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NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Fear of Deportation Kept L.A. School’s Parents From Reporting Sex Abuse

Fear of Deportation Kept L.A. School's Parents From Reporting Sex Abuse

Two teachers have been charged with multiple counts of lewd conduct against several students at Miramonte Elementary—a school in South Los Angeles who’s student body is made up of 98% Latinos and 2% black students. Lawyers say at least three alleged victims have not been interviewed by law enforcement because their parents fear deportation.

Mark Berndt was charged last week with 23 counts of lewd conduct against children; another teacher, Martin Springer, was charged this week with three counts of lewd conduct. Berndt is alleged to have taken photographs of blindfolded children being spoon-fed his semen, according to the LA Sheriff’s newsroom.

The investigation began over a year ago when over 40 photographs depicting children in a school classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered with tape, were turned in to law enforcement by a film processor. Parents are furious because they only learned about the investigation last week.

Miramonte Elementary School is located in an unincorporated area of South Los Angeles within the Florence-Firestone area which according to the school is a “predominantly Hispanic” community. It’s unclear how many students at the school have undocumented parents but 56% of the students are English language learners, about 1% are considered “migrant” students and the school has a “Migrant Education Program” and an “Emergency Immigrant Education Program,” leading many to believe, including the Sheriff, that there may be many parents who fear coming forward because they are undocumented.

“Unlike the Los Angeles Police Department, which has a policy on the books intended to protect undocumented victims and witnesses, the department has two different immigration enforcement partnerships with the federal government,” explains Leslie Berestein Rojas at KPCC’s “Multi-American.”

Because Miramonte is an unincorporated the jurisdiction falls on Los Angeles County Sheriff which has a Secure Communities and 287(g) contract with the federal government. 

“Critics of immigration enforcement programs like Secure Communities often say that when the lines between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement are blurred, community members stop being able to trust the police and fear coming forward to serve as witnesses or to report crime,” said Colorlines.com’s immigration reporter Julianne Hing. “The risk of deportation is just too high. What we’re seeing now is illustrative of exactly that critique.”

“Many of the parents with information about the case are afraid there may be negative consequences (deportation). Unfortunately, their fear is not unfounded, we have seen how people have been arrested and deported for selling ice cream on the streets,” Angelica Salas, executive director of the Human Rights Coalition of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) told La Opinion.

“Multi-American” reports on the Sheriff’s response:

Sgt. Dan Scott said this afternoon that the department is trying to put together a formal message, but that for now, the word to Miramonte families is not to worry about being turned in to immigration authorities for speaking up. 

“They have Sheriff Lee Baca’s word that there will not be prosecution or even inquiries into anybody’s legal status in this country,” Scott said. “We are seeking victims, witnesses, or anybody that has information about this case to please come forward to the Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit, which is our normal process. We will not ask their legal status. The Sheriff specifically wants that message out: We will not be inquiring as to their legal status.”

“As a result of stepped up immigration enforcement programs like Secure Communities, undocumented immigrants, even those who have absolutely no criminal record, regularly get deported. It’s also further complicated because Sheriff Baca actually defended his county’s use of the immigration enforcement program Secure Communities just last year in an L.A. Times op-ed,” Hing explained.

On press conference Thursday lawyer Greg Owen announced he’s filed civil lawsuits on behalf of three students that the L.A. County sheriff’s investigators have yet to interview because the parents are undocumented and fear deportation, KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reported.

One of the alleged victims’ father sat next to Owen at the conference wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses to disguise his identity. 

The father said he had a framed photo of his daughter in his living room given to him by Berndt that showed her holding a cookie between her lips with a white substance. The Sheriff’s office is now reporting those cookies were laced with semen.

He says he hasn’t been able to sleep and has gone to the emergency room twice after bouts of anxiety and an accelerated heart rate since he found out about the alleged acts against his daughter.

The district has responded by closing the school for two days and replacing every single teacher, administrator and support staff member out of Miramonte Elementary. And it all couldn’t of come at a worse time because the California standardized exams are coming up in two weeks.

Today’s Love: Happy Birthday Alice Walker!

Today's Love: Happy Birthday Alice Walker!

Poet, essayist, and novelist Alice Walker was born February 9, 1944, in Eatonton, Georgia, the eighth and last child of sharecroppers Willie Lee and Minnie Lou Grant Walker.

She turns 68 today.

She is best known for the novel The Color Purple (1982) for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. But few people know that she regularly publishes notes and poems on her blog!

Visit Walker’s blog, watch her nerd out and talk Google gadgets in the video above and read the latest poem she’s posted on her blog “When I join you” below.

When I join you
in the effort for peace
I give myself over.
There
and not there.
Marching
with you
alongside
the many who have died
it is as if we are marching
across the Universe
and just ahead of us
if only in another galaxy
there is a door.



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.

Sh*t Mitt Romney Says When He’s Around Black People: ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ [Video]

Sh*t Mitt Romney Says When He's Around Black People: 'Who Let The Dogs Out' [Video]

The video was created by Democratic Super PAC American Bridge 21st Century.

Here’s how they describe themselves: > American Bridge 21st Century is a progressive research and communications organization committed to holding Republicans accountable for their words and actions and helping you ascertain when Republican candidates are pretending to be something they’re not.

Housing Advocates Say Foreclosure Settlement is Too Little, Too Late

Housing Advocates Say Foreclosure Settlement is Too Little, Too Late

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced today that the federal government and 49 state attorneys general have reached a landmark $25 billion agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses.

“This agreement - the largest joint federal-state settlement ever obtained - is the result of unprecedented coordination among enforcement agencies throughout the government,” said Attorney General Holder said in a statement. “It holds mortgage servicers accountable for abusive practices and requires them to commit more than $20 billion towards financial relief for consumers. As a result, struggling homeowners throughout the country will benefit from reduced principals and refinancing of their loans.”

The five banks included in the settlement are Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial. NPR’s Yuki Noguchi explains the deal and where the bulk of the money would go:

It’s a deal that will extract some penalties from the banks — about $25 billion — if all states sign on. In exchange, the banks will get what’s known as a “release,” sort of like an immunity, from lawsuits regarding how they handled some home loans.

Most of the money — $20 billion — would go toward writing down principal payments for homeowners who were not foreclosed upon, but who are struggling now. There could be a million such homeowners eligible. The way it would work is that the banks would have targets they have to meet, in terms of what kinds of loans they would have to modify. But the banks would still have a lot of discretion in who gets what.

And there’s another $5 billion in cash, part of which would go to the states to help fund homeowner assistance programs. Some of the rest would go to homeowners who may have been wrongfully foreclosed upon. For them, it’s up to $2,000 each, which is not much if you lost your home.

But some advocates say today’s settlement is a tiny drop in a big bucket.

“It does not do justice for the millions of homeowners who lost their homes or hold the banks fully accountable for their crimes. For homeowners who were defrauded and lost their homes, $2,000 is too little, too late. It is a paltry down payment toward full relief for homeowners,” read a statement from The New Bottom Line, a coalition of housing advocates.

“Despite its flaws, the settlement announced today is stronger than it would have otherwise been because of grassroots groups and the courageous stance of Attorneys General from California, New York, Nevada, Delaware, and Massachusetts, who fought hard to bring more relief to homeowners and make sure that any settlement does not allow the banks to avoid accountability for fraudulent activity not yet investigated. Due to their work and the work of many allies, momentum is building toward broad-scale relief for homeowners,” The New Bottom Line’s statement went on to say.

The advocates the New Bottom Line say what happens next is critical. What happens next is critical. “This is the President’s chance to show he is a champion for the 99%.”

“The Obama Administration needs to make sure that its task force goes the distance and delivers at least $336 billion in principal reduction on underwater mortgages and $50 billion in restitution for affected homeowners,”

Jeremy Lin Provides Endless Sign Opportunities [Slideshow]

Jeremy Lin Provides Endless Sign Opportunities [Slideshow]

There was no shortage of support for New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin (17) at last night’s game against the Washington Wizards… and by that I mean, there was no shortage of amazing signs. 

Below are the good, the funny and the bad signs seen at last night’s game.

Let the Linsanity begin!


j-lin-fans-2012-2.jpg Fans of Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks hold up signs during the end of the Knicks and Washington Wizards game at Verizon Center on February 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)



j-lin-fans-2012-486.jpg(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)



jeremy-lin-fans-0537.jpg Fans hold up signs in support of Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks pregame against the Washington Wizards during the game at the Verizon Center on February 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)


Not sure what this sign reads but that’s a huge Taiwan flag there lin-taiwan-flag-28.jpg



jeremy-lin-tv-still-sign-fan.jpg

TV still from Monday’s game between Knicksand the Utah Jazz in New York.


jeremy-lin-fan-sign-12.jpg


For more analysis on the Linsanity read Jamilah King’s “The Subtle Bigotry That Made Jeremy Lin the NBA’s Most Surprising Star.”

Watch Jeremy Lin’s First NBA Dunk [Video]

Watch Jeremy Lin's First NBA Dunk [Video]

Jeremy Lin had another big game last night against the Wizards. Watch He his first NBA dunk above.

One Asian fan held up a sign reading: “Who says we can’t drive?” in reference to Lin being a driving force to the Knick’s three wins since the Knicks headcoach Mike D’Antoni handed the keys to the offense over to Lin.

For more on Lin’s history in the NBA read Jamilah King’s “The Subtle Bigotry That Made Jeremy Lin the NBA’s Most Surprising Star.”

TAGS: Jeremy Lin NBA

Guy In Blackface Asks Brigham Young Students About Black History Month [Video]

Guy In Blackface Asks Brigham Young Students About Black History Month [Video]

File this one under bizarre.

Dave Ackerman, 31, a comedian based in Utah dresses up in blackface and went to the Brigham Young campus to ask questions about black historical figures.

“During the filming of this video only 3 people said anything about me not really being black… which I find disturbing,” Ackerman says in the end of the video.

On his Facebook page, Ackerman actually likens his video to Franchesca Ramsey’s “Shit white girls say to black girls” video.

He says he’s conducting a social experiment, but is it if he’s in blackface?

Activist Patricia Stephens Due Dead at 72

Activist Patricia Stephens Due Dead at 72

Patricia Stephens Due, the lifelong Florida civil rights crusader who led 1960s-era demonstrations and voter-registration drives and went to jail for 45-days for trying to integrate a lunch counter died Tuesday. She was 72.

The Root.com on Due’s legacy: 

The 72-year-old, whom they called the Joan of Arc of the civil rights movement in Tallahassee, Fla., succumbed on Tuesday after a long fight with thyroid cancer. She died in Atlanta, where she had moved to to be closer to her three daughters.

During the civil rights era’s peak in the 1960s, Due led demonstrations at segregated theaters and pools and conducted voter-registration drives. Her landmark moment was a “jail-in” at Florida A&M when she and eight other black students tried to integrate a Tallahassee lunch counter. When faced with paying a fine or going to jail, she chose the latter. Her courage attracted the attention of Martin Luther King Jr., who sent her a letter in jail. Her activism garnered her an FBI file that ran more than 400 pages.

Florida officials honored her contributions last year by naming May 11 Patricia Stephens Due Day in the state.




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.

Michelle Obama Can Do A Lot More Push-Ups than Jimmy Fallon [Video]

Michelle Obama Can Do A Lot More Push-Ups than Jimmy Fallon [Video]

First Lady Michelle Obama made an appearance on Tuesday night’s “Late Night” and got in to a friendly competition with host Jimmy Fallon.

CNN Suspends Roland Martin for Controversial Super Bowl Tweets

CNN Suspends Roland Martin for Controversial Super Bowl Tweets

The Washington Post received a statement from CNN stating Roland Martin will not be appearing on CNN “for the time being.”

“Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.”

Following retailer H&M’s Super Bowl commercial featuring soccer player David Beckham, Martin tweeted “if a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl.”

In response, GLAAD wrote: “.@rolandsmartin Advocates of gay bashing have no place at @CNN #SuperBowl #LGBT”

The back and forth continued until Roland issued an apology late Monday night.

Chris Brown Performing at Grammys on Third Anniversary of Fight with Rihanna

Chris Brown will join the Foo Fighters, David Guetta, and Lil Wayne at the Grammy awards on Sunday for a special performance highlighting dance/electronica music.

Brown’s high profile arrest for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna happened early in the morning that he was slated to perform at the Grammys in 2009. His performance Sunday will mark his first return to the Grammys since the incident.

Strangely enough Rihanna is also slated to perform Sunday. (She’s performing on the main stage, Brown is performing outside in a tent.)

Organizers said last month that Rihanna, who has four nominations including album of the year for “Loud,” will sing with Coldplay on the Grammy stage.

And I’m not one to gossip, so you didn’t hear it from me… but rumor has it that Rihanna and Brown have been hanging out together. “Sources tell RumorFix that the Barbadian beauty held up rehearsals for the Grammys on the Sony lot in Los Angeles, while she was behind doors with her ex” for five hours!

Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank Execs Funding Pols Behind Minnesota Voter ID Push

Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank Execs Funding Pols Behind Minnesota Voter ID Push

On Wednesday, TakeAction Minnesota released a report that suggests executives from Minnesota’s three largest banks—Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and TCF—are at the center of the effort to restrict voter rights in the state.

The report, entitled “The 1% vs. Democracy in Minnesota: Following the Money Behind the Photo ID Amendment,” unravels the tangled web of campaign funding behind Republican legislators who are trying to secure a photo ID amendment on the November 2012 ballot. Civil rights advocates say such amendments will keep thousands of voters of color from the polls.

If the ballot measure succeeds it would bypass the state’s Democratic governor, who vetoed a similar bill last year.

“Over the past week, we’ve learned a lot about who would lose if photo ID becomes law — over 700,000 eligible Minnesota voters, including seniors, low-income persons, students, people of color, disabled and rural Minnesotans,” Dan McGrath, executive director of TakeAction Minnesota said at a news conference. “What hasn’t been discussed is who WINS when people can’t vote. That’s what this report outlines.”

McGrath presented his findings to reporters on Wednesday morning. A press release from TakeAction described McGrath’s presentation and findings:

McGrath walked reporters through the report’s key findings via two large charts displayed next to the podium which explained how banking executives put members of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) in the House leadership and then placed an attack on the voting rights of Minnesotans at the top of the 2012 legislative agenda. Voter ID legislation was initially introduce by Representative Mary Kiffmeyer when the new majorities took office.

According to the release, the report primarily establishes the huge sums of money that banking industry groups put into state campaigns and their significant support for members who are leading the photo ID effort. 

To read more about who would be affected the most by voter ID laws read “The Real Cost of the GOP’s Push for Voter ID Laws.”

The report is embedded below.

1% vs Democracy Report

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Rules for Goldilocks on Sesame Street [Video]

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Rules for Goldilocks on Sesame Street [Video]

Sesame Street recently got a visit from one wise Latina.

Starbucks Barista Draws ‘Chinky Eyes’ on Korean-American Customer’s Cup

Starbucks Barista Draws 'Chinky Eyes' on Korean-American Customer's Cup

First it was “Ching Chong” at Chick-Fil-A in Irvine then it was it was “Lady Chinky Eyes” at a Papa John’s in Harlem and now a Starbucks Barista in Georgia drawing “chinky eyes” on a cup to identify two Korean-American customers.

On January 9th, I wrote a story titled “Calling Asians Racist Slurs on Fast Food Receipts is Now a National Trend” about a growing number of incidents where fast food workers identify customers on receipts with a racist slur, or in this latest case, a drawing. At places like Starbucks and Jamba Juice the person taking customers’ orders is suppose to ask for the customers name to ensure they get the correct drink in a more efficient manner but as Angryasianman.com reports, that’s not always the case:

Last month at a Starbucks Coffee location in Alpharetta, Georgia, two Korean customers — who are not native English speakers — discovered that their barista had identified them by drawing “chinky eyes” on their drinks. You know, where they usually write your name? OH NO THEY DIDN’T. Yes, they did.

You cannot tell me those are both just two random squiggles on those cups. I’m told that the customers immediately complained to the store manager, who did not defend the drawings or offer some kind of bullshit explanation, but simply apologized. And that’s it. Oh, sorry for the racist way we run our coffee joint.

The caricatures were drawn at a Starbucks in Alpharetta where 72% of the population is white, while Asians make up 13.7 of the population, according to 2010 census data.

“I guess it’s too much to hope that the Starbucks employees in question would give a damn about the people in their neighborhood. Instead, two Asian customers were simply reduced to a wordless, racist caricature with the stroke of a pen,” Angryasianman.com went on to say.

Bankruptcy Attorneys Report Major Jump in Student Loan Debtors

Bankruptcy Attorneys Report Major Jump in Student Loan Debtors

Student loan debt is pushing an increasing number of young people and their parents toward bankruptcy, according to a survey released Tuesday by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA.)

The NACBA say they were one of the first groups to warn of the rising mortgage crisis and they’re now forecasting a “Student Loan Debt Bomb.”

“Take it from those of us on the frontline of economic distress in America,” said William E. Brewer Jr., the group’s president. “This could very well be the next debt bomb for the U.S. economy.”

One example the group cites is the class of 2005 borrowers who began repayments the year they graduated, one analysis found 25 percent became delinquent at some point and 15 percent defaulted. The Chronicle of Education puts the default rate on government loans at 20 percent.

Students are not alone in borrowing at record rates, so too are their parents. Loans to parents for the college education of children have jumped 75 percent since the 2005-2006 academic year. Parents have an average of $34,000 in student loans and that figure rises to about $50,000 over a standard 10-year loan repayment period. An estimated 17 percent of parents whose children graduated in 2010 took out loans, up from 5.6 percent in 1992-1993.

College seniors who graduated with student loans in 2010 owed an average of $25,250, up five percent from the previous year. Borrowing has grown far more quickly for those in the 35-49 age group, with school debt burden increasing by a staggering 47 percent.

The NACBA survey of 860 bankruptcy attorneys nationwide found that:
> More than four out of five bankruptcy attorneys (81 percent) say that potential clients with student loan debt have increased “significantly” or “somewhat” in the last three-four years. Overall, about half (48 percent) of bankruptcy attorneys reported significant increases in such potential clients.
>
> Nearly two out of five of bankruptcy attorneys (39 percent) have seen potential student loan client cases jump 25-50 percent in the last three-four years. An additional quarter (23 percent) of bankruptcy attorneys have seen such cases jump by 50 percent to more than 100 percent.
>
> Most bankruptcy attorneys (95 percent) report that few student loan debtors are seen as having any chance of obtaining a discharge as a result of undue hardship.

“Even in the best of economic times when jobs are plentiful, young people with considerable debt burdens end up delaying life-cycle events such as buying a car, purchasing a home, getting married and having children,” said John Rao, attorney, National Consumer Law Center and vice president at NACBA.”Piling up student loans in middle age is even more troublesome. And parents who take out loans for children or co-sign loans will find those loans more difficult to pay as they stop working and their incomes decline.”

Last October President Obama introduced a plan called the “Pay As You Earn” plan that would cap federal student loan payments at 10 percent of the borrowers discretionary income. Any remaining debt would be forgiven after 20 years.

TAGS: student debt

Rep. Barbara Lee Recognizes Black HIV/AIDS Awareness on House Floor

Rep. Barbara Lee Recognizes Black HIV/AIDS Awareness on House Floor

Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) recognized National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on the House floor.

“After more than 30 years of struggle, our collective progress reflects the heights that can be reached when all stakeholders work together to achieve common goals. Now is not the time to stop and we look forward to working with our colleagues until an end of AIDS becomes the reality of our lifetime,” Lee said earlier in a statement.






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.

Roland Martin Insists He’s Not Coaching Bullies on #Teamwhipdatass

Roland Martin Insists He's Not Coaching Bullies on #Teamwhipdatass

CNN’s Roland Martin offered what he called “final thoughts” last night on the uproar over his controversial tweets during the Super Bowl. Both GLAAD and National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) have said Martin promoted violence against gays.

On Sunday Martin tweeted: “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl” and “Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass”

Martin says now that his comments were about soccer, not gay men, and that they were deliberately over-the-top jokes. Though, it wasn’t Martin’s first turn with controversy over his comments about LGBT people. 

“Even if he meant it in a jovial manner, Roland Martin’s words carry a real impact on the everyday lives of Black LGBT people, especially our youth. Given the number of rash murders, attacks and violent acts involving LGBT people of color, we cannot let statements such as this go unchecked. Silence is a form of acceptance and only perpetuates the problem,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director of the NBJC, the nation’s largest black LGBT civil rights organization.

On Monday night Martin took to his blog and said he was sorry that his comments were misconstrued. In a post titled “Final Thoughts On Super Bowl-Twitter Controversy,” Martin wrote:

My joking about smacking someone, whether it was in response to a commercial or food they prepare for a Super Bowl party or wearing an opposing team’s jersey, was stated in jest. It was not meant literally, and in no way would I ever condone someone doing such a thing.

As I said repeatedly, I often make jokes about soccer in the U.S., and my crack about David Beckham’s commercial was related to that and not to anyone’s sexuality. To those who construed my comment as being anti-gay or homophobic or advancing violence, I’m truly sorry. I can certainly understand how someone could come to a different conclusion than the one I meant.

I’m disheartened that my words would embolden prejudice. While public debate over social issues is healthy, no matter which side someone takes, there is no room for debate as to whether we need to be respectful of others.

Colorlines.com editor Kai Wright, of #teamproudtowearpink, said Martin still misses the point. “Whether Roland Martin was talking about soccer is entirely beside the point. He was shaming and advocating violence against people who don’t fit his outdated idea of manhood, and it wasn’t funny. It’s not been funny previously, either. It’s precisely the kind of casual harassment that people who refuse to live under Martin’s gender rules face every day. Martin says he’s sorry that I misunderstood. Whatever. I’m sorry he still won’t explore why he feels it so comical that I wear pink.”

CDC: 1 in 16 Black Men Will Be Diagnosed with HIV During Their Lifetime

CDC: 1 in 16 Black Men Will Be Diagnosed with HIV During Their Lifetime

“On this National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we have greater opportunity than ever before to reverse the HIV epidemic in Black America and the nation as a whole,” Kevin A. Fenton, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS at the Centers for Disease Control, said on Monday.

“HIV touches every corner of black communities,” Fenton went on to say in a statement. Below is an excerpt from Fenton’s statement on state of black HIV/AIDS rates in the U.S. and what the CDC is doing about it:

The impact of HIV has been devastating among black youth, with approximately 40 percent of new infections among blacks now occurring among those between the ages of 13 and 29. Young black gay and bisexual men are the most severely affected, experiencing a nearly 50 percent increase in new HIV infections over the past few years. In addition, HIV is now the third leading cause of death among black women in the prime of their lives - those aged 35 to 44 years.

To turn the tide on this epidemic, we must confront the complex social and environmental conditions that help fuel the HIV epidemic in African-American communities. Lack of access to health care plays a role. We know that those who don’t have the means to see a health care provider may not get an HIV test or treatment until it’s too late. We also know that nearly 1 in 5 African-Americans are without health insurance.

In addition, where you live and choose sexual partners also has a significant impact on your HIV risk. Higher rates of HIV in black communities and the fact that African-Americans tend to select partners who are of the same race increases the likelihood of being exposed to HIV infection with each sexual encounter.

We must also tackle factors such as homophobia and stigma - far too prevalent in many communities - that prevent too many in the black community from getting tested, and if HIV positive, from getting treated. And we must speak out about HIV and begin to shed light on these issues that continue to hide in the dark.

At CDC, HIV prevention in black communities remains one of our top priorities. Last year, we invested more than half of our HIV prevention budget to fight HIV among African-Americans. We’ve expanded initiatives to reach more African-Americans with HIV testing, increased the number and reach of HIV prevention programs in black communities, and are working with our partners, like those in the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, to launch campaigns aimed at increasing HIV testing and awareness among black women and black gay and bisexual men, among other groups.

Fenton went on to call on the faith community, public health and community leaders, teachers, parents, and business leaders - both within and outside black communities - to “maximize the powerful tools we have at our fingertips and to work together to bring this epidemic to an end. “

An analysis by the Black AIDS Institute found that if black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in the world in the number of people with HIV — ahead of Ethiopia, Botswana, and Haiti.

ICE Creates Public Advocate Position to Serve ‘Those in Immigration Proceedings’

As part of the agency’s ongoing detention reform the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced its first Public Advocate position that is supposed to “serve as a point of contact for individuals, including those in immigration proceedings, non-governmental organizations and other community and advocacy groups, who have concerns, questions, recommendations or other issues they would like to raise.”

“As our first Public Advocate, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait will work to expand and enhance our dialogue with the stakeholder community,” said ICE Director John Morton in a statement. “We want the public to know that they have a representative at this agency whose sole duty is to ensure their voice is heard and their interests are recognized, and I’m confident Andrew will serve the community well in this capacity.”

“This is part of the other package of reforms the Obama administration is taking up to address ICE abuses, including the cases of U.S. citizens who are mistakenly detained by immigration authorities,” said Julianne Hing, Colorlines.com’s immigration reporter. “My sense though is that the appointment is a largely symbolic gesture that won’t get to the root of the problems with ICE’s rampant racial profiling and mistaken detention of U.S. citizens.”

Lorenzen-Strait has served with ICE since 2008, first as an advisor and analyst on policies related to immigration enforcement, detention and juveniles and most recently, as the senior advisor for Enforcement and Removal Operation’s (ERO) detention management division.

Recently ICE also established an 1-800 hotline for detainees claiming U.S. Advocates say ICE would do better to halt programs like Secure Communities than patch things up with these sorts of minor reforms.

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.

TAGS: ads
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