A New Plan Emerges to Restore Yoga To Its South Asian Roots

A New Plan Emerges to Restore Yoga To Its South Asian Roots

Over at The Aerogram, Kavita Das writes about writes about a new initiative called South Asian American Perspectives on Yoga in America (SAAPYA):

SAAPYA was founded by Roopa Singh, Esq., who is both a yoga teacher and part-owner of Third Root, a Brooklyn-based health and wellness center.  Singh founded SAAPYA as a “platform and network for the voices of yoga teachers and students from across the South Asian diaspora.”

But for Singh, SAAPYA is also a deeply personal endeavor. She has long viewed herself as a cultural “bridge.” But as an advocate, organizer, and yoga teacher, she became concerned by the dual trends of yoga’s growing popularity and the loss of South Asian heritage. Singh says, “while we have more spaces that feel more reflective of who we are as a diasporic presence in this country, we find that we’re being simultaneously segregated out of these much needed, patiently awaited spaces.”

You can watch an unedited SAAPYA discussion in its entirety over on YouTube. The group recently brought folks together to talk in New York City. Note: It’s a discusion that lasts over two hours, but it’s certainly interesting. 

A Tribute to Japanese-American Sculptor Ruth Asawa

A Tribute to Japanese-American Sculptor Ruth Asawa

Pioneering Japanese-American sculptor Ruth Asawa died of natural causes on Tuesday. She was 87 years old.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Ruth Asawa will be remembered for the extraordinary wire sculptures that so beautifully interweave nature and culture,” said Timothy Burgard, curator of American art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He characterized her “as a pioneering post-World War II modernist whose works have transcended the multiple barriers she faced as an Asian American woman artist working with traditional ‘craft’ materials and techniques. She lived to see all of these confining categories challenged and redefined.”

For more than five decades, Asawa’s work influenced the American art world. Her elegant steel structures have become staples of public art in the Bay Area, known especially because Asawa initially designed them using oragami paper models. Back in 2009, Asawa discussed her work with KQED, Northern California’s public television station. 

San Francisco’s School of the Arts now bares Asawa’s name.

TAGS: Ruth Asawa

Dwyane Wade, Spike Lee’s Sons Join Trayvon’s Family on EBONY Cover

Dwyane Wade, Spike Lee's Sons Join Trayvon's Family on EBONY Cover


(h/t Yahoo! Sports)

‘Gazillion Voices’ Explores Race and Identity in Adoption

'Gazillion Voices' Explores Race and Identity in Adoption

The Baby Veronica saga brought national attention to the complexities and failures of the U.S. adoption system. This week a group of Minnesota-based adoptees launched “Gazillion Voices,” an online magazine that aims to inject race into the adoption conversation and provide a platform for adult adoptees to talk about their experiences. 

In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, “Gazillion” founder Kevin Vollmers, along with contributors and fellow adoptees Shannon Gibney and Laura Klunder, discussed the often harsh realities of being a person of color growing up in an adoptive white families. They said adoption success stories often overshadow the stories of loss

“There’s this story out there that we started when we fell out of the plane, we were destined for our adopted families, and that we are just like you, we are exceptional—we are not like the the poor, undocumented communities we were born from,” Klunder says in the radio interview. 

Gibney said her family tried to erase her race by insisting they “didn’t see color,” but that those attitudes made it difficult for her when she hit puberty and people in her community began to treat her differently. 

Vollmers insists that adoption agencies need to do a better job of preparing adoptive parents for the challenges their children will face, and says the adoption storybook narrative can be harmful and problematic. 

Sure, many adoptions turn out great for all involved.  However, those adoptions only make up some of the whole “adoption story” in the U.S.  What’s storybook about international and domestic adoptees being “rehomed” into the foster care system when their adoptions disrupt in their adoptive families? What’s storybook about adoptive parents who discover their Ethiopian and Chinese children were actually not true orphans, but rather have families in their place of birth?” he told me by email.  

Through this and other such stories, Volmers and his contributors aim to complicate notions around adoption in the U.S., and amplify the voices of adoptees in a conversation they say has been largely dominated by parents and institutions. 

Hunger Strikes Continue at Guantanamo After Six Months

Hunger Strikes Continue at Guantanamo After Six Months

More than 60 inmates at the Guantánamo Bay Naval base remain on hunger strike today, marking six months of protests. The strike, which began in March after a routine cell search, has put Guantánamo back in the spotlight and brought attention to the 86 inmates who have already been cleared for release, as well as others who have not been formally charged.  

Some well-known celebrities are speaking out against the protest. Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) produced a video response to the hunger strike, where he demonstrated the standard procedure used by US agents for force-feeding detainees. Most recently, singer PJ Harvey released a haunting song dedicated to Shakur Amer, a UK citizen detained at Guantánamo Bay for 11 years without being charged. 

Despite President Obama’s 2008 campaign pledge to close Guantánamo Bay, and his continued promises to prioritize the closure, the facility still houses 166 inmates

Reasons to Hope on the Voting Rights Act’s 48th Anniversary

Reasons to Hope on the Voting Rights Act's 48th Anniversary

Today marks the 48th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, after months of civil rights organizing, sit-ins, bloodshed and deaths compelled the federal government to intervene in the struggle against Southern states that were denying African Americans the ballot. It’s hard to celebrate this since the U.S. Supreme Court went all Mortal Kombat on the Voting Rights Act, pulling out its heart, the coverage formula for Section Five’s preclearance provision. But fortunately it wasn’t a fatality. The Voting Rights Act’s remaining organs remain intact, and the SCOTUS ruling has not dimmed the resolve of American citizens who’ve been rallying like revolutionaries to protect civil rights. Below are five reasons to celebrate the spirit of the Voting Rights Act on its 48th birthday, despite the right-wing attacks to finish it. 

1. Eric Holder — He was supposed to have retired from the Justice Department already. But AG Holder is proving to be an OG on the civil rights battlefield. Along with President Obama, Holder has vowed to defend and enforce what remains of the Voting Rights Act by any means necessary. Considering previous attorneys general have left voting rights hanging, we couldn’t have a better Justice Department right now. 

2. Moral Mondays — Florida, Texas and Ohio are probably hype right now about North Carolina. The former three states have been the historical posterkids for voting rights violations. But now North Carolina has overtaken the stage, front and center, for proposing and passing the most restrictive elections policies in the nation. Rev. William Barber has been leading the state NAACP, the historic “HK on J” coalition, the “Forward Together” movement, and thousands of North Carolina residents in weekly peaceful and prayerful demonstrations at the state’s legislature building to protest voter suppression. Hundreds have been arrested, including celebrities and journalists. And even though the state general assembly ended session last week, the Moral Mondays protests are continuing in other cities. 

3. Dream Defenders — Go ahead and scold them for wearing their pants sagging. One thing youth of color have been standing upright on is the fight against the criminalization of what many are calling the “Trayvon Generation.” There are many examples of these new young warriors, but one of the more visible symbols these days is the Dream Defenders, a coalition of Florida youth advocacy groups who’ve been organizing around unjust laws like “Stand Your Ground” gun policies for over a year now. The Dream Defenders have been camped out at the Florida Capitol building in Tallahassee for four weeks, joined by civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson and Harry Belafonte. This week they will be joined by rapper Talib Kweli, League of Young Voters executive director Biko Baker and the aforementioned Rev. William Barber, all to draw attention to civil and voting rights violations in the state. 

4. The Democracy Initiative — The green movement has been long criticized for silo-ing themselves off from the non-environmental issues that plague communities of color. After witnessing the attack on voting rights, and realizing it may be impossible to enact a green agenda when democracy itself is compromised, environmental organizations like Sierra Club have now joined the voting rights fight. They are joined, also, by groups that focus on Latino interests, immigration rights, labor rights, marriage equality and concerns of the gay and lesbian communities — all banded together in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act. Many of them are part of a coalition called The Democracy Initiative, which includes the NAACP, which has vowed to fight the conservative attack on voting rights as a united front. 

5. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund — In many ways, this fight for voting rights protections for African Americans began with the NAACP LDF, and they have remained at the leadership of that fight. Ever since the 1944 Smith v. Allwright case, which the late former LDF attorney Thurgood Marshall called one of the “most important cases” in civil rights history, they’ve been involved in almost every major court case involving the Voting Rights Act, including the Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court hearing in February. NAACP LDF president Sherrilyn Ifill provided the blueprint for defending voting rights in Colorlines last month. Given their history of victories on this front, it’s worth feeling optimistic that though things still aren’t all right, there are still gladiators who refuse to back down.  

Seven of the Dream 9 Establish Credible Fear for Asylum

Seven of the Dream 9 Establish Credible Fear for Asylum

—5:01 EST Update: All nine of the activists have now established credible fear, a step toward an asylum hearing. Supporters are now hoping the Dream 9 will be eligible for parole, which would allow them to return to the United States until their asylum hearing dates.

Seven of the Dream 9 reached a critical milestone late Monday, when it was learned that they had established a credible fear that their return to Mexico would result in harm or death. According to Dream 9 attorney Margo Cowan, Adriana Diaz, Ceferino Santiago, Claudia Amaro, Luis Leon, Lulu Martinez, Maria Peniche and Mario Felix can now move forward on their asylum hearing. The seven can now apply to be placed on temporary release while they prepare for their hearing. But for now, all nine remain in detention; Martinez and Peniche remain in solitary confinement at Eloy Detention Center, where they’ve been for more than a week.  

The news about the seven is remarkable because this step of the process has been completed quickly—the Dream 9 crossed the southern border into the U.S. just two weeks ago. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there’s an estimated 45-day wait for an initial hearing and a six-month time frame to complete the process from start to finish. But it’s not unheard of for detainees who have already fled torture, persecution and even the murder of their loved ones in their countries of origin to wait years in detention before being granted asylum and finally released.

A group of people gathered outside of the Eloy Detention Center last night, soon after it was confirmed that the seven had established credible fear. Among them was Elvia Amaro, who’s in Arizona from North Carolina. Her daughter, 37-year-old Claudia Amaro, was one of the first to be confirmed to have moved forward in her asylum process. Her mother prayed outside of the detention center, giving thanks.

As of 11:30 am EST, authorities have not commented on the applications of Lizbeth Mateo and Marco Saavedra. That doesn’t mean they’ve been denied; applications are decided on a case-by-case basis, and theirs are still being processed. It’s expected that there will be an update about Mateo and Saavedra on Tuesday. In the meanwhile, the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, which is now working with the families of other detainees held at Eloy, is asking supporters to demand the immediate release of the Dream 9.


Watch Spike Lee Defend his Kickstarter Campaign

Watch Spike Lee Defend his Kickstarter Campaign

Spike Lee’s Kickstarter campaign has been met with a mix of excitement and curiosity. Excitement over the mysterious next Spike Lee Joint, and curiosity — by some — about why a director of Lee’s stature would need to turn to crowdsourcing in the first place. Lee deftly responded to that criticism in a recent interview with Bloomberg TV.

(h/t Bloomberg TV)

A Look at San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950’s

A Look at San Francisco's Chinatown in the 1950's

Buzzfeed recently collected 31 beautiful photos of life in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950’s. Here’s a quick look:


Florida 18-Year-Old is the Youngest to Pass UK’s Bar Exam

Florida 18-Year-Old is the Youngest to Pass UK's Bar Exam

Gabrielle Turnquest, 18, recently became the youngest person ever to pass the UK’s bar exam. The teenager, who’s originally from Florida, told The Telegraph, “I am honored to be the youngest person to pass the Bar exams but, really, I was not aware at the time what the average age was.” Turnquest added, “I didn’t fully realize the impact of it.”

Turnquest graduated from Liberty University in Virginia at 16 and is planning for a career as a fashion law specialist. And she comes from some impressive pedigree: her older sister, Kandi, passed the UK bar at 22. The average participant’s age for the University of Law’s Bar Professional Training Course? 27.

(h/t The Telegraph via Jezebel

TAGS: Florida

NBA’s Rookie Of the Year Knew Oscar Grant, Touched by ‘Fruitvale Station’

NBA's Rookie Of the Year Knew Oscar Grant, Touched by 'Fruitvale Station'

The Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lilliard, who’s the NBA’s reigning rookie of the year, caught up with Yahoo! Sports recently to talk about his hometown, Oakland, Calif. Lilliard recently watched Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” and recounted his relationship with the film’s inspiration, Oscar Grant, who was shot and killed by a Bay Area transit officer on New Year’s Day in 2009.

“He went to high school and played on the same football team as my brother,” Lillard told Yahoo! Sports. “I used to always be around my brother at the high school and crossed paths with [Grant]. We were on the bus at the same time. We were always in the same areas.”

About the film, Lilliard had this to say:

“You don’t see a lot of movies that are actually based in Oakland and give a chance to see what people are going through there every day,” Lillard said. “It was nerve-wracking to see in the movie how they had everything down pat and how they eventually went through the day in the life of a lot of people, a lot of young men in Oakland.

“At the end it was breathtaking how [Grant] kept saying after he was shot that he had a daughter, you see how friends were [helpless] and see how his family came together. This wasn’t just a movie. This really happened. At that point, I kind of sat in my seat and was like, ‘Wow.’ ”

(h/t Yahoo! Sports)


Wisconsin Sikhs Commemorate First Anniversary of Oak Creek Shooting

Wisconsin Sikhs Commemorate First Anniversary of Oak Creek Shooting

A year ago, a lone gunman walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, then shot and killed six people and wounded four others before turning the gun on himself. The shooter, white supremacist and U.S. Army veteran Wade Michael Page, acted alone and left no evidence of the motives for his actions.  But a climate of anti-Muslim hostility is still palpable in the U.S., and when groups like Sikhs—who are not Muslims but are often similarly targeted—are attacked, it is difficult not to connect this crime to racist attitudes. 

Rinku Sen, the Executive Director of our publisher the Applied Research Center, gave a heartfelt response to last year’s tragedy, with this poignant and still timely reminder of the significance of the Oak Creek shooting: 

I despair for our country on days like these. How long before paranoia and fear, recast in the language of moral fortitude (stand your ground!), cut too deeply into the beautiful American friendliness, open-mindedness, and generosity that I have grown up with? How many Trayvon Martins, Brisenia Floreses and Balbir Singh Sodhis must there be before white folks question whether suspicion of brown skin is justified? 

The Oak Creek anniversary events began on Friday, and included a courthouse vigil and a 6K walk and run, as well as temple services. Sikhs from across the U.S. and abroad came to pay their respects, with a mood branded by one attendee as that of “relentless optimism.” For the temple, this is an opportunity to bring their community together and to remember the victims. Events will conclude on Monday evening with a meditation and candlelit vigil.

Florida Congressman: Obamacare Tax on Tanning is ‘Racist’

Florida Congressman: Obamacare Tax on Tanning is 'Racist'

Rep. Ted Yoho, the freshman congressman representing Florida, recently told a crowd that the Affordable Healthcare Act, aka Obamacare, includes a “racist tax” on tanning beds, apparently because of some alleged unfair burden placed on white people. According to the People for the American Way blog, which monitors the activities of conservatives, Rep. Yoho discussed the Jim Crow poll tax on tanning with House Speaker John Boehner, and said the Speaker agreed with him. The Beltway blog Roll Call unsuccessfully tried to get a comment from Boehner in response. The meme started with Glenn Beck years ago, and Rep. Yoho seems to have resurrected it. 

Rep. Yoho said that since his dark-skinned Indian doctor said he has “no need” to use a tanning salon, that “therefore it’s a racist tax, and I thought I might need to get to a sun tanning booth so I can come out and say I’ve been disenfranchised because I got taxed because of the color of my skin.”   

Laugh at that, but the right-wing never ending attack against Obamacare is no laughing matter, though. Before Congress went to recess last week, the House passed a bill that would strip the IRS of any power to implement Obamacare’s provisions — the IRS is the primary agency responsible for carrying out the tax provisions in the Affordable Care Act.  Though it carries no weight without the Senate, which will not pass it, it was the 40th bill the House passed to try to overturn Obamacare. 

Listen to Yoho’s comments here:

UPDATE: Sarah Kliff over at The Washington Post (which was just sold to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million) adds some additional context for the “racist” tanning tax: “Get behind the headlines though, and the tanning tax actually proves a relatively vexing health law provision to implement. Its only a few pages in the health care law and is expected to raise $21 billion in revenue. That’s not nothing but, in a law that costs $1.3 trillion - that is about as close to nothing as you get.”

TAGS: Obamacare

The Original ‘Sapphires’ Join Protest Over Sexist, Racist DVD Cover

The Original 'Sapphires' Join Protest Over Sexist, Racist DVD Cover

Anchor Bay, the distributor for film “The Sapphires” new DVD came under fire last week after an image surfaced of its U.S. branded DVD cover. Released in 2012, the award-winning film was applauded for its portrayal of The Sapphires—Naomi Mayers, Beverly Briggs, Lois Peeler and Laurel Robinson—and their struggles against sexism and racism in 1960s and 1970s Australia. 

The existing DVD cover, intended for Australian audiences, prominently features The Sapphires, played by Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell, with their manager, played by Irish actor Chris O’Dowd, standing behind them. But in the new U.S. cover, the female actors are blurred into a blue background while their manager is thrust center stage. 

The_Sapphires_1_080513.jpgO’Dowd was among the first to come out against the DVD cover last week, saying
via Twitter, “it’s ridiculous, it’s misleading, it’s ill-judged, insensitive and everything the film wasn’t.” 

Now, the original Sapphires are also protesting the new cover, and calling on the NAACP for support. In a letter sent on their behalf, they say: 

“As I’m sure you can appreciate, the treatment of people of colour in Australia mirrored much of the trauma to which people in the United States were subjected. That trauma - and much of that treatment - remains alive and well in Australia today, as I know it does in the United States.”

In response, activist Lucy Manne began a petition, which has already garnered more than 10,000 signatures.  She hopes Anchor Bay will change the cover artwork before its release this week. 

Cory Booker Raises Money with Oprah, Misses NAACP Debate

Cory Booker Raises Money with Oprah, Misses NAACP Debate

It’s the last week of New Jersey’s special primary election for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat in the U.S. Senate, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker is leading by double-digits in every poll. Perhaps that’s why he couldn’t be bothered with attending a Newark NAACP candidate’s forum late last week. His opponents, New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Congressmen Frank Pallone and Rush Holt, were all in attendance for the Thursday night debate. Meanwhile, Booker was at a fundraiser hosted by billionaire kingmaker Oprah Winfrey (remember that her recent involvement in a major political race led to the election of the nation’s first black president). 

According to, the Oprah affair was held at “an upscale Jersey City restaurant with panoramic views of lower Manhattan.” The NAACP forum was held a few blocks away from Booker’s office in city hall — an office Booker’s been criticized for rarely occupying.

Only one African American, Oliver, is running against him in the Democratic primary. The other two, Pallone and Holt, are white men campaigning on progressive platforms — Holt is calling out Booker as not being a progressive at all in a new ad buy.

The long-time New Jersey civil rights activist Edith Savage-Jennings wrote in an op-ed today that she was supporting Holt against the black candidates Oliver and Booker. “Rep. Holt can often be seen in all the neighborhoods of Trenton, my home town, as well his entire district, hearing from the people he represents,” wrote Savage-Jennings. 

Booker’s absence at the NAACP event probably didn’t help his absentee-leader perception. 

“You know what would be great? If he brought Oprah over here,” Newark NAACP president Deborah Gregory told

André 3000’s Solo Album May Actually Come Out Next Year

André 3000's Solo Album May Actually Come Out Next Year

There are at least two albums that seem to perpetually exist only in the dreams of hip-hop aficionados: a proper studio album from Jay Electronia, and a solo debut from André 3000. Now it looks like one of those albums may actually happen in 2014.

It’s no secret that Outkast’s André 3000 has been busy with a Jimi Hendrix biopic called “All Is By My Side.” But BET’s Stephen Hill tweeted over the weekend that Dre’s long anticipated solo effort is also in the works. According to Hill’s tweet, the exchange went like this: “Me: hey what’s up? You got the movie coming,right? Andre 3000: yeah…and I got a solo album coming top of the year. Me:*droptofloor*”

The Outkast singer alluded to such an effort back in February when he told GQ:

“There’s a lot of music on the horizon. I’ve been living off the excitement of new artists. I’ve been privileged to have these new artists kind of reach out and grab back and say, “Hey, Andre, we want you on this song.” So I’ve been taking those calls and for the last two years, I’ve been doing collaborations. So these new artists have kind of been keeping me alive. I’ve just really been feeding off of that and this year I think I’m planning to do a solo project. I don’t know when it will come out, but hopefully it’ll come out this year.”

Get your headphones ready.

(h/t via Hypetrak)

TAGS: Andre 3000

Octavia’s Brood Wants to Bring You Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements

Octavia's Brood Wants to Bring You Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements

I’m a big fan of the Allied Media Conference, which is held at Detroit’s Wayne State University each June. It’s always a place where activists, artists, and ordinary people come together to think up innovative ideas. Case in point: for the past several years, activist Adrienne Maree Brown has been facilitating a popular workshop on acclaimed science fiction writer Octavia Butler and helping people think up ways to use lessons from her work in their own organizing. Now, it seems that work is branching out to places far outside of Detroit.

Brown and fellow organizer Walidah Imarisha have raised more than $15,000 in a crowd-sourcing campaign to put together an anthology of what they’re calling “radical science and speculative fiction by organizers and activists.” The project is called “Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements” and is due out in the summer of 2014. The money that’s raised is being used to cover the costs of design and printing the book itself, but also to fund a national tour of readings, writing workshops, and organizing strategy sessions. While the project has already surpassed its fundraising goal, it certainly couldn’t hurt to contribute and see a workshop near you.

Watch This Brilliant Takedown of ‘Asian Girlz’

Watch This Brilliant Takedown of 'Asian Girlz'

Wearing a bikini top and hand-drawn tatoos including a geisha coming out of a cupcake and “not-shat upon” flowers in a dog park, video blogger Kristina Wong does a brilliant send-up of Levy Tran, the model who starred in Day Above Ground’s horrifically racist “Asian Girlz” video

On Twitter, Tran has defended the creators of the soft rock song that features lyrics such as “I love your creamy yellow thighs/Ooh your slanted eyes/It’s the Year of the Dragon/Ninja p***y I’m stabbin” as “sweet boys and not at all racist.”

Wong, who poses as Tran in the short clip, offers these airheaded takeaways from the debacle:

1. Nice people are not racist.

2. Racist people are not nice. 

3. Satire is racist when it’s done by not-nice people.” 

h/t: Hyphen 


CeCe McDonald Writes From Prison About Trayvon Martin

CeCe McDonald Writes From Prison About Trayvon Martin

Incarcerated transgender activist CeCe McDonald is currently serving a 41-month prison term for the stabbing death of a man who attacked her and friends in Minneapolis. Recently, McDonald wrote a moving indictment of racial profiling and the criminal justice system. In it, she references everything from George Zimmerman’s acquittal to the Supreme Court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act as proof that “the injustice system has failed us again.”

But perhaps one of the most poignant point in the letter comes when McDonald talks about her own survivor’s guilt as one of many high-profile people of color who have essentially been prosecuted for being targets of racist and/or homophobic attacks:

I know that people have been comparing my case to Zimmerman’s, and yes it’s obvious that laws are biased. But even I can say I came out blessed knowing that (a) the system was against me to begin with, and that (b) looking at other cases similar to mines, I didn’t have to spent extensive time-even decades-in prison. People don’t understand that I actually feel a guilt for that. I know that nothing beyond the incident and getting arrested was in my control, as it is for anyone who is a victim of the system. But for me it hurts-a lot. My heart aches for the Patreese Johnsons, the Marissa Alexanders, and the Chrishaun McDonalds. But no pain can bring back the Trayvon Martins, the Oscar Grants, the Matthew Shepards, the James Birds, the Gwen Araujos, and all of our brothers and sisters who were victims of hate in this world. I can say that survivor’s guilt is real. That I’m still, to this day, dealing with the fear and sadness of my experience with hate and discrimination. How blessed am I to have so much love and support from my family, and I say family which extends to all my friends and supporters around the world.

Further down in the letter, McDonald implores her supporters to think about how they can organize across race, class, and gender boundaries. Again, it’s a moving call to action and you should make your way through the entire letter on her Support CeCe McDonald website.

Celebrate James Baldwin’s Birthday With Powerful Words

Celebrate James Baldwin's Birthday With Powerful Words

Author, activist and truth-teller James Baldwin was born today in 1924. To celebrate what would have been his 89th birthday, read this excerpt from his 1979 essay “If Black English Isn’t a Language Then Tell Me What Is”:

It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity. There have been, and are, times, and places, when to speak a certain language could be dangerous, even fatal. Or, one may speak the same language, but in such a way that one’s antecedents are revealed, or (one hopes) hidden.

For more Baldwin gems, check out Buzzfeed’s list of 25 powerful quotes and watch an excerpt of California Newsreel’s biographical film “The Price of the Ticket.”  Happy birthday Mr. Baldwin!

h/t to @JohnnyGolightly

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221