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. 

Kentucky Debates Easing Felony Disenfranchisement Laws

Kentucky Debates Easing Felony Disenfranchisement Laws

More than one in five of black residents of voting age in Kentucky cannot vote. The state ranks among the harshest in the country for felony disenfranchisement but according to Stateline, that could change this election year. With a compromise assist from Republican Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky could join states like Delaware and more than two dozen others in easing voting restrictions. But the battle is far from over. Some states like South Dakota have actually tightened restrictions in recent years. Nearly six million people, according to The Sentencing Project, cannot vote due to felony disenfranchisement laws. More than seven percent are African-American.

Check out Stateline’s map to see where your state stands compared to the rest of the country on felony disenfranchisement and policies by state. Is your state’s record better or worse than you expected?

Watch Michelle Obama’s Dance Party With Jimmy Fallon on ‘Tonight Show’

Watch Michelle Obama's Dance Party With Jimmy Fallon on 'Tonight Show' Play

Jimmy Fallon continued his strong first week on “The Tonight Show” by bringing Michelle Obama on as a guest during the show’s “Ew” segment. FLOTUS joined Fallon and Will Ferrell in a super cute (if, at times, awkward) dance party. 

New York to End Solitary Confinement for Youth and Pregnant Inmates

New York to End Solitary Confinement for Youth and Pregnant Inmates

Update Wednesday, March 5 at 12:03 p.m.: New York is not ending solitary confinement for developmentally disabled inmates as previously reported. It is limiting these inmates’ time in isolation to 30 hours. 


New York will end the practice of solitary confinement for certain classes of inmates, including youth and pregnant inmates as part of an agreement announced Wednesday, the New York Times reported. The landmark agreement stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union challenging the state’s confinement practices. Some 3,800 prisoners are held in solitary confinement every day for between 22 and 24 hours as punishment for violating prison rules, according to the NYCLU. And now, New York will be the largest correctional system in the country which prohibits solitary confinement for youth inmates.

Solitary confinement is an ineffective and inhumane form of punishment, advocates have long argued. It exacerbates or even causes mental illness, and can increase rates of recidivism, the NYCLU argued. New York has been confining inmates to solitary confinement for months and even decades, when experts have argued that the maximum “tolerable span” one can spend in solitary confinement is closer to 15 to 30 days. 

“This agreement is an important step toward dignity and decency,” Leroy Peoples, a lead plaintiff in the lawsuit who served 780 consecutive days in solitary confinement as punishment for filing false legal documents, said via the NYCLU.

If the reform moves as scheduled, the lawsuit should be resolved in two years, the New York Times reported.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Writes About Nigeria’s Anti-Gay Law

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Writes About Nigeria's Anti-Gay Law

On January 7, dozens of Nigerians were arrested after the country passed a draconian anti-gay law that punishes homosexuality with a life sentence in prison. Similar legislation appears to be headed for Uganda. Global gay rights watchdogs have noted that such bills are often the work of U.S. Evangelicals, who they say must take repsonsibility for their actions. Now, a prominent Nigerian voice has spoken out against the law. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie takes on the common arguments posed by supporters of the bill, including that being gay is “un-African.”

The new law that criminalizes homosexuality is popular among Nigerians. But it shows a failure of our democracy, because the mark of a true democracy is not in the rule of its majority but in the protection of its minority - otherwise mob justice would be considered democratic. The law is also unconstitutional, ambiguous, and a strange priority in a country with so many real problems. Above all else, however, it is unjust. Even if this was not a country of abysmal electricity supply where university graduates are barely literate and people die of easily-treatable causes and Boko Haram commits casual mass murders, this law would still be unjust. We cannot be a just society unless we are able to accommodate benign difference, accept benign difference, live and let live. We may not understand homosexuality, we may find it personally abhorrent but our response cannot be to criminalize it.

A crime is a crime for a reason. A crime has victims. A crime harms society. On what basis is homosexuality a crime? Adults do no harm to society in how they love and whom they love. This is a law that will not prevent crime, but will, instead, lead to crimes of violence: there are already, in different parts of Nigeria, attacks on people ‘suspected’ of being gay. Ours is a society where men are openly affectionate with one another. Men hold hands. Men hug each other. Shall we now arrest friends who share a hotel room, or who walk side by side? How do we determine the clunky expressions in the law - ‘mutually beneficial,’ ‘directly or indirectly?’

Read the entire piece at NewsWireNGR.

Nas Documentary ‘Time Is Illmatic’ to Open Tribeca Film Festival

Nas Documentary 'Time Is Illmatic' to Open Tribeca Film Festival Play

This year’s annual Tribeca Film Festival starts on April 16 and it’s opening with a documentary “Time is Illmatic” on rapper Nas’ seminal 1994 album “Illmatic.” The film’s debut will be followed by a live performance of the entire album from Nas.

The rapper issued a statement on the film’s official release: 

“I want to thank the Tribeca Film Festival for supporting the film with the incredible platform they’ve built over the years,” Nas said in the announcement. “It’s an honor to premiere this film in my hometown. I also want to thank One9 and Erik Parker for their persistence and hard work. Those guys and I come from the same place and era, which gives the doc an authenticity that is important to me. We wanted this film to represent the real, from the storyline all the way down to the directors and producers.”

Jane Rosenthal, CEO and co-founder of Tribeca Film Festival, praised the film. “Like the festival itself, ‘Time is Illmatic’ and the groundbreaking body of work it recognizes has roots grounded in New York City, but represents and reaches communities far beyond.”

TAGS: hip-hop Nas video

Report: People of Color More Likely to Serve Time in Private Prisons

Report: People of Color More Likely to Serve Time in Private Prisons

According to a new study by University of California at Berkeley researcher Christopher Petrella, people of color who are sentenced to prison are more likely than their white counterparts to serve their time in private institutions.  Katie Rose Quandt points out at Mother Jones that those private prisons have higher levels of violence and recidivism (PDF) and provide less sufficient health care and educational programming than equivalent public facilities.

In Petrella’s study, age and race work in a very specific way when it comes to private prisons. From Bill Moyers:

Why would African American and Latino prisoners be cheaper to incarcerate than whites? Because older prisoners are significantly more expensive than younger ones. “Based on historical sentencing patterns, if you are a prisoner today, and you are over 50 years old, there is a greater likelihood that you are white,” Petrella explained to “If you are under 50 years old — particularly if you’re closer to 30 years old — you’re more likely to be a person of color.” He cited a 2012 report by the ACLU which found that it costs $34,135 per year to house a non-geriatric prisoner, compared with $68,270 for a prisoner age 50 or older.

Here’s what that looks like:















Quandt takes a deeper dive into how this data helps bolster the argument that the prison industry cares more about profit than rehabilitation. Read more at Mother Jones


Can Big Labor Organize the South?

Can Big Labor Organize the South?

When autoworkers at a Tennessee plant vetoed union representation last Friday, many observers saw the loss not just as a blow to the United Auto Workers but to future organizing efforts in the region. If big labor is to take the South (and hope to be relevant nationally), experts say, it’ll need to get better at reaching workers of color.

According to Cornell labor professor Kate Bronfenbrenner in a New York Times op-ed this week, “The South has more manufacturing units with a majority black workers, immigrant workers, low-wage workers and women of colorthose most likely to choose unions — and fewer majority white male manufacturing units — those least likely to choose unions.”

Prominent voices on the left like Timothy Noah and others allege that the UAW lost the Chattanooga plant because of stereotypical Southern racist undercurrents. One May op-ed in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press compared the UAW to “an invading Union army.” But it’s difficult to assess that charge. Reporting in the weeks leading up to and after the vote rarely mentions the plant’s racial demographics or even, how race and gender shaped organizing tactics on both the pro- and anti-labor sides.

Going forward says African-American Kenneth Riley, head of a South Carolina local, big labor must factor this reality into their campaign strategies: “unions are most likely to be successful in units where the majority of the workers are minorities, people of color and women.” And, says Douglas Williams, a PhD student at the University of Alabama, in order to make inroads, big labor must take organizing cues from worker centers and prioritize community engagement.

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