Like many people who grew up in San Francisco, I don’t live there anymore. And with the medium home prices in the city recently topping $1 million, I’m not likely to settle down there any time soon (sorry, Mom). But! San Francisco tenants just won a big battle
Before Kevin Clash became a controversy, he was an anomaly. He was a history-making black performer in a world that was mostly white, and became the voice behind Elmo, one of the most loved figures in child entertainment. Clash has since been rocked by several accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior with several underage boys. The allegations led to Clash’s resignation from the show last year.
Nonetheless, Clash took home three Emmy Awards last week at the Daytime Entertainment Creative Arts show. In total, Clash took home awards for his work as executive co-producer of Sesame Street, which won for Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Series; Outstanding performer in a Children’s Series; and he shared another award for Outstanding Directing in a Children’s Series.
Clash hasn’t been heard from publicly since the scandal broke, so he didn’t accept the awards in person. But his wins pretty much sum up the competing sentiments about him: talented, troubled, and ominously absent.
This morning the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship from residents as they register to vote is invalid because it violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Through the NVRA, a standardized federal form is provided to all states to keep voter registration uniform across the nation. But Arizona passed a state law in 2004, Proposition 200, that requested additional information such as hard-copy documents proving one’s citizenship, in order to register. This created burdens and barriers to the ballot for many Native and Latino Americans in Arizona. Today’s decision lifts the proof of citizenship law from Arizona’s law books.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion:
“We hold that [federal election law] precludes Arizona from requiring a Federal Form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself. Arizona may, however, request anew that the [Election Assistance Commission] include such a requirement among the Federal Form’s state-specific instructions, and may seek judicial review of the EAC’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act.”
This was an important victory for voting rights, especially given that a favorable opinion came from Justice Scalia, whose comments on voting rights lately have been discouraging. In March, after oral arguments concerning the case, Justice Scalia said he saw nothing wrong with requesting a birth certificate to register to vote. As noted in his conclusion above, he is encouraging Arizona to appeal to the federal Election Assistance Commission board to have them require additional information — like proof of citizenship — for federal registration forms. If the EAC did adopt such measures, then people across the nation would have to show forms like birth certificates to register, which would chiefly burden people of color.
“Today’s decision sends a strong message that states cannot block their citizens from registering to vote by superimposing burdensome paperwork requirements on top of federal law,” stated Nina Perales, Mexican American Legal Defense Education Fund’s Vice President of Litigation and lead counsel for the voters who challenged the Arizona law. “The Supreme Court has affirmed that all U.S. citizens have the right to register to vote using the national postcard, regardless of the state in which they live.”
MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, stated, “Arizona, and those states that choose to follow its irresponsible legislating, received a strong message today. The federal government has, through the NVRA, made clear that states may not place unnecessary and unreasonable obstacles to voter participation.”
Read Aura Bogado’s story “From Arizona to Montana, Native Voters Struggle for Democracy” here for further background.
UPDATE: 11:38 A.M. EST
The Constitutional Accountability Center, a D.C.-based think tank and law firm that focuses on defending the U.S. Constitution and democracy, found the ruling favorable. Said CAC’s civil rights director David Gans: “The Court affirmed Congress’ decision to use a single federal form to help streamline the voter registration process, and prevent states like Arizona from denying the right of citizens to register to vote in federal elections. At a time when states are engaged in voter suppression efforts, today’s opinion is an important reaffirmation that the text and history of the Elections Clause give the federal government broad power to preempt state law in order to protect the right to vote in federal elections.”
Civil rights law organization Advancement Project also found the ruling acceptable:
“The Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona’s Proposition 200 is an important victory for voting rights,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “By rejecting the federal mail-in voter registration form and requiring additional proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers, the statute not only violated federal law but was also misguided. Between the time of the law’s implementation in 2005 and the first time it went to trial in 2008, more than 30,000 prospective voters in Arizona had their registration rejected because they did not include the additional documentation required. Nationally, more than 11 million American citizens lack access to these documents - which can be costly and difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. With the tremendous success of the National Voter Registration Act in boosting participation though the mail-in voter registration form, as well as safeguarding the process against fraud, there is simply no need for laws like Prop 200 that only restrict access to the ballot.”
The New York Times may have led its Thursday census story with handwringing over the decline of the white population in the U.S. But that wasn’t all that the U.S. Census Bureau released. The other big news? Asians are now the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the country. Asians in the U.S. now number 19 million, a change of 2.9 percent between 2011 and 2012, NPR reported.
The change comes on the heels of shifting migration patterns. According to a 2012 Pew report, Asian migration surpassed Latino migration to the U.S. for the first time, the AP reported last year. Rapid demographic changes are underway in the country. The majority of babies born in the U.S. are now Asian, Latino or black.
And yet, the reaction to demographic change in the U.S. is all too often nativist fear of some kind of newcomer-led overthrow. Where Asians are concerned, those fears become tinged by a yellow peril panic that xenophobes have been practicing for about as long as Asians have been coming to the U.S., which means, for well over a century.
Beau Sia’s poem “The Asians Are Coming, The Asians Are Coming” has always been one of my go-to salves for that tired xenophobia. It’s also the first thing I thought of when I heard the Census news. Enjoy.
The U.S. State Department submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination about the state of racial injustice in America. The U.S. government says in the report that “more can and should be done in many areas” regarding their commitment to race discrimination. They also admit that “more can be done” for “strengthening understanding and respect for human rights.”
The report helps the nation fulfill its obligations under the U.N.’s international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, or CERD. The State Department writes, “This Report shares our progress in implementing our undertakings under the CERD and on related measures to address racial discrimination.”
The ACLU is calling the report “a step forward,” but says there’s still much work to be done.
“With its submission of this report, the Obama administration makes the critically important point of acknowledging that racial discrimination still persists in the U.S.,” said Chandra Bhatnagar, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program. “However, the report glosses over how certain federal policies, such as those allowing state and local involvement in immigration enforcement, have been vehicles to enable racial discrimination to occur. Further, the report doesn’t address the pressing need for a national plan of action to end all forms of racial discrimination, which many other countries have already created.”
In March, the US Human Rights Network along with dozens of racial justice organizations sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he develop a “National Plan of Action for Racial Justice” that would bring the nation in full compliance with its commitments under the U.N. convention.
“Despite a strong civil rights legacy, race disparities linked to institutionalized and structural forms of racism continue to exist in almost every sphere of life in the United States,” reads the letter, which lists examples of present-day unresolved racial discrimination:
- In the 2009-2010 school year, 74 percent of African-American students and 80 percent of Latino students attended majority minority schools, where most of their classmates are nonwhite. An outcome of the deeply segregated and racially and economically isolated American education system is severe achievement gaps between students of color and white students.
- Indigenous Peoples, African Americans, and Latinos are disproportionately incarcerated in the United States. Two-thirds of the two million prisoners in the United States are African-American or Latino. The disparities can be linked to improper policing practices like racial profiling. Drug policy and drug sentencing also contribute by disproportionately targeting African Americans and Latinos.
- People of color and Indigenous Peoples are also more likely to live near hazardous waste facilities with nearly half of all people of color in the United States living within less than two miles of a hazardous waste facility.
There’s also the recent HUD-sponsored investigation that found people of color are less likely to be shown housing units by real estate agents and landlords than white people — findings that HUD apparently isn’t prepared to resolve anytime soon, as Seth Freed Wessler and ProPublica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones recently reported on (which won the National Low Income Housing Coalition Media Award for Hannah-Jones).
It should also be added that the Voting Rights Act’s Section Five, which prevents racial disenfranchisement intentional and unintentional in areas with a history of racial discrimination, and also race consideration in affirmative action policy are both in danger of being deleted from the law books by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sherrilyn A. Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund who is helping defend both of those issues in the Supreme Court, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times today saying, “If there is public discomfort, it is precisely because race still does matter, because it still resonates so powerfully in American life.”
It’s a momentous week for the Colorlines team, as we say a bittersweet goodbye to an old friend, and offer a hearty welcome home to another.
As any regular Colorlines reader knows, Jorge Rivas has been part of the DNA of this publication and our community since—well, before it existed in this form. Back when our online presence was primarily a single news blog, Racewire, Jorge was one of our leading voices. In 2010, when we relaunched Colorlines magazine as Colorlines.com, turning a quarterly print publication into a daily news beast, we leaned heavily on Jorge’s many skills to get us pointed in the right direction. Since then, he’s been in the mix doing just about everything—providing pop culture coverage that’s as fun as it is insightful; shooting and editing gorgeous video; developing reader polls and chats and other interactive features; laying out beautiful pages; and even fending off malware attacks. I don’t oversate the point in saying that Colorlines.com would not exist without Jorge’s extraordinary efforts to make it so.
Today we bid him a sad, but excited farewell. Jorge will be joining one of the most buzzed about projects in news media today—Fusion, a joint project of ABC News and Univision that is launching formally later this year. While we hate to see him leave, we’re thrilled to know he’ll be bringing the same racial justice lens he created at Colorlines to this exciting new effort in cable news.
Also today, we welcome home one of our favorite contributors, Aura Bogado. Aura will be joining the Colorlines team as a news editor and reporter, and we’re thrilled to be able to bring her voice to the site daily. As a Colorlines editorial fellow, Aura helped lead our Voting Rights Watch project in 2012. As a both an editor and an investigative reporter, her coverage of immigration, Native communities and progressive organizing, among other things, has been groundbreaking and eye-opening. We are delighted to welcome her back to the team fulltime.
We’ll be adding more new contributors throughout the year, and expanding our coverage of culture, both high and low, later in the summer. More on all that soon. For now, join us in thanking Jorge for his incredible contributions—and in welcoming Aura as we look forward to many great stories to come.
Earlier this week we brought you news of Sesame Street’s important new toolkit to help kids deal with a parent’s incarceration. It’s an important endeavor, though one with some suspect bankrollers. The Atlantic Wire pointed out on Thursday that British contractor, BAE Systems, is one of the feature’s main sponsors, and they make their money in part from for-profit prison labor. The support for Sesame Street comes from BAE System’s large philantrophic arm, which you can read more about here.
So far, the series itself has sparked strong reactions both for and against the project. More from The Atlantic Wire:
The package has so far elicited pretty polarized reactions. CBS News, which unveiled the effort, praise the attempt to confront the very real issue of children with loved ones in jail: “Sesame Street, in its simple, familiar way, is trying to break [incarceration] down, using imaginary characters to explore — and explain — what was once unimaginable, but now more and more common.” (Indeed, the U.S. incarceration rate is the world’s highest.) The libertarian magazine Reason, however, saw things a bit differently: “Congratulations, America, on making it almost normal to have a parent in prison or jail.”
You can see more about Sesame Street’s “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration” over on its website.
Back in December Bay Area-based ice cream company Three Twins released a mockup of an ice cream flavor they wanted San Francisco Giants pitcher Sergio Romo to front. And now it’s happening. The deal, announced last week, means that folks will be able to taste their Sergio Romo Mexican Chocolate ice cream soon.
But that’s not all. The ice cream comes with the tagline “It only tastes illegal,” which is itself a nod to Romo’s first foray into political activism, when he stepped out at the Giants’ World Series parade wearing a bold t-shirt with the words “I Just Look Illegal” stretched across his chest. Immigrant rights supporters gleefully celebrated the athlete’s bold political statement, and it was after that turn that Three Twins reportedly approached Romo.
Back in December the company said that they wanted to partner with Romo for the ice cream flavor in part to, “raise money for immigration reform.” “[Romo’s t-shirt] got a lot of people talking and thinking about immigration policy in the United States,” Three Twins founder Neal Gottlieb told Haighteration. “Mexicans and Mexican Americans play such an important role in Major League Baseball and Three Twins Ice Cream that it seemed like a natural fit. While some claim to be offended by the logo and artwork, we think that it is topical, quirky and fun.”
But Romo’s doing more than inking ice cream deals. Romo, who was born and raised in a small Southern California town just north of the U.S.-Mexico border, recently recorded a video in support of immigration reform.
Families with two fathers? Families with just one father? And families with none? Immigrant families; families connected by love and commitment, if not blood; families with a father behind bars—those are all still real and legitimate families. And those fathers and families all deserve the love, support and access that mothers do.
This Father’s Day, Strong Families, a project of the Oakland-based reproductive justice organization Forward Together, has got all of those kinds of families and fathers covered. After producing a similar series of inclusive Mother’s Day e-cards since 2011, 2013 marks the first year Forward Together is releasing a series for dads.
Each e-card in the series is a real work of art, and entirely customizable. Send one here.
It’s never easy to talk about an incarcerated loved one in public, and it’s an especially difficult task for children. In 2007 the Sentencing Project estimated that 1.7 million kids in America have at least one parent behind bars, more than 70 percent of whom are children of color. But the task of explaining a complex adult topic to a child may have gotten a little bit less cumbersome now that Sesame Street is involved.
The long-running children’s series has released a new toolkit called “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration” that includes videos, worksheets, and tips for both children and caregivers. The series is aimed at kids ages 2-7 years old, but the tips could be helpful for older kids and even adults, too.
From Sesame Street’s website:
The incarceration of a loved one can be very overwhelming for both children and caregivers. It can bring about big changes and transitions. In simple everyday ways, you can comfort your child and guide her through these tough moments. With your love and support she can get through anything that comes her way. Here are some tools to help you with the changes your child is going through.
Along with videos, the series also includes a list of helpful tips to help children through the complicated emotions that go along with talking about a loved one’s incarceration:
1. Build security. In the morning, let your child know some of the things that will happen throughout the day. For example, “Grandma will pick you up from school. Then you’ll go to the park, and later we’ll all have dinner together.”
2. Share your heart. Give your child a paper heart to keep in her pocket. You might say, “This is to remind you that I love you and will always be there for you.”
3. Express emotions. Take time each day to check in with your child and ask, “How are you feeling?” Remember to let your child know that it’s okay to have big feelings no matter what they are.
4. Answer honestly. When explaining where an incarcerated parent is, you can say, “Daddy is in a place called prison (or jail) for a while. Grown-ups sometimes go to prison when they break a rule called a law.”
5. Stay connected. Phone calls are a great way to reach out. Help your child to think of something she’d like to tell her incarcerated parent, and give her a photo of her parent to hold during the call.
6. Prepare together. Before you visit your incarcerated loved one, let your child know some of the things she can expect to happen. For instance, “We won’t be able to sit in the same room with Mommy, but we can see her through a window and read a story together.”
7. Take care of yourself. Caring for yourself helps you care for your child. At least once a day, do something that you enjoy or find relaxing.
We knew this was coming. One June 8 Jason Collins, the first openly gay major men’s professional athlete, tweeted a photo of himself standing with his old college roommate before marching in Boston’s Gay Pride Parade. Collins was wearing a black Nike t-shirt with #BeTrue emblazoned on the front in rainbow-colored lettering.
Now we know that it’s official: Nike is launching a new line specifically targeting its gay athletes and customers. The new Nike #BeTrue collection includes t-shirts, shoes, flip flops, and iPhone cases.
Esquire tweeted photos of the collection on Tuesday:
Huffington Post’s Gay Voices doesn’t think that this is Nike’s one-off attempt to captialize on the noteriety of openly gay athletes.
Sports leaders, the media and advocacy groups are currently touching down in Portland, Ore. for the second annual Nike LGBT Sports Summit in Portland, Oregon.
The event, founded by Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler, the National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project Director Helen Carroll and LGBT sports pioneer Pat Griffin, takes place June 12-15 and will include college and professional athletes, coaches, athletic administrators, political figures, LGBT advocates, journalists and more.
The country’s highest profile openly gay athletes have signed endorsement deals with the company. Along with Jason Collins, the WNBA’s Brittney Griner has an endorsement deal with Nike that also allows her to also wear the company’s menswear.
Armed with the power of their stories, young undocumented immigrants, so-called DREAMers, have made themselves the faces of immigration reform. Their stories, about coming to the US as children and growing up to find an uncertain future, play in Washington as an urgent call to grant undocumented immigrants a path to stay in the US.
Yet as is often the case of shared narratives, some people don’t fit. A new project out of Mexico City aims to tell the stories of “Los Otros Dreamers,” young immigrants who grew up in the US without papers but were either deported or decided that they’d take their chances in Mexico.
The project, a book in progress, is the work of Mexico City-based, American academic Jill Anderson and Mexican photographer Nin Solis. They are travelling around Mexico to meet young people who in recent years have come back to Mexico and are now trying to build lives for themselves. “This is a new collectivity of young people,” Anderson, a PhD in American Studies, told me. “This is the generation of the children of the mass migration from Mexico and they’re now back.”
Anderson and Solis launched a kickstarter campaign to support the project, which they plan to self-produce and then shop around to publishers. They’re looking for donations to help move the project to completion.
Solis’s images are coupled with deported and returning young people’s own words. The book offers readers in the US and Mexico a clear view of a community that’s mostly invisible in both countries. “I heard people speaking English and I assumed they were gringos, but they are from here and from there,” Solis told me, of young deportees she met near her house. “I hope this project raises their visibility.”
Some of the young people in the book, which is called “Los Otros Dreamers,” hope that this visibility will help change U.S. and Mexican policies. On the US side, it’s about the passage of immigration reform. In Mexico, it’s about broader government recognition of the needs of young people who return. Some need help finding work or a home. Others, those who hope to go to college in Mexico, often find that Mexican institutions don’t respect US school transcripts. Years of school in the US, can mean nothing in Mexico.
Hector Bolivar is one of the people in their book. He’s lived in Guadalajara, Mexico for two years, since he left his life, his friends, and a musical instrument business that he started in Los Angeles. He told Anderson and Solis:
The entire idea of an undocumented student was taboo and no one, including myself, knew what to do with me. […] On my 29th birthday I had a moment of reflection. I was living in the US alone by this time, my family having moved back to Mexico a few months before, and I came upon a discovery. I was tired. I looked at my past and my future in the U.S., I looked back at my accomplishments and my failures, realizing that it was as good as it was going to get for me under my current legal status. In late June I bought my plane ticket dated August 7th, 2011. I began saying my goodbyes to everyone I knew, not knowing if I would see any of them again.
Through the book project, Bolivar has now met with others like him. And he says that he’s intent on breaking the taboo around those who return. He plans to open a store front music shop in Guadalajara.
June 11, 1963:
- Alabama Gov. George Wallace infamously stands in front of the doors of the University of Alabama’s Foster Auditorium refusing to admit two African-American students, James Hood and Vivian Malone, who were there to register and integrate the college as ordered by a federal district court.
- At 3:40 p.m. that afternoon, Gov. Wallace steps aside as Hood and Malone are escorted into the school by federalized Alabama National Guards and U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach. Malone later says, “I didn’t feel I should sneak in, I didn’t feel I should go around the back door. If [Wallace] were standing the door, I had every right in the world to face him and to go to school.”
- Across the globe, Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk, publicly self-immolates by setting himself on fire on a busy road in Saigon. His act was a protest of Buddhist persecution by the South Vietnamese government. The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of the suicide by Malcolm Browne brought world attention to the injustice when it ran in the Associated Press.
- Later after Gov. Wallace’s stand-down and stand-aside, President John F. Kennedy addresses the nation on civil rights. Asks Kennedy, “We preach freedom around the world, but are we to say to the world, and …to each other that this is the land of the free except for the Negroes?” The speech cribs heavily from Martin Luther King Jr., notably the “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” which took moderate white Americans to task for not standing up more aggressively for civil rights.
- That night, civil rights activist Bernard Lafayette, a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, is attacked in Selma, Alabama by a white man who Lafayette was just helping with his car. The attacker pistol whips Lafayette repeatedly leaving an open gash on his forehead. He is hospitalized.
June 12, 1963:
- Just after midnight, NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers is assassinated in the driveway of his home in Jackson, Mississippi by Klan member Byron De La Beckwith. Evers’ wife and children were at home awaiting his arrival when it happened. Bernard Lafayette’s wife Colia worked closely with Evers and was in Jackson when he was murdered, nursing her own wounds from King’s Birmingham clash with police in April that year.
- Later that morning, Bernard Lafayette checks out of the hospital against doctors wishes after learning what happened to Evers. But Lafayette didn’t go home to change his bloody clothes. Instead, as Gary May wrote in his book “Bending Toward Justice,” Lafayette “immediately went into the downtown streets, a walking advertisement that showed the city’s racists that they could not run him out of town.” Selma civil rights lawyer J. L. Chestnut found Lafayette walking with his “eyes all swollen, face bruised, blood all over his shirt. Chestnut tried to get him to go home, but Lafayette told him “No way,” and word his blood-stained shirt for the rest of the month.
The San Antonio Spurs handed an epic beat down to the Miami Heat last night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. But that hasn’t been the only talk around South Texas. Instead, critics lashed out at the Spurs organization for inviting an Sebastian De La Cruz, an 11-year-old Mexican-American, to sing the national anthem before the game.
He can sing, right? Right. But some NBA fans were outraged that the Spurs would have a Latino boy sing the national anthem.
A new report commissioned by the Department of Housing and Urban Development revealed yesterday that prospective renters or home buyers of color are significantly less likely to be shown units compared to white home seekers. The results of the study, conducted by the Urban Institute with a $9 million grant from HUD, are fairly unsurprising—discrimination is present everywhere and housing is no exception.
But as ProPublica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones reports, HUD has no plans to do anything to stop the practices revealed in the new study. Hannah-Jones writes:
[T]he more startling thing may be what HUD intends to do with its findings. …[T]he federal agency has no plans to use these tests to actually enforce the law and punish the offenders.
Once a decade for the last 40 years, HUD has produced a massive survey to reveal the pervasive discrimination that, year after year, exists in America’s housing marketplace. But as ProPublica reported late last year, HUD as a policy refuses to invest the same kinds of time, resources and techniques in prosecuting those guilty of the very discrimination its expensive studies uncover. Instead, HUD outsources testing used to find and punish discriminatory landlords to dozens of small, poorly funded fair housing groups scattered across the country.
And Congress has shown little appetite for forcing HUD to do more meaningful enforcement. A bill that would create a national testing enforcement program at HUD is expected to soon die in committee for the third time.
The Urban Institute conducted 8,000 tests in 28 cities by sending testers of color and white testers with otherwise equal qualifications to realtors to inquire about apartments and homes. The report found that black, Asian and Latinos borrowers are less likely to be shown houses or apartments. That means folks of color have fewer options for where to live, are forced to spend more time and money looking for a home, and end up stuck in neighborhoods some may hope to leave.
As the author of the Urban Institute report said in a video that accompanies the report, “discrimination in housing contributes to the persistence of broader inequalities in housing, in home ownership, in neighborhoods, access to education, wealth building. So where we live really matters.”
ProPublica’s previous investigation revealed that HUD has consistently refused to act affirmatively to stop these practices despite clear legal, decades-old prohibitions against racial discrimination in housing.
Six-year-old Grace Colbert, star of the Cheerios commercial, and her parents, visited MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts to share their take on the racist backlash the ad received soon after it premiered.
“Being part of a biracial family, it’s just the reality,” Christopher Colbert, the father of the six-year-old Grace, told MSNBC on Tuesday. “We’re also part of the face of America.”
Colbert added that he was “excited” about the reactions to the commercial, both good and bad.
“Being a biracial family is just a reality. We’re also a part of the face of America, and so America just needs to see that this is just a way of life and that this is just the way life is today,” Colbert said during the interview. “I wasn’t upset or anything I was pretty much really excited to have this type of reaction so we could see where we still stand in America.”
The six-year-old actress’ mother, Janet Colbert, said that her daughter thought all the attention the commercial was getting must have been because of her great smile.
According to Census data, among opposite-sex married couples, one in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial, a 28% jump since 2000. In 2010, 18% of heterosexual unmarried couples were of different races (1.2 million couples) and 21% of same-sex couples (133,477 couples) were mixed.
The number of mixed-race babies has also climbed over the past decade. More than 7 percent of the 3.5 million children born in the year before the 2010 Census were of two or more races, up from barely 5 percent a decade earlier.
Los Angeles Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig became the National League Player of the Week shortly after his first game in Major League Baseball. And that’s not the only record he’s breaking.
The Dodgers sold more Puig-related merchandise from Thursday to Sunday than they had ever sold of any player over a four-day period — more than even Manny Ramirez, Fernando Valenzuela or Hideo Nomo, according to a team spokesperson.
The team sold approximately 3,000 units of Puig-related merchandise in that four-day window, including 1,600 t-shirts ($28), 400 “Viva Puig” t-shirts ($28) and 600 jerseys ($225 for the authentic version, $110 for the replica ones).
In his first week in the Major Leagues, Puig led baseball with 27 total bases and was tied for the Major League lead with four home runs. His .964 slugging percentage was second-best in the Majors and was the top mark among National Leaguers. The 22-year-old native of Cienfuegos, Cuba also ranked among league leaders with a .464 (13-for-28) batting average (2nd), 10 RBI (3rd), 13 hits (3rd), and a .483 on-base percentage (7th).
The Los Angeles Dodgers signed the Cuban defector to a seven-year, $42 million contract last summer.
In March, Virginia passed a strict photo voter ID law that won’t go into effect until 2014. It’s the second voter ID law they’ve passed in as many years — the first one enacted last year only after a review by the federal government made sure that it would not disenfranchise voters of color, even by mistake. The U.S. Department of Justice reviewed and cleared it just in time for the November elections last year. The much stricter version of Virginia’s voter ID law passed this year may not enjoy the same federal scrutiny given its 2014 start date. Reason being, if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Section 5 is invalid — and a ruling is expected within weeks — then the voter ID law would go into effect regardless of its impact on people. Over 870,000 Virginians, mostly people of color, may lack the appropriate ID to vote, according to a letter sent from the ACLU to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell asking him to veto the new voter ID law.
So, it has to be asked: Is Virginia holding the new law to escape racial discrimination review? It’s tough to think of Virginia in that context given its governor just went through the trouble of lifting voting bans on citizens formerly incarcerated for nonviolent felon charges. But if those who’ve left prison are unable to get government ID or a driver’s license — not uncommon for many formerly incarcerated, as pointed out by the Legal Action Center, due to missing vital documents like birth certificates — then they may suffer disenfranchisement under the new law next year anyway.
Virginia isn’t the only state holding back on passed election legislation. A report from the Brennan Center for Justice, “If Section 5 Falls: New Voting Implications,” shows that many states have voter ID and other election laws on ice, and could quickly thaw them out for implementation immediately upon a SCOTUS ruling killing Section 5. It is not a foregone conclusion that SCOTUS will do this, but Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have all indicated that they want to strike it.
The Brennan report points to the Section 5-covered Alabama, which provides two examples similar to Virginia:
- In 2011, Alabama passed a law that requires residents to submit proof of their citizenship to register. The state submitted this law for review last year, but then withdrew it a month ago, after the Justice Department requested more information.
- The state also passed a voter ID law in 2011 that, like Virginia’s, isn’t slated to go into effect until 2014, and has not been submitted for federal review.
Laughlin McDonald, a veteran voting rights attorney and leader of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, told Brennan he believed Alabama’s withdrawal of the proof-of-citizenship law might be “motivated by a desire to avoid an objection in the short-term,” and the hope that the Supreme Court would ultimately remove the Section 5 review as a barrier.
“There are experts in the field and on the ground who are very concerned that certain [election law] changes that are anticipated are being stalled in moving forward for section five preclearance and the concern is that it is being done with the hopes of section five not being a barrier in the future,” said Myrna Perez, deputy director for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program and co-author of the report, in a call with Colorlines this morning.
There are other consequences, unintended or maybe intended, if Section 5 is deleted from the Voting Rights Act, according to the report.
There are election laws recently blocked under Section Five that could be revived if it’s struck and with no heavy lifting. “Of particular concern are those election changes that could be resuscitated with little delay and little public notice.” Changes to polling place locations and for assistance for voters with limited English could be changed without a vote or new legislation. But there is some legislation that has been blocked that have remained on the books, even while not enforced. They could be dialed up immediately in some places.
And then there’s the election legislation waiting in the wings in states like North Carolina, another Section 5 state that is looking to impose a strict voter ID requirement, cut early voting and disenfranchise those convicted of felonies. The bills have not become law yet, but it’s possible that the Republicans who voted for them are awaiting the SCOTUS decision so perhaps they won’t have to submit them for review. Meanwhile, North Carolina’s attorney general Roy Cooper has filed an amicus brief asking that SCOTUS keep Section Five in tact.
Thousands have come out in North Carolina’s state capital to protest these laws and others that would cause low-income and middle-class families there to suffer. Many of them have been jailed. These are the Section 5 headwinds the Supreme Court Justices will fly
The heat in Louisiana has been unbearable the past few summers. So imagine what it’s been like for inmates of the “prison capital of the world” where sun heat turns prison facilities into something like ovens.
Three inmates at the Angola Louisiana State Penitentiary in Louisiana are suing the state’s department of public safety and corrections for failing to provide relief for those suffering on death row in cells that trap heat indexed as high as 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Inmates spend 23 hours a day in these cells with little ventilation. An investigation by the Advocacy Center into death row prison conditions found that it gets so hot that prisoners sometimes sleep on the floor where it’s somewhat cooler, suffering fire ant bites in the process. The inmates’ requests for relief have been rejected by the prison officials.
The Promise of Justice Initiative is suing on behalf of Elzie Ball, who is 60 years old and is a diabetic, Nathaniel Code, who is 57 years old and has hepatitis, and James Magee, 35 with depression. Because of their conditions they are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Heat is the number one weather-related killer according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, killing more people yearly on average than floods, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.
“The conditions on death row at Angola are horrifying, and a fundamental violation of Constitutional protections,” said Mercedes Montagnes, Promise of Justice Initiative lawyer and lead attorney on the lawsuit. “There is no question that the lack of climate control puts these men in a dangerous situation. Because they are confined to these block cells, their ability to take any step to maintain their health is severely limited.”
While visiting areas of the prison are air-conditioned, the cells get little more than fans that blow hot air around. The metal bars and cinder block walls of the cells meanwhile become too hot to touch. The lawsuit is asking that the temperature be controlled so that the heat index doesn’t exceed 88 degrees and that ice water be distributed to the inmates on a regular basis.
Climate change may exacerbate these conditions if proper mitigation isn’t achieved. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, cities in North America that regularly experience heatwaves — and virtually all of Louisiana would qualify — “are expected to be further challenged by an increased number, intensity and duration of heat waves during the course of the century, with potential for adverse health impacts.”
The IPCC’s special report “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” states that “It is virtually certain that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes and decreases in cold extremes will occur in the 21st century at the global scale. … a 1-in-20 year hottest day is likely to become a 1-in-2 year event by the end of the 21st century in most regions, except in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, where it islikely to become a 1-in-5 year event.”
Meanwhile, 2012 was the United States’ warmest year on record, by “a wide margin.” Not providing air conditioning certainly feels cruel during these unusually hot seasons.
Today the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed lawsuits against two companies, BMW and Dollar General, for allegedly discriminating against workers and job applicants who’d had interactions with the criminal justice system. The EEOC lawsuits charge that both companies’ practices had a disparate impact on black workers.
Dollar General, the nation’s largest small-box discount retailer, makes job offers contingent on applicants’ first clearing a criminal background check. One worker filed a complaint with the EEOC after she was fired because of a felony which showed up erroneously in a convictions report on her. Even when she cleared her name with the company they would not give her back her job, EEOC says.
And a BMW manufacturing facility in South Carolina kept an exclusionary policy which barred employees and employees of subcontractors from entering a facility if they had certain criminal convictions, EEOC says. They held onto the policy when it came time to transition workers from a phased-out contractor, even though those workers had already cleared the contractor’s background checks. Workers, even longtime employees, who didn’t clear the new checks lost their jobs and could not get them back, according to the EEOC.