Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore, Jay Z Lead This Year’s Grammy Nods

Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore, Jay Z Lead This Year's Grammy Nods

This year’s Grammy nominations are out and are filled with the same names that have dominated music. Okayplayer noted that Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and Jay Z lead the pack with a combined 23 nominations. Meanwhile, the New York times pointed out that male performers dominated this year’s nominees, noting that Drake and Pharrell Williams are up for four awards each. One notable exception is 17-year-old New Zeleander Lorde, who got a nod for album of the year.

Here’s a full list of the nominees:

56th Annual Grammy Awards Nominations:

Record of the Year
Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams - “Get Lucky”
Imagine Dragons - “Radioactive”
Lorde - “Royals”
Bruno Mars - “Locked Out of Heaven”
Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams - “Blurred Lines”

Album of the Year
Sara Bareilles - The Blessed Unrest
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist
Taylor Swift - Red

Song of the Year
Pink feat. Nate Ruess - “Just Give Me a Reason”
Bruno Mars - “Locked Out of Heaven”
Katy Perry - “Roar”
Lorde - “Royals”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - “Same Love”

Best New Artist
James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran

Best Pop Solo Performance
Sara Bareilles - “Brave”
Lorde - “Royals”
Bruno Mars - “When I Was Your Man”
Katy Perry - “Roar”
Justin Timberlake - “Mirrors”

Best Pop Vocal Album
Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience
Lorde - Pure Heroine
Lana Del Rey - Paradise
Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines
Bruno Mars - Unorthodox Jukebox

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams - “Get Lucky”
Pink Featuring Nate Ruess - “Just Give Me A Reason”
Rihanna Featuring Mikky Ekko - “Stay”
Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams - “Blurred Lines”
Justin Timberlake & Jay Z - “Suit & Tie”

Best Dance/Electronica Album
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Disclosure - Settle
Calvin Harris - 18 Months
Kaskade - Atmosphere
Pretty Lights - A Color Map Of The Sun

Best Rock Performance
Alabama Shakes - “Always Alright”
David Bowie - “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”
Imagine Dragons - “Radioactive”
Led Zeppelin - “Kashmir” (Live)
Queens Of The Stone Age - “My God Is The Sun”
Jack White - “I’m Shakin’”

Best Rock Album:
Black Sabbath - 13
David Bowie - The Next Day
Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bull
Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day
Queens Of The Stone Age - …Like Clockwork
Neil Young With Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill

Best Rock Song
Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear - “Cut Me Some Slack”
Gary Clark Jr. - “Messin’ Around”
The Rolling Stones - “Doom and Gloom”
Muse - “Panic Station”
Black Sabbath “God Is Dead?”

Best Alternative Music Album:
Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
The National - Trouble Will Find Me
Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
Tame Impala - Lonerism
Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City

Best R&B Performance
Tamar Braxton - “Love And War”
Anthony Hamilton - “Best Of Me”
Hiatus Kaiyote Featuring Q-Tip - “Nakamarra”
Miguel Featuring Kendrick Lamar - “How Many Drinks?”
Snarky Puppy With Lalah Hathaway - “Something”

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Tamar Braxton - Love And War
Fantasia - Side Effects Of You
Salaam Remi - One: In The Chamber
Rihanna - Unapologetic
Mack Wilds - New York: A Love Story

Best R&B Album
Faith Evans - R&B Divas
Alicia Keys - Girl On Fire
John Legend - Love In The Future
Chrisette Michele - Better
TGT - Three Kings

Best Rap Performance
Drake - “Started From The Bottom”
Eminem - “Berzerk”
Jay Z - “Tom Ford”
Kendrick Lamar - “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz - “Thrift Shop”

Best Rap Song
ASAP Rocky Featuring Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar - “Fuckin’ Problem”
Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake - “Holy Grail”
Kanye West - “New Slaves”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - “Thrift Shop”
Drake - “Started From the Bottom”

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
J.Cole Featuring Miguel - “Power Trip”
Jay Z Featuring Beyoncé - “Part II (On The Run)”
Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake - “Holy Grail”
Kendrick Lamar Featuring Mary J. Blige - “Now Or Never”
Wiz Khalifa Featuring The Weeknd - “Remember You”

Best Rap Album
Drake - Nothing Was The Same
Jay Z - Magna Carta…Holy Grail
Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist
Kanye West - Yeezus

Best Country Album
Jason Aldean - Night Train
Tim McGraw - Two Lanes Of Freedom
Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park
Blake Shelton - Based On A True Story
Taylor Swift - Red

Best Song Written For Visual Media
Coldplay - “Atlas” (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
Jessie J - “Silver Lining” (The Silver Linings Playbook) Adele - “Skyfall” (Skyfall)
Colbie Caillat Featuring Gavin DeGraw - “We Both Know” (Safe Haven)
Lana Del Rey - “Young and Beautiful” (The Great Gatsby)
Regina Spektor - “You’ve Got Time” (Orange Is the New Black)

Producer of the Year
Rob Cavallo
Dr. Luke
Ariel Rechtshaid
Jeff Tweedy
Pharrell Williams

Many Uninsured African Americans Will Benefit From Obamacare…but Not in Atlanta

Many Uninsured African Americans Will Benefit From Obamacare...but Not in Atlanta

Of the 6.8 million uninsured African-Americans who are eligible for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, 60 percent meet the income thresholds for financial assistance to help pay for it, according to a report released this morning by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s about 4.2 million African-Americans who qualify for benefits either by way of Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or a tax break. Under the Care Act, the limit for how much you can make at work to qualify for Medicaid was raised to expand the pool of people who can receive those benefits. But states can opt out of that Medicaid expansion, and right now roughly half of the states have indicated they will. If all the states cooperated with the Medicaid expansion, then 95 percent of uninsured African-Americans would qualify for assistance. Right now, 20 percent of African-Americans are uninsured compared to 16 percent of the U.S. population in general (who aren’t Medicare-elderly-beneficiaries). 

Of uninsured African-Americans, 39 percent live in just five states: Florida, Georgia, Texas, North York and New Carolina. Interestingly North Carolina, with its population of 9.7 million people — about 2.1 million African American — have more uninsured than New York (population 19.5 million, 3.3 million of whom are black), and California (38 million people, 2.5 million of whom are black).  

One in five uninsured African-Americans live in six cities: Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Detroit. Atlanta has the most uninsured African-Americans with 332,000, but is in a state that doesn’t plan to expand Medicaid. Georgia has the second highest number of uninsured African Americans (631,000) of all states, with only Florida above it. The federal government pays for the Medicaid expansion, but Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is refusing the federal subsidies. 

Gov. Deal’s decision will cost the state about $4.9 billion in 2022 according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund. Since the Medicaid expansion is funded through our taxes, Georgia taxpayers — and those from all 24 other states that plan to refuse the federal funding — will essentially be paying the Medicaid costs for people in the states that are willing to take the federal subsidies to expand the pool without receiving the same benefits themselves.  

“The health care law is working to address long standing disparities in health care coverage and improve the health of the African-American community,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in a press statement. “Through the Health Insurance Marketplace, 6.8 million uninsured African Americans have new options for affordable health coverage that covers a range of benefits, including important preventive services with no out of pocket costs.”

Drake Gifts Struggling Philly High School With Brand New Recording Studio

Drake Gifts Struggling Philly High School With Brand New Recording Studio

It’s maybe not what Philly’s Strawberry Mansion High School needs most, but it’s still a whole lot. And it’s what rapper Drake is giving.

In a segment that aired on ABC News Wednesday, Drake visited the North Philly public high school to announce that he’s going to build a recording studio at the chronically underresourced school.

“This about you,” the rapper told the screaming students. “This about your principal. This about your future. I love you. I care about you. I want to see you succeed.” Drake was reportedly inspired to give back after seeing an original ABC News segment on Strawberry Hills High back in May. The school has been widely referred to in media reports as “the most dangerous high school in America.” The ABC segment too focused on the violence and turmoil which is an everyday part of life for students, Diane Sawyer reported. “I caught this piece that Diane did, and by the end of it I was so heavily effected I started like questioning like major aspects of my life,” Drake told ABC.

Strawberry Mansion High students were, predictably, very excited to see the entertainer. To learn more about Philadelphia public schools and the current crisis facing the school district, read Colorlines’ dispatch from the city.

Take a Sneak Peek at Stills From ‘Dear White People’

Take a Sneak Peek at Stills From 'Dear White People'

We’ve already mentioned how excited we are that “Dear White People” is set to screen at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film, from first time director Justin Simein, follows four black students at a predominently white university where a riot breaks out over a popular “African-American themed” party. Here’s a first look at some images from the new flick:




(h/t Shadow and Act)

A Mandela Reading List

A Mandela Reading List

If you were a tot or not even a thought in 1990 when Nelson Mandela walked out of prison, and you want to pay your respects, this quick hits list is for you. (Plus, rapper Kendrick Lamar said to do it.)

Mandela would be the first to say it: his release was not just about him. Start with the autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom with the Amandla! soundtrack as background music. But be sure to dig into the lives and words of other freedom fighters like Steve Biko, too—as well as those of ordinary South Africans, no matter their color. Madiba was not alone.

This list is just a beginning. If you’re Gen X or older, please, add more in comments!

Non-Fiction by Nelson Mandela

Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (1995)

Conversations with Myself (2010)

Other Non-Fiction

Steve Biko: Black Consciousness in South Africa (1979)

My Traitor’s Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe and His Conscience (1990)


Cry, the Beloved Country (1948)

Kaffir Boy (1986)

Waiting for the Barbarians (1980)


Blood Knot (1964)

Sarafina! (musical, 1988)

Sarafina! (film, 1992)

Amandla!: A Revolution in Four Part Harmony (2002)

Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba (2011)

For the kids

The Day Gogo Went To Vote (1999)

Nelson Mandela (2013)

Photos: Fast-Food Strikes Hit 100 Cities

Photos: Fast-Food Strikes Hit 100 Cities

Is there anything quite so beautiful as masses of people joining together to demand better treatment for themselves and others? These photos should quiet the naysayers. In what organizers are calling the largest fast-food strikes in U.S. history, workers and their supporters in over 100 cities went on strike on Thursday to amplify their calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage and the right to unionize.

McDonald’s dismissed the strikes, many of which targeted the company’s locations, and said its workers were not among the protestors. “To right-size the headlines, however, the events taking place are not strikes,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “Outside groups are traveling to McDonald’s and other outlets to stage rallies.” The company’s statement prompted a gleeful response from striking workers around the country who took to social media to identify themselves and point out their coworkers in the photos of demonstrators.

In the early morning hours in New York City

Later in the day

All the way up in Providence, Rhode Island

Taking over the streets of Chicago with the Grinch

A young demonstrator in Pittsburgh

With rhyming chants in Boston

Protestors hit up Jack in the Box, Little Caesars and McDonald’s in St. Louis, Missouri

Outside a McDonald’s in Huntsville, Alabama

From Green Bay to Madison to Milwaukee in Wisconsin

Outside a Detroit McDonald’s

McDonald’s in Tampa, Florida

In front of a McDonald’s in Los Angeles

In the snow in Denver

Lighting the way in Seattle

Black Unemployment Almost Double the National Average

Black Unemployment Almost Double the National Average

Despite continued depression-like joblessness amongst blacks and Latinos, this morning’s official unemployment report registered the lowest overall jobless rate in five years. According to the Department of Labor, the percentage of those actively looking for work but who could not find it fell to seven percent.  The jobless rate for African Americans is almost double that at nearly 13 percent and for Latinos it’s close to 9 percent. Overall the numbers show that the economy continues to inch forward but in a sideways sort of way.

Alongside the difficult black and Latino unemployment numbers is the fact that the November report showed surprising gains across the board. The number of people unemployed for less than five weeks fell by 300,000 and full-time work grew versus part-time work. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of workers are less discouraged about the job market than a year ago and the number of people opting out of job hunting due to frustration has stabilized, though it remains at a near thirty-five year low.

Also noteworthy is the fact that Obamacare appears to be a jobs creator, rather than a jobs destroyer as many have claimed. One of the strongest areas of hiring was in the healthcare sector as companies prepare for an influx of new policyholders. Tens of thousands of health-related jobs were added in November alone.

But in a sign of the economy’s continued fragility, the number of long-term unemployed remains stuck at 4.1 million and there’s not enough improvement in the labor market to entice the additional 6 million people who’ve given up on work to start looking again.

The bottom line is that the jobs report, while encouraging, shows the ongoing disorientation of an economy that’s trying to recover but hasn’t quite figured out how to do so.

‘Muslim Hipsters’ Give New Meaning to Jay Z’s ‘Somewhere in America’

'Muslim Hipsters' Give New Meaning to Jay Z's 'Somewhere in America'

Just in case you were wondering, Mipsters (Muslim hipsters) are in the house.They’re fly, and they also self-identify as “hipsters.” Check them out on Facebook.

*This post has been updated since publication.

Kendrick Lamar Urges Fans to Join Him in Research of Nelson Mandela

Kendrick Lamar Urges Fans to Join Him in Research of Nelson Mandela

Like many emcees and public figures, rapper Kendrick Lamar took to Twitter to mourn the death of Nelson Mandela. But instead of well-intentioned platitudes, Lamar urged his more than two million followers to join him and research Nelson Mandela’s historic life.

“Advising all my young ones that follow me to research a small piece of Nelson Mandela Life,” Lamar wrote on Twitter. “That’s how you pay your respect.” 

Lamar’s call to research means a great deal. Like many of his fans, Lamar is of a generation that came of age years after Mandela’s fight against apartheid and release from prison in 1990. 

(h/t Hip Hop DX)

Read more on Colorlines about Mandela’s legacy.

That Time Reagan Vetoed the Anti-Apartheid Act

That Time Reagan Vetoed the Anti-Apartheid Act

As Vijay Prashad points out, many of the world’s leaders that are apparently mourning the death of Nelson Mandela were the “same people opposed [to] freedom in South Africa to the very end.” 

Although Ronald Reagan has passed away himself, one can imagine he might salute Mandela today. But as president, Reagan worked against Mandela, so much so that he vetoed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986. Believing that he knew what was best for black people living under apartheid in South Africa, Reagan opposed sanctions and wanted to maintain friendly relations with the white supremacist government.

South Africa’s Desmond Tutu disagreed. Watch this 1986 news report about Tutu’s visit to the White House, in which Tutu explains the way that Reagan failed black South Africans. 

In Naming What’s Racist, Junot Díaz Has to Re-Assert That Yes, He’s Dominican

In Naming What's Racist, Junot Díaz Has to Re-Assert That Yes, He's Dominican

Junot Díaz recently spoke out against the Dominican Republic’s court ruling that could strip citizenship from thousands of Haitian immigrants. Díaz, who was born in the DR, called the ruling racist. 

His outspoken criticism has drawn disapproval from some well-known politicians and intellectuals on the island. In an email that was later published by Latino Rebels, Executive Director for the Dominican Presidency’s International Commission on Science and Technology José Santana called Díaz a “fake and overrated pseudo intellectual” who “should learn better to speak Spanish before coming to this country to talk nonsense.”

Díaz responded with a message on his Facebook page this week:

All these attacks are bullshit attempts to distract from the real crime — the sentencia itself which has been condemned widely. All of us who are believers need to keep fighting against the sentencia and what it represents and we need to keep organizing and we need to show those clowns in power in the DR that there is another Dominican tradition —based on social justice and human dignity and a true respect for the awesome contributions that our immigrants make everywhere.

 The Huffington Post notes that human rights groups estimate the ruling could strip more than 200,000 people — mostly Haitians — of citizenship, a figure the Dominican government disputes.



TAGS: Junot Díaz

Lauryn Hill Drops Trippy Video For ‘Consumerism’

Lauryn Hill Drops Trippy Video For 'Consumerism'

Missed Lauryn Hill’s special Thanksgiving shows in New York City? Not to worry. The reclusive artist just dropped the video for her latest track “Consumerism” — and it’s about as trippy as you would expect.

(h/t Afropunk)

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

Nelson Mandela passed away surrounded by his family in his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Thursday. He was 95. Mandela spent 20 years as a political prisoner on Robben Island—imprisoned there for fighting against apartheid. He would spend a total of 27 years imprisoned for his beliefs. Mandela remains an international icon for freedom and racial justice.  

Mourning the loss, TransAfrica posted:  

To Mandela, attaining a free and justice South Africa did not mean taking over power and forgetting the poor and disenfranchised.  Both during his time in office and out, Mandela worked tirelessly to resolve conflicts within the African continent.  Throughout his life, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela embodied the sentiment “another world is possible” and this was most eloquently illustrated with his statement at the Rivonia Trial in April 1964:  

 “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people, I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Watch this 1961 interview of Mandela, then 42 years old.

“Food Stamp” Art On Display at Art Basel-Miami

All the cool kids are in Miami this week at Art Basel, the annual exhibitor’s extravaganza for the international art crowd. Among the pieces on display is a food stamp table.

The work of art by minimalist artist Meg Webster is quite literally called “Food Stamp Table 2013.” It’s a wood table displaying $4.60 worth of food, including a pack of Ramen noodles, an egg and a broccoli spear. The piece is going for $12,000, according to unimpressed arts blogger Paddy Johnson.

Reached by phone today, the Paula Cooper Gallery, which represents Webster, wouldn’t confirm the sale price of “Food Stamp Table,”—but did say that there was talk of possibly donating the proceeds to a soup kitchen.

(h/t Art F City)

RNC’s Director of Black Media Outreach Calls Rosa Parks Tweet a ‘Typo’

RNC's Director of Black Media Outreach Calls Rosa Parks Tweet a 'Typo'

The Republican National Committee’s newly appointed Communications Director for Black Media, Orlando Watson, had the unenviable job of answering for his organization’s embarrassing weekend Twitter gaffe this week. And it didn’t go well. Speaking with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts Wednesday, Watson dismissed the controversy, saying “Talking about a typo and a tweet, it’s old news.”

It’s an awkward, deeply uncomfortable TV segment. Watson isn’t interested in talking about the tweet, so Roberts asks Watson about the GOP’s efforts at voter suppression, the party’s relationship with black voters and its ongoing, failing efforts to torpedo Obamacare. Watson flounders, but not before repeatedly holding up a printed copy of the RNC’s statement about the organization’s honoring the 58th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historic act of civil disobedience and offering to read straight off the release. (He never does.)

It’s not suggested viewing if you’re averse to seeing people embarrass themselves publicly.

‘Dear White People’ and ‘Drunktown’s Finest’ to Screen at Sundance

'Dear White People' and 'Drunktown's Finest' to Screen at Sundance

The Sundance Institute announced on Wednesday the films that will screen during its annual film festival in Utah next month. Among the 118 feature-length films that will be shown at this year’s festival there are two that we’re especially excited about.

“Dear White People”

(Director and screenwriter: Justin Simien) — Four black students attend an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over an “African American” themed party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in “postracial” America while weaving a story about forging one’s unique path in the world. Cast: Tyler Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon Bell.


“Drunktown’s Finest”

(Director and screenwriter: Sydney Freeland) — Three young Native Americans—a rebellious father-to-be, a devout Christian woman, and a promiscuous transsexual—come of age on an Indian reservation. Cast: Jeremiah Bitsui, Carmen Moore, Morningstar Angeline, Kiowa Gordon, Shauna Baker, Elizabeth Francis.World Premiere

Gov. Christie Supports Tuition Equity for DREAMers, but Won’t Sign Tuition Equity Bill

Gov. Christie Supports Tuition Equity for DREAMers, but Won't Sign Tuition Equity Bill

New Jersey governor and rumored GOP presidential hopeful Chris Christie says he supports tuition equity for undocumented immigrant students, just not S2479, the New Jersey DREAM Act passed by the state legislature last month which would offer that very benefit.

Democratic lawmakers are accusing Christie of flip-flopping his position from remarks he made this fall during his successful re-election campaign. On Monday, Christie denied those allegations. “I said the legislature should move in the lame duck session towards tuition equality in New Jersey. Period,” ABC reported. “That’s what I said. I didn’t support any particular piece of legislation. And I still support tuition equality.”

But to advocates of the state’s tuition equity bill, Christie’s support of S2479 seemed clear. In an October speech in front of Latino civic groups, Christie said he supported tuition equity for “everybody in New Jersey,” the Associated Press reported.

Obama: We Need ‘Targeted Initiatives’ to Address Racial Economic Inequality

Obama: We Need 'Targeted Initiatives' to Address Racial Economic Inequality

Today, President Barack Obama delivered a speech about economic inequality at an event hosted by the progressive policy research institution Center for American Progress, which itself released three reports on the widening problem this morning. For Obama, his overall point was to show that the vaguely-defined “opportunity gap” in America is “now as much about class as it is about race.” But Obama did take a few moments to recognize the role of racism in keeping many people of color in poverty to begin with — a rare admission from the president. Early in his speech, he noted that “racial discrimination locked millions out of opportunity.” But later in his speech, when outlining “myths” that exist about why so many Americans are poor and what the government can or can’t do about it, he topped the list with this nugget:

First, there is the myth that this [poverty] is a problem restricted to a small share of predominantly minority poor — that this isn’t a broad-based problem, this is a black problem, or a Hispanic problem, or a Native American problem. Now, it’s true that the painful legacy of discrimination means that African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans are far more likely to suffer from a lack of opportunity — higher unemployment, higher poverty rates.  It’s also true that women still make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men.  So we’re going to need strong application of antidiscrimination laws.  We’re going to need immigration reform that grows the economy and takes people out of the shadows.  We’re going to need targeted initiatives to close those gaps.

“Targeted initiatives” — conservatives will have a field day with that one. Meanwhile, such race-based initiatives to mitigate centuries of racial discrimination is what many people of color have called for from Obama since he took office in 2008. He’s also earned plenty of criticism for not doing more to champion policies that target black and Latino communities. 

Obama’s endorsement of targeted initiatives may, for many, be five years too late and, billions of dollars short (actually, he didn’t put a dollar amount on them), but there’s some comfort in the fact he publicly supported them at all. It’s an uneasy comfort, though, given the vague and limited reference he made to race-focused solutions — one paragraph out of a five-page transcript. Other parts of the speech added to the discomfort by refusing to acknowledge precisley how racism caused much of America’s poverty problems.

This part of his speech was particularly nauseating:   

“During the post-World War II years, the economic ground felt stable and secure for most Americans. … But starting in the late ’70s, this social compact began to unravel. Technology made it easier for companies to do more with less, eliminating certain job occupations. … As values of community broke down and competitive pressure increased, businesses lobbied Washington to weaken unions and the value of the minimum wage.”

The post-World War II years may have felt stable and secure for white Americans, but the same certainly can’t be said for African Americans who during that time were kept out of many New Deal benefits, lived under the continued threat of lynchings and were pushed into ghettoes formed in large part by the federal government. As ProPublica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones, who’s reported extensively on unfair governmental housing policies, recently told This American Life:

“So in the early to mid ’30s, the federal government realized that home ownership was going to be a major way to build and fortify the middle class. So the Roosevelt administration starts to back loans. And so you only had to put down 20%. And this is when the practice of redlining actually began. The federal government was the one who introduced redlining. … And what ultimately happens, of course, between 1934 and 1964, 98% of the home loans that are insured by the federal government go to white Americans, building up the white middle class by allowing them to get home ownership. And black Americans are largely left out of that process. And, if there’s one thing that’s amazing about all of this, is how efficient the federal government was in creating segregation.”

Near the end of Obama’s speech, he emphasized this point: “The decades-long shifts in the economy have hurt all groups, poor and middle class, inner city and rural folks, men and women and Americans of all races.”

But clearly some races were hurt more than others. If targeted initiatives that address legacy racial discrimination are in fact coming, it will be interesting to see what shape they take. Given the impossibly stubborn gridlock of Congress, they would have to come from the White House, which would be great for Obama’s legacy and, more importantly, for the people they would help. How the white electorate responds will be far more interesting, especially as the 2014 mid-term elections approach. 

Don Lemon Perpetuates ‘Knockout Game’ Hysteria

Don Lemon Perpetuates 'Knockout Game' Hysteria

The so-called knockout game may not actually exist—but talking about it certainly does. The New York Times ran an article about two weeks ago indicating that authorities are split about whether this is an increasing menace or another urban myth. 

Real or imagined, the knockout game narrative is a racialized one: young black men are the ones perpetuating violent crime. Over at Patheos, Alan Noble has taken the current racist obsession with the knockout game to task:

What goes mostly unspoken in these commentaries on the “knockout game” is the idea that these assaults are racially motivated and so white people should be wary of groups of black men. Some take this further and blame the “liberal media” for the violence, since the media allegedly hid the “truth” about the race of the criminals. If only the media would tell us when black people attack white people, we’d know to not trust them and we’d be safe, the logic goes.

But are these pundits correct? Are these crimes committed by roaming packs of black “savages” against white people?

Here’s the fascinating thing about this “spreading” trend: nobody seems to have any evidence that it’s spreading, or that it’s new, or that it’s racially motivated, or that black youths are the ones typically responsible, or that whites are typically targeted.

But that didn’t stop CNN’s Don Lemon from playing perpetrator against a rabbi and martial artist Gary Moskowitz on live television yesterday. During the awkward segment, Lemon was concerned that he might be harmed. He pointed to his face and explained, “This is my livelihood right here.” 

Why the Spurs Dribbled Barefoot on Tuesday

Why the Spurs Dribbled Barefoot on Tuesday

The NBA Global Games tips off in Mexico City today, and over the next year, a dozen NBA teams will play ten games in seven countries over the next year. But the San Antonio Spurs got an early start against one of Mexico’s most coveted teams—a group of very young players from Oaxaca. 

Basketball is pretty big among indigenous people in the south of Mexico, where players often ball barefoot. Fancy kicks are both hard to find and they’re expensive, so players prefer to play without shoes. There are a growing number of young Triqui players from Oaxaca who are fast becoming serious players. It’s not always easy when they’re away from home, however—they’ve been forced to wear sneakers on the court in the US in the past, and their play was compromised as a result. Nonetheless, they won an international title in Argentina recently, where they were allowed to play barefoot.

The Spurs wanted to see what the commotion was all about, and invited the young Triqui players to a game yesterday in Mexico City—where both sides played barefoot. The Spurs played a great game, but lost 10-4. Watch the video and you’ll see why. 

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