Where Slavery Still Exists

Where Slavery Still Exists

More than 29 million people around the world are still living in slavery. According to the first-ever Global Slavery Index 2013, the Caribbean country Haiti ranks second in prevalence after Mauritania in West Africa. Pakistan ranks third on a list in which mainly African and Asian countries predominate. The definition of modern slavery according to this report, includes debt bondage, forced marriage, child labor, human trafficking and forced labor. The United States ranks on the low-end (134th in the world), according to the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation. But, it is still a destination for all of the above.

(h/t AFP)

Supaman Makes Beats in Regalia

Supaman Makes Beats in Regalia

Christian Takes Gun Parrish (Crow), also known as Supaman, is a well-known fancy dancer. But he also makes incredible layered hip-hop beats. One day, he found that didn’t have time to change out of his regalia before performing a hip-hop set. The result was pretty fabulous, and is illustrated in Supaman’s “Prayer Loop Song.”

Read more about Supaman in the Billings Gazette.

(h/t ICTMN)

Learn About the Life of Trans Activist and Actress Marsha P. Johnson

Learn About the Life of Trans Activist and Actress Marsha P. Johnson Play

Don’t have any plans this weekend? Then it’s a great time to watch “Pay It No Mind,” a new documentary about the life and work of Marsha P. Johnson, a trans activist who played an important role in the Stonewall Rebellion and also worked as an Andy Warhol model, drag queen, sex worker and actress. It’s available for free online. Watch above.

From Shadow and Act:

With her final interview from 1992, Pay It No Mind captures the legendary gay/human rights activist as she recounts her life at the forefront of The Stonewall Riots in the 1960s, the creation of S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) with Sylvia Rivera in the ’70s, and a New York City activist throughout the ’80s and early ’90s.

The film features interviews with Marsha, as well as in-depth interviews with gay activist Randy Wicker, former Cockettes performer Agosto Machado, author Michael MustoHot Peaches founder/performer, Jimmy Camicia, and Stonewall activists Bob KohlerDanny GarvinTommy Lanigan-Schmidt, and Martin Boyce.

Read more at Shadow and Act. 


Medals of Honor Awarded to Vets Robbed Due to Racism

Medals of Honor Awarded to Vets Robbed Due to Racism

President Obama will award the highest military commendation, the Medal of Honor, next month to 19 Jewish, Latino, and African-American Army veterans who were robbed of the designation due to racial discrimination.

The awards are the outcome of a 12-year review and reassessment of Medal of Honor recipients by the Pentagon as ordered by Congress to investigate historical racism among military ranks.

The list of those who’ll receive the distinguished honor includes 17 Latino soldiers and one African-American veteran, although according to The Washington Post, Congress’ order did not initially include a review of black soliders.

More from WaPo:

Defense Department officials said there was specific evidence to suggest such discrimination may have existed in the ranks, including instances when Hispanic and Jewish soldiers apparently changed their names to hide their ethnicity. The Congressional order spanned the period from December 1941 through September 2001.

The project was an enormous undertaking that sent military personnel officials searching for lost records and battlefield histories amid the complicated politics surrounding the military’s highest honor.

The review was further complicated by a 1973 fire that destroyed millions of military files at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. 

Of the new Medal of Honor recipients, only three are still living

TAGS: military Obama

Girl Scout Sets Up Outside of Local Weed Shop, Sells Lots of Cookies

Girl Scout Sets Up Outside of Local Weed Shop, Sells Lots of Cookies

Girl Scout Danielle Lei, 13, knew exactly what her customers wanted when she set up her cookie table outside of the Green Cross, a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood. And that’s how she sold 147 boxes of cookies in mere minutes, according to Mashable

“It’s no secret that cannabis is a powerful appetite stimulant, so we knew this would be a very beneficial endeavor for the girls,” Holli Bert, a staff member at The Green Cross, told Mashable in an email. “It’s all about location, and what better place to sell Girl Scout cookies than outside a medical cannabis collective?”

(h/t Facebook)

Black Juror in Dunn Case Breaks Silence, Says Race Wasn’t a Factor

Black Juror in Dunn Case Breaks Silence, Says Race Wasn't a Factor

CNN’s Alina Machado spoke with 21-year-old Creshuna Miles—one of two black women who served on the Michael Dunn murder trial jury. Miles, who was one of nine jurors who voted to convict Dunn, says she believes he’s guilty of second-degree murder—and that, for her, the case was about justice, not race.

(h/t The Root)

Darren Sharper and the Myth of People Who Are ‘Too Sexy’ To Rape

Darren Sharper and the Myth of People Who Are 'Too Sexy' To Rape

A scandal of monumental proportions is unfolding in the NFL right now and it involves former player and television analyst Darren Sharper, who’s currently being investigated in an eighth rape allegation. If he’s found guilty, it wouldn’t be the first time that a former professional football player was unmasked as a serial rapist; former All-Pro running back David Meggett is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence in South Carolina after being named in at least three different sexual assault investigations. In both cases, if you get past the downright racist comments on message boards, a troubling excuse has bubbled to the surface: these strong, powerful and good-looking men don’t need to rape anyone to have sex.

Erin Gloria Ryan takes that to task over at Jezebel. “Rapists do not want to fuck,” Ryan writes. “They want to rape.”

Despite the mounting evidence against him, some people seem to believe that a good looking man couldn’t possibly be a monster. If moral people aren’t always usually exceptionally good looking, then has Disney been leading me astray all these years? Sick garbage-people come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and, yeah, sometimes they’re handsome and maybe they once dated Gabrielle Union and maybe they do charity work. Maybe they have money and look really good in suits. None of this means they’re incapable of rape. Allowing an alleged rapist’s attractiveness and money to cast doubt on his innocence or guilt displays a profound lack of understanding of what rape is, what it’s about, and who does it. It also gives people yet another excuse to doubt rape victims. These hoes are lying, obviously. Because of course they wanted to fuck him. Because everybody wanted to fuck him.

Read more over at Jezebel.

NBC’s Brian Williams Raps ‘Rapper’s Delight’ and It’s Awesome

NBC's Brian Williams Raps 'Rapper's Delight' and It's Awesome Play

Once again, Jimmy Fallon is killin’ it on “The Tonight Show.” This clip appeared on the show earlier this week. 

Kentucky Debates Easing Felony Disenfranchisement Laws

Kentucky Debates Easing Felony Disenfranchisement Laws

More than one in five of black residents of voting age in Kentucky cannot vote. The state ranks among the harshest in the country for felony disenfranchisement but according to Stateline, that could change this election year. With a compromise assist from Republican Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky could join states like Delaware and more than two dozen others in easing voting restrictions. But the battle is far from over. Some states like South Dakota have actually tightened restrictions in recent years. Nearly six million people, according to The Sentencing Project, cannot vote due to felony disenfranchisement laws. More than seven percent are African-American.

Check out Stateline’s map to see where your state stands compared to the rest of the country on felony disenfranchisement and policies by state. Is your state’s record better or worse than you expected?

Watch Michelle Obama’s Dance Party With Jimmy Fallon on ‘Tonight Show’

Watch Michelle Obama's Dance Party With Jimmy Fallon on 'Tonight Show' Play

Jimmy Fallon continued his strong first week on “The Tonight Show” by bringing Michelle Obama on as a guest during the show’s “Ew” segment. FLOTUS joined Fallon and Will Ferrell in a super cute (if, at times, awkward) dance party. 

New York to End Solitary Confinement for Youth and Pregnant Inmates

New York to End Solitary Confinement for Youth and Pregnant Inmates

Update Wednesday, March 5 at 12:03 p.m.: New York is not ending solitary confinement for developmentally disabled inmates as previously reported. It is limiting these inmates’ time in isolation to 30 hours. 


New York will end the practice of solitary confinement for certain classes of inmates, including youth and pregnant inmates as part of an agreement announced Wednesday, the New York Times reported. The landmark agreement stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union challenging the state’s confinement practices. Some 3,800 prisoners are held in solitary confinement every day for between 22 and 24 hours as punishment for violating prison rules, according to the NYCLU. And now, New York will be the largest correctional system in the country which prohibits solitary confinement for youth inmates.

Solitary confinement is an ineffective and inhumane form of punishment, advocates have long argued. It exacerbates or even causes mental illness, and can increase rates of recidivism, the NYCLU argued. New York has been confining inmates to solitary confinement for months and even decades, when experts have argued that the maximum “tolerable span” one can spend in solitary confinement is closer to 15 to 30 days. 

“This agreement is an important step toward dignity and decency,” Leroy Peoples, a lead plaintiff in the lawsuit who served 780 consecutive days in solitary confinement as punishment for filing false legal documents, said via the NYCLU.

If the reform moves as scheduled, the lawsuit should be resolved in two years, the New York Times reported.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Writes About Nigeria’s Anti-Gay Law

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Writes About Nigeria's Anti-Gay Law

On January 7, dozens of Nigerians were arrested after the country passed a draconian anti-gay law that punishes homosexuality with a life sentence in prison. Similar legislation appears to be headed for Uganda. Global gay rights watchdogs have noted that such bills are often the work of U.S. Evangelicals, who they say must take repsonsibility for their actions. Now, a prominent Nigerian voice has spoken out against the law. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie takes on the common arguments posed by supporters of the bill, including that being gay is “un-African.”

The new law that criminalizes homosexuality is popular among Nigerians. But it shows a failure of our democracy, because the mark of a true democracy is not in the rule of its majority but in the protection of its minority - otherwise mob justice would be considered democratic. The law is also unconstitutional, ambiguous, and a strange priority in a country with so many real problems. Above all else, however, it is unjust. Even if this was not a country of abysmal electricity supply where university graduates are barely literate and people die of easily-treatable causes and Boko Haram commits casual mass murders, this law would still be unjust. We cannot be a just society unless we are able to accommodate benign difference, accept benign difference, live and let live. We may not understand homosexuality, we may find it personally abhorrent but our response cannot be to criminalize it.

A crime is a crime for a reason. A crime has victims. A crime harms society. On what basis is homosexuality a crime? Adults do no harm to society in how they love and whom they love. This is a law that will not prevent crime, but will, instead, lead to crimes of violence: there are already, in different parts of Nigeria, attacks on people ‘suspected’ of being gay. Ours is a society where men are openly affectionate with one another. Men hold hands. Men hug each other. Shall we now arrest friends who share a hotel room, or who walk side by side? How do we determine the clunky expressions in the law - ‘mutually beneficial,’ ‘directly or indirectly?’

Read the entire piece at NewsWireNGR.

Nas Documentary ‘Time Is Illmatic’ to Open Tribeca Film Festival

Nas Documentary 'Time Is Illmatic' to Open Tribeca Film Festival Play

This year’s annual Tribeca Film Festival starts on April 16 and it’s opening with a documentary “Time is Illmatic” on rapper Nas’ seminal 1994 album “Illmatic.” The film’s debut will be followed by a live performance of the entire album from Nas.

The rapper issued a statement on the film’s official release: 

“I want to thank the Tribeca Film Festival for supporting the film with the incredible platform they’ve built over the years,” Nas said in the announcement. “It’s an honor to premiere this film in my hometown. I also want to thank One9 and Erik Parker for their persistence and hard work. Those guys and I come from the same place and era, which gives the doc an authenticity that is important to me. We wanted this film to represent the real, from the storyline all the way down to the directors and producers.”

Jane Rosenthal, CEO and co-founder of Tribeca Film Festival, praised the film. “Like the festival itself, ‘Time is Illmatic’ and the groundbreaking body of work it recognizes has roots grounded in New York City, but represents and reaches communities far beyond.”

TAGS: hip-hop Nas video

Report: People of Color More Likely to Serve Time in Private Prisons

Report: People of Color More Likely to Serve Time in Private Prisons

According to a new study by University of California at Berkeley researcher Christopher Petrella, people of color who are sentenced to prison are more likely than their white counterparts to serve their time in private institutions.  Katie Rose Quandt points out at Mother Jones that those private prisons have higher levels of violence and recidivism (PDF) and provide less sufficient health care and educational programming than equivalent public facilities.

In Petrella’s study, age and race work in a very specific way when it comes to private prisons. From Bill Moyers:

Why would African American and Latino prisoners be cheaper to incarcerate than whites? Because older prisoners are significantly more expensive than younger ones. “Based on historical sentencing patterns, if you are a prisoner today, and you are over 50 years old, there is a greater likelihood that you are white,” Petrella explained to “If you are under 50 years old — particularly if you’re closer to 30 years old — you’re more likely to be a person of color.” He cited a 2012 report by the ACLU which found that it costs $34,135 per year to house a non-geriatric prisoner, compared with $68,270 for a prisoner age 50 or older.

Here’s what that looks like:















Quandt takes a deeper dive into how this data helps bolster the argument that the prison industry cares more about profit than rehabilitation. Read more at Mother Jones


Can Big Labor Organize the South?

Can Big Labor Organize the South?

When autoworkers at a Tennessee plant vetoed union representation last Friday, many observers saw the loss not just as a blow to the United Auto Workers but to future organizing efforts in the region. If big labor is to take the South (and hope to be relevant nationally), experts say, it’ll need to get better at reaching workers of color.

According to Cornell labor professor Kate Bronfenbrenner in a New York Times op-ed this week, “The South has more manufacturing units with a majority black workers, immigrant workers, low-wage workers and women of colorthose most likely to choose unions — and fewer majority white male manufacturing units — those least likely to choose unions.”

Prominent voices on the left like Timothy Noah and others allege that the UAW lost the Chattanooga plant because of stereotypical Southern racist undercurrents. One May op-ed in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press compared the UAW to “an invading Union army.” But it’s difficult to assess that charge. Reporting in the weeks leading up to and after the vote rarely mentions the plant’s racial demographics or even, how race and gender shaped organizing tactics on both the pro- and anti-labor sides.

Going forward says African-American Kenneth Riley, head of a South Carolina local, big labor must factor this reality into their campaign strategies: “unions are most likely to be successful in units where the majority of the workers are minorities, people of color and women.” And, says Douglas Williams, a PhD student at the University of Alabama, in order to make inroads, big labor must take organizing cues from worker centers and prioritize community engagement.

Juror Says Michael Dunn Got Away with Murder

Juror Says Michael Dunn Got Away with Murder

ABC’s Nightline aired an exclusive interview with one of 12 jurors who served during Michael Dunn’s trial for the murder of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. The juror, who prefers to be known only as Valerie, says she believes Dunn got away with murder—and also details how jurors couldn’t come to a unanimous decision about the first-degree murder charge.

You can watch the full segment online, although it may require a cable provider password. 

NYC’s Gentrification, Seen Through Google Street View GIFs

NYC's Gentrification, Seen Through Google Street View GIFs

Artist and programmer Justin Blinder, who Gothamist points out has lived in a dozen apartments in just six years of living in New York City,  took raw data from the NYC Department of City Planning and the Google Maps Street View cache to create snapshots of how gentrification has altered the Big Apple’s landscape. And, as this National Housing Institute report lays out, lower income residents of color are trying to fight back.

See more at Gothamist, including an interview with Blinder on why he decided to do the project.

23-Year-Old Woman Grows Beard to Get More in Touch With Femininity

23-Year-Old Woman Grows Beard to Get More in Touch With Femininity Play

Harnaam Kaur, 23, suffers with polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes excessive hair growth. She’s spent most of her life juggling different waxes and shaving creams to rid herself of the hair and was relentlessly bullied by classmates. But she made the decision to let her facial and chest hair grow out, and says that she’s never felt more feminine. Watch her story.

Warning: Unfortunately, the above video carries the really problematic title of “Bearded Lady,” which just sensationalizes Kaur’s experience.

(h/t Buzzfeed)

Watch the Trailer for 9th Wonder’s Harvard Stint, ‘The Hip-Hop Fellow’

Watch the Trailer for 9th Wonder's Harvard Stint, 'The Hip-Hop Fellow' Play

Hip-Hop is slowly taking a foothold in the academy. From Bun B’s appointment to Rice University’s religious studies department to Dr. Dre’s massive endowment to the University of Southern California, rappers are bringing their craft into the classroom. One of the most important appointments, however, as been 9th Wonder’s fellowship at Harvard, which is now the subject of a new documentary called “The Hip-Hop Fellow.”

The film features interviews include Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Kendrick Lamar, Rapper Big Pooh and DJ Premier, among others. From Price Films:

The Hip-Hop Fellow is a 78 minute documentary following Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder’s tenure at Harvard University as he teaches ‘The Standards of Hip-Hop’ course, conducts research for his thesis and explores hip-hop’s history, culture and role in academia. The film centers on the emerging significance of incorporating hip-hop studies into the academy and spotlights the scholars and musicians at the forefront of preserving 40 years of hip-hop culture.

Read more.

(h/t New Black Man)

Janet Mock Talks Preferred Gender Pronouns on ‘The Colbert Report’

Janet Mock Talks Preferred Gender Pronouns on 'The Colbert Report' Play

Janet Mock was on “The Colbert Report” last night, and neither she nor Stephen Colbert tried to shy away from her recent controversey with CNN’s Piers Morgan. The two do spend a good amount of time talking about preferred gender pronouns, and it’s an instructive exchange. 

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