‘Documented’ Opens in Theaters

'Documented' Opens in Theaters

Jose Antonio Vargas’s “Documented” opens in theaters today. Vargas, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, published a story in the New York Times Magazine in 2011 that revealed his undocumented status—and was then featured in Time Magazine. His documentary is about immigration, but it’s also a deeply personal film that illustrates how bad policy creates borders between family members.

Vargas tells Colorlines that it was important for him to make an honest film. But as difficult as “Documented” is to watch at times, the viewer is rewarded with an intimate look at a complex life. We’ll be sharing a Q+A with Vargas here next week.

The film opens in New York today, and will air on CNN this summer. 

Jobs Surge, New Michael Jackson Song from 1983 and Mars Rover Selfies

Jobs Surge, New Michael Jackson Song from 1983 and Mars Rover Selfies

Here’s what I’m reading up on today: 

  • There’s a new Michael Jackson song—from 1983: 

  • NASA’s Curiosity rover takes selfies before test drilling on Mars. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Live Chat: Scholars Discuss Beauty, Black Women, Bodies—and Beyoncé

Live Chat: Scholars Discuss Beauty, Black Women, Bodies--and Beyoncé

Yet another must-see live chat is set for this evening. And this one’s titled: “Beyoncé: Beauty. Body. Blackness.”

Tonight, leading black female scholars and public intellectuals will gather at Drexel University from 6-8:30pm ET to discuss black women, beauty, bodies and blackness all through the lens of Queen Bey herself. The event will include a viewing of Beyoncé’s visual album, and promises to be a rich conversation. 

The lineup of speakers includes:

  • Joan Morgan, cultural critic; author of “When Chickenheads Come Home to Roots”
  • Yaba Blay, PhD, co-director of Africana studies at Drexel University; author of “(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race”
  • Brittney Cooper, PhD, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University; co-founder of the Crunk Feminist Collective
  • Esther Armah, journalist, playwright and MSNBC political commentator
  • Dr. Kaila Story, associate professor, women’s and gender studies / Pan-African studies; Audre Lorde Chair in race, class, gender, and sexuality studies at University of Louisville
  • Treva Lindsey, PhD, assistant professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at the Ohio State University.

Tonight’s event is hosted by Africana Studies at Drexel University and co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Women’s Studies program and the Drexel University Media Studies Group.

The conversation is set to be live-streamed here, starting at 6pm ET.

Warpaint Guitarist Says Beyoncé Looks ‘Like a Slut’

Warpaint Guitarist Says Beyoncé Looks 'Like a Slut'

For starters, there’s a band called Warpaint. No comment. 

But anyway, during a recent interview with Q Magazine, the band’s guitarist, Theresa Wayman, had some choice words about Rihanna and Beyoncé:

“She [Rihanna] has an insane voice, she could’ve done something so much more subtle and artful,” suggests the Warpaint’s Theresa Wayman, who also was dismayed by Beyonce’s recent adoption of twerking.

“It just gets worse,” she adds. “Every song on Beyonce’s last album has her basically looking like a slut and she does not need to do that. She’s gorgeous and so fucking talented. And they all take it as women’s liberation!”

The post doesn’t make clear who the “they” are that are taking anything “as women’s liberation.” Is it Riri and Bey? Their fans? Black women? It’s unclear. 

Wayman responded to pushback about her statements with a quasi apology on the band’s Facebook page. It reads, in part:

What I was referring to, specifically, was my take on the video clip for “Superpower” where I felt her role in that clip undermined the song - which is one of my favorites. That’s pretty much it. As a fan I was confused with her choice to sexualize herself in that particular moment. On the other hand “Drunk in Love”, in my humble opinion, is so powerful in it’s sexuality. I could watch that on a loop forever. Ultimately she can do whatever the fuck she wants.

Pretty sure Beyoncé already knows she can do whatever she wants, though.

(h/t Consequence of Sound)

Florida Jail Blast Kills 2, New Rob Ford Video and ‘MFA vs. POC’

Florida Jail Blast Kills 2, New Rob Ford Video and 'MFA vs. POC'

Here’s what I’m reading this morning: 

  • May Day protestors in Istanbul defy a rally ban and clash with riot police. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

In Sterling’s Wake, is Snyder Next?

In Sterling's Wake, is Snyder Next?

It seemed like everyone applauded the National Basketball Association’s decision yesterday to bar Clippers owner Don Sterling for life. But some also noted that while racism is being seriously challenged in the NBA, the same isn’t true for the National Football League:

Senator Harry Reid, (D-Nev.) took to the Senate floor today to call on the NFL’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, to take action to get the Washington D.C. football team to change its name. Reid cited precedent:

It’s been done before, right here in Washington, D.C. 17 years ago [the owner of the] Washington Bullets, and the late Abe Pollin, a wonderful man, Madam President, saw all of the gun violence and murders taking place in the DC area. And what did he do? He voluntarily decided that name, Washington Bullets, wasn’t any good and changed [the] name. He didn’t his team to be associated with bullets. So he changed the name of this organization: the Washington Bullets to the Washington Wizards. The Wizards is a good name. Don’t you think Daniel Snyder can come up with a name? It should be easy. 

Do you think the Washington team will change its name any time soon?

NY Renames Street for Muslim EMT and Cadet who Died on 9/11

NY Renames Street for Muslim EMT and Cadet who Died on 9/11

Mohammad Salman Hamdani was on his way to work in Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001 when he heard and saw what happened at the Twin Towers. The 23-year-old EMT and police cadet rushed to scene to help; his body was later recovered at Ground Zero. Hamdani, who emigrated from Pakistan with his parents as a toddler, was later unjustly accused of having been involved in the attacks. 

Hamdani’s name was later cleared—but serves as one of countless examples of the ways Muslims are profiled in New York. This week, however, a street in Bayside, Queens (just a block from where he lived) has been renamed Salman Hamdani Way.

(h/t New York Daily News)

Is Immigration Reform Undermining Latino Civil Rights?

Is Immigration Reform Undermining Latino Civil Rights?

Angelo Falcón recently posed a provocative question: Is immigration reform taking over the “traditional” Latino civil rights movement to the point that they’re now in conflict? “Although immigration reform affects about 15 percent of the total Latino population,” Falcón writes, “as a public policy issue it now occupies almost all the Latino policy agenda, sucking up, as one colleague recently put it, all the oxygen on Latino issues.”

With Obama facing increasing pressure to act on deportations, ongoing immigration reform protests and frustration among DREAMers, Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, raises his questions at, he admits, a sensitive time. But he seems driven, too, by perhaps a longtime concern that immigration reform is inherently assimilationist. The Latino civil rights movement, he says, has traditionally been oppositional.

Juan Cartagena’s point-by-point rebuttal is a worthy follow-up. It takes issue in particular with Falcón underestimating the proportion of Latinos impacted by anti-immigrant laws. For example, Cartagena, head of longtime civil rights group LatinoJustice PRLDEF, says that increased racial profiling because of anti-immigrant laws affects more Latinos than those who are undocumented. 

And over on Feet in 2 Worlds, journalist Von Diaz profiles DREAMers who’re moving away from the movement’s core goal. Says one:

“The DREAMer narrative disciplines and censors a lot of undocumented people. It brings notions of who’s a good immigrant, and who needs to prosper in the U.S. …I think we talk about the border, but we ourselves within the immigrant rights movement, we’ve been building walls, about who we are and as human beings and people and our experiences.”

Check out all the threads above. It’s a rich discussion.

Bungled Execution, Massive Flooding in the South and the Post-antibiotic Era

Bungled Execution, Massive Flooding in the South and the Post-antibiotic Era

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

Scenes from a Protest: Clippers Fans Stand Against Sterling

Scenes from a Protest: Clippers Fans Stand Against Sterling

By yesterday afternoon, news of Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s lifetime NBA ban had already settled in. But there was still plenty of anger among the protesters who gathered outside the Staples Center Tuesday. With game 5 of the Warriors and Clippers first round playoff series hours away, Angelenos, most without a ticket to the game and many of them professed Lakers fans, gathered to let it be known that they wanted to Sterling as far away from the NBA as possible. 


Leaders from the National Action Network and the Nation of Islam address the crowd.


“That $2.5 million they fined him? He’s going to make that at today’s game,” said Ron Nelson of Pasadena, who printed 20 t-shirts with the design he was wearing. “My thing is get him out.”



Luis Gordiano and Matiana Lopez hold a sign they brought to the game.



“I came out to support the hometown Clippers,” says Jubilee Shine, who held Messiah, 10 months. “I’m happy that [NBA Commissioner Adam] Silver listened to the players’ association and the community but he has to follow through on it like [Warriors point guard] Stephen Curry said, and make sure that Sterling is absolutely separated from this organization and from the league altogether.”


“Are you a Clippers fan?” Colorlines asked Mollie Bell, of Compton. “I’m actually a Lakers fan,” Bell said. “If we can do anything we need to dig out the COR. COR stands for the ‘culture of racism.’”


“Fouled Out!” read Clippers fan Abraham Dilan’s sign. “I’m very happy about the decision,” Dilan said. “I hope Magic will buy the team.”

Complaint: Boomers! Parks Discriminate Against Muslims and Sikhs

Complaint: Boomers! Parks Discriminate Against Muslims and Sikhs

If you’re an observant Sikh or Muslim who wears a headcovering, Boomers! amusement parks don’t want you on their Go-Karts. That’s the complaint from the Council on American Islamic Relations-California (CAIR-California) and United Sikhs, who held press conferences today to announce the filing of joint complaints against the amusement park chain. 

The public accommodation complaints are being filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and allege that Boomers! amusement parks effectively bar Muslim and Sikh parkgoers from certain rides by throwing up safety concerns about riders’ religious headcoverings without providing accommodation for those riders. The amusement park is in essence cutting thousands of local residents off from portions of the park, “solely based on their faith,” the two organizations said in a joint statement today.

“It troubles us that every other amusement park is able to make sufficient accommodations to permit women wearing hijabs to ride some of the fastest roller coasters in the world, but that Boomers! has unequivocally denied them access to the Go-Kart rides,” CAIR-Northern California Civil Rights Coordinator Brice Hamack said in a statement. What’s more, United Sikhs staff attorney Manmeet Singh said in the statement, “Boomers! has failed to provide any clear or sensible reasoning for denying individuals with religious headwear requirements access to Go-Karts.”

According to its website, the Boomers!-owned Palace Entertainment runs over a dozen Boomers! parks around the country. The majority are based in California. 

More Deadly Tornadoes, NBA to Reveal Findings on Sterling and Tony Nominations

More Deadly Tornadoes, NBA to Reveal Findings on Sterling and Tony Nominations
Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 
  • New research explains why the 1918 flu pandemic was so deadly. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

A Desegregation Order’s End Brings Shifts to Top Chicago Public Schools

A Desegregation Order's End Brings Shifts to Top Chicago Public Schools

In 2009 U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras lifted a decades-old federal desegregation order that mandated that no Chicago public high school could be more than 35 percent white. Since that fateful ruling, Chicago’s top public high schools have been making a quick backslide into segregated territory, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. 

Almost immediately after the 2009 ruling barred Chicago public schools from considering race in their student makeup, students of color, Asian students included, started falling from the rolls of students admitted to top Chicago public high schools.

The Sun-Times breaks down the shifts at individual schools:

At Walter Payton College Prep on the Near North Side, more than 41 percent of freshmen admitted the past four years have been white, compared with 29 percent in 2009, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of Chicago Public Schools data has found.

At Jones College Prep in the South Loop, 38 percent of this year’s freshman class is white, compared to 29 percent four years ago.

In 2010 — the first year race was no longer used to determine the makeup of Chicago schools — the percentage of white freshmen at Northside College Prep in North Park rose from 37 percent to 48 percent.

And at Whitney Young College Prep on the Near West Side, the percentage of black freshmen has steadily declined in the past three years, while the percentage of whites has risen.

“I consider these schools to be gated communities for children of privilege,” Julie Woestehoff, executive director of the group Parents United for Responsible Education, told the Sun-Times.

The dynamic is not limited to Chicago alone. For decades courts have been undoing desegregation orders and limiting the impact of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court’s landmark school desegregation ruling. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, and many schools around the country remain or have returned to their pre-Brown segregated days. 

This is Where Surveillance Happens

This is Where Surveillance Happens

The New York Police Department recently dismantled its Muslim surveillance operation. The controversial program, known as the Demographics Unit, profiled Muslims of all ages, and even crossed state lines to do so.  

But where, exactly, did this surveillance take place? A new project by Josh Begley—the data artist behind @dronestream—has published about 400 images found in 45 or so documents related to the unit. The images on are of places like delis, community centers, restaurants, cricket fields, pickup soccer parks and more that the NYPD deemed suspicious. Begley points out that documents he scoured, courtesy of Associate Press, are “pretty wild to read.” Take Newark Fried Chicken in New Jersey, for example, the place for which the complete “information of note” reads:

Owned and operated by Afghanis.
Location is medium size fast food restaurant that sells fried chicken, and cold drinks.
Location is in good location and has seating capacity for 10 to 15 customers.

Nothing noteworthy, right? Yet the fried chicken joint aroused suspicion.

The documents detail the nationality of owners and/or those who frequent the surveillance locations—and many times, it’s not just Muslims who gather there. Begley also reminds us that although the NYPD has shut down its Demographic Unit, this kind of surveillance hasn’t stopped. “As as Hina Shamsi and folks at the ACLU will tell you, the catalogue of violence continues,” says Begley.

You can see all the images on

Boston Rally Calls for Jobs Not Jails

Boston Rally Calls for Jobs Not Jails

Hundreds gathered on Boston Common this Saturday asking state lawmakers to expand job opportunities instead of prisons. One protester, Donnell Wright, according to The Boston Globe, has a real estate license, a commercial trucking license, as associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. What the formerly incarcerated man doesn’t have is a job. After employers run a background check, he says, they’re no longer interested. Little to zero employment, housing, driving and other opportunities for men and women to begin stable lives is an issue facing not just returnees but the high crime and highly policed communities to which they typically return.

Massachusetts is one of eleven states, according to a National Employment Law Project (NELP) report out this month, with “ban the box” legislation on the books. These initiatives typically remove the conviction history question from the job application and delay background checks until later in the hiring process. But these reforms, Mass. advocates say, don’t go far enough

More than 60 counties and cities have also adopted “ban the box” legislation. If you or someone you know has gotten a job because of “ban the box” policies, let us know.


Brazilian Footballer Eats Banana Thrown At Him From Stands

Brazilian Footballer Eats Banana Thrown At Him From Stands

Near the end of a soccer match in Spain this weekend, a “fan” threw a banana at the feet of Brazilian player, Dani Alves. So he ate it.

Racism in European and Russian football, particularly from fans, has been an unending hazing rite for black and Arab/Arab-descent players. After the game, Alves, who plays for Barça, reportedly said, “I’ve been here 11 years and I’ve been suffering this whole time, so I just face it with humor.”

After the banana energy boost, Alves went on to set up Messi for a goal. Barça won 3-2.

Check out Alves teammate and fellow Brazilian, Neymar and son’s  Instagram reaction:

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.03.46 AM.png


(h/t MundoDeportivo)

Deadly Tornado, Junior Prom Killing and Magic to Buy Clippers?

Deadly Tornado, Junior Prom Killing and Magic to Buy Clippers?

Here’s some news I’m catching up on this morning: 

  • At least 17 people are dead following a tornado that ripped through several states, including Arkansas and Oklahoma. 
  • A mayor in Ukraine is shot in the back; Obama promises more sanctions on Russia (more below). 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Revisiting the 1970s Murder of a Native American Activist

Revisiting the 1970s Murder of a Native American Activist

On my must-read list this weekend is a NYT Magazine piece about the murder of radical Native American activist Anna Mae Aquash. The body of 30-year-old Aquash, a mother of two and a leader of the Black Panther-modeled American Indian Movement (AIM) was found in early 1976 along the edge of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. She had been shot at close range. Only over the last decade however have authorities determined that, “her killing was in fact an inside job, orchestrated by AIM members who believed she was working as an F.B.I. informer.” How do you reconcile that?

And btw, here’s one telling description of Aquash, a Mikmaq from Canada, as taken from a letter she once wrote to her sister:

“These white people think this country belongs to them. The whole country changed with only a handful of raggedy-ass pilgrims that came over here in the 1500s. And it can take a handful of raggedy-ass Indians to do the same, and I intend to be one of those raggedy-ass Indians.” On her first night in South Dakota, [AIM leader, Dennis] Banks told her that newcomers were needed on kitchen duty. “Mr. Banks,” she replied, “I didn’t come here to wash dishes. I came here to fight.”

In Minneapolis, Columbus Day Becomes Indigenous People’s Day

In Minneapolis, Columbus Day Becomes Indigenous People's Day

Today the 13-member Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to recognize another holiday on the same day as Columbus Day: Indigenous People’s Day.

“This has been a long time coming and people are going to feel really good about how we’re moving forward and advancing a racial equity agenda that really elevates the voice and contributions of American Indian people,” said the resolution’s author, council member Alondra Cano, CBS reported.

The name change came after “many” years of advocacy by Native American activists, the StarTribune reported. Hundreds came out to the city council for this morning’s vote.

The new name will replace Columbus Day on all city communications and will go into effect this year, but won’t officially do away with the name Columbus Day. Rather, Minneapolis will also recognize Indigenous People’s Day on the same date, the StarTribune reported.

Head to the StarTribune website for some great photos of today’s vote.

Report: At Least 14 Heat-Related Deaths in Texas Prisons Since 2007

Report: At Least 14 Heat-Related Deaths in Texas Prisons Since 2007

Overheating in Texas prisons is a deadly issue, according to a new report (PDF) from the University of Texas School of Law’s Human Rights Clinic reported by the Texas Tribune. Since 2007 at least 14 inmates in Texas state facilities have died as a result of overheating. The report’s authors call the conditions a violation of inmates’ constitutional rights.

Just how hot does it get? According to temperature logs kept by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, heat indices in some facilities surpassed 100 degrees by 8:30 in the morning, with temperatures spiking above 110 degrees for a heat index of 149 degrees. Investigations into heat-related deaths at state facilities found that temperatures were into the 90’s, even past midnight. These heat levels put people at “extreme danger” of heat disorders, according to the National Weather Service

And yet, Texas has repeatedly failed to provide proper air conditioning and ventilation to inmates, even though federal appellate courts have found that submitting inmates to extreme heat is a violation of inmates’ constitutional rights. 

And it’s not just affecting inmates. In 2012, 92 correctional officers suffered from heat-related injuries, the Texas Tribune reported. And while TDCJ facilities lack air conditioning for the general inmates population, “At the same time, the TDCJ has spent money on air conditioning for its warden offices and for its armories,” write report authors. Adding air conditioning to state prisons is “extremely expensive,” TDCJ spokesperson Jason Clark told the Texas Tribune.

Texas isn’t alone. Last year death row inmates at Louisana’s notorious Angola Prison filed a lawsuit charging the state corrections department with failing to provide relief for inmates on death row, where temperatures reach a whopping 195 degrees. 

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