Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Court Rules Against Open Internet, Strikes Down Net Neutrality

Court Rules Against Open Internet, Strikes Down Net Neutrality

So much for an open Internet. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled against the Federal Communications Commisssion’s (FCC) mandates that internet service providers treat all online traffic equally. The FCC had originally voted in favor of these rules, known as net neutrality, back in 2010.

From USA Today:

Supporters of Net Neutrality took some good away from the decision, noting that it established the FCC’s power to create Internet rules. “In some respects, no one got what they wanted out of this decision, and confusion over the proper role of the FCC is greater than ever,” said Public Knowledge senior vice president Harold Feld in a statement. The consumer interest group intervened on the FCC’s side in the case.

Still, open Internet advocates lamented the court’s decision a step toward turning the internet into a pay-for-play model like cable television. It should also be pointed out that the FCC’s original deicision back in 2010 wasn’t perfect becaue it was largely silent on mobile web traffic, which is fast becoming the way that most users get online. But it was something.

“The compromised Open Internet Order struck down today left much to be desired, but it was a step toward maintaining Internet users’ freedom to go where they wanted, when they wanted, and communicate freely online,” said Craig Aaron, CEO and President of Free Press, in a press release issued Tuesday. “Now, just as Verizon promised it would in court, the biggest broadband providers will race to turn the open and vibrant Web into something that looks like cable TV. They’ll establish fast lanes for the few giant companies that can afford to pay exorbitant tolls and reserve the slow lanes for everyone else.”

Janelle Monáe Performs on Sesame Street

Janelle Monáe Performs on Sesame Street Play

Check out a behind-the-scenes look at Janelle Monáe’s upcoming appearance on Sesame Street.

(Okayplayer)

Dr. Dre Teams Up With AT&T to Beat Spotify, Pandora

Dr. Dre Teams Up With AT&T to Beat Spotify, Pandora

Dr. Dre isn’t satisfied with conquering the world of designer headphones. On January 21, his company will release a new product called Beats Music to compete with Spotify and Pandora. Bloomberg Media points out that Beats isn’t all that different from Pandora, which both rely on human curators to make customized playlists for users. But here’s what sets Beats apart:

Beats has a secret weapon, however, that its chief executive officer announced over the weekend: a deal with AT&T to offer free trial subscriptions as well as a “family plan” for up to five users. Those who like their service will get their monthly Beats Music fee bundled into their wireless bills. According to Billboard, AT&T sees the service as a way to upsell higher-end data plans to customers who suddenly need to stream more and more content.

Combined with the celebrity endorsements and an advertising blitz — Beats Music bought a spot to run during the Super Bowl — the service may be able to use its AT&T connection to attract some new customers and build momentum for its alternative platform. That may not be enough to make any money, however. According to an analyst cited by Bloomberg News, streaming-music services need 5 to 10 million paying subscribers to break even after licensing fees.

Read  more over at Bloomberg.

After wrestling the technology away from a smaller company, Dr. Dre and music mogul Jimmy Iovine turned Beats into one of the most popular music-related brands in the world largely by associating them with high profile athletes like LeBron James. During these NFL playoffs, you’d be hard pressed to see 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick or Seahawks rival Russell Wilson go through pre-game warm-ups or post-game interviews without a customized pair of beats headphones around their necks. ESPN The Magazine detailed this relationship last year and it looks like that’s just the beginning. 

Why Are Conservatives Hating On Obama’s Navigators?

Why Are Conservatives Hating On Obama's Navigators?

Conservatives have been acting messy about an Affordable Care Act program that trains local residents to find uninsured people in their communities and connect them with ACA resources. The program, called “Champions for Coverage,” has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the NAACP to train and hire so-called navigators who are tasked primarily with helping people of very little income sign up for Medicaid and other ACA benefits. There are over 100 organizations spread across most of the states with this program.

Sounds innocent, right? But since it was launched in August, Republicans at both the state and federal level have tried to peg it as some stealth conspiracy that violates people’s privacy by collecting personal information on potential enrollees.

News reports swirled over the weekend about how the state insurance regulator in Texas is proposing strict rules on the navigator program that would add another 40 hours of trainings to the 20 to 30 hours already mandatory, would cause trainees to have to pay at least $800 to sign up for the work, and would also subject them to a criminal background check and fingerprinting process. This is a far more onerous security check than imposed on a similar navigator program in Texas, but for Medicare (retirees) benefits.

In November, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio proposed legislation that would require a credit check on top of a criminal background check for navigator applicants. And in December, Rep. Darrel Issa, chairman of the investigative House oversight committee, held a hearing in Dallas that fueled more conspiracy theories around the navigators. All that for a job that’s about just going out to help get people insured?

As navigators sign people up for Obamacare, they may enter people’s information into the Healthcare.gov portal, when they’re not getting them on the phone with a government representative through the ACA hotline. But the navigators don’t keep people’s personal information on file themselves, as Center for Public Policy Priorities senior policy analyst Stacey Pogue explained to the San Antonio Express-News. 

In an op-ed U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius wrote that those who have opposed Obamacare from the beginning are now trying to “stifle, intimidate and impugn” the navigator program. Among the navigators are organizations like the American Medical Association and the National Partnership for Women and Families. It’d be interesting to see if conservatives would be attacking the program the same if it wasn’t aiding civil rights organizations like the NAACP.

Where the New Jobs Are in 2014

Where the New Jobs Are in 2014

North Carolina, where President Obama will speak about the economy on Wednesday, ranks 11th for job growth in 2014. Texas and California lead nationwide, according to new analysis from Moody’s, the global economic forecasting firm.

While Obama is expected to highlight manufacturing during tomorrow’s N.C. State University appearance, construction, healthcare and retail are where the new jobs are—especially out west and in the south. See how your state fares on Stateline.

New Obamacare Enrollee Gender and Age Numbers Released

New Obamacare Enrollee Gender and Age Numbers Released

While the federal government won’t can’t yet release the numbers of Affordable Care Act enrollees broken down by race, this afternoon they provided the gender and age demographics of those who’ve signed up. Highlights from the new report:

  • Nearly 2.2 million (2,153,421) people selected Marketplace plans from Oct. 1 through Dec. 28, 2013
    • These signups in the state and federal marketplaces represent a nearly five-fold increase from October-November, including nearly 1.8 million (1,788,739) people who selected a plan in December (compared with the previous two-month cumulative total of 364,682 through Nov. 30, 2013).
  • Of the almost 2.2. million:
  • 54 percent are female and 46 percent are male;
  • 30 percent are age 34 and under;
  • 24 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34;
  • 79 percent selected a plan with Financial Assistance.

The report also shows that 60 percent of those who’ve grabbed insurance under Obamacare selected the “Silver” plans, as opposed to “Bronze,” “Gold” or “Platinum” plans, all of which correspond to the quality of the care and the out-of-pocket costs one will incur. The “Silver” plans are basically the iPhone 4 of insurance, compared to the iPhone 3 (Bronze), iPhone 5 (Gold) or that iPhone 5s that literally comes in a platinum case signed by Diddy.

As for the youth numbers, they are well below the 40 percent target that the White House set, as explained by Sarah Kliff over at Wonkblog. We still need that racial data on Obamacare insurance, though, and hopefully when it comes out, we won’t find that African-Americans are least likely to have it … like with the iPhone.  

 

Beyoncé Lights the Way for All Her Single Ladies

Beyoncé Lights the Way for All Her Single Ladies

Because of her latest proclamation, lots of folks are again trying to figure out Yoncé’s brand of feminism. While that scintillating debate happens however, Bey does her “Single Ladies” a solid and points the way to a fascinating new survey about the needs and wants of ordinary women of color. One eye-opening highlight: Women of color overwhelmingly want society to adapt to the realities of contemporary family structures.  

Nearly 9 in 10 African American women—87 percent—and more than three quarters of Latina women—76 percent—agree with the statement, “Government should set a goal of helping society adapt to the reality of single-parent families and use its resources to help children and mothers succeed regardless of their family status.” 

The survey of 3,500 Americans by the Center for American Progress is noteworthy because it oversamples for African American and Latina views. Check it out, as well as its companion, the third annual Shriver Report about the state of all American women. That’s where you’ll find Bey’s essay, “Gender Equality is a Myth!”

Watch This Toddler Meet Her Dad’s Identical Twin for the First Time

Watch This Toddler Meet Her Dad's Identical Twin for the First Time

Here’s your daily dose of cuteness. 

TAGS: Kids Video

Questlove Reflects on Amiri Baraka’s Legacy

Questlove Reflects on Amiri Baraka's Legacy

Over at the New York Times, Questlove reflects on Amiri Baraka’s constant quest to merge culture and social change.

When he wrote “Blues People” and “Milneburg,” the apogee of American music was bebop. When I read “Blues People” and “Milneburg,” it was hip-hop. But Mr. Baraka was onto something. People sniffing around art that’s trying to change society, and then dabbing on the scent of that art so that they, too, can seem like they’re part of the solution — that’s as much of a danger as it’s ever been.

The Roots recorded with Mr. Baraka once. It was for our “Phrenology” album, in 2002, which was titled for the absurd, discredited science of taking a measure of a man’s character by feeling his head. The album was also about racial profiling, social Darwinism, and hip-hop itself: If you’re a hip-hop head, what can you expect from the world, and what can the world expect from you?

It’s an important tribute from a contemporary black artist who’s grappling with the legacy of another. Read the rest over at the Times.

Watch Video of CeCe McDonald’s Release From Prison

Watch Video of CeCe McDonald's Release From Prison Play

CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman who spent 41 months in prison after stabbing a man who attacked her, has finally been freed from prison. Here’s video that we obtained of McDonald walking from the prison alongside a small group of supporters, including actress Laverne Cox.

Where is the Racial Data on Obamacare Enrollees?

Where is the Racial Data on Obamacare Enrollees?

So, here’s what we know about those who’ve enrolled for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act: As of December 31, over two million people have signed up through the market exchanges, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

This is a huge improvement over the 106,000 who enrolled in the first month the state and federal marketplaces were opened for business, somewhat in haste, in October. 

This progress is credited mostly to the Obama administration’s dogged attempts to fix the many problems with Healthcare.gov, the primary web portal for health insurance shopping. But there are still many unresolved issues with the website, along with those created by each state for purchasing plans.

But while the number of enrollees are increasing, what we don’t know is how many Africa-Americans, Latinos Asians and Native Americans now have plans. We know that there are millions of uninsured black Americans who qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and other forms of financial assistance, but we don’t know how many of them have been able to actually benefit from them.

When asked for this data, an HHS spokesperson said that this aggregation hadn’t been done yet.

“For our first two reports, we shared metrics which provided the most accurate snapshot available of Marketplace enrollment-related activity. We will provide additional metrics when we are able to do so,” said HHS’s Sherice Perry Dillard by email.

Asked for a timeline on when the racial breakdowns might be available, Dillard couldn’t say, but pointed out that applicants are not obligated to include their race or ethnicity when signing up.

The racial checkbox is voluntary on most, if not all applications. It seems that the government agency could track or collect racial data on those enrollees who at least chose to disclose their race. With over 30 percent of Latinos, almost 21 percent of African-Americans and 18.1 percent of Asian-Americans uninsured, compared to a 11.7 percent uninsurance rate for white Americans, the federal government might want to follow these figures. 

It’s also important to have this information publicly available for advocates who’ve been fighting for better access to adequate healthcare for years. I interviewed with Anita Johnson at KPFA’s “Hard Knock Radio” about this issue in November.  She told me that many uninsured black people in her Oakland and Bay area neighborhoods weren’t reaping the benefits of Obamacare. This is a shame because California is often touted as the state with one of the best functioning Obamacare websites. Racial data would help us determine who the sites are best functioning for. 

TAGS: Obamacare

Lupita Nyong’o Absolutely Stuns on Golden Globe Red Carpet

Lupita Nyong'o Absolutely Stuns on Golden Globe Red Carpet

Lupita Nyong’o may have been snubbed for a Best Supporting Actress award at last night’s Golden Globes, but she stole the show on the red carpet. The breakout star wowed everyone in a stunning red gown by Ralph Lauren.

462400215.jpg

462379177.jpg

Bullied Transgender Teen Faces Battery Charges After School Fight

Bullied Transgender Teen Faces Battery Charges After School Fight

Ahead of a February 5 misdemeanor hearing, big sister Valerie Poquiz is trying to get a California district attorney to drop battery charges against 16-year-old Jewlyes Gutierrez. According to Poquiz’s Change.org petition:

On November 13, 2013, Jewlyes defended herself against three girls who were tormenting and then physically attacked her. This was captured on video and you can see Jewlyes trying to run away. The students involved were suspended but to our disbelief, District Attorney Daniel Cabral then filed charges against Jewlyes for battery - she’s the only one charged.

The school district disagrees with the prosecution. “It doesn’t seem to be fair,” Charles Ramsey, president of the West Contra Costa district tells Contra Costa Times. “You’re prosecuting a victim here?”

California last year passed the School Success and Opportunity Act to protect transgender students. But opposition is mounting, as mainly evangelical Christian groups are rallying around a ballot initiative to repeal the law this November.

A week before Gutierrez’s November fight, a transgender teen’s skirt was set on fire while the victim slept on an Oakland public bus. The accused firebug is a 16-year-old boy. 

Since last Wednesday, Poquiz’s petition has close to 30,000 signatures of support.

(h/t Contra Costa Times)

‘12 Years a Slave’ Wins Best Drama at Golden Globes

'12 Years a Slave' Wins Best Drama at Golden Globes

Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” won the award for best drama at last night’s Golden Globes. The film has long been considered a top contender for the Oscars, nominations for which will be announced on January 16. Read more at the Los Angeles Times. 

Cleveland Baseball Team Replaces Chief Wahoo Logo

Cleveland Baseball Team Replaces Chief Wahoo Logo

The Cleveland baseball team’s* logo, a redfaced Native-American man named Chief Wahoo, is problematic, to say the least. And it looks like the Major League Baseball team’s owners are inching forward with their slow phaseout of the logo. For the 2014 season the Ohio team is replacing “Chief Wahoo” with a block letter ‘C’ as the team’s primary logo. The cartoon man’s face will become the secondary logo for the team.

Good luck confirming that with the team, though. While first reported by ESPN, the team has actually denied that they are making such a move to avoid alienating people who are emotionally attached to the redfaced caricature, according to ESPN. Still, changes are on the way.

From ESPN:

The Indians have no [uniform] alterations slated for 2014, which means Chief Wahoo will still be on the team’s home cap and on the left sleeve of all the team’s jerseys for at least one more season. In that sense, the impact of the logo redesignations would be more symbolic than practical. But symbolism matters, especially when discussing Chief Wahoo, whose own symbolism has become controversial. Although most of the debate about Native American imagery in sports has centered on the NFL’s Washington Redskins, there’s been a rising chorus of voices calling for the Indians to retire Wahoo. … Moreover, the logo redesignations would have ripple effects because media outlets — including “SportsCenter” and newspapers — would start using the block-C, instead of Wahoo, as their visual shorthand for the team.

No doubt the Major League Baseball team’s owners are aware of the campaign to get Washington, D.C.’s NFL team to change its name.

*Story has been updated since publication

Millionaires Club in Congress Presides Over Additional Food Stamp Cuts

Millionaires Club in Congress Presides Over Additional Food Stamp Cuts

For the first time in history, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, most members of Congress are now millionaires—or pretty close to it. Also announced this week is news that members are finally nearing a deal on the embattled 2013 Farm Bill, which will contain an additional $9 billion in reduced food stamp benefits over the next decade. It’s a compromise deal from $40 billion in cuts initially proposed by House Republicans.

Last November’s $5 billion cut to food stamp benefits hit 47 million Americans. The new reductions target nearly a million residents in 15 states who receive benefits through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Arraignment Set for Critics of Parent Trigger After Adelanto School Vandalism

Arraignment Set for Critics of Parent Trigger After Adelanto School Vandalism

On Monday Chrissy Guzman and Lori Yuan, two Adelanto, Calif., mothers, will be arraigned in Victorville Superior Court on charges that the two vandalized Desert Trails Elementary School just before it was converted to a charter school last June. It’s the most recent development in the saga of the nation’s first parent trigger takeover of a public school.

Guzman and Yuan could face up to three years in county jail for allegedly spraying ketchup, mustard and paint throughout the school and damaging rugs, window coverings and classrooms, San Bernardino County DA spokesperson Christopher Lee told the San Bernardino County Sun. The damage, done days before the school was handed over to a private charter school operator, came to $8,000. The school is now called the Desert Trails Preparatory Academy.

Guzman and Yuan were the most outspoken local critics of the town’s use of the parent trigger, which allows parents whose kids go to a school with chronically low test scores to pull a one-time lever to overhaul their children’s school by choosing from a menu of options, including replacing the principal, firing all the staff, and converting a school to a charter school. Ostensibly a tool of parent empowerment, critics have called the parent trigger a ruse which props up parents as the face of a very specific set of market-driven, test-focused education reforms. The parent trigger has since become an education reform and media darling, but the real-life story of it is complicated, and often ugly.

For more, read Colorlines’ parent trigger coverage.

Why Today’s Unemployment Number Isn’t So Great After All

Why Today's Unemployment Number Isn't So Great After All

The deceptively positive unemployment number released earlier today raises a serious question about why the nation obsesses over a single piece of information that actually tells us very little about the health of the job market. Though the December Employment Situation Report showed an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, the best number in years, what’s behind the data reveals an economy that is anemic and a labor market that is in shambles. Dramatic action needs to be taken this year if any of it is to change.

Though the Department of Labor’s statistics put out this morning exhibited the lowest jobless rate in six years, lower than at any point since the Great Recession of 2009, the reality is that merely 74,000 jobs were created last month. That’s twice below the number needed to keep with up population growth and brings the average number of jobs created last year to just 30,000 a month above what’s needed to keep real job growth above zero. Not surprisingly, Black unemployment was still in the critical double digits with Latino jobless finally leaving that red zone but still higher than the national average.

But that’s not the real news.

The reason why the unemployment rate seems to be the best since 2008 is that so many Americans have given up looking for work. In December the number of “discouraged workers” surged by 155,000. Discouraged workers are those who want employment but have given up the search believing that there are no jobs for them.

Since the official unemployment rate measures only individuals who both want work and are actively seeking it, the exit of over a hundred thousand people from the labor market causes the unemployment rate to fall and for things to look better than they actually are in fact.

The below-the-headline data in the report is so bad that Wall Street economist Guy Berger told The New York Times that it was simply “ugly.” 

The alarming jobs picture was put out just one day after President Obama announced his Promise Zones which will boost federal aid to combat joblessness and poverty in distressed rural and urban communities across the country. Five zones were announced on Thursday with the number rising to fifteen by the end of the president’s term in 2016. 

Yet given the wrecked nature of the nation’s labor market, it appears that the country as a whole has a promise to fulfill to desperate job seekers that it’s finding difficult to fulfill.

No Black Artists Had Number One Singles in 2013

No Black Artists Had Number One Singles in 2013

There were a lot of big releases from black artists in 2013 — Jay Z and Kanye West, for starters — but not one had a number one hit single, according to Billboard.  It’s the first time in Billboard’s 56-year history of tracking number one songs that not a single black artist has topped the list.

From WYNC:

The top spot on the Hot 100 — today’s version of the singles chart — was dominated by white acts throughout the past year. Perhaps even more intriguing is the fact that white artists even sat atop the R&B and Hip-Hop Songs chart for 44 out of 52 weeks of 2013. Compare this to ten years ago, when every No. 1 Hot 100 single was performed by an artist of color. 

And in a final interesting twist, there are no living black artists being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 — although Clarence Clemons will be inducted posthumously as part of the E Street Band. That’s only happened once before in Rock Hall history. 

Chris Molanphy writes in more detail over at Slate.

After Toddler Thug Video, Federal Lawsuit Draws More Attention to Omaha Police

After Toddler Thug Video, Federal Lawsuit Draws More Attention to Omaha Police

Days after the Omaha police union helped publicize a shocking video showing a local African-American toddler swearing and being sworn at, Omaha police are back in the news. Two officers have been fired, the latest fallout from controversial arrests stemming from a parking dispute last March. That incident was also caught on video.

“A parking ticket turned into officers storming my house and me being thrown to the ground and put into a chokehold,” Octavius Johnson says, according to a statement released by the ACLU of Nebraska. “When I was on the ground and police ran towards my house, I was worried about the family that raised me. I have seen incidents like this happen to other people. I now know that something like this could happen to not just my family, but any family.”

A call from a tow-truck operator in front of the Johnson family home resulted in Omaha police dispatching at least 20 officers to the scene. After video of the arrests spread via YouTube, OPD immediately fired four officers.

A federal lawsuit filed earlier this week by the ACLU on behalf of the Johnson’s, alleges excessive force and illegal search and seizure. In addition to 32 police officers, the suit names police chief Todd Schmaderer who this week distanced his department from the union’s posting of the toddler video, saying: 

“I strongly disagree with any postings that may cause a divide in our community or an obstacle to police community relations.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175