‘This Land Is Your Land,’ Las Cafeteras’ Independence Day Tribute

'This Land Is Your Land,' Las Cafeteras' Independence Day Tribute

What is freedom in a country which denies healthcare to undocumented residents, separates families via deportation, and has the highest incarceration rate in the world? That’s the question Los Angeles-based band Las Cafeteras is asking this Independence Day. 

With a new video produced in partnership with the California Endowment as part of a healthcare campaign, the band of artist-organizers filmed a new 21st-century, made-in-Los-Angeles spin on the American folk song classic “This Land Is Your Land.” Las Cafeteras’ version, points out band member Hector Flores, includes a new line inspired by the Zapatistas: “Todo para todos y nada para nosotros.” Or, “Everything for everybody, and nothing for ourselves.”

Arab-Americans Tell Census, ‘We’re Not White’

Arab-Americans Tell Census, 'We're Not White'

Comedian Amer Zahr’s upcoming documentary challenges how the last Census classified Arab-Americans—as white—in the hopes that the next one will be different. But he’s not the only one who believes the nation’s decennial count misclassifies or just plain erases their identities. According to AJA, Hispanics comprise 90 percent of the 20 million individuals who, during the 2010 Census, checked “some other race.” Capturing how Americans increasingly do (or don’t) identify themselves matters as the Census determines everything from the apportionment of congressional districts to the distribution of $400 billion in federal aid programs and the enforcement of civil rights laws.

In order to decrease the millions of Americans now checking the “other” box then, according to a recent New York Times article, the Census is beginning to test new categories ahead of the 2020 count. It’s considering adding a Middle East/North Africa category (although, some folks are fine with “white”) and perhaps combining the separate Hispanic and race questions into one. (For early results on that combination experiment, check this March Pew article.) Proposed changes are due to Congress by 2017.



New Jobs Report, Facebook’s Sorry Not Sorry and Ebola Death Toll Rises to 476

New Jobs Report, Facebook's Sorry Not Sorry and Ebola Death Toll Rises to 476

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Mean In? Facebook’s Sheryl Sanderg is sorry not sorry about her company’s emotional manipulation. 
  • The Ebola virus combined death toll rises to 476 in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Anti-Immigrant Protestors in California Block Federal Buses

Anti-Immigrant Protestors in California Block Federal Buses

Protestors in Murrieta, Calif., blocked buses carrying migrants from entering into their city Tuesday. Federal agents were transporting 140 migrants to a processing center in three large buses when more than 100 demonstrators carrying U.S. flags and anti-immigrant signs stopped them. 

Counter protestors were also on the scene. Among them was banda singer Lupillo Rivera—brother of the late Jenni Rivera. During one of many tense moments, Rivera was spit on by a xenophobic protestor on camera.

Local police did nothing to disperse the crowd, and the buses eventually headed to San Diego, Calif. Agents are expected to attempt to transfer migrants to the Murrieta federal processing center once again on the Fourth of July. 

Check out Latino Rebels for a great (yet horrifying) social media round-up from Tuesday’s protests

Israeli ‘Price-Tag’ Attacks, Protestors Stop Refugee Children, and Disappearing Litter

Israeli 'Price-Tag' Attacks, Protestors Stop Refugee Children, and Disappearing Litter

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Protestors in California stop busloads of refugee children and other undocumented immigrants from entering their city. Authorities will apparently try again on the Fourth of July. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

California’s ‘Ban the Box’ Law Could Aid 7 Million Job Seekers

California's 'Ban the Box' Law Could Aid 7 Million Job Seekers

California’s “ban the box” law goes into effect today, and could help some 7 million Californians—or one in four state residents—with criminal backgrounds. AB 218, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown late last year, bars public sector employers from asking for information about a job applicant’s criminal background until after applicants have cleared early stages of the hiring process.

Currently, 12 states and some 70 cities and counties have “ban the box” legislation on the books, according to the National Employment Law Project. The laws are meant to fight back against the widespread, automatic exclusion of job applicants with criminal backgrounds. As the criminal justice and mass incarceration systems sweep more and more people, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, into its grasp, the post-release prospects of those who’ve been caught up in the system dim as well. 

All 10 of the state’s largest counties are already in compliance with AB 218, and in San Francisco, the policies are even being extended into the private sector, according to the NELP.

Kai Wright took a deep dive look into the background check industry, laying out the history of what is and and isn’t permissible:

Back in 1987, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared that blanket bans on hiring people with criminal records were a Civil Rights Act violation. The EEOC noted that the law bars not only overt bias based on protected categories like race, but also seemingly neutral policies that nonetheless have the effect of reinforcing racial disparities. So it told employers that they can consider criminal records only as one factor in hiring, and then only when the conviction is directly related to the work. But Congress is most responsible for undermining this guidance. Following 9/11, lawmakers issued blanket bans on former felons working in a broad range of transportation jobs. States followed suit, and the list of banned occupations grew exponentially: private security guards, nursing home aides, just about any job involving kids. Former felons are now categorically barred from working in more than 800 occupations because of laws and licensing rules, one study estimates.

Partly in reaction to this growing list, and partly in response to the simultaneous explosion of the background check industry, the EEOC issued an updated guidance in 2012. The new guidance didn’t change the core idea—that blanket hiring bans based on criminal records have a disproportionate impact on black and Latino workers and thus violate the Civil Rights Act; instead, it offered employers updated details on how to stay on the right side of the law. In sum: if you conduct background checks, your hiring systems must include a granular method of confirming their accuracy and considering the specifics of a person’s case.

Read the story in full. For more on the national landscape of ban the box legislation read NELP’s report (PDF).

Here’s What Our Twitter Community Had to Say About Black Men and Unemployment

Here's What Our Twitter Community Had to Say About Black Men and Unemployment

Yesterday, Colorlines hosted a Twitter chat in conjunction with this month’s installment of its Life Cycles of Inequity Series, “Why Young, Black Men Can’t Work.” We invited our online community to weigh in on the issues of long-term unemployment, racial inequity in hiring practices, and disparities in job opportunities between black and white high school graduates. Not only was the discussion lively and insightful, but our hashtag #livesofblackmen even trended nationwide in the states of California, Texas and Minnesota and in the cities of Chicago, DC, Philadelphia and Boston.

Here’s the conversation-in-tweets, as compiled by Race Forward, which launches its brand new Storify page today. 

In South Carolina, an Effort to Encourage Black Men Into Teaching

In South Carolina, an Effort to Encourage Black Men Into Teaching

This fall, students of color will for the first time in U.S. history constitute a majority of the nation’s public school students. But teachers of color are only 17 percent of the nation’s teaching force. Black men make up just 2 percent of the nation’s schoolteachers. Diversifying the nation’s teaching force—namely by encouraging men of color to join it—is in the nation’s educational interests, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has emphasized for years.

A new program out of South Carolina’s Clemson University is aiming to do just that. NPR’s Claudio Sanchez reports on Call Me Mister, a program that mentors young black men and trains them to become teachers. By the fall the program, which seeks to convert young black men one at a time into someday teachers, will have placed more than 150 teachers in classrooms in eight states:

SANCHEZ: These men are intent on changing the lives of black boys who are struggling with school and with life. Like Marshall Wingate once did.

MARSHALL WINGATE: I actually could relate to a lot of kids because my father has been locked up. I remember seeing him beat my mom, I seen a lot that I shouldn’t have seen and I actually kind of grew up too fast as they say.

SANCHEZ: Wingate, now 21, has been student teaching for a year sharing his story with boys he says desperately want someone to care about their struggles.

WINGATE: That’s just my main goal. I really love kids at the end of the day, I love kids, it just brings me joy.

Listen to the story in full at NPR.


‘Cannibal Cop’ Conviction Overturned, BNP’s Sanction Busting and Beyoncé’s Star Power

'Cannibal Cop' Conviction Overturned, BNP's Sanction Busting and Beyoncé's Star Power

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Obama to Use Executive Action to Increase Border Enforcement

Obama to Use Executive Action to Increase Border Enforcement

President Obama spoke at a press conference at the White House Rose Garden to address mounting pressure over immigration reform and a humanitarian crisis at the border. He made clear that despite some support, there will be no vote on crucial comprehensive immigration reform—and continued to blame some Republicans for stalling a bill. Obama’s administration, meanwhile, has deported more people than another other in the history of the United States.

Obama stressed that if Congress can’t move forward on immigration reform, he’d be forced to take administrative action. The only clear plan he laid out today, however, was to increase enforcement at the border.

Pablo Alvarado, who leads the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, made a short statement in response to Obama’s remarks:

This is a pivotal moment in the movement for migrant rights.  What comes next will be defining moment for the President and for the country. In de-linking his immigration policy from his legislative reform strategy, the President is now free to do the right thing, and he can fulfill the promise of being a transformative president.  

The President’s enforcement-first strategy and his misguided deportation policy were premised on the possibility of legislative reform, but it is now very clear Congress itself is broken. 

We fully expect the President to maximize use of existing authority to ameliorate the injustice of the status quo, and we pledge to work with the administration to fend off the attacks from nativists that will surely come, if and when, he does the right thing. Until then we will continue to escalate opposition to unnecessary and unjust deportations.

Obama, who also highlighted a Fourth of July naturalization ceremony this Friday at the White House, says he’ll be looking to take more action in the coming months. For now, however, he will certainly increase enforcement at the border. 

SCOTUS Rules in Hobby Lobby’s Favor Over Birth Control

SCOTUS Rules in Hobby Lobby's Favor Over Birth Control

In a 5-4 ruling the Supreme Court sided with two companies who sought religious exemptions in Obamacare requirements that they cover birth control for employees.

The High Court agreed that the Affordable Care Act violated federal law which protects religious freedom. However, the Supreme Court also said that the government may provide its own alternatives for those who need to access coverage, SCOTUSblog reported.

The case was a key controversy over President Obama’s signature healthcare law, and became yet another bitterly fought battle over women’s reproductive rights. 

The case turned on legal arguments centered around religious freedom, but had everything to do with birth control. Imani Gandy at RH Reality Check explained the terrain:

Contraceptives prevent pregnancy, abortifacients terminate a pregnancy, and a pregnancy begins at implantation. So contraceptives by definition are not abortifacients because they prevent a pregnancy; if they work, there is no pregnancy to be terminated.

These statements are not up for debate. They’re not subject to any “well actually” muddying of the waters. They are incontrovertible facts based in science.

Nevertheless, should the Supreme Court rule in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood’s favor, and allow them to avoid their obligations under the Affordable Care Act because they are opposed to abortion-inducing drugs and they “believe” that certain emergency contraceptives qualify as such, those three factual statements will become mere matters of opinion.

Read the Supreme Court ruling in full (PDF).

Why Today’s SCOTUS Decision In Harris v. Quinn Matters

Why Today's SCOTUS Decision In Harris v. Quinn Matters

Should an Illinois mom who receives Medicaid to care at home for a son with a rare genetic disorder be compelled to pay dues to SEIU, the union bargaining on behalf of home care workers in the state? In a 5-4 decision this morning with repercussions for African-Americans and women in particular, SCOTUS has ruled in Harris v. Quinn that “partial public employees” like Pamela Harris can’t be required to pay dues. When given the choice, many workers stop paying dues so this decision will limit a public sector union’s ability to organize—but it won’t end it.

The public sector is the leading source of (well paid) employment and upward mobility for African-Americans and women comprise nearly 60 percent of all government workers (think, teachers, nurses, home health aides, etc). Union membership has fallen dramatically since the early ’80s, down to 11 percent from 20 percent in 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But union membership remains strong in the public sector where workers (35 percent) are five times more likely to belong to a union than those in the private sector (6 percent). 

For expert analysis on the decision and its implications, follow SCOTUSblog and OnLabor.

What do you think? Should Harris be compelled to pay dues to the union representing home care workers in Illinois?

Hobby Lobby Ruling, Facebook’s Emotional Manipulation and KLM’s Racist Tweet

Hobby Lobby Ruling, Facebook's Emotional Manipulation and KLM's Racist Tweet

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Obama Asks for Millions for Syrian Rebels, Barclay’s Fraud Scandal and Trans Day of Action

Obama Asks for Millions for Syrian Rebels, Barclay's Fraud Scandal and Trans Day of Action

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • Kim Jong-un threatens action over a comedy that depicts a CIA plot to assassinate him. 
  • AP finds that New York City jails ignore safeguards that would keep inmates from committing suicide. 
  • The stepmother of a 12-year-old Detroit boy who was missing for 11 days is arrested
  • Shia LaBeouf is arrested after lighting up a cigarette and disrupting a Broadway theater. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

More than 70,000 Parents with U.S.-born Kids Deported in 2013

More than 70,000 Parents with U.S.-born Kids Deported in 2013

A whopping 72,410 parents with one or more U.S. citizen children were deported in 2013. That’s according to congressional reports obtained by the Huffington Post, where Elise Foley writes that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is defending the deportations:

ICE said 71,214 parents of U.S.-born children who were deported fit its priorities. The priorities include convicted criminals, people caught attempting to enter the country illegally, people who had returned after a previous deportation, and people who failed to report to ICE after a deportation order, according to the report. Because some people may have been deported more than once, the figures reflect total removals, not the exact number of individuals who were deported. The numbers do not include deportations of parents who fail to tell agents they have U.S.-born children, or parents whose foreign-born children are undocumented.

Nevertheless, Foley points that nearly 11,000 of those parents had no criminal conviction. Simple charges can also be criminalized by ICE as a pretext for deportation.

You can read the full article over at the Huffington Post

Walmart vs. NYT Columnist Timothy Egan

Walmart vs. NYT Columnist Timothy Egan

If a corporation really is a person, judging by this red-inked reply, Walmart may be about 10 years old. In a tit-for-tat response to a recent op-ed by New York Times columnist Tim Egan, Walmart’s VP of corporate communications marked up Egan’s piece, red ink and all. 

Egan looks at why Walmart’s the personal target for town criers against inequality and for a living wage, while David Tovar fact-checks with a smidgen of snark. Both are worth the read. But at this point, it’s likely both are speaking to their respective choirs. Check it out.

(h/t Slate)

Well, Just How Bad Are Alabama’s Prisons?

Well, Just How Bad Are Alabama's Prisons?

The past few weeks have been an awesome time for social justice investigations that impact communities of color, mainly black Americans and Latinos. From school resegregation to reparations to charters and now, an in-depth look at Alabama prisons. With the third-highest imprisonment rate in the nation (and that’s saying a lot in the U.S.), a coalition of Alabama media outlets are (finally?) investigating its prison system in a substantial way. Best part: they’re asking Alabamans and others to weigh in. It’ll be interesting to see in the next few months how this series impacts public discussion. Reforms in Alabama could spark similar efforts in other high incarceration states like Louisiana and Mississippi.

A few facts before you click through to the package that started rolling out this past Sunday: since 1977 Alabama’s prison population has grown nearly 900 percent. A system designed to house 14,000 is over capacity at more than 30,000 and the state spends more than one-quarter of its general fund budget on prisons. According to Prison Policy Initiative, blacks comprise 54 percent of Alabama’s incarcerated population but 26 percent of the general population. Etowah County Detention Center, which largely houses immigrants, has long been considered one of the worst in the country.

(h/t CJR)

New MH370 Theory, On the Run Set List and a Trio of Black Holes

New MH370 Theory, On the Run Set List and a Trio of Black Holes

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • The Supreme Court unanimously rules that your cell phone cannot be searched without a warrant. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Michigan Charter Schools: Findings From Year-Long Investigation

Michigan Charter Schools: Findings From Year-Long Investigation

Beginning this past Sunday, the Detroit Free Press began rolling out a massive year-long investigation into Michigan’s $1 billion charter school system. The state has more for-profit companies operating charters than any other in the union and the investigation is considered a referendum on how they’re doing. Among the major findings being rolled out daily through Saturday: Michigan charters spend $1 billion a year in taxpayer dollars with little accountability and, they do no better in terms of student achievement compared to traditional public schools.

Get started by checking out the FP’s handy guide to this massive package that’s sure to reverberate nationally.

(h/t Washington Post)

Ukraine Signs EU Trade Deal, No-Fly List Ruled Unconstitutional and Suárez Takes a Bite

Ukraine Signs EU Trade Deal, No-Fly List Ruled Unconstitutional and Suárez Takes a Bite

Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:

  • Diane Sawyer is leaving “World News.”  If you’re wondering whether a person of color will replace her, the answer is no. David Muir will take over. 
TAGS: Morning Rush
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