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Help Colorlines Stay on the Beat in 2014!

Help Colorlines Stay on the Beat in 2014!

‘Tis the season. Everybody’s trying to slow down and spend some time with loved ones this time of year, and we’re no different here at Colorlines. You’ve likely noticed we’ve pumped out fewer stories the past few days. Next week, we will not publish new content. We’ll start gearing up again on Dec. 30, and get back to full speed right after the New Year.

Thank you for reading, tweeting, commenting and generally engaging with Colorlines in 2013. You have helped us to grow our community dramatically over the past year. You have done a lot, but we’re going to ask you to keep us going by donating today!

If you engaged in our year-in-review live chat, you heard about some of our top stories. We’ve responded to breaking news like the government shutdown and the Boston bombings with context to help make sense of fast-moving events. We’ve reported closely on ongoing, big stories like immigration reform, the jobs crisis and the search for justice for Trayvon Martin and black men like him. We’ve dug in with investigations into immigrant detention facilities, exploitation of low-wage workers and the anti-choice movement’s efforts to capture black communities. And all the while, we’ve stayed on top of the pop, too, from Big Freedia to Miley Cyrus, “12 Years a Slave” to Paula Deen. We will keep offering this vital counterpoint to colorblind news media in 2014.

But good writing and real reporting cost money—and that’s why we need your help.

To get to the heart of our stories, it’s often necessary for our writers to travel across the country to talk directly with the people most affected by racial injustice. In early 2014, we’ll be going deep on the ways in which inequity shapes the lives of black men; exploring the intersection of faith and racial justice; digging into the unfair jobs that dominate the low-wage economy and much, much more. This work will be costly.

Help us follow these stories and provide meaningful coverage of news that matter. Please donate today.

We hope you’ve been getting a chance to spend time with your loved ones in these holiday weeks. We’ll miss talking with you while we’re away spending time with ours. But we look forward to resuming the conversation with our amazing, growing and dynamic Colorlines community in 2014. See you then!

Sorry Haters. A Black Nun Does Belong in Broadway’s ‘Sound of Music’

Sorry Haters. A Black Nun Does Belong in Broadway's 'Sound of Music'

Tony award-winner Audra McDonald has been facing fan criticism for playing Mother Abess in Broadway’s “Sound of Music,” Religion Dispatches reports. Fans of the classic musical have been insisting that there weren’t black nuns in Austria in 1938 when the story takes place. Among the critics are Mike Greenberg of the ESPN sports talk show “Mike and Mike” who insisted that you “don’t rewrite history books.” Responding to a Wall Street Journal article about McDonald, another detractor Will506, commented: 

“Audra McDonald did not belong in the Sound of Music as a black abbess in the Austria of 1938. It is a factual impossibility and respectful negative reaction to that represents not hate speech but a comment on 2013 political correctness run amok.”

The ahistorical argument prompted Religious Dispatches contributor Shannen D. Williams, a historian and expert on black nuns, to offer an exhaustive list of black nuns in Europe starting as early as 1685.

Although the overwhelming majority of the world’s black Catholic sisters served (and continue to serve) in the Americas and Africa, the presence of black nuns in European convents is not a recent phenomenon. In fact, one of the first documented black nuns in Europe was Louise Marie-Therese, the famed Black Nun of Moret, who took the religious habit in 1695 and remained at Benedictine abbey at Moret-sur-Loing in France until her death in 1732.

Kidnapped off the coast of present-day Ghana and sold into Spanish slavery as a child around 1686, Venerable Teresa Chikaba entered the Convent Dominican Sisters of Saint Mary Magdalene in Salamanca, Spain in 1703 and professed her vows as Therese Juliana of Saint Dominic in 1704. Generally regarded as the first black nun in a Spanish cloister, Chikaba remained in the convent until her death in 1748. She is currently under consideration for sainthood.

Europe’s most famous black nun is undoubtedly St. Josephine Bakhita, who spent twelve years as a slave in Sudan and Italy before her emancipation in 1889. She entered the novitiate at the Institute of the Catecumenate in Venice, Italy in 1893 and professed her vows as a Canosian Sister on December 8, 1896. Affectionately called Mother Moretta, or “our Black Mother,” St. Josephine Bakhita persevered in religious life through the rise and fall of the Third Reich until her death in 1947. She was canonized by the Catholic Church in 2000.

Read the entire fascinating story at Religion Dispatches.

 

Why Is the GOP Honoring the Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act?

Why Is the GOP Honoring the Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act?

Who knew the GOP cares about the shameful legacy of the Chinese Exclusion Act? The short answer: when votes are at stake. In a video House Republicans released Wednesday, six lawmakers—Reps. Lynn Jenkins, Jeff Denham, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Renee Ellmers, Cynthia Lummis and Frank Wolf—honored the 70th anniversary of the repeal of the nation’s first immigration law to single out for exclusion a single ethnic or racial group. But there’s no mention of that history in the video.

Instead, they offer stock platitudes. “Today we honor and recognize the hard work and perseverance of the Chinese-American community across the nation…as we continue to build on our shared goal of an America that is rich in opportunity and freedom,” lawmakers say in the video. 

Ros-Lehtinen and Denham did sign on this fall to a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but don’t mistake the video for a change of heart in the party’s current stance on immigration either. Count it as just the most recent in a line of Republicans’ not-so-secret overtures to Asian-American voters. Earlier this year, the GOP issued a public statement recognizing Diwali, the Los Angeles Times reported.

To Republicans, Asian Americans are an especially attractive but elusive voting bloc. They’re not only the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, they’re seen as a natural fit for the Republican party. Some segments of the Asian-American population are comparatively wealthier than other racial groups in the U.S. and are seen as fiscally and socially conservative. But it hasn’t translated into votes. In the 2012 election, 77 percent of Asian-American voters voted for Barack Obama, and support for the Democratic president swung upwards of 95 percent for some segments of the population. It turns out that Asian-American voters care deeply about immigration, and are paying attention to how both parties handle the issue.

Are Critics Using Macklemore to ‘Gentrify’ Hip-Hop?

Are Critics Using Macklemore to 'Gentrify' Hip-Hop?

Macklemore was one of the biggest names in last week’s Grammy nominations, a fact that’s led plenty of people to dissect the success of his amazingly successful album with Ryan Lewis, “The Heist.” But the rapper who, let’s be honest, is really good at his craft, can’t escape his whiteness and all that he represents. And he’s not trying to. Earlier this year he explained some of his success to Rolling Stone, saying, “I’m a white guy, parents feel safe around me.”

But David Dennis over at the Guardian put forth a provocative argument over the weekend noting that some observers are using Macklemore’s success against hip-hop and the scores of artists of color who perform it. Dennis points to a recent conert review in the Dallas Morning News that laments the fact that a politically progressive artist like Macklemore didn’t get mainstream recognition 25 years ago. 

Dennis writes:

At his core, Macklemore is a rapper, and a pretty good one at that. He’s also a hard-working MC who has hustled for close to a decade to get where he is now, setting the stage for wildly successful (and rich) independent musicians going forward. However, thanks to anti-hip-hop posturing and shallow-minded generalizations, Macklemore is being used as an example of ground-breaking “civility” for rap. A pseudo-gentrification that undermines decades of artistry hip-hop culture has provided.

Dennis is careful to point out that it’s not Macklemore’s doing, but rather the way that he’s being used by some white critics who are already critical of hip-hop culture. Read more at the Guardian.

Nikki Giovanni Recites Poetry Live on MSNBC

Nikki Giovanni Recites Poetry Live on MSNBC

Celebrated poet Nikki Giovanni made an appearance on Melissa Harris-Perry’s #Nerdland segment over the weekend. She performed a poem called “Ego Tripping” and said, “I am so hip, even my errors are correct.” Watch the segment below.

Beyoncé’s Surprise Album Sells 430k in Less Than 48 Hours

Beyoncé's Surprise Album Sells 430k in Less Than 48 Hours

All hail Beyoncé.

The superstar singer released a surprise self-titled album last Thursday and it sold more than 430,000 copies in less than 48 hours. The project is available exclusively on iTunes and features 14-tracks and accompanying videos that are meant to be experienced as a “visual package.” Billboard notes that the album is set to become the biggest debuting album for a female recording artists since Taylor Swift’s “Red” in 2010, which sold 1.2 million copies. 

TAGS: Beyonce

Congressional Black Caucus: ‘Dear Pope, Love Your Work’

Congressional Black Caucus: 'Dear Pope, Love Your Work'

Today, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia L. Fudge sent a letter to Time’s Man of the Year Pope Francis complimenting the Catholic holy leader for drawing attention to inequality. There was no ‘ask’ in the letter, nor a call to join arms. Also, no mention of race, though there is a note that “nearly 1 in 4 children go to bed hungry every night.” It’s basically a thank you letter with a message that could be summarized as “I see you over there, playa, keep up the good work.” 

From Fudge’s actual words: 

“Since the beginning of your service, you have been vocal about the need for elected officials to acknowledge the growing inequality in our world. You have called upon us to look beyond the superficial approach to problem-solving and to dig deeper in addressing the real needs of people in our society. You have asked that we work together to make the structural changes required to close the widening gap between the rich and the poor. For more than 41 years, this has also been the charge of the Congressional Black Caucus. … We stand with you in your appeal against complacency, and we admire your courage in working to make sure the Catholic Church is deeply engaged in the most pressing issues of our time.”

Read the rest of her letter to see what else Rep. Fudge had to say to him. It sounds like at least Obama has lately been paying attention to the Pope on this issue.  

WI Families Fight to End Police Investigation of Police Custody Deaths

WI Families Fight to End Police Investigation of Police Custody Deaths

Friends and family of people killed by Wisconsin police yesterday urged members of the state legislature to stop allowing police to investigate their own police-custody deaths.

Mother Sonya Moore spoke at the hearing on behalf of her son, Derek Williams, a black man who died in 2011 after begging for help and gasping for air in the back of a squad car. Police shot Michael Bell, a white man, point-blank in the head in his driveway in 2004. In these cases and at least one other, according to the Journal Sentinel, investigators from the respective departments “quickly cleared” the officers.

If passed, the new law would make Wisconsin the first state in the country to require independent review whenever anyone dies in a police confrontation.

(h/t Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Five Reasons to Love Beyoncé, The Feminist Work in Progress

Five Reasons to Love Beyoncé, The Feminist Work in Progress

You may remember earlier this year when there was a bit of an uproar against Beyonce’s song “Bow Down/I Been On.” Critics claimed that the song was soundly anti-feminist; the Washington Post even went as far as saying that the singer “sabotage[d] her female empowerment efforts.” Rahiel Tesfamariam wrote, “The release of ‘Bow Down’ suggests that the pop icon only adorns the feminist label when it suits her - dangerously straddling the line between female empowerment and subjugation.”

But on her latest album that took the world by surprise, the singer seems to answer some of those critics, an effort that’s very much appreciated by the good folks over at Crunk Feminist Collective, which lists five reasons to rock with R&B’s biggest superstar.

1.)  She’s a work in progress, as are we all. In 2010, she gave an interview saying she was a“feminist in a way,” because she valued her female friendships deeply. Earlier this year, she claimed she was a “modern-day feminist.” Now she is straight up embracing the term in her music and claiming her right to tell women to both bowdown and encouraging them to be self-confident from the moment they step out of bed… in the same damn song! I rock with that because her feminism is complicated, and ours is too. Tell the truth. If your bed and the folks you shared it with were an indicator of your politics, your card might get pulled, too. Moving on.

2.)  Sometimes bitches do need to bowdown.  Call that a hip hop generation feminist sensibility, but it’s true. It’s just like when Papa Pope gave Fitz the read of the century last night in Scandal - “Boy, I’m literally above your paygrade.” It’s like the swag I don when academic goons try to step to me even though they are clearly less qualified. Sometimes I’ve been known to tell folk “You haven’t read enough to step to me. Go back and come again.” The world would be better if women would learn that we don’t have to take everybody’s shit. Not the white man’s, not the Black man’s, not the state’s, not the hating ass next-door neighbor, not your frenemy’s. Nobody’s.

3.)  Academic feminism ain’t the only kid on the block. Confession: the first time I identified as a feminist, I was in grad school. I was able to come to an informed conclusion after reading Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s Words of Fire and Patricia Hill Collins Black Feminist Thought. But we need to stop acting like a radical feminist is the only kind of feminist to be. I mean look, I’m radical and committed to a robust structural critique. But I appreciate the good few liberal feminists in Congress who show up and actually fight for reproductive rights that can be on the books! As Meek Mill says, there’s levels to the shit. But newsflash - everybody didn’t go to college. So when women of color start waxing eloquent about how our grandmothers and mothers were the first feminists we knew and many of them would “never” use the term, I wonder then why we don’t understand Beyonce’s homegrown brand of feminism - one that honors female friendships, one that recognizes and calls out sexism and domination in her industry, one that celebrates the power of women. No, it ain’t well-articulated radical social justice feminism, but if you need a Ph.D. to be a feminist, then we’ve got bigger problems, folks. AND I’ll take a feminist that knows how to treat her homegirls before one who can spit the finer points of a bell hooks to me all day erry-day.

 It’s a thought-provoking post. Read the rest over at Crunk Feminist Collective.

TAGS: Beyonce

New Jersey DREAM Act Moves Forward Despite Christie’s Veto Threat

New Jersey DREAM Act Moves Forward Despite Christie's Veto Threat

After clearing a budget committee vote Thursday, New Jersey’s bill to grant tuition equity to undocumented students is now headed to the Assembly floor. Committee members advanced the bill in an eight to four vote despite Gov. Chris Christie’s recent refusal to sign the bill.

The vote was split along party lines—with Democrats backing the bill and the committee’s Republicans opposing. With its approval, the Assembly accepted a provision which would allow undocumented students to be eligible for state financial aid, the Burlington County Times reported. The Assembly bill is now aligned with a version passed by the New Jersey state Senate in November.

New Jersey’s tuition equity bill is modeled on laws passed by more than a dozen states which allow in-state residents, regardless of their immigration status, to pay in-state college tuition. If passed, the Garden State would become the fourth state after Texas, California and New Mexico to allow undocumented students to access state financial aid. 

Watch the Video for The Roots and Elvis Costello ‘Tripwire’

Watch the Video for The Roots and Elvis Costello 'Tripwire'

Check out this lyric video from The Roots and Elvis Costello for the song “Tripwire.” The 2013 album “Wise Up Ghost” is available on iTunes.

For Ex-Offenders, NJ Judge Opens Door to Good Jobs

For Ex-Offenders, NJ Judge Opens Door to Good Jobs

In a decision that could affect thousands of ex-offenders, a New Jersey judge last week temporarily banned enforcement of a 1998 state law prohibiting the awarding of trade licenses to anyone owing at least six months’ worth of child support. The law does not distinguish between unintentional and willful failures to pay child support, the plaintiff’s lawyers argued. As a result, the statute hurt ex-offenders like 41-year-old electrician Patrice Dowe, who racked up $31,000 in back child support while serving 10 years in federal prison.

Upon his release in 2009, Dowe, who’d taken classes in medium and low-security prisons to improve his electrician skills, discovered he was ineligible to be licensed as a tradesman. The average annual salary for an electrician, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is about $53,000.

Dowe has two sons. New Jersey could decide to appeal the ruling.

(h/t The Star Ledger)

* The post has been updated from the original.

Beyoncé’s Surprise Album Features Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Beyoncé's Surprise Album Features Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Beyoncé delivered the ultimate surprise holiday gift on Thursday night when she released a 14-track self-titled album featuring an unexpected guest: Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, whose latest novel “Americanah” is atop many year-end reading lists.

The singer dropped the album on iTunes without any promotion, save for a 15-second Instagram video. And if that’s not enough, Beyoncé’s calling the project a “visual album” that’s meant to be experienced through 17 surprise preview videos for the new album. Ngozi is on a track called “Flawless.” Watch above.

“Dreamer” Erika Andiola’s Mom To Stay in the U.S.

Just in time for the holidays, “Dreamer” Erika Andiola who a week ago quit her job as a congressional staffer to fight her mother’s deportation has won. Because of public pressure, Andiola told Buzzfeed, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has extended Maria Arreola’s stay for a year

Andiola, among those featured in a 2012 Time magazine cover story, isn’t settling for just her mom’s victory, however.

“Another family was here with us — their father is going to be deported tomorrow,” [Andiola] said of Ardani Rosales. “We wanted to bring his case to their attention. Our family is really, really happy but we’re also a family now of activists and we have a bigger family now. His case is just as deserving as my mother’s; it’s just not public like mine was.”

Arreola was scheduled to be deported in January.

Watch Toni Morrison and Junot Díaz Talk About Race and Writing

Watch Toni Morrison and Junot Díaz Talk About Race and Writing

Toni Morrison and Junot Díaz will be in conversation tonight at the New York Public Library, and you can watch the whole thing live. The talk is slated to begin at 7pm EST/4pm PST (read more about it here). If you can’t make it there in person, tune in and watch the above video.

Watch: The Biggest Stories of 2013

Watch: The Biggest Stories of 2013 Play

As 2013, draws to a close, we’re waxing reflective about the last 12 months. As part of our year-in-review experience, we’ve already recapped the top ten racial justice wins of the year (http://fw.to/6XVvOgH). Now, we’re talking to some of your favorite Colorlines writers, including host Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) and panelists Jamilah King (@jamilahking), Julianne Hing (@juliannehing), Imara Jones (@imarajones), and Seth Freed Wessler (@sethfw) about covering the biggest stories of 2013 in the arenas of education, pop culture, immigration, the economy and more. 

Join us live at 12:30PM EST and tweet your questions and comments to @Colorlines during the chat for a chance to hear them answered on air!

‘12 Years a Slave’ Leads This Year’s Golden Globe Nominations

'12 Years a Slave' Leads This Year's Golden Globe Nominations

This year’s Golden Globe nominations are out, and it’s no surprise that Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” is out to win big. In total the film is nominated for seven awards, including best picture. 

Kerry Washington is also up for an award for her role in “Scandal,” while Idris Elba is up for a best actor nomination for his role in “Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom.”

Check out the full list of nominations below:

Best motion picture, drama

“12 Years a Slave”

“Captain Phillips”

“Gravity”

“Philomena”

“Rush”

Best motion picture, musical or comedy

“American Hustle”

“Her”

“Inside Llewyn Davis”

“Nebraska”

“The Wolf of Wall Street”

Best Actress in a motion picture, drama

Cate Blanchett “Blue Jasmine”

Sandra Bullock - “Gravity”

Judi Dench - “Philomena”

Emma Thompson - “Saving Mr. Banks”

Kate Winslet - “Labor Day”

Best Actor in a motion picture, drama

Chiwetel Ejiofor - “12 Years a Slave”

Idris Elba - “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom”

Tom Hanks - “Captain Phillips”

Matthew McConaughey - “Dallas Buyers Club”

Robert Redford - “All Is Lost”

Best Actress in a motion picture, musical or comedy

Amy Adams - “American Hustle”

Julie Delpy - “Before Midnight”

Greta Gerwig - “Frances Ha”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus - “Enough Said”

Meryl Streep - “August: Osage County”

Best Actor in a motion picture, musical or comedy

Christian Bale - “American Hustle”

Bruce Dern - “Nebraska”

Leonardo DiCaprio - “The Wolf Of Wall Street”

Oscar Isaac - “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Joaquin Phoenix - “Her”

Best supporting Actress in a motion picture

Sally Hawkins - “Blue Jasmine”

Jennifer Lawrence - “American Hustle”

Lupita Nyong’o - “12 Years a Slave”

Julia Roberts - “August: Osage County”

June Squibb - “Nebraska”

Best supporting Actor in a motion picture

Barkhad Abdi - “Captain Phillips”

Daniel Brühl - “Rush”

Bradley Cooper - “American Hustle”

Michael Fassbender - “12 Years a Slave”

Jared Leto - “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Director - motion picture

Alfonso Cuarón - “Gravity”

Paul Greengrass - “Captain Phillips”

Steve McQueen - “12 Years a Slave”

Alexander Payne - “Nebraska”

David O. Russell - “American Hustle”

Best Screenplay - motion picture

Spike Jonze - “Her”

Bob Nelson - “Nebraska”

Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan - “Philomena”

John Ridley - “12 Years a Slave”

Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell - “American Hustle”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Blue is the Warmest Color”

“The Great Beauty”

“The Hunt”

“The Past”

“The Wind Rises”

Best Animated Feature film

“The Croods”

“Despicable Me 2”

“Frozen”

Best TV series, drama

“Breaking Bad”

“Downton Abbey”

“The Good Wife”

“House of Cards”

“Masters of Sex”

Best TV Series, Comedy

“The Big Bang Theory”

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

“Girls”

“Modern Family”

“Parks and Recreation”

Best TV movie or mini-series

“American Horror Story: Coven”

“Behind the Candelabra”

“Dancing on the Edge”

“Top of the Lake”

“The White Queen”

Best Actress in a TV series, drama

Julianna Margulies - “The Good Wife”

Tatiana Maslany - “Orphan Black”

Taylor Schilling - “Orange is the New Black”

Kerry Washington - “Scandal”

Robin Wright - “House of Cards”

Best Actor in a TV series, drama

Bryan Cranston - “Breaking Bad”

Liev Schreiber - “Ray Donovan”

Michael Sheen - “Masters of Sex”

Kevin Spacey - “House of Cards”

James Spader - “The Blacklist”

Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy

Zooey Deschanel - “New Girl”

Lena Dunham - “Girls”

Edie Falco - “Nurse Jackie”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus - “Veep”

Amy Poehler - “Parks and Recreation”

Best Actor, TV Series Comedy

Jason Bateman - “Arrested Development”

Don Cheadle - “House of Lies”

Michael J. Fox - “The Michael J. Fox Show”

Jim Parsons - “The Big Bang Theory”

Andy Samberg - “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Best Actress in a mini-series or TV movie

Helena Bonham Carter - “Burton and Taylor”

Rebecca Ferguson - “White Queen”

Jessica Lange - “American Horror Story: Coven”

Helen Mirren - “Phil Spector”

Elisabeth Moss - “Top of the Lake”

Best Actor in a mini-series or TV movie

Matt Damon - “Behind the Candelabra”

Michael Douglas - “Behind the Candelabra”

Chiwetel Ejiofor - “Dancing on the Edge”

Idris Elba - “Luther”

Al Pacino - “Phil Spector”

Best Supporting Actress in a series, mini-series, or TV movie

Jacqueline Bisset - “Dancing on the Edge”

Janet McTeer - “White Queen”

Hayden Panettiere - “Nashville”

Monica potter - “Parenthood”

Sofia Vergara - “Modern Family”

Best Supporting Actor in a series, mini-series or TV movie

Josh Charles - “The Good Wife”

Rob Lowe- “Behind the Candelabra”

Aaron Paul - “Breaking Bad”

Corey Stoll - “House of Cards”

Jon Voight -” Ray Donovan”

(h/t Los Angeles Times)

Miami Area Police Chief Resigns Amid Racial Profiling Charges

Miami Area Police Chief Resigns Amid Racial Profiling Charges

Police chief Matthew Boyd of the Miami Gardens Police Department resigned yesterday amid charges that officers racially profiled both customers and employees at a local convenience store. According to the Miami New Times, one employee was arrested 419 times for trespassing in the past five years.

The Florida chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) two days ago called on the Department of Justice to investigate “a systemic pattern and practice of intimidation by officers … against African American residents…”. 

Miami Gardens, with a population of about 100,000, is a majority black suburb of Miami. It has one of the highest crime rates in the country.

What Tech Startup CEO Greg Gopman Doesn’t Know About SF’s ‘Degenerates’ He Insulted

What Tech Startup CEO Greg Gopman Doesn't Know About SF's 'Degenerates' He Insulted

Silicon Valley startup CEO Greg Gopman set back by miles the already bitter relations between the tech industry and, well, everyone else in the Bay Area when he took to Facebook Tuesday night to post a screed about San Francisco’s poor who dot the city’s main downtown thoroughfare. He’s since removed his post, which opened thusly:

Just got back to SF. I’ve traveled around the world and I gotta say there is nothing more grotesque than walking down market st in San Francisco. Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash I have no clue. Each time I pass it my love affair with SF dies a little.

Gopman laments that the poor in other “cosmopolitan cities,” “realize it’s a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests,” but San Francisco’s “degenerates gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, get rowdy, they act like they own the center of the city.” 

“You can preach compassion, equality, and be the biggest lover in the world, but there is an area of town for degenerates and an area of town for the working class. There is nothing positive gained from having them so close to us.”

Gopman’s words are so cruel and hysterical they sounds like satire, but they’re not. By this morning he’d thought better and wrote, “I’m really sorry for my comments. I trivialized the plight of those struggling to get by and I shouldn’t have.” He asked for some dialogue, “an open discussion on what changes we can make to fix these serious problems.”

So let’s get to it.

Here’s what Gopman may not realize. The tech boom of which Gopman’s a part has spurred an influx of wealth into the Bay Area, and with it, a class of new arrivals who want a piece of the small city’s charm. Swift market forces and the absence of protective regulations have spurred skyrocketing rents and no-fault evictions. Evictions, according to San Francisco’s Eviction Defense Collective’s 2012 report (PDF), are a leading cause of homelessness in the city. Ellis Act evictions in particular increased by over 100 percent in 2012, coinciding exactly with the recent tech boom. “Thirty-five percent of respondents indicated that immediately prior to becoming homeless they lived in a home owned or rented by themselves or their partner,” the report’s authors write. 

Put another way, people like Gopman may actually be contributing to the, ahem, degeneration, of the lives of the city’s most vulnerable.

And even besides the facts, there’s the very clearly emotional nature of the city’s gentrification debate. It’s particularly tough for longtime San Franciscans who are being priced out of their hometowns to stomach derisive remarks from people like Gopman who lay claim to the city and yet who, by their own account, are not even from it. According to his own Facebook profile, Gopman is from Aventura, Florida.

(via Valleywag)

Joe Biden: No, Obama Won’t Stop Deportations

Joe Biden: No, Obama Won't Stop Deportations

It was the usual “get to the back of the line, pay your dues, get right with the law, failed CIR is the Republicans’ fault” ho hum from the White House today when Vice President Joe Biden and Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz sat down for a live chat today hosted by Bing and Skype.

Biden was his chatty uncle self and Muñoz played the policy wonk straight man, and the two fielded questions on E-Verify, border enforcement, green cards, and undocumented youth. But two questions in particular highlighted the current deportation debate. With immigration reform dead in Congress, some in the immigrant rights community are calling on President Obama to use his executive authority to stop deporting those who are undocumented. They include undocumented immigrants and supporters who’ve been using their bodies to block exits for deportation vehicles at ICE detention centers around the country.

A Twitter user asked about this very issue, and Muñoz responded, “The president doesn’t have the authority to suspend deportations.” She took a detour to talk about deferred action, the Obama administration’s move to block the deportations of a select class of undocumented youth, then returned to the real question she knew watchers were interested in. “I will say what some people want to know is whether or not we can use that authority more broadly, and the answer to that is: … You can’t just use enforcement authority to fix this problem. The paythway to fix this is going straight through Congress.”

Biden chimed in: “He doesn’t have the authority to do that. What I get and what [Muñoz] gets all the time is, ‘Since the system is broken and Congress won’t fix it, why don’t you suspend everything. The president does not have the authority to do that.”

Advocates rebut the White House’s remarks by citing congressional documents which reiterate the President’s authority to stop deportations, and the words of former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau who wrote in a New York Times op-ed last week, “President Obama seriously understates his ability to mitigate the effect of immigration law while he confronts Republican intransigence in the House.”

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