Octavia Spencer’s ‘Scary Bitch’ Ads Taken Off L.A. Buses

Octavia Spencer's 'Scary Bitch' Ads Taken Off L.A. Buses

One way you probably shouldn’t advertise a new show starring one of Hollywood’s most accomplished black actresses is by pasting her picture up on an ad next to the phrase “scary bitch.” But that’s just what happened with Octavia Spencer*, who’s starring in a new show on FOX called “Red Band Society,” which follows a group of teenagers set in the pediatric wing of a hospital. 

The ads have been up for five weeks and will be removed from 190 Metro buses as soon as possible, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson Mark Littman, who told the Los Angeles Times that the ads “denigrate women.”

A few dozen protesters filed into a recent Metro committee meeting where the announcement was made. Jasmyne Cannick, a 36-year-old social media commentator, told the Times: “I don’t know if I find it more offensive because I’m black, or more offensive because I’m a woman.” She added, “I sometimes think our city forgets that there are black people that still live here and call Los Angeles home.”

A Fox spokesperson told the Times, “We sincerely apologize if the copy was offensive to viewers.”

See the add below:


(h/t Los Angeles Times)

State Rep: Muslims Are ‘Cancer That Must Be Cut From American Society’

State Rep: Muslims Are 'Cancer That Must Be Cut From American Society'

Oklahoma state Rep. John Bennett made headlines this week for making some of the vilest anti-Muslim comments on record from an elected American official. Dean Obeidallah recounts what happened:

On Monday, Bennett held a public forum with more than 100 constituents in a Western Sizzlin’ steakhouse in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. There, Bennett provided his supporters with something other than steak — a big helping of hate.

According to the Sequoyah County Times, Bennett told the audiencethat Muslims are a “cancer that must be cut out of the American society.” He added that the goal of Muslims is “the destruction of Western civilization from within.”

But here’s where Bennett’s comments truly become bone chilling. Bennett, a military veteran, issued what some could interpret as a call to arms: “I’m not advocating violence against anyone … but I am not going to stand back and allow them to let Islam take over this nation.”

The worst part? Bennett’s audience responded with a standing ovation. Obeidallah rightly notes that it’s this type of sentiment that will undoubtedly lead to reactionary violence against Muslims in the United States. Read more at CNN.

Scotland Stays, Lockdown in Sierra Leone

Scotland Stays, Lockdown in Sierra Leone

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Queer and Trans Latinos Reclaim Their History for Hispanic Heritage Month

Queer and Trans Latinos Reclaim Their History for Hispanic Heritage Month Play

Sixty eight years before New York City’s Stonewall riots incited America’s gay liberation movement, police in Mexico City made a declaration of their own. On November 17, 1901 they raided a secret gay dance party at a private home and arrested 41 men who they identified as gay, half of whom were reportedly dressed in women’s clothes. To humiliate the partygoers, they paraded the 41 captured people in public, a show of force that helped spark a period of sexual and political repression. 

Since then, the number “41” has been used to shame members of the queer and trans communities in Mexico. But a new projected called Honor 41 is trying to change that.

In its second annual video series launched to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S., Honor 41 has released a series of profiles of queer and transgender Latinos who are proud to continue the legacy of those 41 people who were arrested more than a century ago.

In the video below, we meet Camilo Juilián, a transgender immigrant from Mexico who shares his coming-out story. “I know my coming-out story is unique and not representative of all the struggles of our communities, but my hope is to encourage everybody to aspire to a life of authenticity, mutual respect and unity,” Juilián told me by e-mail, “one story at a time.”

For more, visit Honor 41’s website. And watch more profiles on YouTube

Homeboy Industries Has One of L.A.’s Newest Gourmet Food Trucks

Homeboy Industries Has One of L.A.'s Newest Gourmet Food Trucks

Homeboy Industries, the Los Angeles-based organization that helps formerly gang-involved and incarcerated Angelenos start new lives, has one of the area’s newest food gourmet trucks. The truck offers food such as salsa and granola that are produced by Homeboy Industries’ entrepreneurial arm, but their focus is chilaquiles.


“We didn’t want to be just another taco truck, so, we thought, since our chilaquiles are what Homegirl Cafe is well known for, we’d do a twist on it,” truck manager and head chef Stephen Barkulis told Los Angeles magazine.

The truck offers new including Tingaquiles with shredded skirt steak slow cooked in chipotle chile, Molequiles with red mole chicken and habeñero pickled onions. For the vegetarians there’s no-meat Veggiequiles. Check out the menu.

Chef Barkulis and his three-woman crew are all graduates of the Homegirl Industries’ 18-month training program. He sums up the truck’s purpose this way: “We really want to get out there and further our cause,” Barkulis told Los Angeles magazine.”Because at the heart of all that we’re doing is that we want to change lives.”

Homeboy Industries began as a youth program started in 1992 by Father Greg Boyle. In addition to offering formerly incarcerated folks legal assistance, counseling, tattoo removal and work-readiness training, the program has since grown to businesses that include a bakery, cafe, merchandise and a farmer’s market. 

(h/t Los Angeles Magazine)

Watch Imara Jones on ‘Caffeine TV’ Debut

Watch Imara Jones on 'Caffeine TV' Debut Play

Our economic justice columnist, Imara Jones, just launched “Caffeine TV,” a daily video news brief on YouTube where he offers his take on everything from politics to pop culture.  Jones will continue covering race and economic justice for Colorlines. With “Caffeine TV,” you’ll get him every morning!

High School Teachers Remake Chris Brown Song, Make it Awesome [VIDEO]

A new school year is underway, and at San Francisco’s Leadership High School, that’s a very good thing. In this goofy video, teachers and students turn Chris Brown’s problematic summer hit “These Hoes Ain’t Loyal” into a catchy, empowerment-driven theme song called “Royal,” which gives props to teachers’ long hours and students’ hard work.

California High School Changes Racist Arab Mascot

California High School Changes Racist Arab Mascot

After facing mounting pressure to change its team name, Coachella Valley High School has decided to change its mascot from the “Arabs” to the “Mighty Arabs.”

See what they did there? No? Here’s a brief explanation from Phillip J. Victor at Al Jazeera:

The Coachella Valley High School Arabs will now be known as the Mighty Arabs, after the school district’s board of trustees voted 5-0 on Tuesday to amend the school’s team name. They also agreed to change CVHS’ Arab mascot to look less barbaric and more distinguished.

The changes followed 10 months of collaboration with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a civil rights group based in Washington, D.C.

ADC had lobbied officials at Coachella Valley Unified School District since November 2013 to amend the school’s team name and drop its mascot — a grimacing face that many Arab-Americans said promoted negative stereotypes.

The new mascot is supposed to be an improvement. Not only did the school’s previous mascot feature all of the worst caricatures of Arabs and Muslims, the school’s representation of Arab culture was equally, if not more, problematic. So-called “Harem girls” marched in band parades and belly dancers performed at halftime during team games. “The mascot is basically an angry ‘Arab’ head — hooknose, long beard, headscarf and all,” Abed Ayoub, ADC’s legal and policy director, said in November when Al Jazeera broke news of the group’s campaign.

The new mascot, according to Ayoub, was chosen with input from the local Arab-American community and was designed by Jesus Olivares and Sergio Espinosa, two of the school’s alums who own nearby INKA Printing and Embroidery. “I saw it as a way to turn something into a positive. Also, because I was an alumni and went to school there, I felt like I had to give it a positive look instead of the image they had before,” Olivares said.

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The new image is meant to be a dignified representation of Arab culture. “This process has been a learning experience for everyone involved,” said ADC President Samer Khalaf. “We have had an opportunity to teach those in Coachella Valley about Arab culture and heritage. At the same time, we have had the opportunity to learn about the history of Coachella Valley and its strong connection to the Arab world.”

Everyone involved took pains to mention that the original mascot wasn’t “intentionally” racist, but that intention doesn’t negate impact, and the choice of a another caricature of Arab culture — particularly at a time when Arab-American activists are being attacked and threatened with beheading in Brooklyn — is questionable to me.

(h/t Al Jazeera America)

Ai-jen Poo, Terrance Hayes and Khaled Mattawa Among MacArthur Geniuses

Ai-jen Poo, the dynamic organizer and leader of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, is among this year’s 21 MacArthur Genius Grant fellows. She’s just one of a handful of people of color on the list, which also includes poets Khaled Mattawa and Terrance Hayes, social psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt, public artist Rick Lowe and jazz composer Steve Coleman. Each winner earned a suprise grant of $625,00 from the MacArthur Foundation, which they’re free to use in service of their craft. 

Here’s more about some of them:

Khaled Mattawa:

Terrance Hayes:

Jennifer L. Eberhardt:

Rick Lowe:

Steve Coleman:

Michel Martin Gets Her Own Live Show With NPR

Michel Martin Gets Her Own Live Show With NPR

Michele Martin, the host of the recently canceled NPR show “Tell Me More,” is getting her own live show, according to a press release sent out on Monday. “Rather than having the subjects of her stories come to her, she’ll be going to them. In a series of live events across the country,” NPR says on its site. She’ll tackle today’s hotly contested racial justice issues, including reproductive justice and voting rights:

NPR’s Michel Martin is taking the studio to the story, she’s going where the nation’s most important conversations are happening. Martin will be telling these stories from their epicenter and in partnership with NPR Member Stations, giving local stories national resonance. NPR Presents Michel Martin, a series of live events across the country, launches Friday Sept. 19 in New York City.


In October, Martin will join WFAE in Charlotte to examine The Voting Rights Divide and in December, Women and Leadership in Washington DC. In January 2015 she will be in Dallas with KERA, tackling Football and Ethics, and Miami in February to explore Children and Immigration with WLRN. Each event topic, dynamic and execution will be specific to the city’s character and flavor. The events will carry through to related stories on NPR’s news magazines and the conversation will continue on social media.

Rather than radio playing out on stage, NPR Presents Michel Martin will hold fresh, dynamic conversations with a live audience and people around the world joining on social media, to explore issues through their narratives and personal experiences. Guests with different perspectives and histories will be connected in civil discourse to share ideas, hopes, frustrations and solutions. The public can take part in the conversation by following @NPRMichel on Twitter and on Facebook at

Seems like a dynamic new direction for NPR’s 27 million listeners. The live events begin this fall. Go to NPR to read more

Watch: Sherman Alexie Wants His Books Banned — Here’s Why

Watch: Sherman Alexie Wants His Books Banned -- Here's Why

It’s banned book week and Indian Country Today caught up with Sherman Alexie to talk about censorship in America. 

(h/t Indian Country Today)

There’s a New Literary Journal for Queer Poets of Color

There's a New Literary Journal for Queer Poets of Color

There’s a new literary journal that’s looking for aspiring Gloria Anzaldúas, Cherríe Moragas, Essex Hemphills and Audre Lordes:

Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color is an intentional community space. Our mission is to nurture, celebrate, and preserve diversity within the queer poetry community. Through this journal, we are attempting to center the lives and experiences of QPOC in contemporary America. Thus, we view the journal (and our reading series) as part of a whole artistic project and not individual fragments of work. We believe that (here) the high lyric must encounter colloquial narrative. Here, we must provide space to celebrate both our similarities and our differences. We are one community with an array of experiences; we write in different formats, in different tones, of different circumstances. Nepantla is not the sort of journal that can project a singular voice (not if we want to reflect the various realities of our community). Nepantla is a journal of multiplicity, of continual reinvention. 

The new journal is supported by the Lambda Literary Foundation. You can read the inaugural issue here

Richard Rodriguez Talks About the American Dream for Immigrants

Richard Rodriguez Talks About the American Dream for Immigrants

In the aftermath of 9/11, noted Latino essayist Richard Rodriguez became fascinated by how people’s spiritual relationships turn deadly. Last year he published “Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography,” a book that explores his own complex relationship with religion. And last week, on the 13th anniversary of 9/11, he spoke with Sandy Close, New America Media’s executive editor, about hope, politics and immigration in America. 

If there’s a new American Dream, how does it differ from the traditional one?

The immigrant Dream, the foreign Dream, is as gaudy, as magnificent and as romantic and impractical as it always was: “I will go to America and become a millionaire, and marry a blonde woman, and have children who are six feet tall.” That Dream is still alive.

Those who were born in America, including children and grandchildren of immigrants, have diminished our Dream. Some of us have become stuck. We work two jobs, we rent an apartment, we don’t have a car, we see no movement in our lives. What’s the American Dream to us? 

Some Americans downgrade our vision of the Dream out of good motives. We don’t want a big car that guzzles gas, we want a small car, an electric car. We don’t want a huge American Dream because we realize how much it costs [n]ature. We’re downgrading our version of the American Dream and we resent those who come to America with their gaudy ambition.

Read more at New American Media

Viola Davis Talks Colorism and the Mammy Roles in Hollywood

Viola Davis Talks Colorism and the Mammy Roles in Hollywood

Viola Davis is ready to stand in the spotlight on her own terms. The actress was profiled by New York Times Magazine on Friday ahead of the debut of her new ABC series “How to Get Away With Murder.” In it, Davis talks candidly about her experiences as a black actress in Hollywood, noting that this starring role is her first big opportunity to be more than a marginalized character. That includes her starring role in “The Help,” which earned her an Academy Award nomination in 2011.

“I have been given a lot of roles that are downtrodden, mammy-ish,” Davis told the Times. “A lot of lawyers or doctors who have names but absolutely no lives. You’re going to get your three or four scenes, you’re not going to be able to show what you can do. You’re going to get your little bitty paycheck, and then you’re going to be hungry for your next role, which is going to be absolutely the same. That’s the truth.”

Davis will star in the new series as Annalise Keating, an attorney and law professor with lots savvy and sex appeal. “I don’t see anyone on TV like me in a role like this. And you can’t even mention Halle Berry or Kerry Washington,” she told me, referring to two African-American stars with notably lighter skin.”

Read the whole profile in New York Times Magazine

‘Orange is the New Black’ Adds Another Black Corrections Officer

'Orange is the New Black' Adds Another Black Corrections Officer

Actress Marsha Stephanie Blake will play Litchfield’s new corrections officer in the third season of “Orange is the New Black.”

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Details on Blake’s character are being kept under lock and key, but she will recur as a new corrections officer on the third season of the Taylor Schilling starrer.

Blake, whose credits include Django Unchained and Girls, joins a cast of fellow commanding officers including Pornstache (Pablo Schreiber), Bennett (Matt McGorry), Caputo (Nick Sandow), Fischer (Lauren Lapkus) and Fig (Alysia Reiner), among others. The latter two were seemingly written out during season two.

The new season’s premiere date hasn’t been announced. 

L’Orange’s Video With Rapper Blu for ‘Need You’ is Gorgeous

L'Orange's Video With Rapper Blu for 'Need You' is Gorgeous

Producer, poet and musician L’Orange just released a new video with Blu for the track “Need You” from her album “The Orchid Days,” which dropped a while back. It’s gorgeous and dreary and perfect for a song about love.

CBS Pulled Rihanna’s Performance Before Baltimore Ravens Game

CBS Pulled Rihanna's Performance Before Baltimore Ravens Game

It wasn’t long ago that Rihanna was the most high-profile victim of domestic violence in America. That fact wasn’t lost on CBS, which aired Thursday night’s NFL matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, or the millions of fans who tuned in. The network decided against broadcasting the singer’s pre-recorded performance before Baltimore’s first game since video emerged showing former Ravens running back Ray Rice brutally punch his now-wife, Janay. 

CBS also dropped a comedy segment that was set to air, replacing it with a report about Rice from “CBS This Morning” anchor Norah O’Donnell. “It’s important to realize we are not overacting to this story, but it is as big a story as has faced the NFL,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told Sports Illustrated. “We thought journalistically and from a tone standpoint, we needed to have the appropriate tone and coverage. A lot of the production elements we wanted in the show are being eliminated because of time or tone.”

(h/t Mashable and Bustle)

Watch: Thundercat’s New Video for ‘Tron Song’

Watch: Thundercat's New Video for 'Tron Song' Play

Stephen Bruner, the musician better known as Thundercat, is back with a new video for the track “Tron Song.” The experimental bassist’s clip is super weird. But it’s Friday, so why not?

(h/t Potholes in the Blog)

Puerto Rican Artist Ricardo Mulero Leads 9/11 Memorial Exhibit Team

Puerto Rican Artist Ricardo Mulero Leads 9/11 Memorial Exhibit Team

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum has become one of New York City’s most sought-after tourist spots since it opened last May. At the center of it is an exhibit that was spearheaded by Puerto Rican artist and New Yorker Ricardo Mulero, who led a team of artists, architects and engineers in arranging the artifacts of that fateful day in history.

Mulero previously worked at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and at Freedom Park in Pretoria, South Africa, but this project was unique. “Unlike any other history project that I have worked on, it was something that I had been part of,” Mulero told NBC News. “That became kind of interesting.”

You can see images of the exhibit over at NBC News

Report: South Asian Americans Still Under Attack 13 Years After 9/11

Report: South Asian Americans Still Under Attack 13 Years After 9/11

It’s been 13 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but South Asian-Americans are still under suspicion and under attack, according to a report released this week by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

The report argues that xenophobic political rhetoric and hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities has continued since the harrowing days following the attacks. Researchers collecting almost 160 examples and pointed to previous data that showed:

  • More than 80 percent of the instances of hate violence researchers uncovered were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. 
  • In 2012, half of Americans reported discomfort with women in burqas, mosques in their neighborhoods, or Muslims praying in airports.
  • More than 90 percent of xenophobic political comments were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.

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But there’s hope. The report juxtaposes these facts with the reality that populations of people of color generally, and South Asian-Americans specifically, are growing. That’s become a crucial component in building an infrastructure to help deal with critical moments like the Oak Creek tragedy and the Boston Marathon bombing. “There are also numerous examples of “better practices” from government and community leaders, organizations, and media who played an essential role to shift the narrative in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing to allow for an effective investigation and reduce backlash,” researchers wrote.

Read the full report here

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