Chokwe Lumumba, An Intro For Those Who Didn’t Know

Chokwe Lumumba, An Intro For Those Who Didn't Know

Over on The South Lawn, the excellent group blog about all things Southern and progressive, black labor organizer Doug Williams begins: “suffice it to say that when a city councilman named Chokwe Lumumba announced that he was running to be the mayor of Mississippi’s capital city, I was skeptical.”

Williams, a third generation organizer recounts not only how Lumumba won him over during the 2013 mayoral race but also the change he portended for communities of color throughout the South:

Jackson was a majority-white city as late as the 1980s. But when the last vestiges of Mississippi’s particularly virulent strain of Jim Crow were dismantled in education, housing, and employment, white residents began fleeing to [the surrounding] suburbs. … As the city emptied out…the economic and political power shifted along with it [and the] new suburbanites managed to maintain a measure of control over their former neighbors through their ownership of local businesses. … But while Jackson had seen sixteen years of unbroken Black leadership, there was little to show for it in the way of concrete policy change for its Black citizens. Nearly 50 years after we first gained free access to the franchise, it is no longer enough that we simply seek descriptive representation; we must seek substantive representation of our interests and aspirations.

Enter Chokwe Lumumba. Williams drum rolls Lumumba’s early and game-changing policy initiatives, saying:

Seeing Chokwe’s initial successes in Jackson gave me hope that I would live to see a day that Southern progressives would not be faced with the same meaningless choices that we are constantly confronted with when we close that drape behind us and participate in our democracy. …

I will never understand why God chose to take Chokwe at a time when his voice is so crucial to everything that I hold dear as a Southerner, a leftist, and as a Black man; none of us will. But it is at times like this where my faith is a crucial component for my ability to move on. And not my faith in God; but rather my faith in movements and communities. 

Be sure to read Williams’s excellent remembrance of Chokwe Lumumba, 1947-2014.

(h/t The South Lawn)

Obama Launches My Brother’s Keeper Initiative for Young Men of Color

Obama Launches My Brother's Keeper Initiative for Young Men of Color

Today President Obama will kick off “My Brother’s Keeper,” a new White House initiative to change the terrible odds for boys and young men of color who are trying to make it to adulthood.

“The data proves it,” says the My Brother’s Keeper landing page. “Boys and young men of color—regardless of where they come from—are disproportionately at risk from their youngest years through college and the early stages of their professional lives.” At risk for what? The White House doesn’t say it in so many words but the answer is plain: at risk for growing up in a deeply racially stratified society which criminalizes black and brown boys and men. Black and Latino boys lag behind their non-black and non-Latino peers in reading proficiency but are overrepresented among homicide victims. 

The initiative has two parts. It’ll include a task force which will examine the impact that federal policies and programs have on boys and young men of color, “so as to develop proposals that will enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones.” The task force will put together recommendations for national, state and local agencies to support boys and young men of color. The Department of Education will also manage a public website which will assess important factors contributing to the life outcomes of boys and young men of color.

Separately, a group of philanthropic foundations is today announcing a $200 million investment over the next five years to support programs aimed at nurturing and supporting black and Latino boys and young men, and President Obama plans to meet with Adam Silver of the NBA, Joe Echevarria, CEO of Deloitte, and Magic Johnson and other businesspeople to involve the private sector in the initiative.

“The effort launched today is focused on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color - something that will not only benefit them, but all Americans,” the White House said in a statement.

Racial Harassment Picks Up After Video About Being Black at UCLA Law School

Racial Harassment Picks Up After Video About Being Black at UCLA Law School

How does it feel to be a black student at UCLA Law School today? A black student named Alexis Gardner received a note in her mailbox telling her, “Stop being a sensitive nigger,” just two weeks after a handful of black UCLA Law students released a video about the emotional toll of being in the extreme minority at the school. 

UCLA police are investigating the incident after Gardner reported the hate mail she received on Monday. Students have also been reporting that Black Law Student Association posters have been getting ripped down, according to Above the Law

UCLAblackstudenthatemail.jpg(photo via Huffington Post)

“We recognize that racial issues exist across the campus, not just in the law school,” UCLA Law School Dean Rachel Moran told the blog Above the Law. “At the Law School, my staff and I are taking concrete steps — such as workshops, vigorous outreach and curricular reform — to advance diversity and racial tolerance so that we can enjoy civil dialogue about these very sensitive issues.”

Racial issues, indeed. 

It’s been quite a month for racial violence and anti-black antagonism on college campuses. University of Mississippi indefinitely suspended the campus’ chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon after members of the fraternity hung a noose and a former Georgia state flag which includes the Confederate battle emblem in its design around a statue of James Meredith. Meredith was the first black student to attend and desegregate Ole Miss. In a separate incident this month Asian-American student groups and student service offices at UCLA and USC started receiving racist, sexist fliers. “Asian women R honkie white boy worshiping whores!!!!” the fliers read. 

Emotional Dad Rocks Arsenio with Love Poem to Son

Emotional Dad Rocks Arsenio with Love Poem to Son

But don’t miss poet Prentice Powell’s message about time, either—specifically, how much he does not get with his son. Choking back tears, he says:

Try dropping your son off at the airport with three teeth in his mouth, go forward and watch him come back with five and see if you don’t beat yourself up for not being around during that time so don’t tell me I’m a good father when you don’t know anything about me.

“Good Father,” is the name of the poem. Can you relate?

On the Two-Year Anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s Death

On the Two-Year Anniversary of Trayvon Martin's Death

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Vigils are being held in Florida and across the country in memoriam. But they’re only one of many ways that those outraged by the shooting and the Zimmerman verdict are choosing to remember a young life and, to also say, “Never again.” Confronting the new “self defense regime” says Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick will also mean tackling a new, warped “normal.” 

The gun lobby has single-handedly made certain that the very definition of what one might reasonably expect from an altercation at a Walmart, a movie theater, or a gas station has changed. By seeking to arm everyone in America, the NRA has in fact changed our reasonable expectation of how fights will end, into a self-fulfilling prophecy about how fights will end. It should surprise you not at all to learn that of the 10 states with the most lenient gun laws in America, seven support “stand your ground.” In those jurisdictions shooting first isn’t merely “reasonable.” It borders on sensible.

Over on Al Jazeera America, the way forward, writes Rinku Sen, executive director of Race Forward and publisher of Colorlines, is:

… not by ignoring racial bias, endorsing a color-blind approach or focusing on people’s intentions. Instead, the path forward lies in understanding fully how such bias works in our public schools and prisons and at the ballot box — and how those systems enable or discourage discriminatory actions. … To breathe life into the national race debate, we must deal with race fatigue the way we deal with other kinds of exhaustion. We rest, and then we keep the muscle moving so that it does not atrophy. The prizes for our willingness will include a stronger body politic, a more unified community and real improvements in people’s lives, including the actual preservation of those lives.  

Martin’s parents continue to fight the “Stand your Ground” laws that facilitated the acquittal of their son’s killer. Sybrina Fulton is scheduled to speak this Friday evening at the University of Connecticut.

How are you remembering Trayvon Martin’s life today?

Attacks, Arrests and Deportation for Immigrant Hunger Strikers

Attacks, Arrests and Deportation for Immigrant Hunger Strikers

A little over a week ago, six immigrant detainees at the Eloy Detention Center began a hunger strike to demand their release from one of several privately owned facility that has holds immigrants in Arizona. Among them was Jaime Valdez—who was suddenly deported in the middle of the night late Tuesday, despite the fact that his immigration case was in appeal. Valdez, who had been held at Eloy for more than a year, was entering the ninth day of his hunger strike, and his body was undoubtedly weakened as he was deported to Mexico. Five of the original hunger strikers remain at Eloy, and say they have been placed in solitary confinement as a result. 

The detainees’ loved ones on the outside are striking in solidarity. One of them, Anselma López, was hospitalized late Monday, but has since been released. The strikers on the outside had been camped out at the Downtown Phoenix ICE office, and were joined by supporters in Phoenix. Civilians have already attacked the group: burritos with racist messages penned on them were thrown at the strikers.

But that’s not all. Phoenix Police Department officers began evicting the camp late Tuesday night, taking personal property and arresting two well-known immigrant rights activists, Carlos Garcia and Erika Andiola. It’s expected that both will be released on bond soon. 

The strikers are determined to continue their vigil—and hope their loved ones will be released from Eloy. Some supporters are raising funds to send them “solidarity flowers.”

Watch Harry Belafonte and Dream Defenders Talk Civil Rights

Watch Harry Belafonte and Dream Defenders Talk Civil Rights Play

Today is the second anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s murder, so it’s fitting to have a discussion on what makes up the modern fight for civil rights and justice. Longtime activist and performer Harry Belafonte will join Phillip Agnew of the Dream Defenders and journalist Raquel Cepeda at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad in a discussion that will be live streamed starting at 6:30pm EST.

(h/t The New School)

Remembering Chokwe Lumumba, 1947-2014

Remembering Chokwe Lumumba, 1947-2014 Play

Chokwe Lumumba, the seasoned human rights activist, attorney and mayor of Jackson, Miss., passed away last night. He was 66 years old.

Here’s how the Associated Press remembered him:

As an attorney, Lumumba represented Tupac Shakur in cases including one in which the rapper was cleared of aggravated assault in the shootings of two off-duty police officers who were visiting Atlanta from another city when they were wounded. Shakur died in 1996.

In 2011, Lumumba persuaded then-Gov. Haley Barbour to release sisters Jamie Scott and Gladys Scott from a Mississippi prison after they served 16 years for an armed robbery they said they didn’t commit. Barbour suspended their life sentences but didn’t pardon them.

Lumumba was involved with the Republic of New Afrika in the 1970s and ’80s. He said in 2013 that the group had advocated “an independent predominantly black government” in the southeastern United States. Lumumba was vice president of the group during part of his stint. The group also advocated reparations for slavery, and was watched by an FBI counterintelligence operation.

Lumumba’s name bubbled to the surface of national discussion in recent years after he was elected mayor of Jackson, Mississippi in 2013 and had big aspirations for the city. “We are the right people at the right time,” he told Laura Flanders at GRITtv.

Immigrant Detainee Mom Hospitalized While on Hunger Strike

Immigrant Detainee Mom Hospitalized While on Hunger Strike

Six people whose family members are being held in immigrant detention began a hunger strike more than a week ago, in solidarity with their loved ones also on hunger strike inside the notorious Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. The strikers inside of detention say they’ve been placed in solitary confinement. But those on the outside are suffering as well.

Anselma López, whose son Elder Gómez López has been in detention for more than two years, has been on hunger strike since Monday, February 17. One week later, on February 24, she was taken to the emergency room after complaining about heart palpitations. She remains hospitalized today.

The hunger strikers, who are affiliated with the Puente Movement, plan on ending their strike on March 3. They’re demanding a change to the way detention and deportation continue to tear families apart under Obama’s administration. 

How to Compare ScHoolboy Q’s ‘Oxymoron’ to Kendrick Lamar’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’

How to Compare ScHoolboy Q's 'Oxymoron' to Kendrick Lamar's 'good kid, m.A.A.d city' Play

ScHoolboy Q’s new album “Oxymoron” is out today, and it will inevitably be compared to his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmate Kendrick Lamar’s last album, “good kid, m.A.A.d. city.” They’re with the same crew and have guested on one another’s projects in the past. But, as Billboard points out, they’re two very different rappers:

To say that ScHoolboy Q’s major-label debut is “less consistent” than “good kid, m.A.A.d city” is something of a misnomer, because, while Lamar dazzles with precise storytelling, Q conjures attention with brusque physicality. Both MCs are aiming for different marks, and although Q’s style is too unkempt to produce an album full of clean shots, his misses on “Oxymoron” are often just as compelling. 

For a track-by-track review, head on over to Billboard. 

An Actual Sociologist Highlights Flaws in Faux Sociology of “The Triple Package”

An Actual Sociologist Highlights Flaws in Faux Sociology of

Jennifer Lee, a sociologist at the University of California, Irvine, has hit back at “The Triple Package,” Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld’s new, deeply flawed work which purports to explain the outsized economic success of some ethnic groups. This being “The Triple Package” though, there are myriad holes in Chua and Rubenfeld’s arguments. Lee chooses just one in an article over at Zócalo Public Square by honing in on the authors’ narrow definition of social mobility and success. She says Mexican-Americans in fact make the largest strides toward economic success in the U.S.:

Who is more successful: a Mexican-American whose parents immigrated to the U.S. with less than an elementary school education, and who now works as a dental hygienist? Or a Chinese-American whose parents immigrated to the U.S. and earned Ph.D. degrees, and who now works as a doctor?

Amy Chua (AKA “Tiger Mom”) and her husband Jed Rubenfeld, author of the new book The Triple Package, claim it’s the latter. They argue that certain American groups (including Chinese, Jews, Cubans, and Nigerians) are more successful and have risen further than others because they share certain cultural traits. Chua and Rubenfeld bolster their argument by comparing these groups’ median household income, test scores, educational attainment, and occupational status to those of the rest of the country.

But what happens if you measure success not just by where people end up—the cars in their garages, the degrees on their walls—but by taking into account where they started? In a study of Chinese-, Vietnamese-, and Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles whose parents immigrated here, UCLA sociologist Min Zhou and I came to a conclusion that flies in the face of Chua and Rubenfeld, and might even surprise the rest of us: Mexicans are L.A.’s most successful immigrant group.

Read Lee’s piece in full at Zócalo Public Square for context that’s all but absent from The Triple Package. Lee’s larger point though is that unlike the fictional world Chua and Rubenfeld theorize within, success can’t be boiled down to the supposed cultural values a family passes down to children. Institutional and structural factors like immigration status, access to economic and social capital, and the educational backgrounds of immigrant parents matter a great deal in shaping the opportunities a child may or may not have.

Critics—myself among them—have had a field day with “The Triple Package.” But Chua and Rubenfeld may want to pay attention to this one—the authors actually cite Lee’s work in their book to bolster their erroneous claims. 

Michael Jackson, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix to Get Postage Stamps

Michael Jackson, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix to Get Postage Stamps

The U.S. postal service announced recently that it will unveil a new series of stamps over the next two years featuring some of the 20th century’s most influential musicians, including a handful of iconic black performers. The lineup includes Michael Jackson, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Sarah Vaughn and Sam Cooke.

According to Rolling Stone:

Among them are general music-related stamps honoring guitars and hip-hop, as well as several new entries in the U.S.P.S.’s Music Icons series, including Lennon, Bill Monroe, Jim Morrison, Sam Cooke, Tammy Wynette, “Fats” Waller, Freddie Fender, Roy Orbison, Sarah Vaughan and Willie Dixon. Michael Jackson will also be getting his own stamp that is not part of the Icons series.

It’s an honor, albiet a somewhat strange one. Barack Obama is slated for a stamp soon, along with Dora the Explorer. At least the U.S. Postal Service is trying to keep it interesting. 

Where Slavery Still Exists

Where Slavery Still Exists

More than 29 million people around the world are still living in slavery. According to the first-ever Global Slavery Index 2013, the Caribbean country Haiti ranks second in prevalence after Mauritania in West Africa. Pakistan ranks third on a list in which mainly African and Asian countries predominate. The definition of modern slavery according to this report, includes debt bondage, forced marriage, child labor, human trafficking and forced labor. The United States ranks on the low-end (134th in the world), according to the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation. But, it is still a destination for all of the above.

(h/t AFP)

Supaman Makes Beats in Regalia

Supaman Makes Beats in Regalia

Christian Takes Gun Parrish (Crow), also known as Supaman, is a well-known fancy dancer. But he also makes incredible layered hip-hop beats. One day, he found that didn’t have time to change out of his regalia before performing a hip-hop set. The result was pretty fabulous, and is illustrated in Supaman’s “Prayer Loop Song.”

Read more about Supaman in the Billings Gazette.

(h/t ICTMN)

Learn About the Life of Trans Activist and Actress Marsha P. Johnson

Learn About the Life of Trans Activist and Actress Marsha P. Johnson Play

Don’t have any plans this weekend? Then it’s a great time to watch “Pay It No Mind,” a new documentary about the life and work of Marsha P. Johnson, a trans activist who played an important role in the Stonewall Rebellion and also worked as an Andy Warhol model, drag queen, sex worker and actress. It’s available for free online. Watch above.

From Shadow and Act:

With her final interview from 1992, Pay It No Mind captures the legendary gay/human rights activist as she recounts her life at the forefront of The Stonewall Riots in the 1960s, the creation of S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) with Sylvia Rivera in the ’70s, and a New York City activist throughout the ’80s and early ’90s.

The film features interviews with Marsha, as well as in-depth interviews with gay activist Randy Wicker, former Cockettes performer Agosto Machado, author Michael MustoHot Peaches founder/performer, Jimmy Camicia, and Stonewall activists Bob KohlerDanny GarvinTommy Lanigan-Schmidt, and Martin Boyce.

Read more at Shadow and Act. 


Medals of Honor Awarded to Vets Robbed Due to Racism

Medals of Honor Awarded to Vets Robbed Due to Racism

President Obama will award the highest military commendation, the Medal of Honor, next month to 19 Jewish, Latino, and African-American Army veterans who were robbed of the designation due to racial discrimination.

The awards are the outcome of a 12-year review and reassessment of Medal of Honor recipients by the Pentagon as ordered by Congress to investigate historical racism among military ranks.

The list of those who’ll receive the distinguished honor includes 17 Latino soldiers and one African-American veteran, although according to The Washington Post, Congress’ order did not initially include a review of black soliders.

More from WaPo:

Defense Department officials said there was specific evidence to suggest such discrimination may have existed in the ranks, including instances when Hispanic and Jewish soldiers apparently changed their names to hide their ethnicity. The Congressional order spanned the period from December 1941 through September 2001.

The project was an enormous undertaking that sent military personnel officials searching for lost records and battlefield histories amid the complicated politics surrounding the military’s highest honor.

The review was further complicated by a 1973 fire that destroyed millions of military files at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. 

Of the new Medal of Honor recipients, only three are still living

TAGS: military Obama

Girl Scout Sets Up Outside of Local Weed Shop, Sells Lots of Cookies

Girl Scout Sets Up Outside of Local Weed Shop, Sells Lots of Cookies

Girl Scout Danielle Lei, 13, knew exactly what her customers wanted when she set up her cookie table outside of the Green Cross, a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood. And that’s how she sold 147 boxes of cookies in mere minutes, according to Mashable

“It’s no secret that cannabis is a powerful appetite stimulant, so we knew this would be a very beneficial endeavor for the girls,” Holli Bert, a staff member at The Green Cross, told Mashable in an email. “It’s all about location, and what better place to sell Girl Scout cookies than outside a medical cannabis collective?”

(h/t Facebook)

Black Juror in Dunn Case Breaks Silence, Says Race Wasn’t a Factor

Black Juror in Dunn Case Breaks Silence, Says Race Wasn't a Factor

CNN’s Alina Machado spoke with 21-year-old Creshuna Miles—one of two black women who served on the Michael Dunn murder trial jury. Miles, who was one of nine jurors who voted to convict Dunn, says she believes he’s guilty of second-degree murder—and that, for her, the case was about justice, not race.

(h/t The Root)

Darren Sharper and the Myth of People Who Are ‘Too Sexy’ To Rape

Darren Sharper and the Myth of People Who Are 'Too Sexy' To Rape

A scandal of monumental proportions is unfolding in the NFL right now and it involves former player and television analyst Darren Sharper, who’s currently being investigated in an eighth rape allegation. If he’s found guilty, it wouldn’t be the first time that a former professional football player was unmasked as a serial rapist; former All-Pro running back David Meggett is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence in South Carolina after being named in at least three different sexual assault investigations. In both cases, if you get past the downright racist comments on message boards, a troubling excuse has bubbled to the surface: these strong, powerful and good-looking men don’t need to rape anyone to have sex.

Erin Gloria Ryan takes that to task over at Jezebel. “Rapists do not want to fuck,” Ryan writes. “They want to rape.”

Despite the mounting evidence against him, some people seem to believe that a good looking man couldn’t possibly be a monster. If moral people aren’t always usually exceptionally good looking, then has Disney been leading me astray all these years? Sick garbage-people come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and, yeah, sometimes they’re handsome and maybe they once dated Gabrielle Union and maybe they do charity work. Maybe they have money and look really good in suits. None of this means they’re incapable of rape. Allowing an alleged rapist’s attractiveness and money to cast doubt on his innocence or guilt displays a profound lack of understanding of what rape is, what it’s about, and who does it. It also gives people yet another excuse to doubt rape victims. These hoes are lying, obviously. Because of course they wanted to fuck him. Because everybody wanted to fuck him.

Read more over at Jezebel.

NBC’s Brian Williams Raps ‘Rapper’s Delight’ and It’s Awesome

NBC's Brian Williams Raps 'Rapper's Delight' and It's Awesome Play

Once again, Jimmy Fallon is killin’ it on “The Tonight Show.” This clip appeared on the show earlier this week. 

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