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Edwidge Danticat Talks About Writing Her First Novel in 10 Years

Edwidge Danticat Talks About Writing Her First Novel in 10 Years

Edwidge Danticat sat down for an interview with PBS’s NewsHour to talk about “Claire of the Sea Light,” her first work of fiction in more than a decade. In the video above she talks about her writing process. Below, she reads an excerpt from the book.

(h/t PBS NewsHour)

Like Janelle Monáe? You’ll Love THEESatisfaction, KING, and Ebony Bones

Like Janelle Monáe? You'll Love THEESatisfaction, KING, and Ebony Bones

If you’re looking for a little something to add to your fall playlist (especially now that those new iOS 7 updates are out with iTunes radio!), then look no further. Janelle Monáe’s successful release of her second album has shown that there’s a market for new, quirky black songresses, and she’s not the only one in it. Below are a few acts who, whether in style or substance, are changing music both here and across the pond.

THEESatisfaction (Seattle, WA & Brooklyn, NY)

This talented duo started their careers in Seattle when they met at the University of Washington.  Since then, they’ve been on a roll, performing with Erykah Badu, releasing new music, and hosting Brooklyn’s popular Black Weirdo party.

KING (Los Angeles, CA)

What’s better than one talented singer? Twins songstresses who decide to form a group together. A few years ago, Paris and Amber Strother caught the industry’s attention when their 2011 song “The Story” went viral. Now they’re on tour with with British soul singer Laura Mvula.

Ebony Bones (London, UK)

This writer, producer and actress does a little bit of everything, but gained a following in the states after performing at SXSW a few years ago. She just released her second album, “Behold, A Pale Horse,” which got rave reviews from the good folks at NPR’s First Listen.

Eight Lessons From Erykah Badu’s Vine

Eight Lessons From Erykah Badu's Vine

Know your history.

 

There’s a movement behind every individual.

 

Take it slow.

 

You won’t get everything right on the first try.

Make time for your family.

Be patient.

Don’t be afraid to confront the opposition.

Don’t forget to have fun.

 

The Story of the Black Pitcher Who Threw a No-Hitter While on LSD

The Story of the Black Pitcher Who Threw a No-Hitter While on LSD

You may have heard of Dock Ellis. He’s the Major League Baseball pitcher made infamous for throwing a no hitter on June 12, 1970 while a member of the San Diego Padres. What makes his story even more interesting isn’t just that it happened, but that it’s been illustrated and put on YouTube. After his career ended in the late ’70s, Ellis entered recovery, counseled people battling addictions, and became an outspoken advocate for players’ rights. So much so, in fact, that Jackie Robinson had to tell him to take it easy. Ellis died of lung disease in 2008 when he was only 63 years old.

This illustrated short is an interesting look into the drugs that were a prominent part of professional sports in that era, long before today’s concerns over performance enhancing drugs and stories of current players like Lamar Odom battling high-profile addictions.

TAGS: Drugs MLB

Watch ‘Sailor Moon,’ ‘Wonder Woman’ Compete in an Epic Vogue Battle

Watch 'Sailor Moon,' 'Wonder Woman' Compete in an Epic Vogue Battle

This year’s Streetstar Vogue Femme Battle took place in Stockholm, Sweden and featured Sailor Moon and Wonder Woman in an epic vogueing battle for the ages.

(h/t Queerty)

TAGS: Vogueing

Watch Mister Cee’s Thoughtful Coming-Out PSA

Watch Mister Cee's Thoughtful Coming-Out PSA

Embattled DJ Mister Cee has released a public service announcement through his long-time radio station, Hot 97, to talk about his decision to open up about his sexuality. It’s an incredible four minutes from one of the pillars of the hip-hop community. Mister Cee speaks candidly and honestly about how he struggled with the decision to come out after being kicked out of the closet when one of his latest sexual encounters with a gender non-conforming person was caught on tape and made public.

“The decision I made this week to open up about my sexuality has definitely been the most difficult thing that I have ever had to do in my life,” the legendary DJ says. “But I felt like this was the time for me to do it personally and professionally. For me, I felt worried about how my family would be affected, how my coworkers and my friends and even my fans would be affected by this decision because in this hip-hop community of ours, it’s not cool to be gay.”

Take a Sneak Peek at the New Marvin Gaye Biopic ‘Sexual Healing’

Take a Sneak Peek at the New Marvin Gaye Biopic 'Sexual Healing'

Jesse L. Martin (aka the dude form “Law and Order”) is starring in an upcoming Marvin Gaye biopic called “Sexual Healing.” Here’s a four minute sneak peek at the film, which is due out on April 1, 2014, which would have been the singer’s 74th birthday.

(h/t Shadow and Act)

J. Cole Wants You to Reconsider the War on Drugs

J. Cole Wants You to Reconsider the War on Drugs

In a gripping new video for his single “Crooked Smile,” rapper J. Cole takes a pretty strong stance against the War on Drugs. It’s dedicated to Aiyana Stanley-Jones, the seven-year-old black girl who was shot and killed during a raid by the Detroit Police Department.

Minimum Wage and Overtime Extended to Home Care Workers

Minimum Wage and Overtime Extended to Home Care Workers

The Obama administration announced yesterday it will extend labor benefits and overtime pay to health care workers providing home care. This ruling affects nearly 2 million health care workers, who daily manage the needs of elderly and chronically ill people, as well as people with disabilities. One of the fastest-growing professions in the U.S., these workers have been exempt from benefits provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act since 1974

The new regulations won’t take effect until January 2015, in order to give families and states time to adjust. While advocates have been working on this initiative for some time, some lawmakers are concerned that new regulations will limit the amount of care people receive since the regulations will cap hours and some families may not be able to afford the minimum wage. But currently, health workers—the vast majority of whom are women and about half of which are people of color—make just $9.70 per hour. The new regulations are a step towards ensuring these workers are receiving a fair wage for work that is often critical for families and individuals nationwide. 

Undocumented Immigrants Handcuff Themselves to White House Gate

Undocumented Immigrants Handcuff Themselves to White House Gate

President Obama made clear he would not halt deportations for those undocumented immigrants whose children are eligible for temporary relief under the president’s deferred action program. In an interview with Telemundo’s José Díaz-Balart Tuesday, Obama blamed House Republicans for not moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform. 

But Obama’s own administration continues to deport more than 1,000 people per day, many of whom have not been accused of any crime. Obama made clear what worries him is that some advocates think that because Congress hasn’t moved forward to pass a bill, the president will issue some type of executive action to halt deportations. He’s planning no such thing. Instead, Obama urged people who want immigration reform to remain focused on Congress.

This morning, seven undocumented immigrant leaders—some of them already in deportation proceedings—handcuffed themselves to the White House gate in protest of Obama’s record deportations, which they say are tearing communities apart. The seven, who are active leaders in their communities across the nation, were arrested and taken into custody by Federal Park Police about a half hour after they started the action, as supporters screamed in solidarity a few yards away.

Narciso Valenzuela Siriaco, who identifies as Yaqui and lives in Tucson, participated in today’s action. He’s currently fighting deportation after spending time at Eloy Detention Center following a stop at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Arizona. “I don’t want there to be more deportations,” he said. “Our children suffer.”

Just In Case You’re Already Over This School Year

Just In Case You're Already Over This School Year

While the school year’s just begun, for some folks, it can’t end quickly enough. That’s especially the case for grad students who’ve spent the better part of two decades in and out of classrooms. If you’re feeling frustrated or in a bit over your head, you’re not alone. To revisit some tips from Madison Moore, the Ph.D. candidate who made waves with his concentration in fierceness, here’s a Thought Catalogue list of 10 people you’re probably going to school with:

1. The know it all who tells you you’ve misinterpreted Marx.

Bitch, please.

2. The overachiever.

The overachiever is always the first person in the seminar to use words like “hermeneutics.” They have completed the entire semester’s reading in advance and even have suggestions for further reading. They come to class with detailed notes, typed, of course, so as to more easily access their flashes of brilliance. Whenever the professor asks a question the whole seminar table looks at the overachiever, awaiting morsels of genius to drip from their lips. Privately, everybody hates the overachiever but you also rely on them because you know that they help carry the seminar all those times you didn’t do the reading.

3. The one who dates undergrads.

Undergraduates have no clue what graduate students do. For many, graduate students are not even real people — they’re just “creepy,” clueless robots there to grade midterms. But see, therein lies the fascination. Some undergrads get excited about the possibility of dating a graduate student, and that’s just music to the undergrad-dater’s ears because they can’t wait to get to campus so they can start banging sophomores. It’s also kind of against the rules, so don’t do it/keep it on the DL!!

4. The person who thinks the world is an awful place and it’s all society’s fault.

This person is a member of the campus graduate student association and they are always trying to get you to join, and you do because you care about the causes. They use terminology like “Prison-Industrial Complex” in everyday parlance. They rally and protest and have absolutely awful things to say about the world and its numerous problems. Capitalism is bad, universities are bad, everybody is oppressed and we are all doomed. And yet, here they are, in a Ph.D. program.

5. The walking stress bomb.

The walking stress bomb seems to always be nervous or worried about some looming deadline or thing to accomplish. They are worried about talks or papers or journal articles or the job market or what so-in-so professor thinks about them. Graduate school is one giant stress bomb, but you have to learn to prioritize!

6. The chronic masturbator/partier/decadent/Netflix obsessive.

The chronic masturbator/partier/decadent/Netflix obsessive always puts readings and assignments off till the last minute so they can do fabulous things like skip their Hannah Arendt seminar to go to Coachella. Knowing a paper is due in five days, this person spends three of those five days downing 78 episodes of 30 Rock while eating popcorn and Nutella with a spoon. This person puts pleasure first and doesn’t take any of this graduate school stuff so seriously, but in the final hours before the assignment is due delicate genius emerges as if out of thin air.

7. The freeloader.

The freeloader goes to conference talks and departmental brown bag lunches for the free wine, cheese, and meals. They are not all that interested in the panel discussion on “Feminism as Practice — And Praxis.” They have come for the free Indian food from the best Indian restaurant in town. Will also be seen taking a plate home for later.

8. The insanely accomplished.

Possibly a genius, there is not an accolade they don’t have, nothing they’ve never accomplished. The insanely accomplished was born with a book deal from FSG. The insanely accomplished is different from the overachiever, though, because nobody really likes the overachiever and the insanely accomplished makes you want to be better. He or she is relatively coy about their accomplishments, coy in the sense that they only casually drop hints about what they’ve done at every pause in a conversation. But it’s OK — they’re fabulous!

9. The elitist.

The elitist judges you because you don’t spend every waking moment in the library, because your project is in a sexy area like performance studies, visual studies, or celebrity studies. They say things like, “You’re writing a dissertation chapter on Beyoncé? That’s not a real topic.” Gurl….

10. The person who got a better job than you.

By the time you make it through your graduate program and go “on the market” for that coveted assistant professorship at your dream school, you’re sending out dossiers and cover letters and writing samples and all of your self-confidence. You went all out — 50 applications. How many interviews have you scored? Zero! Inevitably people will ask you where you applied but you’re not telling because you don’t want any added competish. And yet, the person who got a better job than you applied to one job and that’s the one he got. WHY!

How People Use Google Street View to Indulge in Poverty Porn

How People Use Google Street View to Indulge in Poverty Porn

VICE does some great work, but it can still have a pretty problematic view on the world. Case in point: a recent photo essay in which a writer uses Google Street View to explore the “bad part of town,” from Los Angeles’ Skid Row and Houston’s Fifth Ward to favealas in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. From writer Glenn Coco:

The great thing about Google Street View (aside from generating the occasional murder scare,) is that it allows you to visit parts of your town that you would usually be too terrified to set foot in. The “bad part of town.”

Below is a collection of Street View images taken in the worst parts of a bunch of cities around the globe. 

I wish I had some kind of scientific method for finding these places, but I just contacted people I knew in cities that have Google Street View, asked them what they consider to be the sketchiest part of where they live, then dragged the little orange Street View guy down at a random spot in that neighborhood. 

Apparently, poverty is fun. Who knew?

Judge Orders Retrial of Officers in Hurricane Katrina Bridge Shootings

Judge Orders Retrial of Officers in Hurricane Katrina Bridge Shootings

When five former New Orleans police officers were found guilty of shooting unarmed civilians on Danziger Bridge just after Hurrcaine Katrina struck, there was a sense that justice was finally served.

The shooting occured on September 4, 2005 when the five officers responded to a call that someone had been shooting from the the bridge. According to the Department of Justice, the officers began shooting indiscriminately into the crowd, killing two men—a teenager named James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison, a man with mental disabilities. Four others were shot, including Susan Bartholomew, who lost an arm in the shooting. The officers then engaged in a cover up to make the shootings appear justified, a judge ruled.

In 2011, the officers were found guilty of a combined 25 counts of civil rights violations and four of the officers were sentenced to between 45 to 60 years in prison.

But those convictions were recently thrown out after a U.S. judge ordered a retrial in the case after “grotesque prosecutorial misconduct” after three lawyers posted anonymous comments on a news website. From the BBC:

Former US Attorney Jim Letten resigned in December 2012 after two top prosecutors in his regional office admitted posting anonymous comments about the case on nola.com, the website of the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.

A wider investigation found a third lawyer, based in the justice department’s civil rights division in Washington DC also posted anonymous comments on the website during the last week of the trial.

“NONE of these guys should had have [sic] ever been given a badge,” one of the lawyers wrote under an assumed username.

“We should research how they got on the police department, who trained them, who supervised them and why were they ever been [sic] promoted.”

A family member of one of the men killed on the bridge told the BBC that the judge’s decision to retry the case has re-opened a “terrible wound.”

DREAMer Activist Self-Deports After Time Runs Out

DREAMer Activist Self-Deports After Time Runs Out

Juan Gomez became an immigration reform activist after his entire family was arrested, detained, and nearly deported by immigration officials in 2007. While he and his brother, Alex, remained in the U.S. after they were detained, their parents chose to return to Colombia. This past month he made the difficult decision to leave the country after his temporary work authorization expired, and his application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was delayed by what seems to be a growing backlog of applications.

Gomez, who came to the U.S. from Colombia when he was two years old, now has a degree from Georgetown University. He left the U.S. to take a job with an investment firm in São Paulo, Brazil, but because of his multiple run-ins with immigration officials and his temporary visa having expired, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to return to his home. 

(h/t Miami Herald)

‘Latino Americans’ Debuts on PBS

'Latino Americans' Debuts on PBS

In the latest endeavor to capture the emergence of the Latino community in the U.S., last night PBS aired the first episode of Latino Americans. The epic documentary charts five centuries of Latino immigration, social movements, racism, labor and political activity to show how deeply entwined Latino communities are with U.S. history.

From prominent activists such as Dolores Huerta to film stars such as Rita Moreno, the series aims to paint of picture of how Latinos grew to be one of the most influential ethnic groups in the U.S. But as when any documentary makes long brush strokes over several centuries, some critics have said the documentary falls short of conveying the subtleties and richness of Latino identity, while others have criticized the film for relying too closely on an assimilationist narrative.

The three-part series continues on PBS in the coming weeks, and full episodes are available online.

Meet B-Girl Terra, the Flyest Six-Year-Old Dancer Around

Meet B-Girl Terra, the Flyest Six-Year-Old Dancer Around

All the way from England, six-year-old Terra and her nine-year-old sister Eddie are b-girl prodigies. They’ve already become pretty famous after an appearance on “Ellen,” but it’s worth taking a look at just how skilled young Terra really is.

TAGS: hip-hop Kids

George Takai’s New Web Series Offers The Best Tech Tips

George Takai's New Web Series Offers The Best Tech Tips

It’s a pretty well established fact that George Takai knows his way around social media. He makes viral videos and has a strong Facebook following. So it only makes sense that the AARP has tapped the 76-year-old former “Star Trek” actor for a new series called “Takai’s Take,” which offers tips on how to use today’s most popular tech products. In the first episode that was published this week, Takai explains Google Glass. And yes, it’s absolutely awesome. 

Why No One Has Been Charged With Murder in the Death of Islan Nettles

Why No One Has Been Charged With Murder in the Death of Islan Nettles

Police investigating the beating death of Islan Nettles are asking for the public’s help in identifying the men who assaulted her in late August.

Nettles, a 21-year-old transgender woman, was walking with friends in Harlem when she was attacked by a group of men. She died days later at Harlem Hospital.

Police initially identified Paris Wilson, 20, of viciously attacking Nettles while yelling homophobic slurs. But DNA Info reports that the case has grown increasingly complicated:

At first, the case against Wilson appeared open-and-shut, but within a few days another Harlem man, apparently at the urging of Wilson’s friends and relatives, told detectives that he attacked Nettles.

Investigators scrambled to find evidence confirming his account or to discount it.

“He said he threw the punch, but could not provide anything else about what he did or did not do that night,” a law enforcement source said. The source added that the man was extremely intoxicated that evening.

Authorities were prepared to completely discount his “confession,” but then another witness stepped forward and claimed the second man was, in fact, the attacker.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. released a statement in which he vouched for patience. “As law enforcement officials, we want to make it very clear that this type of hatred and violence has no place in our city. (And) our primary objective is, as always, to make sure that justice is served.”

Stunning Portraits of Muxes, Mexico’s ‘Third Gender’

Stunning Portraits of Muxes, Mexico's 'Third Gender'

Mexico City-based photographer Nicola “Ókin” Frioli recently traveled to Zapotec communities around the town of Juchitán to capture the beauty of “muxes,” or transgender women who are celebrated as symbols of good luck. According to the New York Times, the third gender identity refers to pre-colonial “accounts of cross-dressing Aztec priests and Mayan gods who were male and female at the same time.” 

muxes2.jpg

muxes3.jpg

(h/t Feature Shoot)

*This story has been updated since publication.

Comedian Kristina Wong Wants You to Celebrate White History Month

Comedian Kristina Wong Wants You to Celebrate White History Month

Kristina Wong has been on a tear this month. First she told the world about how “hipster” is the white man’s n-word, and then she made an appearance on W. Kamau Bell’s “Totally Biased.” Over at XO Jane, Wong offered eight tongue-in-cheek reasons for why people of color should be in favor of celebrating White History Month. “When I wrote an essay about white guys with Yellow Fever, I got backlash from white people who protested, “How come there is a Black History Month, but no White History Month? That’s not fair!” Wong wrote. Here’s her answer:

White People Have Done So Much Twerk For People Of Color And Yet, No Appreciation
 
Can’t Miley Cyrus co-opt black culture and use black bodies as props without criticism!?  Why not celebrate the ability of white people to bring a less threatening face to cultural practices originated by people of color? Let’s honor the white people who proliferate our traditions completely out of context, reap all the glory, and without social responsibility!
Besides, can you blame them? They need a White History Month to bring their own traditions back.
Being Accused of Racism Sucks As Much As Being The Target Of It
 
So many white people are hurt when they learn in school (if it is actually taught to them) that only white people can be racist because we live in the aftermath of a white supremacy that they continue to benefit from today. While people of color can harbor biases against other races, ultimately, the real culprit of racial inequity is white supremacy.
Yikes! This is too much of a burden! White guilt sucks! Ask any white person, and they’ll tell you they’d much rather wake up tomorrow in the body of a black man than deal with the shameful guilt of perpetuating racism! Am I right white people? Hello?
Unlearning Racism Can Make A White Person’s Head Hurt
 
All this talk about the lifelong effort to dismantle racism by becoming a white ally or understanding white privilege is HARD! It was so much easier when white people could just be oblivious to the mistakes their forefathers made. Can’t white people end racism WITHOUT having to actually deal with it?
She offers up eight reasons in total, which you can read over at XO Jane.
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