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Gabby Douglas Wasn’t Thinking About The History She Was Making

Gabby Douglas Wasn't Thinking About The History She Was Making

When Gabby Douglas won her gold medal in all-around gymnastics on Thursday, she was also making history. Not only was Douglas the first woman of color to win an all-around gold medal, the most coveted title in her sport, she is also the first American to win both an individual and team medal at the same Olympics.

But that’s not where Douglas’ mind was yesterday. “I kind of forgot about that,” Douglas told the AP, when asked how it felt to be the first black gymnast to win an all-around gold. “Man, that’s awesome, that’s definitely an amazing feeling. I forgot about that.”

Making Mental Health Awareness Year-round

Exactly a month ago we celebrated No Shame Day, organized by mental health advocate and writer Bassey Ikpi to coincide with National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

“We’re encouraging people to tend to their mental health that day without shame,” Ikpi said. Well July 2, and the entire month, are now behind us, but the quest for mental health wellness is an ongoing one. But when it comes to communities of color, the stigma surrounding mental health issues makes the fight to normalize and legitimize mental illness, let alone seek help, that much harder.

It’s easy to feel alone when so few people talk about mental illness. Disgrasian’s Jen Wang wrote a moving post about her experiences:

Even though I witnessed it in various family members, I didn’t even know growing up that depression had its own name. Instead it was called “not trying hard enough,” “not working hard enough,” “not achieving enough,” “being lazy,” “lacking decorum,” “lacking pride,” “losing self-control,” “not caring enough about what other people think,” “embarrassing your family,” “selfish,” “rude,” “failure.” All of the language I heard to describe what I would only later understand to be mental illness made it clear you could always “work” your way out of it-alone, naturally, because you didn’t want to bother other people with your problems-and if you couldn’t, well, you had no one but yourself to blame.

Rep. John Conyers Protests, In Spanish, Rep. Steve King’s English Only Law

Michigan Rep. John Conyers responded to Iowa Rep. Steve King’s absurd anti-immigrant congressional shenanigans today with a showy statement of his own today. King had convened a House Judiciary Committee hearing to unveil the latest version of his English Language Unity Act, a bill which would mandate English-only government documents and services. The bill would make English the official language of the U.S., something that’s already true in practice but not codified in law.

“The Judiciary Committee hearing … reflects the need to get a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives on this popular issue- 87 percent of Americans say that English should be the official language of the United States,” King said in a press release last week. King’s been trying to get a version of this law passed since 2003.

But today, Conyers stole back some of the spotlight by opening his remarks with a few words in Spanish. Univision’s Jordan Fabian offered a transcription and a translation:

“Hoy en día, los inmigrantes de Asia o América Latina son los objetivos de la demonización y la discriminación,” he said. “Un día, nuestro país mirará hacia atrás a este período con vergüenza y arrepentimiento.” (Translation: Today, immigrants from Asia or Latin America are the targets of demonization and discrimination. One day, our nation will again look back on this period with shame and regret.)

Deported Dad Wins Rare ‘Parole’ to Re-Enter Country for Custody Hearing

Deported Dad Wins Rare 'Parole' to Re-Enter Country for Custody Hearing

In a highly unusual decision, the federal immigration enforcement agency, ICE, has granted a deported father temporary permission to enter the U.S. so that he can attend a court hearing regarding on his parental rights and the custody of his three young children. Yesterday, Felipe Bautista Montes walked out of the airport in Charlotte, N.C., and made his way to Sparta, the town where he lived for nearly a decade with his wife, Marie Montes, where his kids were born, and where the children now live in foster homes.

Montes was deported from his home nearly two years ago following repeated stops for driving without a license. After his deportation, Marie Montes, fell on hard times, struggling with mental health and addiction issues, and the local child welfare department removed the children from her custody, placing them in foster care.

Montes wants his children to be reunified with him in Mexico, where he’s lived since he was deported. But the Alleghany County child welfare department argues that the U.S. citizen children will be better off in the U.S., in the custody of non-relatives.

Following national and international media attention and the collection of over 20,000 signatures on a petition calling for the family’s reunification, the Mexican Consulate in North Carolina hired a private law firm to apply to ICE for what’s called Humanitarian Parole, or permission to enter the United States. Last week, the Mr. Montes received a call telling him that he’d been granted permission to attend his custody hearing.

Gabby Douglas’ Mom Sold Her Jewelry To Keep Her In Gymnastics

Gabby Douglas' Mom Sold Her Jewelry To Keep Her In Gymnastics

Gabby Douglas just won her second gold medal of the 2012 Olympics in the all-around gymnastics competition, making her the first black female to win gold in that competition. But before she became an Olympics hero, her mother Natalie Hawkins had to figure out even how to keep her daughter in the sport.

Hawkins told CNN: “After years of persuading me I finally gave in and took her to a trial class. She just never wanted to come out of the gym. She loved it. She would practice all the time. So I saw then the hard work.”

“I didn’t realize when I got into this sport how expensive it was. Just the commitment over the years, sometimes it felt crushing. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep her in thesport. But then I’d think about it and say: you’ve got to fight. If I had to sell. I sold almost all of my jewelry, if I had to pick up extra shifts at work. Whatever it takes.”

Watch the rest of the video, and bask for a bit in the glow of the Douglas family’s love for their Olympics star. Congratulations Gabby!

Obama Comes Out Against Undocumented Law School Grad’s Lawyer Dreams

The Obama administration has taken a stand in a case before the California Supreme Court concerning Sergio Garcia, an undocumented law school graduate who passed the bar exam and has applied to be admitted to the state bar. And it’s not good.

In an amicus brief the Department of Justice filed today, the federal government said that the state’s Supreme Court doesn’t have the right to grant a license to Garcia, even though he’s otherwise cleared the requirements laid out in the state bar’s admissions policy. The Obama administration said it was Garcia’s immigration status which made him ineligible, citing a 1996 federal immigration law which bars undocumented immigrants from accessing public benefits like welfare and healthcare unless a state passes a specific law granting them those rights. The Department of Justice argued that California’s Supreme Court, which usually handles matters of who should and shouldn’t be admitted to the state bar, therefore doesn’t have the right to admit an undocumented immigrant to the bar.

Garcia is one of three undocumented law school grads who’ve successfully passed their state bar exams and are petitioning to be admitted to their state bars. Similar cases in Florida and New York and moving ahead.

Oprah and Her Natural Hair Cover O Magazine

Oprah and Her Natural Hair Cover O Magazine

For the last twelve years Oprah has been on the cover of every issue of O, her eponymous magazine. Sometimes twice at a time.

But for the first time ever she’s covering her magazine in her natural hair. For the September 2012 issue of O magazine Oprah’s showing off her natural hair. It was such a big cultural moment that O magazine hailed the event on its own site. Oprah’s hair debut unsurprisingly set off ripples of conversation, and debate, throughout the blogosphere.

The cover debut comes the same week that the Internet’s been up in arms over Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas’ hair. As Dodai Stewart writes, “The point is that hair — black hair, especially — remains a hot-button issue. Hair is political, laden with subtext and meaning.”

Still, as big a deal as Oprah is making about her hair, and as much time as she’s spent on makeovers on her TV shows and in the pages of her magazine—September’s is even O’s official makeover issue—she insists the only real and sustainable personal changes are, “those in which something inside the receiver clicks, aligning with that which is being received. The only way to real transformation is through the mind.”

DREAMers Send Themselves to Detention, And Find So Many More DREAMers Behind Bars

DREAMers Send Themselves to Detention, And Find So Many More DREAMers Behind Bars

Viridiana Martinez and Marco Saavedra, DREAM Act activists who are undocumented, have done what many consider the unthinkable: the two activists approached immigration agents and placed themselves into deportation proceedings. Saveedra and Martinez, along with five other activists, are being detained in the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida.

While in detention they’ve met dozens of people who ought to be granted deportation under the Obama administration’s memo outlining who ought to be a high priority for deportation and who ought not be detained and deported. Among those the Obama administration has said it doesn’t want to waste its resources deporting are those with no criminal convictions and those who have long ties to the U.S. Yet, Saveedra and Martinez have found and catalogued the cases of many whose cases make them perfect candidates for deportation relief, confirming what experts and advocates have long argued—that the Obama administration has consistently promised sharper, more discriminating enforcement and reneged on even his own administration’s reforms.

“Everyday I am meeting new people who have been detained for months and months for nothing more than driving without a license, we have one case of a father detained after dropping off his 11-year old wheel chair bound son at school,” Martinez said in an email appeal sent out this week. “These stories are not supposed to be happening, but they are, right in our communities.”

Tea Party’s Ted Cruz Defeats GOP Favorite, Could Become Texas’ First Latino Senator

Tea party darling and political newcomer Ted Cruz, whose father fled Cuba with $100 sewn into his underwear, pulled off a stunning upset Tuesday when he won a GOP runoff for a Texas Senate seat. Cruz beat longtime politician, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who sank $19 million of his own money into his campaign and was backed by the GOP establishment, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Cruz is a Harvard Law School graduate and a former state solicitor general, but he’s never held elected office. That inexperience was of little concern for Texas voters, who backed him by a landslide 56 to 44 percent against Dewhurst, Reuters reported. Cruz is the third tea party-backed candidate to unseat a Republican in a U.S. Senate primary.

Cruz called it a victory for the people:

“They said this was impossible,” Cruz told a roaring crowd of supporters in Houston on Tuesday night. “They said I couldn’t do it. And you know, they were right. I couldn’t do it, but you could and you did it. Tonight is a victory for the grass roots.”

Political experts say Cruz is facing an easy race against Democrat Paul Sadler, who won the Democratic primary Tuesday night.

Are You Eligible for No Co-Pay Birth Control? A Handy Guide to Find Out

Are You Eligible for No Co-Pay Birth Control? A Handy Guide to Find Out

Today’s the day. Under President Obama’s health care reform law, insurance companies must begin providing no co-pay contraception. But the ins and outs of it are much more complex, and as it is, only a fraction of the 98 million women in the U.S. will qualify.

At a very basic level, only so many women will be eligible because only so many women in the U.S. are insured. According to the CDC, 16 percent of women under the age of 60 have no health insurance, but the numbers are higher when we zero in on different subgroups. More than one in ten white women are uninsured, as are 37 percent of Latinas and 22 percent of black women. Nearly 34 percent of all Native American women and over 18 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander American women have no insurance.

But if you’re a woman with private health insurance and your plan fits the various restrictions, you may be eligible for free birth control. The National Women’s Law Center has a handy guide, including a script, for you to figure out if, when and how you can begin to receive no co-pay contraception.

California Kicks For-Profit Colleges Out of State Student Grant Program

Exactly 154 California colleges, 137 of which are for-profit schools, will no longer be able to offer students state aid for the 2012-2013 school year because those schools failed to meet new state regulations. The change comes after California became the first state in the nation to set more stringent standards than the federal government for student aid eligibility.

Under Gov. Jerry Browns’ new state budget, institutions of higher education which want to offer their students state tuition support have to have a student loan default rate of 15.5 percent or lower and a graduation rate of 30 percent or higher. “The Commission has argued for years that the best way to protect students, parents and taxpayers is to make sure Cal Grants help students get into solid programs that deliver proven educational and career value. Eliminating schools with high loan default rates and low graduation rates is a sensible way to do that,” Barry Keene, chair of the California Student Aid Commission, told the Sacramento Bee.

The new rules meant a new crop of schools got bumped; the 154 new ineligible schools is a marked increase from the 67 which were deemed ineligible for the 2011-2012 year. Of the 170 for-profit schools which participate in the program, 80 percent, including for-profit heavy hitters like University of Phoenix, ITT Technical Institute, Kaplan College, Heald College, will now no longer be able to offer their students state aid.

30 Days in Jail for Soldier Charged With Driving Danny Chen to Suicide

30 Days in Jail for Soldier Charged With Driving Danny Chen to Suicide

The U.S. soldier who was acquitted of the most serious charges he faced for driving an Asian-American soldier to kill himself will serve 30 days in jail and have his rank reduced one ring, and will be allowed to stay in the service. Sgt. Adam Holcomb was dealt his sentence today, just a day after he was found guilty of assaulting and intimidating Chen by a jury of soldiers and officers.

Holcomb was acquitted of negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, communicating a threat and hazing for his part in the racial taunts that Chen endured while he was deployed in Afghanistan last year. He faced up to two years behind bars for his conviction. Holcomb is one of eight soldiers to be charged and was the first to be tried.

At issue during the trial was what exactly drove Chen to kill himself. A New York Magazine profile detailed the hazing and racial taunts Chen was subjected to in the weeks before he killed himself.

Since Danny Chen’s death, details of his story have slowly emerged, relayed by Army officials to his family. A group of his superiors allegedly tormented Chen on an almost daily basis over the course of about six weeks in Afghanistan last fall. They singled him out, their only Chinese-American soldier, and spit racial slurs at him: “gook,” “chink,” “dragon lady.” They forced him to do sprints while carrying a sandbag. They ordered him to crawl along gravel-covered ground while they flung rocks at him. And one day, when his unit was assembling a tent, he was forced to wear a green hard-hat and shout out instructions to his fellow soldiers in Chinese.

TAGS: Danny Chen

The Oscar Grant Movie Filming in a Bay Area Neighborhood Near You?

Filming for “Fruitvale,” the feature film about Oscar Grant’s shooting death, is filming in the Bay Area right now. And both Grant’s family and BART, the transit system Grant was riding before he was pulled off a train and killed by a BART police officer, say they’ve been able to approve the content of the film.

San Francisco’s KQED reports that Cephus Johnson, Grant’s uncle, said the Grant family has seen a final copy of the script and feels comfortable with the film’s portrayal of his nephew’s last hours. “I think the community as well as the world should know who [Oscar Grant] was and what happened to him,” Johnson told KQED. “It will humanize Oscar as being a young black man that was tragically murdered on a platform for no apparent reason.”

Most surprisingly, BART has been participating as well. Filming has taken place on BART facilities, and transit system’s spokesman Jim Allison told KGO, “BART oversees the content so BART is not portrayed in a way that BART does not want to be portrayed.” Still, BART and the city have kept largely mum on the details of the filming.

Ryan Coogler is directing the film for Forrest Whitaker’s production company. The film stars Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan, best known for his role on the television show “Friday Night Lights.”

Anaheim Police Shooting Survivor: Cops ‘Shot Again and Again’

Anaheim Police Shooting Survivor: Cops 'Shot Again and Again'

Geraldo Pineda was waiting for friends back in February when plain clothes Anaheim police officers approached, ready to make arrests. Pineda, 19, told his story to Fox News:

Then, a group of plain-clothes officers from the Anaheim Police Department’s anti-gang unit emerged from an unmarked van behind him, ready to arrest him, he says.

Pineda, 19, the only police shooting victim of Anaheim, Calif., who survived this year, then took off running. He ran almost a mile until he turned a corner, then police began shooting, firing at least three rounds, Pineda says.

“I’m running over a fence and they shot again and again…and it hit me in the stomach,” says Pineda, who is currently out on bail. “I told them, ‘Hey, I got shot. You hit me. I’m dying.’”

Pineda is the only person to survive an Anaheim police officer-involved shooting this year. Five people have been killed by Anaheim police. The two latest incidents, which left Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo dead, happened just a day apart from each other. Police shot and killed Acevedo a day after protesters took to the streets demanding answers for Diaz’s killing.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to Keynote Democratic Convention

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to Keynote Democratic Convention

In another sign of how aggressively President Obama’s re-election team is trying to appeal to Latino voters in crucial swing states, the Democratic Convention Committee announced this morning that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will keynote the Democratic National Convention, which will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 4.

Castro, and First Lady Michelle Obama, will speak on the convention’s opening night.

“Having both the First Lady and Mayor Castro speak on the opening night of our convention will bring together two incredible leaders whose life stories both embody the promise of America, that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can make it,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the chairman of the convention, told the Washington Post.

More from the Post:

Democrats’ selection of Castro suggests the party is going to be making a full-court press to turn out Latino voters in November. Western swing states with substantial Hispanic populations like Nevada and Colorado could be crucial for the president in the fall.

In 2008, Obama took 67 percent of the Hispanic vote to just 31 percent for Arizona Sen. John McCain. 

Castro is something of a rising star in Democratic politics. He’s young, telegenic and comes from humble roots (he was raised by a single mother and, like Obama, went on to receive a degree from Harvard Law School).

Castro’s family is no stranger to politics. His twin brother, Joaquin Castro, is a state legislator running for Congress (and heavily favored to win) in Texas’s 20th District.

As recently as May, President Obama held a 34-point lead over Mitt Romney among registered Latino voters.

In a keynote speech at the Texas Democratic Party convention earlier this summer, Castro ripped into former Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry’s administration for budget cuts to government and education.

“Every Texan knows that, except (Governor) Rick Perry,” Castro said. “His Republican administration cut $4 billion out of our public schools. That’s 12,000 Texas teachers without a job.”

That number was contested by Politifact.com, which did that math and estimated that the real number of unemployed teachers was somewhere closer to 11,000.



Michelle Obama Hugs Entire USA Olympic Men’s Basketball Team

Michelle Obama Hugs Entire USA Olympic Men's Basketball Team

It’s adorable. Watch the whole thing here.

TAGS: Olympics

60 Percent of Louisiana Prison Doctors Disciplined by State Med Board

60 Percent of Louisiana Prison Doctors Disciplined by State Med Board

Earlier this year the New Orleans Times-Picayune published an explosive series on Louisiana’s status as the world’s prison capital. Now there’s more damning information on the injustices that happen inside of those prison walls. The paper reported late Sunday that 60 percent of the state’s prison doctors have been disciplined by Louisiana’s medical board for issues ranging from pedophilia to substance abuse.

Here’s more from the Times-Picayune:

Louisiana state prisons appear to be dumping grounds for doctors who are unable to find employment elsewhere because of their checkered pasts, raising troubling moral questions as well as the specter of an accident waiting to happen. At stake is the health of nearly 19,000 prisoners who are among the most vulnerable of patients because they have no health care options.

About 60 percent of the state’s prison doctors have disciplinary records, compared with 2 percent of the state’s 16,000 or so licensed medical doctors, according to data from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. The medical board is aware of the prison pipeline — in fact, a board-employed headhunter has sometimes helped problem doctors get prison gigs.

“Aside from being unethical, it is dangerous,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, a physician and director of health research at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen told the Times-Picayune. “You’re winding up having people who don’t have any choice being where they are, getting taken care of by people with demonstrable previous records and problems with the way they practice medicine.”

Romney: Israeli ‘Culture’ Makes It More Wealthy Than Palestine

Romney: Israeli 'Culture' Makes It More Wealthy Than Palestine

Mitt Romney’s global tour of offensive remarks has moved on to the Middle East. Fresh off of telling Londoners their Olympic preparations stunk, Romney offered his analysis of the economic disparity between Israel and Palestine at a $1 million fundraiser in Jerusalem today. Occupation didn’t make the list. But “culture” and the “hand of providence” did. The Guardian recounts his speech:

“And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognise the power of at least culture and a few other things,” the presumptive Republican candidate told his audience. He cited a climate of innovation, the Jewish history of thriving in adversity and the “hand of providence”.

The remarks are among the most revealing thus far of Romney’s view on economic inequity. It’s a striking analysis to conclude that the dramatic poverty in Palestine, laid next to the wealth of Israel, is driven primarily by culture and God, rather than generations of occupation.

Undocumented Arizonans Head Across America on ‘No Papers No Fear’ Tour

Undocumented immigrants are hitting the road, openly declaring their immigration status and calling for an end to anti-immigrant attacks—and they’re starting in the Arizona, home to anti-immigrant state law SB 1070.

This weekend Miguel Guerra, Natally Cruz, Leticia Ramirez and Isela Meraz begin their trip across the U.S. and end in Charlotte, North Carolina, just in time for the Democratic National Convention in September. All four activists are members of Puente, a Phoenix, Arizona-based human rights organization, and will be joined by dozens of others on the tour. They’re calling it the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice.

“I’m getting on the bus because I’m tired of living in fear and knew I had to be part of making a change,” Ramirez said in a statement. “We’ll share with everyone what we’ve learned in Phoenix and get the immigrant community together across the country. If you see what happened to us knowing our rights, going in, and getting out of jail you can see that we’re safer when we’re organized. We hope that it will be a good impact and to educate people who don’t know our real lives.”

Oprah Responds to Critics Who Say She Played Up Stereotypes in India Show

Oprah Responds to Critics Who Say She Played Up Stereotypes in India Show

Oprah Winfrey’s visit to India has been in the news from the moment she landed in the country and her security ruffed up Indian paparazzis trying to take a picture of her. Now months later the “Oprah’s Next Chapter” TV special that resulted from her visit to India is also in news because some say it was a show full of “sterotypes and cliches.”

“It’s all the stereotypes and all the clichés the West has, between the elephants and the palaces and the snake charmers and cows,” Aseem Chhabra, a freelance journalist and columnist for the Mumbai Mirror, told ABC News. “That exists in India, but it’s this imagery of India that some people seem to have, and I think I expected a lot more from somebody like Oprah Winfrey.”

TAGS: India Oprah TV
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