Can Re-Designing Parks Help Desegregate Philadelphia?

Can Re-Designing Parks Help Desegregate Philadelphia?

The Philadelphia metro area ranks among the most economically segregated in the country. Compared to less populous areas like, say, Orlando, Portland or San Jose, according to a new report, “Segregated City,” the rich and poor in and surrounding the City of Brotherly Love hardly mix. That’s saying a lot considering the trend over the past few decades, even after the Civil Rights Movement, has been to increasingly sort ourselves by income, education and job. Now, a new $11 million project is testing whether the re-design of five Philadelphia public parks and libraries can help beat back segregation and help rich and poor (and racially diverse*) residents connect with each other. The five parks targeted for re-design, along with their new purpose, according to CityLab:

So, Philadelphia metro residents familiar with these park spaces and surrounding neighborhoods: can this project work? During the 20th century, residential segregation was aided and hardened by the placement of our highways and other roadwork. In the 21st century, can craftily re-designed public spaces in any city help slow the country’s trend towards more not less segregation? 

[*Note: Racial segregation tracks with economic segregation of course but, how, differs by group and their share of population in a metro. In general, and compared to other races, low, middle and upper-income whites tend to interact with each other more, regardless of wealth. See the February report for more.]

(h/t CityLab)

Mesa Gunman, Black UVA Student Beaten Bloody, Fed to Increase Interest Rates

Mesa Gunman, Black UVA Student Beaten Bloody, Fed to Increase Interest Rates

Here are some of the stories I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • A white man with Hitler-referencing tattoos on his face shoots six people in four different locations, killing one, in Mesa, Az., where authorities apprehend him unharmed
TAGS: Morning Rush

Some Jay Smooth Wisdom on the Starbucks Controversy

Some Jay Smooth Wisdom on the Starbucks Controversy

Jay Smooth had plenty to say about Starbucks’ new talk-to-your-barista-about-racism campaign on “All In With Chris Hayes” last night.* A sample of what the vlogger, hip-hop DJ and a video producer for Colorlines’ publisher, Race Forward, said: 

The intentions seem noble and I want to keep an open mind, but I think there’s already this strange fixation on ‘conversation’ when it comes to race that you don’t see with other issues we want to take seriously. …  If you look at the DOJ report on Ferguson it does not describe issues that can be addressed by increasing the number of chats in coffee shops. We’re talking about institutional, systemic issues.

Check out the full interview above, and click this link for an open letter to Starbucks and USA Today by Rinku Sen, executive director of Race Forward and publisher of Colorlines.  


Likud Wins, Steel Shards in Kraft Mac & Cheese, K-Dot Sets Spotify Record

Likud Wins, Steel Shards in Kraft Mac & Cheese, K-Dot Sets Spotify Record

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

K-Dot Moves Space and Time to Talk to 2Pac

K-Dot Moves Space and Time to Talk to 2Pac

As the music fades out on “Mortal Man,” the last track on Kendrick Lamar’s brilliant new album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” K-Dot stops rhyming and starts talking—to 2Pac. The conversation is based on a series of interviews from 1994 featuring the slain legend that Miss Info posted.

Maybe it’s the West Coast in me, or maybe it’s the fact 2Pac’s words resonate so true and hard, but the conversation made me shed a tear or two when I first heard it Monday. It still gives me the feels listening to it today. Here’s a short clip:


In this country, a black man only have like five years we can exhibit maximum strength. And that’s right now while you a teenager, while you still strong, while you still wanna lift weights, while you still wanna shoot back. Cause once you turn 30 it’s like they take the heart and soul out of a man, out of a black man in this country. And you don’t wanna fight no more. And if you don’t believe me you can look around. You don’t see no loud-mouth 30-year old motherfuckers.


That’s crazy, because me being one of your [offspring], of the legacy you left behind, I can truly tell you that there’s nothing but turmoil going on. So, I wanted to ask you what you think is the future for me and my generation today?

You’ll have to listen to the track to hear how 2Pac answers:

On “Mortal Man,” Lamar is letting us know he’s not just here for today and he’s not just here for the future—he’s here for the past, to honor and be in conversation with those whose legacy he’s carrying on. He’s also telling us that death doesn’t always have to mean an end.

I also couldn’t help but notice that the way the music fades away is reminiscent of “Sing of Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” the “Good KidM.a.a.d City” track that has a sex worker critiquing K-Dot’s best intentions on his previous album, “Section 80.” In that fade-out his voice slowly disappears after she insists, “I’ll never fade away, I’ll never fade away, I know my fate….” I’m uncertain if Kendrick Lamar meant to point to this track, but either way, he’s legendary enough by now to reference himself. 

[Video] More Parents Share Their ‘Talk’ With Their Black Sons

[Video] More Parents Share Their 'Talk' With Their Black Sons

“Race talk” is having a mainstream moment. First Starbucks wants customers to talk race over morning coffee. Now, The New York Times is launching a new video series “about the state of race relations in America.” 

First up: a five-minute video on ‘The Conversation,’ or, the talk that parents have with their black sons about what their race and gender mean for them in America. “The Talk” first went mainstream during the protests that followed George Zimmerman’s 2012 slaying of Trayvon Martin. This NYT version centers on encounters with police.


New PBS Doc Looks at “School Choice” in Rural South Carolina

New PBS Doc Looks at

Eleven-year-old Rashon Johnson and his single-parent family stars tonight in the PBS premiere of a new documentary, “180 Days: Hartsville,” which asks whether the national preoccupation with “school choice” works in the rural and poor South. The town of Hartsville, where most students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, stands out. It boasts a 92-percent graduation rate; the state average for on-time graduation is about 80 percent. So what’s Hartsville getting right? Watch tonight to find out. (Check local listings for premiere times in your area.)

South Carolina ranks 45th in the nation for overall child well being and 43rd in education, according to KidsCount. And more than half of states with the highest concentration of low-income students are in the South, which is also seeing rapidly increasing Latino enrollment in its K-12 public schools. 

St. Patrick’s Day, Ethics and The Jinx, New Asteroid App

St. Patrick's Day, Ethics and The Jinx, New Asteroid App

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Starbucks, a place where a barista recently told me, “You look like a MARIA!” and wrote that name on my cup when I ordered something, wants to talk about race

Benjamin Booker’s Time Traveling New Video

Benjamin Booker's Time Traveling New Video

Benjamin Booker’s new music video combines two songs: “Slow Coming” and “Wicked Waters.” If you have eight-and-a-half minutes to spare, watch and try to soak it all in: 

San Francisco Police Officers Investigated for Sending Racist Texts

San Francisco Police Officers Investigated for Sending Racist Texts

Four veteran San Francisco Police Department officers are being investigated for having sent racist and homophobic text messages. The messages, exchanged during 2011 and 2012 the San Francisco Chronicle reports, surfaced in connection to a fifth officer, Sgt. Ian Furminger, 48, who was recently convicted in federal court on corruption charges. With more attention being paid to police misconduct and racial bias over the past year, that means in addition to their street interactions, officers’ activity online (i.e., Facebook, Wikipedia) and via text are garnering more scrutiny, too. 

In a May 2012 text message exchange between Furminger and an unnamed officer:

…[he] asked whether he should be worried that the black husband of one of his then-wife’s friends had come over to his home.

The officer responded, “Get ur pocket gun. Keep it available in case the monkey returns to his roots. Its (sic) not against the law to put an animal down.”

“Well said!” Furminger replied, according to the prosecutors’ court filing. “You may have to kill the half-breeds too,” the unnamed officer replied, adding: “Don’t worry. Their (sic) an abomination of nature anyway.”

Messages with other officers include the phrases, “White power,” and “All n— must f— hang.”

The four officers, all of whom have at least 10 years on the force, have not been identified according to state law. While they have been reassigned to other duties, one public defender raises the prospect of re-investigating their cases from the past few years.

(h/t San Francisco Chronicle)

Durst: ‘Killed Them All,’ Free Ice Cream Today, Kendrick Lamar’s New Album

Durst: 'Killed Them All,' Free Ice Cream Today, Kendrick Lamar's New Album

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Multimillionaire Robert Durst, the subject of HBO’s “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” documentary, says he “killed them all,” after an interview ends but he’s still on mic. Durst, who has long been suspected of murdering his first wife and a close friend, was arrested in New Orleans for the friend’s murder on Saturday. Durst already admitted to killing a neighbor, but he got away with it. 
  • After leaking “King Kunta” Friday (which you’ll have a harder time finding today due to copyright infringement), Kendrick Lamar’s album is released one week early on iTunes and Spotify
TAGS: Morning Rush

Facebook Disabled Juliana Brown Eyes-Clifford’s Account. Again

Facebook Disabled Juliana Brown Eyes-Clifford's Account. Again

Juliana Brown Eyes-Clifford was one of the people I wrote about in a feature story this week that outlines the many ways in which Facebook’s “authentic names” policy penalizes people with Native American names. The social network has suspended Natives’ accounts because it deemed their legitimate names as fake. Facebook has also arbitrarily changed Native users’ names. In one case I found that white supremacists triggered the suspension of a high-profile author’s account by reporting her name as fake. They called it “ghost activism.”

The bass guitarist for the rock group Scatter Their Own says she had her name challenged by Facebook about two years ago. To submit her government-issued ID to the social media network for reinstatement Brown Eyes-Clifford had to leave the Pine Ridge Reservation and purchase a printer/scanner. Facebook accepted her ID, but changed her last name. She’s listed as “BrownEyes-Clifford,” not Brown Eyes-Clifford.

On Thursday, just a day after Colorlines published the story that includes Brown Eyes-Clifford, her Facebook account was once again disabled. Here’s a screenshot she provided Thursday from her cell phone:


Brown Eyes-Clifford contacted me, saying, “I feel as if I am being deliberately targeted again because I spoke out against Facebook.” Brown Eyes-Clifford lost access to two pages she administers on Facebook, including the Scatter Their Own fan page. Her husband, Scotti Clifford, is technically an administrator on the page, but he also lost access to it since it was his wife who first created the page. Scatter Their Own is currently touring and is headed to SXSW. Losing access to its Facebook page meant losing access to contacts, dates and confirmations. “Our SXSW tour is about to begin and I handle all our marketing and social media promotion for our band Scatter Their Own,” Brown Eyes-Clifford said on Thursday. “I just don’t know what to do.”

All the communication I’d had with Brown Eyes-Clifford on Facebook was also deleted from my personal message box. 


On Thursday Brown Eyes-Clifford stopped what she was doing in the middle of her tour to re-submit her government-issued ID to Facebook. Today at about 11:30 a.m. ET, Brown Eyes-Clifford received a notice that her Facebook account had been reinstated. Her name remains misspelled.

When asked why Brown Eyes-Clifford’s account was suspended, a Facebook spokesperson who had previously talked to me on grounds that we not use their name emailed me today that the company doesn’t comment on individual accounts.

Guess Who’s Editing the Wiki Pages of Police Brutality Victims. The NYPD

Guess Who's Editing the Wiki Pages of Police Brutality Victims. The NYPD

Computer IP addresses traced to police headquarters in New York City have been used to make edits to the Wikipedia pages of NYPD brutality victims Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and others. Wikipedia is the sixth largest Web site in the world. Anyone can edit and revise entries, which is both the draw and detraction of all so-called “citizen media” like it. “Anyone” includes the state or in this case, the New York City Police Department. It’s unclear whether these edits are part of a directive, performed by individuals or even, how many people are involved. But, over the past decade, “a significant number [of edits] have been to entries that challenge NYPD conduct,” online political news site, Capital New York reports.

Last December for example, hours after a grand jury did not indict officer Daniel Pantaleo, edits to the “Death of Eric Garner” entry included:

  • “Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”
  • The sentence, “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was added to the description of the incident.
  • Instances of the word “chokehold” were replaced twice, once to “chokehold or headlock,” and once to “respiratory distress.”

The legality of the “chokehold” or whether Pantaleo’s action could even be described as a chokehold were key pushback points in the early debate over how Garner died. The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide last August due to “compression of the neck” and to the chest. Chokeholds are banned under NYPD policy.

Regarding Sean Bell, the 23-year-old man whose death hours before his November 2006 wedding day sparked citywide protests, a user on the NYPD network edited the “Sean Bell shooting incident,” on December 2009 to read: “one Latino and two African-American men were shot at a total of fifty times” instead of “one Latino and two African-American men were shot a total of fifty times.” [emphasis Colorlines]

Undercover police officers had fired 50 times at Bell and two friends, all unarmed, after his bachelor party. Bell was hit four times. Joseph Guzman, survived 16 bullet wounds. Trent Benefield reportedly survived three.

Read Capital New York to learn more about their investigation and edits made to other flashpoint topics like, “Stop-and-frisk.”

Obama on Kimmel, Shooting Fireballs From Your Hand, Star Wars Roundup

Obama on Kimmel, Shooting Fireballs From Your Hand, Star Wars Roundup

Here’s some of what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • President Obama tells Jimmy Kimmel that the shooting of two police officers is criminal, and that the perpetrators should be arrested. 
  • Obama also reads mean tweets about him.
  • You can now “shoot fireballs at will”, right from your hand. No, seriously
  • Star Wars VIII is coming May 2017—not to be confused with a standalone Star Wars films that will be released next year titled “Rogue One.”
  • There may be water—and life—on some of our neighboring planet’s moons. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Palestinian Activist Rasmea Odeh Sentenced in Immigration Fraud Case

Palestinian Activist Rasmea Odeh Sentenced in Immigration Fraud Case

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain sentenced Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh to 18 months in prison after the 67-year-old Odeh was convicted of falsifying information about her past to gain citizenship in the U.S. The sentence was issued to a packed courtroom, with dozens of Odeh’s supporters present. She was released on bond and plans to appeal her conviction, according to the Rasmea Defense Committee.

A Detroit jury convicted Odeh in November of failing to notify U.S. immigration authorities that an Israeli military court had found her guilty of participating in a 1969 bombing in which Israeli civilians died. As part of her sentence Thursday Odeh’s citizenship will be revoked, and after serving her sentence she’ll be automatically deported to Jordan.

Prosecutors had called for a 5- to 7-year prison term for Odeh in the highly politicized case, which garnered national and international attention. During his sentencing, Judge Drain said that while Odeh may have been a “terrorist,” he believed she was reformed. He said he was abiding by sentencing guidelines, and sentenced her firmly in the middle of the recommended 15 to 21 months, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Her attorneys have maintained that her 1969 conviction was obtained after torture and sexual assault while in custody in an Israeli military court system with a 99 percent conviction rate for Palestinians. Odeh maintains that she wasn’t involved in the attack.

ICE Raid Apprehends Hundreds of Immigrants With Misdemeanors

ICE Raid Apprehends Hundreds of Immigrants With Misdemeanors

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted a five-day raid called Cross Check that resulted in the apprehension of 2,059 immigrants. Over at CNN, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is quoted as saying that Cross Check aimed to round up “the worst of the worst criminals.” But almost half of those people taken in the operation have never been convicted of a felony.

Obama’s executive action on immigration hinges, he’s said, on “felons, not families.” That executive action is on hold, caught up in the courts after a Texas-based U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen judge ruled in favor of a 26 state lawsuit challenging Obama’s authority. The Department of Justice, meanwhile, filed an appeal to the 5th Circuit today, in hopes of blocking Judge Hanen’s order.

The “felons not family” rhetoric is fraught with trouble: felons, like non-felons, also belong to families. Nevertheless, Obama’s messaging suggests that his administration is only targeting people with violent criminal records for deportation. But if ICE-ERO’s latest raid is any indication, it’s not just felons that get caught in the administration’s hunt—it’s also people who have been convicted of misdemeanors, especially those with DUIs. “This shows that the Executive Action isn’t being used to curb deportations,” says #NotOneMore campaign member Angelica Chazaro. “It’s being used to redirect them against criminalized immigrant communities.”

Over at Think Progress, Esther Yu-Hsi Lee provides some damning examples of some of the people caught up in ICE-ERO’s recent raid:

Among those immigrants is a 42-year-old immigrant from the Middle East who faces possible persecution or death if he’s deported because of his religious belief. The immigrant, whom his wife referred to only by the pseudonym Rick, reportedly became undocumented in 1981 at the age of nine when U.S. immigration officials lost his citizenship application that his father filed for him. His siblings are all U.S. citizens.

Two ICE agents arrested Rick last Thursday morning as he was getting into his truck in his driveway. Rick’s wife told ThinkProgress that ICE agents “made it sound like he would get out that day or the next day. They said, ‘you have a job. You have a child. You’ll probably be able to talk to the supervisor when you get out the next day.’” Rick’s wife said that ICE agents stated that he received a “failure to report” violation stemming from a drug-related possession charge that Rick got in the late 1990s. At the time, he served 18 months in immigration detention, and according to various family members, Rick checked in with ICE officials for five years under supervisory visits and a judge in a “drug court program” as a part of his rehabilitation after he was released from detention.

Around 2006, Rick’s family members said that ICE stopped his check-in visits because “he has no birth certificate, no records that tied him to [the Middle Eastern country he’s from]. … he was ‘not deportable’ so they released him,” his sister said. Rick went on to receive a degree from culinary school and up until his detention, was working for 13 years in the food industry.

“I’m hurt by this,” Rick’s sister said, “My 14-year-old son is livid. We’re just a basket case. For a person to be picked up from his driveway, he’s going to lose his job. He’s been working hard and he’s married. He pays taxes! We’re all humans, we make mistakes. … Not everyone deserves to be sent back, or held, or detained.”

You can read more about the people caught up in the immigration raid at Think Progress

Univision Fires Host For Racist Michelle Obama Commentary

Univision Fires Host For Racist Michelle Obama Commentary

A popular, award-winning Spanish language television host, Rodner Figueroa, has been fired by Univision after making racist comments about Michelle Obama.

On Wednesday’s “El Gordo y la Flaca,” Figueroa was talking about Paolo Ballesteros, who applies makeup to look like different celebrities—including sometimes donning blackface to look like Michelle Obama. Here’s a short clip in Spanish:

“You know Michelle Obama looks like she’s from the cast of ‘Planet of the Apes,’” said Figueroa, to some laughter from either the show’s hosts and/or audience. “I find her very attractive,” responded host Raúl de Molina—who didn’t address Figueroa’s racist comment on the air.

This morning, @univision tweeted a statement in Spanish, writing that Figueroa’s comments about “First Lady Michelle Obama were completely reprehensible and in no way reflect the values ​​or opinions of Univision,” confirming that Figueroa has split from Univision.

(h/t Latino Rebels)

Common to White Americans: ‘I Love You, Let’s Move Past This’

Common to White Americans: 'I Love You, Let's Move Past This'

Common has a new action film coming out but last night with Jon Stewart, they barely touched on it, what with the rapper-turned-actor’s starring role in the country’s post-Ferguson conversation about racism. “The ride that you are on, right now,” Stewart says. Watch the video above for Common’s view of the #BlackLivesMatter movement from his front seat (click here for the extended interview). Together he and Stewart bring much-needed laughter and ease to a subject where defensiveness is the norm. 

(h/t The Daily Show)

Ferguson Update, French Yogurt Price Fixing, Kurt Cobain Doc

Ferguson Update, French Yogurt Price Fixing, Kurt Cobain Doc

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Ferguson’s police chief Thomas Jackson will resign

‘Bloody Sunday’ Made History, But Did It Change Selma?

'Bloody Sunday' Made History, But Did It Change Selma?

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the unsolved murder of white Boston minister James Reeb, an attack captured in Ava DuVernay’s film, “Selma.” Less than a week later in his address to Congress, President Lyndon Johnson referenced Reeb’s death, which, ultimately, helped to purchase passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But what did Reeb’s and others’ sacrifice purchase for the town of Selma? The anniversary of Bloody Sunday drew tens of thousands to the small Alabama town last week. But as national media camped out at Edmund Pettus Bridge, Facing South’s Chris Kromm went on a walkabout of modern-day Selma that dramatically demonstrates, he says, “the conflicting legacy of the 1960s civil rights movement.” Says Kromm:

In the late 1800s, Dallas County where Selma is located was the fourth-richest area in the country — wealth enjoyed exclusively by the white elite. Today the county has the highest poverty rate in the state, nearly 37 percent, emblematic of the ongoing struggles in the South’s Black Belt region. …

In 1965, Selma was about half-white; today only 18 percent of residents are. Many affluent whites live near the Selma Country Club, located just west of downtown and the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Gay Talese of The New York Times remembers watching country club members “hiss at at the television” during the marches in 1965. When I visited, everyone on the grounds was white. The Los Angeles Times reports that the club today doesn’t have a single black member.

Read the rest at Facing South. And check out columnist Leonard Pitt’s latest on this weekend’s “carnival atmosphere detracting from the seriousness” of Selma.

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