American Apparel: Being a Misogynist Jerk is Bad for Business

American Apparel: Being a Misogynist Jerk is Bad for Business

It’s a common quandary felt throughout progressive communities: How do you hold the racist/sexist/homophobic head of a company accountable for their actions? While appeals to their moral conscience may seem like a worthwhile endeavor, time and again, the answer’s been the same: attack their bottom line.

That proved true recently with Dov Charney’s ouster from American Apparel. As Susan Berfield writes at Bloomberg Businessweek, Charney’s antics were public knowlege for years, but it wasn’t until the company started losing money that they finally terminated him. In Charney’s termination letter, American Apparel’s board wrote:

Your conduct has required the Company to incur significant and unwarranted expenses, including expenses associated with litigation and defense costs, significant settlement payments, substantial severance packages that were granted to employees, and unwarranted business expenses that you incurred for personal reasons. The Company’s employment practices liability insurance retention has grown to $1 million from $350,000. … The resources American Apparel had to dedicate to defend the numerous lawsuits resulting from your conduct, and the loss of critical, qualified Company employees as a result of your misconduct cannot be overlooked.

The board also wrote that “many financing sources have refused to become involved with American Apparel as long as you remain involved with the Company.” Read more

The Man Who Mentored Cesar Chavez is Headed to California’s Hall of Fame

The Man Who Mentored Cesar Chavez is Headed to California's Hall of Fame

Like any good community organizer, Fred Ross spent the majority of his life content to live in the background while his protegé, Cesar Chavez, got all the attention. But now, Ross’ son, Fred Ross Jr., is on a mission to make sure that his father’s work is remembered. That work got a big boost with news that Ross will be inducted into California’s Hall of Fame.

Over the last couple of years, Ross Jr. has led a movement to draw attention to his father’s work. Though Ross Jr. was unsuccessful in his campaign last year to get his dad a Presidential Medal of Freedom - the nation’s highest civilian honor, and one that was bestowed upon Chávez and Huerta - he says the Hall of Fame recognition is an important step.

“The effort last year put him on the map,” Ross Jr. said. “The California Hall of Fame award is a significant recognition, the most significant recognition his life and legacy have been given.”

The elder Ross died in 1992 at the age of 82. He’s part of hte 8th class of the California Hall of Fame, which also includes Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Joan Didion and Francis Ford Coppola. 


Video: If Black People Said the Stuff White People Say

Video: If Black People Said the Stuff White People Say Play

Following the success of “What If Asian People Said the Stuff White People Say,” Buzzfeed released a new video focused on the black folks. 

TAGS: comedy race video

Apple Tries to Explain Why There Aren’t Any Black Emojis

Apple Tries to Explain Why There Aren't Any Black Emojis

The excitment surrounding the 250 new emojis that will be released next month was tempered a bit this week by the realization that not one is black. Questlove’s tweeted about it, and even Miley Cyrus tweeted that there needs to be an “#emojiethnicityupdate.” There’s also a petition to get Apple to add more diversity to its emoji offering.

MTV Act reached out ot Apple on the matter, and a company representative said that they recognize the problem. “We agree with you,” wrote Apple Corporate Communications VP Katie Cotton. “Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”

News Mic dug a little bit deeper into the controversey and doesn’t buy the company’s explanation. As Zak Cheney-Rice explains:

Apple failed, or possibly didn’t try at all. The Unicode Consortium — which has final say over what becomes an emoji — is a separate entity, but it seems unlikely that a huge corporate partner like Apple would have trouble pushing this through, especially after being so roundly berated by customers.

Either way, it’s game over: Unicode’s 7.0 update is poised to introduce the new emoji set as is, affecting Apple, Google and Microsoft platforms.

Read more


Listen to J. Period’s 2pac Remix From ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’ Mixtape

Listen to J. Period's 2pac Remix From 'Holler If Ya Hear Me' Mixtape

J. Period, the Brooklyn-based DJ who’s already produced mixtape tributes to James Brown, Biggie, Nas and Lauryn Hill, is gearing up to release a project based on 2pac called “Holler If Ya Hear Me” on June 24. The mixtape is inspired by the Broadway musical “Holler If Ya Hear Me” starring Saul Williams that’s premiering this summer. Ahead of next week’s release, J.Period dropped his remix of Pac’s classic “Dear Mama” with Sting’s “Shape of My Heart.”


Watch Rosa Clemente Talk Afro-Latina Identity at Cal State LA

Watch Rosa Clemente Talk Afro-Latina Identity at Cal State LA Play

In case you missed it, hip-hop scholar and activist Rosa Clemente talked at length about Afro-Latina identity last month at Cal State Los Angeles. It’s a perspective that’s worth resurfacing given all the recent hoopla about Latinos identifying as white. In it, she talks about placing Afro-Latinos within the black radical tradition. It’s a lengthy discussion (over an hour), but certainly worthwhile. 

Critics That ‘Orange is the New Black’ Can’t Win Over? The Formerly Incarcerated

Critics That 'Orange is the New Black' Can't Win Over? The Formerly Incarcerated

“Orange is the New Black” had a big night at the Critics’ Choice Awards.

From E! Online:

The ladies of Orange Is the New Black walked away big winners tonight at the fourth annual 2014 Critics’ Choice TV Awards snagging Best Comedy Series, along with two more awards for Supporting Actress in a Comedy (Kate Mulgrew) and Guest Performer in a Comedy (Uzo Aduba). Aduba thanked OITNB showrunner Jenji Kohan “for changing my life.”

But if there’s at least one group of critics that the show can’t win over, it’s the formerly incarcerated. Adam Dawson of the Washington City Paper sat down and watched the first four episodes of season two with Sarah K., a white former heroin addict who spent more than four years in a Maryland state prison for armed robbery. Sarah remarks that the show nails the racist imbalance in sentencing laws:

Alex convinces Piper to lie on the witness stand. Alex then tells the truth when it’s her turn to testify. She is then apparently freed.

I’ll totally believe that.


Oh, people turn on each other constantly. All the time. And not even for getting released, you know? They do it for getting their sentence reduced by a few months. Anyone who tells you there’s this honor code, or thinks that their homeboys won’t rat them out is in for a rude awakening. But I’ll tell you the most believable thing about this whole series is the idea that Piper only got 15 months for running dope money.

Why is that believable?

Because she’s white, rich, and blonde.

Does that make a difference?

I’m a white blonde girl who went out and willfully fucked up and committed armed robbery, and I got five years. There were tons of black girls in my prison who were holding onto a bag of dope for a couple of days, and they always seemed to get, like, 10 years. If you ever find yourself in prison and wonder why there’s tension between white and black, shit like that is probably one of the reasons.

That’s incredibly unfair.

It absolutely is. But that didn’t prevent me from moonwalking the fuck out of that place when the time came.

But other things, like the kitchen and the playful banter with guards, are totally unrealistic. You can read more of her review here. And as for cheering for the show, Sarah makes it clear: “Its prison, dude. There’s nothing to cheer about.”


Goapele Releases New Track Co-Written With Estelle Called ‘Hey Boy’

Goapele Releases New Track Co-Written With Estelle Called 'Hey Boy'

Oakland-based songstress Goapele is getting ready to release a new album called “Strong As Glass.” She released a track that she calls “fun and flirty” called “Hey Boy,” telling Essence, ““[It’s] full of surprises and I hope my fans will enjoy this musical journey with me, I sung my heart out on this project and I got to work with producers & writers that pushed me as an artist.”

Goapele co-wrote the track with British singer Estelle. 


‘Dear White People’ Has a National Release Date

'Dear White People' Has a National Release Date Play

Justin Simien’s “Dear White People,” a comedy about a racist incident that takes place on a college campus, will open in theaters nationwide on October 17, 2014. 

(Shadow and Act)

Meet the Native Women Who Helped Beat One of the NFL’s Biggest Brands

Meet the Native Women Who Helped Beat One of the NFL's Biggest Brands

Amanda Blackhorse and Suzan Harjo, two Native activists who have been locked in an intense battle against the Washington, DC NFL team’s racist name, won a hard-earned victory this week. On Wednesday, an appeals board cancelled the team’s trademark and called the name “disparaging to Native Americans.” While the move won’t prevent the organization from using its name, it’s a significant legal blow.

“Some people say it’s just political correctness run amok. But why don’t we deserve political correctness when other groups do?” Blackhorse asked USA Today. “We’re just trying to demand that respect. We’re America’s first people, and we deserve that respect.”

Blackhorse was one of the five Native American plaintiffs in the case filed before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, a legal path that was paved more than two decades ago by Harjo. “Suzan has been fighting this since 1992. Native American people have been fighting this since 1972. … The reason it has come up recently is because Suzan has worked really hard to bring this in the public eye,” Blackhorse told Business Insider“She’s just a tremendous woman. She’s a strong Native American woman, and I’m so happy to have met her and to have been a part of all this because this is what we need to do,” Blackhorse added. 

Here’s more from Blackhorse:

“I have an interest in what we call historical trauma, the oppression that Native Americans went through and continue to go through has a tremendous effect on our mental health and our overall well being as people,” Blackhorse said. “So, that is something that is my passion. … We need to work on healing our people and to also educate the public about the oppression that we have experienced and continue to experience, like these mascots.”

Last year, Rob Capriccioso wrote at Indian Country Today about the intergenerational fight against the Washington, DC NFL team’s name. “There does seem to be an offsetting voice now to the fan base of the Washington team,” Harjo told him. “Many understand that you can love the team, but hate the name.”

You can also hear Blackhorse talk about her case in the unfortunately named segment posted above. 

Lupita Nyong’o Describes the End of Her Anonymity in Vogue

Lupita Nyong'o Describes the End of Her Anonymity in Vogue

Lupita Nyong’o is on the cover of the July 2014 issue of Vogue and it’s gorgeous — in a slightly disturbing exotified way. She was photographed by Mikael Jansson and, in the accompanying piece by Hamish Bowles, describes her rise to supestardom.

As we are serenaded by the hypnotic chant of the Gnawa musicians in the adjoining courtyard, I suggest to Lupita that she must have had a completely surreal year. “Indeed I did,” she says, laughing. “It just feels like the entertainment industry exploded into my life. People who seemed so distant all of a sudden were right in front of me and recognizing me—before I recognized them!” Her first real intimation that her life was changing—probably forever—came after the SAG Awards in January, when she arrived late one night at the airport and was mobbed by paparazzi. “For a split second I looked behind me to see who they were flashing at—and it was me!” she remembers. “That was, I think, the beginning of the end of my anonymity.” 

She also talks about making her own prom dress in high school and styling her short hair. Read more

Take a look at some photos below:





Latinos Respond to Claims That They’re ‘Declaring Themselves White’

Latinos Respond to Claims That They're 'Declaring Themselves White'

Nate Cohn at the New York Times recently made a bold declaration: More Latinos are declaring themselves white. Using census data from 2000 and 2010. Cohn wrote:

Race is an immutable characteristic for many white, black and Asian-Americans. It is less clear for Americans of Hispanic origin. The census form asks two questions about race and ethnicity: one about whether individuals are of Hispanic or Latino origin, and another about race. “Hispanics” do not constitute a race, according to the census, and so 37 percent of Hispanics, presumably dissatisfied with options like “white” or “black,” selected “some other race.”

But many Latinos are voicing their displeasure with Cohn’s assertion. This week, the hashtag #WhatLatinosLookLike popped up and was filled with images of Latinos who proudly claim their ethnic identities. Zak Cheney-Rice rounded up some of the responses over at PolicyMic, and you can see even more below:

TAGS: Census Latinos

Melissa Harris Perry Talks Motherhood and Body Image

Melissa Harris Perry Talks Motherhood and Body Image

Earlier this year, MSNBC host Melissa Harris Perry wrote bravely about her path to surrogacy and the birth of her youngest daughter. Now, in a recent essay for Essence, the mother of two opened up about how she’s struggled with her body image while trying to juggle motherhood, work, partnership and travel:

Sleepless nights led to exhausted mornings. It was easy to trade a run for a nap. The all-consuming cycle of feeding, changing and soothing made it difficult to prepare healthful meals, but a cupcake and coffee were quick and easy. I stopped using my iPhone to count calories and started using it to keep track of how many ounces AJ was eating and how many wet diapers she was producing. The weekend I returned to hosting my MSNBC show, I was disappointed by the fact that I was wearing a size larger than I had worn the day AJ was born. Bouncing her on my lap, I’d get distracted by the cellulite on my thighs. Pushing her in the jogging stroller, I was irritated by my dramatically slower pace. When Parker put on an adorable sundress for Easter, I felt a tinge of jealousy because I had been unable to fasten the dress I had initially chosen that morning.

Read more at Essence

Appeals Board Cancels Washington, DC NFL Team’s Trademark

Appeals Board Cancels Washington, DC NFL Team's Trademark

In what could be an important step toward changing the name of the one professional sports’ most racist team names, an appeals board decided against the Washington, DC NFL team’s name, cancelling its trademark. 

Administrative Trademark Judge Karen Kuhlke wrote the following:

The recognition that this racial designation based on skin color is disparaging to Native Americans is also demonstrated by the near complete drop-off in usage of “redskins” as a reference to Native Americans beginning in the 1960’s.

The record establishes that, at a minimum, approximately thirty percent of Native Americans found the term REDSKINS used in connection with respondent’s services to be disparaging at all times including 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978 and 1990. Section 2(a) prohibits registration of matter that disparages a substantial composite, which need not be a majority, of the referenced group. Thirty percent is without doubt a substantial composite. To determine otherwise means it is acceptable to subject to disparagement 1 out of every 3 individuals, or as in this case approximately 626,095 out of 1,878,285 in 1990. There is nothing in the Trademark Act, which expressly prohibits registration of disparaging terms, or in its legislative history, to permit that level of disparagement of a group and, therefore, we find this showing of thirty percent to be more than substantial.

Respondent has introduced evidence that some in the Native American community do not find the term “Redskin” disparaging when it is used in connection with professional football. While this may reveal differing opinions within the community, it does not negate the opinions of those who find it disparaging. The ultimate decision is based on whether the evidence shows that a substantial composite of the Native American population found the term “Redskins” to be disparaging when the respective registrations issued. Therefore, once a substantial composite has been found, the mere existence of differing opinions cannot change the conclusion.

In view of the above, petitioners have shown by a preponderance of the evidence that a substantial composite of Native Americans found the term REDSKINS to be disparaging in connection with respondent’s services during the relevant time frame of 1967-1990. Accordingly, the six registrations must be cancelled as required under Sections 2(a) and 14(3) of the Trademark Act.

Deadspin points out that ruling probably won’t have any immediate impact on the franchise, and they’ll likely appeal the decision. But it’s a huge setback for team owner Daniel Snyder, especially as public — and now, legal — opinion increasingly turn against him.

You can read the full decision below:

TTAB Order by Deadspin

Comedian Hari Kondabolu Breaks Down Colonialism

Comedian Hari Kondabolu Breaks Down Colonialism Play

In case you missed it, Hari Kondabolu was on “Conan” this week and did a whole set on colonialism. Check it out.

(Angry Asian Man)

Revisiting a Southeast Asian Teen Couple, 16 Years Later

Revisiting a Southeast Asian Teen Couple, 16 Years Later

Back in the late 1990s, Emmy award-wining filmmaker Spencer Nakasako made a video diary called “Kelly Loves Tony” (posted above), based on a Southeast Asian teen couple living in Oakland, Calif. Part of what’s known as the “1.5 generation” of the Vietnam War, Nakasako follows 17-year-old Kelly and her boyfriend Tony as they juggle parenting and school.

In a sort of “Where are they now? piece, Momo Chang of the Center for Asian-American Media recently caught up with Kelly and her two children.


Bay Area Journalists Remember Kevin Weston

Bay Area Journalists Remember Kevin Weston

Kevin Weston, a 45-year-old black Bay Area journalist who paved the way for countless young people (including myself) to tell their stories, died of cancer late Sunday night. Among the many tributes that have popped up in his honor are this one, by YO! Youth Outlook alum Russell Morse:

Kevin’s work at New America Media was reflective of the times we were living and working in. The first decade of the 21st century was an incredibly violent, tumultuous time and Kevin saw and professed a connection between violence in poor communities and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He encouraged us, as reporters, to find global connections to the local stories we pursued.

The Youth Communications projects of NAM came about in the early 1990s, when America’s young Black men were sensationally and shamefully characterized in the mainstream media as “Super Predators.” Sandy Close’s counter was that this generation of young people was not super-predatorial, they were super-communicative. Kevin was a supercommunicator: a journalist, a rapper, an editor, a DJ, a public speaker and a conversationalist who lived to engage the world, challenging hypocrisy and abuses of power right up to his final days. 

Weston was also the publisher of Oakland Globe and a Stanford Knight Fellow. You can read more of Morse’s tribute at New America Media, and also check out Weston’s work on the site

The U.S. Soccer Team Has Immigration to Thank for Its Success

What would the United States men’s national soccer team look like without immigration? Jorge Rivas takes a look over at Fusion:


Jozy Altidore
Parents were born in Haiti.

Tim Howard
Mother is Hungarian.

Aron Johannsson
Born to Icelandic parents in Alabama.

Mix Diskerud
Born in Norway.

Omar Gonzalez
Parents were born in Mexico.

Alejandro Bedoya
Father was born in Colombia.

Read more over at Fusion

Are Black Women Being Ignored by the Obama Administration?

Are Black Women Being Ignored by the Obama Administration?

Over at Salon, Britney Cooper writes that initiatives to address needs of LGBTQ people, black men and others are great. But the president is ignoring a key demographic that helped get him elected: black women.

Black women, Obama’s single largest voting demographic have been the subject of no executive orders, no White House initiatives and no pieces of progressive legislation. 96 percent of Black women voters voted for Obama compared to 87 percent of Black men. 76 percent of Latinas voted for the President compared to 65 percent of Latino men.

Though Black and other women of color who are a part of the LGBTQ community will benefit from this latest executive order, no initiative has explicitly addressed the structural issues of racism, classism, poor education, heavy policing, and sexual and domestic violence that disproportionately affect Black and Latina women.

Read more over at Salon

A Tribe Called Red’s ‘Caucasian’ T-Shirt and the Myth of ‘Reverse Racism’

A Tribe Called Red's 'Caucasian' T-Shirt and the Myth of 'Reverse Racism'

First Nations trio A Tribe Called Red is in the hot seat after one of its members wore a t-shirt modeled after the Cleveland MLB baseball team with the word “Caucasians” written across the front. Travis Lupick over at The Straight has more:

Promotional photographs show Ian Campeau (aka DJ NDN) sporting an ironic version of the Cleveland jersey that’s been altered to read “Caucasians” instead of “Indians.” It also includes a white head with a dollar sign above it instead of the baseball team logo’s Indian face and feather.

According to a message Campeau posted on Instagram, at least one concert promoter has received emails calling for the cancellation of a show scheduled for June 13 to 15.

“So we’re suppose to play Westfest next Sunday,” Campeau wrote. “The organizers have been receiving thinly veiled threatening e-mails in protest to me performing. Here’s one of them. This is my hometown. So disappointing.”

Campeau also posted screenshots of e-mails sent to local promoters, one of which read, in part: “I must take issue with you booking a racist, hypocritical band, A Tribe Called Red. If any non-Native band featured some of the song they do like Indian Girl, no doubt TRC member, Ian Campeau, who has been showing wearing a racist T-shirt, would be making a complaint to the human rights commission.”

We hear the term “reverse racism” all the time, and researchers have found that whites think it’s on the rise. The problem is that arguments ignore the systemic racism that exists and give people actual cultural, political and financial power in society. It’s why the Washington DC NFL football team and Cleveland’s MLB baseball team is allowed to keep their racist names and make millions of dollars off of racist iconography, and there actually has to be a debate about why that’s unacceptable. Campeau’s T-shirt is a snarky retort to way that Native imagery is used — constantly — in our culture. 


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