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NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

White Students in Blackface Reenact Chris Brown-Rihanna Fight

White Students in Blackface Reenact Chris Brown-Rihanna Fight

Last Friday, three white high schools students in Waverly, New York attended a pep rally in blackface and re-enacted a “scene” from the 2009 incident in which performer Chris Brown beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna.

The skit was performed in the school gym in front students, parents, and faculty.

A contributor to CNN iReport using the handle Mjdishler is a graduate of Waverly High School and obtained details and images from the pep rally. An excerpt from his report is below:

At the most resent Pep Rally for Waverly High School, located in Waverly NY, the usual fanfare of cheering for the home team to get them ready was in full swing. As the rally progressed you had your usual cheers and rally cries for the fall sports teams and the football team. It seemed to have done well, with Waverly defeating their opponent 70-21. But what happened at that pep rally went much farther than simple cheers. Three white students were to perform a skit in black face, depicting Chris Brown and Rhianna most notably. In this skit they would display acts of domestic violence as satire to an audience that included not only students but parents, faculty, and various members of the media and community leaders. None of them stopped the skit.

The majority of students at the high school are white. According to public records from 2010, over 98 percent students at Waverly High are white. Out of close to 580 students, only five were black, two were American Indians, and two were Asian.

Waverly, New York is also just as white: the town is close to 97 white. (According to the most recent Census data, over 97% of the community is white, though just over 96 percent identified as “Not Hispanic White.”)

According to the local paper “The Daily Review” the district’s superintendent is scheduled to meet with school administrators to discuss the incident:

Joseph Yelich, superintendent of the Waverly Central School District, said in a statement to The Daily Review that he plans to meet Tuesday with administrators regarding the incident. He also plans to meet in the near future with extracurricular adviser and student groups.

“The Waverly School District is committed to creating a positive atmosphere through our activities,” Yelich said. “I will be working with our building administrators, our staff and our students to examine our current activities and develop future activities consistent with our commitment.”

“Ultimately, our administrators are going to need to meet with the whole student body to set clear expectations for our behavior and the impact it has on all people,” he said.

According to tweets and Facebook posts from other students, this isn’t the first time there was a blackface performance at Waverly High. The CNN iReport also includes a quote from a former student that alludes to something of a pattern.

“I think it’s unconscionable that such blatant racism has been tacitly approved of two years in a row. The administration should be creating an environment where minorities are welcome, not the butts of racist jokes that make light of domestic violence,” said Waverly alumni and Yale graduate Vlad Chituc.

Gap Pulls ‘Manifest Destiny’ Shirts After Outrage, Twitter Response

Gap Pulls 'Manifest Destiny' Shirts After Outrage, Twitter Response

Up until Monday afternoon, Gap Inc. was selling a controversial men’s t-shirt with the words “Manifest Destiny” sprawled across the chest. The shirt went on sale close to a month ago but it wasn’t until a UCLA student started a Change.org petition urging the Gap to stop selling the shirt that the news went viral.

“This article of clothing promotes a belief that has resulted in the mass genocide of indigenous people, and it serves to normalize oppression,” explains the Change.org petition. “This shirt is marketed to teens and young adults, and it gives no context for the racism and inequality that persists in our society, to this day, as a result of this doctrine.”

The shirt was created by Mark McNairy, a designer chosen by GQ magazine as one of America’s Best New Designers, and the shirt is part of a collection branded “GQ x Gap.” The ‘limited edition’ shirts went on sale on September 19, 2012, according to GQ.

When McNairy heard his work was promoting “a belief that has resulted in mass genocide” he took to Twitter to stir up even more controversy.

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“MANIFEST DESTINY. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST!” McNairy tweeted on Saturday. The tweet was deleted shortly afterwards.

Days later, McNairy tweeted an apology for his response to the criticism.

The American Indian Movement Southern California said they’re not interested in his apology. Their statement:

“The want to be designer for the GAP “Manifest Destiny” T-Shirt has APOLOGIZED AFTER HE responded to criticisms of his Genocide Fashion statement. From his Twitter page: MANIFEST DESTINY. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST!” (that is a pretty sick statement people- lets him put through some of the HISTORICAL TRAUMA we have been through as NATIVE PEOPLE- teach the little insensitive freak a lesson)—- NO! YOU NEED A NEED DAY JOB…..YOUR APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED- What you did, and HOW GAP endorsed it is not ACCEPTABLE….MAKE A SHIRT THAT says: FREE LEONARD PELTIER and all Indigenous Political PRISONERS!- PROCEEDS of Merchandise to go to LEGAL DEFENSE and the FAMILIES of OUR HEROS YOUR ENEMIES!

The blog “The Belle Jar” helped the petition go viral. The post deconstructs how Manifest Destiny can still be felt today.

Manifest Destiny and the philosophy behind it are responsible for a whole bunch of really terrible things. It was used to justify the Mexican-American War, the War of 1812, and, most appallingly, the Indian Removal Act. Manifest Destiny was used to vindicate the myriad abuses suffered by people of colour at the hands of white North Americans. It’s the philosophy that lead to our continent-wide reservation system , not to mention the residential schools created for the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.

The effects of Manifest Destiny can still be felt, in the poverty and degradation suffered by American and Canadian people of colour, and in the deplorable conditions found on many reserves, both here and south of the border. The ideas behind manifest destiny still exist in our white western consciousness, as much as we might be loathe to admit it; they come up every time our (largely white) government asserts that it knows best when it comes to First Nations issues, or every time someone complains about how much freaking money has already been spent on Attawapiskat only to have their community still be in a state of crisis. Manifest Destiny is apparent every time someone chooses to be bigoted and wilfully ignorant about non-white immigrants, or tries to deny the far-reaching effects of racism; it’s apparent in the mindset of all the people who never take a moment to wonder why or how so many white people ended up owning so much fucking land.

At the time this story was published the shirt was no longer available on Gap.com. But according to American Indian Movement Southern California, several of their members have seen the t-shirt available in stores.

Gap hasn’t issued a statement yet but a few creatives have taken it upon themselves to respond. Take a look at some of the responses below:

Michelle Obama Casts Absentee Ballot, Urges Supporters to Vote Early

Michelle Obama Casts Absentee Ballot, Urges Supporters to Vote Early

The Obamas really want you to get out and vote. On Monday afternoon, the first lady tweeted a picture of herself holding an election ballot that she was mailing off early. Minutes later President Barack Obama tweeted a similar message informing his followers he would voting early too.

Obama’s campaign said it was the first time a presidential nominee and his spouse will not vote in person on Election Day.

The New York Daily News points out this well choreographed event is all part of an early voting push by the Obama campaign:

The carefully choreographed early voting announcement was part of a big push this week. Obama plans to discuss early voting in Ohio and Iowa on Wednesday, after Tuesday’s second presidential debate. The first lady was discussing early voting at events in Ohio on Monday, in North Carolina on Tuesday and in Wisconsin on Friday.

Obama currently leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks.

BET Co-Founder Says Network Reinforces Negative Stereotypes

BET Co-Founder Says Network Reinforces Negative Stereotypes

Ever have the sinking feeling that something you did turned out very, very badly? African American media mogul Sheila Johnson has. At an art festival in Carmel, Calif., this past weekend, one of the founders of Black Entertainment Television (BET) said the network’s current content reinforces negative stereotypes of blacks in the U.S.

Co-founder Sheila Johnson’s comments as she spoke at the “Conversations and Encounters” program at the Carmel Art and Film Festival.

Johnson said her proudest achievement with BET was producing the live show “Teen Summit,” which brought together dozens of youth from the Washington, D.C., area to discuss issues of the day, from violence to teen pregnancy. The show ran from 1989 to 2002.

“All of those young people on the show became so successful because they had a voice,” Johnson said. “And we were talking about issues out there and they became leaders in life.”

The Monterey Herald has more details:

The Johnsons sold BET in 1999 to Viacom. Since then, Sheila Johnson has been very open with her disdain for the network.

Her biggest gripes are with music videos that reinforce negative stereotypes of young people, African-Americans in particular.

“I think we’ve squandered a really important cable network, when it really could have been the voice of Black America,” Johnson said. “We are losing our voice as a race (as a result).”

In a 2010 interview with the Daily Beast, Johnson made similar comments and said she is now ashamed of what BET has become:

“I don’t watch it. I suggest to my kids that they don’t watch it,” she said. “When we started BET, it was going to be the Ebony magazine on television. We had public affairs programming. We had news… I had a show called Teen Summit, we had a large variety of programming, but the problem is that then the video revolution started up… And then something started happening, and I didn’t like it at all. And I remember during those days we would sit up and watch these videos and decide which ones were going on and which ones were not. We got a lot of backlash from recording artists…and we had to start showing them. I didn’t like the way women were being portrayed in these videos.”

Viacom paid Johnson and her former husband $1.3 billion in the BET acquisition—making them, pre-Oprah, the nation’s first African-American billionaires.

Johnson is currently the team president and manager of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.

‘Middle of Nowhere’ Opens To Biggest Per Screen Average This Weekend

'Middle of Nowhere' Opens To Biggest Per Screen Average This Weekend

Director Ava DuVernay’s film “Middle Of Nowhere”, which chronicles a woman’s life as she adapts after her husband is sent to prison, was was wildly successful in theaters this past weekend. The film brought in the biggest per-screen ticket sales total for any film currently in theaters.

Shadow & Act has the details:

The film, in its initial limited 6-screen opening, pulled in roughly $78,000, averaging $13,000 per screen, giving it the biggest per-screen total for any film currently in theaters; even making twice the per screen figures of both “Taken” and “Argo.”

Earlier this year DuVernay won the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival for the film, becoming the first black woman to take home the honor. But the director told Colorlines.com last month that she’s most proud of the changes in policy that could result from questions raised by her work.

“But the thing I’m most proud of is the film being used as testimony at the FCC hearings to reopen and re-examine this piece of legislation called the Wright petition. This was brought forth by a blind grandmother who could not call her grandson because of predatory phone rates. These are exorbitant rates that are being unleashed on vulnerable communities and loved ones of the incarcerated, without any regulation.”

To find out if “Middle of Nowhere” is playing near you Affrm.com/middle-of-nowhere.

Morgan Stanley Hit With Lawsuit for Subprime Discrimination

Morgan Stanley Hit With Lawsuit for Subprime Discrimination

An American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) discrimination lawsuit, filed earlier today against investment bank Morgan Stanley, underscores that the open sore caused by subprime mortgages in black and brown communities remains wide open.

The class-action lawsuit, submitted in a federal court a stones throw from the New York Stock Exchange, alleges that Morgan Stanley intentionally steered blacks in the Detroit metropolitan region into subprime loans. Blacks who were credit-worthy and qualified for traditional mortgages were caught up in Morgan Stanley’s biased dragnet.

Acting through their now-bankrupt financial agent, New Century Mortgage Company, Morgan Stanley pressured loan agents to bring in African Americans through a range of incentives. The suit claims that New Century borrowers were “significantly more likely to receive (subprime) loans and thus to suffer the harms…if they were African American.”

Of course they were. This is not new.

4 out of 10 of the over 9 million foreclosures since 2007 have been black and Latino. The loss of property on such a massive scale has led to the largest collapse—and lowest level of wealth—in these communities ever recorded. The Wall Street land grab in communities of color is worldwide.

Through it all financial institutions have made money coming and going. First by giving bad loans, next by seizing foreclosed properties and then by selling them at a discounted price for a profit.

Race was laced throughout Wall Street’s activities.

The Justice Department has settled two lending-discrimination lawsuits against Bank of America and Wells Fargo totaling a half a billion dollars in the last twelve months but true justice lingers.

Not one person on Wall Street has gone to jail over the subprime mess, despite what the federal government’s official report on the mortgage crisis calls “fraud” on a massive scale. Moreover, there has been no system-wide fix to address the real financial and emotional damage done to families as a result.

Until that happens, it will be up to organizations like the ACLU to soldier on.

‘Put the White Back in the White House’ Meme Moves from Twitter to GOP Rally

put_the_white_back_in_whitehouse-vertical.jpgAnother election, another spat of violently racist rhetoric. A racist anti-Obama meme that’s been making the rounds on Twitter for months finally made an appearance on a t-shirt at a Mitt Romney campaign rally this past weekend.

The offensive t-shirt pictured to the right was captured Friday by a Getty Images photographer at a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan rally in Lancaster, Ohio. The shirt read in large letters: “Put the white back in the White House.”

According to Buzzfeed, which first published the image, a Romney spokesperson “commented that the shirt was reprehensible and has no place in this election.”

But as you’ll see below the “put the white back in the White House” shirt looks eerily familiar to a message that has been tweeted and re-tweeted for weeks. On Twitter the message is “The White House is white for a reason.”



Easier as a Latino? Rosie Pérez Schools Mitt Romney in New Video

Easier as a Latino? Rosie Pérez Schools Mitt Romney in New Video

Remember that video where Mitt Romney joked he’d have a better chance of becoming president if he were Latino. Well, actress Rosie Pérez has a message (and life lessons) for him.

In the first video of the “Actually…” series Pérez explains why it will take more than being Latino for Romney to win the election.

“The truth is the reason why Latinos aren’t voting for you is because your policies suck,” Pérez says in the video. “Being Latino wouldn’t win you the election, but saying jokingly that you wish you were might actually lose it for you.”

Pérez, born in Bushwick, Brooklyn to Puerto Rican parents, also touched on Romney’s now infamous Univision super-tan fiasco before going on to jokingly tell Romney he’d have an easier time becoming president if he were “a gay Latina.”

According to the more recent survey of Latino voters, Obama enjoys the backing of 70% of likely Latino voters. The CNN/ORC International survey also points out that number is slightly higher than the 67% of Latinos who voted for him in 2008.

Perez’s video published on Actually.org on Sunday is a collaboration between American Bridge 21st Century and the Jewish Council for Education and Research (JCER.) The founders of Actually.org say they plan to work with other comedians to make sure lies don’t go unchecked in politics.

“At the heart of it, this [video] really gets to the Romney campaign’s effort to use racial resentment as a tool to move voters,” Mik Moore from JCER told Chris Matthews last week.

“The lie here is that it’d be much easier if [Romney] were Latino — this is the same kind of racial resentment you have when he says the poor are taken care of, or when he goes after lies about welfare reform — it’s all one-of-a-kind, where he is using these lies and exaggerations to turn up racial resentment in an effort to get votes,” Moore went on to say.

“We think this is a good way of putting a spotlight on this issue,” Moore said..

Colorlines.com favorites W. Kamau Bell and Jay Smooth are also slated to star in their own “Actually…” series videos.

JCER is also the group behind Samuel L. Jackson’s F-Bomb-Laced pro-Obama voting ad released last month.

‘What Does ‘Jihad’ Mean?’ A Handy Guide for Your Questions About Islam

'What Does 'Jihad' Mean?' A Handy Guide for Your Questions About Islam

If ever you’ve wanted an accessible and reliable primer on Islam, for your own edification or to send to your well-meaning aunt who forwards emails echoing the misinformation about the Muslim faith she hears on cable television, today’s your lucky day. On Thursday the Interfaith Alliance, together with the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center released “What is the Truth about American Muslims? Questions and Answers” (PDF), a brief nine-page primer in q&a form that will do the trick.

With nary a mention of the manufactured hysteria that’s dominated the post-9/11 political discourse and been pushed by what Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison has called the “anti-Islam industry,” the guide nevertheless seeks to answer the questions raised by the misinformation machine that’s been churning away relentlessly for the past decade, given political cover for congressional hearings on supposed creeping Muslim radicalism, fueled the citywide surveillance of whole communities and led to a rise in Islamophobic hate crimes. The smearing of Islam, American Muslims and those who are mistaken for them, has been swift and aggressive.

In clear, calm prose, the authors answer questions like: “Is Islam a political movement?”

No. Islam is a religious tradition, and adherents to Islam are called Muslim. Of course, American Muslims, like Americans from other religious groups, participate in American political life. American Muslim voting patterns generally mirror the broader American population. American Muslims are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, liberals and conservatives. There is no one political platform or agenda for those who practice the religion of Islam in the United States.

And, “Do American Muslims want to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia?”

No. American Muslims overwhelmingly support the U.S. Constitution and do not seek to replace it with Sharia or Islamic law. The vast majority of American Muslims understand Sharia as a personal, religious obligation governing the practice of their faith, not as something American governments should enforce.

Wyclef Jean Faces the Music About His Now-Defunct Charity, Yéle Haiti

Wyclef Jean Faces the Music About His Now-Defunct Charity, Yéle Haiti

Yéle Haiti, the charity founded by former Fugees frontman Wyclef Jean, is no more. The organization, which raised millions of dollars after the January 12, 2010 Haitian earthquake, faced accusations of financial mismanagement prior to the quake and is is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the New York attorney general.

But now, as Jean tours the United States promoting his autobiography, Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story, and claims that he will be vindicated, The New York Times provides damning evidence of Yéle’s and Jean’s self-service.

In addition to hundreds of thousands of pre-quake dollars that Yéle spent on office space, landscaping, private jet transportation for entertainers such as Lindsay Lohan and Matt Damon and a $100,000 performer’s fee for founder Jean, the Times reports 2010 expenditures of $4.5 million on administrative costs:

“In 2010, Yéle spent $9 million and half went to travel, to salaries and consultants’ fees and to expenses related to their offices and warehouse. In contrast, another celebrity charity, Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization, spent $13 million with only 10 percent going to those costs.

Though Mr. Penn’s group spent $43,000 on office-related expenses, Yéle spent $1.4 million, including $375,000 for “landscaping” and $37,000 for rent to Mr. Jean’s Manhattan recording studio. Yéle spent $470,440 on its own food and beverages.”

In addition, reports the Times, few Haitians benefited from Yéle’s programs:

“Some of Yéle’s programming money went to projects that never came to fruition: temporary homes for which it prepaid $93,000; a medical center to have been housed in geodesic domes for which it paid $146,000; the revitalization of a plaza in the Cité Soleil slum, where supposed improvements that cost $230,000 are nowhere to be seen.”

Of Yéle contributions, one orphanage director and aid recipient said, “If I had depended on Yéle, these kids would all be dead by now.”

Yéle Haiti’s chief executive and last remaining employee, Derek Q. Johnson, resigned in late August.

Poll: Obama Has Latinos’ Support, But Not Necessarily Their Vote

Poll: Obama Has Latinos' Support, But Not Necessarily Their Vote

A new poll released by Pew Hispanic Center today details the latest conundrum President Obama faces in his bid for reelection. For Obama, the good news is that Latinos, a key electorate both candidates are doing their darndest to impress, support the president over GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney by a wide margin of 69 to 21 percent. The bad news for Obama is that Latinos are much less likely than the general population to say they’re certain they’ll come out to vote come November 6.

Experts have called Latinos a “sleeping giant” in the electoral game; the Latino population in the U.S. is growing fast, and the number of eligible voters has increased by four million since just 2008, making Latinos 11 percent of the electorate, up from 9.5 in 2008. But as it is, a disproportionately small fraction of eligible Latino voters actually vote; Pew found that 77 percent of respondents are certain they’ll turn out to the polls, compared to 89 percent of the general population.

All this should give new meaning to Obama’s latest overture to Latinos. In a political ad released this week featuring him speaking (some decent-sounding, according to Colorlines staffers with the expertise to know) Spanish, Obama hailed a segment of the undocumented youth population known as DREAMers.

Happy National Coming Out Day! Tell Us What Makes You So Fabulous

Happy National Coming Out Day! Tell Us What Makes You So Fabulous

Today is National Coming Out Day, the annual celebration of LGBT folks’ dreams of living freely. Since its inception in 1988, the day has come to have multiple meanings for different various communities whose politics intersect with those of the mainstream LGBT movement. That’s been especially true in recent years for undocumented youth, many of whom have proudly come out as “UndocuQueer.”

Earlier this year, the “I Am UndocuQueer” art project collected some of these stories by joining up with the Undocumented Queer Youth Collective and the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project. Here are a few of the posters from fellow UndocuQueer artist Julio Salgado:


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Class Action Lawsuit Moves Forward Against NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk

Class Action Lawsuit Moves Forward Against NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk

On Wednesday, a federal appellate court denied New York City’s request to repeal a lawsuit challenging racial profiling in the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

More from Bed Stuy Patch:

Floyd v. City of New York, is a federal class action lawsuit, led by the Center for Constitutional Rights, filed against the New York City Police Department and the City of New York challenging NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy. The Center calls the practice unconstitutional and racial profiling against black and Latino males.

On October 26, 2010, CCR released an expert report (PDF) for Floyd. The report showed that although they account for only 4.7 percent of the city’s population, black and Latino males between the ages of 14-24 accounted for 41.6 percent of the stops in 2011. The number of stops of young black men exceeded the entire city population of young black men.

The move comes the same that TheNation.com published the only known recording of an in-progress stop-and-frisk. The recording had added to outrage over the program’s targeting of young black and brown men in the city.

The trial for the lawsuit is scheduled to begin on March 28, 2013.


Mississippi Joins Lawsuit to Sue Obama Admin Over Deferred Action

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant wants to take President Obama to court. And he’s going to do it in conjunction with the help of noted anti-immigrant policy architect and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Bryant announced today that he, on behalf of his state, is joining Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees who are challenging the Obama administration’s a two-year deportation protection for DREAMers.

“States must protect their borders while the federal government continues to ignore this growing problem,” Gov. Bryant said in a statement. “I believe this action by the Obama administration is unconstitutional and circumvents Congress’s authority.”

The initial lawsuit, filed in federal court by ten ICE officers who are represented by Kobach, alleges that the directive issued by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano forces the agents to break the law by prohibiting them from carrying out an oath to uphold federal immigration laws. At the heart of the lawsuit is a claim that the directive President Obama announced August 15, which allows undocumented youth who clear a host of hurdles to apply for a two-year protection from deportation as well as work eligibility, violates the Constitution.

Reports from Supreme Court: Justices Skeptical About UT Austin’s Program

Reports from oral arguments in Fisher v. UT Austin are coming back, and as expected, the future of affirmative action looks uncertain. It also looks like it’ll come down to Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Lyle Denniston with the indispensable SCOTUSblog offered some first reactions:

For all of the hype that preceded this argument, with fear and loathing among supporters of affirmative action, the entire seventy-nine minutes of exchanges were subdued, sometimes highly technical, and had more of the flavor of a seminar than a grand constitutional confrontation. U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., in his brief stint at the lectern, essayed some soaring rhetoric about the virtues of a multicultural society, but it seemed a bit too calculated.

Stacey Dash Defends Mitt Romney Endorsement on CNN

Stacey Dash Defends Mitt Romney Endorsement on CNN

Actress Stacey Dash wants the world to know that she’s not clueless. The actress appeared on Piers Morgan this morning to defend her endorsement of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Dash has taken heat on Twitter after announcing her support for the candidate on the social network earlier this week.

In the interview, the actress says:

“It’s because of the state of the country. I want the next four years to be different. When I watched the governor and his wife on Meet the Press with David Gregory, they spoke to me and they seemed authentic and genuine about what they said about this country about the need for us to be united and move forward.”

Rod McCollum notes over at his blog that Dash also bizarrely employs the words of Martin Luther King, Jr by noting that she is backing Romney “not by the color of his skin but the content of his character”, to which McCollum responds:

Not sure what “content” Dash found in Romney’s “character” besides repeatedly lying, contempt for working people and working to undermine a women’s right to choose what to do with her own body. Keep telling yourself that, hun.

Parent Trigger Mom Wants An Apology from Teacher Union Pres. Weingarten

Parent Trigger Mom Wants An Apology from Teacher Union Pres. Weingarten

As long as the controversial education reform policy known as the parent trigger has been around, so have allegations that on-the-ground parents who support the initiative, often in poor communities of color, have been deceived into a carrying a policy that’s backed by high-powered corporate interests. Not so, says Doreen Diaz, a parent who is in the midst of using the policy to overturn her kids’ failing schools in Adelanto, California. And now, Diaz, writing in a blog post for the Examiner, wants American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten to apologize for suggesting otherwise.

It all began during NBC’s education reform extravaganza Education Nation last month, during which the Hollywood version of the parent trigger fight, “Won’t Back Down,” was screened. In a discussion between Diaz and Weingarten, Weingarten said she supported the energy and passion of Diaz and the other parents in the Desert Trails Parent Union. But after the screening, Weingarten criticized the policy they’re using to achieve their reforms.

Diaz hit back at the president in a blog post:

In her memo, [Weingarten] wrote: “Many [of the Desert Trails] parents report feeling deceived by the for-profit charter-backed organizers who came in to gather petitions. They actually sued to take their signatures back when they found out they were being used to give their school away to a charter company.”

Randi Weingarten knows better. The parents of Desert Trails launched our effort. We were the ones who collected those signatures, not some imaginary for-profit company. We also specifically rejected for-profit transformation proposals. The charter was our last option when the school district refused to hear our concerns. We’re offended she would insinuate we are manipulated by outside interests, when our only interest is our children.

Junot Díaz, Louise Erdrich Among National Book Award Nominees

Junot Díaz, Louise Erdrich Among National Book Award Nominees

The 2012 nominees for the National Book Awards were announced this morning, and a couple notable writers of color made the list. Dominican American author Junot Díaz continues to have the best month ever; his latest collection of short stories, “This Is How You Lose Her”, was released last month and he just won a $500,000 MacArthur Genius Grant. He’s among this year’s nominees for fiction — and he’s also keynoting our Facing Race conference in Baltimore next month.

Also among this year’s nominees in fiction is Native Americn writer Louise Erdrich and her book “The Round House.”

The non-fiction finalists include Anthony Shadid’s “House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.” Sadly, Shadid, a New York Times journalist, was killed tihs year while covering conflicts in the Middle East.

Take a look at the full list of nominees. The winners will be chosen next month in New York City.

Voting Rights Act Protects Two More States From Suppression Efforts

Voting Rights Act Protects Two More States From Suppression Efforts

Today, a federal court blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law for the 2012 elections, though it will be allowed to commence in 2013. According to the judges’ ruling, it is too close to the November election for effective implementation of South Carolina’s Act R54, which required voters to show a drivers license, state-issued photo ID, passport, federal military photo ID or a photo voter registration card to vote. Before this law was passed, voters could show their voter registration card without a photo. The ruling states: .

From the outset, the Court has pushed very hard to make a decision in time for the 2012 elections. We set an extremely aggressive trial schedule to accomplish that objective. Counsel for all parties have worked diligently, which the Court greatly appreciates. Unfortunately, as one might have anticipated in a case with this many entities involved, the parties ran into some discovery delays over the summer in trying to obtain relevant information. In the ordinary case, those minor and typical delays would not have been a big deal. In this case, those discovery Case 1:12-cv-00203-CKK-BMK-JDB Document 299 Filed 10/10/12 Page 34 of 415 delays pushed back the trial date by several weeks, with the voluntary consent of all parties. And that delay has in turn pushed back our date of decision. We need not belabor the point. At this late date, the Court is unable to conclude that South Carolina can implement Act R54 for the 2012 elections in a way that will suffice under the Voting Rights Act.

US District Judge Collen Kollar-Kotelly noted in her concurring opinion that both the state and the civil rights attorneys challenging the state agreed that almost 130,000 voters in South Carolina lacked qualifying ID to vote, mostly people of color. Pointing that out, Kollar-Kottelly, who was appointed by conservative US Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, credited the Voting Rights Act, and Section 5 in particular for protecting the rights of those voters of color, writing:


Affirmative Action Is Just One Part of the Educational Equity Fight

It’s affirmative action day today, with the Supreme Court taking up Fisher v. Texas and with it, the fate of race-conscious higher education admissions.

By now you’re caught up on the legal history that’s gotten us to this moment, where we may be witnessing the death knell of affirmative action in higher education. And we’ve discussed how affirmative action devolved from a measure of equity and became a tool of diversity, and what’s gotten lost in the conversation in between. There’s a separate point worth stressing: The affirmative action drama which has filled the courts for the last 30 years is actually far removed from the lives of students of color at the bottom of the educational stratum.

It was Harvard education professor Thomas Kane who found that race is of little or no consideration in the admissions processes of 80 percent of the country’s less selective four-year colleges. Because of the dazzling array of racialized structural inequities in this country, ranging from poverty to housing, joblessness and education, most students of color just aren’t headed for the flagship universities which are most fervently defending race-conscious admissions, and that denied white applicants are suing. A full 48 percent of black males who entered high school in 2006 didn’t graduate come 2010, the Schott Foundation found this year. Yet the heated emotion surrounding the topic has allowed affirmative action to balloon in our public imagination. The educational equity matters the majority of students of color in the country face are stuck at a much more basic level. And the affirmative action fight is but one sliver of that larger struggle.

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