Take a look at this sneak peek of Elegance Bratton’s documentary film “Pier Kids: The Life.” New York City’s homeless population has risen dramatically in recent years to more than 50,000, and it’s estimated that 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBT. The Pier has long been a home — albeit a contested one — for queer youth of color. And this new film sheds some light on their struggles.
Here’s some happy news to start the school year. Last week, the Undergraduate Students Association at the University of California, Los Angeles unanimously passed a proposition to endorse our Drop the i-word campaign and stop using the term “illegal immigrant.”
The college newspaper the Daily Bruin reports that the decision was made, in part, as a sign of respect to the school’s undocumented students. It’s an important move, especially in light of Janet Napolitano’s move from the Department of Homeland Security to head the University of California.
Black filmmaker Azie Dungey stars in a new comedy series on YouTube called “Ask a Slave.” The show, which premiered on Labor Day and airs episodes each Sunday, is actually pretty funny. Take notes, Russell Simmons.
After winning the 2011 TED Prize, French street artist JR launched the Inside Out Project with the goal of creating a global participatory art project with the “potential to change the world.” Each installment of Inside Out is site-specific, addressing current issues in that country such as LGBT rights in Germany, and orphans with HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
The U.S. installment of the project, titled “Inside Out 11 M,” launched this summer and draws attention to the 11 million undocumented immigrants who remain in legal limbo awaiting comprehensive immigration reform. Since July, a mobile photo booth has been traveling the country capturing individual portraits, which are then transformed into public art installations. Inside Out mirrors JR’s signature style of larger than life black-and-white photograph wheat paste posters that often take up entire buildings or are placed in unexpected locations.
The project completed its Miami Beach installment over the weekend on the Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College, which once served as an immigration processing point for refugees fleeing Cuba. More than 600 people showed up to participate in the Miami edition in solidarity with immigrant rights.
The mobile photo booth will continue traveling to cities across the U.S. through the end of September.
“Instrucciones no incluidas” was a big hit this Labor Day weekend. The Spanish language film, known as “Instructions Not Included” in English, came in fifth and raked in a whooping $10 million in sales—despite the fact it only premiered in 347 theaters. For comparison, “The Butler” brought in double the amount of ticket sales this holiday weekend, but played in nearly 3,330 theaters.
If you haven’t yet heard about “Instructions Not Included,” Jorge Rivas over at Fusion will explain why—along with a review that’s worth the read.
The Internet’s still responding to Talib Kweli’s assertion that in order to really confront homophobia in hip-hop, there just needs to be a “rapper who’s better than everybody else.” Out.com has a slideshow of 38 queer black musicians and it includes: Sylvester, Billy Strayhorn, Josephine Baker, Frankie Knuckles, Frank Ocean, and Bessie Smith. It’s a long list that includes classics and contemporaries. Check it out.
In case you missed it: Occasional Colorlines.com contributor Jasmine Elizabeth Johnson published a beautiful essay on Gawker over the weekend called “Dear Khary: An Autobiography of Gentrification.” In it, she writes a letter to her slain brother about how their hometown’s changed over the past two decades. Here’s a snippet:
Marcus Books is the only thing that looks like you, Khary. No longer written into the news as tragedy, Fillmore lives in travel magazines and on Yelp. And isn’t that a good thing?, people who don’t know me ask. How good could it feel knowing that one will never be able to live where one grew up? How empowering can your brother’s death be as a yardstick for how positively far the neighborhood has come?
It’s a truly moving meditation of love and loss, so do go read the entire piece over at Gawker.
Santogold is a woman of many talents: singing, production and now, apparently, acting. Here’s video of her playing a secret agent sex worker on the Adult Swim show “NTSF: SD: SUV::.”
Disgraced former congressman and current mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner made an appearance at this year’s West Indian Day Parade in New York City. He tried, and failed miserably, to fit in.
Residents of Leith, North Dakota were alarmed to learn about Paul Craig Cobb’s plans to create a white supremacist haven in their small, peaceful town. Cobb, a well-known white supremacist, moved to Leith last year and has bought up more than a dozen properties since 2011. The New York Times reports his goal is to create a white power colony in Leith, and he has already transferred ownership of some of those properties to other known white supremacists.
Bobby Harper, the sole black resident of Leith, lives just one block away from Cobb—who allegedly referred to Harper’s wife Sherrill as a “filthy race-mixing white woman” in an online forum. The current population of Leith is 24 people, and residents are very concerned about Cobb’s activities. Some have even tried to buy back their properties in an effort to block his plans.
(h/t New York Times)
Sigh. This again, from The Atlantic Wire:
Bowing to Tea Party pressure, Alabama State Senator Bill Holtzclaw said this week that he thinks The Bluest Eye, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s novel about a little black girl who wishes for blue eyes, should be banned in schools. He only made this statement after GOP members criticized him for opposing a repeal of the federal Common Core standards. The Bluest Eye is on the 11th grade reading list for the Common Core, a set of standards that has been adapted by more than 40 states.
Hotzclaw told the Alabama Media Group, “The book is just completely objectionable, from language to the content.”
In the midst of Cory Booker’s newly announced Senate campaign his sexuality has, again, become the topic of conversation. Booker has never been married, and discussed allegations he is gay in a recent interview with the Washington Post, saying:
“And people who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.’ ”
Booker has consistently been fecetious about his sexuality, although he’s referenced past girlfriends, saying it opens up conversation about homophobia.
His rival in the Senate race, former Bogota, NJ Mayor Steve Lonegan, criticized Booker’s “peculiar festish” of getting late-night mani-pedis in a recent interview with Newsmax TV, and went on to challenge his manhood. “It’s kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy,” Lonegan says. He also accused Booker of being deliberately vague in order to get the gay vote.
In response to Lonegan’s statments, Booker said he was “disheartened” that Lonegan implies that gay men are no longer men.
This isn’t the first time Booker’s been accused of being gay. His sexuality was also a point of contention during his first failed Newark mayoral campaign in 2002 against Sharpe James. It seems likely that—until Booker comes out directly one way or another—questions around his sexuality will follow him through this Senate campaign.
A new satire called “Dear White People” is currently in production in Minneapolis. It follows the story of four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over a popular “African American” themed party that’s thrown by a group of white students.
“With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film will explore racial identity in ‘post-racial’ America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world,” writes Justin Simien, the show’s writer, director, and producer.
This recently released behind-the-scenes video gives viewers a taste of what’s to come, and includes a few shots of your favorite Awkward Black Girl Issa Rae.
Check out another clip that was released back in June:
Comedian Dave Chappelle was reportedly heckled off stage during his performance at the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival in Hartford, Conn. on Thursday night. The heckling even drove the concert’s Twitter account to warn its attendees: “Hey Hartford! Pipe down and let Dave Chappelle do his thing!”
Here’s an Instagram video that one user posted of the scene:
Today New Orleans residents commemorated the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with events around the city, remembering the more than 1,800 people who died and the destruction it caused. The hurricane that devastated the city eight years ago continues to be a daily reality for those still living there.
But the Associated Press reports that 80 percent of the pre-storm population has returned to the city, and new business development is on the rise. New Orleans appears to be on the rebound and residents who chose to stay or have returned are working hard to revitalize the city.
Current residents of one of the hardest-hit areas in the Lower Ninth Ward have been struggling with lack of access to grocery stores, and responded by creating a network of community gardens to provide residents with fresh produce.
And young people in New Orleans now have a say in how their education system is rebuilt thanks to Kids Rethink New Orleans project.
Storytelling and community building continue to be important tools for helping residents cope with the past and rebuild their lives. One of projects to emerge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is the “Land of Opportunity,” a film project that developed an interactive platform for Katrina survivors to share their experiences. The project is teaming up with Sandy Storyline, a documentary project focusing on Hurricane Sandy in New York, to build ties between these recovery efforts.
These are just a few of the projects in the works to bring back “The Big Easy.” It’s clear there’s still work to be done, but the people of New Orleans seem strongly committed to creating innovative models for rebuilding their beloved city.
Those walking off the job across the country are asking that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour, as well as for the right to form unions. That wage is the same-dollar equivalent to the 1963 March on Washington’s call for a $2 per hour minimum wage.
Troublingly, five decades after the original march the grandchildren of those who participated are protesting for the same goal: essential economic fairness.
The problem is that the current minimum wage of $7.25 is a driving force behind the fact that one out of three Americans who work don’t earn enough to live. At minimum wage an employee earns only $15,000 a year. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, that’s the poverty level for a worker with one child.
And the minimum wage is a racial justice issue as well. Four out of 10 of those who hold these jobs are people of color. A report by the Restaurant Opportunities Center found that three million people of color could be lifted out of poverty if the minimum wage were increased even to $10 an hour.
That’s why thousands are protesting in front of fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s today and retailers including Dollar Tree, Sears and Macy’s. Given that the fact that dining and retail combined generate almost $5 trillion in economic activity, perhaps their time has come.
Either way, today’s effort shows that the fight for economic justice marches on. Updates to their efforts can be followed at Twitter #829strike.
People attending the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony yesterday, featuring President Obama, were expecting to hear from Philip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders in Florida, and Sofia Campos, chairperson of the immigrant rights youth-led organization United We Dream. Both names were listed on the ceremony’s program. But as Agnew was about to take the stage, he was told that he could not speak. Campos was also told she could not speak.
Talk about civil rights action interrupted, the Dream Defenders camped out in the Florida capitol building in Tallahassee for a full month in protest of the George Zimmerman verdict, and to demand new laws that would dismantle school-to-prison pipelines, racial profiling and Stand Your Ground gun laws. Campos, 24, is helping lead a movement demanding humane immigrant rights reform, which has called out Obama on his record-setting deportations.
Agnew is now calling for people to publish their own dream speeches on video and post them on Twitter and Facebook. The Dream Defenders are releasing today a video of the speech Agnew was going to deliver at the ceremony yesterday.
“This is about more than the speech,” said Agnew. “It’s about the voices of hundreds of thousands of people across the country that have been silenced for too long. Our generation’s dreams have been deferred for too long. While the words spoken amidst the pillars of the Lincoln Memorial yesterday may have reverberated throughout the nation, the actions, energy and love of the rising generation will resound in history books for centuries to come, like those of giants before us.”