Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Why Black Gay and Transgender Americans Need More than Marriage Equality [Report]

On Thursday, the Center for American Progress (CAP) launched the Fighting Injustice to Reach Equality (FIRE) Initiative in conjunction with the release of the report, “Jumping Beyond the Broom: Why Black Gay and Transgender Americans Need More than Marriage Equality,” which makes policy recommendations that could eliminate the social, health, and economic disparities faced by gay and transgender people of color.

“Despite significant gains in securing basic rights for LGBT Americans over the past decade, the quality of life for black gay and transgender Americans has remained virtually unchanged,”  Aisha Moodie-Mills, CAP Advisor on LGBT Policy and Racial Justice said in a statement.

“Marriage equality is vital to overall progress, but marriage alone is not a silver bullet to reduce the disparities black gay and transgender populations face.”

According to the report families headed by black same-sex couples are more likely to raise their children in poverty, black lesbians are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases, and black gay and transgender youth are more likely to end up homeless and living on the streets.

The report lays out policy recommendations for addressing economic insecurity, low education attainment and wellness disparities that could improve the lives of gay and transgender people of color.

On Thursday evening Colorlines.com’s very own news editor Jamilah King moderated a panel at the launch of CAP’s FIRE Initiative to discuss the new report. Watch the video of the panel below and visit the Center for American Progress to download the full report.



Just One in Six Deportations Cancelled in Obama’s Pilot Review

A review ordered by the Obama administration of almost 7,900 deportation cases before the immigration court in Colorado found 1,300 immigrants — 16 percent — posed no security risk and will be allowed to remain in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security plans to extend the reviews in the coming months to all of about 300,000 deportation cases before the courts nationwide.

The New York TImes provides more background:

The court review is part of a broad effort by the administration, as President Obama heads into his re-election campaign, to ease the impact of enforcement on immigrant and Latino communities by stopping some deportations while also reducing huge backlogs swamping the immigration courts. Based on an early projection of results from pilot projects here and in Baltimore, as many as 39,000 immigrants across the country could see their deportation cases closed.

Colorlines.com’s immigration reporter Julianne Hing said many immigrant rights groups are disappointed that more deportation cases were not canceled under the review, but “the Obama administration chose to be very conservative here.”

Hing also said it’s worth paying attention to the fact that “the Obama administration’s definition of who presents no security threat to the U.S. and therefore should be allowed to stay in the country, is very controversial.” According to the NY Times, even those with no criminal record were denied. The Obama administration’s definition of who, then, constitutes a high priority for removal, is a very wide swath of the undocumented immigrant population.

“The Obama administration announced the deportation review last year, frankly, as a way to appease Latino voters,” Hing added.

“It’s one of a handful of small administrative things they’re doing here and there to help immigrants, but the fact is the Obama administration is still also committed to an aggressive deportation agenda,” Hing went on to say.

Strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Could Protect Latino and Black Borrowers

From 2004 to 2008, only 6.2 percent of white borrowers with credit scores of 660 and above ended up with higher-rate mortgages. Latinos and blacks with good credit scores, however, were three times as likely to end up with higher-rate mortgages, according to an analysis published Thursday by Algernon Austin, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy program.

epi.pngThe Fair Isaac Corporation—the company that created the FICO score—classifies scores of 660 and above as “good,” but  Austin explains that black and Latino borrowers with a credit score of 660+ still received higher interest rate loans that resulted in higher foreclosure rates. “Higher foreclosure rates of these groups help explain why Latinos and blacks have seen such dramatic declines in wealth,” Austin wrote in his analysis available on EPI’s site.

“Discriminatory housing practices are one reason why our country needs a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” Austin went on to explain. “A powerful CFPB helps make sure that everyone is treated equally and fairly by the financial services industry.”

Colorlines.com’s editor Kai Wright points out that been a recurring claim since the beginning of the housing crisis that people who didn’t deserve loans got them. “The not-so-subtext of that has been an attack on government programs that encouraged lending to black and Latino borrowers. The claim has been demonstrably false from the start, though it still gets repeated without challenge in mainstream media.”

“This study is but the latest to make the point clear: We’re in this crisis because the financial sector deliberately preyed upon borrowers of color, who were left vulnerable after being locked out of the legitimate credit market for generations,” Wright went on to say. 

Congress Postpones SOPA and PIPA Until ‘Wider Agreement’

Congress Postpones SOPA and PIPA Until 'Wider Agreement'

Two days after massive internet protests, lawmakers on Friday indefinitely postponed anti-piracy legislation SOPA and PIPA.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he has delayed a vote on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) scheduled for Tuesday.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith then said his panel would not consider the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) until a compromise was reached.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid’s statement, in it’s entirety:

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act.

“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved. Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices. We live in a country where people rightfully expect to be fairly compensated for a day’s work, whether that person is a miner in the high desert of Nevada, an independent band in New York City, or a union worker on the back lots of a California movie studio.

“I admire the work that Chairman Leahy has put into this bill. I encourage him to continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans’ intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the internet. We made good progress through the discussions we’ve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks.”

More analysis coming soon.

TAGS: PIPA SOPA

Rick Perry’s Real Legacy? His 2011 Executions (A Dance Video)

Rick Perry's Real Legacy? His 2011 Executions (A Dance Video)

In honor of Texas Governor Rick Perry executing his presidential campaign, Adriel Luis, a Colorlines.com contributor and artist based in Brooklyn, NY, made this video to remind all of us what Perry’s real legacy is.

In 2011, the United States carried out 43 executions. Texas was responsible for 1/3 of them.

There are currently 321 prisoners on death row in Texas: 126 of them are black, 97 white and 94 Latino, according to the NAACP’s quarterly report “Death Row USA”

Singing Legend Etta James Dies at 73

Singing Legend Etta James Dies at 73

Etta James, an icon of mid-century soul and R&B, has passed away in Riverside, California, after a long battle with leukemia. She was 73.

“This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” her longtime friend and manager, Lupe De Leon told CNN. “She was a true original who could sing it all — her music defied category.

She would have turned 74 Wednesday.


TAGS: Etta James

Hollywood Unions Blast Google After More Than 7 Million Sign SOPA Petition

Hollywood Unions Blast Google After More Than 7 Million Sign SOPA Petition

Update 1/20/2012 2:19pm EST: Congress Postpones SOPA and PIPA Until ‘Wider Agreement’

On Wednesday more than 7 million people in the U.S. signed Google’s petition urging Congress to stop #SOPA and #PIPA, the two bills that would censor the web. The petition and other actions worked: On January 18th SOPA only had 31 opponents in congress as of today there’s 122 opponents.

But the unions and guilds representing Hollywood crews that support the bills and donate millions to political causes are just beginning their fight.

The LA Times describes a letter sent by Hollywood Unions to members of the Senate urging to maintain their support SOPA and PIPA:

“We know the pressure that you are getting to renege on your commitment,” the guilds wrote in a letter to Democratic senators from New York, Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, co-sponsors of the Protect Intellectual Property Act, which will be taken up by the Senate next week. “We are the voice of thousands of individuals who thank you for your standing steadfast against this barrage and in support of the jobs of our members.”

The letter, signed by unions representing more than 400,000 actors, directors, performers and crafts people, defended the bill, which has been blasted by major tech companies as an impediment to free speech that could force some legitimate companies to shut down. But the unions accused Google and other critics of distorting facts about what the bill would actually do.

“The Protect IP Act does nothing more than make it possible for the U.S. government to handle illegal foreign websites in the same manner it can already do — and has been doing — with illegal sites. It has no impact at all on the legal U.S. sites that people are being told will disappear…. We are greatly offended that our advocacy of this bill has turned into an implication that we promote censorship. Our commitment to the First Amendment is decades old and long established — it is a matter of public record from long before the word “Internet” was part of our vocabulary.”

The letter was signed by the Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild of America, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the American Federation of Musicians.

Currently there are more democrats than republicans that still support SOPA and PIPA, according to ProPublica.

Among Democrats that support SOPA are Nevada Senator Harry Reid and CA. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. CA. Congresswoman Karen Bass and Rep. Joe Baca still among the SOPA co-sponsor as well.

For the latest numbers of who’s opposing and supporting SOPA and PIPA visit ProPublica’s interactive database.

Here’s the Video of Obama Singing Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ Last Night

President Obama has officially turned the being charming to get re-elected button on.

While speaking Thursday night at a fundraiser held at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, Obama sang a bit of Al Green’s classic hit “Let’s Stay Together.” Watch the video above.


P.S.: Pre-2009, when Obama was still a US Senator, he belted out a Diane Warwick tune too.

The Miraculous Story of Amit Gupta’s Bone Marrow Match

The Miraculous Story of Amit Gupta's Bone Marrow Match

As Amit Gupta learned after being diagnosed with acute leukemia in September, finding a suitable bone-marrow donor is extremely difficult but finding one who is South Asian like Gupta, who is originally from India is close to impossible because there aren’t many South Asian donors in the bone-marrow database.

“South Asians are severely under-represented in the bone marrow pool, and I need help,” Gupta wrote on AmitGuptaNeedsYou.com, a website he started to help find a bone marrow match. For someone of South Asian descent, the odds of finding a matching bone marrow donor are currently only 1 in 20,000.

On Wednesday, Gupta announced that a donor who matched his profile had been found.

“After over 100 drives organized by friends, family, and strangers, celebrity call-outs, a bazillion reblogs (7000+!), tweets, and Facebook posts, press, fundraising and international drives organized by tireless friends, and a couple painful false starts, I’ve got a 10/10 matched donor! You all literally helped save my life. (And the lives of many others.)”

Gupta started his treatment today. Today’s love goes to him.

Send him lots of love, strength and courage so his spirits remain high. And show him some love by visiting marrow.org and register to be a donor—you’ll get a kit in the mail, you’ll rub a cotton swab on your cheek and mail it back. That’s it.




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.

Tyler Perry says Films with All Black Cast on Verge of Extinction

Tyler Perry says Films with All Black Cast on Verge of Extinction

Last week it was George Lucas saying Hollywood studios don’t fund films with black leads and this week we’ve got Tyler Perry saying “movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct.”

“THAT’S RIGHT, EXTINCT!” Perry, the most financially successful black film director and producer in history, wrote on his website Tuesday.

An excerpt from Perry’s letter to fans:

Unfortunately, movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct. THAT’S RIGHT, EXTINCT! Ask any executive at a Hollywood Studio why, and most of them will tell you one of two things. The first thing they’ll say is that DVD sales have become very soft, so it’s hard for a movie with an all black cast to break-even. Secondly they’ll say, most movies are now dependent on foreign sales to be successful and most “black” movies don’t sell well in foreign markets. So what that means is you will begin to see less and less films that star an all black cast. Isn’t that sad in a 2012 America? Somewhere along the way we still haven’t realized that we are more alike then not. …

I thought that as black people in Hollywood, this is just our reality, but I quickly realized that this is not racism. What made me realize this is I had a conversation with Mr. Star Wars himself, George Lucas, and he was telling me that he was having the same problem with Red Tails. I was blown away! Red Tails is an important story about, not just black history, but American history about the Tuskegee Airmen. It has an all-star African American cast, including Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard, which opens this Friday. He went on to say that he brought the movie idea of Red Tails to several studios and no one wanted to make this film…. AND THIS IS GEORGE LUCAS! Not to be deterred, he put up his own money, shot the movie then took it back to those same studios, and they wanted nothing to do with it. One of them even refused to see the film, citing the above mentioned problems.

Perry’s salary has now outgrossed the rest of the entertainment industry but his movie budgets have not. On a guest appearance on the ‘Daily Show’ Lucas pointed out Perry’s movies are made on a very low budget and so they’re not a risk for studios to take on. It’s a win-win situation only for those involved because Perry has a loyal audience.

Still, some have some good suggestions for Perry: Put your money where your mouth is.

“Mr Perry, one way that you of all people could help ensure that movies starring all African American casts don’t become entirely extinct is to use some of that money and power you now have accumulated, to help finance and/or produce films by black filmmakers with all black casts - especially up-and-comers,” Tambay wrote on IndieWire’s ‘Shadow and Act” blog.

(h/t Shadow and Act)

Obama Re-election Campaign Hires Black Voter Outreach Director

On Wednesday the Obama re-election campaign announced they’ve hired Stefanie Brown, national field director for the NAACP, to be the African-American Vote Director for the campaign’s Operation Vote outreach effort.

The Root’s Cynthia Gordy has more details:

“Stefanie has dedicated her life to empowering people of color to organize and advocate for justice and equality in their communities,” said Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager. “She is a natural fit for a campaign who’s fueled by its grassroots strength. Stefanie’s youth, commitment and proven ability to mobilize and energize voters will be an invaluable asset to the campaign.”

Brown, 31, also directs the NAACP Youth and College Division. Under her leadership, the organization’s national civic-engagement campaigns registered more than 200,000 people to vote in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. As the Obama campaign’s African-American-vote director, she will be charged with building a national program to engage black voters and get out their vote. She starts in her new role next month.

“African-American voters were among the president’s strongest supporters in 2008, and I am thrilled to help build that fervor again for 2012,” said Brown. “The president is going to need our community more than ever this year, and I look forward to working together to win a victory on Nov. 6.”

Before her time at the NAACP, Brown coordinated an HIV/AIDS prevention program targeting black and Latino youth in Cleveland. She was also named one of Essence.com’s “Top 10 Emerging Political Leaders of 2010.”

Massachusetts Gov. Patrick Signs Transgender Equality Bill Into Law

Massachusetts Gov. Patrick  Signs Transgender Equality Bill Into Law

On Thursday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick held a ceremonial signing for H.3810, “An Act Relative To Gender Identity,” which now legally protects transgender individuals from discrimination in housing, education, employment and credit. The new law also provides additional civil rights and protections from hate crimes.

“No individual should face discrimination because of who they are,” Governor Patrick said in a press release. “This legislation gives Massachusetts the necessary tools to stop hate crimes against transgender people and to treat others fairly. I am proud to sign it.”

The transgender equal rights law will make Massachusetts the 16th state to treat transgender citizens as a protected class. The law modifies language in Massachusetts statute to protect all individuals from discrimination, regardless of gender identities. This change will create equal protections for transgender individuals seeking employment, housing, credit and education. There are approximately 33,000 transgender residents living in Massachusetts.

“The passage of this bill is going to make an immediate difference in the lives of the state’s transgender residents, who desperately need anti-discrimination protections in housing and employment. I have been so moved by the courage of constituents who’ve shared their stories with lawmakers and shown the critical need for these civil rights protections,” Massachusetts Representative Carl Sciortino said in a statement.

The bill was signed in to law late last year but Governor Patrick held the ceremonial signing at the state house this morning.

In 2004, Massachusetts became the sixth jurisdiction in the world (after the Netherlands, Belgium, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec) to legalize same-sex marriage. It was the first U.S. state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

UC President is Seriously Considering Students’ Plan That Eliminates Tuition

 UC President is Seriously Considering Students' Plan That Eliminates Tuition

On Wednesday, a group of students at UC Riverside presented a proposal to UC President Mark Yudof that would abolish tuition - and he’s actually considering it.

“We will give it a close look,” Yudoff said after praising the students’ “constructive idea,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“I have directed Executive Vice President Nathan Brostrom and our best number crunchers to review it thoroughly,” Yudoff went on to say.

The University of California system is the state’s public university system with a combined student body of about 235,000 students. In recent years it’s seen it’s state and federal funding diminish and it’s instituted regular tuition increases. They’ve also eliminated course sections, initiated staff lay offs and skip maintenance projects. (UC Police have also been busy pepper spraying students.)

The plan the students have devised could actually result with UC system getting billions of more dollars in the end. The San Francisco Chronicle describes the UC Student Investment Proposal”:

Instead of paying tuition - currently at $12,192, not including mandatory fees, room, board or books - the “UC Student Investment Proposal” would require that students commit to paying 5 percent of their annual income for 20 years after graduating.

“Under this plan, no undergraduate student would have to worry about paying for their UC education while they are in school,” Chris LoCascio, president of Fix UC - the group of UC Riverside students that developed the idea - said in a presentation to the regents.

The students calculate that, under the most conservative estimates, UC could triple its revenue over the next two decades to $4.6 billion. The plan would be phased in over several years, and students say UC would begin receiving more income from graduates than from tuition by year seven.

The Chronicle crunched the numbers and found that a UC graduate making an annual salary of $50,000 for 20 years would end up paying $50,000 for tuition in the end—slightly more than the $48,768 they would currently pay over four years if UC tuition were frozen at its current level.



Jay-Z Has No Plans of Dropping the Word ‘Bitch’ From Lyrics

The reports were wrong. The story was picked up by the Daily Mail, NME and New York magazine. But when E! News asked sources close to Jay-Z if he was indeed dropping the b-word from his lyrics, they said the rap mogul and new dad never said such a thing.

“A source close to the rapper’s camp [said] the poem in question is not by Jay-Z,” the sources said about a poem that was allegedly written by Jay-Z that explained since the birth of his daughter he would not use the word ‘bitch.’

Another denial came via a tweet from the Roots’ leader, ?uestlove: “This just in: [Jay-Z] to me: ‘B*aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatch!!!!!!!! and tweet that.’”

Rick Perry, GOP’s Most Viable Candidate for Latino Vote Drops Out of Race

Rick Perry, GOP's Most Viable Candidate for Latino Vote Drops Out of Race

Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry announced his withdrawal from the presidential race on Thursday.

“Rick Perry seemed the most promising new GOP candidate at the beginning of the summer—-he ended a grant program that targeted communities of color, a move that could have given him a leg up among Latino voters looking for a conservative to vote for in the general election,” Colorlines.com’s Shani O. Hilton said about Perry’s announcement.

In 2001, Perry signed the Texas DREAM act — the country’s first law of that kind — which gave undocumented students who have completed at least three years of classes in a Texas high school before graduation, entrance to any Texas state school at in-state tuition rates

“But between disavowing policies that supported Texas’s large immigrant population, pivoting on immigration policy, and his spectacular fizzle at debates, it was his race to lose. And lose he did,” Hilton went on to say.

Perry has endorsed former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Beyoncé is the Whitest She’s Ever Been in New Album Promo

Beyoncé is the Whitest She's Ever Been in New Album Promo

The new promo ad released by Beyoncé Knowles’ camp to promote the 2011 album “4,” finds Beyoncé with blonde hair, bleached eyebrows and the lightest skin we’ve ever seen on her. 

“Colorism is unfortunately still an issue today. Dark skin is considered less than light skin in the in the minds of many in our community and in the media,” Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry, co-directors of the documentary “Dark Girls,” recently told The Grio.

A 2003 study also found that 90 percent of the women entering Arizona clinics for mercury poisoning were Chicanas who had been using skin-lightening creams. A Harvard medical school professor notes: “These women had tried so desperately to whiten their skin color that they had poisoned their bodies by applying mercury-based ‘beauty creams’.”

Below is a retrospective of the many shade of Ms. Knowles. See for yourself and discuss. 


2003

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2004

2004-beyonce.jpg


2006

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2008

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2011

…yes, that’s Beyoncé sporting blackface to honor Fela Kuti.

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2012

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Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web!




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To see ███ Love posts visit our Celebrate Love page.

Artists to Watch: Azealia Banks and Light Asylum

This week’s edition of artists to watch includes two musicians.

First up is Azealia Banks, a 21-year-old Harlem rapper, who released a new song Monday that samples Aaliya’s 1996 “One in a Million.” Listen to “NEEDSUMLOVE” below. (She was signed on to Universal Music 2-hours ago. Really.)



shannon-funches-nyt.jpgShannon Funchess in NYT’s T Magazine.

Next up we have Brooklyn based duo Light Asylum, who on Tuesday premiered a new music video for the song “Skull Fuct.”

Light Asylum’s frontwoman Shannon Funchess’s is in charge of singing and drums. Her voice has appeared on tracks by bands like Telepathe and TV on the Radio, but it’s this latest project that takes her contralto voice to new territories. 

Watch their new video below. And watch yourself there’s heavy strobe light use.




Obama Rejects Keystone Oil Sands Pipeline Application

The Obama administration rejected a bid to expand the controversial Keystone oil sands pipeline Wednesday, saying the deadline imposed by congress did not leave sufficient time to conduct the necessary review.

“Our Lakota people oppose this pipeline because of the potential contamination of the surface water and of the Oglala aquifer,” Deb White Plume, a Lakota activist, told Colorlines.com last fall. “We have thousands of ancient and historical cultural resources that would be destroyed across our treaty lands.”

Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline:

Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.

This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people. I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil. Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down. In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security -including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico - even as we set higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and invest in alternatives like biofuels and natural gas. And we will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.

Weight Watchers Goes After Black Males: Charles Barkley Star of New Campaign

Weight Watcher’s reported a 30% spike in revenue for the first quarter compared to the prior-year period when they first began their “It’s a New Day” campaign starring Jennifer Hudson last year. Now they’ve launched a new campaign that goes after men with former basketball player Charles Barkley endorsing the weight loss program.



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