Rosa Parks became an icon of the civil rights movement after refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Although she wasn’t the first black person to do so, Parks’s civil disobedience kicked off a massive boycott and Supreme Court decision that affirmed that Alabama’s segregation laws were unconstitutional. Here are five quotes attributed to Rosa Parks to remember her by on the day of her birth, 101 years ago today.
Two African-American boys enter kindergarten at the exclusive and predominantly white, Dalton School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. One boy, Seun, leaves at the end of 8th grade. His friend, Idris, stays but struggles. “American Promise,” filmed by Idris’ parents over a 13-year period, looks at why.
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The nation’s immigration case backlog—the queue people whose fates are waiting to be decided by an immigration judge—is 350,000 people long. The Washington Post’s Eli Saslow spent a day in one Virginia immigration judge’s courtroom and produced a portrait as heartbreaking as it is infuriating. The backlog, steadily populated by aggressive immigration enforcement, means judges are forced to make rapidfire decisions that will affect the rest of whole families’ lives.
From the Washington Post:
“Farmville, Room 294, can you hear us?” a court interpreter asked. The screen seemed to freeze. The court took a short recess while a technician fixed the video feed. As the recess continued, Iraheta’s wife, Maria, and two sons stood up in the second row of the courtroom and walked toward the video screen. “There he is!” said Dylan, 9, an American citizen, tugging at his mother’s shirt. They stood within view of the camera so Iraheta could see them. “Oh, God,” Iraheta said, wiping his eyes as they smiled and waved. “You came. Thank you.”
He had not seen all of them together for seven months, since he got into his car to drive to his sister’s house for a Sunday barbecue and was pulled over by police for drinking and driving, a mistake that threatened to undo the life he had built in the Manassas suburbs. He had crossed into the United States illegally in 2000, and Maria had followed a year later. He worked in construction; she walked two miles each evening to wash dishes at IHOP for $8 an hour. They paid taxes, joined a church and raised three kids, now 19, 15 and 9. Two months after Iraheta was apprehended and placed into deportation proceedings, his family celebrated the birth of his first granddaughter — “an honest-to-God second-generation American,” one cousin said.
For 14 years, Iraheta and Maria had shared the same bed in a small apartment, but now they could think of little to say. He motioned for his boys to come closer to the camera so he could study their haircuts. “You look nice,” he said. “Grown up.”
Read the rest of the story at the Washington Post.
Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t care about diversity in comedy, a fact that he expounded this week during a Buzzfeed interview on CBS This Morning. “It really pisses me off,” he said about the question. “People think [comedy] is the census or something, it’s gotta represent the actual pie chart of America. Who cares?”
Well, actually, a lot of people do, and they have for decades. Comedians like Richard Pryor, Dave Chappelle and Margaret Cho have found big audiences by focusing their comedic routines on race in America. And it works. But don’t tell that to Seinfeld, because he’s obviously not listening.
Remember back when Vanity Fair’s Young Hollywood cover featured an all white cast of actors and we had to dream up a version that reflected the real America? Looks like they didn’t make that same mistake this year since they tapped two of the industry’s biggest young black stars for the cover shoot. Jezebel points out that this year’s cover, shot by Annie Leibovitz, tries to make up for past wrongs. In addition to Chiwetel Edjiofor and Idris Elba, the main cover also includes Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Naomie Harris and Chadwick Boseman (42).
The media is filled with stories of the violence that plagues America’s poorest black and brown neighborhoods, but a recent investigation by ProPublica’s Lois Beckett highlights one of its longest lasting side effects: hundreds of thousands of untreated cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Studies show that, overall, about 8 percent of Americans suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives. But the rates appear to be much higher in communities - such as poor, largely African-American pockets of Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia - where high rates of violent crime have persisted despite a national decline.
Researchers in Atlanta interviewed more than 8,000 inner-city residents and found that about two-thirds said they had been violently attacked and that half knew someone who had been murdered. At least 1 in 3 of those interviewed experienced symptoms consistent with PTSD at some point in their lives - and that’s a “conservative estimate,” said Dr. Kerry Ressler, the lead investigator on the project.
“The rates of PTSD we see are as high or higher than Iraq, Afghanistan or Vietnam veterans,” Ressler said. “We have a whole population who is traumatized.”
PTSD, particularly when it’s untreated, can take a huge toll on relationships, parenting and finding a job. According to some researchers, it can also lead to increased aggression and violent behavior. ProPublica points out that most of the nation’s trauma centers aren’t equipped to deal with the problem.
ProPublica surveyed a top-level trauma center in each of the 22 cities with the nation’s highest homicide rates. Just one, the Spirit of Charity Trauma Center in New Orleans, currently screens all seriously injured patients for PTSD. At another, Detroit Receiving Hospital, psychologists talk with injured crime victims about PTSD.
This year’s National Conference for LGBT Equality: Creating Change wrapped up over the weekend in Houston and got off to stellar start late last week when Laverne Cox offered up a rousing keynote speech. In it, Cox talks about how loving transgender women is a revolutionary act. Watch the entire thing in the clip above.
We finally know when Andre 3000’s highly anticipated starring role in the new Jimi Hendrix biopic, “All Is by My Side,” will make its debut: SXSW in Austin, Texas this March! If you’re not already excited about the film, check out the above interview with Andre in which he talks about taking on the role of a lifetime.
What exactly does “Asian privilege” mean? That’s what a number of folks have been trying to sort out on Twitter lately, thanks in large part to online dicussions kicked off by Suey Park, the 23-year-old writer and creator of the hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. But the hashtag #AsianPrivilege has also popped up, and according to writer Adriel Luis, its implications are even more harmful than the concept of the model minority.
The “Asian” in #AsianPrivilege is meant to refer to Asian Pacific Americans as they stereotypically exist in the American imagination — well-to-do communities who coast through the university system in droves and comfortably find roles as doctors, lawyers and engineers. But in a setting like Twitter — a global forum where context is all but surrendered — this doesn’t quite register.
When one says “Asian,” the baseline meaning is in reference to those originating from the greater continent of Asia. That’s a LOT of people. “Asian” does mean privileged members of Asian Pacific American communities, but also people in the Philippines who live in extreme poverty. It means the rising Chinese middle class which has made the globe its ground for tourism, as well as Tibetans who are legally barred from naming their home. It means South Koreans who enjoy the world’s fastest fiber-optic network, as well as natives of Bikini Atoll who can’t return to their homeland because of deadly levels of radiation left behind from American nuclear testing. To point this out in the conversation of #AsianPrivilege is not splitting hairs. It’s acknowledging the vast portion of the world population which the term marginalizes.
Watch Jay Pharoah, Kenan Thompson, and SNL newcomer Sasheer Zamata celebrate the beginning of Black History Month in the most hilarious way possible.
The White House calls it a “virtual whistle-stop tour.” And it’s happening for a half-hour later this afternoon, as Pres. Obama takes questions about issues raised (or not) in Tuesday’s State of the Union. Get in on the conversation from 2pm-2:30pm, here. Follow on Twitter: #POTUSRoadTrip and cc: @Colorlines. We want to know what you’re talking about.
Over at Studio 360, Nishat Kurwa has a great piece up about a new book out called “Party Music” by musicologist Rickey Vincent that explores the history of the Black Panther Party’s funk band, “The Lumpen” — a name that comes from Karl Marx’s “lumpenproleteriat.”
But, as Kurwa explains, there was a lot more to the band than its predictable name:
Calhoun wrote some original songs, but time was tight. “I wasn’t able to write quickly enough to keep up with demand.” So the band would take hits and rewrite the lyrics to fit the revolution the Panthers were striving for. “Instead of saying ‘Dance to the music,’ it was, ‘Power to the people!’” remembers James Mott, one of the Lumpen members. They took Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” which says “You don’t need a ticket, you just get on board,” and changed the phrase to “You don’t need a ticket, you need a loaded gun.”
Finally, they went into a studio and made their one and only recording, “Free Bobby Now” — listen to the song below. (Bobby Seale, the Black Panther Party’s co-founder, was serving four years on a charge of contempt of court.) “I made pancakes, I sold papers, I did all kinds of things, but that was our singular contribution,” Calhoun said, to spread the message beyond the true believers. “If you won’t come to a rally, I’ll sing it to you, how’s that?”
Read more at Studio 360 and listen to the segment below.
So it looks like live broadcasts featuring brilliant people are a thing now. A very good thing, to be sure. Last year, bell hooks and Melissa Harris Perry brought down the house (and the Internet) with a lively discussion about black feminism at the New School. Not too long after that, Junot Diaz interviewed Toni Morrison at the New York Public Library. And now, the NYPL is back with more live streamed brilliance as Harris Perry takes the stage to talk with Harry Belafonte about progressive activism in a discussion that will be moderated by historian Jelani Cobb.
You can tune in and watch the whole thing live at 6:30pm EST. And follow along with us on Twitter with the hashtag #MHPBelafonte.
Transgender writer and editor Janet Mock has a new book coming out next week called “Redefining Realness” and has offered up a preview in a video that was released on Thursday. In this clip, Mock talks about the shame associated with sex work, but also how it helped her develop a sense of community and resilience.
The United States Post Office is commemorating Shirley Chisholm this year for its annual Black History Month stamp series. Chisholm, the first black congresswoman in the U.S. and the nation’s first African American to run for Democratic presidential nomination, also happened to be a fierce political icon. As such, the Chisholm stamps promise to elevate any kind of mail you’ve got to send.
New Yorkers who are feeling extra festive: head to the Shirley Chisholm post office in Brooklyn to pick up your Chisholm stamps. They’re being released tomorrow.
What controversy? Months after this Cherrios ad featuring an interracial family caused a racist public uproar, the company is back with a new ad starring the same adorable little girl that is pegged to the Superbowl. “The big game provided another opportunity to tell another story about family love,” Cheerios representative Camille Gibson told The New York Times.
It’s been six months since Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old transgender woman, was beaten to death in Harlem and still no one has been charged with her murder.
The lack of progress in the case has outraged many, including Nettles’ family and other LGBT communities across the country, leading them to hold a rally in Manhattan on Thursday to call for accountability in the case. The rally will be held Thursday at 4pm at One Police Plaza in New York City.
The Trans Women of Color Collective of Greater New York issued the follwing press release:
“We will not be silent, we will not stand by while trans youth are murdered without recourse.” says Lourdes Ashley Hunter, Community Organizer & Co-Founder of Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC) of Greater New York. “The NYPD and the District Attorney’s office must be held accountable for their biased and botched investigation of Islan Nettles’ murder.”
Activists have raised many troubling questions about the District Attorney & NYPD’s negligence and mishandling of the case: It was revealed that no DNA evidence was collected from Paris Wilson at the scene of the crime, nor were witnesses rigorously questioned. Nor has it been explained why Simone Wilson, the suspect’s mother, was never held accountable for falsifying evidence when she persuaded a friend of her son to make a false confession which was later recanted. And perhaps most inexplicably, the D.A.’s office is claiming that all 10 surveillance cameras in the vicinity of the beating that lead to Islan Nettles’ death were broken.
“Having survived a violent assault, I know what a struggle it can be to get justice in NY. Not one of my attackers was charged - and I was almost treated by the police as though I deserved to be assaulted,” says Madison St. Claire, Co-Chair of Membership for TWOCC. “Now, the same thing is happening in the Islan Nettles case - and that sends the wrong message: that trans women of color are disposable - that our lives don’t matter.” says Madison. “Today, we send our own message NYPD & the DA’s office: TRANS LIVES MATTER!
As the press release notes, there were ten surveillance cameras in the vicinity of Nettles’ August beating, but officers have reportedly said that none were working. Stay tuned.