University of Alabama Sororities Bar Black Pledges

University of Alabama Sororities Bar Black Pledges

Two University of Alabama sorority members have come forward to confirm what many already know: sororities are blocking black women from pledging. While a some sorority sisters chose to remains anonymous, Alpha Gamma Delta’s Melanie Gotz spoke with her school’s newspaper on the record, describing how alumnae bar black candidates: 

“Are we really not going to talk about the black girl?”

The question - asked by Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie Gotz during her chapter’s sorority recruitment - was greeted by silence. The sorority’s active members and a few alumnae gathered in the room to hear the unexpected news that there would be no voting on potential new members that night. The chapter, they were told, had already agreed on which students would be invited back for the next round.

And it’s not just alumnae that are blocking black pledges. Some sororities have a voting system—but black women are still kept from pledging:

“Not a lot of rushees get awesome scores,” the Tri Delta member said. “Sometimes sisters [of active members] don’t get that. [She] got excellent scores. The only thing that kept her back was the color of her skin in Tri Delt. She would have been a dog fight between all the sororities if she were white.”

And a Chi Omega sister said a University of Alabama employee named Emily Jamison kept a promising black recruit from being considered:

“I know [the recruit] got perfect scores from the people in chapter the first day, and she got cut after the first day and I know it had to do with our advisor - is the one that dropped her,” the Chi Omega member said. “Her name is Emily Jamison.”

The University of Alabama is no stranger to segregation. Governor George Wallace made his now infamous “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” statement there fifty years ago in 1963. Although Wallace’s attempt to block black students from entering the university’s doors was thwarted, it seems he had a point about segregation sticking around for a while.

You can read the entire investigative story over at The Crimson White site. 


Public Universities Funding Less Low-Income Students Nationwide

Public Universities Funding Less Low-Income Students Nationwide

A new report shows that public universities are syphoning money away from grants for low-income students towards higher income students. These findings come from ProPublica and The Chronicle for Higher Education, which teamed up on the investigation. 

Based partly on the U.S. Department of Education National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, the gap has almost closed between aid given to low vs high income students over the past 6 years, which means both pools are receiving almost equal funding. The investigators also found that financial aid is increasingly being given instead on the basis of athletics, merit, international students, and study abroad at various schools.  And according to the report, this trend signals an effort on behalf of public universities to draw in wealthier, out-of-state students, to the detriment of those who most need aid.  

The article, which focuses heavily on public universities in Pennsylvania through the lens of one student, comes amid recent reports that the Philadelphia public school system is in serious financial trouble

(h/t ProPublica

Jasmine Jordan Responds to Gay Rumors

Jasmine Jordan Responds to Gay Rumors

Last week, rumors surfaced that Michael Jordan’s daughter, Jasmine Jordan, is in a relationship with former Syracuse University basketball player Carmen Tyson-Thomas. The rumors were sparked by a photo of the two together on Instagram

In Jordan’s response, she doesn’t come out either way, but she does have something lovely to say:

“Until love, trust, honesty, respect, loyalty, commitment, genuine happiness and other characteristics or aspects I want in a relationship is defined by one gender then and only then will I discuss my sexual preference.”

(h/t HuffPo Gay Voices”)

12 Years Later: A Post-9/11 Timeline

12 Years Later: A Post-9/11 Timeline

It’s been a long twelve years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In order to commemorate the anniversary, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) has put together a post-9/11 timeline that represents the key events in the wake of the attacks. The timeline is particularly focused on the impact of the attacks on South Asian communities, specifically Sikhs and Muslims. To see the timeline, visit SAALT’s website

Not All Immigrants Like the Senate’s Immigration Bill

Not All Immigrants Like the Senate's Immigration Bill

It remains unlikely that a comprehensive immigration reform bill will work its way through the House this term. Aside from Obama’s media tour for a strike against Syria and a looming debt ceiling deadline that threatens to shut down the government next month (that may hold healthcare hostage as a result), immigration has largely fallen to last place. If anything, rather than build on the Senate’s comprehensive bill, the House will work on piecemeal legislation. 

But while the Senate’s bill has been touted by some advocates as the best option moving forward, it doesn’t actually guarantee a pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. It would, however, increase criminalization. Abraham Paulos, who heads Families for Freedom, explains: 

Among our biggest concerns is that S. 744 systematically binds a criminal legal system rooted in mass imprisonment with an immigration system driven by enforcement. Along with the current push for enforcement, the criminalization of our immigrant communities will continue to grow in order to justify the billions of dollars being pumped into immigration enforcement.

Read Paulos’s entire post about why Families for Freedom rejects the bill over at Huffington Post. 

There’s a Documentary About Sonia Sanchez in the Works

There's a Documentary About Sonia Sanchez in the Works

For over four decades, Sonia Sanchez has written, taught, and mentored her way to the forefront of contemporary black arts in America. Now there’s an effort to make a film about her life’s work. The 79-year-old poet is the focus of a new Kickstarter campaign for a documentary titled “BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez” by Barbara Attir, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon. The goal is to raise $55,000, and the title comes from Sanchez’s second book of poetry, “We a BaddDDD People.”


Muslim Woman Wins Hijab Suit Against Abercrombie and Fitch

Muslim Woman Wins Hijab Suit Against Abercrombie and Fitch

A federal judge ruled earlier this week that Abercrombie and Fitch violated federal anti-discrimination employment guidelines when it fired an employee who refused to remove her hijab while working at the store. Umme-Hani Khan first brought the suit in 2011 after being fired from her job at Hollister, a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch, in Northern California. “When I was asked to remove my scarf after being hired with it on, I was demoralized and felt unwanted,” Khan told the San Mateo County Times that year.

Following the ruling, Khan’s supporters emphasized the importance of this case. “All Americans have a right to reasonable religious accommodation in the workplace, and for Muslim women this includes the right to wear a hijab to work,” Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (which filed the suit) told the Washington Post.

Meet the Team Behind the 2pac, Eazy-E, Ol’ Dirty Bastard Holograms

Meet the Team Behind the 2pac, Eazy-E, Ol' Dirty Bastard Holograms

First, there was 2pac’s performance at last year’s Coachella Music Festival in Southern California. Then came this year’s Rock the Bells concert in Los Angeles, which brought us guest appearances from Eazy-E and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.  How exactly have these long-deceased rappers managed to re-introduce themselves to the world? Thanks, in large part, to the work of hologram creators AV concepts and Chris Romero.

Here’s ODB’s recent performance at Rock the Bells (skip ahead to 2:08):

And here’s Eazy-E’s performance with Bone Thugz-N-Harmony (Skip ahead to 39 seconds):

MTV News caught up with Romero:

For Romero however, the journey started in 2001 when he was tasked with animating the late Big Pun for his posthumous “How We Roll” music video for his posthumous Endangered Species LP. “In 2001 I was sitting with Fat Joe in the back on an Italian restaurant… it was kind of the same types of conversations I have now with Eazy-E and Dirty’s family,” Romero told MTV News. “They have the same concerns that Fat Joe and Big Pun’s people had with his legacy 12 years ago. I carry that reputation and that desire to keep extending the legacies for artists who aren’t here.”


Romero and his team even hooked up with AV Concepts, the same minds behind the eye-popping ‘Pac stunt. “AV Concepts are actually the guys that did the execution of the avatar from a technology and set-up stand point,” he said. “My job is to recreate that feeling as good as possible and even a little bit larger than life.”

To recreate that feeling, Romero and a team of about 15 different people used a myriad of different reanimation techniques and even some motion capturing. “With Eazy-E, I actually worked with all of his kids,” he revealed. “One of his kids helped with the voice of Eazy-E talking to the crowd, one of his kids did his actual body movements and one of his kids did his facial movements.”

“We’re nothing short of magicians,” Romero says at the end of the profile, which you can read in full over at MTV News

* This story has been updated since publication.

Movie-Goers Find Violence in ‘12 Years a Slave’ Too Intense, Walk Out

Movie-Goers Find Violence in '12 Years a Slave' Too Intense, Walk Out

Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” has been getting rave reviews for its realistic portrayal of the horror of slavery. But for fans in Toronto, where the film is screening at the city’s annual film festival, the violence was too much to take. 

From the International Business Times:

The movie focuses on the story of Ejiofor, who plays Northup - a free musician living in Saratoga, New York, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South.

An early scene shows him being beaten 15 times with a bat and then whipped 14 times by his kidnappers.

The director McQueen also shows slaves being hanged and killed. One scene, lasting 10 minutes, shows a plantation owner, played by Michael Fassbender, stringing up a slave to a post before ordering her beating. She is whipped at total of 41 times.

The film eventually recieved a standing ovation, but not before several audience members walked out, according to the Business Times. So far, it’s drawing comparisons with “Schiendler’s List.”

Oklahoma School Changes Policy on Dreadlocks

Oklahoma School Changes Policy on Dreadlocks

A Tulsa, Oklahoma charter school has amended a 14-year-old policy barring students from wearing “distracting” or “faddish” hairstyles such as dreadlocks and mohawks. The decision came after news broke that 7-year-old Tiana Parker, a student at Deborah Brown Community School, had been repeatedly reprimanded for wearing dreadlocks to school. In a tearful interview, Tiana says she’s sad because the school “didn’t like her dreads.”

Her father Terrance Parker, who is a barber and says he always takes pride in his daughter’s hairstyles, decided to enroll Tiana in a different school. But over the last week the story got nationwide attention, which forced the school to revisit their policies around appropriate hairstyles. Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC was among those who spoke out on Tiana’s behalf last week, with this delightful video letter:

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Apple’s New iPhones and the Race to Drive Smartphone Adoption

Apple's New iPhones and the Race to Drive Smartphone Adoption

Apple has announced the release of its new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S. It’s a significant moment, as most Apple product announcements are, because the company’s innvoations have so often shaped the landscape of consumer products over the past decade. It’s also an important moment to take a look at how race colors that landscape.

The new iPhone 5C is a lower cost device that Apple hopes will help them compete against its more affordable rivals, particularly Samsung. It features all the functionality of a traditional iPhone wrapped inside of a colorful plastic case, according to the Chicago Tribune. The device comes at a crucial time for the company as millions of people in the U.S. and abroad have adopted smartphones. “With smartphones surpassing 125 million U.S. consumers and tablets now owned by more than 50 million, we have crossed into the Brave New Digital World — a new paradigm of digital media fragmentation in which consumers are ways connected,” according to a report released earlier this year by comScore, an industry analytics company.

But just how we’re connected often has a lot to do with race. Another report released earlier this year by Pew noted that Latino 86 percent of Latinos own a cell phone, compared with 84 percent of whites and 90 percent of blacks. And Latinos are just as likely as blacks and whites to own a smartphone: 49 percent.  

But that same research pointed out just how reliant Latino users are on their smartphones as their primary devices to get online. Latino users were more likely than whites to say that they use smartphones to go online, and equally likely to access the internet from a mobile decive. That means that since smartphones are often easier and cheaper to use than high-speed home internet access, there are still lingering effects of the digital divide, primarly between those who can consume content and those who can create it.

Magic Johnson Talks About How His Gay Son Fits Into MLK’s Dream

Magic Johnson Talks About How His Gay Son Fits Into MLK's Dream

Magic Johnson is clear about what he thinks is most important in the black community: jobs. The NBA legend talked to The Grio’s Chris Witherspoon about advancing Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of racial equality, and was clear to point out that the LGBT community has an important stake in that fight. To bring that point home, Johnson talked about how he and his wife Cookie have supported their son, EJ, who came out publicly. “My son EJ came out, me and my wife Cookie are happy to support him a million percent,” Johnson told The Grio, adding later, “I don’t care about the backlash. If somebody don’t agree, that’s on them.”

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Chris Rock and W. Kamau Bell On What’s So Funny About Race

Chris Rock and W. Kamau Bell On What's So Funny About Race

Black comedians Chris Rock and W. Kamau Bell sat down for an interview with The Root recently to talk about how they inject smart cultural criticism in their work. Rock is an executive producer for Bell’s hit FX show “Totally Biased”, which has been tackling everything from Stop-and-Frisk to the n-word. Here’s a gist of the interview, in which they about how humor can be an effective platform for discussions about racial inequity:

WKB: So many white people in America can understand race simply by quoting Chris Rock or Bill Cosby. That just goes to show how powerful comedy can be. It helps people see through the eyes of others without the fear of misunderstanding. Laughter is a great equalizer that way. It brings us closer together, without us even realizing it.

Read the rest over at The Root.

Watch White People React Angrily to the Word ‘Hipster’

Watch White People React Angrily to the Word 'Hipster'

What’s the worst thing you can call a white person these days? Apparently, it’s a “hipster.” Watch this funny sketch from writer Kristina Wong.

(h/t Angry Asian Man)

Janelle Monáe Performs New Song on David Letterman’s Desk

Janelle Monáe Performs New Song on David Letterman's Desk

In order to celebrate the release of her second album, “The Electric Lady,” Janelle Monáe turned David Letterman’s desk into a stage and performed her new song, “Dance Apocalyptic.” For more on the album itself, check out this morning’s feature: Janelle Monáe: Cyborg Diva, Black Girl Nerd, Marketing Genius

Update: George Zimmerman Released Without Charges

Update: George Zimmerman Released Without Charges

We reported yesterday that George Zimmerman was in “investigative custody” based on a 911 call placed by his wife, Shellie. She accused Zimmerman of punching her father in the nose and threatening them both with a gun, saying in the 911 call that she was afraid Zimmerman was going to shoot them. 

He has since been released from custody, and his wife has retracted her statements, saying she didn’t actually see a gun. Neither she nor her father are pressing charges against ZImmerman. His lawyer Mark O’Mara told reporters he believed the incident was a case of heightened emotions typical of divorce proceedings, also saying “There may have been some pushing and touching. That happens a lot in divorce situations …” O’Mara also said it was likely Zimmerman was armed, but that he never drew his weapon. 

George Zimmerman Detained After Gun-Related Domestic Incident

George Zimmerman Detained After Gun-Related Domestic Incident

George Zimmerman is currently in “investigative custody” with Florida police in connection with a domestic battery charge involving his wife, Shellie. He is not under arrest nor has he been formally charged, but police in Lake Mary, Fla., are holding him at a relative’s house after his wife called 911, claiming Zimmerman had threatened her. Allegedly, he pulled a knife on her during an altercation, and then pulled a gun on her and her father. Shellie Zimmerman filed for divorce last week.  

Zimmerman, who was found not guilty for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in July, has remained in the spotlight this summer. In August he was photographed taking a tour of a Florida gun manufacturer, and has been pulled over for speeding twice.

This story is still developing. Stay tuned.

East Harlem Mural Sparks Controversy in Local Election

East Harlem Mural Sparks Controversy in Local Election

The battle for the next Mayor of New York has dominated the conversation ahead Tuesday’s Primary Election in New York City. Between Anthony Weiner’s sexting and arguing with voters, and Bill de Blasio’s son Dante’s impressive Afro, smaller elections aren’t getting much attention. 

But in East Harlem, a recent mural project has sparked controversy among two City Council candidates. Candidate Gwen Goodwin claims that incumbent Melissa Mark-Viverito conspired against her campaign by coordinating a mural on her building. According to the New York Daily News, she told supporters : 

“This a picture of a bird who’s head has been severed from its body,” she wrote in a mass email to supporters. “I have been told in the Puerto Rican culture it means ‘problem solved.’”

Goodwin claimed the painting has connections to Santeria, a mix of ancient African rituals with voodoo and some Catholicism. 

The mural is part Los Muros Hablan, a project coordinated by La Respuesta in partnership with El Museo del Barrio, which was supported by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito.

(h/t New York Daily News)

Undocumented Immigrant Awaits Supreme Court Decision on Becoming a Lawyer

Undocumented Immigrant Awaits Supreme Court Decision on Becoming a Lawyer

Sergio C. Garcia is fighting the California Supreme Court for the right to practice law in that state. In 2009 he passed the California State Bar exam (on the first try), and soon after was sworn in, admitted, and licensed to practice law in CA. But, according to Coalition for Humane Rights of Immigrants of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), who is advocating on his behalf, his license was revoked two weeks later based on “an error.” 

The State Bar Association of California and the CA Department of Justice both support Garcia’s case. Last week the CA Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, and will ultimately make a landmark decision on whether a professional license, such as that to practice law, should be denied on the basis of citizenship. 

Melissa Lambarena, spokesperson advocating for Garcia, says he will now wait 90 days to learn the CA Supreme Court’s decision. “In the meantime he is reaching out to the legislature and has received their support. If the decision from the court is not in Sergio’s favor he is determined to target the U.S. Supreme Court,” she says.

Garcia is an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the U.S. by his parents when he was a year old. He left the U.S. temporarily at age 9, but came back into the country at age 17 and has been in CA ever since. Garcia has a pending green card application, which was filed in 1994 and was accepted in 1995, but still hasn’t come through. 

Marimacho Plays With Gender at New York Fashion Week

Marimacho Plays With Gender at New York Fashion Week

We covered Marimacho’s gender bending back in June as part of our annual pride package. The Brooklyn-based indie line also did it big at this year’s Fashion Week. Proof:




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