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NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Hoekstra Also has a Weird ‘Debbie Spend it Now’ Website

Hoekstra Also has a Weird 'Debbie Spend it Now' Website

Turns out Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra, the man behind infamous “Debbie Spend it Now” commercial, also has a racist web site.

Critics are pointing to html code behind the website describes the Asian woman seen in his commercial and website as “yellowgirl.”

“The image in question was originally named yellowshirtgirl but was mistakenly shortened in one place. It’s that simple,” web consultant who worked on the site Kristen Luidhardt told TPM.

The HTML code has since been updated to read “yellowshirtgirl.”

Politico reports Hoekstra is unapologetic and thinks the controversy is exciting. More from Politico.com:

Hoekstra was far from apologetic Monday — and even declared his excitement that the ad had stirred up such controversy. “It hits Debbie smack dab between the eyes where she is vulnerable,” he said Monday on a previously scheduled conference call with reporters. “We knew we were taking an aggressive approach on this. I’m excited … it has jump-started the debate,” he said.

Hoekstra also told reporters Monday that his ad is “insensitive” only to the spending philosophy of Stabenow and Democratic President Barack Obama.

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Univision in Talks With ABC News to Launch 24-hour Cable News Network

A “long-brewing business plan” between the Walt Disney Co. and Univision Communications Inc. to create a new 24-hour cable-news channel that will broadcast in English was uncovered by the Washington Post on Tuesday.

Univision recently started offering english subtitles on their Spanish-language telenovelas and also launched an english language daily news blog on Tumblr. All signs that point to the network reaching out to a latino english speaking audience, insiders say.

Univision News’ site describes the organization as the “#1 source for uncompromising, bold coverage of current events from a Latino perspective - in English.”

Univision and ABC News have previously teamed up to conduct polls on Latino voters. 

“The demographics are favorable. The channel would be geared toward English-speaking Hispanics in the United States, whose numbers are growing,” the NY Times’ Brian Stelter said about the plan.” Many advertisers want more ways to reach Hispanics, and big media companies want to help.”

The partnership may also be part of a cost-saving strategy. “Network news divisions like ABC have been under financial pressure for some time now. By sharing some resources with Univision, ABC could trim some of the news gathering costs it incurs,” Stelter went on to say.

Univision is owned by a consortium of partners, including the Saban Capital Group and TPG Capital. ABC News is owned by the Walt Disney Inc.

Prop. 8 Ruled Unconstitutional

Prop. 8 Ruled Unconstitutional

On Tuesday a three-judge panel of the 9th US circuit court of appeals decided California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in a 2-1 decision.

“Proposition 8 served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California,” the court said.

The ruling upheld a decision by retired Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who struck down the ballot measure in 2010 after holding an unprecedented trial on the nature of sexual orientation and the history of marriage.

Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, issued the following statement in response to the ruling:

“Today’s powerful court ruling striking down the infamous Prop 8 affirms basic American values and helps tear down a discriminatory barrier to marriage that benefits no one while making it harder for people to take care of their loved ones. The Ninth Circuit rightly held that a state simply may not take a group of people and shove them outside the law, least of all when it comes to something as important as the commitment and security of marriage. We salute the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought this challenge to Prop 8.

 “This monumental appellate decision restores California to the growing list of states and countries that have ended exclusion from marriage, and will further accelerate the surging nationwide majority for marriage. As this and other important challenges to marriage discrimination move through the courts around the country, Freedom to Marry calls on all Americans to join us in ensuring that together we make as strong a case in the court of public opinion as our legal advocates are making in the courts of law. By growing the majority for marriage, winning more states, and tackling federal discrimination - Freedom to Marry’s ‘Roadmap to Victory’ - we maximize our chances of winning when one case or another finally reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Backs of Proposition 8 said they plan to appeal to a larger 9th circuit panel and then to the US Supreme Court.

The Court’s decision is embdded below:


Ninth Circuit Proposition 8 Opinion Ruling

House GOP Memo: ‘Abortion Is Leading Cause of Death’ for Blacks

House GOP Memo: 'Abortion Is Leading Cause of Death' for Blacks

A House GOP memo obtained by Mother Jones argues for a “prenatal discrimination bill” by referring to “black abortions” as distinct from abortions in general and claiming that “abortion is the leading cause of death in the black community.” Republicans on the House judiciary committee will meet Tuesday to mark up H.R. 3514, also known as Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.

H.R. 3514 was introduced by Congressman Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican. Mother Jones’ Nick Baumann provides more details:

Franks’ bill, which is also known as H.R. 3514, didn’t make it out of committee when it was introduced in the last Congress. But the fact that it’s now receiving a markup—a key step on the way to a floor vote—and that 78 cosponsors have signed on suggests that it could proceed to a vote of the full House before November’s elections. In addition to banning abortions based on the race or gender of the fetus, H.R. 3514 would give a woman’s family members the ability to sue abortion providers if they believed an abortion was obtained based on race or sex. Critics warn that it would be next to impossible to prove that an abortion was obtained on the basis of race or gender and fear the provision could lead to nuisance suits against abortion providers by family members who are opposed to abortion on principle.

In a story published on Colorlines.com last year Miriam Zoila Pérez offered some historical context on states having opinions and control on women’s reproduction:

Women’s reproduction has long been at the mercy of state control, particularly for women of color. For black women, this history dates back to slavery. As Dorothy Roberts outlined in her seminal 1998 book, “Killing the Black Body,” women held in bondage had no control over their fertility whatsoever, and they were relied upon and manipulated in order to produce the next generation of labor. Even after emancipation, eugenics and paternalistic ideas about who was fit to reproduce influenced government policy in the U.S. These policies overwhelmingly impacted the lives and health of women of color, as well as low-income women, women with disabilities and others deemed “unfit.” There is a deep history of forced sterilization across communities of color—some of which actually did result in the near elimination of certain Native American tribes.

These practices are not ancient history, and many incarnations still exist today: primarily through economic and social welfare programs that limit women’s access to certain forms of contraception or place caps on how many children they can have when receiving welfare. For example, undocumented women I worked with in Pennsylvania were able to get coverage for sterilization as part of their emergency medical coverage during pregnancy, but could not receive coverage for other forms of birth control since their Medicaid ran out shortly after giving birth. Women’s reproduction—but more specifically, the reproduction of women of color and low-income women—remains a practice in which the government is invested and deeply entwined.

Pérez also points out black women do have more abortions but there’s a lot more to the story:

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So why are African-American women having so many more abortions than other groups? Most reproductive rights and health advocates say it’s because of a much higher rate of unintended pregnancy among black women, a fact that is supported by data: black women have an unintended pregnancy rate three times that of white women, according to Guttmacher. This imbalance derives from larger health disparities: lack of access to health care, lower rates of contraceptive use, and higher rates of untreated STDs and of preventive disease overall.

Groups like the Radiance Foundation, in their language about abortion as “genocide” and “holocaust,” imply instead a larger conspiracy, perhaps promoted by government, to threaten the black community. And like other public health conspiracy theories that have circulated in black neighborhoods over the years, the assertion is rooted in a very real and troubling history.

The House GOP memo is available on Mother Jones.

Karen Handel Resigns From Komen Foundation

Karen Handel Resigns From Komen Foundation

Karen Handel just announced her resignation as a senior vice president for public policy of Susan G. Komen for the Cure on Tuesday morning.

“I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization,” Handel wrote in her resignation letter.

Although Komen reversed their decision to end grants to Planned Parenthood last week, news has continued to surface that Handel was behind the decision.

Published in it’s entirety, below is Handel’s resignation letter:

February 7, 2012

The Honorable Nancy Brinker

CEO, Susan G. Komen for the Cure VIA EMAIL

5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250

Dallas, Texas 75244

Dear Ambassador Brinker:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been the recognized leader for more 30 years in the fight against breast cancer here in the US - and increasingly around the world.

As you know, I have always kept Komen’s mission and the women we serve as my highest priority - as they have been for the entire organization, the Komen Affiliates, our many supporters and donors, and the entire community of breast cancer survivors. I have carried out my responsibilities faithfully and in line with the Board’s objectives and the direction provided by you and Liz.

We can all agree that this is a challenging and deeply unsettling situation for all involved in the fight against breast cancer. However, Komen’s decision to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization. At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization’s real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.

I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen’s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy. I believe that Komen, like any other nonprofit organization, has the right and the responsibility to set criteria and highest standards for how and to whom it grants.

What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision - one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact - has unfortunately been turned into something about politics. This is entirely untrue. This development should sadden us all greatly.

Just as Komen’s best interests and the fight against breast cancer have always been foremost in every aspect of my work, so too are these my priorities in coming to the decision to resign effective immediately. While I appreciate your raising a possible severance package, I respectfully decline. It is my most sincere hope that Komen is allowed to now refocus its attention and energies on its mission.

Sincerely,

Romney: “I Also Feel Government Should Cut Off Funding to Planned Parenthood”

Romney:

In an interview on Monday, when asked whether he thinks Komen should provide funds to Planned Parenthood, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said “I don’t think so.”

“I also feel that the government should cut off funding to Planned Parenthood,” Romney told talk radio host Scott Hennen. “Look, the idea that we’re subsidizing an institution that provides abortion, in my view, is wrong. Planned Parenthood oughta stand on its own feet and should not get government subsidy.”

Romney had remained fairly quiet on his stance on sexual reproduction politics until earlier this week when President Obama released the January jobs report that pointed to signs of a better economy.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57372313-503544/romney-joins-fight-on-contraception-rules/?tag=cbsnewsMainColumnArea“With the U.S. economy improving, Mitt Romney is expanding his focus to other areas of attack against President Obama, and on Monday honed in on a social issue - contraception - that he has rarely discussed on the stump,” CBS News pointed out.

During a January debate, Romney brushed aside a question about whether he would support a state ban on the sale of contraceptive drugs and devices as a “silly” non-issue.

Viola Davis Goes With Her Natural Hair for LA Times Mag

Viola Davis Goes With Her Natural Hair for LA Times Mag
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Despite my criticism for “The Help,” I’m a big fan of Viola Davis. 

I’ve mentioned several times on Colorlines.com/NOW that I’m a fan of Davis because she’s one of the most politicized working actors today. 

With her acceptance speech at the SAG awards, she skipped thanking Hollywood elites and instead told the students in her hometown (that’s in bankruptcy) to dream big. 

She’s also never afraid to have a challenging talk about the role of women and women of color in Hollywood. Even if it’s with another actress.

And most recently I love her because in an industry where wigs, weaves and extensions are all too common and expected for women of any color, Davis has gone natural.

The stunning photographs to the right were published in the LA Times Magazine this past weekend and were taken by Colombian photographer Ruven Afanador.

An excerpt from her interview with the LA Times Magazine:

“You can be in the business for 23 years, which I have been, and suddenly something happens that wakes people up. For me, that was being in a movie with Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman,” Davis says of Doubt. “It makes people realize you’re there. Otherwise you’re that black girl who had a guest or costar role in a TV show here or there.”

It’s not that Davis isn’t grateful. “I don’t feel bitterness,” she insists. But even as a second Oscar campaign awaits for her part in The Help, Davis is not afraid to point out the weaknesses in her industry. Her next target isn’t another lead role. It’s producing, a task she feels she must undertake if she and other black actresses are to get more fulfilling work. Young people need to be mentored to aspire to something fulfilling.

“I am doing this out of necessity,” she says. “If I am not the instrument of change, I can meander through this business and be the black woman who always has two or three scenes but with fabulous actors around me.”

To that end, she has optioned The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, a sweeping novel about an African-American woman struggling to farm the Badlands in 1917. She is developing a new picture—a thriller with Spencer as a coproducer—but is always on the lookout. “I have a stack of books in mind,” she says.

For more visit LA Times Magazine.



We’re ending the day as often as possible by celebrating love. We welcome your ideas for posts. Send suggestions to submissions@colorlines.com, and be sure to put Celebrate Love in the subject line. You can send links to videos, graphics, photos, quotes, whatever. Or just chime in to the comments below and we’ll find you. Be sure to let us know you’ve got the rights to share any media you send.

To see other Love posts visit our Celebrate Love page.

Komen Founder in 2010 Memoir: Dropping Planned Parenthood Would Be “Turning Our Backs” On Poor Women

Komen Founder in 2010 Memoir: Dropping Planned Parenthood Would Be

Just two years ago Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker wrote in her memoir that Planned Parenthood helped “rural women, poor women, Native American women, many women of color who were underserved” and that not supporting those centers would be turning “our backs on these women.”

Brinker publishing those statement in her own book illustrate an understanding of how a decision to cut funding for breast cancer services could affect poor women.

Milowent.blogspot provides more details:

In 2010, Komen founder and Nancy Brinker published “Promise Me”, a memoir of how the group was founded and grew, starting from the deathbed promise made to her sister, Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980.

In the book, she discusses how the Curves workout chain withdrew their support to Komen in 2004 due to Komen’s grants to Planned Parenthood centers. Brinker is clear about why they refused to buckle to Curves’ pressure: 

 ”The grants in question supplied breast health counseling, screening, and treatment to rural women, poor women, Native American women, many women of color who were underserved—if served at all—in areas where Planned Parenthood facilities were often the only infrastructure available. Though it meant losing corporate money from Curves, we were not about to turn our backs on these women.”

Several sources have claimed the person behind the new regulations that attempted to block grants from Planned Parenthood is the new Vice President for Public Policy Karen Handel. Earlier today a source working close to top executives at Komen alleged “Karen Handel was the prime instigator of this effort, and she herself personally came up with investigation criteria” to sever ties with Planned Parenthood. 

Below is a screen capture of Brinker’s book via Milowent.

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Latinos: Only Group Whose Employment Numbers Have Returned to Pre-Recession Levels

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The good news is Latinos are recovering more quickly from the recession than any other demographic group, according to an analysis published the LA Times Sunday.

The bad news is the jobs are often come with low wages, may be temporary and Latinos may have to travel longer distances to get to work.

The Los Angeles Times Don Lee with more specifics:

So far, Latinos are the only demographic group whose employment numbers have returned to pre-recession levels. The latest Latino jobless rate of 10.5% remains higher than the overall rate of 8.3% for the nation and 7.% for whites, partly reflecting their large immigrant population (foreign-born U.S. workers tend to have higher unemployment because of a variety of factors) as well as education and skill levels.

The construction industry remains weak, but other sectors in which Latinos have a relatively large share of jobs — hotels, food services, healthcare and manufacturing, for example — are seeing more robust job growth.

Mining support services, where Latinos make up about a fifth of the workers, are expanding employment significantly. And, because Latinos account for a relatively small share of workers in the public sector, they aren’t bearing the brunt of deep cuts in government jobs.

(More than one in five black workers are employed in public administration, as are 23.3 percent of black women in the workforce.) As the economy worsened, the jobless rate for Latinos hit a peak in November 2010 at 13.1% nationally and 14.7% in California. Since then, those rates have fallen to 10.5% and 13.8%, according to the LA Times.

Victor Cruz’s Touchdown Salsa Dances May Have Been a Coach’s Idea

Victor Cruz's Touchdown Salsa Dances May Have Been a Coach's Idea

On Sunday Giants wideout Victor Cruz celebrated the first touchdown at the Super Bowl XLVI game by showing off his Salsa moves.

His moves (which are indeed impressive) have been widely celebrated. The New York Times yesterday published a story about Cruz’s bringing “new visibility to the dance form” and at a pre-Superbowl press conference even Madonna, the Queen of pop herself, “channeled” the 25-year-old Giants star’s Salsa moves.

But as natural as Cruz seems dancing on the field his moves on the field may have started out a coach’s idea. Perhaps the same ones that brought a sombrero to a pre-Superbowl press conference.

More from David J. Leonard, Associate Professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies at Washington State University via Ebony.com.

It is no wonder that his background is so often framed around his touchdown dance.  According to Terra Sports, his “now famous salsa dance celebrations have brought a great Latin flare to this season of the NFL.”  Encouraged by his coaches “to do something special” as someone who is “half Puerto Rican” Cruz started his signature touchdown dance during Hispanic Heritage Month.   Known as the No Fun League (see work of Herbert Simmonsand Vernon Andrews and Andrews), it is particularly instructive to think about how the Salsa gets reappropriated as evidence of the right kind of multiculturalism, the desired ethnic performance worthy of celebration.

The reduction of his background and identity to dancing, to a commodifiable practice that reaffirms stereotypesand erases the history and diversity of the community for the sake of an easily digestible cultural practice, is emblematic of contemporary multiculturalism.  In packaging his identity via accepted tropes of Latinoness, in absence of any discussion of the history of colonization of Puerto Rico, in absence of any recognition of the persistent forms of state violence besieging Black and Puerto Rican communities, in absence of any recognition of his mixed-identity, the power of Blackness within the cultural landscape, and the demonization of bodies of color, the media has grabbed hold of the “Salsa” factor as part of the great American “immigrant story.” 

For more read “NY GIANT Victor Cruz: Salsa, Sadness and the American Dream” by visiting Ebony.com.


Turns Out Komen Vice Pres. Karen Handel is Anti-Gay Everything

Turns Out Komen Vice Pres. Karen Handel is Anti-Gay Everything

[Update 2/7/2012: On Tuesday, Handel announced she was resigning from her position at Komen for the Cure.]

Komen for the Cure Vice President for Public Policy Karen Handel is anti gay everything.  She’s “wholeheartedly” agaisnt gay marriage, civil unions, ‘absolutely agaisnt gay adoptions’ and domestic partner benefits.

In a 2010 interview with an NBC affiliate in Georgia—just one year before she took the job at Komen—Handel bloated about supporting Georgia’s constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

“I’ve been very clear. And you know, as a Christian, marriage is between a man and a woman,” she said in the interview with Atlanta’s WXIA-TV.

“And it’s something that I supported wholeheartedly,” she said.

Handel’s staunchly anti-gay comments are surfacing as a number of Komen employees leak information that she’s responsible for cutting ties with Planned Parenthood, a decision the pink-ribbon foundation reversed on Friday.

“Karen Handel was the prime instigator of this effort, and she herself personally came up with investigation criteria,” a source, who requested anonymity for professional reasons, told HuffP ost. “She said, ‘If we just say it’s about investigations, we can defund Planned Parenthood and no one can blame us for being political.’”

“Everybody in the organization wishes she would do the right thing,” the Komen insider told HuffPost.

Below is the video of Handel’s interview with WXIA in which details she’s against gay marriage, same sex partners getting benefits and anti gay adoption.

WXIA’s Doug Richards: You have said that you are — you’re against gay marriage, right?

Handel: Mm hm. Absolutely. Marriage is between one man and one woman. And I’ve been very very clear about that. And the record is clear about any of the other issues like domestic partner benefits or anything like that. In fact in Fulton, I voted no on domestic partner benefits.

Q: Are you against civil unions for gays?

A: Yes. I think that’s not an issue that has come forward in Georgia. We have the constitutional amendment against gay marriage, and I don’t want to see any taxpayer funding going toward benefits etcetera for a couple that is not married. In our state and for me, marriage is for one man and one woman.

Q: Why is that?

A: Why is marriage between one man and one woman? (Laughs). Are you serious?

Q: Yes. Well why — do you view committed gay relationships as being less legitimate than committed heterosexual relationships?

A: As a Christian, I view relationships and marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Q: But what about the legitimacy of the relationship? Do you have any gay friends? Do you know gay couples?

A: Of course I do. Are we going to spend our whole day talking on this issue?

Q: I want to know how you feel about this.

A: I’ve been very clear. And you know, as a Christian, marriage is between a man and a woman. I do not think that gay relationships are — they are not what God intended. And that’s just my viewpoint on it. Others might disagree with that. But I would also hope that if you look at what is happening in our state, we’ve got issues we need to be focused on in Georgia. We have a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. And it’s something that I supported wholeheartedly. We have that, and let’s get dealing with the other issues that we also need to deal with in Georgia. And the press can help with that. (Laughs).

Q: Frequently, folks in the legislature kind of threaten to — there are always rumblings in the legislature that they may outlaw gay adoptions. You’re against gay adoption.

A: I am against gay adoption. But remember — I mean, if there is legislation on that, certainly I will follow that and look at it. But in the end, ultimately courts are going to be the ones to have to make the decision on that and it’s always in the best interests of the child. Do I think that gay parents is in the best interest of the child? No. But we do have our court system that deals with many and most of those issues.

Q: Would you favor outlawing gay adoptions?

A: Yeah, I would consider that, absolutely.

(h/t New Civil Rights Movement)

Today’s Love: Children With Swag Tumblr Might Make Your Eyes Water

Today's Love: Children With Swag Tumblr Might Make Your Eyes Water

Style blogs are wildly popular these days. There’s the “Sartorialist,” Bill Cunningham’s “On the Street” and now there’s “Children with Swag.”

Check out some of the miniature street style below and visit Childrenwithswag.tumblr.com for more.

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We’re ending the day as often as possible by celebrating love. We welcome your ideas for posts. Send suggestions to submissions@colorlines.com, and be sure to put Celebrate Love in the subject line. You can send links to videos, graphics, photos, quotes, whatever. Or just chime in to the comments below and we’ll find you. Be sure to let us know you’ve got the rights to share any media you send.

To see other Love posts visit our Celebrate Love page.

Victor Cruz, NFL’s New Great Latino Hope, Sports Sombrero at Media Day [Photo]

Victor Cruz, NFL's New Great Latino Hope, Sports Sombrero at Media Day [Photo]

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz wore a sombrero during Media Day ahead of Super Bowl XLVI.

“If he wins the Super Bowl, he’s going to have the best of two worlds: the English-speaking culture and a Spanish-speaking culture,” Daniel Vinas, an associate producer with Univision in Miami, told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s going to be unbelievable. We’ve had some Hispanic players who have done great things in the NFL … but the whole crossover appeal that Victor will have? It’s going to be unreal.”

I don’t know if it was Cruz that decided to put that sombrero on but who ever came up with that brilliant idea to show his ‘crossover appeal’ should Wikipedia ‘sombreros’ because they come from Mexico. Cruz is of African-American and Puerto Rican descent


Pay Attention! Ethnic Studies #WishiLearnedinHS Curriculum Hits Twitter

Pay Attention! Ethnic Studies #WishiLearnedinHS Curriculum Hits Twitter

FAAN Mail, a media literacy/media activism project formed by women of color, have created the hashtag #WishiLearnedinHS to call attention to the Ethnic Studies ban in Arizona.

FAAN Mail explains why they started the hashtag:

This hash-tag has been created in response to the Ethnic Studies ban in Arizona. It is designed to bring attention to the cultural gaps in our education; the gaps that widen as governments and school districts privilege some histories, while silencing other cultures and points of view. Over the next 5 days, beginning February 1, we ask that you Tweet, Facebook, or blog what you wished you learned in high school, in response to the below question: What do you wish you learned in high school as it relates to various cultural identities, histories, and perspectives?

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Strong U.S. Job Growth Leads to Lowest Black Unemployment in Years

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 243,000 in January, and the unemployment rate decreased to 8.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS )reported Friday.

The number of unemployed persons declined to 12.8 million in January. Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.7 percent) and blacks (13.6 percent) declined in January. The unemployment rates for adult women (7.7 percent), teenagers (23.2 percent), whites (7.4 percent), and Latinos (10.5 percent) were little changed.

Black unemployment saw the biggest drop — from 15.8 to 13.6 percent. And for the first time in a long time, those numbers aren’t being fudged (much) by people who have dropped out of the workforce. Unemployment overall is at 8.3 percent now, and the BLS says that workforce participation is holding steady.

“These numbers are important because one, we now have the lowest unemployment rate in nearly three years. It’s also one of the biggest drops in black unemployment—nearly two points—that the BLS has recorded in years,” said Shani O. Hilton, Colorlines.com’s D.C. Correspondent.

“What makes this particularly heartening, though, is that unlike other points in the decline, the decline isn’t happening because Americans are giving up looking for work. The BLS reports that workforce participation is holding steady,” Hilton went on to say.

NYPD Officers Shoot and Kill Three Black Men in One Week

NYPD Officers Shoot and Kill Three Black Men in One Week
Ramarley Graham, 18, was shot and killed by a NYPD officer in the Bronx on Thursday afternoon after running into his home as undercover officers pursued him. He’s the third person the NYPD have killed in a week. According to the police spokesperson, he was unarmed.

Paul J. Browne, the New York Police Department’s chief spokesman, said there was “no evidence that he was armed” when the officer, a member of a narcotics unit, shot him once in the upper left chest, the New York Times reports.

The Graham shooting is the third time in a week that a member of the NYPD had killed a suspect. On Jan. 26, an off-duty police lieutenant shot a 22-year-old carjacking suspect in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. And on Sunday, an off-duty detective shot a 17-year-old in Bushwick, Brooklyn, during a mugging, authorities said.

In Graham’s case, police found a small bag of marijuana in the toilet at the home he entered after the pursuit, the NY Times reports. “It’s likely the story will thicken and the NYPD will argue the cop acted in self defense, but right now it looks like the cops killed a kid trying to get rid of a little pot,” said Seth Freed Wessler, Colorlines.com’s investigation reporter. 

“Despite directives from the NYPD Commissioner to stop arresting people for simple possession of marijuana, the NYPD actually conducted more marijuana arrests in 2011 than in the previous year,” Wessler said.

In New York City, marijuana arrests strike people of color the hardest. Last year the NYPD made a near-record number of low-level marijuana arrests, making 2011 the second-most prolific period for marijuana arrests in NYC history. Close to 87 percent of those arrested for marijuana were black or Latino, while only 10 percent were white.

“The daily practice of harassing black and Latino kids with stop and frisk policing and then arresting them for simple possession of pot would be bad enough even if it did not lead to shootings. In this case in the Bronx, it looks like the day-to-day drug war left this 18-year-old kid dead,” Wessler said.



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Planned Parenthood Pres. Thanks Internet for Elevating Importance of Cancer Prevention for Women in Need

Published in it’s entirety, below is a statement by Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president, regarding Komen’s recent decision.

“The outpouring of support for women in need of lifesaving breast cancer screening this week has been astonishing and is a testament to our nation’s compassion and sincerity.

“During the last week, millions spontaneously joined a national conversation about lifesaving breast cancer prevention care and reinforced shared values about access to health care for all. This compassionate outcry in support of those most in need rose above political, ideological, and cultural divides, and will surely be recognized as one of our nation’s better moments during a contentious political time. Planned Parenthood thanks each and every person who has contributed to elevating the importance of breast cancer prevention for so many women in need.

“In recent weeks, the treasured relationship between the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Planned Parenthood has been challenged, and we are now heartened that we can continue to work in partnership toward our shared commitment to breast health for the most underserved women. We are enormously grateful that the Komen Foundation has clarified its grantmaking criteria, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Komen partners, leaders and volunteers. What these past few days have demonstrated is the deep resolve all Americans share in the fight against cancer, and we honor those who are at the helm of this battle.

“Planned Parenthood has been a trusted partner with the Komen Foundation in early cancer detection and prevention services. In particular, Planned Parenthood helps the Komen Foundation reach vulnerable populations — low-income women, African-American women, and Latinas — especially in rural areas and underserved communities where Planned Parenthood health centers are their only source of health care. With Komen Foundation grants, over the past five years, Planned Parenthood health centers provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals. With the outpouring of support over the past week, even more women in need will receive lifesaving breast cancer care.”

Collection of ‘Planned Parenthood Saved Me’ Stories on Tumblr

Collection of 'Planned Parenthood Saved Me' Stories on Tumblr

Media technologist & strategist Deanna Zandt started a Tumblr this week that includes stories submitted by “women whose lives were saved or changed because they had access to affordable healthcare like cancer screenings though Planned Parenthood.”

“I know I keep saying WOW, but— in just a couple days, @PPSavedMe has gotten ~1000 followers on Tumblr,” Zandt tweeted Friday. (Zandt is a board member of ARC, which publishes Colorlines.com.)

Below is a sample of the touching stories:

Just married with no health insurance, PP was the only place I could go to get affordable birth control and screenings. A pap smear turned up abnormal cells that could develop into cervical cancer. If I had waited until I had full health insurance to get screened it might have been too late to prevent cancer. I AM PRO-LIFE BUT I STILL SUPPORT PLANNED PARENTHOOD!

and another one:

I was a young latina with no money and living in a fairly conservative house where going to a “woman’s doctor” meant only one thing, pregnancy. So I went to Planned Parenthood for a gyn chek up and they found abnormal cells in my pap smear.

and another one:

I was alone in a new city, between jobs and without health insurance, when I discovered a lump in my breast. After worrying about it for several weeks, I gave in and made an appointment with Planned Parenthood. The doctor there assessed my situation, agreed I should see a specialist, and referred me to a no-cost program. Luckily, my lump turned out to be normal breast tissue.

There’s plenty more. Visit PlannedParenthoodSavedMe.tumblr.com for more stories and/or to submit your own story.

Komen’s Sorry, Planned Parenthood ‘Probably Eligible’ For Funds

Komen's Sorry, Planned Parenthood 'Probably Eligible' For Funds

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell had a hard hitting interview with Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker on Friday. Hours later she also went on to issue an apology on Komen.org.

Brinker said the entire Komen drops Planned Parenthood controversy is a “mischaracterization” because they “still have three grants they are committed to at least another year through the end of the grant cycle.”

And in a backtracking moment she also said “Planned Parenthood will probably be eligible in the next grant cycle.”

Brinker also said Karen Handel, the self-identified “staunchly and unequivocally pro-life” vice president of public policy, had “nothing to do with this decision.”

“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives,” Brinker wrote on Komen.org’s blog.

“Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities,” Brinker went on to write.

Santorum Puts a Black Church to Sleep [Photo]

Santorum Puts a Black Church to Sleep [Photo]

The image above is part of a great “Florida Primary” photo essay put together by the New York Times. The picture above is of Santorum addressing the congregation at the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach on Jan. 22. The look on the face of the kids in the back is priceless.

And another picture that’s actually disturbing is the one below. “Punching puppets of Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama on the Romney campaign bus. Mr. Gingrich had stressed that he was the best Republican candidate to challenge Mr. Obama in debates, but Mr. Romney challenged that notion with his strong showings in Florida.” mitt-romneybus.jpg

(h/t HuffPost)

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