Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Obama Turned Away from Three Elite Golf Clubs

Obama Turned Away from Three Elite Golf Clubs

Following fundraisers in New York and Rhode Island the Friday before Labor Day, President Obama had planned an overnight stay in Westchester County, New York, to attend a wedding Saturday. With a little free time on his hands, the president hoped to swing by a local golf club on Saturday morning, but he was turned down by three of them. 

Trump National, Willow Ridge and Winged Foot—all in New York—turned the president away. Sources tell WNBC that club managers didn’t want to inconvenience their members, who pay more than $100,000 to join some of the clubs.

Trump National is owned by Donald Trump, who poked fun about rejecting Obama on Wednesday on Twitter: 

Over Labor Day weekend, Obama returned to Washington on Friday evening and then headed all the way back to Westchester on Saturday. 

Following Ferguson: Residents Head to State Capitol as Street Protests Continue

Following Ferguson: Residents Head to State Capitol as Street Protests Continue

Ferguson residents continue to voice frustration on more than one front, and new video of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting surfaces. While street protests continued with an attempt to block Interstate-70 during rush hour yesterday, another 60-plus residents traveled to the state capitol in Jefferson City to tell their stories to state lawmakers. They hope, according to local station KSDK, to get laws to change—although the report does not specify which laws. Pharmacy technician Kayla Reed never expected to become an activist explains why she got on the bus. “If they see us and they hear us, and I’m speaking eloquently to them, and I’m not in their face saying, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot,’ if I’m not that because you couldn’t come to me when I needed you, so I’ll come to you,” she tells KSDK.

Of the nearly 150 people attempting to block I-70 yesterday, the LA Times reports that police arrested at least 10. One organizer, Eric Vickers, according to the Post-Dispatch, did not rule out future acts of civil disobedience. Protesters are calling for Governor Jay Nixon to replace St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch with a special prosecutor. McCulloch’s father, a police officer, was killed nearly 50 years ago by an African-American suspect. 

Meanwhile, video and new eyewitnesses corroborating previous testimony has surfaced. Two construction workers who asked to remain unidentified were on scene at the time of Wilson’s fatal shooting of Brown. Read more on Fox 2 Now St. Louis and USA Today.

New War in Iraq, Facebook Tests Momentary Posts, Ebola Death Toll Continues to Rise

New War in Iraq, Facebook Tests Momentary Posts, Ebola Death Toll Continues to Rise

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

  • The Syrian opposition is thrilled with Obama’s plans. 
  • In a sign that Snapchat really is on to something, Facebook is testing momentary posts. 
  • Taraji P. Henson tells Ebony that she’s treated like a D-list actor. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

This is the T-Shirt Company Making Money Off of Ferguson

This is the T-Shirt Company Making Money Off of Ferguson

Update, September 15, 2014, 5:28 p.m.:

Colorlines would like to acknowledge that we did not reach out to FCKH8.com before running the blog post “This is the T-Shirt Company Making Money Off of Ferguson.”  We make the following clarifications in the post:

1. According to a FCH8.com statement, the kids were from Ferguson.

2. Our piece says, “Five dollars from each shirt will supposedly go to unidentified ‘charities working in communities to fight racism.’” After publication, we learned that the organizations FCKH8.com had designated as recipients were listed elsewhere on-line, including in a September 9, 2014 Shadow and Act story.

3.In our post we say “The company behind the video, FCKH8.com, has made a name for itself selling what it calls ‘LGBT Equality Gear’(which sort of covers some LGB themes, but sort of leaves the T part out)…” According to an September 13, 2014 visit to FKH8.com, there is a transgender-themed T-shirt on sale in the “LGBT Equality Gear” section of the website.

4. After publishing the post we later learned that the organization behind the campaign had designated our publisher, Race Forward, as a recipient of a portion of the proceeds from this campaign. Unfortunately, contrary to philanthropic best practices, Race Forward hadn’t been previously notified of the the donation and immediately issued a statement that it would not accept any funds from the effort. Race Forward stands by that decision and would not have accepted the designation had we been previously aware.

It is important for us to assure you that our readers can trust us to report and behave with integrity. For 16 years, Colorlines has been a news source where race matters, featuring award-winning investigative reporting and news analysis. The questions we raised about the relationship between commerce and community politics with regard to race are important and legitimate, and we will continue to explore them generally on our screens.

At Race Forward, the organization you have come to know over 30 years —formerly under the name of Applied Research Center — our mission remains clear: to build awareness, solutions and leadership for racial justice. We do that by addressing: the impact of individual acts of racial discrimination within a deeper analysis of systemic racial injustice; the racial impact of individual and institutional actions and outcomes, as well as the intentions behind them; and the consequences of unconscious racial bias. Race Forward will remain committed to using this approach in considering any organizational perspective, opinionor association.

We remain committed to working towards a vibrant world in which people of all races create, share and enjoy resources and relationships equitably.

—Colorlines and Race Forward

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So…. Our little New York office feels some kind of way about a new video making rounds today. Titled, “Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America by #Ferguson Kids,” the video’s making lots of rounds on social media. Which will probably equal lots of money for the company behind it, called Synergy Media

The video features a group of unnamed black kids, purportedly from Ferguson, reciting parts of a script that’s clearly been written by adults. A script that will make you think race is solely a black and white issue, by the way. Even if the children are from Ferguson, it’s unclear if or how they’ve been compensated. [See above statement #1—Ed] Either way, the idea that these kids are from Ferguson is paraded for consumption.

Towards the end, a white adult and a black adult make nice and encourage viewers to buy a FCKH8.com T-shirt. Five dollars from each shirt will supposedly go to unidentified “charities working in communities to fight racism.” Which charities? Who knows! [See above statement #2 —Ed] What communities? Can’t tell you.

The video concludes with a dedication, “For Mike,” and a quiet scene from the Ferguson street on which Michael Brown was killed by officer Darren Wilson more than a month ago:

The company behind the video, FCKH8.com, has made a name for itself selling what it calls “LGBT Equality Gear” (which sort of covers some LGB themes, but sort of leaves the T part out). [See statement above #3 —Ed] It’s now trying to do the same with its “Anti-Racism Gear.” According to its website, FCKH8.com “recently became owned and managed by Synergy Media,” a corporate branding firm whose clients include Magnum bodybuilding vitamin supplements and pretty offensive “Buckeye Boob T’s” (the latter despite the fact that FCKH8.com says it’s anti-sexist).

There’s an entire economy around black death—and this ad campaign illustrates it all too well. Ironically, this economy’s profit margins depend on upholding the very racism this video claims to want to eliminate.

So there you have it, folks. Everything, it seems, can distilled, packaged, bought and sold—including racism. 

Update, September 10, 2014, 4:55 p.m.: FCKH8.com issued a press release Tuesday indicating that Race Forward, which is Colorlines’ publisher, along with a few other organizations, would be receiving funds garnered through T-shirt sales. Race Forward has publicly responded.

Following Ferguson: Outrage at Last Night’s City Council Meeting

Following Ferguson: Outrage at Last Night's City Council Meeting

More than 600 people attended the first meeting held by Ferguson’s majority white city council since a police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown in early August. Shouting erupted during the Pledge of Allegiance, according to a Post-Dispatch account, at the phrase, “and justice for all.” Comments reflect the community’s ongoing frustration, which had erupted over the past few weeks into street protests before a highly militarized police force that captured global media attention. Council members did not take any questions during the “constant barrage,” the Post-Dispatch reports, and had arrived an hour before the meeting with police escorts. From The New York Times:

“You are now on notice,” [Shelly] Gradford said. “It is evident that residents of Ferguson have for a long time been harassed. This must end.”

John Chasnoff of nearby University City told the officials that they had become the “face of structural racism.”

“You’ve lost your authority to govern this community,” Mr. Chasnoff said. “You’re going to have to step aside gracefully if this community is going to heal.”

Reforms announced this week were read into the record without debate. They will be voted on at a later date. But the impending changes did little to quell the audience’s anger last night, or relieve residents’ sadness.

Held at a local church, the meeting ended around 10 p.m. after nearly two hours of public comment with words of counsel to council members from Bishop L.O. Jones: “You didn’t answer any questions tonight. Let’s be honest. It’s time for change.”

Protesters according to the Post-Dispatch are planning to shut down I-70 on Wednesday afternoon in reaction to Gov. Jay Nixon’s refusal to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the police killing of Brown.

Etsy Bans Use of Washington NFL Team Name and Logo

Etsy Bans Use of Washington NFL Team Name and Logo

Homemade and vintage crafts site Etsy has implemented a new policy that bans sellers from using the Washington, D.C. NFL Team name and logo on any item sold on its site.

Etsy’s policy update, posted Tuesday, explains:

Today we seek to balance two principles that are critically important to us: freedom of speech and protection from discrimination. Freedom of speech and expression is important to us because we are a community of artists, artisans, and curators of all backgrounds, aesthetics, and viewpoints. If you search our site, you will see a wide variety of items testifying to our diversity and our seemingly limitless creativity.

This freedom, however, is not without limits. In the past, we have taken actions to protect our community and to preserve our integrity as both a creative and an ethical space. We want Etsy to be safe, welcoming, and respectful for everyone, including artists, women, and minorities. For this reason, it has long been against our policies to allow content on our site that demeans people based upon race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation.

You may have been following the struggle of one ethnic group that has made a lot of headlines lately: Native Americans and their fight against the Washington, D.C. professional football team name and mascot, which they have long considered offensive, disparaging, and racist. This very poignant ad was followed by a decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the team’s trademarks. Following this decision, an increasing number of public figures, politicians, schools, news publications, and private companies have spoken out in protest of the name and mascot.

Like the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, we at Etsy find the opinion of the minority group itself to carry most weight in determining whether the mascot is disparaging. In no uncertain terms, Native American groups have consistently advocated and litigated that the term “redskin(s)” is disparaging and damaging to Native Americans. Therefore, it will no longer be permitted in our marketplace.

Sellers will be allowed to sell items that use the team’s color, and specify location—but items featuring the team’s name and logo will soon be gone. The policy change takes place immediately.

Who knows? Maybe Golliwog dolls will go next. 

Obama IS Strategy, Dollar Rises, Anti-Anxiety Drugs Linked to Alzheimer’s

Obama IS Strategy, Dollar Rises, Anti-Anxiety Drugs Linked to Alzheimer's

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

  • An Alabama man who allegedly killed the five children he took from his ex-wife is arrested in Mississippi. 
  • French music steaming company Deezer hopes to knock out Spotify. Who knows? Maybe they’ll actually have De La Soul and Pharcyde tracks that Spotify doesn’t. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Following Ferguson: City Council Announces Reforms

Following Ferguson: City Council Announces Reforms

Following weeks of unrest and last week’s announcement that the Department of Justice is investigating its police force, Ferguson’s City Council yesterday announced a raft of reforms. Their intent according to the AP is to repair residents’ relationship with their local government. Some of the planned reforms include establishing a review board “to guide the police department” and reducing revenues from court fines. It has been widely reported that criminal and court fines levied on Ferguson’s residents are the city’s second largest source of revenue.

Read more about the planned reforms on the AP. *This Tuesday evening is the first meeting of the city council since weeks of unrest and global media coverage following the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson.

* Post has been updated

Domestic Violence Win for Black Women Tenants in Pennsylvania

Domestic Violence Win for Black Women Tenants in Pennsylvania

The city of Norristown, Pennsylvania, is awarding $495,000 to resident Lakisha Briggs who faced eviction from her home after calling cops one too many times on her abusive boyfriend. The city will also repeal the law allowing landlords to evict tenants who request police assistance at least three times in four months. According to an August 2013 New York Times article, in one Milwaukee study of similar laws—often called “nuisance” or “crime-free property” ordinances—domestic violence was involved in nearly one-third of the cases and rentals in largely black communities were disproportionately singled out. The ordinance, in practice, punishes domestic violence victims for crimes occurring in their homes, the ACLU said in a statement yesterday.

Read more about the dangers Lakisha Briggs survived on the ACLU Web site and at Patriot-News.

MH17 Investigation Results, Enterovirus D68, Supermoon Photos

MH17 Investigation Results, Enterovirus D68, Supermoon Photos

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

  • President Obama releases a statement saying, “Hitting a woman is not something a real man does.” Ugh. 
  • Sales at McDonald’s are down for the fourth month in a row. 
  • Meanwhile, Amazon drops its Fire phone to just 99 cents with a two year contract.  
TAGS: Morning Rush

Watch ‘Fox & Friends’ Anchors Poke Fun at Ray Rice Beating

Watch 'Fox & Friends' Anchors Poke Fun at Ray Rice Beating

On Monday morning, before Ray Rice was cut from the Baltimore Ravens and suspended from the NFL indefinitely, “Fox & Friends” anchors Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy trolled for lolz while discussing the elevator video of the football player knocking out his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer.

After Kilmeade, Doocy and co-anchor Elizabeth Hassleback recount Rice’s two-, and later six-game suspension, Doocy points out how Palmer married Rice after the beating. 

Brian Kilmeade brings up Rihanna saying that she served as a poor example for kids when she resumed her relationship with Chris Brown after he brutally beat her. Even more randomly, Doocy brings up the elevator fight involving Solange Knowles, Jay Z and Beyonce. 

After pointing out that Jay Z stood still during the video, Kilmeade announces,”I think the message is, ‘Take the stairs.’” Doocy, Kilmeade and Hassleback chuckle. Doocy adds, “The message is, ‘When you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.’” Continuing the quip Doocy says, “And there’s camera right now on Heather Nauret, whose got headlines.”

h/t The Raw Story

The Racial Wealth Gap in the U.S., Or, Whites Own Almost Everything

The Racial Wealth Gap in the U.S., Or, Whites Own Almost Everything

Demos continues to highlight the nation’s extraordinary racial wealth gap with Matt Bruenig’s review of the Federal Reserve’s recently released 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). While the median white family has a net worth of $134,000, figures drop precipitously for families of color. As of 2013, the median Hispanic family’s worth is $14,000. The median black family has a net worth of $11,000. Research has long singled out wealth accumulation—what families own minus debt—and not income as the key driver of upward mobility for both parents and their children.

Read more on Demos, especially Bruenig’s distillation of which whites own “almost everything.” The bottom 50 percent of white families own 2.2 percent of white wealth. The top 10 percent own 72 percent. This Fed video explains the skewed distribution of wealth, regardless of race.

The SCF collects data on families’ balance sheets, pensions, income and demographic characteristics. 

 

Obama Stalls on Immigration, Same-Sex Marriage Cases, RiRi at Fashion Week

Obama Stalls on Immigration, Same-Sex Marriage Cases, RiRi at Fashion Week

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

  • A federal appeals court will hear cases about same-sex marriage in three states that will likely affect many others.
  • Salesforce.com announces a $100 million venture capital fund. 
  • RiRi debuts Alexander Wang for H&M during Fashion Week. 
  • Serena Williams wins her 18th Grand Slam title. 
  • Children in three states suffer from an unidentified respiratory illness. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Obama Moving on Immigration ‘Fairly Soon’

Obama Moving on Immigration 'Fairly Soon'

President Obama is once again hinting that he’ll move forward on some kind of executive action on immigration before the end of summer.

Just a week ago, the president suggested he wouldn’t take action to provide relief for some of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States before November’s election. But it’s possible Obama’s changed his mind yet again.

Speaking to reporters in Wales at the conclusion of the NATO summit, Obama said he’s busy dealing with several crises—but that he’ll start reviewing suggestions from Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on immigration on his flight back to the States. In a now familiar sentiment, Obama also took the opportunity to once again deride Republican lawmakers for not taking action on a comprehensive immigration reform bill:

That has damaged the economy, it has held America back, it is a mistake. And in the absence of congressional action, I intend to take action to make sure that we’re putting more resources on the border, that we’re upgrading how we process these cases, and that we find a way to encourage legal immigration and give people some path so that they can start paying taxes and pay a fine and learn English and be able to not look over their shoulder but be legal, since they’ve been living here for quite some time.

Although Obama said that he’d be “making an announcement soon,” he has yet to set a date. 

How To Do Activism Now: Grace Lee Boggs and Rosa Clemente

How To Do Activism Now: Grace Lee Boggs and Rosa Clemente

Lifelong activists Grace Lee Boggs, 99, and Rosa Clemente, 42, came together on MSNBC’s Reid Report for an intergenerational discussion on how they became activists—and what sustains them today. In Clemente I hear echoes of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent essay on the value of “true education.” She also offers an accessible entry point for folks searching for ways to contribute, now: 

Activism can happen with 5,000 people or it can happen when you’re walking home and you see police putting three black kids against the wall. Are you gonna keep walking home? Or are you gonna stand there? Are you gonna watch? Are you gonna at least be a witness to what’s happening?

Boggs, a living memorial to many of the 20th century’s defining chapters, believes she is witnessing a second American revolution as powerful as the first.

Watch these two women, one Asian-American and the other Afro-Latina, above on Reid Report. How did you become an activist?

Back to School: New York City Teachers Welcome Kids with NYPD Shirts

Back to School: New York City Teachers Welcome Kids with NYPD Shirts

Despite warnings from their union, some New York City teachers this week wore NYPD shirts back to school “as a show of support for cops in the wake of the Eric Garner death and union-backed rally for Al Sharpton,” the New York Post reports. At the heart of the ensuing conflict are teachers’ union and department of education rules regarding dress code as well as public perception of the teachers’ actions by parents and children. “Certain T-shirt messages may appear to be supportive, but individuals (parents, students) may see a different meaning in that message,” an e-mail sent by a union official and obtained by the Post says.

One Facebook image shows teachers from Staten Island, the borough in which video shows the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police officers, posing in gray NYPD T-shirts. Another photo, the Post reports, shows “white T’s bearing a heart-shaped image of a handshake and the words, “New York’s Brightest Supports New York’s Finest.”“

“Most notably,” the Post reports, teachers at IS 72 also defied the union’s warning. IS 72 is named after Rocco Laurie, a white 23-year-old police officer slain in 1972 along with his partner, a black officer and fellow Vietnam veteran, Gregory Foster, 22, by members of the Black Liberation Army. Their deaths are still honored today.

Read more and see images at The New York Post.

NATO Approves Troops, Ebola Patient Transferred to Nebraska, 65 Ton Dino

NATO Approves Troops, Ebola Patient Transferred to Nebraska, 65 Ton Dino

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

  • Virginia former first couple, Bob and Maureen McDonnell are found guilty of corruption. 
  • This video is part of the way Jay wished Bey a happy birthday. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

7 Fast Food Worker Strikes—And Arrests—Hit Cities Near You

7 Fast Food Worker Strikes--And Arrests--Hit Cities Near You

Fast food workers are showing resolve. Today’s strikes and protests in more than 100 cities are seeing arrests as workers stage sit-ins in front of McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast food restaurants and refuse to move. The addition of civil disobedience to the two-year-old fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage is new and a follow-through on an idea discussed at a first-ever workers convention this July. Also new: an invitation to home care workers to join their fight for a higher minimum wage and the right to unionize without retaliation. Below, some of what’s happening in cities around the country from Nevada to Minneapolis to San Diego. And check this USAToday map for a status update on the states responding to minimum wage increase demands.

Chicago

New York City

Houston

Cleveland

Durham, North Carolina

Richmond, Virginia

Charleston, South Carolina

Oklahoma Cop Held on Rape Charges Also Accused of Wrongful Death

Oklahoma Cop Held on Rape Charges Also Accused of Wrongful Death

Daniel Holtzclaw, the 27-year-old Oklahoma City police officer charged with sexually assaulting eight black women, is also a defendant in a wrongful death suit filed earlier this year.

According to court documents, on the evening of May 1, 2013, Clifton Armstrong, a 39-year-old black man who suffered from paranoia and schizophrenia, called 911 for medical assistance. Holtzclaw, along with three fellow officers, arrived to his home. When given the option, Armstrong declined to enter a squad car in order to be taken to the hospital because he only wanted to travel in his grandmother’s vehicle. The officers then proceeded to hogtie Armstrong into submission using belts. He was declared dead shortly afterward, as alleged in a lawsuit filed by Armstrong’s mother, Velencia Maiden:

Upon information and belief, in attempting to subdue Mr Armstrong, the officers used force to restrain and subdue him, by placing him in handcuffs, and using belts to restrain his leg movement, which is famously referred to as the “maximum restraint hobble system” with malicious intent and without justification, pursuant to Oklahoma City Police Department’s policy, practice or custom, I reckless disregard for the welfare of Clifton Armstrong.

As a result of this altercation, Mr Armstrong collapsed, and paramedics where summoned who transported Mr Armstrong to the emergency room at the Baptist Hospital where Armstrong was pronounced dead.

Court documents indicate that the police department opened an internal investigation into the incident and exonerated all four officers involved: Jeffery Dutton, Gregory Franklin, Mohammed Tabaia and Daniel Holtzclaw. 

Oklahoma’s medical examiner ruled Armstrong’s death an accident, citing “excited delirium syndrome.” Many medical practitioners don’t recognize excited delirium syndrome as a legitimate medical condition—and civil rights groups point to the fact it is often used to justify excessive force. Armstrong was also under the influence of methamphetamines at the time of his death. The medical examiner’s report did add that his physical altercation with the police was an aggravating factor that caused his death.

Maiden’s lawsuit seeks damages totaling $75,000 for her son’s wrongful death, as well as pain and suffering, medical expenses, funeral expenses and more costs related to Armstrong’s death at the hands of Oklahoma cops.

In an unrelated case, Daniel Holtzclaw is currently charged with 16 felony sex crime counts: burglary, stalking, two counts of rape, four counts of indecent exposure, four counts of sexual battery, four counts of forcible oral sodomy—all allegedly committed against black women. Prosecutors say Holtzclaw threatened his victims with arrest or physical punishment in order to get away with sexual assault.

But Daniel Holtzclaw has his supporters. His sister, Jenny Holtzclaw, set up a GofundMe.com page that raised more than $7,000 for her brother before it was abruptly shut down by the online fundraising service. A “Justice for Daniel Holtzclaw” Facebook page, meanwhile, has garnered more than 600 likes. Holtzclaw’s bond, originally set at $5 million, has been lowered to $500,000, and he’s expected to leave jail to live with his father, Eric—who’s a lieutenant in a nearby police department—while he prepares for trial.

Angela Davis: There Is No ‘I’ In Movement

Angela Davis: There Is No 'I' In Movement

“Even as Nelson Mandela always insisted that his accomplishments were collective—also achieved by the men and women who were his comrades—the media attempted to sanctify him as a heroic individual.” Guarding against the overwhelming “depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals,” says Angela Davis in a new interview, is part of the work. 

Read more in The Nation’s special racial justice issue.

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