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Nicki Minaj Exploits Malcolm X For Her Song’s Tasteless Artwork

Nicki Minaj Exploits Malcolm X For Her Song's Tasteless Artwork

Best line of the day comes from For Harriet, “The image is a musician’s equivalent of using MLK’s portrait for party flyers.”

But this is probably even worse since the iconic photo of Malcolm X was taken at a time when he genuinely had to protect his family’s safety while Minaj just wants to tell the world that she’s sexy.

Jailed, for Being Poor

Jailed, for Being Poor

U.S. courts continue the practice of locking up people for being poor—in effect, criminalizing poverty. A new Human Rights Watch report estimates that private probation companies in the state of Georgia, for example, collect a minimum of $40 million in fines, annually. Clients are typically charged with misdemeanors, like Thomas Barrett, who pled guilty to shoplifting a $2 can of beer. After failing to pay the $200 criminal fine, Barrett racked up more than $1,000 in extra fees to his probation company. So he was jailed. At the time, according to the report which focuses on Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, Barrett was selling his own blood plasma twice a week to raise money. 

The ACLU first investigated debtors’ prisons in several southern states in 2010. Four years later, according to a new report, the ACLU in Washington state finds that in one county, 20 percent of its jailed population is in for unpaid fines and fees. Throughout the state, criminal debt grows into the thousands of dollars with help from a 12 percent annual interest rate.

Georgia’s private probation industry, which is largely unregulated and not subject to open records laws, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is dominated by former law enforcement officers. 

 

The 2pac Movie Finally Has a Director: His Friend, John Singleton

The 2pac Movie Finally Has a Director: His Friend, John Singleton

The highly anticipated and often delayed 2pac biopic is one step closer to actually becoming a reality. John Singleton has been tapped to rewrite, direct and produce the film, which he’s long wanted to do anyway.

“Tupac was the guy who I planned to do a lifetime of films with,” Singleton told Variety. “His passing deeply affected my life as well as countless people in this world. His life story [is] important to my generation.”

Singleton directed Shakur in his breakthrough role in the film “Poetic Justice” alongside Janet Jackson, and has grown close with the slain rapper’s family since his death in 1996. Here’s how close the two were back in 1994:

 

The next step is casting the actor who will play 2pac. Singleton said that he hopes to begin production in June.

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Comcast’s Merger With Time Warner Means Even Fewer Choices For You

Comcast's Merger With Time Warner Means Even Fewer Choices For You

Comcast has agreed to buy Time Warner Cable in a deal that’s worth an estimated $45.2 billion. It’s the latest in a series of high-profile mega mergers in the telecommunications world, after 2009’s Comcast/NBC Universal deal and AT&T’s failed 2011 acquisition of T-Mobile. But this latest deal is one of perhaps even more massive proportions than any of the previous mergers since it would create a video and Internet juggernaut that’s already got 30 million subscribers and operates in some of the country’s biggest media markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

And while that’s great for business, it means even fewer choices for consumers. John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at the D.C. watchdog policy group Public Knowledge, explained it this way in a statement released on Wednesday:

“If Comcast takes over Time Warner Cable, it would yield unprecedented gatekeeper power in several important markets. It is already the nation’s largest ISP, the nation’s largest video provider, and the nation’s largest home phone provider. It also controls a movie studio, broadcast network, and many popular cable channels. An enlarged Comcast would be the bully in the schoolyard, able to dictate terms to content creators, Internet companies, other communications networks that must interconnect with it, and distributors who must access its content. By raising the costs of its rivals and business partners, an enlarged Comcast would raise costs for consumers, who ultimately pay the bills. It would be able to keep others from innovating, while facing little pressure to improve its own service. New equipment, new services, and new content would have to meet with its approval to stand any chance of succeeding.”

The deal would give Comcast control of more than a third of the U.S. pay-TV  U.S. and more than half of the U.S. triple-play market for video, voice and Internet service, according to Free Press. That boils down to unprecedented control over the market, one in which consumers of color are already losing. People of color make up more than 36 percent of the U.S. population but hold just over 7 percent of radio licenses and 3 percent of TV licenses. 

To get a sense of what this lack of choice looks like, check out this graphic. It’s dated (from 2011, before NBC Universal’s merger with Comcast), but it paints a pretty descriptive picture of just how few choices consumers really have:

IllusionofChoice2.jpg

What Is Latina Fashion? Ámbar Is Target’s Answer

What Is Latina Fashion? Ámbar Is Target's Answer

It’s only a matter of time before Latinos become the new majority in the country. In California, that’s mere weeks away. With an eye on those demographic shifts, this week Target released Ámbar, a 39-piece line of women’s clothing geared toward the Latina shopper. The collection will be available online and in 50 stores around the country.

“With the rate the Hispanic population is growing, it is critical for us to offer a relevant assortment at a great value,” Target’s segmentation merchant Jenny Panske said in a statement.

So what exactly is Latina fashion? And how much does that differ from the way non-Latinas dress? That’s not totally clear.

“While we think the new line will appeal to just about anyone with a flair for style, Ámbar was designed specifically with the Latina fashionista in mind,” Target’s online magazine writes. According to Target that means bold colors, bright florals, on-trend black and white prints, colorblocking and easy silhouettes. Distinct fashion this is not.

It’s probably better then to think of the line as aggressively focused market segmentation instead of an actual aesthetic statement. But hey, at least Target didn’t try to sell huaraches or sombreros directly to Latina and Latino shoppers. Those they market to everyone.

Drake Admits That The Best Rap Albums Don’t Always Win Grammys

Drake Admits That The Best Rap Albums Don't Always Win Grammys

Drake decided to enter the fray in the Macklemore vs. Kendrick Lamar Grammy controversy. When asked by Rolling Stone to comment on Macklemore’s infamous “You got robbed” apology text to Kendrick after his big win for best rap album, Drake didn’t hold back, saying, “That shit was whack as fuck.”

“I was like, ‘You won. Why are you posting your text message? Just chill. Take your W, and if you feel you didn’t deserve it, go get better — make better music,’” he told Rolling Stone. “It felt cheap. It didn’t feel genuine. Why do that? Why feel guilt? You think those guys would pay homage to you if they won?”

That’s the comment that’s getting all the headlines, but what was actually even more interesting was Drake’s admission that the best albums don’t always win at the Grammy’s.

“This is how the world works: He made a brand of music that appealed to more people than me, Hov, Kanye and Kendrick. Whether people wanna say it’s racial, or whether it’s just the fact that he tapped into something we can’t tap into. That’s just how the cards fall. Own your shit.”

Of all people, Drake should know. In 2013, he took home the award for Best Rap Album for his second album “Take Care,” beating out a The Root’s phenomenal “Undun.” In fact, there are about two dozen hip-hop stalwarts, including 2pac, Biggie, Rakim and Nas, who have fewer Grammy’s than Macklemore. 

The big picture? The Grammy’s rap awards are more a matter of popularity than anything else. That doesn’t mean that the albums that win aren’t good, but usually, they’re not the best.

How Did Sexist, Anti-Asian Posters Wind Up USC and UCLA?

How Did Sexist, Anti-Asian Posters Wind Up USC and UCLA?

That’s the question at the center of two campus investigations currently taking place on Los Angeles college campuses, according to the LA Times. Officials at USC and UCLA are trying to figure out how fliers wound up on each campus containing curses and racist language about Asian women dating white men.

LAist notes that the crude and poorly written flyers include lines that read, “Asian cunt sluts have low self-esteem up xi ass” and “Mexican womyn don’t worship honkie white boy like Asian cunts do!” The website also notes that the fliers are reminiscent of racist fliers posted at UCLA in 2012 that called Asian women “Honkie white-boy worshipping Whores” and Alexandra Wallace’s 2011 YouTube rant.  

In a letter condemning these most recent flyers, UCLA’s Asian Pacific Coalition issued the following statement this week:

Every year, at least one discriminatory and racially biased incident occurs, and many more go unreported. To allow these attacks to remain unaddressed, whether they are intended to hurt or draw attention, is to tacitly endorse the marginalization of our community, to accept being painted as perpetual foreigners, and to allow for the exotification and objectification of women of color.

These racially biased incidents cannot continue.

The Daily Bruin reported that 50 students gathered in protest this week to denounce the flyers. A coalition of Los Angeles-based universities have also banded together to issue the following statement: “To allow these attacks to remain unaddressed, whether they are intended to hurt or draw attention, is to tacitly endorse the marginalization of our community, to accept being painted as perpetual foreigners and to allow for the exotification and objectification of women of color.”

 

 

Twin Sisters, Separated At Birth, Reunite and Make a Film

Remember that show “Sister, Sister” from back in the late ’90s? It followed two teenage identical twin sisters (played by Tia and Tamara Mowry) who were separated at birth, found each other, and then, along with their adopted parents, made a family.

The real-life story of Samantha Futerman and Anaïs Bordier is even better.

The identifcal twin sisters weren’t only separated at birth, but adopted by families on differen continents. Now they’re making a film about their journey, which was also picked up by “Good Morning America. Here’s their story:

(h/t Angry Asian Man)

TAGS: Video

Cal State L.A. Students Push for Ethnic Studies Requirement

Another showdown is brewing over ethnic studies, this time at California State University, Los Angeles, where students are demanding that the administration add an ethnic studies requirement to the school’s general education curriculum.

On Tuesday, 75 students showed up to an Academic Senate meeting to make their demands public, arguing that the courses are an important part of developing critical thinking skills in an increasingly multicultural society.

“College students who take an ethnic studies class can go out and uplift their community,” Jelani Hendrix, a 23-year-old Pan-African studies major, told the Los Angeles Times. “They can show that all of us are more alike than different.”

But ethnic studies programs throughout the California State University system, and the country, face tremendous hurdles as universities slash budgets and the programs suffer from dwindling enrollment. Cal State Long Beach recently moved to reduce the status of its Africana Studies program and a group of faculty from across the 23-campus Cal State system have advocated for a moratorium on proposed changes.

“General education requirements should be open to all departments and programs,” said Gretchen Peterson, chairwoman of the Cal State LA sociology department told the Times. “Ethnic studies should be integrated throughout the curriculum.”

The 55-member academic senate, which includes students and college deans, rejected a similar ethnic studies requirement last month. It’s expected to take up the issue again next week.

In the video below, students and faculty speak out at a press conference in Los Angeles. 

Chicana College Student Claims Police Assaulted Her in Hospital

Chicana College Student Claims Police Assaulted Her in Hospital

In March of 2012, Aloni Bonilla was pulled over by a local police officer for suspicion of driving under the influence. After police escorted her to the hospital for a blood sample after a breathalyzer at the scene found traces of alcohol in her system. What happened next, which Bonilla chronicled in a video she posted to YouTube last year, is the now the subject of an appeal before the L.A. County Superior Court. Here’s more from Jorge Rivas at Fusion:

Bonilla claims the 20-minute video uploaded to the video sharing site shows the officer using excessive force and contradicts statements made in the police report. She took the officer to court to dispute the charges in the police report that Bonilla says the video proves are false.

The officer contends that Bonilla waved her arms around and approached him to try to head butt him. The video shows the CHP officer pushing Bonilla against the wall and then forcing her to the floor. He then pins Bonilla down with his knee.

Bonilla ended up with a black eye from hitting a wall-mounted medical device, according to court documents. Today, she has five slipped discs in her spine and neck she says were a result from the altercation with the officer.

Bonilla, who at the time was a math major at Cal State Los Angeles, was charged with and convicted of vandalism, resisting arrest and failure to provide a driver’s license. She’s appealing her conviction and the judges who heard her case are expected to make a decision in the next two weeks. 

Watch Now: Jordan Davis Murder Trial Live

Watch Now: Jordan Davis Murder Trial Live

Accused murderer, Michael Dunn is currently being cross-examined by a Florida prosecutor. Follow this link to watch live. Add your Tweets to hashtag #DunnTrial.

Michael Dunn is accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis a day after Thanksgiving in 2012, at a Jacksonville gas station. The shooting following an argument in which Dunn complained about loud hip-hop music coming from Davis’s friend’s car.

E.J. Johnson Brings His Bold Black Masculinity to the Wendy Williams Show

E.J. Johnson Brings His Bold Black Masculinity to the Wendy Williams Show

It’s been a while since we heard from 21-year-old fashionista E.J. Johnson, NBA legend Magic Johnson’s son. E.J.’s coming out story, coupled with the fact that he has his parents’ very public support and his bold approach to black masculinity, has been one part of the conversation about LGBT folks in the sports world. On Monday, E.J. was a guest on Wendy Williams show, where he talked about coming out, accessorizing, and obsessing over Lupita Nyong’o’s fashion tastes. 

The Revolutionary Workout That Every Black Body in America Needs

The Revolutionary Workout That Every Black Body in America Needs

Tired of the same old workout routine? Is Nike Training club just not cutting it for you anymore? Then try Andia Winslow and Monique Walton’s new Legacy Workout, which boasts Tuskeegee crunches, Shirley (Chisholm and Jackson) pushups, and house cleaner/child rearer ab rolls. 

The Legacy Workout is dedicated to the memory of bodies of work. Of bodies at work. And at play. Of minds committed to mining greatness, to combating injustice, to insuring a future for future bodies, and minds. The Legacy Workout is dedicated to legacy makers past, present and future. The black body. The celestial body. The empowered human body, in motion. 

This is not trivial. This is tribute. Each movement reflects a person, a people, or a point in time — an era. Because they dreamed us, because they dreamed of a better place for us —and for themselves— we owe them. We owe it to ourselves to do/be better. To be caretakers of our bodies without which we cannot persist; we cease to exist. Infinity is our limit.

Let the history of black bodies in America be all the inspiration that your daily workout needs.

(h/t Ava DuVernay

Obama to Announce Young Men of Color Initiative

Obama to Announce Young Men of Color Initiative

UPDATE 02/13/2014 AT 5:00PM EST — The White House postponed today’s announcement of the “My Brother’s Keeper,” initiative because of the snowstorm. A new date has not yet been made public.

So that thing for young men of color the president quickly mentioned in one line during his State of the Union speech? It’s almost here. This Thursday, Pres. Obama plans to announce, “My Brother’s Keeper.” The Washington Post describes it as a national initiative that will bring foundations and companies together, “to test a range of strategies,” to support young men of color. The new initiative will be accompanied by, “a more vigorous evaluation of what policies work best.”

Look for more details, including cost and scope, on Thursday. In the run-up to that announcement, a Chicago program, Becoming a Man, is being promoted as a White House-approved model intervention program. 

It is unusual, notes the WP, for this president to focus attention on a relatively narrow demographic group.

Live Chat: What’s Next for White Privilege?

“White privilege.” The term has become so popular over the past few years that our crack team of editors and writers at Colorlines have begun to wonder if its frequent use has lessened its impact. Has the saying, “Check your privilege” outlived its usefulness? And once those who benefit from racial privilege have acknowledged it, what are some practical next steps they can implement to level the playing field and make greater strides toward racial and social justice? 

At 12:30 p.m., host Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) will discuss these questions and others with a knowledgeable panel of activists and educators, including:

Watch live and join us on Twitter to weigh in with your own questions and comments, using the hashtag #whiteprivilegechat

Congress Members Keep Pressure on Washington, DC NFL Team

Congress Members Keep Pressure on Washington, DC NFL Team

Some members of Congress are again pressing the National Football League to support a name change for the Washington, DC NFL team. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in response, it says, to a January 31 press conference in which he called the team name an “honor” for Native Americans.

The letter makes a point of bringing up the NFL’s tax-exempt status.  According to The New York Times, Cantell in an interview Sunday, said, “lawmakers would “definitely” examine the N.F.L.’s tax-exempt status and other ways to pressure the league. “You’re getting a tax break for educational purposes, but you’re still embracing a name that people see as a slur and encouraging it,” [she] said.

Cantwell chairs the Indian Affairs Committee and Cole is a member of the Native American Caucus. Ten members of Congress sent Goodell a similar letter last May.

How Does It Feel to Be a Black Student at UCLA Law School? [Video]

How Does It Feel to Be a Black Student at UCLA Law School? [Video]

Just 33 of roughly 1,100 students at UCLA’s School of Law are black. In a video released today, some of those students spoke about how it affects their daily experience. They speak on what it feels like to sometimes be the only black person in a classroom, and to be extremely visible and yet so isolated. This is just some of what students had to say:

“I get here and I’m one of three black students in my section and I’m told that’s impressive. I get here and I’m told I’m one of 11 black students in my class and that that’s impressive. And I wasn’t impressed.”

“I feel my classmates’ eyes on me, particularly if we’re discussing something that brings race, and especially race and gender, into play. It’s so far from being a safe space that it almost feels like staying at home would be better for my mental health, for myself, than being in class.”

“I’ve never felt the burden before to have to represent my community until I came to law school, and it’s not a good feeling to have.”

Last fall, black undergrads at UCLA made a video of their own decrying the racial demographics at the school. 

This Is Not Laurence Fishburne

But don’t tell that to KTLA reporter Sam Rubin, who embarrassingly confused Samuel L. Jackson with Laurence Fishburne. Jackson’s response, though, was perfect:

“You’re as crazy as the people on Twitter. I am not Laurence Fishburne! We don’t all look alike! We may all be black and famous, but we don’t all look alike. You’re the entertainment reporter for this station and you don’t know the difference between me and Laurence Fishburne? There must be a very short line for your job. Oh, HELL NO. Really? Really? I’m the other guy. The other one. What’s in your wallet?”

Watch it below.

The 1491s Parody the Problematic Song ‘Cherokee’

The 1491s Parody the Problematic Song 'Cherokee'

In 1987, a Swedish heavy metal band named Europe released a single named “Cherokee,” which charted in the US at number 72. The song itself is rather bizarre, and its accompanying video is filled with some pretty basic misunderstandings of history.

Fast-forward 27 years, and the 1491s (performing as the group Turdle Island) are back with a “Cherokee” video parody, which is just as ridiculous—but much funnier—than the original.

Meet Muslim Figure Skater Zahra Lari, Who Performs in Hijab

Meet Muslim Figure Skater Zahra Lari, Who Performs in Hijab

Zahra Lari is an 18-year-old figure skater from the United Arab Emirates who’s known to the folks back home as the “Ice Princess.” This year, she’s already making headlines at the Winter Olympics in Sochi for performing in hijab. In the above video, she explains how she came to figure skating and she approaches being a role model to Muslim women. 

TAGS: Olympics Sochi
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