida charged in the killing of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, could face federal hate crime charges, Orlando’s WFTV reports.

FBI investigators are actively questioning witnesses in the retreat at the Twin Lakes neighborhood, seeking evidence for a possible federal hate crime charge.

If Zimmerman is convicted of the second-degree murder charge, he could face life in prison, but a hate crime charge could mean he would face the death penalty, WFTV reports.

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said, “What the government would have to prove is that Mr. Zimmerman acted out of hatred toward African Americans. That’s why he came into contact with him. That’s why he shot and killed him.”

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