California Lawmakers Propose Changes to Deportation Program

California Lawmakers Propose Changes to Deportation Program

The California Senate Public Safety Committee will decide Tuesday whether to limit how local law enforcement agencies can participate in the controversial federal immigration program, Secure Communities. If AB 1081, also known as the TRUST Act, passes it could be a significant blow to the federal program since over a quarter of S-Comm deportations are currently from California.

The hearing falls one week after Washington, DC became the latest in a string of local governments across the country to adopt policies similar to the TRUST Act and also comes days after the California Catholic Conference - which consists of all ten of the state’s Catholic Bishops - publicly announced its strong support of the bill.

The program has come under criticism for eroding trust between police and immigrant communities, with the fear of deportation and family separation making immigrant victims and witnesses to crimes reluctant to come forward.

75-Year-Old Milwaukee Man Kills Black Teen In Front of Boy’s Mother

A 75-year-old Milwaukee man pleaded not guilty Monday in the fatal shooting of his 13-year-old neighbor. John Henry Spooner is facing first-degree intentional homicide charges for killing his 13-year-old neighbor Darius Simmons while he was retrieving a trash can from the street.

Spooner admitted to police that he shot Simmons on Thursday morning, even as the teen was running away from him with his hands up.

Earlier in the week Spooner reported a break-in at his home and blamed the family next door, the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reports.

However, Simmons’ aunt told the Journal the teen was in school Tuesday when Spooner’s house was broken into. She went on to say police searched Simmons’ house after he was shot and did not find any of Spooner’s guns.

According to reports Simmons and his mother moved in to the south side neighborhood on May 1 from the north side because she was looking for a safer neighborhood.

Judge OKs Using L.A. Student Test Scores for Teacher Job Reviews

A Los Angeles judge has issued a tentative ruling and ordered the L.A. Unified School District to use student achievement in reviewing instructors.

L.A. Times has more details on today’s ruling:

L.A. County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant upheld claims by a group of parents that the district was violating a 40-year-old state law, known as the Stull Act, which requires that teacher evaluations include measures of how well pupils are learning what the state expects them to know each year. The law was amended in 1999 to specifically require the use of state standardized test scores to measure student progress.

But Chalfant did not order the district to use student test scores in evaluations. Which specific measures are used, how they are incorporated into performance reviews, how the different elements are weighted and how administrators are trained in using student performance measures “may well be a matter subject to collective bargaining,” he wrote.

The ruling, while tentative, lends significant legal clout to a growing movement to use student test scores as part of a teacher’s performance review. Several states have begun incorporating them into teacher reviews and the Obama administration is also pushing school districts to use them.

/NOW Blog Gets New Pinterest and Reddit Sharing Buttons

/NOW Blog Gets New Pinterest and Reddit Sharing Buttons

This morning unveiled new social media sharing buttons on the /NOW blog. The new buttons allow readers to quickly share Colorlines stories on Pinterest and Reddit in just a few seconds.

Pintest is the fastest growing social media website in Internet history and now the number three most-popular social network in the U.S., behind only Facebook and Twitter, according to the Experian’s Digital Marketer Trend and Benchmark Report.

Colorlines has a thriving community on Pinterest that visually introduce regular and new readers alike to stories that have been “pinned” to the digital cork-bulletin-board-like site.

We also have Redditors that regularly share our stories on Reddit, the social news website where users submit content that other members can vote and lift up to the front page.

Visit to see a list-view of our latest stories.

PS: The latest Michelle Obama post is perfect for Pinterest!

TAGS: Social Media

ABC’s Robin Roberts Battles Blood Disorder Possibly Caused By Chemo

ABC's Robin Roberts Battles Blood Disorder Possibly Caused By Chemo

On Monday, “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts, 51, announced to the nation that the treatment that saved her life five years ago may have contributed to a new diagnosis that some medical groups say is harder to fight.

Robins was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a group of diseases that affect the bone marrow and blood. The disease can be caused by past chemotherapy treatment or radiation therapy, according to the National Marrow Donor Program..aspx)

In a story published on ABC News’ website titled “I’m Going to Beat This” Robins said she learned about her diagnosis on the same day in April that her show beat out NBC’s “Today Show” in the ratings for the first time in nearly 16 years. “Talk about your highs and lows!”

“Then a few weeks ago, during a rather unpleasant procedure to extract bone marrow for testing, I received word that I would interview President Obama the next day,” Roberts said.

“The combination of landing the biggest interview of my career and having a drill in my back reminds me that God only gives us what we can handle and that it helps to have a good sense of humor when we run smack into the absurdity of life.”

“Sometimes the treatment for cancer can cause other serious medical problems,” Robins told viewers Monday morning.

“My doctors tell me I’m going to beat this — and I know it’s true,” Roberts said.

“Bone marrow donors are scarce and particularly for African-American women,” she said. “I am very fortunate to have a sister who is an excellent match, and this greatly improves my chances for a cure.”

6-Year-Old Plays Violin for First Lady Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama is known for pushing healthy eating and exercise but at a campaign stop last Thursday she was all about pies. One Apple and one sour cherry pie, to be precise.

The First Lady made an unannounced stop at Mom’s Apple Pie Co., a family-owned bakery in Occoquan, a small town about 23 miles southwest of the White House, ABC News reports.

Six-year-old Sydney Trapp happened to be in the shop and serenaded the Mrs. Obama with “Ode to Joy” on her violin.

Lastly, take a look above and check out the new Pinterest and Reddit sharing buttons.

I’m willing to make the claim that Mrs. O’s beautifully colorblocked pink and mint outfit will get you “re-pinned” on Pinterest, so go share.


First Lady Michelle Obama (3rd L) greets local residents as she visits Mom’s Apple Pie Bakery June 7, 2012 in Occoquan, Virginia. The first lady campaigned in a rally for her husband President Barack Obama at the VFW Post 1503 in Dale City, Virginia, earlier.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Audra McDonald Becomes First Black Actress to Win Five Tony Awards

Audra McDonald Becomes First Black Actress to Win Five Tony Awards

On Sunday, Audra McDonald won the Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical and became the first black actress to ever win five Tony Awards. McDonald was honored for her powerful portrayal of Bess in “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.”

“I was a little a girl with a potbelly and afro puffs, hyperactive and overdramatic. And I found the theater and I found my home,” McDonald said in her acceptance speech Sunday.

McDonald’s win makes her only the seventh black woman to win a Tony in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical category, Tambay at Shadow & Act points out. The last black actress to win in the category was LaChanze for her performance in The Color Purple in 2006.

McDonald’s four previous wins were in the featured role category for “Carousel,” “Master Class,” “Ragtime,” and “A Raisin in the Sun.” Only two other women have five Tony Awards, Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris.

TAGS: Tony Award

Jorge Ramos Upset Obama Used His Image in Spanish Campaign Ad

Jorge Ramos Upset Obama Used His Image in Spanish Campaign Ad

On Thursday, Univision’s Jorge Ramos took to the air to denounce the use of his image in an Obama re-election campaign ad. The host of the only political analysis program on the network with the largest audience of Spanish-language viewers in the country said he “rejected” the use of his image.

“I want to be clear that I reject the use of my image and that of Univision in any electoral campaign. We want to make a public statement about our disagreement [with the use of the images].”

Ramos’ comments come right as the Obama re-election Campaign enlists latino celebrities and well-known influencers to reach out to their community in the hopes of winning the Latino vote. Marc Anthony is the latest celebrity to endorse Obama.

“It seems that Ramos didn’t want his image and that of Univision to be confused for an endorsement,” said Mónica Novoa, Drop the I-Word Campaign Coordinator.

“He is arguably the most high-profile Spanish media journalist in the country, and wants to maintain a distance from any endorsement at this point,” Novoa said.

Ramos has been critical of many of the President’s policies, including his use of the term “illegal” and promises to deliver immigration reform.

DREAMer Makes the Front Page of LA Times Print Edition

The Los Angeles Times on Friday published a front page story that profiled a young architecture graduate student from UCLA that’s unsure about her future because she’s undocumented. The large photo of a smiling Maria Gomez wearing her cap and gown on the front page of the Times combined with a beautifully written story humanized her and never referred to her as an “illegal immigrant.”

But for those reading the story on it was a different experience. The story’s subhead identified Gomez as an “illegal immigrant.”

latimes-dreamers.pngBelow is the first sentence readers will read after the headline:

“Maria Gomez, a UCLA graduate with a master’s in architecture, grew up believing in the American Dream while living in its shadows as an illegal immigrant.”

The print edition was much different:

“Hard work, academic success - but clouded by fear and a secret.”

A strange move considering the writer of the story never referred to Gomez or students as “illegal immigrants.” The story written by staff writer Christopher Goffard used the word illegal (without quotes) only once in his story when he referred to “the talk-radio drumbeat about illegal immigrants stealing jobs.”

A video produced by the LA Times accompanying the story also avoided the term “illegal.”

“The LA Times’ video treatment of undocumented immigrants’ stories was very moving. It’s always more powerful to hear people tell their own stories, but notice none of the people interviewed identified as ‘illegal immigrants,’” said Mónica Novoa, Drop the I-Word Campaign Coordinator. (Drop the I-Word is a project from and the Applied Research.)

“The LA Times already uses other terms interchangeably, but why not completely leave behind this term that is racially charged, dehumanizing and legally inaccurate? It’s time for them to drop the i-word.”

A Musical Thank You Note to the Racists and Misogynists of the Internet

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that a lot of the interpersonal racism people experience today happens on the internet. Racist comments are alive and thriving on local newspaper sites, YouTube and even dating websites.

Here at, our community manager Channing Kennedy sees racist comments regularly that he has to delete.

“I love moderating the Colorlines community, because of the breadth of lived experiences and the sharp analyses that our commenters bring. And if we didn’t get haters, we wouldn’t be doing our job,” Kennedy says about dealing with not-so-positive commenters.

Kennedy says the racist and misogynists show up most often when Colorlines writers “illustrate the humanity of people who’ve broken rules, whether that rule is the gender binary or a racist immigration law.”

He went on to say his priority is that is a safe space for folks who don’t get heard anywhere else. “Haters have plenty of their own sites.”

Isabel Fay, a British comedy writer and performer, wrote a beautiful song thanking the “sexually aggressive, racist, homophobe, misogynistic” trolls of the interwebs. Check out her (NSFW) video below.

Infographic: How Quickly ‘Stand Your Ground’ Spread Nationwide

On Thursday, Mother Jones published an interactive infographic that illustrates just how quickly ‘kill at will’ laws have spread through the United States. The infographic also shows who was behind the effort that took Florida’s 2005 ‘kill at will’ law and replicated it in 23 states by 2011.


Below is an excerpt from Adam Weinstein’s story on Mother Jones that looks at the roots of ‘kill at will’ aka ‘stand your ground laws.’

The Florida law made infamous this spring by the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was conceived during the epic hurricane season of 2004. That November, 77-year-old James Workman moved his family into an RV outside Pensacola after Hurricane Ivan peeled back the roof of their house. One night a stranger tried to force his way into the trailer, and Workman killed him with two shots from a .38 revolver. The stranger turned out to be a disoriented temporary worker for the Federal Emergency Management Agency who was checking for looters and distressed homeowners. Workman was never arrested, but three months went by before authorities cleared him of wrongdoing.

That was three months too long for Dennis Baxley, a veteran Republican representative in Florida’s state Legislature. Four hurricanes had hit the state that year, and there was fear about widespread looting (though little took place). In Baxley’s view, Floridians who defended themselves or their property with lethal force shouldn’t have had to worry about legal repercussions. Baxley, a National Rifle Association (NRA) member and owner of a prosperous funeral business, teamed up with then-GOP state Sen. Durell Peaden to propose what would become known as Stand Your Ground, the self-defense doctrine essentially permitting anyone feeling threatened in a confrontation to shoot their way out.

Visit for a more in depth look at how years before Trayvon Martin was killed, gun lobbyists conspired to give Stand Your Ground shooters immunity everywhere.

Silver Spring, MD Gets Its Own African Contemporary Dance Flash Mob [Video]

Silver Spring, MD Gets Its Own African Contemporary Dance Flash Mob [Video]

There’s not too many details of this African Contemporary Dance Flash Mob in Downtown Silver Spring area. All we know is that it was it took place last Saturday and that the music featured is by Roga Roga from Extra Musica.

DREAMers at NY High School Inspire Community to Drop The I-Word

DREAMers at NY High School Inspire Community to Drop The I-Word

A group of students at Flushing International High School (FIHS) that are part of a DREAM are raising awareness about the Drop the ‘I-Word Campaign and how the ‘I’ word impacts their life. 

For the past two months, members of Dream Team have been studying and discussing the negative impact of the use of the word “illegal” to refer to immigrants in the United States. The video above was created by a former FIHS student and captures the raw emotions of how young undocumented youth feel when they’re referred to as “illegals.”

The students say they were inspired by the Drop the I-Word Campaign, a project from the Applied Research Center and

The Drop the I-Word team recently met with FIHS students in Queens, NY at an event called “We Are Beautiful! Immigrant Rights Do Matter!” which was organized by the FIHS’ Dream Team and Multi Squad.

Mónica Novoa, Drop the I-Word Campaign Coordinator, said she is grateful and inspired by the students at FIHS and their work to reject the i-word for themselves and their community. “The students at FIHS have set a brilliant and brave example in their own community,” Novoa said.

“They’re taking on the i-word because they know it impacts their lives and the way they are treated. They are taking a stand against bullying, racism and violence - and they are affirming their belief in one another and their ability to create a brighter future,” Novoa went on to say.

Record Number of Deportations Continue Despite U.S. Review of Backlog

Record Number of Deportations Continue Despite U.S. Review of Backlog

The New York Times reports that after seven months of an “ambitious” review by the Obama administration of all pending deportation orders fewer than 2 percent have been closed.

The Obama administration announced the deportation order reviews last August as a response to criticism they received for its record-breaking deportation rate that included DREAM Act-eligible youth, parents of U.S. citizen children and people who had never been convicted of anything.

An excerpt from the NY Times story titled “Deportations Continue Despite U.S. Review of Backlog:”

Under the review of more than 411,000 deportation cases, the first of its kind, fewer than 2 percent have been closed so far. The numbers fall far short of expectations raised among immigrants, including many Latinos, when top administration officials announced they would comb through backlogged court dockets to close cases where the immigrants had strong family ties to this country and no criminal records. … The review started in November. As of May 29, immigration prosecutors had examined 288,361 cases, according to new official figures. To date, 4,403 deportation cases have been closed.

“The data confirms what advocates have been saying for the last year: a discretion based system of relief is unlikely to yield significant results as long as the whole ICE system is set up to deport hundreds of thousands each year,” said Seth Freed Wessler,’s investigative reporter. “Programs like Secure Communities and the now expanding Fugitive Operations program continue to function as deportation dragnets, filling unspoken deportation quotas and jumping into high gear when these numbers are not met.”

Department of Homeland Security officials told the NY Times the review has been slowed by bureaucratic delays with criminal background checks of the immigrants. They said many thousands more deportations could be suspended in coming months.

“There’s significant irony in ICE’s claim that the low levels of discretionary relief are a result of holdups in the background check process. ICE has no problem running background checks on people the agency plans to deport,” said Wessler. “The agency’s flagship Secure Communities program deports tens of thousands each year because of automatic background checks run on people booked into local jails. Yet when it comes to providing people relief from deportation, ICE claims it can’t run the checks quickly enough.”

Dozens of Foxconn Workers Arrested After Riot in Chengdu, China Plant

Dozens of Foxconn Workers Arrested After Riot in Chengdu, China Plant

Hundreds of Foxconn employees living in company dormitories in Chengdu, China clashed with security staff Monday evening.

Want China Times has more details:

The world’s largest electronic contract manufacturer called in the police to calm down the crowd and dozens of those who took part in the disturbance were arrested, according to Molihua, a news website advocating democracy and human rights in China.

The clash broke out at a male dormitory for Foxconn workers in Kaoxinxi district in northwest Chengdu. When two security guards called out to stop a thief, some employees with grudges against the security officers took the chance to hinder them and forced them away.

The situation quickly escalated out of control with up to one thousand workers joining the fray, throwing trash bins, chairs, pots, bottles and fireworks from the upper floors of the bulding to the ground and destroying public facilities.

Foxconn’s Chengdu plant made international headlines last year after an explosion at the factory killed two workers and injured 16 others.

Wells Fargo Hit With Molotov Cocktail in ‘Solidarity With CeCe’

Wells Fargo Hit With Molotov Cocktail in 'Solidarity With CeCe'

A Wells Fargo bank branch manager in Portland, Oregon discovered a broken window and an unlit Molotov cocktail inside the building Wednesday morning. An anonymous message posted on an anarchist website took responsibility for the action they called a small gesture of solidarity with CeCe McDonald, the young black transgender woman the state of Minnesota has said will initialy incarcerate as a male.

“As a small gesture of solidarity with CeCe, and all others who suffer under the hand of the racist, trans-misogynist capitalist state, a Molotov cocktail has been tossed through a large window of a Wells Fargo in Portland, Oregon late last night,” reads the statement on “The flaming bottle flew easily through the window spewing fire and glass into the building, a delightful and brief escape from the monotony of the endless spectacle.”

According to a local news station, the manager found the Molotov unlit.

“Regardless of whether or not it was a successful arson, at least it’s bringing light to CeCe’s case,” wrote a commenter on the anarchist website.

Former NFL player Wade Davis Talks About Coming Out of the Closet

Wade Davis never came out while he was playing football for the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, or the Washington Redskins. These days he’s out, an advocate and a staff member at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth.

“I think subconsciously, I understood that being gay — the way I was raised — was wrong,” Davis told Amy K. Nelson of SB Nation. “And there was no way that my family, at least, in my mind, would accept me. And also that my football family would accept me. Just because of the perception of being gay meant that you were less masculine.”

‘Free CeCe’ Graffiti Left on County Jail Building CeCe McDonald Was Held In

'Free CeCe' Graffiti Left on County Jail Building CeCe McDonald Was Held In

Several “Free CeCe” messages of support were spray-painted on the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility where CeCe McDonald was staying Monday. Supporters gathered in front of the facility where McDonald—a young black transgender woman—was being held before being moved in to a Minnesota state intake facility in St. Cloud that will determine if she will be housed in a male prison permanently.

On Tuesday, state officials announced McDonald will initially be held as male inmate until the state make its own determination of McDonald’s gender.

The graffiti was found after McDonald’s supporters staged a protest demanding her release.

“The protest was held on the eve of McDonald’s transfer to the state prison system, where she will serve out a sentence of 41 months for “defending herself against racist and transphobic attackers,” read a statement issued by the The CeCe McDonald Support Committee.

According to the Committee, Leslie Feinberg was arrested in connection with the graffiti and is facing charges of property damage.

On Friday,’s gender matters blogger Akiba Solomon will bring you more in depth reporting on the case.

Below is an excerpt from Feinberg’s statement released by the CeCe McDonald Support Committee.

Less Affluent Expected to Adopt iPhone When it Comes to Virgin Mobile; Insiders Warn Prepaid Market is Less Regulated


Sprint’s Virgin Mobile is set to become the second carrier in the U.S. to offer Apple’s iPhone through their prepaid pay-as-you-go model. Analysts expect the less affluent to adopt the phone because prepaid services require no contract or credit checks for customers but others fear more people will enter a less regulated mobile space. 

Pricing for the Virgin Mobile iPhone, which is set for July 1, is still unknown, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. But Virgin Mobile currently has prepaid unlimited data plans that start as low as $35 per month.

“This contract-free model could help attract less affluent cellphone owners to the iOS platform, as well as those who are tired of paying premium prices on their monthly post-paid bill through other major U.S. wireless carriers,”’s Christina Bonnington points out. “It’s a smart move, as the prepaid market has a limited number of smartphone options,” Bonninton added.

“It’s long been rumored that Apple was going to break into the contract-free market. While it’s exciting for users to have access to one of the industry’s most sought after gadgets, this move by Apple also shows that many smartphone users — especially those of color — are vulnerable to high prices and industry mood swings,” said’s Jamilah King.

“For many low income users of color, smartphones are a primary way to access the Internet, but the FCC has left management of those phones in a regulatory gray area in which phone companies are free to make their own rules,” King went on to say. “If you’re paying more for less, that’s not exactly a good deal.”

The pay-as-you-go market isn’t all that niche, either. At the end of 2011, about 1 out of 4 wireless subscribers used prepaid plans.

Sprint’s prepaid service, which also includes the Boost Mobile brand, has been the carrier’s lone area of growth as contract customers have fled, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Less Affluent Expected to Adopt iPhone When it Comes to Virgin Mobile, Insiders Warn Prepaid Market is Unregulated

You Ready for ‘The Wire: The Musical’ Starring Michael Kenneth Williams? [Video]

You Ready for 'The Wire: The Musical' Starring Michael Kenneth Williams? [Video]

OK, so it’s a joke.

The cast of HBO’s “The Wire” partnered with “Funny or Die” to bring us this gem.

Funny or Die’s synopsis:

Michael Kenneth Williams stars alongside Sonja Sohn, Larry Gillard Jr., Andre Royo & Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from “The Wire” in “The Wire: The Musical” where they will allow you to experience America’s failing drug war through the magic of song!

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