You made it clear when you talked to Willa Paskin earlier this year that you’re not a fan of folks who call Scandal a “guilty pleasure.” Why do some folks still insist on that phrase?
It’s because I write Grey’s Anatomy, because I write things people think are a little fluffier in their mind. Which is weird, because Grey’s Anatomy is pretty dark. It’s the same reason that when people call it a soap opera I get pissed — because it’s not a soap opera. And I don’t think it’s a guilty pleasure. It just sounds like a back-handed compliment. If you think it’s a guilty pleasure, don’t watch it. The Real Housewives of any city is a “guilty pleasure.”
Jenji Kohan, the writer behind this summer’s hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black”, on writing about race and getting the industry to watch:
You’re not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories. But it’s a hard sell to just go in and try to sell those stories initially. The girl next door, the cool blonde, is a very easy access point, and it’s relatable for a lot of audiences and a lot of networks looking for a certain demographic. It’s useful.
It’s a tactic that’s definitely proved successful, first with “Weeds” and now with “Orange is the New Black.”
ABC may have passed on airing ‘Devious Maids’, but the show is turning out to be a hit on Lifetime. The show follows a group of Latina maids and their rich, white employers and has been sharply criticized for its portrayal of domestic workers. Still, Lifetime is calling the show its “fastest-growing drama ever” and has renewed the show for another season. The show got off to a sluggish start but has steadily gained more viewers over the course of July.
“One of the most daring series on television, Devious Maids has quickly become a hit,” says Rob Sharenow, the executive vice president of programming at Lifetime Networks. “We are very proud of the show and are delighted to continue our partnership with Marc Cherry, Eva Longoria, Sabrina Wind, ABC Studios and Televisa USA. I am thrilled we are bringing Devious Maids back for a second season to lead our scripted slate in 2014.”
Everyone’s got something to say about Kendrick Lamar’s verse this week on Big Sean’s “Control.” In it, the 26-year-old rapper pretty much destroys all of his peers and anoints himself the King of Rap. It’s the sort of unfiltered braggadocio that’s been at the essence of hip-hop for years and it’s got everyone from LeBron James to the Washington Post and the LA Times talking. Some of the responses have even been too much for words — cue Lamar’s Compton brethern Dr. Dre. And some have been downright hilarious.
In Lamar’s verse, he calls out Jackson, rapping, “If Phil Jackson come back/still no coachin’ me/I’m uncoachable/ I’m unsociable.” On Twitter, Jackson — who knows a thing or two about coaching stars at the top of their games — offered up some unsolicited advice: “it’s okay to be cocky and sure, but we all need somebody to lean on. Let’s just call it mentoring.”
In light of Monday’s ruling by a federal court judge in New York City that Stop-and-Frisk unlawfully targets people on the basis of race, here’s a video from a local campaign from Communities United For Police Reform that shows the impact of the practice. The message is simple: We all have places to go, and Stop-and-Frisk shouldn’t stop you.
Here’s Kasiem Walters, a high school senior from East Flatbush in Brooklyn.
Anthony Stokes has been given less than six months to live after being denied a heart transplant due to ‘noncompliance.’ Stokes, a 15-year-old Atlanta native, was hospitalized on July 14 when he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. Authorities at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston have given little explanation for deciding to not put Stokes on the organ transplant waitlist, but his parents suspect it is because he’s had poor grades and ‘been in some trouble’ in the past. According to his mother, Melencia Hamilton, the doctors said they ”don’t have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups.”
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is also advocating for Stokes, saying the doctors’ vague decision isn’t good enough to give up on a young boy’s life. The hospital’s refusal to be more specific about the basis for ‘noncompliance’ resonates with a larger system of denying rights to people with criminal backgrounds, and racially motivated skepticism about young people of color.
(h/t Think Progress)
They said they would “slow walk” to a photo voter ID bill, but there has been no tar in the heels of North Carolina Republican state legislators in their race to make it law. After less than nine months as governor, Republican Pat McCrory signed what’s been called the most restrictive elections bills in the nation into law yesterday. The “Voter Information Verification Act” signed by Gov. McCrory was created and passed by a Republican-dominated state legislature on the premise that voter fraud is riding roughshod all over the elections system. But no evidence of system-upending fraud exists in North Carolina.
Besides asking voters now to carry one of a narrow list of photo ID cards to vote (starting with the 2016 election), the new law also slices a full week off of the early voting period, eliminates same-day voter registration, allows vigilante poll observers of the Vote Truther variety more leeway to harass voters, and makes it more difficult to add satellite polling sites for the elderly and disabled.
Thousands have marched and demonstrated, while hundreds have been arrested during the “Moral Mondays” sit-ins and pray-ins at the state legislative building this year, protesting this and other bills that may have a punishing effect on people of color and low income.
Right after Gov. McRory signed the elections bill into law, civil rights groups announced lawsuits against the state, anticipating that the law might lead to the disenfranchisement of thousands of African Americans, Latino Americans, college students and elderly voters.
One of those lawsuits, filed by the civil rights organizations North Carolina NAACP and Advancement Project, argues that the new law is in violation of Section Two of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits any voting procedure that discriminates against people of color from taking effect. It also claims the law violates voting rights protections for people of color guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit aims at a number of the more punitive voting provisions for minorities in the state, including the elimination of same-day registration and reducing early voting. During the 2012 elections, almost 70 percent of African Americans used early voting.
When Florida lawmakers reduced its early voting period last year, a federal judge found that it discriminated against black voters, who were more likely to vote early than white voters. Florida later apologized and restored the early voting period.
The NAACP’s lawsuit is filed on behalf of 92-year-old Rosanell Eaton, who was one of the first African Americans to vote in North Carolina. She registered in the 1940s amid threats of literacy tests and intimidation from the Ku Klux Klan. Her name on her driver’s license does not match the name on her birth certificate or voter registration card, which may disqualify her from getting the free voter ID card she’ll need to vote under the new law, according to a press release from the Advancement Project.
Mrs. Eaton follows in the footsteps of Viviette Applewhite of Pennsylvania and Desiline Victor of Florida, African-American women who withstood voter suppression last year to stand for the voting rights of all Americans. Mrs. Eaton has served with her state’s NAACP for over 60 years and has survived her house being riddled with bullets and crosses burned on her lawn for her work registering African Americans to vote. This year, she was one of the hundreds arrested with Moral Mondays protestors when speaking out against the new voter ID law. A Facebook page “Stand With Rosa Nell Eaton” has been created in her honor.
In a new twist in the Baby Veronica story, her biological father Dusten Brown turned himself in to Oklahoma authorities on Monday morning. His surrender came after he failed to show up to a court-ordered hearing in South Carolina where he was to deliver Baby Veronica back to Melanie and Matt Capobianco—the white couple that tried to adopt her as an infant. Veronica, a Cherokee Nation citizen who is now 4-years-old, has been living with Brown for the past two years and many question whether the South Carolina court ruling in favor of the Copabiancos is in her best interest.
Brown refused extradition to South Carolina by turning himself in in Oklahoma and paying the $10,000 fugitive bond to be released. He has another hearing in 30 days. Baby Veronica is currently with her paternal grandparents and Brown’s wife, and the Copabiancos continue to appeal for her return and have accused her family members of kidnapping.
This most recent development comes after the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did not protect Brown’s parental rights, and a South Carolina court decided to allow Veronica to be adopted the Copabiancos last month. The case has brought national attention to issues of tribal sovereignty and the complexities of adopting Native children.
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.
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.
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:
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
12. Suite V Electric Overture
13. It’s Code
14. Ghetto Woman
15. Our Favorite Fugitive (interlude)
17. Can’t Live Without Your Love
18. Sally Ride
19. Dorothy Dandridge Eyes (Feat. Esperanza Spalding)
20. What An Experience
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 Colorlines.com last spring. You can watch video of that interview below.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.