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5 Ways The ‘Harlem Shake’ Meme Is (Slightly) More Complicated Than It Seems

5 Ways The 'Harlem Shake' Meme Is (Slightly) More Complicated Than It Seems

Depending on if you’ve accessed the internet in the past week, you may not have heard of the Harlem Shake viral-video dance meme that’s racked over 170 million views across 40,000 different Youtube uploads from around the world. And if you have heard it, well, you probably hope its 15 minutes are about up. If so, you’ve got good reason. This 2013 version — basically, one person dances, then everyone dances, then the video ends — is drawing side-eyes from folks who remember the ’80s version (or at least the ’00s version) and who don’t especially want to see the hosts of the Today Show or the animals at SeaWorld microaggressing on yet another of their cultural touchstones.

Unlike recent viral hits “Gangnam Style” or “Call Me Maybe,” this so-called Harlem Shake borrows its name and vocal sample (and nothing else) from an existing thing, a dance that’s been around since the early ’80s. And plenty of folks are understandably disturbed by the sight of countless mobs of white people making asses of themselves in the name of Harlem: ThinkProgress and the Root have both published excellent rigorous takedown/breakdowns of the meme and its potential erasing impact on Harlem history. Even Vice, an outlet defined by its gross disregard for civility, is done — here’s Drew Millard:

I’m not a nerd whose thirst for authenticity causes me to huff, arms crossed with my hands under my armpits whenever anyone co-opts any little thing ever, and I’m not an Oompa-Loompa representing the Buzzkill Guild. Promise. But whenever I look at an Internet full of (mostly) white people doing a bastardized version of a dance that has the same name as another dance (and lest we forget, is named after fucking Harlem), and they’re doing that dance to Trap, a style of EDM that took the name (and some sonic signifiers) of an already-existent style of hip-hop that had a very specific set of sociopolitical implications, and people aren’t finding it at least a little problematic, it makes me feels like I’m taking crazy pills.

“The Harlem Shake” as a meme ruined “Harlem Shake” as a song and it’s threatening to eradicate the actual Harlem Shake from popular memory, or at least make it hard to find on YouTube.

The idea that a dance craze should be criticized for messing up another dance craze’s Google rankings seems specious, especially given the bump in views and comments that every single old-school Harlem Shake video has gotten. (And if the track had been named after its other vocal sample, a woman saying Con los terroristas!, who knows what we’d be looking at right now.) But the pattern in cultural power dynamics, and the effortlessness with which a piece of history is twisted away from its already-underdocumented context and then bleached, is very real and all-too familiar. The internet definitely complicates things, but this definitely isn’t the first that a dance invented by black people has been ‘borrowed’ by white people (and often it’s the same white people who say that hiphop isn’t ‘real music’ since it uses samples).

So what’s the deal? Here’s a few points to consider — we’ll let you make up your own mind.


1. The original Harlem Shake originated in, that’s right, Harlem. Or Ethiopia. Or Egypt?


Consensus is that the Harlem Shake was invented by Harlem local-celebrity Al B, and was originally called “the Albee,” back in the early ’80s. (Al B himself has said that the stiff, pinioned moves are inspired by mummies.) But, as folks have noted, it also looks a heck of a lot like the traditional Ethiopian dance called eskista — observe:




2. This isn’t the first time the Harlem Shake has made a comeback.


Vulture has a roundup of the previous wave of Harlem Shake videos, mostly from ’00s Bad Boy Records signees. G Dep, above, is widely credited with kicking off this batch, though Cam’ron gets points for turning it into a punchline-threat (“Kill you, shoot the funeral up and Harlem Shake at the wake”).

You guys… maybe it’s just me, but I can’t be nostalgic for the zeros just yet. The history is there, though.



‘This American Life’ Takes Uncanny Look Into Chicago High School

'This American Life' Takes Uncanny Look Into Chicago High School

In light of the reporting I’ve done recently on gun violence in Chicago, I want to quickly point folks over to this week’s segment on This American Life. It’s actually a two part series that follows students, faculty and staff at Chicago’s Harper High School as everyone tries to make sense of the city’s escalating gun violence. What’s remarkable, outside of the type of access they reporters were able to get, are the surprising ways in which everyday life is completely turned upside down because of the trauma of violence, and how those rituals become completely normal. I’ll try to avoid giving away any spoilers, but there are poignant scenes in here in which seemingly ordinary things like walking home from school or planning a homecoming dance are made maddeningly difficult because of the threat of violence.

Quvenzhané Wallis On The Moment She Learned About Her Oscar Nod

Quvenzhané Wallis On The Moment She Learned About Her Oscar Nod

Quvenzhané Wallis was a guest on CNN’s “Starting Point” with host Soledad O’Brien this morning. Wallis, the youngest best actress nominee in Oscar history, discussed what it was like when she found out she was nominated for her role in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

“I was half asleep” when the nominations were released, Wallis b. “So nothing reacted on the outside, but in the inside, I was doing cartwheels, back flips, and these are some things I can’t even do.”

San Francisco Jail Inmates Dance to Stop Sexual Violence [Video]

San Francisco Jail Inmates Dance to Stop Sexual Violence [Video]

A global activist movement to end violence against women and girls reached San Francisco jails last week. As part of the One Billion Rising movement a group of choreographers visited San Francisco County jails to make sure inmates were able to participate in the global actions.

According to One Billion Rising organizers women and men in 203 countries came together in what they referred to as the “largest day of mass action ever to stop violence against women and girls, to express their outrage, and to strike, dance and RISE to support an end to violence against women once and for all.”

The YouTube video’s description provides a few more details about the San Francisco V-Day action:

This video is about inmates Rising in San Francisco. Incarcerated Men and Women are joining the global One Billion Rising movement to End Violence and Sexual Oppression as they Break the Chains on Debbie Allen’s Choreography and Tena Clark’s song. A truly moving experience to witness from the jails of San Francisco.

Dance and Video Production by Dancing Without Borders. Edited and Written by Avery Hudson. Produced and Co-Directed by Magalie Bonneau-Marcil and Avery Hudson. Program organized in partnership with the Sheriff’s Department of San Francisco County and HerRising.org.

Colorlines.com readers that have been to our Facing Race Conferences may see a familiar face in the video. One of the dance leaders in the video is Soyinka Rahim, who has conducted the calls to gathering at the beginning of each conference. For more information about her and to read more about the organization she founded visit Our Thing Arts Company.

Obama Pushes for Slow, Steady Progress to Combat Chicago’s Gun Violence

Obama Pushes for Slow, Steady Progress to Combat Chicago's Gun Violence

Obama called for faith and perseverance today in the face of roadblocks and failures to an audience at a school in Hyde Park in Chicago. The president’s visit was the last stop on his national tour to promote his second term agenda, and came after more than 13 months of record-breaking bloodshed on Chicago’s streets.

The president’s speech lasted 26 minutes. In it, he called for financial incentives to keep families together, an expansion of early childhood education, and promoted the growth of “College to Career” programs that he said would act as incentives for business owners to invest in poor black and Latino neighborhoods.

Many organizers in Chicago were hopeful that President Obama’s speech would help put more of a national focus on the city’s battle against gun violence. This week I spoke to allies and members of the Black Youth Project about their hopes for the president’s speech, and they said they wanted to president to offer up a substantive speech that addressed the root causes of violence.

“We may not be able to help everybody, but if we help a few, then that propels progress forward,” the president said today.

Stay tuned for more news and analysis on the President’s speech.

TAGS: Chicago guns

ACLU Obtains Emails That Prove ICE Officials Set Deportation Quotas

ACLU Obtains Emails That Prove ICE Officials Set Deportation Quotas

A set of e-mails obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina show U.S. immigration officials developed strategies to increase the number of deportations so they could surpass the previous year’s record deportation numbers. 

Federal immigration authorities have claimed to target people who pose a threat to public safety but these email show officials targeted immigrants convicted of minor crimes.

 “These recently reported documents suggest that ICE’s ‘targeted’ approach may have less to do with public safety or a focus on serious crimes, and more to do with the agency’s laser focus on meeting deportation levels,” said Seth Freed Wessler, Colorlines.com’s investigative reporter.

Wessler says the documents provide evidence to support what advocates have long argued: immigration enforcement as it’s currently practiced looks more like a dragnet than a harpoon.

USA Today analyzed the emails and point to some of the strategies used to increase the number of deportations:

Among those new tactics - detailed in interviews and internal e-mails - were trolling state driver’s license records for information about foreign-born applicants, dispatching U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to traffic safety checkpoints conducted by police departments, and processing more illegal immigrants who had been booked into jails for low-level offenses. Records show ICE officials in Washington approved some of those steps. 

 … 

 In April, officials told field office heads to map plans to increase removals, then instructed at least one field office that supervises enforcement throughout Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to go ahead with efforts to mine DMV records and step up their efforts to deport people who had been booked into county jails, among other measures.

ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told USA Today in a statement that “ICE does not have quotas.” She said the agency sets “annual performance goals” that “reflect the agency’s commitment to using the limited resources provided by Congress.”

Immigration advocates say this news doesn’t come as a surprise. 

“The revelations about the Obama Administration’s deportation quotas are shocking, but not a suprise” said Arturo Carmona, Executive Director of Presente.org. “Anyone who knows the hard working people that the Administration is calling ‘criminals,’ who are being jailed by the thousands and deported by the millions, knows that government officials have such internal quotas. Other officials do an injustice to us all when they repeat false claims that there is some sort of legal mandate to deport 400,000 people a year. There’s not. And now everybody can see the ‘bonuses,’ deceit and dirty politics behind the immigrant tragedy.”

Chris Newman, Legal Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network says the findings are offensive.

“Setting immigration policy by a deportation quota runs counter to every talking point the Obama administration has used in the past five years. It has endangered public safety. It offends both constitutional values and has led to grave civil rights violations,” Newman said.

“It’s the exact reason why the first step in immigration reform must be a suspension of deportations,” Newman went on to say.

Good Lord, Herman Cain Joins Fox News Channel as Contributor

Good Lord, Herman Cain Joins Fox News Channel as Contributor

Fox News announced on Friday that it has signed former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain on as a contributor.

“Cain’s impressive resume makes him a valuable addition to the Fox News and Fox Business lineup. As a political expert with business savvy, he brings an important voice to the nation’s debates,” Bill Shine, Fox News Channel executive vice president of programming, said in a statement.

“I’m excited about joining the FOX family as a contributor,” Cain was quoted as saying, “because it is an opportunity to be one more voice for intelligent thinking in America.”

Pew Study Finds Blacks and Latinos Love Instagram and Twitter

Pew Study Finds Blacks and Latinos Love Instagram and Twitter

A new study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project looked at the landscape of social media users across the internet and found black and Latinos are more likely to use Twitter and Instagram than other groups.

These readings come from a national survey conducted between November 14 and December 9, 2012 on landline and cell phones and in English and in Spanish. The results reported here come from the 1,802 respondents who are internet users and the margin of error is +/- 2.6 percentage points.

Take a look at the findings below:


Black internet users are more likely to be on Twitter than any other group. 

Twenty-six percent of black internet users surveyed said they used Twitter, compared to 14% of white users and 19% of Hispanics. (In 2010, Pew reported that 13% of black internet users, 5% of white users and 18% of Hispanics were using on Twitter.)

pew-twitter-study-race-2013.png



Blacks and Latinos also over-index on Instagram.

pew-instagram-study-race-2013.png

Navajo Nation Plans to Become First Tribe to Manage Its Own Medicaid System

Navajo Nation Plans to Become First Tribe to Manage Its Own Medicaid System

The Navajo Nation could become the first tribe to manage its own federally funded Medicaid program, according to Navajo Nation Department of Health officials who spoke to the Farmington Daily Times.

The Farmington Daily Times has more details:

After reviewing a feasibility report, the department is optimistic that the tribe can sustain its own Medicaid program, even if the study was not as optimistic. The study has not yet been released, though it is complete and is under review by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services currently.

It will go to Congress for review March 23.

“Basically, what they indicated was if the Navajo Nation wanted to do it, it could do it,” said Larry Curley, executive director of the Navajo Nation Department of Health. “The Navajo Nation is moving ahead with this.”

Curley told the Daily Times there are more than 100,000 members of the tribe eligible for Medicaid but many of them do not take advantage of the services “because of the complications that frequently accompany them.”

5 Must-Know Facts About Chicago’s Gun Violence

5 Must-Know Facts About Chicago's Gun Violence

President Obama is set to give a speech in Chicago today to address the city’s onslaught of gun violence. Last week I published an in-depth look at how community organizers in the city are grappling with that violence, and this morning I helped give a look at the mounting pressure that led to Obama’s speech today. But here’s a abridged collection of facts on why Chicago’s violence is unlike much of what we’re seeing across the country today.


1) It’s an epidemic. 

506 people were killed by guns in Chicago in 2012. 44 people were killed by guns in Chicago in January alone. Meanwhile, homicide rates in other big cities like Los Angeles and New York have been on the decline in recent years.


2) The problem is stunningly complex. 

Chicago has no civilian gun ranges and bans on both assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. Yet the Chicago Police Department reports that between 2001 and March 2012, it recovered more than 50,000 guns — more than half of which came from out of state.


3) Segregation is still a really big deal.

Last month, the New York Times reported that Chicago’s homicides have “mostly taken place in neighborhoods west and south of Chicago’s gleaming downtown towers.” Don’t believe it? Here’s a map.


4) There have been nearly 1,800 gun deaths nationwide since the Newtown massacre in December, 2012, according to Slate.

And that’s an admittedly low estimate. Slate teamed up with the Twitter feed @GunDeaths to collect data for a crowdsourced interactive graphic.


5) Young people are at the center of this epidemic. 

Youth are the number one target of Chicago’s homicide epidemic, according to the Chicago Reporter. The sobering reality: “From 2008 through 2012, nearly half of Chicago’s 2,389 homicide victims were killed before their 25th birthdays.”

TAGS: Chicago guns

‘I’ve Got a Ji-Hard On for You’ and Other Delightfully Uncomfortable Muslim Valentines

Islamophobia and Valentine’s Day—what do they have in common? Both inspire deep ridicule and discomfort. It was with that in mind that Los Angeles-based writer and activist Tanzila Ahmed started a Twitter hashtag, #MuslimVDayCard, last year and a running conversation on social media to skewer both.

Ahmed whittled down the snarky tweets that flew back and forth into a series of six which she painted, then photocopied to give out to friends. Her project is back this year, and includes witty come-ons like: “You’re #1 on my watch list,” “I’d wiretap that,” and “Stop + frisk me … please.”

MuslimVDayCard is Ahmed’s lighthearted answer to Islamophobia, and the confining stereotypes that trail her as a Muslim woman. “I was thinking about Islamophobia and language around Muslims and love,” she said.

“I was tired of Muslims being put into a box — and tired of being in the box of a non-sexual Muslim woman,” Ahmed said. “So this was my way of reappropriating Islamophobia.” The series is political humor at its best. Cheeky, sharp, with clever puns and lightness of spirit that’s grounded by the reality of Muslim life in this post-9/11 era. Ahmed has found that Muslims love the series and laugh openly at it, whereas many non-Muslims “feel bad about laughing about the jokes.”

The series was also her retort to the popularity contest that was her compulsory grade-school valentine exchange. “Remember how there were always the three extra big [valentines] in the box set? And the popular girl would always get them?”

“I was NEVER the popular girl,” Ahmed says. Now, with this series, Ahmed doesn’t need to wait around for cool valentines, because she’s making them herself.

Click after the jump for the full lineup of cards. And for more of Tanzila Ahmed’s work, head to her blog.

This Valentine’s Day, Dump Your Boo the Undocumented Way

Just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you get a day off from that stale relationship you’ve been meaning to end. It’s so hard, we know. We’re sorry for you too!

So it is with compassion and in the spirit of the season we share the latest video from Dreamers Adrift, the immigrant-youth led media collective that produced gems like the video series “Undocumented and Awkward.”

This time, “UndocuBreakup Lines” offers you the script you’ve been looking for to break up with your honey. The video includes some sharp lines like:

“I’d rather self-deport than stay in this relationship with you.” “Even if they offered gay couples green cards that wouldn’t save our relationship.” “I just realized there are more benefits to being a Border Patrol agent than staying in this relationship.”

Some good options here, yes? Watch the video here, and good luck with that honest talk you’ve been putting off.

CEO of Largest Private Prison Company: No Worries About Immigration Reform

CEO of Largest Private Prison Company: No Worries About Immigration Reform

On a call for investors on Thursday, the president and CEO of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country’s largest private prison contractor, said that he’s not concerned about the impact that immigration reform might have on the immigration detention business.

“[T]alking with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], who has been a partner for us for many many years, I think their general belief is there’s always going to be a demand for beds,” said Damon Hininger, in response to a question about Beltway immigration reform talks.

Recent news reports have suggested that the legalization of undocumented immigrants could strike a blow to the private prison business, which profits significantly ICE contracts. But as I outlined last week, immigration reform also threatens to usher in an expansion in the incarceration of non-citizens if a bill includes provisions that tie immigration enforcement more tightly to the criminal justice system.

On the investor call, Hininger hinted that although immigration reform might shrink the rates of detention for immigration offenses, CCA expects a steady flow of bodies moving from the criminal justice system to the immigration detention system.

“[ICE’s] profile of detainees in those beds may change over time to where they focus more on what they call criminal aliens versus non-criminal aliens, so that may change over time…based on both the demand and maybe any policies out of the administration,” he said.

CCA pulled in more than $200 million from ICE contracts in 2011. The company earned about the same amount from contracts with the federal Bureau of Prisons, mostly for facilities used to hold immigrants convicted of federal crimes. Hininger said CCA was waiting to hear a response from the BOP regarding a bid for a new 1600 bed prison that will hold non-citizens.

“It’s too early to tell exactly what the impact [of reform] is going to be,” Hininger said, “but again, ICE has always said that there’s going to be a demand for bed space here in the US because of all the things they’re doing both within the interior, on the border, from the people that are released from state prisons that are ultimately need to be deported.”

“There is always going to be strong demand regardless of what is being done at the national level as far as immigration reform,” he added.

* This story has been updated since publication.

Family Creates Personal PSA to Encourage Adopting ‘Not So Little Newborn’ Foster Kids

Family Creates Personal PSA to Encourage Adopting 'Not So Little Newborn' Foster Kids

Two years ago Kelli Higgins and her husband adopted two children, a 10 and 5-year old, and recently realized they didn’t have any pictures of them as newborns.

Higgins, who is a photographer, improvised her own solution of sort: she would shoot her now 13-year-old son and recreate a new baby announcement.

Higgins posted the image above on Facebook with the caption, “Here’s my sweet not so little Newborn! His name is Latrell and weighs 112lbs ;)”

The photo has been shared by more than 4,700 people and has 10,000 “likes.”

Higgins says she’s happy the photo went viral because she wants other to consider adopting foster care children that are “not so little newborns.”

Today.com has more:

Higgins and her husband adopted Latrell and his sister Chanya two years ago, welcoming the siblings to their home in Crestview, Fla. The family already had five biological children, with a sixth one on the way, but Higgins felt she had more love to give, especially to kids who would have a harder time finding a home because they were older. In the past decade, more older children have become available for adoption, experts say.

“These children, once they get past a certain age, they don’t find homes and they age out of foster care,” Higgins told TODAY.com.

“They have to figure out the world on their own and there’s no one to go back to as an adult. Where do you go for Christmas? It’s just horrible, it’s heartbreaking.”

Then one day, social services called: Latrell and Chanya, then 10 and 5, were looking for a family. “Let’s just go for it,” Higgins recalled her husband saying. A few days later, the kids moved in. The Higgins were the only ones to submit paperwork to adopt the pair, the family found out.

Little Rock Teen Wins $75K on ‘Jeopardy’

Little Rock Teen Wins $75K on 'Jeopardy'

On Tuesday night Leonard Cooper of Little Rock, Arkansas didn’t just win the Teen ‘Jeopardy’ tournament he also managed to impress host Alex Trebek with what might be the best final answer in the game show’s history.

“One of the things I love about the teen tournament is that these guys have marvelous senses of humors,” said Trebek after he saw Cooper’s final answer.

Cooper, 17, won the tournament and went home with $75,000.

Cooper told ArkansasOnline.com he will use the prize money toward college, music equipment and “maybe a car, possibly.”

Cooper is a senior at Little Rock’s eStem Public High Charter School and said he hopes to go to Brown University.

Jose Antonio Vargas at Senate Immigration Hearing: We’re Not ‘Alien People From Mars’

Jose Antonio Vargas at Senate Immigration Hearing: We're Not 'Alien People From Mars'

On Wednesday, Jose Antonio Vargas spoke at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on immigration.

Vargas told the panel that immigrants “dream of not being seperated from our families and our loved ones, regardless of sexual orientation, no matter our skill set.” He went on to remind them that “this government has deported more than 1.6 million people, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters in the past four years.”

At one point Vargas just had to break it down for the committee made up of 18-members and remind them immigrants aren’t “alien people from Mars.”

“We talk about immigration and enforcement as if we’re talking about alien people from Mars and not people whose lives and families are being torn apart everyday.”

‘Illegal Immigrant Hunting Permit’ Stickers Sold in Colorado Gas Stations

'Illegal Immigrant Hunting Permit' Stickers Sold in Colorado Gas Stations

Colorado’s 9News reporter Jeremy Jojola purchased an offensive anti-immigrant sticker at a Cenex gas station in Eaton, Colo., about 60 miles north of Denver.

The green sticker includes an outline of the continental United States with the words “ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT HUNTING PERMIT” printed in large bold letters. The small rectangular sticker also includes includes a fake permit number.

The stickers were distributed by the Central States Novelty company. They describe themselves as the “largest, wholesale supplier of novelties, gifts, and general merchandise for the convenience store and truck stop industry in the Midwest.”

They say all of their products are “guaranteed against defects, and our Mercandisers [sic] that service our customers’ stores are the Best in the Business.”

However, they say nothing about being offensive.

LatinoRebels.com also point out the “immigrant hunting permit” isn’t a new concept, they’ve seen at least two other versions of the same sticker.

Another Black Ex-LAPD Cop Writes Manifesto, Says He Understands Dorner

Another Black Ex-LAPD Cop Writes Manifesto, Says He Understands Dorner

Joe Jones wants to make it clear he doesn’t support Chris Dorner, he just wants to share his own experience working for the LAPD. On Monday, the former officer posted a note on Facebook detailing experiences he had while in the police department and the hacktivist group Anonymous went on to circulate the manifesto more widely.

Jones, 48, was a patrol officer for nine years before he retired in 1998, the LA Weekly reports. His two-page manifesto expressed condolences for Dorner’s victims “and souls of loved one’s to the injustices of Police Corruption, Scandal, Lies, Deception and Brutality.”

Jones goes on to say he feels victimized by the police department also:

I feel your pains!…But you are going about this the wrong way. To take innocent lives could never be the answer to anything. I say this as a Man who experienced the same pain, betrayal, anger, suffering, litigation and agony that you did in many ways, Only I didn’t get Fired. I just choose to go a different route. My heart still suffered that same shock, I was still left to try and put the pieces back together. The disbelief that people could conspire and cause you to loose something you loved so dearly was still there. I lost my Career, I lost my Family, I lost my Dignity, I lost my Trust…But I am here now to hopefully one day see change…Bro, Don’t kill anymore Innocent people. Your point has been made. Clearly. They know you mean business, The whole world knows. Refrain from any further wrong doing and do what you must to salvage your Soul. Whatever that means to you. Just remember that God is a forgiving God.

Jones told the LA Weekly he didn’t find it unusual at all to hear of a situation like Dorner’s in which “a rookie, African American officer’s case against a senior white officer was met with disbelief and rejection by the department and court system.”

“I went through all of that,” Jones told the LA Weekly. “It hurts a hell of a lot.”

LAPD chief has said they will investigate Dorner’s claims in the manifesto.

“I am aware of the ghosts of the L.A.P.D.’s past, and one of my biggest concerns is that they will be resurrected by Dorner’s allegations of racism within the department,” Chief Charlie Beck said in a written statement.

“Therefore, I feel we need to also publicly address Dorner’s allegations regarding his termination,” he said. “I do this not to appease a murderer. I do it to reassure the public that their Police Department is transparent and fair in all the things we do.”

Read Joe Jones’s manifesto below.

Not Loving It: Young Students Forced to Go to McDonalds for WiFi After Libraries Close

Not Loving It: Young Students Forced to Go to McDonalds for WiFi After Libraries Close

In many parts of the country if your local library is closed and you need internet access, McDonalds may the only option you have.

There’s about 15,000 Wi-Fi-enabled public libraries in the country but after they close many young people with homework have to go to businesses that have free internet access.

McDonald’s restaurants are usually open late and the fast food chain has more than 12,000 Wi-Fi-equipped locations in the U.S., and for many black, Latino and rural children that’s where their connection to the Web lives.

Mary LaValle, a librarian from Harrison, Mich., told the Washington Post she often sees many students just move to the nearby McDonalds after her library closes at 6pm. She said the kids usually buy one drink and continue refilling it all night until their done with their homework.

Advocates say with black and Latino kids already at high risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, many children are trading their health for Internet access.

The Media Action Grassroots Network and the Praxis Project have teamed up to launch a petition and use memes, twitter parties, and other social media strategies during Valentine’s Day Week to urge the Federal Communications Commission to expand free public WiFi throughout the country!

“Our communities shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice our health and wellbeing to connect to this essential communications service,” reads the group’s letter addressed to the commisioner and chairman of FCC. “We urge you to reform the universal service fund in ways that actually helps to bridge this divide, always considering the potentially devastating impact that being disconnected has on customers who lack affordable broadband, and who cannot obtain mobile wireless services provided on equitable terms.”

A third of households with income of less than $30,000 a year and teens living at home don’t have broadband access, according to the Pew Research Center.

Check out the memes the Media Action Grassroots Network and the Praxis Project created for the campaign below and take a look at their petition for more information.

Hadiya Pendleton’s Parents Will Join Michelle Obama At The State Of The Union

Hadiya Pendleton's Parents Will Join Michelle Obama At The State Of The Union

The parents of Chicago teen Hadiya Pendelton will attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday as guests of first lady Michelle Obama, according to local news reports. 

“It’s bittersweet,” Cleopatra Cowley told NBC News after she and her husband landed in Washington on Monday evening. “Because it’s as a result of losing my daughter, but it’s also exciting to have an opportunity like this.”

The White House hasn’t released the official list yet but several of her guest have confirmed with multiple news sources that they’ll be sitting in the House chamber as guests of the first lady listening to Obama’s State of the Union address.

The Daily Caller combed through national and local news reports to pull together a list of the known guests reportedly invited by the White House this year:

  • The parents of murdered Chicago teen, Hadiya Pendleton, who was killed with a handgun days after attending Obama’s inauguration

  • Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old Haitian-American woman who waited in a long line to vote in Florida


  • Louisville machinist Bradley Henning

  • Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber

  • Newly-minted Medal of Honor recipient and former Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha

  • Wisconsin police officer Lt. Brian Murphy, who was wounded by gunshots in the Sikh temple shooting last August

  • Lee Maxwell, a 22-year-old wind energy technician from Wilton, Iowa

  • Bobak “Mohawk Guy” Ferdowsi, an Iranian-American flight director from NASA representing high-skill immigrants

  • Las Vegas student [and undocumented] immigrant Alan Aleman, who has benefited from Obama’s “deferred action” program

  • New Glarus Brewing Company founder and regular Obama small business example Deb Carey

  • Dr. Peter Hudson, co-founder and CEO of iTriage, an iPhone app that helps locate doctors

  • Susan Bumgarner, a pre-kindergarten teacher in Oklahoma City

  • Two lesbian couples “fighting for immigration equality and extended rights for same-sex military couples”

  • Menchu DeLuna Sanchez, Filipino immigrant and nurse credited with heroism during Superstorm Sandy
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