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Hundreds Released From Immigration Detention to Save Government Money

Hundreds Released From Immigration Detention to Save Government Money

The Obama Administration announced yesterday that it would release hundreds of immigrants from federal detention facilities to save money in anticipation of the coming sequestration. Federal immigration authorities said the government could not afford to lock up so many immigrants.

It’s not clear how many were released but reports have emerged from around the country that detainees were released from lockup in New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, New York, Arizona, Alabama and Georgia.

Authorities were quick to note that none of those released posed a threat. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Gillian Christianson said in a statement that ICE’s “[p]riority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety.”

But immigrant rights groups immediately asked why these detainees were held in the first place. Advocates have long said that the detention system is expensive and unfair, and add that community-based alternatives to detention are far cheaper.


Chuck D. On CNN: ‘Since Reagan And Bush, There’s Been Nothing But Guns And Drugs In The Black Community’

Chuck D. On CNN: 'Since Reagan And Bush, There's Been Nothing But Guns And Drugs In The Black Community'

Hip hop artist Chuck D. was a guest on CNN with Carol Costello earlier today to discuss the impact that the slaying of Trayvon Martin had on the nation one year later.

“The bottom line is this: back when I was growing up, you couldn’t find a gun on anybody,” Chuck D. told Costello. “Since 1980, the beginning of R&B, Reagan and Bush, there’s been nothing but guns and drugs in the black community for the last 30-some-odd years.”

“Race is America’s folly,” Chuck D. went on to say.

Florida’s Welfare Drug Testing Law Struck Down by Federal Appeals Court

Florida's Welfare Drug Testing Law Struck Down by Federal Appeals Court

A federal appeals court today struck a blow to a 2011 Florida law requiring drug tests for all applicants to the state’s welfare program. The unanimous decision from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals also applies to a nearly identical bill signed last year by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. The decision cuts to the heart of a Republican-led efforts to conflate poverty and unemployment with drug abuse and sends a message to other states that the suspicionless testing laws will not stand.

In the years since 2010, conservative state legislators introduced a rash of bills to require applicants to state welfare, unemployment insurance and food stamp programs to submit to drug tests. Advocates of the bills argued that the laws were necessary to protect children from the harms of drug addicted parents and to interrupt a pattern of drug use among poor and unemployed people.

But the appeals court ruled today to uphold a 2011 decision by an Orlando district court to enjoin the Florida law on the grounds that it violates the 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

“The simple fact of seeking public assistance does not deprive a TANF applicant of the same constitutional protection from unreasonable searches that all other citizens enjoy,” the court wrote in its ruling today.

The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of Luis Lebron, a Navy veteran and college student who is raising his children alone while also caring for his aging mother. He applied for welfare assistance from the state of Florida but was barred from help when he refused to take the drug test.

The Florida drug testing law had a short life. But in the few months it was in effect before a court blocked it, nearly 98 percent of welfare applicants passed the test. Today’s Eleventh Circuit decision leaves the injunction in place and sends the Florida law back to the district court to rule on the law.

Georgia, for its part, waited until today’s ruling to determine whether to implement it’s own testing program, which was modeled on Florida’s. The Eleventh Circuit court has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and the decision today sends a clear message that the Georgia law would not survive legal challenge.

“We are grateful to the Court for their ruling today that essentially renders Georgia’s law dead in the water,” said Gerry Weber, an attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights, which planned to challenge the Georgia law if it went into effect.

Despite repeated court decisions finding bills like the ones in Florida and Georgia unconstitutional, other states continue to consider their own versions. At least 8 states have already considered welfare drug testing requirements this year.

Just One More (Authentic) Harlem Shake Video

Just One More (Authentic) Harlem Shake Video

We’re well aware you’ve seen enough Harlem Shake videos but we had to share one more. The folks at Power 105 tapped some young people to show how it really goes down.

TAGS: Harlem Shake

George Zimmerman Cites Massive Weight Gain in Reason to Postpone Trial

George Zimmerman Cites Massive Weight Gain in Reason to Postpone Trial

George Zimmerman has gained 105 pounds in the year since he shot Trayvon Martin. His lawyers are citing his weight gain as a sign of his emotional distress and mental state in their effort to postpone his criminal trial, which is set to start in June.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Zimmerman is currently free on $1 million bail, awaiting trial on a charge of second-degree murder. He has said he killed the teenager in self-defense after Trayvon knocked him to the ground with a punch that broke his nose then began pounding his head on the sidewalk.

Before his arrest, according to the website, Zimmerman lived out of state in a mobile home, but a judge ordered his return to Seminole County, and that has been more expensive. For a time, Zimmerman and his wife lived in series of hotels. In September, they found a home with more reasonable rent, the website said.

Neither Zimmerman nor his wife has jobs, O’Mara said. George Zimmerman spends all day thinking about the second-degree murder case against him and has gained 105 pounds, the attorney said.

Zimmerman has raised more than $300,000 in private donations in the year since Trayvon Martin’s death, but he apparently only has $5,000 left. He and his wife have had to move frequently and pay for a private security detail.

The Fight for Accountability Continues for Trayvon Martin’s Family

The Fight for Accountability Continues for Trayvon Martin's Family

There are two important court dates to keep in mind in the Trayvon Martin case. The first is April 22, when an important hearing is scheduled to determine whether George Zimmerman is immune to prosecution due to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. At the hearing, Zimmerman’s legal team will have to convince the judge of three things:

  • Zimmerman was not engaged in unlawful activity.
  • Zimmerman was attacked in a place where he had a right to be.
  • Zimmerman had the reasonable belief that his life and safety were in danger as a result of an overt act or perceived threat committed by Martin.

If Zimmerman’s attorneys successfully make their case in front of a judge, he can walk free. But if they don’t, he’ll have to stand trial on second degree murder charges.

The trial date has been set for June 10. Zimmerman’s attorneys are pushing for a delay, mostly because they’re in dire need of cash. Zimmerman has raised — and spent — over $300,000 in donations over the past year. But his lawyer recently filed court documents asking that his client be declared indigent and thus eligible for the public to foot his legal bills.

Black Churches Condemn Obama’s Drone Policy as Murder and Evil

Black Churches Condemn Obama's Drone Policy as Murder and Evil

An association of 34,000 churches has come out strongly against drones.

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans say President Obama’s drone policy “constitutes evil in the Christian tradition.”

NBCI says “there can never be a legal rationale that gives a government the right to destroy a human being that God created.”

“I do not know what to say after the pronouncement of this evil policy. This policy has led me to a life of prayer for the soul of this administration and for this President. Anyone who has had anything to do with formulating a policy like this either in the Bush or Obama administration will have to answer before God one day. May God have mercy on their souls,” Rev. Anthony Evans, president of NBCI said in a statement.

Oscars ‘In Memoriam’ Snubs Lupe Ontiveros, Twice

Oscars 'In Memoriam' Snubs Lupe Ontiveros, Twice

Last night’s Oscars ‘In Memoriam’ reel left out actress Lupe Ontiveros. The Mexican-American actress passed away on July 26, 2012. 

Ontiveros worked steadily throughout her 35 year career and her credits include films like “Selena,” “Real Women Have Curves,” and “El Norte.” 

The Academy posted a supplementary ‘In Memorium’ online gallery on it’s website to cover its bases with a slideshow honoring those who didn’t make the telecast but Ontiveros was left out the online slideshow too.

Ontiveros was typecasted as a Latina maid early in her career, which she figured she had played more than 150 times in television and films, like James L. Brooks’s “As Good as It Gets” and Steven Spielberg’s “Goonies.”

“They don’t know we’re very much a part of this country and that we make up every part of this country,” she told The New York Times in 2002. “When I go in there and speak perfect English, I don’t get the part.”

But she did not regret playing so many maids, she said, because it allowed for steady work and for portraying working people with dignity.

“I’m proud to represent those hands that labor in this country,” she told The Times.

“I’ve given every maid I’ve portrayed soul and heart,” Ontiveros said.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that votes for the Oscars, is nearly 94 percent white and 77 percent male, according to a 2012 Los Angeles Times investigation. Blacks make up about 2 percent of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2 percent.

UPDATE 2/28/13 2:15pm EST: 

On Wednesday evening the Academy added Ontiveros to the online ‘In Memoriam’ slideshow

UPDATE 2/25/13 5:08pm EST:

A commenter below also notes Native American actor Russell Means was also left out of the ‘In Memoriam’ reel and The Academy’s online slideshow. In the 1990s Means appeared in films such as “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Natural Born Killers” and was the voice of Powhatan in Disney’s “Pocahontas.” .

Formerly Undocumented Teen Inocente Recognized On Oscar Stage

Formerly Undocumented Teen Inocente Recognized On Oscar Stage

On Sunday night a film about a 15-year-old homeless girl from San Diego won the “best short documentary” Oscar. “Inocente” follows a young woman named Inocente Izucar who refuses to give up her dream of being an artist.

The film was directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix who set out to make a film about homeless youth. But the 40-minute film is about a lot more because Izucar and her mother are undocumented.

Izucar says she was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was five or six. (Skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want any spoilers.) Her father was deported to Mexico for domestic abuse. She once stood on a bridge and convinced her mother not to jump. Her mother battles alcoholism and the constant struggle to keep her family afloat. I’ll stop there so you can watch the film on your own below.

In August 2012 Inocente told Teen Vogue she is no longer undocumented.

“I got a visa, so I’m in the United States legally now. In a few years, I can apply for my green card. I want to put a face to all the issues going on and be a voice for people who don’t have one. I want to inspire people and show them that life does get better,” Inocente told Teen Vogue.

At a screening of the film in Los Angeles on Saturday Inocente said she now lives in her own studio apartment and is supporting herself by selling her artwork.

She said she’ll be traveling for the next year and doing advocacy work and hosting screenings of the film. She went on to say she’s considering college or art school when she’s done promoting the film.

The Oscar-winning film was produced by the nonprofit Shine Global. “Inocente” is also the first film to be backed by Kickstarter supporters to win an Oscar, 294 backers donated a total of $52,000 to support the film last year.

For more information on Inocente’s art visit INOCENTEART.COM.

Watch the entire film below:

Michelle Obama Wears Indian-American Designer Naeem Khan’s Dress to Oscars

Michelle Obama Wears Indian-American Designer Naeem Khan's Dress to Oscars

First Lady Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance via video at last night’s Academy Awards ceremony.

“I am so honored to help introduce this year’s nominees for best picture and to help celebrate the movies that lift our spirits, broaden our minds and transport us to places we have never imagined,” Mrs. Obama said.

“They reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage within ourselves,” the First Lady went on to say.

The dress was designed Indian-born, American fashion designer Naeem Khan.

The First Lady wore the gray and silver Art Deco-esque design to host the Governor’s Dinner in Washington earlier in the evening, and thus needed no costume change for the Oscars, Womens Wear Daily reports. This was the second year in a row that she had worn a dress designed by Khan to the dinner.

Quvenzhané Wallis Hits the Oscar Red Carpet in Style

q-wallis-oscars-2013-2.jpg

Quvenzhané Wallis walked the Oscar red carpet in style on Sunday afternoon.

Wallis could become the second African-American ever to win an Oscar in the best actress in a leading role category. (Halle Berry made Academy Award history in 2002 as the first African-American woman to win the best-actress award.)

Just two-hours before Wallis hit the red carpet, Sony Pictures confirmed she will star as Annie in the new film based on the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip.

“With the recent Academy Award nomination and critical acclaim, Quvenzhané Wallis is a true star and we believe her portrayal as Annie will make her a true worldwide star,” Hannah Minghella, president of production for Columbia, said in a statement. “She is an extraordinary young talent with an amazing range, not only as an actress but as a singer and dancer, and we can’t wait for audiences to further discover her.”

James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and Shawn “Jay Z” Carter are signed on as producers, according to Deadline.com.

Just in Time for Oscars, Street Artist Gets Hollywood to Think About Its Workers

Just in Time for Oscars, Street Artist Gets Hollywood to Think About Its Workers

On Friday evening artist Ramiro Gomez placed an installation right in the Beverly Hills-West Hollywood border to get those heading to the Oscars to consider who was taking care of their families and homes while they were out making movies.  

“As hollywood prepares for their annual self-congratulatory party, I wanted to make this piece to honor those who will not be thanked during the award’s acceptance speeches,” Gomez told Colorlines.com in an email.

Gomez’s installation includes cardboard cutouts of the Oscar statue, a housekeeper and gardener. 

Gomez went on to say the installation is called “And the award goes to…” because “the reality is that the many people working in this area will never receive one.”

The Latest Online Education Craze Could Very Well Worsen the Achievement Gap

Online education is just about the hottest new trend in education these days. In 2007, more than a million K-12 students took an online course; that number was itself a 47 percent increase over the previous two years. And the numbers are increasing rapidly as legislators tout online learning plans as a cost-effective answers to budget woes. But while the jury’s still out on the academic efficacy of online education programs, new research suggests that these trendy education programs may well be exacerbating very old racial inequities in education.

In a working paper by Columbia University’s Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggers, they lay out findings from their study of half a million online courses taken by more than 40,000 community and technical-college students in the state of Washington. What they found is that students who have a harder time in traditional offline higher education are no better served by online courses. Xu and Jaggers, who is the assistant director of the Community College Research Center, found that all students, no matter their race, age or gender, who took online courses were actually less likely to finish their degree. But males and black students and those who came to their courses with less academic preparation than their classmates were less able to adapt to online course formats.

“We found that the gap is stronger in the underrepresented and under-prepared students,” Jaggers told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “They’re falling farther behind than if they were taking face-to-face courses.”

“If this pattern holds true across other states and educational sectors, it would imply that the continued expansion of online learning could strengthen, rather than ameliorate, educational inequity,” Jaggers and Xu wrote in their paper.

The news is troubling because online education is sweeping across the country, and not just in community and technical colleges. New York and Chicago have their own pilot initiatives centered around online education. Last month in California, the state college system rolled out a pilot online education partnership. Starting in 2011, Florida made it mandatory for every ninth grader to take an online course. And just last month in Idaho, less than three months after voters rejected a bill requiring high school students to take four online courses, the state legislature revived it.

Sequestration Means 424,000 Less HIV Tests and 540,000 Fewer Vaccines for Diseases like Flu, Measles and Hepatitis

Sequestration Means 424,000 Less HIV Tests and 540,000 Fewer Vaccines for Diseases like Flu, Measles and Hepatitis

Colorlines.com economic justice contributor Imara Jones visited Democracy Now this week to discuss the sequestration battle and the trillion-dollar budget cuts that are set to begin in a matter of days. Jones said the automatic, across-the-board cuts made in government spending will hit communities of color, the working poor and other marginalized groups especially hard.

“For communities of color and communities that have been hard hit by the recession, it’s a nuclear bomb that’s waiting to go off,” Jones told Democracy Now.

Jones explained how poor folks could be affected by sequestration: 

It reads like a laundry list, and we could take up the rest of the time going through the list. But some of the critical areas are: 125,000 people will lose Section 8 housing, which is critical housing support for the working poor; 100,000 people who are homeless will not receive the support that they need without a place to go; there won’t be 450,000 AIDS tests; something like 500,000 vaccines won’t be manufactured; a million people won’t be able to access community health centers; unemployment insurance for four million long-term unemployed will be cut by 10 percent; in terms of education, 70,000 kids won’t have access to Head Start; another 30,000 in terms of child care assistance. And then, if the sequestration goes on, because, you know, it’s a rolling—sort of a rolling storm, if it goes on through the summer and into the fall, the programs that support up to 20 million of the nation’s poorest students will be cut and are in jeopardy.

Read Imara Jones’ Colorlines story titled “What’s ‘Sequestration’ Mean in Real Life?” for more details.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is Back With a Review of ‘Django,’ Rihanna and da Vinci’s Mona Lisa

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is Back With a Review of 'Django,' Rihanna and da Vinci's Mona Lisa

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is quickly becoming a prolific reviewer of all sorts of things.

Earlier this month he critiqued HBO’s “Girls” series for including black character to the story line that felt like some “jungle fever lover.” Abdul-Jabbar said the show could’ve skipped that story line and just gotten a black dildo because it would “have sufficed and cost less.”

Last Tuesday he published a review of the film “Django Unchained” in Esquire Magazine. Then Wednesday night he visited Conan O’Brien’s show to review a few other works, including “Silver Linings Playbook,” Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” whole grain fig newtons and last but not least Rihanna’s latest album.

First, we’ll start with the review of “Django Unchained.”

“Basically, Django Unchained is a B movie. A damn fine B movie, but still a B movie. That’s not an insult. I’ve been in B movies, many of my favorite films are B movies, and B movies tend to make a lot more money than A movies,” wrote Abdul-Jabbar in his review.

He goes on to argue “Django Unchained” doesn’t deserve any Oscar nominations:

First, let’s get this straight: I liked Django Unchained and have been recommending it to everyone. It’s gritty and lively and filled with entertaining scenes. It zigs when you think it will zag, and, as with all Quentin Tarantino movies, it has flashes of brilliance. The character of Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), the malevolent house slave who is the real brains behind the plantation, is an inspired creation. His smug compulsion to destroy the innocence and humanity that he has lost but sees in others echoes the best of villains from Harry Lime in The Third Man to John Claggart in Billy Budd. (And Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen? He’s no Fifth-Floor Guardian, but he deserves an Oscar. As do Jamie Fox, Christoph Waltz, and Kerry Washington.)

But should Django have been nominated by the Academy for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscars? No. Not unless the Academy starts new categories such as Most Entertaining Movie or Best Kick-Ass Movie or Movie I Most Wish I Was In. Until then, the Academy members have a responsibility to promote films that demonstrate the highest quality on both a technical and literary level.

According to AMPAS’s website, their 6,000 members “reward the previous year’s greatest cinema achievements.” But most people see the awards as an effort at blatant self-promotion in order to shake a few more bucks out of the public’s wary pockets (especially since the suspicious 2009 decision to increase from five to ten possible nominations for Best Motion Picture). Nothing wrong with commerce being part of the motive. It just shouldn’t be the main motive.

Virginia Legislators Approve Voter ID Law, May Kill Chances for Federal Bailout

Earlier this week, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a photo voter ID law that narrows the list of identification voters are required to show on Election Day to vote. The bill, which now sits before Gov. Bob McDonnell to sign or veto, would allow only a driver’s license or U.S. passport to vote. Without either of those, a voter would have to file a provisional ballot, and then bring the required photo ID to the election board by the Friday after Election Day.

If McDonnell signs it, it wouldn’t go into effect until 2014 — when the mid-term congressional elections are held — but it would have to be approved by the federal government first. Since Virginia is a covered jurisdiction under the Voting Rights Act’s Section 5, any election law they make has to be pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department or the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Virginia passed a voter ID bill last year that was pre-cleared by the Justice Department. But that law allowed for non-photo ID forms to be used, like a paycheck or utility bill. Also, Gov. McDonnell pledged to send a state-issued voter ID card to everyone in the state who needed one.

As he determines whether to sign this more restrictive photo voter ID law, he may want to consider that Virginia apparently is close to bailing out from Voting Rights Act Section 5 supervision.

In a briefing this morning hosted by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, attorney Debo Adegbile told reporters that Virginia is “very close,” probably “within a year” of being “completely bailed out” from Section 5. In that case, the legislature will not need to pre-clear any election laws with the federal government because they proved they had no Voting Rights Act violations for the previous ten years, a stipulation for bail outs.

However, if Gov. McDonnell signs this law, and then the Justice Department rejects it due to any discriminatory intent or effect found in the law, then the Section 5 clock starts over, and they will continue to be subjected to federal supervision. Voting rights advocates estimate that as many as 870,000 Virginians lack the proper ID or the documents needed for voting purposes under such law.

Adegbile will be one of the attorneys arguing on behalf of the Voting Rights Act next week as it is reviewed before the U.S. Supreme Court. Gov. McDonnell should consider if he wants to make Virginia an example for Adegbile to use in that proceeding.

Kid President Meets the Real President (Plus Some Outtakes)

Kid President Meets the Real President (Plus Some Outtakes)

Remember Kid President? The star of a weekly series on SoulPancake that offered us a good pep talk last month? He’s back.

Kid President was asked by the White House to make a video for their upcoming Easter Egg Roll!

Check it out. His excitement is contagious.

USC Frat Planned a ‘Racist Rager’ Until a Mexican-American Student Put Them on Blast

USC Frat Planned a 'Racist Rager' Until a Mexican-American Student Put Them on Blast

The “racist rager” parties organized across U.S. college campuses shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore.

But a recent “phi-esta” party planned by members of a fraternity at the University of Southern California (USC) caught my eye for two reasons: 

1) It was a Mexican-themed event and the USC campus is literally surrounded by Latinos: the communities that surround USC are all predominantly Latino. The most recent Census data also found Latinos make up 47.7% of the population in Los Angeles, with Mexicans making up the majority of the group. 

2) A Mexican-American USC student saw a flyer for the party and wrote an op-ed in the school newspaper. She shut the party down, got the frat that was throwing the party to apologize and had the members organizing the event expelled from the fraternity.

According to the op-ed written by Melissa Morales the invitation invited party-goers to “bring their ‘sombreros and accentos to a night of classy fun.’”

Here’s an excerpt from the op-ed written Morales, a junior at USC studying political science.

I love a fiesta and a good margarita as much as the next girl, but not when it is just an excuse to make racist jokes and poke fun at a different culture. There is a big difference between celebrating a culture and mocking it.

A few hours after the event was posted, the description was edited to include “what not to expect”: “border patrol, pickpockets, those kids selling you chicle gum, [and] Montezuma’s Revenge.” Classy, indeed.

Is this what Mexican culture has been reduced to? An entire country, an entire people, an entire tradition is recognized solely by negative stereotypes. Is it not possible to hold a party without the predictably offensive costumes and mocking accents? Will it be less of a good time if guests refrain from obvious racism? I highly doubt it.

It is offensive that race is so easily used as a party theme. This is not the first “fiesta” and I am sure that it will not be the last, but I’m not waiting for the party to be over before I speak up. I’m not waiting for the pictures of drawn-on mustaches, illegal immigrants and gardeners to make the rounds on Facebook. I’m not waiting for my heritage to be ridiculed before I start my protest.

This is my protest. This is me speaking up for what I believe in. This is me taking a stand.

Though I find this event to be utterly disrespectful, I mostly just find it disappointing. I refuse to believe that other students on the USC campus — other members of the Trojan family — can be so ignorant and reckless. We live in Southern California with one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the country, yet we still face situations like these.

If you read this and think I am overreacting, then I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you do not understand.

Why Didn’t Race Come Up in Beyoncé’s HBO Documentary?

Why Didn't Race Come Up in Beyoncé's HBO Documentary?

Beyoncé’s documercial, “Beyonce: Life Is But a Dream,” attracted 1.8 million viewers to HBO for its Saturday 9 p.m. premiere, Nielsen said Tuesday. Beyoncé served as the film’s star, executive producer, narrator, co-writer and co-director. She’s even in the credits for ‘additional camera’ because much of the film was shot using the webcam on her laptop.

All that is to say: Beyoncé had total control of what we saw in the film. There were a few moments when she got personal, she talked about breaking up her business relationship with her father and what it took for her to become a woman who can demand things from the people she works with. She also spoke about a miscarriage.

But there was one topic she never discussed.

Jody Rosen, over at The New Yorker’s “Culture Desk” asks why “Beyonce: Life Is But a Dream” ignored race.

Still, there’s no question that Beyoncé is a terrible judge of what is interesting about Beyoncé. Consider one topic that never comes up in “Life Is But a Dream”: race. You could make the case that Beyoncé has reached an unprecedented position in American life. She is a black woman who has claimed the mantles of America’s Sweetheart, National Bombshell, and Entertainer-in-Chief. (According to Nielsen, an audience of 1.8 million watched Saturday’s broadcast of “Life Is But a Dream,” a record for an HBO documentary, and three times the average rating for the network’s marquee show, Lena Dunham’s “Girls.”) Beyoncé is one half of an African-American royal couple rivaled only by the duo in the White House. She is by far the “blackest”—musically and aesthetically—of all the post-Madonna pop divas; she represents African-American women’s anger and power like no one in popular culture since Aretha Franklin. Of course, the privilege to ignore race altogether is a sign of Beyoncé’s queenly status, and in “Life Is But a Dream” she avails herself of it. Instead, we get bromides: “We’re all going through these problems,” she says. “We all have the same insecurities.”

The hot air never stops blowing in “Life Is But a Dream.” There’s a funny thing about Beyoncé, though: the dreck that she serves up when seated on the interviewee’s couch, clutching a throw pillow, is transfigured, when she strides the stage, into art. In the film, she talks endlessly, excruciatingly, about money and power and ambition and self-reliance and womanhood and her love for her husband and child and, um, “the journey of my life.” It is a torrent of banalities. But those are the themes of Beyoncé’s music—the very topics that she compresses into the three minutes and thirty-three seconds of “Countdown,” a recording that will be confounding and electrifying musicologists, feminists, African-American studies scholars, and, most importantly, dance-floor revelers long after the last “Life Is But a Dream” DVD has been shot into space, destined for a Martian landfill. Listen to Beyoncé’s songs; watch her cyclonic performances. Everything else is like those cameras: additional, and superfluous.

“Beyoncé: Life Is But A Dream” resulted in the the biggest audience for an HBO documentary in a decade. Spike Lee’s 2006 documentary, “When the Levees Broke,” that looked at the devastation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is the only documentary to come close with 1.7 million viewers.

Mad About Black History Month? Take Some #WhiteHistoryClasses

Mad About Black History Month? Take Some #WhiteHistoryClasses

PostBourgie contributor Tracy Clayton aka Brokey McPoverty (you may know her as the woman behind Little Known Black History Facts took over Twitter yesterday when her #WhiteHistoryClasses started trending. You can guess what kind of person it’s intended to poke fun at.

Check out her Storify archive below of her favorite 70+ #WhiteHistoryClasses tweets by folks all across the internet.

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