EBONY Magazine Commissions Street Artist Shepard Fairey to Illustrate Trayvon Martin

Graphic designer and illustrator Shepard Fairey, who created Barack Obama’s 2009 “Hope” poster, has illustrated a new figure: Trayvon Martin.

via Fairey’s blog: I have followed Trayvon’s case closely and I think any compassionate human being can relate to Trayvon as a brother or son and would want to see a thorough investigation into the killing of an unarmed person. In my portrait I wanted to emphasize Trayvon’s humanity as well as the public outcry for a just investigation into his death.


Obama Holds 34-Point Lead Over Romney Among Registered Latino Voters

Obama Holds 34-Point Lead Over Romney Among Registered Latino Voters

President Obama holds a 34-point lead over GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney among registered Latino voters, according to a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll of Latino respondents. Despite broken immigration promises and a record number of deportations Latinos continue to support the President.

MSNBC’s Mark Murray unravels the poll’s findings:

In this survey, Obama holds a 34-point lead over Romney among registered Latino voters, 61 to 27 percent. In 2008, according to the exit polls, Obama defeated McCain among this key voting bloc, 67 to 31 percent.

In addition, Obama’s approval rating among all Latino adults stands at 61 percent (compared with 48 percent of all Americans in the new NBC/WSJ poll), and approval of his handling of the economy is at 54 percent (versus 43 percent overall).

Meanwhile, Romney is struggling with Latinos, the poll shows. Just 26 percent view him positively, while 35 percent see him in a negative light. By comparison, Obama’s positive/negative score among Latinos is 58/23 percent.

The NBC/WSJ/Telemundo survey — an oversample from the just-released NBC/WSJ poll — was conducted May 16-21 of 300 adults who identified themselves as coming from a Latino or Spanish-speaking background. That sample includes 119 interviews that were conducted in Spanish.

Poll: People of Color More Likely to Support Gay Marriage Than Whites

Poll: People of Color More Likely to Support Gay Marriage Than Whites

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found 53 percent of U.S. voters believe gay marriage should be legal, a record shift in public opinion from just six years ago when support was at 36 percent. The poll also found people of color are more likely to support gay marriage than whites with black support at record high.

The Washington Post explains the the findings:

The poll also finds that 59 percent of African Americans say they support same-sex marriage, up from an average of 41 percent in polls leading up to Obama’s announcement of his new position on the matter. Though statistically significant, it is a tentative result because of the relatively small sample of black voters in the poll.

The poll comes two weeks after Obama unexpectedly endorsed same-sex marriage after a year and a half of “evolving” on the subject. Gay rights groups predicted the president’s announcement would have a far-reaching impact on public opinion, in part because Obama described how he came to his own decision, referring to his gay friends and the influence of his young daughters, Sasha and Malia.

“This is why they call it a bully pulpit, and why presidential leadership extends far beyond debating Congress,” said Kai Wright,’s Editorial Director. “Reactionary politics have always found a powerful tool in fear, in stirring horrific fantasies that the sky will fall if we strip away layers of privilege and exclusion. My family will hate me if I come out. Voters will hate me if I stand up for what I believe. But polls have shown consistently that when LGBT people and their allies stand up and lead, people in all communities follow.”

Kanye West, Beyonce Lead BET Awards Nominations

Kanye West, Beyonce Lead BET Awards Nominations

The nominees for the 2012 BET Awards were announced Tuesday and leading the way with seven nominations is Kanye West. Beyoncé followed with six nominations, Jay-Z received five nominations.

“We are massively excited about having Sam Jackson, the world’s biggest box office star, host The BET Awards 12,” said Stephen G. Hill, president of music programming and specials, BET Networks. “His wit, presence and gigantic personality are the perfect match for our show.”

The Avengers star Samuel L. Jackson is set to host the July 1 awards ceremony, to be held at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium.

Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown are slated to perform at the awards show.

Proposed Book Project ‘My White Friends’ Explores Photography’s Description of Race

Photographer Myra Greene has been exploring photography’s description of race and the challenges of describing whiteness by photographing her white friends for the past 10-years. “My White Friends” is a collection of Greene’s photographs that she’s now trying to develop in to a book.

Greene recently started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for her book, the New York Times’ “Lens” blog interviewed her recently about her project and provides more insight:

Myra Greene grew up in New York, where she was used to being around people of different races. But as she embarked on her photographic career, her work and travels took her to places where she was the only African-American.

And she knew it.

“I’m always thinking about race,” she said. “I recognize it when I’m the only black person in a room. My white friends will notice I’m the only black person, too. But they don’t notice a room full of white people.”

Meet the Nguyen Seniors Whose Yearbook Quotes Went Viral

Meet the Nguyen Seniors Whose Yearbook Quotes Went Viral

Meet Presentation High School seniors Alexandra, Angela, Angelica, Elizabeth, Emily, Isabella, Madeline, and Vi Nguyen who submitted senior quotes for the yearbook that once combined read “We know what you’re thinking, and no, we’re not related!”

A picture of the yearbook first spread around San Jose, Calif. where the young women attend high school but it quickly made international international headlines appearing on “Gawker,” London’s “Daily Mail” and they even had a segment on CBS’s “Inside Edition.”

The San Jose Mercury News caught up with the Nguyens:

A few months ago, Presentation High School senior Isabella Nguyen thought it would be funny if she and her friends — who all share the same last name — used their senior quotes in the yearbook to spell out a message: “We know what you’re thinking, and no, we’re not related.”

That message went viral this week. And the eight students — who actually include twin sisters — have become mini-celebrities caught in a media frenzy that even they’ve referred to as “Nguyen-sanity.”

Each of the students at the all-girls Catholic school in San Jose — Alexandra Nguyen, Angela Nguyen, Angelica Nguyen, Elizabeth Nguyen, Emily Nguyen, Isabella Nguyen, Madeline Nguyen and Vi Nguyen — had a word or two from the phrase printed beneath their names in the yearbook, which students got Monday.

The Nguyen seniors say they’re ready for even more coverage.

“We’re shooting to be on ‘Ellen’ or the ‘Today’ show,” said Isabella Nguyen.

Donald Glover Seen Canoodling With Lena Dunham on Set of ‘Girls’

Donald Glover Seen Canoodling With Lena Dunham on Set of 'Girls'

Last week the creator of HBO’s “Girls” Lena Dunham tweeted a picture of Donald Glover on the set of the show that just started filming it’s second season, then the New York post published a photo of both stars sitting on a stoop together with flirtatious body language, now Dunham is staying tightlipped about the whole thing.

“Even though the show [from week to week] is just a slight shift in people’s emotional landscapes, I like to act like we’re protecting state secrets,” Dunham told

Dunham’s “Girls” has received criticism for the lack of diversity on the series but she recently told NPR’s “Fresh Air” the show’s second season would be more diverse.

“Now we have the opportunity to do a second season and, believe me, that will be remedied,” Dunham said. “I’m really excited to introduce new characters into the world of the show. Some of them are great actors of color.”

Now everyone is dying to know if Glover is a new love interest on the show. What say you?


Louisiana School Psychologist: ‘Young Black Thugs Who Won’t Follow the Law Need to Be Put Down’

The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed two federal civil rights complaints against the Jefferson Parish school system for allegedly discriminating against black and disabled students and sending them to alternative schools, where they often languish for months or even years before returning to school. Now the civil rights organization is highlighting racially charged comments made by one of the district’s psychologists as evidence of potential racial biases.

“Young Black Thugs who won’t follow the law need to be put down not incarcerated. Put down like the Dogs they are!” read one tweet made by Mark Traina, the Jefferson Parish school psychologist, who has worked with alternative schools and in central administration.

On Monday, the Times-Picayune reported Traina worked in central administration with the process of referring children to alternative campuses.

In another tweet about the Republican presidential primaries in March, Traina wrote, “I grew up in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana - I am a Wallace Man at Heart!”

“It’s particularly alarming to have someone who works for the school system in a position of authority be pro-segregation,” Eden Heilman, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center told, referring to Traina’s remark about George Wallace, segregationist governor of Alabama.

“The Southern Poverty Center knows that these allegations are ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE!,” Traina wrote in an education forum on last week. “Everyone knows that our jails throughout the United States are disproportionately filled with black people. Why would the rate be any different in an educational environment,” Traina went on to ask.

The Southern Poverty Law Center complaint filed with the department’s Office of Civil Rights claims the district’s alternative school policies have resulted in students with disabilities accounting for 52 percent of referrals to alternative schools, when they represent only 11 percent of the district’s student population. Black students account for 78 percent of all alternative school referrals even though they are only 46 percent of the district’s student population.

50 Percent of Those Exonerated in National Registry are Black

50 Percent of Those Exonerated in National Registry are Black

The University of the Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law have partnered to launch a National Registry of Exonerations that keeps an up to date list of all known exonerations in the United States since 1989. The group’s inaugural report released this week reveals 50 percent of false convictions are of black defendants.

The National Registry of Exoneration documents include 891 exonerations with summaries of the cases and searchable data on each. Their latest report focuses on the 873 exonerations that were entered in the Registry as of March 1, 2012. 

Below are key findings from the Center’s study of the 873 exonerated defendants as printed in the report:

  • 93% are men, 7% women;
  • 50% are black, 38% white, 11% Hispanic and 2% Native American or Asian;
  • 37% were exonerated with the help of DNA evidence; 63% without DNA; as a group, they spent more than 10,000 years in prison - an average of more than 11 years each.
  • Since 2000, exonerations have averaged 52 a year - one a week - 40% of which include DNA evidence.
  • The 873 exonerations are mostly rape and murder cases, but the data also include
    many more exonerations for other crimes than previously known.

For all exonerations, the most common causal factors that contributed to the underlying false convictions are perjury or false accusation (51%), mistaken eyewitness identification (43%) and official misconduct (42%) - followed by false or misleading forensic evidence (24%) and false confession (16%).

Listen to the Last Song Whitney Houston Recorded for ‘Sparkle’ Soundtrack

Listen to the Last Song Whitney Houston Recorded for 'Sparkle' Soundtrack

The last song Whitney Houston ever recorded has leaked online. Produced by R. Kelly, the song is called “Celebrate” and is a duet with Jordin Sparks who appears alongside Houston in the upcoming film “Sparkle.”

According to TMZ, the song performed four days before Houston’s death.

Most immigrants Sent Back to Mexico Detained at Work or Home, Border Apprehensions Decline

About one-in-six migrants sent back to Mexico (17%) were apprehended at work or at home in 2010, according to a recent Pew Hispanic Center analysis. The rise in home or work apprehensions is a pretty significant jump from previous years—in 2005, only 3% were apprehended at home or at work.

By contrast, a declining share of Mexican migrants report being apprehended at the border—25% in 2010, compared with 33% in 2005 and nearly half (49%) in 1995.

While the number of people crossing from Mexico into the United States has fallen to 40 year lows, the rates of deportation have reached historic highs.

“The new data unveils what we already knew: as migration wanes, immigration enforcement is shifting gears, moving increasingly to the interior of the United States and is targeting people who’ve lived here for long periods, have homes and jobs and families here,” said’s investigative reporter Seth Freed Wessler.

“As previous Pew data shows, nearly two thirds of undocumented immigrants have lived in the country for more than a decade and nearly half have children here. Considering these shifting demographics, the fallout of the government’s insistence on deporting 400,000 people annually is likely to accumulate to toxic levels,” Wessler went on to say.

Many of those deported are parents who leave children behind. Between January and June of 2011, the United States carried out more than 46,000 deportations of the parents of U.S.-citizen children, according to federal data obtained by’s publisher, the Applied Research Center.

Jay Smooth On Not Freaking Out About Nonwhite Births Becoming Majority

Jay Smooth On Not Freaking Out About Nonwhite Births Becoming Majority

Jay Smooth, host of New York’s WBAI-FM hip-hop show “Underground Railroad,” just released a new video that speaks to those that have been left uneasy with news that for the first time in history babies of color are the majority.

The video comes via Animal New York who will be premiering two new Jay Smooth videos a week.

TAGS: Jay Smooth

Dharun Ravi Sentenced to 30 Days, May Not Be Deported

Dharun Ravi Sentenced to 30 Days, May Not Be Deported

On Monday, Dharun Ravi, the 20-year-old Indian immigrant, convicted on 15 counts of illegal spying on his Rutgers dorm mate was sentenced to 30 days in jail. The story made national headlines after Ravi’s gay roommate Tyler Clementi discovered Ravi was spying on him and committed suicide days later.

“I do not believe he hated Tyler Clementi,” Judge Glenn Berman told the court. “He had no reason to, but I do believe he acted out of colossal insensitivity.”

ABC News has more details:

Three of the convictions carried a sentence of five to 10 years in prison. Because Ravi is a citizen of India, and is in the U.S. on a green card, he could be deported following his sentencing. The U.S. deports most criminals convicted of felonies, with the exception of thefts of amounts under $10,000.

Ravi had previously rejected a plea deal that would have spared him any jail time or the threat of deportation, but put him on probation and would have required him to perform community service.

Ravi faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and any jail time will likely also mean deportation for the Indian native.

NAACP Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

NAACP Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) passed a resolution Saturday endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right. The 103-year old civil rights group says their marriage equality endorsement is a continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the law.

“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people,” Board Chairwoman Roslyn M. Brock said in a statement. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”

The NAACP announcement comes just two weeks after President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage.

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people,” said NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous.’s Editorial Director Kai Wright says it’s difficult to identify a more “traditional,” mainstream black institution than the NAACP’s national board.

“Surely this vote can finally put to rest the weird debate over whether black people will abandon the president over his change of heart—and importantly, not change of policy—on LGBT relationships. To the contrary, his comments are forcing overdue conversations and leading all kinds of people to come out of the closet in their love and support for the LGBT people in their lives and communities,” Wright said.

Second Grader Removed From School for Honoring MLK with Blackface

Second Grader Removed From School for Honoring MLK with Blackface

A white Colorado second-grade student was sent home from school last week after he showed up to school in blackface. Sean King, 7, covered his face in black paint to portray Martin Luther King Jr., as part of an assignment that required students to dress up as a historical figure.

“They thought it was inappropriate and it will be disrespectful to black people and I say it’s not,” Sean told Colorado’s NewsChannel 13. “I like black people. It’s just a costume and I don’t want to insult anybody.”

King was removed from school after he refused to wash the black paint of his face.

“Sean seems to be a decent kid who wanted to honor Dr. King in some way. I think it would be good for the young man to understand and his family to also understand why there are still people who are offended by black face worn by white people,” Steve Klein from The King Center in Atlanta told NewsChannel 13.

“There is a disconnect here that young people need to know their history a little better,” Klein went on to say.

King’s school, Meridian Ranch Elementary School, has an estimated 600 students. According to the most recent public records 79.5% of the student body is white, 4.4% black and 10.9% Latino.

TAGS: Blackface MLK

American Apparel Ad Uses ‘California Farmer’ As Accessory in Ad

American Apparel Ad Uses 'California Farmer' As Accessory in Ad

American Apparel is no stranger to starting controversies with their hyper-sexual ads that feature young women in provocative poses. But the clothing manufacturer seems to have kicked it up a notch to get some attention by including a Latino “California farmer” who’s engaging in “public relations” with a young white women.

The Summer 2011 ad seems to have gone under radar until Comedian Fahim Anwar tweeted a screen capture of the ad on Saturday.

“Robin a USC student, studying Public Relations, with Raul a California farmer in Denim and Chambray,” reads the caption under the image of a Latino man and a young white women holding on to his arm.

“American Apparel has officially lost their minds,” Anwar wrote in his tweet.

There is something that feels off in the ad that stars Raul and Robin. Both subjects look uncomfortable with each other and as a result both subjects look like props.

American Apparel has been widely recognized as an ally in the immigration reform movement even after working conditions in their Los Angeles factory have come under question. The company’s signature white T-shirts with the phase “legalize L.A.” are a staple at immigration protest in Los Angeles and until 2009 the company hired undocumented workers that according to the company were paid a living wage. However, in Septermber 2009, after a long fight with ICE and threats of a raid, the company fired 1,800 undocumented workers.

Still something feels off with the ad. Maybe it would have been better if they had taken both subjects in to the studio and shot them behind a plain backdrop like American Apparel does with most ads and included a caption about agricultural workers and how they’re paid so little that chances are they can’t even afford a plain $18 American Apparel t-shirt.

Here’s Your Weekend Donna Summer Soundtrack

Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco and five-time Grammy winner died Thursday at the age of 63. She left behind a trove of songs and performances. Her distinctive voice and disco beats made her a legendary pop culture and musical force.

Here now, a collection of Summer’s live performances of staff favorites. These are the songs whose 8-tracks, records, CDs and mp3s we staffers remember turning up so we could dance with our families and friends. Thanks, Donna Summer, for giving us the soundtrack to our many nights cutting up the rug in the club or on the living room floor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Federal Rules Aim to Curb Sexual Assault in Prison

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

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

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

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

Calif. Court to Decide if Undocumented Immigrant Can Practice Law

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

The Silicon Valley’s Mercury with more details:

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

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

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

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

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

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