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Study: The Majority of Public School Students in the West, South are Low-Income

Study: The Majority of Public School Students in the West, South are Low-Income

In 17 U.S. states, the majority of public school students are low-income. But the poverty isn’t distributed evenly across the country, according to a new report from Southern Education Foundation. Thirteen of the states are in the South, and the other four are in the West.

The situation is dire. Researchers measure the landscape by the numbers of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, a rough proxy for gauging poverty. Students are eligible for free or reduced meals if their family household income is 185 percent beneath the poverty threshold. In 2011, a student from a single-parent home with an annual income of $26,956 or less would qualify for free or reduced lunch. In Mississippi, 71 percent of public school students qualify for free and reduced lunch. In New Mexico it’s 68 percent; in California 54; in Texas it’s 50 percent.

The recession that began in 2008 certainly exacerbated trends, but childhood poverty is a problem much older than the recession. Between 2001 and 2011, the numbers of children in public schools who classified as low-income grew 32 percent, or by some 5.7 million kids. As a result, by 2011 low-income students made up nearly half of all public school students.

While 30 percent of white students attend schools where the majority of students are low-income, 68 percent of Latino students attend schools classified as such. And 72 percent of black public school students go to schools where the majority of students are low-income.

An Animated Look at California’s Practice of Solitary Confinement

An Animated Look at California's Practice of Solitary Confinement

A new video takes a look inside the California Department of Corrections’ practice of solitary confinement, which inmates staged a hunger strike in response to earlier this year. 

“Solitary confinement has been in the news for months now,” says Colorlines alum Jorge Rivas who’s doing big things over at Fusion, the English-language joint venture between ABC News and Univision that launches on October 28. “First there was the hunger strike that 30,000 California inmates participated in to call attention to indefinite solitary confinement. Most recently a women hung herself and the latest is the U.N. rapporteur is speaking out against the conditions and wants access to the prisons.”

(h/t Fusion)

Angel Haze ‘Freaked Out’ Over Remix of Macklemore’s ‘Same Love’

Angel Haze 'Freaked Out' Over Remix of Macklemore's 'Same Love'

Macklemore’s “Same Love” has been one of the most popular tracks of the year for its embrace of same-sex marriage. But when openly queer rapper Angel Haze decided to do a remix of the song, she admittedly “freaked out” because it hit so close to home. 

She raps, “At age 13 my mother knew I wasn’t straight/ She didn’t understand but she had so much to say/ She sat me on the couch, looked me straight in my face/ She said, ‘You’ll burn in hell or probably die of AIDS,” and she closes with the declaration: “No, I’m not gay/ No, I’m not straight/ And I sure as hell am not bisexual/ Damn it, I am who I am when I am it.” 

 Haze later told her followers on Twitter, “I’ve been struggling with myself a bit and like, I don’t know. If you guys would like to hear it. I would like for you to.”

(h/t Elixher)

Watch ‘Do the Right Thing’ Cast’s 25-Year Reunion

Watch 'Do the Right Thing' Cast's 25-Year Reunion

Spike Lee’s 1989 film, “Do the Right Thing,” has been ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 American films of all time. It’s hard to believe that it was released 25 years ago, but the director and cast recently got together for a “Good Morning America” special to talk about its impact throughout the years. 

In the clip from Shadow & Act’s Tambay Obensen, Lee says that there’s a Broadway musical of “Do the Right Thing” in the works.

Aloe Blacc’s New Video is Undocumented and Unafraid

Aloe Blacc's New Video is Undocumented and Unafraid

Aloe Blacc’s new video for his song, “Wake Me Up” is beautiful and inspiring—and it also features a cast of actors who have personally dealt with the consequences of a damaging immigration system. Directed by Alex Rivera, the video includes appearances from Agustín Chiprez Alvarez, who is also a day laborer, Margarita Reyes, who was deported as a child along with her mother, and Hareth Andrade Ayala, who is fighting to halt her father’s deportation.

This isn’t the first time Rivera has worked to include some of the people most affected by immigration policy in the music videos he directs. Just six months ago, Rivera directed La Santa Cecilia’s “El Hielo,” which is also worth a peep. 

Rally Against NSA Surveillance This Weekend in the U.S. Capital

Rally Against NSA Surveillance This Weekend in the U.S. Capital

On the 12th anniversary of the Patriot Act, and in the midst of the ongoing Edward Snowden fiasco, the group Stop Watching Us is organizing a march and rally against mass surveillance in Washington D.C. on October 26. The group has gathered more than a half million signatures in a letter to Congress, requesting amendments to the Patriot Act, the creation of special committees to investigate National Security Agency (NSA)  surveillance, and accountability for those legislators accused of complicity in NSA’s data collection practices. The march will begin at Union Station and culminate at Union Square in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

As Colorlines has previously reported, NSA surveillance has particular consequences for people of color, who are prolific users of online media sites that are targeted by the NSA’s Prism program. Immigrants are also disproportionately targeted by NSA’s data collection as they frequently make international phone calls that can be recorded and stored without evidence of wrongdoing. And FBI counterintelligence programs are known to target Muslim communities under the guise of anti-terrorism efforts.

Amalia Deloney, associate director of the Center for Media Justice, says people of color are underrepresented within the NSA surveillance debate. “Right now the vast majority of groups involved are white progressives or white civil libertarians. Yet absent from this are the voices and organizations of [people of color] who have a legacy of experience and trauma,” she says. 

And Joe Torres, senior external affairs director of Free Press, says the rally is intended to call more attention to what the NSA is collecting and how.

“We need to connect this more to people of color. Government surveillance is so connected to our communities, be it stop-and-frisk, surveillance of the Muslim community in New York, or more surveillance and militarization of the border. These are all examples of how our communities are targeted and surveilled, which leads to mass incarceration,” he says. “We need to be concerned about spying, because we don’t know what it’s being used for. It’s not unreasonable to think it could be used to target communities of color.”

Teenager Taken into Custody for Shopping While Black

Teenager Taken into Custody for Shopping While Black

Trayon Christian says he was profiled by Barneys New York, and then taken into custody by New York Police Department officers who couldn’t believe the young black man could afford to purchase a $350 belt. The college student has now filed a lawsuit in Manhattan’s Supreme Court against the department store and the police. 

Christian says that after he saw Juelz Santana sporting Salvatore Ferragamo gear, he saved up money from his part-time job to purchase a belt with that Italian label. But when he bought the accessory at Barneys, he was asked for identification. Despite having to prove his identity, two undercover officers apprehended Christian outside of the Madison Avenue store. He was handcuffed and then taken into custody. Police questioned him after he produced various types of identification and a receipt for the belt. The 19-year-old says that officers eventually called his bank, which confirmed that Christian was, indeed, who he said he was. Officers then let him go, and never filed actual charges—despite holding him for two hours.

Christian returned the belt in disgust at what happened, calling it “cruel and racist.” He’s seeking damages resulting from the humiliation and physical and mental stress the incident caused him. 

(h/t NBC-New York)

Five Things to Know About Virginia’s High-Stakes Governor’s Race

Five Things to Know About Virginia's High-Stakes Governor's Race

Virginia was the first state to elect an African-American governor, Doug Wilder, in 1990. It has grown to become both a battleground and important swing state in presidential elections, and the off-year gubernatorial races are usually an indicator of which way the state will swing. It’s also an increasingly browning state. Frederick County has seen a 445 percent surge in its Latino population since 2000, while the state’s Latino population has grown 92 percent between 2000 and 2010. Over a third of the state’s population is black, Latino, Asian or Native American. On November 5, the nation will be watching the election results for Virginia’s gubernatorial race, a tight campaign fight between attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican, and former Democratic National Committee head Terry McAuliffe. (A third candidate for the Libertarian Party, Robert Sarvis, is also in the race.) 

Virginia is most known for it’s middle-ground conservatism: Current governor Bob McDonnell both signed a strict photo voter ID requirement into law and installed a mechanism that restores the voting rights of former felons this year. Of the 80 House members who signed a letter in August saying a government shutdown would be better than funding Obamacare, none were from Virginia.

But Virginia might lose its reputation for moderation this year. The Republican candidate, Cuccinelli, is considered a favorite among tea party supporters, donors and political action committees that typically support extreme conservative causes like banning abortion and gay marriage.

Which is why this year’s governor and lieutenant governor race is so important. A lot is at stake in terms of civil rights and women’s rights, and if the current brand of Republican candidates win, it could be an indication of the general direction for conservative politics. Here are five things to know about Virginia’s gubernatorial race:

1. The winner determines the Voting Rights Act’s future: Virginia was once covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act before it was neutralized by the U.S. Supreme Court. Before that ruling, Virginia passed a controversial voter ID law that had the potential to burden voters of color but still received the approval of the Justice Department. Cuccinelli, as attorney general, mostly played nice with the federal government for that approval but as soon as Section 5 was dismantled he set out to enforce an even stricter voter ID law passed this year by the state legislature. Cuccinelli could have voiced disapproval of the weakening of voting rights protections, like North Carolina’s attorney general, Roy Cooper, did but instead he mocked it. Tomorrow, Cuccinelli will rally with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who this year signed what the Department of Justice has called the most restrictive voter ID law in the nation. McAuliffe meanwhile is campaigning on creating a state-level version of the federal civil rights law.    

2. The winner determines how elections are run: We’ve all heard about the long voting lines in Florida, but Virginia wasn’t far behind. There were many reasons for the long waits, which disproportionately impacted voters of color, but it’s the county electoral board members who are in the best position to fix the problems that create long lines. They allocate resources across poll locations and if they decide they only want two booths at a heavy turnout area, then those voters better bring their books and iPads when they go vote. County electoral boards are composed of three members and whatever party wins the governor’s election determines who will make up the two-seat majority. This is important given that some of the current county electoral boards, all with Republican majorities, have been carrying out voter purges under Cuccinelli’s authorization. As many as 57,000 voters might be purged for this election according to the social justice group Virginia New Majority. 

3. Reproductive choice is at stake: Cuccinelli is unabashedly anti-choice. Early in his campaign, Cuccinelli compared his own movement to abolish abortion to the movement to abolish slavery. Before that, he used his post as attorney general to block women’s access to reproductive health clinics, namely by refusing to certify state regulations on clinic operations. In the so-called war on women Cuccinelli appears to be one of the marquee generals for his harsh stances on abortion, birth control and even divorce. McAuliffe has vowed to keep the state’s remaining abortion clinics open.

4. Virginia voters are feeling apathy: Though none of the candidates are responsible for the government shutdown this month, Virginia voters seem to be making that association anyway. The Washington Post reported that in a historically active “bellwether district” of Prince Williams County, in northern Virginia, there has been mostly voter apathy. The Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board, the paper of record in the state’s capitol, didn’t endorse a candidate for the first time in recent memory. “In the past, The Times-Dispatch has endorsed candidates with varying degrees of enthusiasm,” its editorial board wrote. “We find it impossible to endorse any of the 2013 candidates with even minimal zeal.” 

5. There’s a black candidate for lieutenant governor: One of the candidates, Republican E.W. Jackson, is an African-American. Recently, the conservative Christian bishop said that any person who worshipped anything other than Jesus Christ practiced “false religion.” He once tweeted that Barack Obama is the “first homosexual President.” He believes federal government programs that help women are more destructive to black families than slavery was. He also believes that Planned Parenthood is more threatening to black people than the Ku Klux KlanDespite his extreme positions, Jackson still has the support of 42 percent of likely Virginia voters. 

Rapper Jasiri X’s New Video ‘Crooked Cops’ Takes Aim at Police Brutality

Rapper Jasiri X's New Video 'Crooked Cops' Takes Aim at Police Brutality

Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X has a new anthem out against police brutality.

Most Latinos Can’t Name A Leader From Their Community

Most Latinos Can't Name A Leader From Their Community

The Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project released a disheartening report today on Latinos’ attitudes towards national leadership in their community. Three quarters of surveyed Latinos said their community needed a leader, and 62 percent couldn’t name one.  When asked to give the name of a national Latino leader, five percent of respondents named Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and another five percent named Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) were also named by an even smaller percentage. Pew suggests the survey results are closely tied to the continued failure of immigration reform policy efforts. 

The study also included interesting findings on Latinos attitudes towards one another. Only 39 percent of Latinos said they shared “a lot” of values with other Latinos, whereas another 39 percent said they only shared “some” and 19 percent said “almost nothing.” They also found that only a slight 20 percent of people actively identify as Latino or Hispanic, most choosing instead to identify with their country of origin. These findings in particular highlight the growing diversity among Latinos—an ethnic group that is so often considered homogenous despite composed of dozens of distinct cultures and backgrounds. 

Two Men Were Married in Oklahoma, Where Gay Marriage is Constitutionally Forbidden

Two Men Were Married in Oklahoma, Where Gay Marriage is Constitutionally Forbidden

Jason Pickel and Darren Blackbear had been together for more than eight years—and have wanted to get married for the past five. But they thought it would be impossible to do so in the state of Oklahoma. That’s because nearly 10 years ago, 76 percent of voters decided that Oklahoma’s constitution should be amended to read that marriage be strictly limited to “the union of one man and one woman.” 

Because of tribal sovereignty, however, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are not bound by state law, including state marriage and divorce laws. In an interview with KOCO-TV, Pickel says he recently called up the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes courthouse, and realized that he and Blackbear qualified for marriage because they fulfilled the tribes’ two marriage conditions: that both partners be an enrolled member of the federally recognized tribal nations, and that they both reside within tribal jurisdiction. Because gender has nothing to do with defining marriage, Pickel and Blackbear are now married.

The Cheyenne and Arapaho jurisdiction is pretty vast—covering a good portion of western Oklahoma. That means that any two people, regardless of gender, who are enrolled in one of nearly 600 federally recognized tribes and live in this part of Oklahoma can, indeed, be married. And Oklahoma’s constitution can’t do anything about it. 

Two Police Officers Convicted of Civil Rights Violations Against Latinos in Connecticut

Two Police Officers Convicted of Civil Rights Violations Against Latinos in Connecticut

Following a four-year investigation into allegations of racial profiling and harassment against Latinos, East Haven police officers David Cari and Dennis Spaulding were convicted on Monday of conspiracy against civil rights, deprivation of rights, and obstruction of justice. Spaulding was also individually convicted of using unreasonable force. The two were originally arrested in January 2012, along with officers John Miller and Jason Zullo, following a federal investigation that revealed an excessive number of traffic stops and arrests involving Latinos, as well as evidence that Latino detainees were assaulted by the officers.

New Haven has a growing Latino immigrant population, and the case began following the 2009 arrest of Rev. James Manship, a local pastor. Manship had received multiple reports of harassment and abuse from Latino parishioners, and was arrested while attempting to video-record the officers arresting a Latino man. Cari and Spaulding submitted a false police report following Manship’s arrest, allegedly writing 27 drafts of the report. 

The officers will be sentenced on January 21, and could face up to 20 years in prison. Miller and Zullo have pled guilty to related charges but have not yet been sentenced.

‘The Onion’ Protests the Washington DC NFL Team’s Name With Anti-Semitism

'The Onion' Protests the Washington DC NFL Team's Name With Anti-Semitism

If you’re trying to make a point about the bigotry of an NFL team’s name, it’s best not to resort to a bigoted argument. But that’s what The Onion did in its failed attempt at humor when it ran an article with the title, “Redskins’ Kike Owner Refuses to Change Team’s Offensive Name” to poke fun at Daniel Snyder, the team’s Jewish owner. 

I get that The Onion is trying to use bigotry to make the point against the Washington DC NFL team’s name, but they missed me with this one. 

Watch Students Discuss Ongoing Racism at the University of Alabama

Watch Students Discuss Ongoing Racism at the University of Alabama

Last month the University of Alabama made headlines when campus newspaper reporters exposed racism against a sorority pledge. The conversations that stemmed from that event inspired the Mallet Assembly, a group founded in 1961 to be an integration and racism watchdog at the university, to address what they describe as ongoing racism and a segregation mentality. Members of the group say this mentality is deeply embedded in Greek life at the school, and has a broader impact on student employment and other factors. In this video, members of the group talk about their experiences, and host a demonstration mirroring the reaction to George Wallace’s infamous 1963 “segregation forever” speech

(h/t Vice)

‘Africa’-Themed Party Features KKK, Elephant and Black Face Costumes

'Africa'-Themed Party Features KKK, Elephant and Black Face Costumes

A white Australian recently turned 21 and decided to have an “Africa-themed” birthday party. She posted the photos on Facebook, without shame, and then refused to take them down with confronted with how racist they were. And just how racist are they? Well, they play on every tired black and African stereotype you’ve ever heard of.

Buzzfeed’s Heben Nigatu noted that the girl created a (since deleted) Tumblr page in an effort to explain her actions. She starts off by writing, “It was my ‘African themed’ party and it was honestly made that theme because I have always wanted to go to Africa (to teach english) but haven’t made it there yet.” And yes, it gets much worse. Read more

 

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(h/t Buzzfeed via Jezebel)

Watch This Cute Little Girl’s Hilarious Tap Dance Routine

Watch This Cute Little Girl's Hilarious Tap Dance Routine

This pre-schooler made up her own choreography and it’s the cutest thing. Watch.

(h/t Daily Picks and Flicks)

New Study Shows 15 Percent of Youth are Unemployed, Not in School

New Study Shows 15 Percent of Youth are Unemployed, Not in School

Fifteen percent of youth ages 16 to 24 nationwide are both unemployed and not in school, a new study shows. Today, the Opportunity Nation coalition released a report and searchable map that provides recent economic, education and community-based information for geographic regions across the country. The Opportunity Index scores both states and individual counties based on opportunities for advancement and social mobility. 

Within that 15 percent of youth, the counties with the lowest indicators, both at 34.8 percent, were Apache County and Navajo County, Ariz. Both are counties with large Native American populations. The index does not disaggregate information related to race or ethnicity, and instead focuses on specific economic conditions in geographic regions. But overlaying their opportunity maps over others charting race and ethnicity shows what you might expect—the lower half of the U.S., which includes the most racially and ethnically diverse states in the country, scored lowest for opportunities. And specific areas with the high levels of income inequality also scored particularly low. The study indicates that economic conditions faced by U.S. families, 49 percent of which are living in poverty according to this report, is also limiting opportunities for the next generation.

Watch the Ohio State Marching Band’s Michael Jackson Tribute

Watch the Ohio State Marching Band's Michael Jackson Tribute

The Ohio State marching band, also known as the “Best Damn Band in the Land,” paid tribute to Michael Jackson over the weekend and it was so, so good. The action starts at around the 50-second mark, and check out those fancy formations!

(h/t Mashable)

Prince Pulls Off His Pajama Party

Prince Pulls Off His Pajama Party

10-21-prince-2.jpgAs promised to those who made a $50 donation, Prince welcomed fans to Paisley Park, where people lounged around in fashionable pajama wear, ate pancakes, and got to hear the coolest 55-year-old play a set and an encore. 

Dubbed The Breakfast Experience, the entry line to Prince’s pajama party was long—but well worth it, at least for some fans. One Instagram user said he made new friends and had pizza during the four hour wait, and seemed happy to enjoy the pancakes, and especially enjoy the encore. But one Minnesota City Pages reviewer grew annoyed at the few refreshment options and left after one set, wrongly assuming there was no encore.

What do you think? Would you have stuck around through the whole pajama party, the pancakes, the show and the encore? 

(Fan photo: swisslara/Instagram)

Obamacare Website Will Get Fixed, Says POTUS

Obamacare Website Will Get Fixed, Says POTUS

Now that the noise of the government shutdown has subsided, the nation is now more attuned to the deep flaws in the POTUS’s Obamacare web portal Healthcare.gov. In fact, had Sen. Ted Cruz and his fellow enemies of Obamacare gone radio silent during the time since Obamacare’s online rollout, they may have seen more of the damage to the Affordable Health Care act’s public buy-in that they hoped for given all of the glitches in accessing the website

At first, President Obama chalked those glitches up to a flood of web traffic, saying it was evidence that there was massive demand for the healthcare products. Three weeks later, though, millions still have not been able to work Healthcare.gov and its affiliate state sites. While the White House’s goal is to sign up 500,000 people for healthcare by October 31, only about a quarter-million of people have done that, according to CNN’s analysis (of 14 states).  

Which is why Obama addressed the nation today, to acknowledge that there have been problems, but also telling them to Keep calm and continue to buy Obamacare

“There’s no sugarcoating it,” said Obama from the Rose Garden today. “The website has been too slow, and people have been getting stuck during the application process.”

Obama said that he recruited the “best and brightest” information technicians from across the nation to come work on improving the website, but he also encouraged people to sign up for Obamacare over the phone or in person. The Healthcare.gov website has been updated with information on how to access Obamacare through those offline avenues, which of course is still a problem if you don’t have a computer or wi-fi. 

As for the frustrations with the website, Obama said, “Nobody is madder than me that the website is not working as well as it should, which means it is going to get fixed.”

About halfway through his speech, one of the women standing behind him at the Rose Garden almost fainted. The president helped catch her and responded, “This is what happens when I talk too long.”

TAGS: Obamacare
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