Supreme Court Upholds Voter-Backed Affirmative Action Bans

Supreme Court Upholds Voter-Backed Affirmative Action Bans

In a 6-2 vote the Supreme Court upheld a ban on affirmative action passed by Michigan voters.  

“There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court’s precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. 

The case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, did not actually concern the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions policies. Rather, the Supreme Court was tasked with settling the question of whether affirmative action bans passed by state ballot initiative are still unconstitutional. 

In her dissent Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, disagreed vehemently with the majority. “The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat. But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.”

The ruling comes as little surprise in an political and legal landscape increasingly hostile to race-conscious admissions policies, and will pave the way for more attacks on affirmative action. Read the Supreme Court opinion in full (PDF), and Colorlines’ Schuette primer for more. 

Biden Warns Russia, Brian Williams’s ‘Gin and Juice,’ and #GlobalSelfie

Biden Warns Russia, Brian Williams's 'Gin and Juice,' and #GlobalSelfie

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

  • Biden warns Russia that “there will be consequences” if it doesn’t stop separatists in Ukraine.

  • NASA is asking people all over the world to upload a #GlobalSelfie (a worldwide pitch with an English language hashtag?). 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Why’s This Tex. Man Running Errands in Jailhouse Orange?

Why's This Tex. Man Running Errands in Jailhouse Orange?

A Texas attorney made national headlines this weekend for wearing full prison orange for 40 days and nights (except Sundays). Kent McKeever pulled on the jumpsuit to highlight the legal discrimination faced by men and women after leaving prison. He tells The New York Times:

“I didn’t know what people’s reactions would be. But I knew that I personally needed to experience what it feels like to be rejected and have stigma attached to you. As a white professional male, I’ve never had that experience before.”

McKeever, a legal aid lawyer and part-time youth minister, blogged about how his faith and fatherhood set him on this 40-day journey. Learn more at 40 Days in Orange.

What do you think of McKeever’s actions?

(h/t New York Times/Waco Tribune)

Concussion Studies: From NFL Players to Jailed Youth

Concussion Studies: From NFL Players to Jailed Youth

Half of 16- to -18-year boys and girls entering New York City jails, according to a new study, say they’ve had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated. The prior injury(ies) resulted in either loss of consciousness, amnesia or both, reports the AP, and most were caused by assaults. Concussion studies among retired NFL players gained note some years ago but a growing body of research now focuses on the prevalence of prior traumatic brain injury among youth offenders. The rate of TBI in the unincarcerated youth population is 15 to 30 percent.

Researchers postulate that prior TBI—just one or multiple, it’s unclear—explains violent behavior, poor impulse control and decision-making, and high rates of recidivism. Reports don’t indicate whether the New York City sample of 300 boys and 84 girls separated violent from non-violent offenders. Most 16-to-18-year-olds in New York City jails (75 percent) are in for violent crimes, including robbery, homicide, weapons possession and assault. 

Results come from a medical questionnaire distributed to incoming offenders.

(h/t AP)

Boston Marathon Begins, Biden in Ukraine, UAW Withdraws VW Union Vote Appeal

Boston Marathon Begins, Biden in Ukraine, UAW Withdraws VW Union Vote Appeal

Here’s what I’m following on this morning: 

  • Boston Marathon, live.
TAGS: Morning Rush

Lack of Diversity is Only a Symptom

Lack of Diversity is Only a Symptom

Daniel José Older is an author who’s navigated the publishing industry; as such, he knows what it’s like to push up against an institutionally racist trade. In a powerful essay over at Buzzfeed, Older describes the contradiction—and the pain—of loving the craft of writing, yet having to deal with a publishing industry that not only assumes that people of color don’t read, but that people of color also lack what it takes to be masterful writers.  

In the essay, titled “Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing,” Older also problematizes the drive for diversity:

We’re right to push for diversity, we have to, but it is only step one of a long journey. Lack of racial diversity is a symptom. The underlying illness is institutional racism. It walks hand in hand with sexism, cissexism, homophobia, and classism. To go beyond this same conversation we keep having, again and again, beyond tokens and quick fixes, requires us to look the illness in the face and destroy it. This is work for white people and people of color to do, sometimes together, sometimes apart. It’s work for writers, agents, editors, artists, fans, executives, interns, directors, and publicists. It’s work for reviewers, educators, administrators. It means taking courageous, real-world steps, not just changing mission statements or submissions guidelines.

Take a few minutes to read his essay in full

After Twitter Debate, Univ. of Michigan Details New Plan to Increase Black Enrollment

After Twitter Debate, Univ. of Michigan Details New Plan to Increase Black Enrollment

On Wednesday the University of Michigan, together with the school’s Black Student Union, announced a new initiative to increase black student enrollment at the school by making the university a more welcoming place for black students. The plan is the result of a months-long conversation between administrators and students after the BSU set off a Twitter storm late last year when the student group kicked off the hashtag #BBUM (for Being Black at University of Michigan), asking black students at the school to speak up about their experiences with racial hostility on campus. 

The Detroit News reported the details of the plan:

As a way of increasing diversity on campus, U-M will partner with black students at university-sponsored events that encourage African-Americans who have been admitted to the U-M to enroll.

U-M also will launch a pilot transportation project for black students living in more affordable housing outside Ann Arbor; earmark $300,000 to improve security at the Trotter Multicultural Center; and create a website for emergency funds available to students.

Other initiatives include creating a multicultural center on central campus, since the current facility used by BSU and other minority groups is off campus. A new program will be provided to all resident halls this fall to enhance understanding of race and ethnicity.

Additionally, university officials have begun digitizing documents at the Bentley Historical Library about U-M’s Black Action Movement — a series of protests at the university about black student recruitment, enrollment and experience that began in the 1970s.

“The students raised issues that absolutely needed to be dealt with and provided valuable insight on ways to effect change,” University of Michigan Provost Martha Pollack said, the Detroit News reported. “We are grateful to each student for his or her willingness to engage in this important dialogue. Through their personal commitment to the work, the administration has deepened its understanding of the students’ experiences.”

Let this be a comfort to those weary of “hashtag activism” of late. Conversations that start on Twitter can open up space for productive offline conversations—and concrete positive changes. Check out 

Video: Immigration Policy Harms U.S. Citizens, Too

Video: Immigration Policy Harms U.S. Citizens, Too

Nineteen people were arrested outside of Boston’s Suffolk Detention Center Thursday after they chained themselves in protest of the Obama administration’s immigration policy. Nearly 200 more marched outside the center, in growing protests as part of the #Not1More campaign. 

Among the 19 people arrested was 17-year-old Andres del Castillo. In a powerful statement captured on video, del Castillo explains what’s at stake for mixed-status families.

Those arrested were released late Thursday evening. 

More Voting Rights Restoration Coming for Virginia

More Voting Rights Restoration Coming for Virginia

Virginians with felony convictions on their criminal records will have an easier path to having their voting rights restored thanks to reforms called for this morning by Governor Terry McAuliffe, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Under McAuliffe’s new rules, the time that people convicted of “violent” felonies must wait to apply for rights restoration will shrink from five years to three years. The list of crimes that constitute “violent felonies” in Virginia has historically included drug charges. That will change with these new reforms. All drug distribution and manufacturing crimes will be recategorized as “nonviolent” felonies, which means Virginians with these drug convictions will have no waiting period for applying for restoration. All “nonviolent” felony convictions already qualify Virginians for automatic rights restoration when they appeal directly to the governor, a policy instituted by former governor Bob McDonnell. 

Finally, in case there’s still any confusion around what crimes are considered “violent” or “nonviolent” felonies, the McAuliffe administration plans to post a list on its website for clarification. 

“Virginians who have made a mistake and paid their debt to society should have their voting rights restored through a process that is as transparent and responsive as possible,” McAuliffe said in a statement.

Virginia once had some of the strictest terms for restoring voting rights in the nation. A coalition of grassroots organizations led by the Virginia NAACP state conference, Advancement Project, Virginia New Majority, Virginia Organizing, Holla Back and Restore, S.O.B.E.R. House, and Bridging the Gap in Virginia have worked to make the new reforms possible. 

But there is still much further to go. The civil rights organizations are pushing for automatic voting rights restoration for all people who have paid their debts to society immediately after serving their time in prison. 

“While we are glad the Governor has responded to community concerns, we remain concerned about Virginia’s continued distinction between violent and non-violent offenses in the voting rights restoration process,” said Advancement Project Managing Director and General Counsel, Edward A. Hailes. “There are numerous benefits to restoring voting rights for people who have completed their sentences, including the fostering of full community integration and the fulfillment of our core democratic principles. Those benefits apply for everyone, regardless of the basis for their conviction. We encourage Virginia to join the majority of states, which do not make distinctions between different types of offenses, by passing a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights for all.”

García Márquez, 6-Year-Old Shoots and Kills, and Lifetime Consequences of Bullying

García Márquez, 6-Year-Old Shoots and Kills, and Lifetime Consequences of Bullying

Aside from better Gabo obits in Spanish here’s some of what I’m reading this morning:

  • At least 12 Sherpa are dead following a massive avalanche on Mount Everest; the rich foreigners who make the Sherpa carry all their stuff are all accounted for. 
  • The sunken South Korean ferry capsizes; 271 remain missing, vice principal survivor found hanged, and arrest warrent is issued for captain. 
  • Facebook’s “Nearby Friends” allows you the option to stalk people IRL, too. 
  • The negative consequences of childhood bullying, including poor mental health and unemployment, can last a lifetime
TAGS: Morning Rush

Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez, 1927-2014

Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez, 1927-2014

Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez has passed away, the Associated Press reports. Best known for the magical realism of his expansive novels like “Love in the Time of Cholera” and “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” García Márquez was a literary icon in Latin America and beyond. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He was 87 years old.

Major Investigation Looks at Nation’s Re-Segregating Schools

Major Investigation Looks at Nation's Re-Segregating Schools

As a follow up to her 2012 investigation into residential segregation, ProPublica reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones is back, this time with a year-long look at re-segregating schools in the South and the nation, too. In “Segregation Now,”:

Almost everywhere in the country, Hannah-Jones found, the gains of integration have been eroded. And nowhere has that been more powerfully and disturbingly true than in the South - once home to both the worst of segregation and the greatest triumphs of integration. Freed from the federal oversight that produced integration, schools districts across the 11 former states of the Confederacy have effectively re-instituted segregation for large numbers of black students, in practical terms if not in law.

The complete reporting package on re-segregated schooling today is huge so here’s a handy how-to-read/view guide as well as a plain, non-graphics text-only version. Each chapter, based on Hannah-Jones’ embedding in the Tuscaloosa, Ala. school district, will be rolled out over three days, beginning today. So settle in! 

In the meantime though, be sure to share your six words on race and education in America. And look out for reaction over the coming week to this major investigation—and add your own.

South Korea Ferry Update, Low Jobless Claims and the Problem with ‘Liking’ Cheerios

South Korea Ferry Update, Low Jobless Claims and the Problem with 'Liking' Cheerios
Here’s what I’m reading about while not eating Cheerios this morning: 
  • Guess who benefits from those free drug samples your doctor’s hawking? Big pharma
TAGS: Morning Rush

Cleveland Business Mag Admits Diversity Problem

Cleveland Business Mag Admits Diversity Problem

In a January story featuring 2014 predictions from 32 community leaders, Crain’s Cleveland Business profiled no African-Americans or Asian-Americans. There was one Latino. And 30 of the 32 leaders whose views were published were men. How do those erasures happen in a city where more than half of the population is black and one third of its businesses are owned by women?

Crain’s Cleveland with the help of concerned community members is apparently trying to figure that out.

Whites comprise about one third of Cleveland’s population, Latinos are at 10 percent and Asian-Americans, just under 2 percent. Asian-American business owners account for 3 percent of the city’s firms and African-Americans, roughly 25 percent.

(h/t Crain’s Cleveland)

Meet the Preacher Behind “Moral Mondays” in NC

Meet the Preacher Behind

It was Moral Mondays that inspired us to start organizing, an African-American teacher from North Carolina told me recently at a national labor conference. Bunking three to a room and skimping on hotel-priced breakfast that morning, she and her colleagues had trekked to Chicago in search of more inspiration and, strategy. I thought of her after reading this week’s Mother Jones profile of Rev. William Barber II, the man behind Moral Mondays. What he began last year as a small protest against voting rights infringement blossomed this February into a rally of tens of thousands.

Barber, who suffers a painful arthritic condition and is also pastor of Greenleaf Church in Goldsboro,

…has channeled the pent-up frustration of North Carolinians who were shocked by how quickly their state had been transformed into a laboratory for conservative policies. [And] what may be most notable about Barber’s new brand of civil rights activism is how he’s taken a partisan fight and presented it as an issue that transcends party or race—creating a more sustained pushback against Republican overreach than anywhere else in the country.

Read more at Mother Jones.

South Korean Ferry Sinks, Nas Documentary, NCAA Athletes Get Food

South Korean Ferry Sinks, Nas Documentary, NCAA Athletes Get Food

Here’s what I’m reading about this morning:

  • A man is in custody after a bomb scare at the Boston Marathon yesterday. 
  • Obama will announce a $600 million jobs training and apprenticeship program. 

TAGS: Morning Rush

NYPD Disbands Muslim-Spying Unit

NYPD Disbands Muslim-Spying Unit

The NYPD announced today that it has disbanded a post-9/11 plainclothes unit used to spy on Muslims in their communities. The Demographics Unit, according to a pay-walled New York Times article, mapped entire neighborhoods and built detailed profiles of where people ate, shopped and prayed. The move is being interpreted as one indication that the NYPD is backing away from controversial post-9/11 surveillance tactics, which are the subject of at least two suits brought by area Muslims and civil rights groups.

For more on these cases and their impact, see today’s frontpage article by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh on Colorlines.

(h/t The New York Times)

‘Chávez,’ Brought to You by Budweiser

'Chávez,' Brought to You by Budweiser

The César Chávez film has had its share of thoughtful criticism. Dolores Huerta kinda answered the controversy around Chávez’s stance on undocumented immigrants (although it’s unclear if anyone has asked her about her own). And, speaking of Huerta, where were the women in the film? And where were the Pinoy workers who influenced Chávez’s work with the United Farm Workers (UFW)? But now, a Budweiser video connected with the film, which stars Diego Luna, is raising eyebrows. 

The self-proclaimed King of Beers has long sponsored the UFW, and has now released a video of a special screening for held for farmworkers in Delano, California. It concludes with a clip of Chávez’s son explaining, in Spanish (which is a bit bizarre, considering the video is in English, and Paul Chávez speaks English), that his father enjoyed drinking his Bud. 

(h/t Latino Rebels)

Gun Violence Spikes in Chicago, Again

Gun Violence Spikes in Chicago, Again

Chicago’s gun violence is back in the news again with yesterday’s headline: 4 dead among at least 36 shot in 36 hours. “Chiraq’s” gun violence and murder rate have been well covered by media over the last few years. A brief recap follows, in addition to the latest on solutions.

Most homicides occur on the city’s predominantly black and Latino south and west sides. Much of the violence concentrates among youth. Almost half of Chicago’s 2,389 homicide victims between 2008-2012 were killed before their 25th birthdays, according to a new Chicago-focused human rights report from Amnesty International. And that says nothing of the youth who survive shootings (more than 2,300 in 2013) or witness them. Again, from Amnesty: “Studies have shown that youth exposed to high levels of violence often become the victims and perpetrators of the violence, exhibiting the same psychological trauma as children growing up in urban war zones.”

A fair question then: how is Chicago—from communities to schools to city hall to hospitals—intervening in the lives of all those young people with unaddressed psychological trauma?

New FBI director, James Comey in a visit yesterday to the city reportedly said: “You can’t arrest your way to a healthy neighborhood”—even though cops and more cops appears to be the public’s main demand. So if according to America’s top cop, the punitive arm of the criminal justice system is only one part of the city’s solution to gun violence and extreme rates of victimization among youth, what are others?

The new Amnesty report begins by recognizing that scattering public housing residents and recent school closings contribute, respectively, to fracturing previously hierarchal gangs and endangering Chicago’s youth. It makes a few tangible recommendations as well. The first: properly investigating allegations of torture levied against Chicago police from the 1970s through the 1990s. One new investigation from watchdog group, tracks increasing police misconduct claims over the past decade as well as skyrocketing costs ($84.6m in 2013, alone). Real reform won’t come however, it says, until CPD addresses its own “no-snitch” culture and tolerance for abuse.

Other recommendations, including adequately funding anti-gang youth initiatives and beefing up protections for immigrants and LGBTQI individuals, make the Amnesty report a worthwhile read. Note too, how one Calif. group aims to help its crime victims of color living in high crime neighborhoods by first making them visible.

(h/t Chicago Tribune)

Tax Day Freebies, Pharrell Cries on Oprah and Google Drones

Tax Day Freebies, Pharrell Cries on Oprah and Google Drones

Here’s what I’m catching up on this rainy morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218