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Luis Gutierrez Shames Obama and Republicans on Immigration Reform Impass

Luis Gutierrez Shames Obama and Republicans on Immigration Reform Impass

In an impassioned interview yesterday on Fusion, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) criticized President Obama, the GOP, and even members of his own party for continued inaction on immigration reform.  Gutierrez told Jorge Ramos: 

There’s much more the President can do about deportations. We cannot have … the president of the United State say that the young DREAMers, that their values are ‘the same values I and my wife inculcate in our own daughters,’ and then deport their parents. 

Gutierrez has come under fire recently from immigration advocates who say he should be putting more pressure on Obama and Congress. And while some advocates, such as the DREAM 30 have turned their attention towards different tactics aiming to put an end to deportations and address immigrants’ rights issues, many others continue pushing for a vote on comprehensive immigration reform. 

Joined by Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), the two insisted that while immigration reform is still possible, they are “running out of time.” 

Angel Haze Talks Surviving Sexual Abuse, Coming Out and the Church

Angel Haze Talks Surviving Sexual Abuse, Coming Out and the Church

Angel Haze sat down for an interview with Meredith Bennett-Smith at the Huffington Post to talk about her wild summer of freestyling and what propelled her into the rap game in the first place. From HuffPo:

Until the age of 15, Haze (born Raykeea Wilson) and her mother were part of the Pentacostal Greater Apostolic Faith, a church Haze has repeatedly described as a “cult.” Although Haze never officially “came out,” her mother found out anyway, prompting the dramatic scene that opens the “Same Love” cover.

“When my mom found out she was so angry,” Haze told HuffPost. “She was going through my s—t, and she staged this whole ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ scene, where she opened the blinds and the curtains in the house so they were all flying around. It’s winter and she turns off all the lights. And she sits down and she tells me, ‘God told me, you’re going to die of AIDS.’”

Looking back on those wind-whipped curtains now, Haze lets out a long laugh.

“That s—t is hilarious, when you think about it in hindsight,” she said. Still, as a 13-year-old, the confrontation left her terrified and confused. “I knew that I didn’t believe in hell,” Haze explained. “But I was also f—king afraid of it.”

Read more at the Huffington Post. 

There’s an Adorable Tumblr Dedicated to Queer Men of Color in Love

There's an Adorable Tumblr Dedicated to Queer Men of Color in Love

This Queer Men of Color in Love Tumblr will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We so rarely see positive representations of men of color generally, and queer people of color specifically, that this is all the more important to share.

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TAGS: LGBT Love Tumblr

Advocates Prepare for Next Round in New York Women’s Equality Act

Advocates Prepare for Next Round in New York Women's Equality Act

The New York Women’s Equality Act didn’t pass in the last legislative session largely because Senate Republicans opposed language that would strengthen abortion rights in the state. But in addition to abortion rights, the act is meant to ensure equal pay provisions, standards around sexual harassment, and protections for survivors of domestic violence. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, black women in N.Y. earn 79 cents and Latina women in N.Y. earn 64 cents to every dollar earned by white men.

The New York Women’s Equality Coalition, an advocacy group focused on changing public policy related to women’s issues, recently launched a new campaign to start ramping up efforts, including a video depicting a mock game show to decide whether employers’ discriminatory acts are actually illegal or—as they put it—sleazy. Tracey Brooks, a coalition representative, recently spoke with WNYC about their new efforts. Listen to the interview, and watch their humorous, albeit frustrating, video.

These Five Oscar-Qualifying Films Were Directed by Black Women

These Five Oscar-Qualifying Films Were Directed by Black Women

Jai Tigget over at Shadow and Act rounded up five stellar documentaries that were all directed by black women and have qualified for Academy Award consideration. Watch the trailers below, and visit Shadow and Act for reviews of each film.

Free Angela And All Political Prisoners, Shola Lynch

Valentine Road, Marta Cunningham

Gideon’s Army, Dawn Porter

American Promise, Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster

The New Black, Yoruba Richen

Watch Hilton Als Talk About Masculinity With Junot Díaz

Watch Hilton Als Talk About Masculinity With Junot Díaz

So this is a lengthy hour-long conversation, but a worthwhile one. Last Spring, New York City’s Strand Bookstore hosted Hilton Als and Junot Díaz to talk about writing, love and masculinity, among other things. Als is a theater critic for the New Yorker whose latest collection of essays called “White Girls” hits shelves today. Díaz’s praise for Als’ latest collection is featured prominently on the new book’s cover.

Als begins the conversation by asking Díaz about his use of the word “pato” in his work, a derogatory Spanish slang word for “gay.” Diaz responds by saying, in part: “When I think about the politicial unconsciousness of masculinity, it’s queerness.”

This Veteran’s Day, Deported Servicemembers Speak Out

This Veteran's Day, Deported Servicemembers Speak Out

They’re not citizens but they were willing to put their lives on the line for the U.S. And an estimated 3,000 U.S. veterans are either in deportation proceedings or being detained. 

Jorge Rivas at Fusion has the story:

Hector Barajas joined the 82nd Airborne in 1995, he served as a paratrooper, jumping out of planes dozens of times and taking on various missions on behalf of his country. But in 2004, after being honorably discharged, the United States put him on a flight that led to his biggest battle: being deported to Mexico, a country he left before his fourth birthday.

Barajas, who had a green card, returned to California after his discharge. A month later he began having trouble with the law. He pled guilty to firing a weapon at a car that his friend believed was following them. No one was wounded and Barajas maintains he didn’t pull the trigger.

Had Barajas been a U.S. citizen, he would have served three years in a state prison and that would have been the end of it. But because he wasn’t, he was deported to Mexico a year later. He was doubly punished[.]

And Barajas is not alone. Read about the issue at Fusion.

Drake’s Dad Stars in the Video for Rapper’s Hit Song ‘Worst Behavior’

Drake's Dad Stars in the Video for Rapper's Hit Song 'Worst Behavior'

It’s no secret that megastar rapper Drake has had a difficult relationship with his father, Dennis Graham. While Drake grew up with his white Jewish mother in Canada, he only made occassional visits to visit his Graham, who’s black, in Memphis and credits the city’s rich musical legacy with leaving a big imprint on his own work. In his recent interview with Jian Ghomeshi for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Drake talked about what it was like being in the Memphis scene and how it shaped him as an artist.

It was pivotal in shaping the man I am today. Going to Memphis gave me a glimpse into what rap really felt like. I got to go and be around Yo Gotti in the very early stages and it was only because my cousin’s baby father used to manage him. He used to bring me around a crazy lifestyle that I knew nothing about being from here. It was just surreal. It seemed so big. The clubs seemed so glamorous. The cars just seemed so expensive. These guys were drinking Louis XIII. My mind was blown. I was so young and I got to see not only rap culture, but Southern rap culture which is very influential. It opened up not only my mind but my ears.

It’s safe to say that the rapper’s father is very much a part of his life these days after starring in the video for his son’s latest hit song “Worst Behavior.”

Drake ~ Worst Behavior from OctobersVeryOwn on Vimeo.

TAGS: drake Video

Lessons on the School-to-Prison Pipeline, From The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Lessons on the School-to-Prison Pipeline, From The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

What do “Saved by the Bell,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “The Cosby Show” have to teach us about models of school discipline in today’s schools? That so much of what passes for school discipline these days is actually an extremely harsh and unnecessarily punitive introduction to the criminal justice system. 

A new video from the Advancement Project highlights exactly the sorts of student infractions—talking out of turn or failing to keep to the dress code—which used to be dealt with with a stern talking-to or at worst, detention but which these days can mean suspension, expulsion or even arrest for far too many students. As the video points out, even one out-of-school suspension doubles a student’s chances of dropping out of school.

But a key point the video doesn’t mention is that harsh zero-tolerance policies disproportionately target black and Latino youth. Such harmful school discipline wouldn’t be excusable if it were evenly applied across all races, but it also happens to be deeply racially skewed.

Click here for more about the Advancement Project’s Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track campaign.

Meet Tanya Fields, the Black Single Mom Whose Hug With Melissa Harris-Perry Made Everyone Cry

Meet Tanya Fields, the Black Single Mom Whose Hug With Melissa Harris-Perry Made Everyone Cry

Melissa Harry-Perry and bell hooks sat down for a mind-blowing conversation about black feminism at the New School last Friday. But while the two writers spent more than an hour talking about everything from “12 Years a Slave” to cable Renisha McBride, the most powerful moment came during the Q&A. Tanya Fields, a single black mother asked a question that read, in part, “How do you wake up every morning and… I consider myself a black feminist but some days, it’s just so hard to get out of the bed and face other black people.”

Harris-Perry then went over and hugged Fields in a strikingly intiminate moment that found both women in tears. It’s a moment that my colleague Stacia L. Brown dissected over at her blog Beyond Baby Mamas before digging up more of Tanya Fields’ work as a community organizer.  (The exchange occurs about an hour and six seconds into the recorded talk.)

In addition to being a single mother who’s raising four children, Fields is also a powerhouse community organizer in the Bronx who was the keynote speaker at CUNY’s School of Professional Studies’ 2012 commencement. Here she is talking about the specific challenges facing single moms who juggle school and parenting. 

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. 

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