Race-Based Claims Thrown Out in Paula Deen Suit

Race-Based Claims Thrown Out in Paula Deen Suit

A federal judge in Georgia has ruled that the plaintiff at the center of a lawsuit against Paula Deen has no standing for the race-based claims in the suit. Why? Because the plaintiff is white.

Lisa Jackson, a white woman, sued Deen and her brother last year alleging that she was subjected to sexual harassment and racist attitudes during her five years on Deen’s payroll.  When information from Deen’s deposition was made public, it led to a public relations meltdown; in addition to admitting that she used the n-word, Deen also fessed up to her fantasies about hosting a “traditional” southern dinner party in which black people dressed up as slaves. But most importantly, Deen was alleged to have paid her black employees less than minimum wage — even as her cooking empire grew to become one of the most recognizable brands in America.

Dora Charles, an African-American woman who worked as a cook at Paula Deen’s restaurant for years, described her experiences to the New York Times.

Mrs. Charles spent years making less than $10 an hour, even after Ms. Deen became a Food Network star. And there were tough moments. She said Ms. Deen used racial slurs. Once she wanted Mrs. Charles to ring a dinner bell in front of the restaurant, hollering for people to come and get it.

“I said, ‘I’m not ringing no bell,’ ” Mrs. Charles said. “That’s a symbol to me of what we used to do back in the day.”

But U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. ruled that Jackson, the white plaintiff, could not rightfully sue for racial discrimination. Judge Moore said that it was not the job of the court to mediate human resources problems — apparently even if those disputes are against federal discrimination laws.

TAGS: Paula Deen

Why Does Google Translate Mistranslate and Use the I-Word?

Why Does Google Translate Mistranslate and Use the I-Word?

Our former colleague Jorge Rivas ran into an offensive glitch when using Google Translate this weekend. In eight out of ten tries, the Spanish language word “indocumentado,” which translates to “undocumented,” was mistranslated by Google Translate as “illegal” when it appeared in a headline. As Rivas writes in a letter published by ABC-Univision’s Fusion,

As a journalist, when I use the term undocumented immigrant instead of illegal immigrant I’m doing so in order to remain more neutral and not use language charged with anti-immigrant sentiment. When you use the term illegal immigrant, it affects attitudes towards immigrants and people of color.  

Rivas is asking that Google Translate be “honest and accurate” in its translations. Read his entire letter, with numerous examples of Google Translate’s mistranslations on the Fusion site

Janelle Monáe Nabs Prince, Erykah Badu, Esperanza Spaulding for New Album

Janelle Monáe Nabs Prince, Erykah Badu, Esperanza Spaulding for New Album

Take a look — but not quite a listen — at Janelle Monáe’s new 2-disc album, which is due out on September 10. The album’s packed with big-name guests, including Erykah Badu, Solange Knowles, Miguel, and Prince, who talked about his support of Monáe in a recent interview. Check out the tracklist below.

The Electric Lady Tracklist:
Disc 1:
1. Suite IV Electric Overture
2. Givin Em What They Love (Feat. Prince)
3. Q.U.E.E.N. (Feat. Erykah Badu)
4. Electric Lady (Feat. Solange)
5. Good Morning Midnight (interlude)
6. PrimeTime (Feat. Miguel)
7. We Were Rock & Roll
8. The Chrome Shoppe (interlude)
9. Dance Apocalyptic
10. Look Into My Eyes

Disc 2:
12. Suite V Electric Overture
13. It’s Code
14. Ghetto Woman
15. Our Favorite Fugitive (interlude)
16. Victory
17. Can’t Live Without Your Love
18. Sally Ride
19. Dorothy Dandridge Eyes (Feat. Esperanza Spalding)
20. What An Experience

(h/t Okayplayer)

Judge Rules That NYC’s Stop-and-Frisk Violates Rights, Orders Monitor

Judge Rules That NYC's Stop-and-Frisk Violates Rights, Orders Monitor

A federal judge ruled on Monday that the New York City Police Department’s Stop-and-Frisk policy unlawfully targeted people on the basis of race and that an independent monitor must oversee reforms of the practice.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan was careful to also say that she wasn’t ordering a wholesale end to stop-and-frisk. As the New York Times reports:

Judge Scheindlin also ordered a number of other remedies, including a pilot program in which officers in at least five precincts across the city will wear body-worn cameras in an effort to record street encounters. She also ordered a “joint remedial process” — in essence, a series of community meetings — to solicit public input on how to reform stop-and-frisk.

The ruling came after a federal class action lawsuit was brought against the NYPD because of the practice, leading to a nine-week trial that ended on May 20.

David Floyd was the lead plaintiff in that lawsuit and spoke to last spring. You can watch video of that interview below.


Interscope Announces Release Date for M.I.A.’s ‘Matangi’

Interscope Announces Release Date for M.I.A.'s 'Matangi'

After threatening to leak her own album unless her label announced a release date for it, Interscope did just that and set November 5 as the official date when the singer’s “Mantangi” will be available to fans. The album’s been a long time coming; M.I.A. tweeted a teaser video for the track “Come With Me” over a year ago.

Check it out below:

(h/t Okayplayer)


Holder: ‘We Can’t Incarcerate Our Way to Becoming a Safer Nation’

Holder: 'We Can't Incarcerate Our Way to Becoming a Safer Nation'

Well, the private prison industry won’t like this at all: Today, Attorney General Eric Holder will announce new policies that will reduce maximized sentences for nonviolent drug offenders who aren’t tied to gangs or large-scale drug organizations. Holder will also seek sentencing reductions for elderly, nonviolent inmates while seeking alternative ways to handle other nonviolent criminals besides sending them to prison. 

Holder is expected to make these announcements, which he’s been hinting at for months, today at the national conference for the American Bar Association in San Francisco, according to The Washington Post

“A vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities; however, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem rather than alleviate it,” Holder will say today, as written in excerpts of his speech obtained by the Post. “Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason. “We cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation.”

Between 1999 and 2010, the number of federal prisoners held in private prisons rose 784 percent, from 3,828 to 33,830, according to The Sentencing Project. State inmates in private prisons rose 40 percent in the same time period. In their report “Too Good to be True: Private Prisons in America,” they attribute that growth to the War on Drugs, which “fueled a rapid expansion in the nation’s prison population.” 

The U.S. Sentencing Commission has reported that racially biased convictions are most evident in cases involving the sale or use of crack cocaine. While white Americans are far more likely to use crack cocaine, 79 percent of those sentenced for crimes involving the drug were black, while only 10 percent were white.  

Rapper Pitbull Explains His New Miami Charter School

Rapper Pitbull Explains His New Miami Charter School

It looks like John Legend isn’t the only pop star who’s interested in education reform. Cuban-American rapper Pitbull is set to open his own charter school in the Miami neighborhood in which he grew up. The school is called Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) and will be run by a non-profit called Mater Academy and Academia, a large for-profit company that’s taken a good deal of criticism for its school reform practices.

Still, it’s a worthy investment, according to Pitbull.

“The simple fact is that teachers have changed my life. I had a second grade teacher that taught me that yeah, there is a way out…and I had an eleventh grade teacher who taught me to believe in myself…and that’s the same thing I want to do with the kids,” Pitbull told the Washington Post.

Latinos make up the fastest growing demographic in the United States; there are an estimated 50 million currently living in the country and more than 12 million are enrolled in K-12 schools. Yet nearly half of Latino students drop out of high school before earning a high school diploma.

Increasingly, Latino students are enrolling in charter schools. In 2011, George Washington University’s Face the Facts initiative found that 26 percent of Latino students were enrolled in charter school. That hasn’t stopped criticism that charter schools — which are publicly financed but privately operated.

(h/t NBC Latino)

Immigrant Artist Israel Hernandez-Llach Dies After Police Tasering

Immigrant Artist Israel Hernandez-Llach Dies After Police Tasering

Israel Hernández-Llach, an award-winning artist and Colombian immigrant, died on Tuesday morning after Miami Beach police shot him in the chest with a stun-gun. Hernández, a painter, sculpter, and graffiti artist known as “Reefa,” was spray-painting an unused McDonalds when he was spotted by police officers and took off running. The police eventually caught up to him and according to his friends Thiago Souza and Félix Fernández—who were on lookout that morning and witnessed the shooting—he was shoved against a wall and shot in chest with a taser gun. Fernández and Souza also report that the police officers joked about the victim while he was on the ground and gave each other high fives

The victim’s family has called for an independent investigation, and supporters are offering condolences on Twitter using hash-tags #JusticeForIsrael and #RIPreefa. There is a vigil scheduled for August 10th at boarded-up McDonalds where the incident took place. 

Oprah Gets Apology for Racist Incident in Switzerland

Oprah Gets Apology for Racist Incident in Switzerland

While in Switzerland for Tina Turner’s wedding in July, Oprah Winfrey was prevented from purchasing a pricey handbag by a salesperson, who said the bag was ‘too expensive’ for her. Oprah was barred from even handling the bag, a $35,000 Tom Ford purse, after asking multiple times. Although she declined to give the name of the shop in her interview with Entertainment Tonight, it has since been identified as the Trois Pommes in Zurich.

The Swiss tourism office apologized for the incident today, as did the shop’s owner Trudie Gotz. Gotz told the BBC that the salesperson, somehow, didn’t recognize Oprah, but did not address whether or not the employee was racially profiling a customer. 

This isn’t the first time Oprah has accused a high-end boutique of racism. In 2005 she got into a heated debate with Hermes in Paris when they wouldn’t allow her to come in shortly after closing to buy a watch (ironically, for Tina Turner). Hermes later apologized for the misunderstanding. 

Race relations are already tense in Switzerland, where a recent move by some Swiss towns to keep asylum-seeking immigrants out of certain public places has been hotly contested by human rights groups and citizens who see it as a form of apartheid. 

Three Things to Celebrate on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Three Things to Celebrate on International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

Today is the United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Here are three things you might want to consider about indigenous peoples living in the US today:

1) Indigenous peoples speak in different languages

Southern California is home to lots of indigenous Zapotecs—many of whose parents or grandparents arrived from Oaxaca, Mexico in the last few decades. Their language, Dizha Xhon, is endangered—and that’s why, as PRI’s Ruxandra Guidi reports, there’s a concerted effort to preserve it in the Los Angeles neighborhood of MacArthur Park. 

2) Indigenous peoples write in different ways

The Dutch arrived on what was already Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) land 400 years ago, unannounced. Representatives from five sovereign Haudenosaunee nations: Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga and Seneca, decided to strike a permanent treaty with the Dutch based on friendship and peace. As was the custom for Europeans at the time, the Dutch wrote the treaty with ink. As was the custom for Natives in this part of North America at the time, the Haudenosaunee nations wrote the treaty in wampum beads, on a document known as the Two Row Wampum.

Native and non-Native paddlers honored that treaty as part of the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign on the Hudson River today, and were met by those who came to honor them at a Downtown Manhattan boathouse before marching across the island to the United Nations building. 

3) Indigenous peoples are mapping their own lands

Google Maps has been great at charting the world—but too many indigenous peoples can tell you how problematic the history of map-making (especially as a part of “exploration”) has been. As anyone who’s driven through Indian Country can tell you, too many roads and buildings are missing on popular maps, making Native nations representationally invisible. That’s why the National Congress of American Indians teamed up with Google Maps to tap local knowledge from tribal governments, businesses, as well as individuals to improve the maps of their tribes and nations The project kicked off today, and it’s dubbed Indigenous Mapping Day

Nas Raises $30k for Homeless Single Father With 8 Kids

Nas Raises $30k for Homeless Single Father With 8 Kids

Stanley Young is an unemployed construction worker and father of eight who recently lost his home in a fire. The rapper Nas recently caught wind of his story and helped raise more than $30,000 for Young and his family through Crowdtilt. Nas and the Young family hope to raise $50,000 by August 13. Here’s Nas’s message:

Stanley Young is an unemployed construction worker and single father. Two weeks ago, a fire destroyed his home. His family is stuck in a hotel, but time is running out. I could barely watch his tragic story on the news…- they will be kicked out by August 13th if we don’t do something to help now.I am also a single father, and we don’t get enough credit in this country. I’m committed to helping Stanley and his eight (yes 8!) kids. Moreover, I believe and hope that we should all, as a community, come together to help our fellow American men and women when they need us in desperate situations like this. See if you can’t find a few dollars to help the Youngs get back on their feet with me. We need to raise enough to extend their stay, and maybe even afford a down payment on a new house or something.

This is real. It is me. I’m putting in $5,000 myself. Never done something like this, but I have faith that our American community can pull together a miracle for this strong family who needs our help right now. If we can get to the $20,000 goal, I’ll put in another $5,000 too.

Thanks and God bless.

(h/t Necole Bitchie)

TAGS: Crowdtilt Nas

Poll: 40 Percent of White People Only Have White Friends

Poll: 40 Percent of White People Only Have White Friends

A new poll from Reuters found that about 40 percent of white Americans and 25 percent of non-white Americans are surrounded exclusively by friends of their own race. The poll comes in the wake of a debate on race after George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin.

“This country has a pretty long history of restriction on inter-racial contact and for whites and blacks, even though it’s in the past, there are still echoes of this,” Ann Morning, an associate professor in the department of sociology at New York University, told Reuters.

The results were taken from the ongoing Reuters/Ipsos online poll and include the responses of 4,170 Americans between July 24th and August 6th. 

(h/t Reuters)

TAGS: Segregation

FCC Issues Order to Lower Prison Phone Rates

FCC Issues Order to Lower Prison Phone Rates

The Federal Communications Commission issued an order on Friday to lower the cost of prison phone rates. It’s an historic move by the Commission and years in the making. More than a decade ago, Martha Wright and several families of inmates petitioned the FCC to regulate the price of prison phone rates that can sometimes cost more than $15 for a 15 minute call.

Today’s order requires phone companies to base rates on actual costs and cap them at 25 cents per minute while the Commission collects more data. The order also prohibts companies from charging deaf and hard-of-hearing customers extra for the use of relay services.

Stay tuned for more from Colorlines.

Asian-American Mayor’s Blood Donation Rejected Because He’s Gay

Asian-American Mayor's Blood Donation Rejected Because He's Gay

Evan Low is the mayor of the small city of Campbell, California. Recently, he organized a blood drive because donations are typically a lot slower during the summer. But, as the organizer and host, Mayor Low can’t actually donate himself because he’s gay.

Since 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has effectively banned gay men from donating blood on the basis of increased risk of HIV.

Low told the Bay Area’s KTVU news that the policy has long been outdated. “We are in 2013 and we use science to determine the criteria for tainted blood,” said Low. It’s very important that we look at behavior and using science instead of a discriminatory policy.”

This week, Mayor Low joined the Red Cross in calling for the FDA to review it screening criteria and change its policies.

(h/t KTVU via Angry Asian Man)


The Dream Defenders Introduce ‘Trayvon’s Law’; Talib Kweli Weighs In

The Dream Defenders Introduce 'Trayvon's Law'; Talib Kweli Weighs In

For four weeks now, the youth justice alliance called the Dream Defenders in Florida have peacefully held the state capitol building captive, pushing for reforms to laws that criminalize youth of color. Today, they unveiled “Trayvon’s Law,” a three-pronged bill that aims at the hearts of problematic policies the Defenders say allowed for neighborhood watch guard George Zimmerman to stalk and kill 17-year-old Trayvon Martin when he was innocently returning to his father’s fiancée’s house from the store. 

Trayvon’s Law seeks to reverse state laws that allow people to shoot-and-kill first then claim self-defense later with impunity, that encourage racial profiling, and that excessively punish black and brown school students for trivial offenses. Many have argued that Trayvon Martin was racially profiled as a black youth by Zimmerman, who initially invoked “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws after he shot and killed the teen. Martin was suspended from his school in Miami when he was murdered. 

The Dream Defenders have scored a number of victories since initiating their #TakeoverFL sit-in. A number of celebrities and high-profile activists have camped with them, including actor/singer Harry Belafonte, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, and today, rapper Talib Kweli. In their first week, they demanded a meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who at first balked, but then met with the youth leaders. They convinced Florida House Leader Will Weatherford to hold a legislative hearing on the state’s Stand Your Ground laws. Also, Dream Defender executive director Phillip Agnew convinced state Rep. Matt Gaetz to have a debate after the legislator said he doesn’t “support changing one damn comma” of Stand Your Ground legislation.

At the press conference featuring Talib Kweli, the rapper said that he was there supporting in his capacity “as a human being,” and not as a rapper or artist. 

The Dream Defenders are “cherrypicking the best and what has worked from every movement,” before it, said Kweli. “They have taken the greatest lessons from Dr. King and the students from [the 1950s/60s civil rights organization Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] so it’s great to see students taking up the tradition of other students.”


Youth Remix Macklemore Song for Quality Sex Education

Youth Remix Macklemore Song for Quality Sex Education

Young folks with Forward Together, an Oakland-based reproductive justice group, have released “20 Condoms”, a sex positive, protection endorsing riff on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s song “Thriftshop.”

AG Holder Hints at Major Drug Sentencing Reforms Coming

AG Holder Hints at Major Drug Sentencing Reforms Coming

A few years ago, Attorney General Eric Holder joked that David Simon needed to create another season of the HBO drama “The Wire” — “I have a lot of power … Mr. Simon,” said Holder. In response, Simon told Holder to use that power then to stop the War on Drugs. 

“He can’t do it,” Simon told me when I interviewed him a couple years ago. 

Maybe Simon was wrong about that. In an NPR interview yesterday, Holder suggested that a conclusion to the drug war was in the works. 

“The war on drugs is now 30, 40 years old,” Holder told Carrie Johnson at NPR. “There have been a lot of unintended consequences. There’s been a decimation of certain communities, in particular communities of color.”

According to Johnson’s report, Holder has been working with attorneys on a number of proposals that would reverse policies like three strikes laws and max-out sentences for low-level dealers. These reforms are expected to be announced as early as next week. 

“We can certainly change our enforcement priorities, and so we have some control in that way,” Holder said in the NPR report. 

“Attorney General Holder is clearly right to condemn mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Both he and the president have an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by securing substantial, long overdue drug policy reform.”

The Alliance is calling for the Obama administration to push for The Smarter Sentencing Act, a bill with bi-partisan support in Congress that would lower mandatory minimums for certain drug offenses, make the recent reduction in the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity retroactive, and give judges more discretion to sentence certain offenders below the mandatory minimum sentence if warranted. 

Holder hinted in June that reforms were coming when he spoke at the American Film Institute’s screening of “Gideon’s Army,” a documentary about the challenges of the public defender system in America. In that speech, he spoke about some of the root problems that have led to mass incarceration of young black men, which he observed when he was a Superior Court judge in Washington, D.C. 

“Day after day, lines of young men—most often African American young men— streamed through my courtroom,” Holder said of his time as a judge. “In some cases, they had committed serious crimes.  In almost every case, they had had long histories of interactions with social services—and educational and juvenile justice systems— which had failed to interrupt the dangerous and potentially avoidable trajectory that led them to my courtroom.”

Looks like it might be time for season six of “The Wire.”

NYPD to Clear Stop-and-Frisk Names Database

NYPD to Clear Stop-and-Frisk Names Database

New York City can no longer permanently store the names of people who have been stopped-and-frisked when cases had been “dismissed or resolved with a fine for a noncriminal violation.” The New York Civil Liberties Union reached an agreement with the city yesterday on a 2010 lawsuit, requiring the city to purge the database of names within 90 days. According to the NYCLU, the NYPD has allegedly gathered hundreds of thousands of names since it began the practice in 1999. 

Decried by many as a form of racial profiling that does little to reduce crime, the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk tactic remains in effect despite widespread protests and efforts by the New York City Council

Slate Will Call the Washington NFL Team the ‘Washington NFL Team’

Slate Will Call the Washington NFL Team the 'Washington NFL Team'

Slate isn’t waiting around for Washington, DC’s NFL franchise to get its act together and change its racist name. David Plotz writes at Slate:

Americans think differently about race and the language of race than we did 80 years ago. We now live in a world, for instance, in which it’s absolutely unacceptable for an NFL player to utter a racial slur. Changing the way we talk is not political correctness run amok. It reflects an admirable willingness to acknowledge others who once were barely visible to the dominant culture, and to recognize that something that may seem innocent to you may be painful to others. In public discourse, we no longer talk about groups based on their physical traits: No one would ever refer to Asians as yellow-skinned. This is why the majority of teams with Indian nicknames have dropped them over the past 40 years.

The entire piece is really worth reading. It’s also worth noting that Slate is owned by The Washington Post Company.

Rap Legend DMC: ‘Lil’ Wayne, Jay Z Ain’t Hot,’ Fans ‘Brainwashed’

Rap Legend DMC: 'Lil' Wayne, Jay Z Ain't Hot,' Fans 'Brainwashed'

Darryl McDaniels, widely known as DMC from the pioneering rap group Run-DMC, has some choice words for today’s highest selling rap artists. In an interview with the UK’s Metro recently, DMC called the state of hip-hop “disrespectful.”

“Ninety-eight per cent of hip hop music that’s out now I say is just bad demos,” the 49-year-old DMC said, before adding: “Lil Wayne, Jay Z ain’t hot, it’s just they’re programmed so many times people are brainwashed,” DMC said.

He then added the oft-heard refrain that hip-hop has strayed from its roots.

“The reason why hip-hop exists is because it started out with good intentions, once all the good intentions left the music became polluted, it became disrespectful, it became immature.” 

(h/t The Metro via The Grio)


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