Your Cheeky Muslim Valentine’s Day Cards Are Here

Your Cheeky Muslim Valentine's Day Cards Are Here

It’s that time of year again. And if cheeky cards that are both a pointed sendup of Islamophobia and a tribute to the cheesiest greeting card holiday of the year are your thing, Taz Ahmed’s got you covered

What started in 2012 as a casual art project has become an annual tradition for the Los Angeles-based artist and writer. Four years in, her series has also turned into an inadvertent chronicle of the past year in anti-Muslim hysteria. From TSA scanning to NSA wiretapping, drones to entrapment, Ahmed’s touched on them all with punny one-liners and sharp political perspective.


That doesn’t mean everyone’s a fan. “I think there are Muslims that find these cards distasteful,” Ahmed tells Colorlines. She urges folks to, “take a step back and look at these cards as satirical political statements.” 

“The sad thing is, in the four years of making the cards, Muslims are no less in the news than they were in the post 9/11 era,” Ahmed says.

As for whether her Valentine’s Day cards have helped lovers come together, Ahmed hasn’t heard about any success stories yet, but she does send her own cards to loved ones and friends. “I do think one of the cards I sent to someone may have been the catalyst to their breakup with their girlfriend,” Ahmed said. “Sorry about that.”

Check out this year’s Muslim V-Day Cards here, and her past editions here.

Employment Spike, Gap Booted Off Tinder, Promising Ebola Drug

Employment Spike, Gap Booted Off Tinder, Promising Ebola Drug

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

  • A secret UK tribunal rules that the UK-US practice of sharing NSA data was unlawful
TAGS: Morning Rush

FCC Commissioner Says No to Pay-For-Play Internet

FCC Commissioner Says No to Pay-For-Play Internet

In the latest round in the decade-long Battle Over Your Internet, Tom Wheeler, chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced this week that he’ll stand for keeping the Internet as is: open.

I’ll admit surprise. To understand why see herehere, here, here and, well, you get the point. Then again, perhaps it is difficult for a Beltway denizen to completely ignore nearly 4 million comments from ordinary Americans basically saying, “Hands off my Internet.” Or maybe it’s just difficult for Wheeler to ignore his boss.

Whatever the cause, between last April and December, according to Politico, Wheeler changed his mind about an earlier proposal that consumer advocates and tech companies say would’ve created a two-tier Internet. Its impact on low-income communities of color (and nonprofit media like Colorlines) would be devastating. For example, largely working-class and poor St. Louis residents used real-time tweets and streaming video to draw mainstream media’s attention to Mike Brown’s body lying on their street for four and a half hours. Suppose they first had to pay-to-play?

Wheeler’s turnaround isn’t the end of it. On February 26th his new and stronger “open Internet” rules go before the full commission for a vote. A win isn’t a slam dunk, however. Advocates are expecting pressure from a new Republican Congress and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Jordan Vows Revenge, Anthem Insurance Hack, Serena’s Return to Indian Wells

Jordan Vows Revenge, Anthem Insurance Hack, Serena's Return to Indian Wells

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

  • Jordan vows revenge for the brutal killing of an IS captive. 
  • Is your name, birthday and address a casualty of the big hack on Anthem health insurance? 
  • Serena Williams will return to Indian Wells more than a decade after being called the n-word and reminded that she could be skinned alive by tennis fans:
TAGS: Morning Rush

New York Train Crash, Taiwan Plane Crash [VIDEO], NASA Headed to Europa

New York Train Crash, Taiwan Plane Crash [VIDEO], NASA Headed to Europa

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

  • Chris Christie changes his mind and now thinks parents should vaccinate their children after all. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Ramarley Graham’s Family Settles for $3.9M With New York City; Pledge to Pursue Justice

Ramarley Graham's Family Settles for $3.9M With New York City; Pledge to Pursue Justice

The family of Ramarley Graham, the unarmed 18-year-old killed by NYPD officer Richard Haste three years ago this week in his bathroom, has settled their wrongful death lawsuit for $3.9 million. Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm reportedly told a Bronx church last night, “The settlement will never take away the pain that the city caused me.” Malcolm, according to The Huffington Post, still keeps the white bath mat stained by her son’s blood on a bathroom shelf, as well as a stack of her son’s T-shirts folded neatly in a corner. The police killing of Graham in 2012 helped galvanize a city around stop-and-frisk reform.

Both Malcolm and father, Franclot Graham, are pledging to continue the fight for police accountability. Said the elder Graham:

“What’s justice for me? All the officers in that team be held accountable for their actions, for their lies, for their disregard of the law, for their disregard of human rights.”

Officer Haste, the Daily News reports, does not contribute to the settlement, which comes as a federal investigation is exploring civil rights charges against Haste and other officers on scene that day. Following 2012 charges that had been thrown out by a judge, a second grand jury declined to indict Haste.

(h/t The Guardian)

Measles and Politics, $150K Raised for Detroit Walker, Tackling Herbal Supplements

Measles and Politics, $150K Raised for Detroit Walker, Tackling Herbal Supplements

Here are some the stories I’m reading up on this morning:

TAGS: Morning Rush

Tamir Rice’s Family Files Updated Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Tamir Rice's Family Files Updated Wrongful Death Lawsuit

On Friday, Tamir Rice’s family filed an amended federal wrongful death lawsuit which expanded its complaint over how police handled their short, deadly interaction with the 12-year-old, Ohio’s WKBN reported. 

The updated complaint is more expansive than the first, which was filed in December just weeks after Cleveland police killed Rice on November 22. Police, responding to a 911 call of a person wielding what was likely a fake gun, shot and killed Rice within seconds of arriving on the scene at the Cuddell Recreation Center. It turned out that Rice was holding a pellet gun. 

The Rice family’s updated 72-page complaint includes 27 claims, including wrongful death, excessive force, and battery of Tajai Rice, Tamir’s 14-year-old sister who arrived at the scene just after police shot her brother, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported. 

Since December, Rice’s family replaced their original attorneys with Walter Madison and Benjamin Crump. Crump also represents Trayvon Martin’s family, as well as the family of Michael Brown. 

Cleveland police practices have cost people’s lives, and for the city, potential millions of dollars paid out in lawsuit settlements, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported today. In an analysis of nearly 70 lawsuits and settlements, Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Ryllie Danylko reported that Cleveland police often “draw their guns too early, use force when none is needed and draw innocent bystanders into violent confrontations.” The article is part of NEOMG’s series on Cleveland police called “Forcing Change.”

Patriots Surprise Win, Groundhog Day, Measles Continue to Spread

Patriots Surprise Win, Groundhog Day, Measles Continue to Spread

Here’s what I’m reading up on (and watching!) this morning: 

  • Verizon says it will allow its customers to opt out of so-called supercookies that do things like track you even when you’ve set a private browser on your device; AT&T already abandoned the practice completely. 
  • On the Jimmy Fallon Show, The Roots back up Christina Aguilera, Usher, Ariana Grande and others for “We Are the Champions:”
TAGS: Morning Rush

Saved by the bell hooks Tumblr as Great as It Sounds

Saved by the bell hooks Tumblr as Great as It Sounds

It’s a match made in Tumblr heaven. The intersectional feminist theory of bell hooks, combined with the early 1990s teen sitcom “Saved by the Bell,” to become savedbythebellhooks. You heard right.





There’s more at

Commission Urges California State Parks to Welcome More People of Color

Commission Urges California State Parks to Welcome More People of Color

California state parks cover some 1.3 million acres of land, including 339 miles of the state’s famed coastline. But those parks are often left in disrepair, and visitors who do make pilgrimages to them don’t reflect the state’s demographics. The commission Parks Forward is filing a report today which urges the state to fix both of those fundamental problems, the Los Angeles Times reports.

California’s population is 40 percent Latino, though that might not be so apparent from a visit to a state park. “The visitors don’t look like California,” Parks Forward commissioner and USC professor of American Studies Manuel Pastor told the LA Times. The state ought to improve transportation to state parks for those who live in cities, and make the parks more accessible to short-term visitors, the commission recommended. 

Part of the urgency is about self-preservation. Without the political support of California’s fastest-growing demographic, its state parks could languish further, commissioners note.

The Golden State’s not the only one thinking hard about why its visitor demographics don’t reflect the larger population’s. The National Park Service is confronting the very same issues, Colorlines fam Brentin Mock wrote over at Grist.

Mock wrote:

Shelton Johnson, an African American ranger at Yosemite National Park in California, talked about the challenge of getting black youth into the great outdoors in Ken Burns’ 2009 PBS documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. “How do I get them here?” Johnson asked. “How do I let them know about the buffalo soldier history, to let them know that we, too, have a place here? How do I make that bridge, and make it shorter and stronger? Every time I go to work and put the uniform on, I think about them.”

Read Mock’s ideas for how to fix this over at Grist.

Weekend Reads: From Native Youth to The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland

Weekend Reads: From Native Youth to The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland

It’s fair to say, it’s not often that institutions self-reflect and run a kind of “racism audit”—and then release some of that assessment to the general public. But that’s what The New Republic, the elite, liberal ideas shop once described as “the in-flight magazine of Air Force One,” has done with journalist Jeet Heer’s, The New Republic’s Legacy on Race.” History nerds will love that Heer’s lit review, beginning in 1914, cites original thinkers from the time. But it’s the modern-day prejudices and bigotry promoted under Marty Peretz’s 30-year editorial leadership that come in for special focus (think, “Bell Curve,” black cultural pathologies, etc). Says Heer:

Whatever the problems had been with the early twentieth-century The New Republic, it published a spectrum of black voices, so readers (both black and white) had a sense of how black America thought about things. It published the conservative Washington, the centrist White, the militant Du Bois, and voices more radical than Du Bois himself, such as Du Bois’s Marxist critic Abram L. Harris. Under Peretz, with very few exceptions, the magazine printed only the more conservative end of black political discourse….

Moving on from Heer’s appraisal, recall, The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland,” in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine. On a November afternoon in 2013, one boy in a small group of teens set fire to the skirt of sleeping 18-year-old high school senior, Sasha Fleischman. What follows is a thoughtful look at that fateful day and the lives of the two teens involved: Sasha, a white youth* who identifies as agender (neither male nor female) and perpetrator, 16-year-old Richard Thomas, who is African-American. The piece asks whether children ought to be punished as adults and introduces the concept of restorative justice in both sentencing juvenile offenders and satisfying victims and their families.

In a five-part series in Al Jazeera America, journalist Tristan Ahtone looks at Native American gangs, a relatively new phenomenon dating back to the 1980s. Part one begins by asking why young people in Indian Country, subject to some of the nation’s highest rates of victimization by violent crime, are joining gangs in the first place. 

And because I’m a big fan of her music and I love the warmth between women in this interview, listen to Maria Hinojosa’s chat with Afro-Spanish singer Buika on LatinoUSA

*Post has been updated since publication to correctly identify Fleischman.

Senate Approves Keystone XL, Suge Knight Held on Murder Charge, GMO Mosquitos

Senate Approves Keystone XL, Suge Knight Held on Murder Charge, GMO Mosquitos

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

  • Suge Knight is arrested on suspicion of murder after running his friends over with with a car he was driving, leaving one dead and one injured. 
  • Russia’s Central Bank surprises economists and cuts interest rates from 17 percent to 15 percent. 
  • The FCC changes the rules on broadband ahead of its net neutrality decision on February 26. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

One Tweet Explains the Racial Wealth Gap

One Tweet Explains the Racial Wealth Gap

Here’s a thought exercise: How long could you maintain your current standard of living without a paycheck? A week? Six months? The next 20 years? That length of time is a measure of your personal wealth—which is quite different from hourly wages or annual income.

Wealth, in the form of home ownership for most Americans, is real security. It’s what enables families to bounce back from life-changing emergencies and survive into the next generation. (Or the next 20, if you’re related to John D. Rockefeller) With that in mind, consider the racial wealth gap chart below. Perhaps it’s time to talk more about wealth, and not just about wages and income.

Note that “households of color,” according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, includes Black or African-American; American Indian and Native Alaskan; Asian; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander; Hispanic or Latino; some other race; two or more races.

(h/t AssetsNAF)

Marshawn Lynch: ‘You All Shove Cameras and Microphones Down My Throat’

Marshawn Lynch: 'You All Shove Cameras and Microphones Down My Throat'

For The Win is reporting that Seattle Seahawk running back Marshawn Lynch addressed the media in a press conference Thursday, just three days ahead of this year’s Super Bowl. Lynch essentially turned his gaze on the media itself, stating, “I’ll just be looking at y’all the way you looking at me.”

Lynch, who, as my colleague Jamilah King has point out, has made the mistake of “being unapologetically black and rebellious in a league business that depends on military-like obedience,” scolded reporters for their obsession with him:

So you all can go and make up whatever you want to make up, cause I don’t say enough for you all to go put anything out on me. But I’ll come to y’all event and y’all shove cameras and microphones down my throat. When I’m at home in my environment, I don’t see y’all. But y’all mad at me. If y’all ain’t mad at me, then what are you all here for?

You can read more from Lynch’s statement—as well as his many shout-outs—today over at For The Win

Flight MH370: Accident, Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial, Bill Gates on Reddit

Flight MH370: Accident, Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial, Bill Gates on Reddit

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

  • Taylor Swift trademarks lyrics that she claims are entirely her own, like “party like it’s 1989,” which isn’t entirely her own since Prince wrote “party like it’s 1999” more than 30 years ago. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

At Loretta Lynch’s Confirmation Hearing, Senators Air Holder Grievances

At Loretta Lynch's Confirmation Hearing, Senators Air Holder Grievances

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder has rattled plenty of senators. On Wednesday, Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to replace him, sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee for an hours-long confirmation hearing full of the usual political posturing from both parties. It also functioned as an airing of the ill will Republican members of Congress have toward Holder.

Lynch, a U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, has sought to distance herself from Holder and she continued in that vein on Wednesday. She unflappably portrayed herself as a disciplined public servant with much less interest in the progressive politicking that Holder took up.

A quick check-off list of her stances on hot-button topics: Lynch called the death penalty an “effective penalty;” and said that Obama’s latest executive action on immigration was founded in a “reasonable” legal rationale. She considers waterboarding torture, “and therefore illegal.” She called the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs “certainly constitutional and effective,” and said “few things have pained” her more than “reports of tension and division” between police officers and the communities they serve. 

And she was game to play along when Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas pointedly asked her: “You’re not Eric Holder, are you?” “No, I’m not,” Lynch replied.

“Attorney General Holder’s record is heavy on our minds,” Cornyn continued. “And I agree with the chairman about his concerns when the attorney general refers to himself as the president’s wingman, suggesting that he does not exercise independent legal judgment, as the chief law-enforcement officer for the country. You wouldn’t consider yourself to be a political arm of the White House as attorney general, would you?” Cornyn continued.

“No, senator, that would be an inapporpriate use of the—” Lynch said, before Cornyn cut her off. 

“I will be Loretta Lynch,” she later said, when Cornyn asked her how she planned not to be Holder. 

If confirmed Lynch will be the first black woman to hold the position. 

Marissa Alexander Released; Now on House Arrest

Marissa Alexander Released; Now on House Arrest

After serving three years in jail, 34-year-old Marissa Alexander went home yesterday and is now on house arrest. A judge denied the prosecutor’s request for an additional two-year sentence in the case of the Florida mother who in 2010, and nine days after giving birth, fired a gun near her abusive husband and allegedly his children. Alexander subsequently used Florida’s “stand your ground” law as her defense. No one was injured but a jury, MSNBC reports, convicted her in 12 minutes. Alexander was initially sentenced to Florida’s minimum, 20 years, and could’ve faced 60 years in prison. The outcome for Alexander, an African-American woman, provided a stark contrast to that of George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic male, who in a 2013 trial also used the “stand your ground” law in, ultimately, a successful defense in the killing of unarmed 17-year-old African-American, Trayvon Martin. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, passed in 2005, has been widely criticized for excusing vigilantiism and uneven application but it remains on the books.

Alexander read a prepared statement as she left the Duval County courthouse yesterday. It said in part:

“Today, after the sentence given by Judge Daniel, my family and I will be able to move on with our lives. Although the journey has been long and there’s been many difficult moments, I could not have arrived here, where I am today, without the thoughts, many thoughts and many prayers of so many people who voiced their support and encouragement. Words can never express my gratitude for those who stood beside me, including my children and family. I am also grateful that Judge Daniel approached this case with such care and diligence.”

Alexander’s estranged husband, Rico Gray, according to First Coast News, “said he is happy that the case is over and that everyone can move forward — especially the children. [He] is happy that she has finally accepted responsibility [but] has concerns about whether she is really remorseful.”

For the next two years Alexander will be monitored by ankle bracelet. Supporters, according to News4Jax, have raised money to cover the associated fees and local pastors are offering a job in one of their ministries.

Jordan-IS Prisoner Swap, Marissa Alexander Leaves Prison, Measles Outbreak

Jordan-IS Prisoner Swap, Marissa Alexander Leaves Prison, Measles Outbreak

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

In Albuquerque, a DA Faces Intimidation for Charging Cops Who’ve Killed

In Albuquerque, a DA Faces Intimidation for Charging Cops Who've Killed

In the last four years, Albuquerque police have pulled their guns on people at least 37 times, and killed at least 23 people among them. The shootings added up: Albuquerque has a fatal police shootings rate that’s eight times that of New York City’s. Until two weeks ago, when Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg filed murder charges over a March 2014 fatal police shooting, no police officer had ever been criminally charged.

A new New Yorker article by Rachel Aviv examines the faceless web of power which protects police officers who kill people while on the job, and intimidates and possibly retaliates against those who seek justice or accountability. Aviv also reports on recruitment pressures in Albuquerque which forced the police department to ease up on their hiring standards, and accept those who, Aviv implies, otherwise would not belong on the police force. In the wake of Tamir Rice’s death at the hands of a Cleveland police officer who was rejected from another police department, Aviv’s reporting underscores the point that unleashing questionably qualified police officers into the community can be fatal.

Tucked deep in the story is Aviv’s account of the personal and professional price DA Brandenburg is paying for going after those police officers:

Last October, Kari Brandenburg told a police-union attorney that she was leaning toward filing murder charges against the officers who shot Boyd. Within weeks, Brandenburg found herself the target of an investigation by the Albuquerque Police Department. Her twenty-six-year-old son, who was addicted to heroin, had stolen thousands of dollars of his friends’ belongings, and Brandenburg had offered to reimburse them. In late November, an Albuquerque detective gave the state attorney general an investigative file that he said showed that Brandenburg had bribed and intimidated witnesses. In a recording of a conversation between officers working on the case, a detective with the Criminal Intelligence Unit acknowledged that the evidence against Brandenburg appeared insubstantial. He said, “There might be charges—they’re super-weak—it’s probably not gonna go anywhere, but it’s gonna destroy a career.”

The whole story is an infuriating, but not altogether shocking story, of political pressure and unchecked police power. It comes as the Albuquerque police department embarks on sweeping reforms mandated by the Justice Department.

Read the rest of the New Yorker story.

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