Vox Interviews Obama, Samsung SmartTV Spies on You, Grammys Wrap

Vox Interviews Obama, Samsung SmartTV Spies on You, Grammys Wrap

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • A stampede in a clash between sports fans and police in Cairo leads to at least 19 deaths
  • Your Samsung SmartTV is listening to your personal conversations and the company warns people that: “be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”
TAGS: Morning Rush

Native Americans Say Facebook Is Accusing Them of Using Fake Names

Native Americans Say Facebook Is Accusing Them of Using Fake Names

Dana Lone Hill tried logging on to Facebook last Monday only to be locked out because the social media giant believed that she was using a fake name. In an essay over at Last Real Indians, Dana, who’s Lakota and has been using Facebook since 2007, explains that she’s presented a photo ID, library card and one piece of mail to the company in an attempt to restore her account. The day after Lone Hill’s account was suspended she was able to access it briefly but she was then booted a second time. 

In her essay Lone Hill says that this has happened to other Native users she knows:

I had a little bit of paranoia at first regarding issues I had been posting about until I realized I wasn’t the only Native American this happened to. One friend was forced to change his name from his Cherokee alphabet to English. Another was forced to include her full name, and a few were forced to either smash the two word last names together or omit one of the two words in the last name. Oglala Lakota Lance Brown Eyes was bootd from facebook and when he turned in his proof of identification they changed his name to Lance Brown. After contacting the Better Business Bureau and threatening Facebook with a class action lawsuit, they sent him an apology and let him use his given name again.

To reestablish a Facebook account after being accused of using a fake name, users must submit one government-issued ID such as a birth certificate, passport or voter identification card or two other forms of identification such as library card and a yearbook photo. The company appears to have been questioning certain Native users since at least 2009, when it deactivated Parmelee Kills The Enemy’s account. More recently, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Facebook deleted a number of Native accounts. In one case, the company asked users Shane and Jacqui Creepingbear for identification to prove that they weren’t using fake names. Shane took to Twitter to express his disappointment:

Via Facebook messenger, Shane says that the couple’s ordeal came to a swift end when he had some friends who work in the tech industry contact Facebook directly. Shane, who’s part of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, says that he and Jacqui have “administrative shields” on their Facebook accounts and that their names will no longer be questioned. 

“It’s a problem when someone decides they are the arbiter of names,” says Shane. “It can come off a tad racist.” 

Facebook’s 10-year-old real-name policy stipulates that users “provide the name they use in real life.” However, the social network doesn’t require people to use their legal names, according to an open letter the company’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, posted last October. In the letter Cox apologizes to ”drag queens, drag kings, transgender [people], and [to the] extensive community of our friends, neighbors and members of the LGBT community” whose accounts had been shut down after a user reported hundreds of them as fake. At press time no such apology has been issued to Natives.

In a statement to Colorlines, a Facebook spokesperson wrote:

“Over the last several months, we’ve made some significant improvements in the implementation of this standard, including enhancing the overall experience and expanding the options available for verifying an authentic name. We have more work to do, and our teams will continue to prioritize these improvements so everyone can be their authentic self on Facebook.”

The spokesperson also told Colorlines that any idenitification provided by users is reviewed and verified by a single Facebook employee and then immediately destroyed—which may calm some privacy concerns. 

Lone Hill, who went by Lone Elk until she found her birth certificate last summer, tells Colorlines that she submitted her documents to the company last Tuesday only to receive an automated e-mail asking for even more documents—“credit cards, Social Security numbers, stuff I’m not comfortable sending.” Lone Hill says she misses having access to her nearly 2,000 Facebook friends and doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to recover photos of her four children that she stored in her account. 

A petition demanding Facebook change its policy toward Native names, started about four months ago, has garnered more than 9,000 signatures. 

Update, 4:14p ET
Dane Lone Hill’s account was restored by Facebook today after being suspended for the better part of a week. Lone Hill had posted about her ordeal on Last Real Indians on Friday, which Colorlines picked up and published a post about Monday. In an email addressed to Lone Hill at 2:58p ET and forwarded to Colorlines, Facebook explained:

Hi Dana,

It looks like your account was suspended by mistake. I’m so sorry for the inconvenience. You should now be able to log in. If you have any issues getting back into your account, please let me know.

View updates from your support dashboard: [REDACTED]


Community Operations

Cops Expose Their Racism on Facebook [VIDEO]

Cops Expose Their Racism on Facebook [VIDEO]

The Marshall Project has a round-up this week of choice Facebook comments from police officers on the people they police. From Texas to New York City to Florida, some officers are airing their prejudices on Facebook—(perhaps, not fully understanding that not all FB friends are actually your friends?)—and confirming longstanding concerns around their hiring, vetting and accountability. And one Seattle case in particular is forcing a stronger association to be made between what officers say online and abuses they perpetrate or tolerate on the street.

TMP’s roundup was inspired by Facebook comments reportedly made by white female Seattle police officer Cynthia Whitlatch who in the must-watch 20-minute dashcam footage above, arrests William Wingate, 69, without apparent cause (begin at 1:40). The July 2014 video, obtained via public records request and released last week by The Stranger led to the officer being placed on desk duty. Next came the public release of her Facebook comments—

“If you believe that blacks are NOT accusing white America for their problems then you are missing the point of the riots in Ferguson and the chronic black racism that far exceeds any white racism in this country. I am tired of black peoples paranoia that white people are out to get them. I am tired of hearing a black racist tell me the only reason they are being contacted is because they are black solely because I am NOT black.”

and e-mails subsequently obtained by The Seattle Times this week. Whitlatch is now on home leave with pay and an internal investigation is underway. After being arrested, placed in a paddy wagon and spending a night in jail, Wingate had been prosecuted. He now intends to sue.

According to The Stranger, “Officer Whitlatch is one of 123 police officers who sued the government last year…to block the Department of Justice-ordered use of force policies.” Seattle’s police department has been under a consent decree since 2012 for having engaged in “a pattern or practice of excessive force.”

Read more about this developing story on The Stranger. 

h/t TMP

Census Infographic: How ‘Slaves’ Became ‘African-Americans’

Census Infographic: How 'Slaves' Became 'African-Americans'

The United States has been tracking demographic data since 1790. Needless to say, a lot has changed in the country in the past two centuries. A new infographic produced by the Center for American Progress tracks the U.S. Census’ shifting racial categories and offers a compelling bird’s eye view of race in the U.S. After all, so much of our race conversation is embedded in the labels we use for ourselves and others.

The U.S. didn’t bother setting aside a category to count American Indians until 1860, nearly a century after the Declaration of Independence. Blacks in the U.S. have perhaps undergone the most change. First designated only as “slaves” in 1790, the Census eventually added in new categories for “quadroon” and “octoroon” blacks in 1890. In the 20th century alone, black people in the U.S. have been officially labeled “Black,” “Mullato,” “Negro,” and eventually also “African American.” The label “white” is the only category that has persisted, unchanged, since 1790.

If nothing else, the infographic underlines the fascinating, complex mutability of race. 

MeaningOfRace-infographic-final (1).png

Click for a full-sized version.

Your Cheeky Muslim Valentine’s Day Cards Are Here

Your Cheeky Muslim Valentine's Day Cards Are Here

It’s that time of year again. And if cheeky cards that are both a pointed sendup of Islamophobia and a tribute to the cheesiest greeting card holiday of the year are your thing, Taz Ahmed’s got you covered

What started in 2012 as a casual art project has become an annual tradition for the Los Angeles-based artist and writer. Four years in, her series has also turned into an inadvertent chronicle of the past year in anti-Muslim hysteria. From TSA scanning to NSA wiretapping, drones to entrapment, Ahmed’s touched on them all with punny one-liners and sharp political perspective.


That doesn’t mean everyone’s a fan. “I think there are Muslims that find these cards distasteful,” Ahmed tells Colorlines. She urges folks to, “take a step back and look at these cards as satirical political statements.” 

“The sad thing is, in the four years of making the cards, Muslims are no less in the news than they were in the post 9/11 era,” Ahmed says.

As for whether her Valentine’s Day cards have helped lovers come together, Ahmed hasn’t heard about any success stories yet, but she does send her own cards to loved ones and friends. “I do think one of the cards I sent to someone may have been the catalyst to their breakup with their girlfriend,” Ahmed said. “Sorry about that.”

Check out this year’s Muslim V-Day Cards here, and her past editions here.

Employment Spike, Gap Booted Off Tinder, Promising Ebola Drug

Employment Spike, Gap Booted Off Tinder, Promising Ebola Drug

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • A secret UK tribunal rules that the UK-US practice of sharing NSA data was unlawful
TAGS: Morning Rush

FCC Commissioner Says No to Pay-For-Play Internet

FCC Commissioner Says No to Pay-For-Play Internet

In the latest round in the decade-long Battle Over Your Internet, Tom Wheeler, chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced this week that he’ll stand for keeping the Internet as is: open.

I’ll admit surprise. To understand why see herehere, here, here and, well, you get the point. Then again, perhaps it is difficult for a Beltway denizen to completely ignore nearly 4 million comments from ordinary Americans basically saying, “Hands off my Internet.” Or maybe it’s just difficult for Wheeler to ignore his boss.

Whatever the cause, between last April and December, according to Politico, Wheeler changed his mind about an earlier proposal that consumer advocates and tech companies say would’ve created a two-tier Internet. Its impact on low-income communities of color (and nonprofit media like Colorlines) would be devastating. For example, largely working-class and poor St. Louis residents used real-time tweets and streaming video to draw mainstream media’s attention to Mike Brown’s body lying on their street for four and a half hours. Suppose they first had to pay-to-play?

Wheeler’s turnaround isn’t the end of it. On February 26th his new and stronger “open Internet” rules go before the full commission for a vote. A win isn’t a slam dunk, however. Advocates are expecting pressure from a new Republican Congress and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Jordan Vows Revenge, Anthem Insurance Hack, Serena’s Return to Indian Wells

Jordan Vows Revenge, Anthem Insurance Hack, Serena's Return to Indian Wells

Here’s some of what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Jordan vows revenge for the brutal killing of an IS captive. 
  • Is your name, birthday and address a casualty of the big hack on Anthem health insurance? 
  • Serena Williams will return to Indian Wells more than a decade after being called the n-word and reminded that she could be skinned alive by tennis fans:
TAGS: Morning Rush

New York Train Crash, Taiwan Plane Crash [VIDEO], NASA Headed to Europa

New York Train Crash, Taiwan Plane Crash [VIDEO], NASA Headed to Europa

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • Chris Christie changes his mind and now thinks parents should vaccinate their children after all. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Ramarley Graham’s Family Settles for $3.9M With New York City; Pledge to Pursue Justice

Ramarley Graham's Family Settles for $3.9M With New York City; Pledge to Pursue Justice

The family of Ramarley Graham, the unarmed 18-year-old killed by NYPD officer Richard Haste three years ago this week in his bathroom, has settled their wrongful death lawsuit for $3.9 million. Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm reportedly told a Bronx church last night, “The settlement will never take away the pain that the city caused me.” Malcolm, according to The Huffington Post, still keeps the white bath mat stained by her son’s blood on a bathroom shelf, as well as a stack of her son’s T-shirts folded neatly in a corner. The police killing of Graham in 2012 helped galvanize a city around stop-and-frisk reform.

Both Malcolm and father, Franclot Graham, are pledging to continue the fight for police accountability. Said the elder Graham:

“What’s justice for me? All the officers in that team be held accountable for their actions, for their lies, for their disregard of the law, for their disregard of human rights.”

Officer Haste, the Daily News reports, does not contribute to the settlement, which comes as a federal investigation is exploring civil rights charges against Haste and other officers on scene that day. Following 2012 charges that had been thrown out by a judge, a second grand jury declined to indict Haste.

(h/t The Guardian)

Measles and Politics, $150K Raised for Detroit Walker, Tackling Herbal Supplements

Measles and Politics, $150K Raised for Detroit Walker, Tackling Herbal Supplements

Here are some the stories I’m reading up on this morning:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Tamir Rice’s Family Files Updated Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Tamir Rice's Family Files Updated Wrongful Death Lawsuit

On Friday, Tamir Rice’s family filed an amended federal wrongful death lawsuit which expanded its complaint over how police handled their short, deadly interaction with the 12-year-old, Ohio’s WKBN reported. 

The updated complaint is more expansive than the first, which was filed in December just weeks after Cleveland police killed Rice on November 22. Police, responding to a 911 call of a person wielding what was likely a fake gun, shot and killed Rice within seconds of arriving on the scene at the Cuddell Recreation Center. It turned out that Rice was holding a pellet gun. 

The Rice family’s updated 72-page complaint includes 27 claims, including wrongful death, excessive force, and battery of Tajai Rice, Tamir’s 14-year-old sister who arrived at the scene just after police shot her brother, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported. 

Since December, Rice’s family replaced their original attorneys with Walter Madison and Benjamin Crump. Crump also represents Trayvon Martin’s family, as well as the family of Michael Brown. 

Cleveland police practices have cost people’s lives, and for the city, potential millions of dollars paid out in lawsuit settlements, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported today. In an analysis of nearly 70 lawsuits and settlements, Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Ryllie Danylko reported that Cleveland police often “draw their guns too early, use force when none is needed and draw innocent bystanders into violent confrontations.” The article is part of NEOMG’s series on Cleveland police called “Forcing Change.”

Patriots Surprise Win, Groundhog Day, Measles Continue to Spread

Patriots Surprise Win, Groundhog Day, Measles Continue to Spread

Here’s what I’m reading up on (and watching!) this morning: 

  • Verizon says it will allow its customers to opt out of so-called supercookies that do things like track you even when you’ve set a private browser on your device; AT&T already abandoned the practice completely. 
  • On the Jimmy Fallon Show, The Roots back up Christina Aguilera, Usher, Ariana Grande and others for “We Are the Champions:”
TAGS: Morning Rush

Saved by the bell hooks Tumblr as Great as It Sounds

Saved by the bell hooks Tumblr as Great as It Sounds

It’s a match made in Tumblr heaven. The intersectional feminist theory of bell hooks, combined with the early 1990s teen sitcom “Saved by the Bell,” to become savedbythebellhooks. You heard right.





There’s more at

Commission Urges California State Parks to Welcome More People of Color

Commission Urges California State Parks to Welcome More People of Color

California state parks cover some 1.3 million acres of land, including 339 miles of the state’s famed coastline. But those parks are often left in disrepair, and visitors who do make pilgrimages to them don’t reflect the state’s demographics. The commission Parks Forward is filing a report today which urges the state to fix both of those fundamental problems, the Los Angeles Times reports.

California’s population is 40 percent Latino, though that might not be so apparent from a visit to a state park. “The visitors don’t look like California,” Parks Forward commissioner and USC professor of American Studies Manuel Pastor told the LA Times. The state ought to improve transportation to state parks for those who live in cities, and make the parks more accessible to short-term visitors, the commission recommended. 

Part of the urgency is about self-preservation. Without the political support of California’s fastest-growing demographic, its state parks could languish further, commissioners note.

The Golden State’s not the only one thinking hard about why its visitor demographics don’t reflect the larger population’s. The National Park Service is confronting the very same issues, Colorlines fam Brentin Mock wrote over at Grist.

Mock wrote:

Shelton Johnson, an African American ranger at Yosemite National Park in California, talked about the challenge of getting black youth into the great outdoors in Ken Burns’ 2009 PBS documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. “How do I get them here?” Johnson asked. “How do I let them know about the buffalo soldier history, to let them know that we, too, have a place here? How do I make that bridge, and make it shorter and stronger? Every time I go to work and put the uniform on, I think about them.”

Read Mock’s ideas for how to fix this over at Grist.

Weekend Reads: From Native Youth to The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland

Weekend Reads: From Native Youth to The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland

It’s fair to say, it’s not often that institutions self-reflect and run a kind of “racism audit”—and then release some of that assessment to the general public. But that’s what The New Republic, the elite, liberal ideas shop once described as “the in-flight magazine of Air Force One,” has done with journalist Jeet Heer’s, The New Republic’s Legacy on Race.” History nerds will love that Heer’s lit review, beginning in 1914, cites original thinkers from the time. But it’s the modern-day prejudices and bigotry promoted under Marty Peretz’s 30-year editorial leadership that come in for special focus (think, “Bell Curve,” black cultural pathologies, etc). Says Heer:

Whatever the problems had been with the early twentieth-century The New Republic, it published a spectrum of black voices, so readers (both black and white) had a sense of how black America thought about things. It published the conservative Washington, the centrist White, the militant Du Bois, and voices more radical than Du Bois himself, such as Du Bois’s Marxist critic Abram L. Harris. Under Peretz, with very few exceptions, the magazine printed only the more conservative end of black political discourse….

Moving on from Heer’s appraisal, recall, The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland,” in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine. On a November afternoon in 2013, one boy in a small group of teens set fire to the skirt of sleeping 18-year-old high school senior, Sasha Fleischman. What follows is a thoughtful look at that fateful day and the lives of the two teens involved: Sasha, a white youth* who identifies as agender (neither male nor female) and perpetrator, 16-year-old Richard Thomas, who is African-American. The piece asks whether children ought to be punished as adults and introduces the concept of restorative justice in both sentencing juvenile offenders and satisfying victims and their families.

In a five-part series in Al Jazeera America, journalist Tristan Ahtone looks at Native American gangs, a relatively new phenomenon dating back to the 1980s. Part one begins by asking why young people in Indian Country, subject to some of the nation’s highest rates of victimization by violent crime, are joining gangs in the first place. 

And because I’m a big fan of her music and I love the warmth between women in this interview, listen to Maria Hinojosa’s chat with Afro-Spanish singer Buika on LatinoUSA

*Post has been updated since publication to correctly identify Fleischman.

Senate Approves Keystone XL, Suge Knight Held on Murder Charge, GMO Mosquitos

Senate Approves Keystone XL, Suge Knight Held on Murder Charge, GMO Mosquitos

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Suge Knight is arrested on suspicion of murder after running his friends over with with a car he was driving, leaving one dead and one injured. 
  • Russia’s Central Bank surprises economists and cuts interest rates from 17 percent to 15 percent. 
  • The FCC changes the rules on broadband ahead of its net neutrality decision on February 26. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

One Tweet Explains the Racial Wealth Gap

One Tweet Explains the Racial Wealth Gap

Here’s a thought exercise: How long could you maintain your current standard of living without a paycheck? A week? Six months? The next 20 years? That length of time is a measure of your personal wealth—which is quite different from hourly wages or annual income.

Wealth, in the form of home ownership for most Americans, is real security. It’s what enables families to bounce back from life-changing emergencies and survive into the next generation. (Or the next 20, if you’re related to John D. Rockefeller) With that in mind, consider the racial wealth gap chart below. Perhaps it’s time to talk more about wealth, and not just about wages and income.

Note that “households of color,” according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, includes Black or African-American; American Indian and Native Alaskan; Asian; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander; Hispanic or Latino; some other race; two or more races.

(h/t AssetsNAF)

Marshawn Lynch: ‘You All Shove Cameras and Microphones Down My Throat’

Marshawn Lynch: 'You All Shove Cameras and Microphones Down My Throat'

For The Win is reporting that Seattle Seahawk running back Marshawn Lynch addressed the media in a press conference Thursday, just three days ahead of this year’s Super Bowl. Lynch essentially turned his gaze on the media itself, stating, “I’ll just be looking at y’all the way you looking at me.”

Lynch, who, as my colleague Jamilah King has point out, has made the mistake of “being unapologetically black and rebellious in a league business that depends on military-like obedience,” scolded reporters for their obsession with him:

So you all can go and make up whatever you want to make up, cause I don’t say enough for you all to go put anything out on me. But I’ll come to y’all event and y’all shove cameras and microphones down my throat. When I’m at home in my environment, I don’t see y’all. But y’all mad at me. If y’all ain’t mad at me, then what are you all here for?

You can read more from Lynch’s statement—as well as his many shout-outs—today over at For The Win

Flight MH370: Accident, Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial, Bill Gates on Reddit

Flight MH370: Accident, Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial, Bill Gates on Reddit

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Taylor Swift trademarks lyrics that she claims are entirely her own, like “party like it’s 1989,” which isn’t entirely her own since Prince wrote “party like it’s 1999” more than 30 years ago. 
TAGS: Morning Rush
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