Allow us a late pass on this one, but Angry Asian Man put us on the Jenny Yang bandwagon and we’re loving it. Imagine if you got to act like a toddler when confronted with all of adult life’s injustices, like getting stuck in traffic and losing your WiFi connection? Life is always better when you get to scream a little bit.
The hot ticket rental lodging website Airbnb is challenging a Harvard study’s findings that black users who rent their homes through the online service make less money in the endeavor than their white counterparts. And it’s shedding new light on how implicit bias functions in even seemingly innocuous institutions.
Implicit bias is the unconcious, automatic assumption that people make about others based on their percieved racial identity. (Think you’re immune? Take this test.) While housing discrimination in general is a widespread phenomenon, in the case of Airbnb, it undercuts the website’s perception of itself as a so-called “community marketplace.”
To that end, the website disputes the Harvard study’s findings by saying that it relies on outdated information. “We are committed to making Airbnb the most open, trusted, diverse, transparent community in the world and our Terms of Service prohibit content that discriminates,” Airbnb said in a statement. “The authors made a number of subjective or inaccurate determinations when compiling their findings.”
Nonetheless, black Airbnb users have first-hand experience to rely on.
From Jorge Rivas at Fusion:
But black users on Airbnb didn’t need Harvard to tell them discrimination exists on the site that facilitated more than 6 million guest stays in 2013. Last year Los Angeles resident and YouTube personality Tommy Sotomayor took to YouTube claiming he was rejected from a rental unit because of the color of his skin.
“I got declined twice by the same persons and if you look at their history they only rent to white people,” explained Sotomayor in a video uploaded to YouTube in October 2013. Sotomayor claims he paid for his rental and was rejected by the host after they found out he’s black.
“All they knew is I was black,” Sotomayor went on to say, noting that the host advertising the apartment was still listing the space as vacant on the dates he requested.
Turns out Macklemore nearly didn’t make Grammy rap committee’s cut because, frankly, some of the institution’s hip-hop heads don’t think he makes music for people who actually like the music (read: white folks).
Most” members of the rap committee felt that the “Thrift Shop” and “Same Love” duo shouldn’t qualify for rap nominations “because of their success on mainstream radio and their appeal in the pop world.” This is not a new idea, in the sense that Macklemore is often described as a rapper for people who don’t usually listen to rap music. But he does, in fact, rap, which is why the motion was vetoed by the general Grammys committee in a “landslide.”
The source continued by posing the questions that longtime hip-hop fans have been grappling with ever since the Seattle-based rapper gained mainstream success last year with his album “The Heist.”
“It’s not that they don’t think he’s a rapper,” said the source. “It’s just that when you’re trying to protect categories and someone has become popular, it should be judged as much. … Where does their music exist? Who are their fans?”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are nominated for seven awards, including Best Album and Best New Artist.
If you’re not already rooting for Seattle Seawhawks cornerback Richard Sherman, this might do the trick.
Sherman isn’t going to let a little bit of adversity get in his way now that’s heading to the Super Bowl. “I come from a place of adversity,” the Compton native told reporters on Wednesday. In the video that’s above, he also astutely pointed out the racial coding in a lot of the commentary surrounding his post-game interview after last weekend’s NFC Championship game by saying that lots of white folks are using the word “thug” as a substitute for the n-word these days. Here’s more of what Sherman had to say:
(h/t CBS Sports)
Ever get tired of seeing your favorite Middle Eastern actors relegated to roles that only deal with the War on Terror? Because they surely are.
Kathreen Khavari is a public-health-professional-turned actress who was fed up with Hollywood’s racism, so she decided to do something about it. In this six-minute short — in which Khavari plays 11 different characters — a woman goes through a serious identity crisis wondering if she’s a terrorist after watching an episode of “Homeland.”
“This film came to fruition because I was sick of getting sent out for mostly terrorist roles, which my agent at the time believed was all I could play,” Khavari told Colorlines in an e-mail.
In today’s federal contracting news, white female business owners in Washington are reportedly threatening legal action after an April 2013 study found they do not qualify as disadvantaged. Millions of dollars in highway contract set-asides through the U.S. Department of Transportation are at stake as Washington’s department of transportation is seeking a waiver to exclude white women from the federal disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) program.
The independently commissioned disparity study found that:
…Caucasian women-owned firms actually received more contract dollars than expected, given their availability for work. Lacking evidence of discrimination against Caucasian women-owned businesses in the local marketplace, WSDOT cannot include them in contract-specific DBE goals.
Public comments on the state agency’s decision are being accepted through February 3. After that, the waiver will be submitted to U.S. DOT for a final decision.
The race to finish a Martin Luther King Jr. film project is on. This week Jamie Foxx announced that he was teaming up with Oliver Stone to work on a film based on the slain Civil Rights leader’s life, and now Oprah has announced that she’s signed on to produce Ava DuVernay’s upcoming feature film, “Selma,” which is based on the 1965 Voting Rights campaign.
DuVernay took over directing duties from Lee Daniels, who faced numerous challenges in financing the project.
Oprah joins a number of big-name producers for the project, including Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Christian Colson, who won an Oscar for producing “Slumdog Millionaire.”
(h/t Shadow and Act)
Thirty years after his the debut of his groundbreaking sitcom “The Cosby Show,” Bill Cosby is reportedly heading back to NBC to star in another family comedy. The new show will feature Cosby as the patriarch of a multigenerational family and feature his take on marriage and child-rearing — two topics that have put the comedian in the hot seat in recent years, according to Deadline.
While “The Cosby Show” is remembered fondly by most audiences, Cosby himself has stirred up controversey by repeatedly chiding black parents and their children. Back in 2008, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote at The Atlantic about the audacity of Cosby’s black conservatisim:
As Cosby sees it, the antidote to racism is not rallies, protests, or pleas, but strong families and communities. Instead of focusing on some abstract notion of equality, he argues, blacks need to cleanse their culture, embrace personal responsibility, and reclaim the traditions that fortified them in the past. Driving Cosby’s tough talk about values and responsibility is a vision starkly different from Martin Luther King’s gauzy, all-inclusive dream: it’s an America of competing powers, and a black America that is no longer content to be the weakest of the lot.
Alyssa Rosenberg argues over at Think Progress that casting Cosby, at 76, shows just how few opportunities there are for younger black actors in Hollywood:
…the idea that there’s no one new left to be discovered and made successful has a particular sting to it when it comes to Cosby. Because the number of black male characters on television are so limited, and even more so black men who have families, bringing Cosby underscores a depressing self-fulfilling assumption in Hollywood: that there are only a very small number of black actors that audiences will resonate to.
No word yet on when the series will air on NBC.
For now at least, we won’t be seeing any justice for Jonathan Ferrell, the former Florida A&M football player who was shot 10 times and killed by a white police officer last year while seeking help after a car accident. On Tuesday grand jurors in Mecklenburg County, N.C., said they lacked enough evidence to indict the officer, Randall Kerrick, for voluntary manslaughter, NBC News reports.
The case isn’t over. Grand jurors suggested the prosecutors refile with lesser charges. Prosecutors said they would refile immediately because all of the grand jurors weren’t present for the decision, although it’s unclear whether they will stick to their original charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Ferrell was shot to death last September after he crashed his car and sought help at a house nearby. His family has filed a wrongful death suit.
Oakland County, Mich., Executive L. Brooks Patterson has long bashed the city of Detroit—located in neighboring Wayne County. But in a new article in The New Yorker, the GOP official goes on the record making his disdain for Detroit as obvious as his racism against Natives:
“I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.’”
Patterson now claims that the article’s author, Paige Williams, essentially coerced him into making this statement by bringing up similar statements he made three decades ago. He also made several racially coded statements about Detroit’s black population, and there are now calls for Patterson to apologize.
Michigan, whose name derives from an Ojibwa word meaning “large lake,” is already home to 11 federally recognized Native tribes and nations. Among them, the Bay Mills Indian Community is currently party to a Supreme Court case that may result in placing critical limits on tribal sovereignty.
If you’re a regular visitor to this site, chances are you feel that mainstream media typically do a poor job covering the depth and complexities of contemporary racism in the United States. You’ve probably noticed how media focus on whether or not Paula Deen or some other celebrity or public figure is intentionally racist, rather than on the institutional and structural root causes of the racial disparities that continue plague our society.
Well, as Jay Smooth tells you in attached video, you can quantify that intuition with a new report, “Moving the Race Conversation Forward.” The report comes from the researchers at Race Forward, publisher of Colorlines, who analyzed nearly 1,200 newspaper articles and transcripts from cable TV outlets from 2013, and found that two thirds of race-focused coverage either emphasized alleged individual racism or prioritized voices that dismissed the persistence of racism as a significant force in our country today.
The report refers to this kind of coverage as “systemically absent” content, in contrast to “systemically aware” content that at least highlights policies and practices such as racial profiling or voter suppression that lead to racial disparities. As the latter term is defined, the media didn’t have to explicitly use terms like “institutional racism,” “structural racism” or “systemic racism” to be classified as “systemically aware,” but even with this low bar, the performance was poor.
The image below shows you the variations in the extent of “systemically aware” content across the most popular topics covered last year. Race-focused coverage (i.e., articles and transcripts that used the words “racism,” “racist,” “racial,” or “diversity” in the opening paragraphs) on the economy and criminal justice cracked just above the 50 percent mark for “systemically aware” content, but more than 90 percent of entertainment-focused articles were “systemically absent.” A close look at the column at right reveals that the most popular race-focused topics were politics, criminal justice, entertainment, race relations/identity, and sports. Together they accounted for about three-quarters of all racism coverage last year. Part One of the report identifies the extent of “systemically aware” content in most of the highest circulation newspapers in the country and the three major cable outlets. And in part two, Race Forward provides case studies of recent racial justice interventions designed to disrupt the dominant frames and narratives that negatively impact people of color. For more, check out the report on raceforward.org.
This morning, food servers and janitorial workers walked off their jobs at the Pentagon and other federal buildings in the District of Columbia. According to a press release from Good Jobs Nation, “a new organization of low-wage workers employed by government contractors,” they are demanding that President Obama sign an executive order requiring companies contracting with the federal government to pay a living wage.
The federal government, according to a December 2012 Reuters investigation of federal contracting, “is one of the most potent factors driving income inequality in the United States - especially in the nation’s capital.” The remarkable three-part series, which looks at how government exacerbates inequality nationwide, not just in capital, says, “The top 5 percent of households in Washington, D.C., made more than $500,000 on average [in 2011], while the bottom 20 percent earned less than $9,500 - a ratio of 54 to 1.”
It’s not yet known the number of workers who’ve walked off their jobs* at five federal buildings, including the Pentagon for the first time.
Obama’s State of the Union address is next Tuesday, January 28. What do you hope he’ll say about income inequality?
UPDATE 2:11pm ET: Despite the sub-zero wind chills, organizer Joseph Geevarghese, deputy director of Change to Win, estimates that more than 120 workers at five facilities participated in this morning’s walkout. About 40 workers walked out for the first time at the Pentagon.
Los Angeles is gearing up for a proposed $15 an hour minimum wage fight, and Jorge Rivas at Fusion reports that the new campaign could mean big things for Los Angeles hotel industry’s predominantly Latina workforce. An estimated 80 to 85 percent of the industry’s workers are Latinas, Fusion reported. As it is, one in four Latinas in the U.S. live in poverty (PDF), a figure much higher than the 15 percent national poverty rate.
Check out the Fusion infographic in its entirety here.
Philadelphia police are looking into claims made by 16-year-old Darrin Manning that a patdown during a stop-and-frisk may have injured his genitals and, left him sterile. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia police have launched an internal investigation.
In early January, Manning, a sophomore at Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School, was leaving the subway with a group of friends. They were heading to play at a high school basketball game when, street cameras show, police officers confronted the group. The specific reason for the stop has not yet been reported. During the encounter, however, Manning alleges that a female officer squeezed his genitals so hard it ruptured his testicle. He tells FOX 29 news:
“She patted me down again, and then I felt her reach, and she grabbed my butt. And then she grabbed and squeezed again and pulled down. And that’s when I heard something pop, like I felt it pop.”
Manning’s principal, Veronica Joyner had given hats and scarves to the group of teenagers 15 minutes before to ward off the January chill. She believes that Manning, who received emergency surgery on the night following his arrest, was sexually assaulted.
The police, according to FOX 29, say that Manning never complained of injuries during eight hours spent in custody. He still faces three misdemeanor charges: reckless endangerment of another person, simple assault, and resisting arrest.
The NBA’s Miami Heat are known for two things this season: having stellar squard of All Stars and future Hall of Famers, and video bombing one another’s video interviews. The team kept up the act on a recent visit to the White House, and Michelle Obama even got in on the action.
There are apparently many racist white people on Twitter who would love to see a “classy,” “measured” (read: white) Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning teach Seattle Seawhawks Cornerback Richard Sherman a lesson or two in civility because his blackness is getting in the way.
Sherman is now the hottest name in sports, and all the attention has very little to do with how he performed on the field. The Seattle Seahawks cornerback made a game-saving play during Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers and then gave an emotional post-game interview in which he does a bit of dramatic trash-talking that’s been widely mocked with racist invective ever since. But the ensuing drama has put racism in American sports on center stage just in time for this year’s Super Bowl.
For some background: Deadspin rounded up some of the worst of the worst after Sunday’s game (Greg Howard’s piece on the “Plight of the Conquering Negro” is also a must-read). After Sunday’s interview, Twitter’s racist trolls came out in full force and called Sherman pretty much every anti-black slur imaginable, including a”typical nigger,” “ape” and “gorilla.” One user even went as far as to write, “Someone needs to introduce Richard Sherman to George Zimmerman.#ThugLifeOver.”
Sherman later issued an apology for verbally attacking opposing player Michael Crabtree, but also used his statement to speak out against the racist verbal attacks that had come his way.
“To those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field — don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines,” Sherman wrote in the column posted on mmqb.com. “Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.
“But people find it easy to take shots on Twitter, and to use racial slurs and bullying language far worse than what you’ll see from me. It’s sad and somewhat unbelievable to me that the world is still this way, but it is. I can handle it.”
More important background: Over at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates offered up some of Sherman’s biography — including a degree from Stanford — and wrote about the danger of using Sherman’s moment of individual braggadocio as somehow representative of black people everywhere:
And then there is the racism from onlookers, who are incapable of perceiving in Sherman an individual, and instead see the sum of all American fears—monkey, thug, terrorist, nigger. And then there is us, ashamed at our own nakedness, at our humanity. Racism is a kind of fatalism, so seductive, that enthralls even it’s victims. But we will not get out of this by being on our best behavior—sometimes it has taken our worse. There’s never been a single thing wrong with black people, that the total destruction of white supremacy would not fix.
Manning, meanwhile, has long epitomized the so-called “good ole’ days” of buttoned-up, Southern-bred white quarterbacks. As Dave Zirin wrote over at The Nation:
Richard Sherman is consciously an archetype that has been branded a threat as long as African-Americans have played sports: the loud, deeply intelligent black guy who uses this outsized cultural platform to be as bombastic as he wants to be. Whether the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson or Richard Sherman, they tend to be painted with only one dimension, which makes it easier for them to be denigrated and demonized.
Stay tuned to see how this plays out over the next two weeks.
Get your weekend started off on the right foot with an live stream (read: free) of Yasiin Bey’s performance of new material. The “show” starts at 5:30pm EST. Here’s the description that’s on YouTube:
Internationally acclaimed artist Yasiin Bey is set to perform a set of all new exclusive material Live From Africa, capturing this experience from one of the many breathtaking locations on the continent (to be disclosed at the end of the performance)— streaming worldwide in real time, this Friday on January 17th at 12:30 AM (CAT)/17:30 PM (EST).
Presented by the newly formed, Bey-helmed arts collective A COUNTRY CALLED EARTH, this performance will commemorate the birth-date of one of the world’s greatest personalities, Mohammed Ali. This is the inaugural episode for a series of live stream events taking place in Africa, entitled “The Time is Always Now.” Stay tuned for further details.
New Orleans teachers who lost their jobs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina were wrongfully terminated and deserve two to three years of back pay, an appeals court ruled on Thursdsay. The ruling affects more than 7,000 teachers who were fired and comes after years of legal wrangling, The Times-Picayune reported.
Katrina catalyzed the ground-up remaking of the New Orleans public school system, of which the mass layoffs of thousands of teachers was just one part. The layoffs also destabilized neighborhoods.
From The Times-Picayune:
Beyond the individual employees who were put out, the mass layoff has been a lingering source of pain for those who say school system jobs were an important component in maintaining the city’s black middle class. New Orleans’ teaching force has changed noticeably since then. More young, white teachers have come from outside through groups such as Teach for America. And charter school operators often offer private retirement plans instead of the state pension fund, which can discourage veteran teachers who have years invested in the state plan.
Though many schools have made a conscious effort to hire pre-Katrina teachers and New Orleans natives, eight years later, people still come to public meetings charging that outside teachers don’t understand the local students’ culture.
Read the rest at the Times-Picayune.
Pennsylvania Judge Bernard McGinley ruled today that the voter ID law passed in 2012 was a violation of the state’s constitutional protections of the right to vote. Judge McGinley found that the burdens imposed on voters who lacked the documents to obtain a photo ID if they didn’t have one, or lacked access to state offices that supplied IDs were too heavy and could lead to massive disenfranchisement. From the judge’s ruling:
“The burdens the Voter ID Law entails are unnecessary and not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest. And the record is rife with testimony from numerous Pennsylvania voters whose right to vote will be — and indeed already has been — denied or substantially and unnecessarily burdened by the Voter ID law.”
The state court agreed that hundreds of thousands of voters would suffer disenfranchisement because of a number of restrictions and obstacles imposed by the state on those seeking photo ID to vote. Lawyers from ACLU, Advancement Project and other legal organizations presented dozens of witnesses who testified to how difficult it was for them to get ID, many of them denied.
The judge also found the state’s voter education campaign — mandated by another court for the state to produce billboards, brochures and other ads about the voter ID law to make sure all were aware of it — to be confusing and ineffective.
This case has ping-ponged from court to court on appeals, starting with a ruling in August of 2012 denying a temporary halt on the law that civil rights attorneys requested so that it would not be in effect for the November presidential elections. The state’s supreme court later told the judge to revisit that decision, though, and to grant the halt if he couldn’t guarantee that no one would be disenfranchised. Unable to make that assurance, the judge blocked the law for the November elections, but with the confusing requirement that poll workers could ask voters for photo ID, though voters didn’t have to show it. And, in fact, voters were confused on Election Day.
Today’s ruling is based on last year’s trial asking for a permanent block of the law, on the grounds that it was both too restrictive and violated constitutional equal protection rights for people of color. Curiously, Judge McGinley found that the voter ID law did not discriminate based on race, despite evidence provided that the law would unfairly disadvantage thousands of voters of color and Puerto Ricans in particular. The state government may appeal this decision back to the state supreme court, but there’s one wrinkle: Pennsylvania has a new attorney general, Kathleen Kane, a Democrat who is less sympathetic to the state’s hopes to preserve the law than her conservative predecessor Linda Kelly, who was attorney general when this case first went to court.
On a press call earlier today, Ben Geffen of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia said he hoped that instead of spending more taxpayer dollars on an appeal, the state would put that money toward better voter education and registration efforts.
“The only fraud uncovered in this case is the ID law itself, which is exposed as a voter suppression tool adopted to game elections,” said Witold Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.