Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Wells Fargo Settles for $175M Over Steering Blacks and Latinos to Subprime Loans

Wells Fargo Settles for $175M Over Steering Blacks and Latinos to Subprime Loans

Wells Fargo and the Justice Department have reached a $175 million settlement agreement over charges that the bank routinely steered black and Latino borrowers into expensive, dangerous subprime home loans throughout the housing bubble.

Wells Fargo has been a standout bad actor among banks, both during the subprime lending boom and the recession it spawned. Watchdogs have shown that Wells Fargo fails to maintain foreclosed properties in black and Latino communities with the same care it does in white neighborhoods, leading to further depression of home values and more blight. Its mortgage servicing arm has been at the center of complaints about banks’ refusal to work with underwater borrowers, despite massive federal incentives. And it is an industry leader among banks that are launching their own versions of payday loans, which are such significant debt traps that the Defense Department has identified them as a national security threat and Congress has barred lenders from making them to servicemembers.

The Justice Department charges that Wells Fargo, which is the nation’s largest originator of home loans, steered tens of thousands of black and Latino borrowers into more expensive loans, while white borrowers with the same credit profile received prime loans. Research has shown that black communities around the country lost hundreds of millions of dollars in wealth during the foreclosure crisis, widening the racial wealth gap to historic proportions.

NBC News: Jesse Jackson Being Treated For Alcoholism in Arizona Facility

NBC News: Jesse Jackson Being Treated For Alcoholism in Arizona Facility

Jesse Jackson Jr.’s representatives have made vague comments about the Congressman’s condition since he disappeared a month ago but several sources who say they are close to the family claim Jackson is battling alcoholism.

A source who identified as a family friend told the local NBC News affiliate in Chicago that the congressman’s problems run much deeper. The anonymous source says Jackson “has severe clinical depression, a drinking problem or a problem with alcohol with treatment at a facility in Arizona.”

Following the NBC News report, Jackson Jr. spokesman Rick Bryant said the information was not 100% correct.

His office issued a statement that provided a few more details:

“The congressman is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder,” reads a statement attributed to Jackson’s doctor. “He is responding positively to treatment…”

Both the Governor of Illinois and House Leader Nancy Pelosi have expressed support for Jackson.

“The people of Illinois have good hearts and when someone is dealing with challenges on their health we wish them well and we pray for them,” Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said at a press conference.

But Ill. Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Luis Gutierrez are among those pushing Jackson for more information, calling it his responsibility as a public official.


Mitt Romney On NAACP Booing: If They Want ‘More Free Stuff’ They Should Vote For Obama

Mitt Romney On NAACP Booing: If They Want 'More Free Stuff' They Should Vote For Obama

On Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reported that Mitt Romney responded to being booed at the NAACP by taking a punch at the mostly black audience and saying if they want more free stuff from the government to vote for President Obama.

“Remind them of this: If they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy, more free stuff. But don’t forget, nothing is really free,” Romney reportedly said at a fundraiser in Hamilton, Montana. (HuffPost reports Romney has used the “free stuff” line before.)

Several people have speculated that Romney went in to the NAACP meeting knowing he would get booed so he could carry that experience as a badge of honor.

“If I were a political cynic, I’d wonder whether the Romney campaign wanted to be booed at NAACP,” tweeted DailyBeast contributor David Frum immediately after Romney’s speech.

“It seemed like Mitt Romney wanted to get booed at the NAACP this morning,” Maddow said on her show late Wednesday. “He wanted to wear that around his neck like a badge of courage. It looks like he is not wasting any time in doing so.”

“I think it was a calculated move on his part to get booed at the NAACP convention,” Pelosi said of his speech during an interview with Bloomberg TV.

Romney has now confirmed he expected the boos.

“I think we expected that,” Romney told Fox Business Network host Neil Cavuto shortly after his NAACP speech. “I am going to give the same message to the NAACP that I give across the country, which is that Obamacare is killing jobs,” Romney said.

Earlier Wednesday Romney campaign advisers said they didn’t expect to get the black vote but in the Fox News interview the presumptive GOP Presidential candidate had changed his tune.

“I spoke with a number African American leaders after the event and they said a lot of folks don’t want to say they are not going to vote for Barack Obama but they are disappointed in his lack of policies to improve our schools, disappointed in urban policy, disappointed in the economy. (There is) 14.4 percent unemployment among African Americans today. The president has not been able to get the job done. People want to see someone who can get this economy going. I expect to get African American votes.”

Finally Here: Episode 1 of ‘K-Town’ — the Korean ‘Jersey Shore’

Finally Here: Episode 1 of 'K-Town' -- the Korean 'Jersey Shore'

“K-Town,” the reality-TV series created and produced by R&B singer Tyrese Gibson has been in the works since April 2010.

“Asian have always been viewed through the media as either exaggerated stereotypes or the one-dimensional model minority. K-Town is a celebration of what it’s like to be a young Asian in American today,” executive producer Mike Le said in a press release.

“I think a little shame is a good thing at this point,” executive producer Eddie Kim went on to say in the press release.

Romney Allegedly Bussed in 200 Supporters to NAACP to Cheer for Him

Romney Allegedly Bussed in 200 Supporters to NAACP to Cheer for Him

The people you heard cheering for Mitt Romney at the NAACP meeting Wednesday were not all NAACP members, according to several sources who say Romney bussed in an estimated 200 supporters to the gathering. CNN analyst Roland Martin who was present at the NAACP gathering tweeted he saw an estimated 200 people get off Romney busses including Fla. Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll.

“President Obama’s policies are failing us,” Carroll said in a statement on Wednesday. “The African-American unemployment rate increased by almost an entire percentage point last month and, at 14.4 percent, it is almost double that of the nation’s overall unemployment rate. This is simply unacceptable. We cannot settle for another month of nearly nonexistent job creation. President Obama’s policies have made a bad situation worse for struggling African-American families. Fortunately, we can put a stop to these job-killing policies by electing Mitt Romney. Governor Romney understands and knows what it takes to create a favorable environment for job creation, and with his pro-growth agenda, Mitt Romney will steer our country back in the right direction and this direction will help restore prosperity for African American-families.”

The Faces (and Reactions) in the Audience as Mitt Romney Delivered NAACP Speech

mittscpeechnaacp02.jpg (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


faces-romney.jpg (AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM)

Spike Lee Releases Clip From his Michael Jackson Documentary ‘Bad 25’

Spike Lee Releases Clip From his Michael Jackson Documentary 'Bad 25'

The Estate of Michael Jackson announced Tuesday that Spike Lee’s documentary that looks the King of Pop’s “BAD” album and the subsequent worldwide tour is in the final stages of post production. The film’s release is expected to coincide on the 25th anniversary of the album and will be released on September 18th, 2012.

The documentary features over 40 interviews conducted personally by Spike Lee with Jackson’s confidants, choreographers, musicians and other collaborators, including Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Cee Lo Green, Martin Scorsese and Sheryl Crow. the project focuses on Jackson’s career around the time of 1987’s BAD album and tour, which both rocked the globe.

“I’m more than just a huge fan of Michael Jackson, and having the chance to actually know him and work with him, I deeply care about his legacy,” Lee said in a statement. “With this “BAD” project I was able to uncover just what made this such a huge, important coming of age in his career and unearth compelling stories surrounding the making of the album, the long awaited follow-up to Thriller - the best selling album of all time - the short films and the tour that may have never seen the light of day.”

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week, Lee said the film includes a “treasure chest of findings” of never before seen footage.

“We have footage in this documentary that no one’s ever seen, stuff that Michael shot himself, behind-the-scenes stuff,” Lee said.

Besides the documentary, Lee also plans to hold his now annual birthday tribute to Jackson in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, on Aug. 25; Jackson would have turned 54 this year.

Watch Mitt Romney Get Booed at NAACP Over Obamacare Comments

Watch Mitt Romney Get Booed at NAACP Over Obamacare Comments

Republican Mitt Romney told black voters that he’s a better choice than President Barack Obama to improve black unemployment rates in the U.S. at the NAACP’s annual meeting Wednesday in Houston

But Romney was greeted with boos from attendees Wednesday in Houston when he pledged to repeal “Obamacare.”

On Tuesday Romney’s campaign acknowledged attracting black voters is a long shot. Visit a story published earlier today to read more about Romney’s comments at the NAACP meeting.

Romney’s Campaign Acknowledges Attracting Black Voters is a Long Shot

Romney's Campaign Acknowledges Attracting Black Voters is a Long Shot

Mitt Romney will address the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization on Wednesday. Let’s hope it goes better than the interaction he had with the group of black folks in the video above.

Romney is expected to tell the NAACP audience they’ll want to vote for him when they see what’s ‘in my heart.’

“I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African American families, you would vote for me for president,” Romney will say, according to his campaign. “I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color — and families of any color — more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president.”

“If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone,” Romney says. “Instead, it’s worse for African Americans in almost every way.”

In 2008, Obama captured 95% of the black vote, compared to to 4% for Sen. John McCain. A recent Gallup tracking poll showed just 5% of blacks supporting Romney, compared with 87% for the president. Romney’s campaign acknowledges that attracting more black voters is a long shot.

Jesse Jackson Sr. Says Son’s ‘Crisis is Deeper Than We Thought’

Jesse Jackson Sr. Says Son's 'Crisis is Deeper Than We Thought'

Rev. Jesse Jackson says his son, the Illinois congressman, is “slowly regaining his strength” but offered no other details on why his son has been on medical leave since June 10th.

“We’re with him and we hope that he’ll be fully restored to his health,” Rev. Jesse Jackson told NBC Chicago’s Stefan Holt. “Right now he’s going through a tremendous challenge.”

When asked exactly what’s wrong with the congressman, Rev. Jesse Jackson told NBC Chicago it’s “inappropriate” to disclose details.

“The crisis is deeper than we thought it was. But the good news is, he’s under good supervision. He’s been in touch with his mother and his wife, and he’s on the rebound. To me, that’s the good news about it all,” Rev. Jesse Jackson, the congressman’s father, told NPR’s David Schaper.

Jackson’s congressional colleagues are now pressuring Rep. Jackson’s office to release more information.

“As a public official … there reaches a point when you have a responsibility to tell people what you’re facing and how things are going,” Sen. Dick Durbin, the senior Democrat in Illinois, also told reporters yesterday.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. told NPR “the people of Illinois deserve it. If he’s going to stand for re-election, you guys [reporters] are going to demand it.”

“I think that he has a responsibility to give us more information, and I’m not demanding that information, but I think the people of his congressional district deserve it,” Gutierrez went on to say.

MillerCoors, HP, and Best Buy Leave ALEC

MillerCoors, HP, and Best Buy Leave ALEC

John Deere, CVS Caremark, MillerCoors, HP, and Best Buy have all made the decision to end their financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, ColorOfChange,org announced Tuesday. ALEC is the right-wing lobby group responsible for pushing discriminatory voter ID laws throughout the country.

“We continue to call on all major corporations to stop funding ALEC given its involvement in voter suppression and its work pushing policies designed to benefit rich and powerful corporations at the expense of people of color, workers, and the environment,” said the New York-based civil rights group’s executive director, Rashad Robinson, in a statement announcing the corporate withdrawals.

Under 48 Hours to Help BlackGirlsCode Teach 300+ Youth of Color to Code

Under 48 Hours to Help BlackGirlsCode Teach 300+ Youth of Color to Code

By reaching out to the community through workshops and after school programs, BlackGirlsCode introduces computer coding lessons to young girls from underrepresented communities in programming languages such as Scratch or Ruby on Rails.

The San Francisco based group has less than two days to raise $7,000 and reach their fundraising goal that will allow them to teach computer programming to more than 300 boys and girls from underrepresented communities in at least seven cities across the United States.

If BlackGirlsCode reach their fundraising goal they plan to visit Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, Detroit, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco in the next 90 days.

For more information on how you can help visit BlackGirlsCode’s Indiegogo page.

Brooklyn Prosecutor Keeps Job Despite Blackface Photos on Facebook

Brooklyn Prosecutor Keeps Job Despite Blackface Photos on Facebook

Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Justin Marrus, son of NY Supreme Court Judge Alan D. Marrus apologized Monday for pictures that surfaced of him dressed in black face and simulating prison rape. Marrus, now 25, uploaded the photos to Facebook six years ago when he was an undergraduate student.

Gothamist.com published screen shots from Marrus’ Facebook photo album Monday. The pictures disappeared after the website contacted Marrus. “When we reached out to Marrus he ‘passed on speaking’ to us but did not deny the photographs were his—and the Facebook page quickly disappeared after we hung up,” wrote Gothamist’s Garth Johnston.

In one picture — from an album called “Halloween” — Marrus sports blackface, a wig made of what appears to be dreadlocks and a tie-dyed T-shirt.

“What part of Jamaica you from mon? da beach mon,” the caption reads.

A second photo — from an album called “Courthouse for 4th of July” — shows Marrus and another man simulating sex in what looks to be a cell with white bars.

“While in prison … made me do unspeakable acts with …” the caption reads, with the two names blurred out by Gothamist.

In a third “white trash brothers” photo — from an album called “Ahhh college” — Marrus sports a confederate flag tattoo.

“This is something he did about six years ago while he was in college,” DA spokesman Jerry Schmetterer told the NY Post. “He apologized. He admits it was childish and inappropriate.”

District Attorney Charles Hynes accepted Marrus’ apology, said Schmetterer. Marrus is expected to keep his job.

In October 2010, Marrus’s father sentenced a white cop who was driving while intoxicated and killed a black pedestrian to only 90 days in jail. Marrus cited “the alcohol consumption of the victim [and] the fact that she walked out onto a rainy street” in the dark as reasons the cop didn’t get a harsher penalty.

Fencing Team’s Ibtihaj Muhammad Hoped to Become First U.S. Woman to Compete at Olympics in a Hijab

A 2012 Olympic hopeful, Ibtihaj Muhammad fell just shy of qualifying for the Summer Games in London where she was aiming to become the first U.S. athlete ever to compete in a hijab at the Games. The 25-year-old New Jersey native appeared to be unstoppable at competitions last month and came pretty close to making it to London.

Muhammad started fencing at age 13 when she saw her high school’s fencing team practicing. “Because they were fully covered, my mom suggested that I should try it out when I got to high school. As a Muslim female, the sport was uniquely accommodating. “My religion requires that my body be fully covered and fencing did just that,” Muhammad said in her USfencing.org profile.

am-fencing-1.jpg (Photo: Courtesy of Team USA)

Earlier this year Muhammad ranked number two among U.S. women using her weapon, the saber. But despite her success Muhammad says she still deals with prejudice in competitions.

“Within the fencing community, there’s still a lot of apprehension when it comes to encountering a Muslim fencer,” she told theGrio last month. “I mean, there are very, very few.”

“When most people picture an Olympic fencer, they probably do not imagine a person like me. Fortunately, I am not most people. I have always believed that with hard work, dedication, and perseverance, I could one day walk with my U.S. teammates into Olympic history,” Muhammad said on her Olympic team online profile. Muhammad says that fencing has taught her “how to aspire higher, sacrifice, work hard and overcome defeat. I want to compete in the Olympics for the United States to prove that nothing should hinder anyone from reaching their goals — not race, religion or gender. I want to set an example that anything is possible with perseverance.”

Frank Ocean Performs with The Roots and a Live Orchestra on ‘Jimmy Fallon’

Frank Ocean Performs with The Roots and a Live Orchestra on 'Jimmy Fallon'

Frank Ocean made his national television debut Monday night on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” The 24-year-old R&B singer was joined by The Roots as his backing band as well as a full strings section to perform “Bad Religion.”

The song “Bad Religion” begins with Ocean asking a taxi cab driver to “outrun the demons” and climaxes with him singing “I could never make him love me”— lyrics that made international headlines earlier this week because few people knew Ocean’s first love was with another male.

Below is an excerpt from Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion:”

[Chorus] This unrequited love To me it’s nothing but A one-man cult And cyanide in my styrofoam cup I could never make him love me Never make him love me No

[Outro] It’s a bad religion To be in love with someone Who could never love you I know Only bad religion Could have me feeling the way I do

Watch Nicki Minaj Break Down Sexism in the Entertainment Industry

Watch Nicki Minaj Break Down Sexism in the Entertainment Industry

“Donald Trump can say ‘you’re fired,’ but let Martha Stewart run her company the same and be the same way and [people will call her] an evil [expletive],” rapper Nicki Minaj says in the video above.

The interview was shot several years ago but it’s been making the rounds again this month. According to the tags on the YouTube clip, the interview appears to have been part of the MTV documentary “Nicki Minaj: My Time Now.”

Judge who Helped Popularize the Term ‘Driving While Black’ Hearing Texas Voter-ID Case

Judge who Helped Popularize the Term 'Driving While Black' Hearing Texas Voter-ID Case

The perpetual battle of whether states’ rights should trump civil rights continues in Washington today. A three-judge panel in a D.C. District Court will hear arguments this week on whether Texas can demand voters present certain types of photo ID in order to cast a ballot.

Texas, along with other states that have historically discriminated against voters of color fall under “covered jurisdictions” that must obtain pre-clearance before changing voting districts or regulations. The Department of Justice contends that more than 600,000 voters will be disenfranchised because of Texas’ law—most of whom are Latino—and denied The Lone Star State pre-clearance on the voter ID law under the Voting Rights Act. Rather than comply, Texas sued. The case challenges a cornerstone piece of civil rights legislation that protects the right of every citizen to vote.

One of the three judges on the panel hearing, and ultimately issuing a decision on the case, is no stranger to civil rights. Judge Robert Wilkins was a budding lawyer in 1992 when he was pulled over by Maryland State Police. The case set the term “driving while black” into the national vernacular, and resulted in a groundbreaking settlement that made it mandatory for Maryland officers to note the race and gender of drivers who were pulled over and searched. Other states followed suit, and an executive order on racial profiling was also issued. As a target of racial profiling by Maryland state officers, Wilkins is likely to understand what’s at stake this week when Texas insists its state’s rights are more important than the civil rights of marginalized voters.

Secrets Straight from Spiderman’s Stuntman: Spiderman is Asian

Secrets Straight from Spiderman's Stuntman: Spiderman is Asian

Ilram Choi, a stuntman on “The Amazing Spider-Man,” talks to “The Yo Show” about filling in for Andrew Garfield during some crucial and dangerous stunts. He also spills on which stunts Garfield did on his own, and exactly how long it takes to get into that spider suit.

“Me being Asian I never thought I’d ever be Spiderman because Spiderman is a white dude but he [the stunt coordinator] said you’ll be in the suit, they won’t see your face and you’ll be flying around,” Choi told “The Yo Show” host Michael Yo.

Beyoncé’s Letter to Frank Ocean: ‘Be fearless. Be honest. Be generous. Be brave’

frank-ocean-art-beyonce.jpg

Beyoncé showed her support for Frank Ocean this weekend by posting an online letter on her website dedicated to the R&B artist. The letter was posted just days after the singer opened up about his sexuality.

With handwritten words over a picture of Ocean, Beyoncé writes, “Be fearless. Be honest. Be generous. Be brave. Be poetic. Be open. Be free. Be yourself. Be in love. Be happy. Be inspiration.”

(image via Beyonce.com)

Holly Robinson Peete Rips 50 Cent Apart on Autism, Gets Him to Apologize

Holly Robinson Peete Rips 50 Cent Apart on Autism, Gets Him to Apologize

Last week rapper 50 Cent responded bitterly to an overeager fan on Twitter by saying “yeah just saw your picture fool you look autistic.” Actress Holly Robinson Peete, whose oldest son is autistic said her heart sunk when she read the tweets and she penned an open letter to 50 Cent that ultimately got him to do just what the letter requested: delete the insensitive tweets and apologize.

It all started out when a fan asked 50 Cent why his latest album took longer than expected to be released. The tweets upset the rapper he made the comments mentioned above and with a follow up that read “I don’t want no special ed kids on my time line follow some body else.”

Peete posted an open letter to 50 Cent on her website that blasts his “hurtful, immature and misinformed” comments. Peete’s letter is below:

Dear 50 Cent,

Since last night my twitter timeline is flooded with tweets and retweets about a response you posted to someone who insulted you. When I read it my heart sank. I thought maybe your account had been hacked. No such luck. Granted, his comment was completely out of line but your retort: “i just saw your picture fool you look autistic”- was so so disappointing. I mean, that’s your comeback?? And you didn’t stop there. You went on to joke about not wanting “special ed kids” on your timeline. Seriously, THIS is how you use your platform of 8 million plus followers??

I’ve met you in passing over the years and I know you are a bright, astute businessman and legitimate philanthropist so it is with a bit of sincere confusion that I ask you… Do you even know what autism is? And what exactly does “autistic” look like? Do you know how wildly prevalent autism is? 1 in 88 have it. That’s 1 in 54 boys. Families suffer a social stigma you will never know. It is a financial and emotional drain for millions, so our non-profit- HollyRod Foundation works hard to raise funds to help these families cope…

hollyrp_43_austims.jpg> I hope you can see how what you might see as a benign insult-or not- was so randomly hurtful, immature and misinformed. Maybe you are naive or indifferent as to how many of your fans might be deeply and personally offended by your insult. At the very least-can you please delete it? If you’ve read your mentions today I am sure you have felt the wrath of autism parents. We are no joke. Neither is autism. We are not about to let you attempt to make “autistic” the new “R-word” under our watch.

Finally, this is my son Rodney Peete. He has autism. So I guess this is what autistic looks like? He is in special ed. He loves rap music and is a HUGE fan of yours. He’s a tremendous kid. He has to deal with so much trying to fit in. This isn’t helping.

The rapper subsequently deleted the offending tweets on his timeline, and on Sunday, he took the extra step to issue an apology for his comments. “I realize my autism comments were insensitive, however it was not my intention to offend anyone and for this I apologize,” 50 Cent wrote.

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