Watch Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith in the ‘Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing’

Watch Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith in the 'Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing' Play

Jimmy Fallon made his debut as the new host of “The Tonight Show” last night, a move that’s widely seen as part of NBC’s effort to reach younger viewers. Fallon gave fans a new spin on one of his more popular skits and performed “The Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing” with Will Smith. It’s a classic.

Report Details Squalid Conditions of Richmond, Calif. Public Housing

Report Details Squalid Conditions of Richmond, Calif. Public Housing

The Center for Investigative Reporting just released a scathing new look at Richmond, Calif., home to one of the worst apartment buildings in one of the worst public housing agencies in the country.

Residents reportedly live in fear and squalor:

There were at least 16 life-threatening health and safety violations at the five public housing projects managed by the housing authority, according to the two most recent years of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports. Seniors and disabled residents lived amid exposed wiring and missing smoke detectors and fire alarms. Most well-kempt housing projects don’t have these major health and safety violations, HUD says.

Nearly 1 in 5 apartments in the Hacienda and Nevin Plaza complexes are infested with insects and cockroaches, inspection records show.

Then there are the indignities that don’t show up in formal government reports: A woman with no legs giving herself sponge baths from her bathroom sink because maintenance workers didn’t install a simple safety bar in her shower. The fire department rescuing a paralyzed veteran from his third-floor apartment because the elevators didn’t work for three days. A disabled man who watched in horror for nearly a month as raw sewage slowly dripped from the neighbor’s bathroom upstairs.

This is all happening under the watch of a badly mismanaged housing authority that millions of dollars in the red while its executive director, Tim Jones, bills taxpayers for expensive meals at high-end restaurants

Read more at the Center for Investigative Reporting


Campaign Aims to Treat Pregnant Women Who Battle Addiction

Campaign Aims to Treat Pregnant Women Who Battle Addiction

Young Women United, an Albuquerque-based reproductive justice organization that helped win a hard fought victory against New Mexico’s recent anti-abortion bill, is now focusing its lens on pregnant women who are battling drug addiction. 

The group says that instead of criminalizing these women, there should be more resources to help treat them. From Indiegogo:

Women who are substance using and pregnant at the same time face a criminal (in) justice system that only serves to shame and stigmatize addiction.  Mothers who use are often judged and told they must love their drugs more than their kids or that if they really loved their kids they would simply stop using.  We want to make a short video to highlight the powerful stories of strength and resiliency of our communities and shed light on the lived realities of people who struggle with addiction every day. By challenging exiting narratives around parenting and addiction, we hope to  demonstrate the need for increased access to prenatal care and treatment for women who are pregnant and substance using.

The group has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for their campaign to educate the public and impact public policy. The public education campaign draws from the first-hand experiences of women who have been pregnant and using substances at the same time. The goal is to “change the landscape of the way people think of addiction and parenting.”

Google May House Startups in San Francisco’s Historic Latino Community

Google May House Startups in San Francisco's Historic Latino Community

What’s worse than a Google Bus? Try a new Google office that houses startups in San Francisco’s Mission District, the longtime home of the city’s Latino community.

According to the Venture Capital Post:

 The former office of newspaper and catalogue printer Howard Quinn is big enough to accommodate 200 people. Located on 298 Alabama Street, the printer had been in business for half a century when it closed in 2012. The increasing popularity of online publishing, fueled by the technology of the search company, has proven to be very detrimental to printers, the report said.


Hardware firms could utilize the site for gadget and device development since the building which was constructed in the 1920s is zoned for manufacturing. With the leasing of the space, Google could be thinking of acquiring more startups focused on making hardware as it grows from web search and dips its hand into other markets like wearable technology, robotics and the Internet of Things, the report said.


The move highlights the growing trend of Internet firms in Silicon Valley where a fierce competition for tech talent has led them to expand in San Francisco so they can lure new employees who don’t want to commute to Mountain View, Palo Alto and Cupertino, the report said.

The Mission has long been a hotbed of displacement for the city’s Latino residents thanks to widespread evictions and gentrification. Case in point: the average rent for a one-bedroom in the Mission is more than $2,700.

(h/t Mission Local)

Rapper Danny Brown Tweets About His Struggle With Mental Illness

 Rapper Danny Brown Tweets About His Struggle With Mental Illness

Detroit-based rapper Danny Brown is known for painting dark and vivid images in his music. But this week on Twitter, he opened up about about how his own battle with depression impacts his work:

Alexander Hardy explained over at EBONY:

He was, however, speaking candidly about his mental health issues, talking openly about depression, insomnia, drug use and death.

“I can’t sleep my anxiety is at an all time high (sic) but don’t none of y’all care about that sh*t,” Danny confessed. Then, “Depression is serous y’all think I do drugs cause it’s fun.”

It’s not the first that Brown has spoken publicly about his struggles with depression and anxiety. Back in 2011, he told MTV about self-medicating with drugs like Aderrall, which needs to be looked at in the bigger picture. As Kellee Terrell pointed out at BET not too long ago, too many black boys and men are suffering through mental illness in silence. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third cause of death among African-American males between ages 15 and 24, behind homicide and accidents. And while suicide rates among Black men are lower than their white counterparts, our rates have gone up dramatically. A report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 to 1995, the suicide rate among African-Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233 percent, as compared to 120 percent of whites. Not to mention the suicide rates of Black men are four times higher than Black women.

Even facing that dismal reality, black men are the least likely to access mental health services thanks, in part, to how difficult it is for black men to get affordable health care. But, most importantly as Terrell points out, there’s also the stigma associated with mental illness that equates manhood with being “devoid of emotions.”

Get Ready for a Second Season of ‘Orange is the New Black’

Get Ready for a Second Season of 'Orange is the New Black' Play

Already finished with the second season of “House of Cards?” Then get ready for a new season of Netflix’s other hit original series “Orange is the New Black.” All 13 episodes of the second season will be available starting on June 6. Check out the above trailer. 

Workers Say No to Union in the South

Workers Say No to Union in the South

Repercussions are still being felt from a closely watched vote this weekend where workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee rejected representation by the United Auto Workers union. Theories abound for why workers—even with company support for unionization—rejected the UAW, 712-626 late Friday evening. But one conclusion is certain. The vote deals a huge blow not just to the UAW but to any union hoping to further organize workers in the South. Historically the least unionized region of the country, the South has been, over the last 20 years, the favored destination over the upper Midwest, of foreign-owned carmakers. It is also the region, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a higher than average growth rate in temporary employment. Roughly 39 percent of all temp employment in the country is in the south.

African-Americans, according to this 2013 ProPublica investigation into temp work, are 11 percent of the overall workforce but more than 20 percent of temp workers. Latinos comprise 20 percent.

(h/t In These Times)

Rinku Sen: Fighting ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Is The Anti-Lynching Movement Of Our Time

Rinku Sen: Fighting 'Stand Your Ground' Law Is The Anti-Lynching Movement Of Our Time

Colorlines publisher and executive director of Race Forward, Rinku Sen, was a guest on the Melissa Harris-Perry show to discuss the dimensions of the Michael Dunn case on Sunday. “What Michael Dunn expected from that interaction was not respect but submission,” she said quoting Tonyaa Weathersbee. “Stand Your Ground laws codify that expectation of submission from young black people to white men.” Rinku goes on to explain how the prosecution’s failure to acknowledge that prevents us from truly highlighting the racial dimensions of this case. 

Steve McQueen Doesn’t Want Another ‘12 Years a Slave’

Steve McQueen Doesn't Want Another '12 Years a Slave'

Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” took home the British Academy of Film and Television Award’s prize for best film.

In his acceptance speech, McQueen put the film in political context. “Right now there are 21 million people in slavery,” the director said. “I just hope that 150 years from now our ambivalence will not allow another film-maker to make this film.”

British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor  won the award for best actor for his portrayal of Solomon Northup, a black man who was born free and later sold into slavery.

(h/t BBC)

Hung Jury for Michael Dunn’s Count of First-Degree Murder

Hung Jury for Michael Dunn's Count of First-Degree Murder

A jury of 12 people in Duval County, Fla., could not make a unanimous decision about whether to find Michael Dunn, 47, guilty in connection to the killing of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. The jury did find Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted murder, and of shooting a firearm.

Dunn, who is white, shot and killed Davis, who was black, after complaining about what Dunn described as “thug music” coming from Davis’ friend’s SUV in a Jacksonville convenience store parking lot in November 2012. Dunn testified that he saw the barrel of a gun in the vehicle—yet an investigation revealed that there was never a weapon in the SUV. He claimed that the vehicle’s music was blaring “ridiculously loud,” yet he also says he heard Davis threaten to kill him.

Dunn grabbed his semi-automatic pistol from his car’s glove compartment, fired nine bullets into the vehicle Davis was occupying, along with Tevin Thompson, Leland Brunson, and Tommie Stornes, and killed Davis. Dunn, along with his fiancé, who was purchasing snacks at the convenience store when the killing occurred, returned to the hotel room where the two were staying, ordered pizza and went to sleep. The following morning, they drove home, nearly 200 miles away from Jacksonville. It was then that Dunn finally contacted a friend in law enforcement about turning himself in.

While awaiting trial, Dunn wrote numerous letters that indicate his anxiety over the jury’s racial makeup and his deepening prejudice against black people. In one letter, Dunn explains:

“I just got off the phone with you and we were taking about how racist the blacks are up here. The more time I am exposed to these people, the more prejudiced against them I become.”

In another, Dunn complains that “jails are full of blacks,” and proposes a troubling solution:

“This may sound a bit radical, but if more people would arm themselves and kill these fucking idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.”

He also wrote about his plans to find a “slimy civil-law lawyer” to sue Duval County for “reverse-discrimination.”

Jurors could not come to one decision about the charge of first degree murder, but did find Dunn guilty for the attempted murders of  Tevin Thompson, Leland Brunson, and Tommie Stornes, who were riding in the SUV with Davis the evening of his death.

Dunn has maintained that he was acting in self-defense. The case stems out of Florida—where more than one million people carry concealed weapons—and has consistently drawn parallels to the George Zimmerman case, which ended in a not guilty verdict for Zimmerman in connection to the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Brooklyn Comedian Gives Us Valentine’s Day Gone Wrong

Brooklyn Comedian Gives Us Valentine's Day Gone Wrong

Whether you love or loathe Valentine’s Day, this take on it from Brooklyn comedian Marie Faustin will make you chuckle. 

(h/t Afropunk)

What Did Prince Look Like in 1977?

What Did Prince Look Like in 1977?

West Hollywood’s Mr. Musichead Gallery is set to exhibit a set of photos of Prince from 1977. Photographer Robert Whitman was apparently the first to shoot Prince, who was either 18 or 19 at the time, in his studio, at a friend’s home and on the streets of Minneapolis.

The exhibition, which runs for a month, opens for a private reception on February 20, and then to the public on February 21. 

(h/t Flygirrl.) 

Palestinian ‘Arab Idol’ Winner Booted From World Cup Performance

Palestinian 'Arab Idol' Winner Booted From World Cup Performance

Palestinian “Arab Idol” winner Mohammad Assaf said at a recent press conference that he’s been banned from performing at the World Cup opening ceremony this summer because of some “countries” or “groups” — he didn’t specify who — pulled the plug.

Milanna Knezevic explains over at Policy Link:

Assaf, a former wedding singer, has become somewhat of Palestinian hero; when his victory was announced, people in Gaza and Ramallah poured onto the streets in celebration.

In addition to singing patriotic Palestinian songs, Assaf has made political statements on a number of occassions: “We are searching for our rights, for peace, unity and the end of the occupation and illegal Israeli settlements,” he said to the New York Times in December.

But Assaf’s popularity, which has made headlines abroad, has also drawn criticism.

In an email complaining to Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Palestinian children are “educated to hate Jews, while Palestinian officials continue to call for their deaths.” He also included a link to one of Assaf’s performance of ali al-keffiyeh, a Palestinian folk song.

But there is some good news in all of this. Shakira, who performed at the World Cup’s opening ceremony back in 2010, has reportedly decided to boycott this year’s opening ceremony in Brazil in protest of Assaf’s ousture. 



‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Jesse Williams Speaks Out on Jordan Davis Murder

'Grey's Anatomy' Star Jesse Williams Speaks Out on Jordan Davis Murder

Jesse Williams thinks everyone in America should be outraged over the death of black teenager Jordan Davis, and they should channel that outrage to the man on trial for his murder, Michael Dunn, the 47-year-old white man who reportedly shot Davis over loud music. “It is not a black problem,” Williams told HLN. “It is a white problem. This is an American problem. It is a societal problem.”

De La Soul to Give Away Entire Catalogue to Celebrate 25th Anniversary

De La Soul to Give Away Entire Catalogue to Celebrate 25th Anniversary

Pioneering hip-hop group De La Soul is giving away the best ever Valentine’s Day gift—their entire catalogue for free starting Friday, February 14 (yes, today) until Saturday at noon EST. The music will be available on the group’s website

“It’s about allowing our fans who have been looking and trying to get a hold of our music to have access to it,” De La Soul member Posdnuous told Rolling Stone. “Its been too long where our fans haven’t had access to everything. This is our way of showing them how much we love them.”

Get your hard drive ready.

(h/t Rolling Stone)

Twitter Reacts to Upcoming George Zimmerman Interview

Twitter Reacts to Upcoming George Zimmerman Interview

The call went out on Twitter early this morning: #CancelTheInterview. Next Tuesday, CNN’s Chris Cuomo will air an interview with George Zimmerman, the man whom a Florida jury last year acquitted of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. His death and his parents’ grief prompted demonstrations across the country.

A petition with more than 500 signatures so far, has also been posted. Zimmerman resurfaced in the news recently because of an on-again, off-again boxing match, originally with rapper DMX. That fight was called off via Tweet on February 8th. But conflicting reports suggest a fight, opponent and location unknown, may happen after all.

Is it irresponsible for journalists to interview Zimmerman? Or, is the media simply doing its job? Weigh in.

White Sports Anchor Quotes Audre Lorde to Defend Michael Sam

White Sports Anchor Quotes Audre Lorde to Defend Michael Sam Play

Sports anchor Dale Hansen sent shockwaves throughout the sports world this week when he quoted Audre Lorde on live TV in Dallas to defend Micheal Sam. It’s an impassioned defense even before he quotes Lorde, but to see an older white man do this on television in the South? Amazing.

Read the full transcript of Hansen’s comments.

(h/t Mother Jones)

Comic Explains San Francisco’s Class War, by the Numbers

Comic Explains San Francisco's Class War, by the Numbers

In case you haven’t already heard, San Francisco is in the middle of a class war. The city’s tech-driven gentrification is now part of a national conversation about income inequality. But if there’s one symbol for it in San Francisco, it’s the much-maligned Google buses that shuttle workers from the city’s hottest neighborhoods to the company’s campus in neighboring Mountain View.

But Bay Area-based journalist Susie Cagle is tired of talking about the buses. She’s more interested in talking about money, and to that end, she’s made a brilliant comic that details what’s happening in San Francisco. For us, it’s particularly worth nothing that as the city gets wealthier, it also gets decidedly whiter. My colleague Julianne Hing has reported on the increase in evictions in the city, which have pushed many families of color out of their longtime homes. 

Read Susie Cagle’s comic over at Medium. 

Black Students Most Underrepresented Among AP Test Takers

Black Students Most Underrepresented Among AP Test Takers

Despite big gains in the number of AP exam test takers in the last decade, large racial gaps among test-takers persist according to a new report released by the College Board (PDF) this week. In 2013, the College Board administered 3.1 million AP exams for 1 million students, compared to the 1.3 million exams the College Board administered in 2003 for 514,163 students. Still, AP exam takers are more likely to come from wealthier families, and black students in particular are underrepresented among those who take AP tests, which offer high school students a chance to gain college-level credit. 

Nearly half, or 48.1 percent, of U.S. students qualify for free or reduced lunch, but among AP exam takers 27.5 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch. Black students were 14.5 percent of the graduating class of 2013 in the U.S., but 9.2 percent of the nation’s AP exam takers. Black students are the most underrepresented racial group among AP exam takers. In only two states in the country—Hawaii and Idaho—is there parity between the two.

American Indian students were 1 percent of the 2013 U.S. high school graduating class but 0.6 percent of those who took AP exams, while Latino students made up roughly 19 percent of both the graduating class and AP exam takers. Asian American and Pacific Islander students are 5.9 percent of students who graduated from high school in 2013 but 10.7 percent of AP exam takers. White students are 58 percent of those who graduated from high school in 2013 but 56 percent of AP exam takers.

What’s more, the College Board found that nearly 300,000 students who are AP-ready haven’t taken an AP-level courses. Read the full report (PDF) for more, including state-by-state breakdowns.

Nicki Minaj Exploits Malcolm X For Her Song’s Tasteless Artwork

Nicki Minaj Exploits Malcolm X For Her Song's Tasteless Artwork

Best line of the day comes from For Harriet, “The image is a musician’s equivalent of using MLK’s portrait for party flyers.”

But this is probably even worse since the iconic photo of Malcolm X was taken at a time when he genuinely had to protect his family’s safety while Minaj just wants to tell the world that she’s sexy.

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