NAACP Comes Out in Support of Bipartisan Marijuana Legislation

NAACP Comes Out in Support of Bipartisan Marijuana Legislation

The NAACP recently came out in support of  H.R. 1523 — the Respect States Marijuana Laws Act, an uncommonly bipartisan bill currently being considered by Congress that would further expand protections for states hoping to legalize the drug. This isn’t the first time the NAACP has spoken out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, who frequently refers to it as a civil rights issue. There are wide disparities in the numbers of people of color arrested for marijuana related offenses with young black and Latino men make up the majority of arrests nationwide, although young white men and women consume marijuana at higher rates.

Tom Angell, Chairman of Marijuana Majority, told the Huffington Post the NAACP’s support is significant.

“Having the NAACP’s support for a states’ rights approach to marijuana reform is going to have a huge impact and will provide comfort and cover to politicians and prominent people who want to see prohibition end but who are a little skittish about states getting too far ahead of the feds on this issue.”

The announcement comes in the 43rd year of the War on Drugs, during which President Obama has continued to crack down on illegal drugs. Check out The Nation’s most recent feature on “Obama’s War on Drugs.” 

Puerto Rican Film ‘Por Amor En El Caserio’ Premiers in New York

Puerto Rican Film 'Por Amor En El Caserio' Premiers in New York

Tonight, movie-goers in New York City can check out the premier of the much-anticipated film “Por Amor En El Caserio” at John Jay College. Directed by Luis Enrique Rodriguez and produced by Antonio Morales, the film is a retelling of “Romeo and Juliet” set in San Juan’s Luis Llorens Torres housing projects.  An adaptation of Rodriguez’s popular play by the the same name, the film explores themes of love, drugs and violence, focusing on the blossoming romance between characters Cristal and Angelo. Originally released in Puerto Rico in September, the film sold out three weeks in a row, and has received popular acclaim for its representations of real-life situations among low-income public housing communities on the island. 

Malcolm X’s Diary Will Be Published This Week

Malcolm X's Diary Will Be Published This Week

Malcolm X diligently kept a diary during the last year of his life as he broke away from the Nation of Islam and traveled throughout Africa and the Middle East. Now, decades after his death, those intimate thoughts will be made public in a book that’s slated for release this Thursday, November 14, 2013.

The Diary of Malcolm X will be published by Chicago-based Third World Press and will be co-edited by one of the slain activist’s daughters, Ilyasah Shabazz.

“It’s really beautiful that we get to see Malcolm in his own voice — without scholars, historians, or observers saying what he was thinking or what he was doing or what he meant,” Shabazz says in a video released by the publisher.

But other surviving Shabazz family members are apparently not on board with the project and have filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court to stop the book’s publication.

The diaries are part of a trove of papers that were loaned to the New York Public Library by Malcolm X’s daughters in 2003.

(h/t The Guardian)

Some of Your Favorite Hip-Hop Albums Turn 20 This Year

Some of Your Favorite Hip-Hop Albums Turn 20 This Year

Hip-hop is a culture that prides itself on youthful energy, so it’s hard to imagine that some of its most popular and influential all-time albums turn 20 years old this year. Here’s a quick list, and let us know in the comments if there’s one that you’d like to add.

Enter the Wu (36 Chambers), Wu Tang. 

Released November 9, 1993, this album eventually went platinum.

Organix, The Roots

Released May 19, 1993, this was The Roots’ debut album.

Midnight Marauders, A Tribe Called Quest

Released November 9, 1993 and easily considered a hip-hop classic.

Doggystyle, Snoop Dogg

Released November 23, 1993, this was one of the most controversial albums of the gangsta rap era.

93’ Till Infinity, Souls of Mischief

Released September 28, 1993, this one’s a West Coast classic.

Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z, 2pac

Released on February 16, 1993, this was 2pac’s second studio album.

Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), Digable Planets

Released September 27, 1993, the single “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)eventually broke into the Top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100.

Tristan Walker’s Plans to Increase Diversity in Silicon Valley

Tristan Walker's Plans to Increase Diversity in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley, and the U.S. tech sector in general, is notoriously white and male. The lack of diversity and equity in the tech sector is starting to be addressed in small ways by a (slowly) growing number of entrepreneurs and developers of color, but the industry has a long way to go. 

Among the movers and shakers trying to change the monochromatic boys club of Silicon Valley, and New York’s burgeoning Silicon Alley, is 29-year-old Tristan Walker. He’s best known for managing business development for Four Square, but has recently moved on to pursue other ventures. 

In an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered, Walker talks about growing up in public housing in Queens, N.Y., the lack of role models in the industry, and his first experiences grappling with white privilege in academia and the tech sector.  

“A lot of my classmates had a confidence that I’d never seen before,” he says. “It was almost as if the world just worked for them in a way that they expected it to.”

Now, Walker is trying increase diversity in Silicon Valley and beyond with a new organization called Code 2040—named for the anticipated year when minorities will become the majority in the U.S.—which is an internship program for black and Latino students interested in tech. Listen to his full interview on NPR’s Code Switch

At One California High School, ‘Arabs’ Are Just the Mascots

At One California High School, 'Arabs' Are Just the Mascots

At Coachella Valley High School in Southern California, “Arabs” aren’t really part of the student demographics. They’re just the mascot.

From Deadspin:

The sports teams at Coachella Valley High School are the Arabs. The students aren’t allactually Arabs; it’s just their name. This is not an all-Arab school. The cheerleaders have “ARABS” across the front of their uniforms. The mascot is a hook-nosed, sinister-looking Arab wearing a keffiyeh and an outfit probably rejected by Aladdin. A belly dancer performs at halftime. The kids chant, “Let’s go Arabs, let’s go!” (At least they’re not pronouncing it “Ay-rabs.”) It is fucking surreal.

Now the Arab-Amercan Anti-Discrimination Committee is getting involved. The group sent a letter (.PDF) to the school calling on it to change its name, writing that the name is “a harmful form of ethnic stereotyping which should be eliminated.”

District superintendent Darryl Adams says he is taking the complaint seriously. “We’re very sensitive to that and how we’re going to work to make sure, maybe sometimes you should have some consultations when we’re working with other groups and cultures,” he told KESQ.

54 Arrested in Los Angeles During Walmart Protest

54 Arrested in Los Angeles During Walmart Protest

Dozens of Walmart workers and activists were arrested last night protesting the company’s labor practices and retaliatory behavior in Los Angeles’ Chinatown last night in what organizers are calling the largest act of civil disobedience in Walmart history.

Workers, clergy and activists sat down in the middle of Cesar Chavez Avenue in a circle outside the company’s new Chinatown store last night. Some 825,000 Walmart workers make less than $25,000 a year, workers say. Richard Reynoso is one of them, despite having a rare-for-Walmart full-time position as an overnight stocker.

“I got arrested today becuase I believe that taking this step will encourage others to be brave and step forward and stand up to the world’s largest retailer,” Reynoso said in a statement. “Walmart can’t silence me.”

The civil disobedience followed a protest outside a Walmart store in the working class Los Angeles suburb of Paramount, where 100 people gathered. The actions are supported by OUR Walmart, a union-backed workers group which organized the first strike in Walmart history last year. 

Watch bell hooks and Melissa Harris Perry Talk About Black Feminism

Watch bell hooks and Melissa Harris Perry Talk About Black Feminism

The New School is hosting its scholar-in-residence, bell hooks, and MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry in conversation. The best part? You can watch it live today from 3:30-5pm EST. Tune in. 

Who Is Ines Rau, the Gorgeous Transgender Woman Posing With Tyson Beckford?

Who Is Ines Rau, the Gorgeous Transgender Woman Posing With Tyson Beckford?

Tyson Beckford posed for a series of gorgeous (and pretty raunchy) photos with transgender model Ines Rau. The shoot was for OOB Magazine’s “Tropical Surrealism” spread and was photographed by Rodolpho Martinez. You can see the rest of the NSFW photos here.

But who exactly is Ines Rau, the gorgeous transgender model who’s posing with Beckford? She’s a 24-year-old New York City-based French model of North African descent who was inspired to come out by Carolina “Tula” Cossey, an English model who’s appeared in a James Bond film and posed for “Playboy.” In an interview with Models of the Minute Rau said, “After reading [Tolu’s] book [I Am Woman] at least two times I realized how important it is to assume who you are with no fears.”

When asked what she would say to children who are struggling with their gender identities, Rau said: 

Having a sex change is not the answer to insecurities or other issues, a lot of transgender do not understand that it has to be done with reflection: because of a real deep desire to be a woman from a younger age. It’s fabulous the level of happiness- it’s just absolutely impossible to describe. I’m the happiest girl in the world, just being what I wanted to be. You have to love yourself enough to go for it without the fear of being judged or rejected. That’s my advice for them.

Read more of her interview here

Hari Kondabolu Reports on Sikh Captain America

Hari Kondabolu Reports on Sikh Captain America

Comedian Hari Kondabolu caught up with Captain Sikh America on the streets of New York City for FX’s “Totally Biased.” The man behind the costume is Vishavjit Singh, an editorial cartoonist behind Sikhtoons, who came up with the idea in the aftermath of the 2012 Sikh temple shootings in Wisconsin. 

Watch Traffic Cop Mentoria Hutchinson Dance in the Streets

Watch Traffic Cop Mentoria Hutchinson Dance in the Streets

Brooklyn native Mentoria Hutchinson has been directing traffic since 1980. The 61-year-old started dancing in the streets after she was injured on the job as a way to help her feel safe, and keep her happy. Watch her adorable video, part of the New York Times Character Study Column

TAGS: dance Videos

PBS ‘NewsHour’ Called Out for Lack of Diversity

PBS 'NewsHour' Called Out for Lack of Diversity

America’s publicly funded broadcast network is in trouble. In late October Latino journalist Ray Suarez left the network’s flagship news program “NewsHour” after serving as one of its senior correspondents for more than a decade. The longtime journalist later gave Fox News Latino the reasons for his departure.

“I felt like I didn’t have much of a future with the broadcast,” Suarez told Fox. “(They) didn’t have much of a plan for me.”

The National Hispanic Media Coalition has issued an open letter on what it calls the network’s “historic under-inclusion of Latinos.”

“PBS’ historic under-inclusion of Latinos is reflected not only in its employment practices, with Latinos being overlooked for new projects and initiatives, but also the underrepresentation of Latinos in its programming, and an alarming lack of transparency about the situation,” NHMC’s letter reads.

Among the evidence presented by the advocacy organization is not only what it sees as the network’s lack of diversity in senior leadership positions, but its lukewarm efforts to address the problem. The group says that a 2005 Ford Foundation grant to promote new diversity initiatives have led to underwhelming results. 


It’s Been 50 Years Since Malcolm X’s ‘Message to the Grass Roots’

It's Been 50 Years Since Malcolm X's 'Message to the Grass Roots'

This Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of one of Malcolm X’s most famous speeches, “Message to the Grass Roots.”Delivered on November 10, 1963, it captures the uncompromising, radical tone of activism at the time—which critiqued the March on Washington that had taken place just three months previously. It was also Malcolm’s last speech before leaving the Nation of Islam. 

But how well do you know this speech? Did you know, for example, that Malcolm explained that James Baldwin was barred from speaking at the March on Washington, and Burt Lancaster took his place? As illustrated in this quote, did you know that the speech was also a scathing indictment of the Vietnam War?

If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it’s wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it’s wrong for America to draft us and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.

Check out audio from the speech in the video above or read the text itself

Number of Immigrant Youth Left Alone in the U.S. on the Rise

Number of Immigrant Youth Left Alone in the U.S. on the Rise

Over the past five years the number of immigrant youth left alone in the U.S. has tripled, statistics show. Amid President Obama’s record numbers of deportations, many youth—both documented and undocumented—are left alone in the U.S. when their parents are detained or deported. CNN interviewed the Cabrera family, in a tragic story of three undocumented immigrant children who became orphans when their only surviving parent was killed in a car accident. The oldest, Brianda Cabrera, was 14 when her mother died and has been caring for her siblings in Springs, Ga. for the past nine years.

They are among the thousands of youth in the U.S. here without their parents. According to CNN:

Last year, the U.S. Border Patrol took more than 24,481 into custody, compared with 8,041 in 2008. The vast majority in 2012 came from Mexico (13,974), but some came from places as far away as India (23), China (16) and Romania (16).

But an immigration attorney interviewed cautions that this number only reflects those detained at the border, not families like the Cabreras. Their story mirrors that of Juan Gomez, a DREAMer who grew up in Miami and was forced to take care of himself and his brother after his parents returned to Colombia for fear of being deported.  Sometimes these same separations force the U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants into foster care. And a report from Human Impact Partners indicates that undocumented youth  experience heightened mental and physical health conditions because of the stress of family detentions and deportations. Recently, many young immigrant activists have turned their attention away from advocating for comprehensive immigration reform towards demanding an end to ballooning numbers of deportations. 

Senate Passes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

Senate Passes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

In a landmark decision, today the Senate voted to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that ensures equal employment protections for as many as 16 million LGBT people.  A prior version of this bill passed in 2007, but lacked provisions for transgender people. Ten Republicans joined Senate Democrats in the winning 64-32 vote, but House Speaker John Boehner came out in opposition, saying he doubted it would come to a full vote. There are currently 29 states in the U.S. without laws protecting LGBT people in the workplace.

Report: When It Comes to College Degrees, Latinos in Calif. at the Bottom

Report: When It Comes to College Degrees, Latinos in Calif. at the Bottom

Latinos are 38 percent of California, and growing—by 2050 they’re projected to be the majority of California’s population. It’s with that demographic reality in mind that the Campaign for College Opportunity analyzed college-going and graduation rates of Latinos in the state in a new report (PDF). The statistics are cause for concern: Latinos have the lowest percentage of college attainment across all racial groups in the California. Eleven percent of Latino adults hold bachelor’s degrees while 23 percent of blacks, 39 percent of whites and 48 percent of Asians do. However, in recent years Latinos have made big strides in educational attainment—graduating from high school and applying to college in higher numbers, and doubling and tripling their enrollment in the state university and college systems, respectively—but the report makes the case that focusing on the educational attainment of Latinos is a social and economic imperative.

There are several primary sources for the underrepresentation of Latinos in higher education: Latinos are more likely to have poor educational access, and aren’t graduating high school with the proper prerequesites and preparation for college. Affordability is a factor as well. Studies have shown that Latino students are extremely debt-averse. That, together with tuition hikes, access and readiness issues, may explain why Latino students who turn to higher education go overwhelmingly for community colleges over other more expensive options, namely for-profit and state university options which come with much higher price tags. 

Read the report here for Campaign for College Opportunity’s recommendations.

More on Racial Disparity in the U.S. Labor Force

More on Racial Disparity in the U.S. Labor Force

It seems the wage gap for people of color is worst than we thought. According to a report published today in The Atlantic, the amount of money a person earns is absolutely connected to their race—regardless of how much they work. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the report suggests that Latino men have the highest unemployment rates of any racial or gender category, but they work more often. Black women also have higher labor force participation rates than white or Latina women. But, white men and women earn more than black men and women, who earn more than all Latinos

The report also further illustrates how much your race could define what industry you work in. Latinos are particularly overrepresented in industries such as farming, landscaping and domestic work. Black people tend to have higher rates of working as home health aides, security guards and bus drivers. Asians make up by far the largest proportion of people working in the “personal appearance” industry, such as nail salons, but also are highly represented among software workers and physicians. And not surprising at all, 90 percent of all CEOs, and the overwhelming majority of managerial positions in various fields, are white.

But perhaps more confounding is the inverse relationship between earning potential and education. White people who have bachelor’s degrees earn the most, while black people with only a high school education appear to be earning more than those with bachelor’s degrees. This is even more the case for Latinos, who continue to have the largest high school dropout rates, and earn nearly the same whether or not they’ve finished high school, and less if they have a bachelor’s degree. 

Read the full report, complete with graphs, on The Atlantic

Watch Totally Biased Take on the Washington D.C. NFL Team Name

Watch Totally Biased Take on the Washington D.C. NFL Team Name

What are those fans really thinking? Totally Biased correspondent Citizen Dwayne tries to figure it all out in this hilarious clip. 

(h/t ICTMN)

Family of Slain Detroit Woman Wants Answers After Car Accident Led to Shooting

Family of Slain Detroit Woman Wants Answers After Car Accident Led to Shooting

Renisha McBride’s family wants answers. The 19-year-old woman died from gunshot wounds early on Saturday morning following an incident in which she sought help after a car accident. The shooting occurred in a mostly white city in the Detroit metro area called Dearborn Heights.

Bernita Spinks, McBride’s aunt, said the shooting was not justified even if the resident believed McBride was an intruder breaking into the home.

“He shot her in the head … for what? For knocking on his door,” Spinks told Detroit News on Tuesday. “If he felt scared or threatened, he should have called 911.”

The family met with officials from the area’s prosecutor’s office on Monday because they believe the shooting was racially motivated. “He killed my niece and he needs to pay for it. He needs to be in jail,” Spinks said. “There was no window broken. My niece didn’t bother anyone. She went looking for help and now she’s dead.”

McBride will be laid to rest on Friday.

Hilton Als Talks About Gender, Love and His Provocative Title ‘White Girls’

Hilton Als Talks About Gender, Love and His Provocative Title 'White Girls'

Cultural critic Hilton Als did an interview with Lambda Literary recently in which he talks about his new collection of essays, “White Girls.” What stands out to be about the interview, and the book, is the delicate way that Als writes about platonic and romantic love between black men. From his interview with Frederick McKindra:

It was really heartening to see your description of a powerful love existing between two black men-one gay and the other straight [a character only referenced by the initials SL] I didn’t realize how unique that experience would be until reading the essay “Triste Tropique.”

I think it’s just the feeling of connection. One of the things that’s happened recently with gay rights is that people can get married and all of that, but I don’t know how much that’s really going to solve the sense of being outside of things that gay people feel in general. I just think that gay marriage, outside of the Civil Rights which is a great, great thing, it’s not really a Band-Aid on the profound sense of isolation that gay people, particularly gay people of color, can feel. And how much we have to improvise around the gay status quo. When I met SL (and I also want to stress that half of that stuff is fictionalized), he had this great capacity to love and also to be loved, but it’s not without complications, which I also wanted to show. I also wanted to show how two men of color together can be very upsetting to the status quo in general.

Also also addressed the book’s title, which has will certainly get you some strange looks on the train. 

Can we begin by discussing how this particular project came together, especially under this title?

I think for years I avoided the idea of a collection of essays. I had been working on a project for a while and in between trying to make a living and avoiding that essay collection the title came to me. The title came to me because years ago, when I worked in fashion, they would always refer to black models as the “black girl.” They would never say “white girl,” they would never point to the white model and say “white girl.” So in thinking about it, I wanted to know what a “white girl” was in my head. I wanted to write about what that means not only in terms of society but what it means in terms of identification with men of color. So there was the title first, and then when the title came, I was able to really kind of narrow it down. I wanted the book to read as a whole, not as a collection. It was really important to me that it read deep thematically, so unified you would just think of it as a book and not a collection of essays. 

Read the entire interview over at Lambda Literary.

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