Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Guilty Verdict Returned in Renisha McBride Trial

Guilty Verdict Returned in Renisha McBride Trial

Theodore Wafer, 54, has been found guilty in the murder of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. “I have no problem locking up entire families,” the judge is reported to have said to the courtroom while asking for calm as the verdict was read. Wafer, who was convicted of second-degree murder, had claimed self defense in the shooting death of McBride who, disoriented and unarmed, went to his door late one November night after getting into a car accident.

(h/t CBSDetroit)

New Research: White Voter Support for Fewer Prisoners Depends On Who’s Locked Up

New Research: White Voter Support for Fewer Prisoners Depends On Who's Locked Up

A white female researcher went to a train station near San Francisco and asked 62 white voters to watch a video of mug shots of male inmates—before asking them to sign a petition easing California’s three-strikes law. Some watched a video where only 25 percent of inmates were black. Others, where 45 percent of inmates were black. When it came time for signing, most white voters viewing the video with fewer black inmates signed the petition. Those viewing the video with a higher percentage of black inmates, however, refused to sign, “regardless of how harsh participants thought the law was.” A new Stanford University study out this week reports that this and other experiments show that for white voters, highlighting racial disparities in mass incarceration may actually bolster support for tough on crime policies.

Researchers conducted a separate “real-life” experiment with white New Yorkers around stop-and-frisk. The results were similar to San Francisco’s. The takeaway?

“Many legal advocates and social activists seem to assume that bombarding the public with images, statistics and other evidence of racial disparities will motivate people to join the cause and fight inequality,” Hetey said. “[But] our research shows that numbers don’t always speak for themselves,” Eberhardt said. “Reducing inequality takes more than simply presenting people with evidence of extreme inequality.”

Read more at Stanford News.

Khmer Rouge Leaders Sentenced to Life, DHS Hacking and BofA’s Massive Mortgage Settlement

Khmer Rouge Leaders Sentenced to Life, DHS Hacking and BofA's Massive Mortgage Settlement

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

  • A major Homeland Security contractor is hacked, putting government workers’ information at risk. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Jury Deliberation Begins in Renisha McBride Trial

Jury Deliberation Begins in Renisha McBride Trial

Jury deliberation began Wednesday in the trial of Theodore Wafer, 54, charged with the murder of 19-year-old Renisha McBride last November. The jury, according to Legal Insurrection, is composed of seven men and five women, including eight whites and four blacks. There are two white female alternates.

The McBride trial began on Monday, July 21. She was unarmed and disoriented when Wafer shot her on his front porch late one night, after McBride had gotten into a car accident.

For live updates, follow MLive.com.

When the U.S. Nearly Had Universal Child Care

When the U.S. Nearly Had Universal Child Care

Yesterday marks the 20th anniversary of a federal law that says, “having a baby shouldn’t cost you your job or your health insurance.” Meditate on Ellen Bravo’s words for a minute. Then consider that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which offers 12 weeks unpaid leave, still doesn’t go far enough for most families. But advocates appear hopeful that could soon change. After a near 50-year lull, according to an informative history by Think Progress’ Bryce Covert, a new top-level conversation around the “family friendly” workplace and universal childcare is once again gaining steam—which is good news for all families but in particular single parents and working class families of color. 

Read up on paid leave bills passing in states across the country, where the FMLA falls short, and this 2013 TNR piece on how Pat Buchanan helped kill a 1970s plan to implement national daycare

What one piece of national legislation would do the most to help single parents or families of color?

(h/t Huffington Post)

Professor Loses New Job for Pro-Palestinian Tweets

Professor Loses New Job for Pro-Palestinian Tweets

According to Inside Higher Ed, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has blocked the appointment of Steven G. Salaita to its faculty. Illinois made its appointment public a few weeks ago—and Salaita was to start teaching in the American Indian studies program later this month. 

But Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik writes that according to two sources, Salaita lost his opportunity due to the “tone” of his recent pro-Palestinian tweets:

The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza. While many academics at Illinois and elsewhere are deeply critical of Israel, Salaita’s tweets have struck some as crossing a line into uncivil behavior.

Salaita’s Twitter account has gone silent in recent days.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is not new to controversy. The school retired its mascot, Chief Illiniwek, in 2007, but it remains a presence on campus, causing some students serious distress. And after the school’s chancellor, Phyllis Wise, declined to declare a snow day on a particularly cold day this January, students soon took to Twitter to make racist and sexist attacks against her.

J Kēhaulani Kauanui, an associate professor at Wesleyan, has created an action page on Facebook to back Salaita, asking supporters to call and write their complaints about blocking his hire to Chancellor Wise. 

NYC Sikh Man Called ‘Terrorist,’ Run Over by Truck

NYC Sikh Man Called 'Terrorist,' Run Over by Truck

New York City’s Sikh community is asking authorities to investigate the recent attack of a Sikh man as a hate crime. 

Sandeep Singh, 29, was crossing a street with friends in Queens, New York, last week when a man in a pick-up truck began yelling at them. The driver exited his car and exchanged words with Singh, a married father of two. According to witnesses, the driver called Singh a terrorist, and told him to go back to his country.

The driver returned to his vehicle and Singh stood in front of it in protest. That’s when the driver ran him over—dragging Singh about 30 feet. Surveillance cameras caught the attack. Singh remains in the hospital and his attacker remains at large.  

Singh has issued a statement through the Sikh Coalition that explains that the attack was motivated by hate: “I was attacked because I am a Sikh and because I look like a Sikh. Justice should be served so that no one else goes through what I have been through. We need to create a world without hate.”

According to the Village Voice, the Department of Justice requested that the local police commander meet Sikh leaders on Monday to discuss the Singh attack, as well as other issues facing the community: 

In addition to hate crimes, Sikh leaders cited experiences being robbed, mugged or physically attacked that they feel have not been adequately investigated by local police.

“There’s a sense that there is a real apathy in the 102 [precinct] in Richmond Hill, as it applies to this community,” Singh says.

That feeling is compounded by the fact, that the NYPD—unlike police forces in London, Toronto and Washington D.C.—prohibits officers from wearing turbans, a rule that prevents observant Sikhs from serving in the police force.

The Sikh Coalition is pressing for the investigation to dig deeper and find Singh’s attacker.

Federal Inquiry: ‘Culture of Violence’ Against Teens At Rikers

Federal Inquiry: 'Culture of Violence' Against Teens At Rikers

A two-year federal investigation released Monday reveals a “pervasive” and “deep-seated culture of violence” throughout the adolescent facilities of Rikers Island, the nation’s second largest jail. “Adolescent” refers to those ages 16 to 18. The island’s three adolescent facilities house about 500 teens daily, most of whom, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, “have not yet been convicted of crime, and about half of whom have been diagnosed with a mental illness.”

The 79-page report is extraordinary in its description of the brutality levied at these inmates—by others and corrections officers—and the lengths to which officials went to cover up their beatings or disappear reports of abuse and more. Many young inmates requested solitary confinement for their own protection.

Two wardens in charge of the above facilities during the period under inquiry were recently promoted within the Department of Corrections, according to today’s Daily News.

Read the full federal report, available at The New York Times.

Gaza Ceasefire Holds for Second Day, Missouri Execution and One Billion Passwords Stolen

Gaza Ceasefire Holds for Second Day, Missouri Execution and One Billion Passwords Stolen

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

Oak Creek, Two Years After the Sikh Mass Murder

Oak Creek, Two Years After the Sikh Mass Murder

Today marks the second anniversary of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Sikh gurdwara shooting, a murder-suicide that claimed the lives of seven people. White supremacist Wade Michael Page shot and killed six people before turning this gun on himself. Mass murders have become almost commonplace in the United States—but one thing that sets this shooting apart is the racial hatred that motivated the attack.

Over at NBC News, civil and immigrant rights advocate Deepa Iyer writes about how the Oak Creek community is healing and rebuilding after the massacre:

The Sikh Healing Collective was formed to address the mental health and trauma needs with resources that integrate language, cultural and faith norms, especially to assist the children who lost parents in the shooting, or witnessed unspeakable violence while hiding in the gurdwara’s basement and kitchen pantry during the massacre.

Young Sikh Americans like Mandeep Kaur and Rahul Dubey began to take leadership positions both within the gurdwara and with non-Sikh groups, to better build partnerships and address the community’s needs as a whole. Similarly, Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi has plans to build connections between various race and faith groups in town with interfaith organizations and events.

And buoyed by the testimony of Harpreet Singh Saini before the Senate Judiciary Committee about losing his mother in the massacre, organizations around the country came together to successfully advocate Department of Justice to include categories of Sikh, Arab and Hindu in tracking hate crimes at the federal level.

You can read Iyer’s full dispatch over at NBC News. For full disclosure, Iyer is a board member of Race Forward, which publishes Colorlines. 

In Rare Move, McDonald’s Franchisee Speaks Out

In Rare Move, McDonald's Franchisee Speaks Out

Kathryn Slater-Carter owns a McDonald’s in Daly City, California, and she’s one of a few franchise owners speaking publicly about the minimum wage battle embroiling her industry. Slater-Carter is spearheading union-backed legislation in her state to give franchise owners more rights, a three-year-old effort getting more publicity since the National Labor Relations Board ruled recently that it will treat McDonald’s as a “joint employer” of fast-food workers. Before, McDonald’s could pass the buck on worker conditions to franchisees but this decision could potentially recalibrate the power balance between corporate and franchise owners. Slater-Carter explains that she and other owners are at the mercy of corporate decision-makers. She has a lot to say, too, about fast food workers and the challenges they face:

To be able to offer health insurance we would have had to raise prices significantly. And that’s on low-income people. Part of the problem is, and this is what I told the McDonald’s folks when they wanted us to lower our wages, the cost of living here is too high. …

[If McDonald’s workers unionized], I think the biggest negative effect would be that corporations, the big guys, couldn’t suck as much money off the top. I have mixed emotions on unions, and I told SEIU this. Sometimes I think the union benefits are a little over the top. But by the same token, in this stagnant economy that we’ve got, the little people are getting screwed. So I’m sure you know of the lawsuits for wage theft from the employees against McDonald’s operators in California. Wage theft is wrong, and it comes a point at which people do need to protect themselves and their interests. If they’re working, they deserve to be paid.

Read more at The Washington Post. And at The Nation, learn more about the new House bill designed to “make labor organizing a basic freedom no different than freedom from racial discrimination.”

On the American Perception of Israel’s War In Gaza

On the American Perception of Israel's War In Gaza

“What would you do if Hamas attacked you?”— That’s the question posed to Americans yesterday in a brief but powerful op-ed by author Peter Beinart in The Atlantic. It aims to explain why it’s so difficult for Americans in particular to criticize the state of Israel.

Revealingly, the question is rarely asked the other way: What would you do if your people had been under occupation for almost 50 years and your territory was blockaded by air, land, and sea? It’s rarely asked because we Americans can’t easily imagine ourselves as a stateless people. I suspect this goes to the heart of why people in the developing world generally identify more strongly with the Palestinians than Americans do. If you live in Nigeria or Pakistan, the experience of living under the control of another country yet not being a citizen of that country is fairly recent. (White) Americans, by contrast, have to go back all the way to 1776.

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

Junot Díaz and Edwidge Danticat In Conversation

Junot Díaz and Edwidge Danticat In Conversation

Junot Díaz and Edwidge Danticat have been friends for 20 years now. Danticat hails from Haiti and Díaz, across the border in the Dominican Republic. In the summer issue of Americas Quarterly the two immigrants from the island of Hispaniola discuss a shared responsibility to fight the Dominican Republic’s landmark constitutional ruling last September that left more than 200,000 people of Haitian descent stateless. Due to intense international pressure, including from Díaz and Danticat, the Dominican Republic this May established a pathway to citizenship. But the battle is far from won. As Danticat says, “Two novelists are not going to solve this problem”—but it’s always a treat to listen to them try anyway:

Why should the world—and especially citizens of the Americas—be paying attention to what’s going on in the Dominican Republic? Given that you are both children of the island of Hispaniola living in the U.S., why is this issue important to you?

DIAZ: …that island is my birthplace and one of my two homes; and if people like me don’t fight its injustices, don’t fight for the better future we deserve, who will? As a Dominican living in the U.S., it matters to me a whole hell of a lot that political elites in the D.R. are inflaming ethnic-racial hatred against Haitians to divide the pueblo and keep it from organizing against its real enemies—the elites themselves….

DANTICAT: Both Junot and I—correct me here if I am wrong, Junot—grew up in relative poverty on our respective sides of the island….

DIAZ: Oh yes, poverty aplenty.

DANTICAT: In both our lives, even when we were living on the island, we were also aware of our relative privilege when we traveled to see the relatives or spent time in the campo or the pwovens [rural provinces]. That makes you extraordinarily aware of what opportunity means. And it makes you hypersensitive to seeing not just a few but a slew of rights and opportunities being taken away in one swoop.

You hope you would always speak up. Even when the issue is not as clear as this. You hope you would speak up if someone is sleeping on the floor in an immigration cell in Texas, or if people are being tortured in Guantánamo, no matter what their nationality. People’s lives are being affected here in a way that touches their children and their children’s children.

Read the full interview on Americas Quarterly.

Truce in Gaza, Ebola Deaths Hit 887 and Nixon Tapes

Truce in Gaza, Ebola Deaths Hit 887 and Nixon Tapes

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

  • Target’s shares fall eight months after its massive data breach. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

PBS’s ‘America By the Numbers’ To Focus on Race This Fall

PBS's 'America By the Numbers' To Focus on Race This Fall Play

“America by the Numbers” is back with host and executive producer Maria Hinojosa. Back in 2012, the series focused on the small town of Clarkston, Georgia. This fall, it will focus more broadly on America’s changing racial demographics. 

“At a time when issues like immigration and health care are so hotly debated, this measured, smart series sheds refreshing light on communities and issues ranging from infant mortality rates among babies of color in New York to high school dropout rates among Cambodian youth in Long Beach,” said CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong. 

The series will premiere on Thursday, October 2. Here’s a list of what to expect from each episode, from the Center for Asian American Media’s Momo Chang:

“The New Mainstream”
In the original pilot episode, America By The Numbers explores the new multicultural mainstream through a portrait of Clarkston, Georgia, home to over 40 nationalities in a single square mile, and a laboratory for the future of our country. Once an organizing hub for the Ku Klux Klan, this small city outside of Atlanta went from 90 percent white to 82 percent non-white in 30 years after becoming a designated location for refugee resettlement. The series visits Clarkston to document how its daily realities reflect wider demographic trends and examine the collaborations and collisions that are occurring between old and new residents.

“Private Idaho”
It is estimated that by 2043, if not before, white Americans will no longer constitute a majority in the U.S. According to Census data, cities such as Coeur d’Alene, Idaho have some of the most concentrated and fastest growing white populations in the nation. Coeur d’Alene is also the former headquarters of the Aryan Nations. Local residents banded together to force the white separatists out, and some initiatives in Coeur d’Alene public schools now focus on diversity. While Coeur d’Alene remains 92 percent white, the composition of the town, and the state of Idaho, are changing. America By The Numberstravels to Coeur d’Alene to explore both the allure and complexity of living in an overwhelming white community, and what it means to be white in America today.

“Multicultural Mad Med”
It is estimated that consumers of color represent a $3 trillion market, and advertisers are taking particular notice of the rapidly growing purchasing power of Latinos. America By The Numbers goes to the Austin, Texas headquarters of LatinWorks, an award-winning ad agency at the forefront of efforts to win the attention of the growing multicultural market, to examine how advertisers of today are reframing their messaging to appeal to Latino consumers, and how these consumers are responding.

“Native American Boomtown”
The Bakken Oil Boom is bringing billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to North Dakota, but most people don’t know that 1/5 of North Dakota’s oil production comes from an Indian reservation. While the oil boom has led to more jobs and affluence for some, the more than 1,000 wells on the Fort Berthold Reservation have also attracted a huge influx of non-Indianoil workers, as well as increased drug trafficking, crime, and traffic accidents. America By The Numbers speaks to tribal members who are facing new threats along with new wealth, to assess the impact of the North Dakota oil boom on the Native American way of life.

“New American Politics”
America By The Numbers revisits Clarkston, Georgia to track candidates in the local 2013 election. This election could be historic for Clarkston, as three of the candidates running for Mayor and City Council are former refugees from Somalia and Bhutan, who are voting and running for office for the first time ever. The new American candidates say they decided to run for office after participating in the original pilot episode of America By The Numbers and screening event.

“Wounded Warriors”
Pacific Islanders, including citizens of Guam, serve at a disproportionately high rate in the U.S. armed forces, and also have the highest per capita rate of casualties and deaths in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But with no VA hospital on the island, returning Guamanian vets suffering from war-related injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are having greater difficulty getting access to care than their counterparts on the mainland. America By The Numbers examines the difficulties faced by these discrepancies in veteran care.

“Surviving Year One”
While the numbers for infant mortality are improving for the U.S. as a whole, women of color, especially African Americans and Latinas, are losing babies at alarming rates. Babies of color born in Rochester, New York have a greater chance of not living to their first birthdays than babies in developing countries such as Libya and Jamaica. America By The Numbers travels to Rochester, where researchers, doctors, and prenatal care programs are investing in initiatives that could make a difference.

“Model Minority Myth”
Asian Americans are the best-educated ethnic group in the U.S., and are seen as a “model minority.” However, Southeast Asian Americans have some of the lowest high school completion rates in the country. Research suggests that language barriers, inherited PTSD from refugee experiences, cultural alienation, and gang violence are contributing factors. America By The Numbers investigates in Long Beach, California, home to the largest Cambodian community in the U.S. “Model Minority Myth” is a part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across America address the dropout crisis.

 

‘Free Palestine’ Demonstrators Gather Outside White House

'Free Palestine' Demonstrators Gather Outside White House

An estimated 10,000 people demonstrated in Washington, DC this weekend calling for an end to violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The rally was billed as the largest pro-Palestinian march in the United States, Politico reports

The Washington Post’s coverage reveals what appears to have been a uniquely American gathering: 

Caya Cagri, 60, of Kensington, Md., and her sister, Beyhand Trock, 59, of Bethesda, Md., don’t agree in all their views about the conflict, but both showed up to support peace in Gaza.

“Our mother’s Jewish and our father’s a Muslim,” Cagri said, explaining the family’s Turkish roots. “They had three daughters; one married a Jew, one married a Muslim and one married a Catholic.”

Cagri’s husband is Catholic and Trock’s is Jewish.

(h/t 972mag.com)

House Passes Anti-Immigration Bills as Protest Grips D.C.

House Passes Anti-Immigration Bills as Protest Grips D.C.

The House of Representatives was set to go on vacation last Friday—but decided to extend its recess one day in order to pass two anti-immigration bills.

H.R. 5230 would speed up the process for deporting Central American children crossing the border into the United States and use some of the $694 million allotted in the bill to reimburse National Guard troops in Texas. The bill passed with the support of Texas Representative Henry Cuellar, who was the only Democrat to vote for the bill. Four Republicans voted against the bill, but it passed the House 223-189.

H.R. 5272 would essentially block President Obama from taking executive action on immigration. Obama introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program the summer leading up to the last election in 2012, and is expected to expand the program this summer. The House bill, which passed 216-192, seeks to stop that.

The House is now on vacation for five weeks. Neither bill is expected to pass through the Senate. Obama has made clear that he believes the House is simply sending messages with the bills.

Meanwhile, activists continue to put pressure on Obama to meet with those most affected by immigration policy. Activists from various cities rallied in D.C. on Saturday in a march rally organized by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. Two people hoisted massive banners 50 feet in the the from flag polls calling for an end to deportations. 

Israel Breaks Ceasefire, China Earthquake, and Ohio and Michigan’s Toxic Water

Israel Breaks Ceasefire, China Earthquake, and Ohio and Michigan's Toxic Water

Good Monday morning! Here’s some of the news I’m reading up on: 

  • Water in parts of Ohio and Michigan remains toxic, and boiling it only makes it worse. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Nearly Half of U.S. Children Have Experienced Trauma

Nearly Half of U.S. Children Have Experienced Trauma

Just under half of the children in the U.S. have experienced an “adverse experience” which can be classified as trauma, reports KPCC. The first term can seem like jargon, and the second can sound overly dramatic, but the experiences they describe are all too real—and common. A child who’s experienced homelessness, witnessed domestic violence at home, dealt with the loss of a caregiver like a grandparent or mother or who has an incarcerated parent, have all experienced “adverse experiences.” 

Researchers have been looking into the ways that these experiences can affect children’s brain development—and subsequently how kids fare in school. Unsurprisingly, it’s not typically for the better. The higher the number of adverse experiences a child has survived, the higher the likelihood that they’ll develop chronic diseases later in life such as alcoholism and depression.

Childhood trauma is more common than some might think, and while children’s experiences vary depending on their race, children of all races experience childhood trauma. Read Colorlines’ report on a new effort to recognize the role trauma plays in kids’ school lives.

Want to find out your personal Adverse Childhood Experience score? Take a questionnaire based on a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control.

TAGS:

Eric Garner’s Death Ruled a Homicide

Eric Garner's Death Ruled a Homicide

New York City’s medical examiner has ruled Eric Garner’s death a homicide. Garner was placed in a chokehold by NYPD officers during an arrest two weeks ago that was caught on video; in it, Garner is clearly heard saying that he’s unable to breathe. Chokeholds are against the police department’s policy, but remain common practice. 

According to NBC New York, the medical examiner concluded that NYPD officers’ actions caused Garner’s death:

The medical examiner said compression of the neck and chest, along with Garner’s positioning on the ground while being restrained by police during the July 17 stop on Staten Island, caused his death.

Garner’s health also played contributing factors.

The NYPD has yet to respond to the medical examiner’s conclusion. The Department of Justice has been keeping an eye on the case. 

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