Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Fast-Food Worker Strikes Set for 100 Cities

Fast-Food Worker Strikes Set for 100 Cities

Hot on the heels of the second year of Black Friday protests last week, fast-food restaurant workers in 100 cities around the U.S. plan to strike on Thursday, organizers have announced.

Their call is for a $15 an hour minimum wage—a major but, say workers, necessary, hike from the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. While one-day strikes have been happening for the last year in major cities like Seattle, New York City and Los Angeles, they’ll be happening for the first time this week in Providence, Rhode Island; Charleston, South Carolina; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the New York Times reported.

It has been a big year for both retail and fast-food industry worker public actions. This spring and summer were dotted with one-day fast-food strikes of McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s restaurants around the country. In August retail and fast-food workers in 50 cities staged a one-day walkout for their cause. The calls come as cities are grappling with growing class inequality and poverty. One solution is to raise the minimum wage. Last week, Seattle area voters approved a ballot measure to increase the minimum wage in SeaTac to $15 an hour, a harbinger of changes to come, advocates hope.

How Black American Voters Feel About The Clintons

How Black American Voters Feel About The Clintons

Political narratives about black peoples matter—particularly when given marquee placement in the paper of record. According to a front-page article in this Sunday’s New York Times, “Eye on 2016, Clintons Rebuild Bond With Blacks,” African-Americans remain, “the constituency that was most scarred during [Hillary Clinton’s] first bid for the presidency.” Why? Five years ago, “remarks by Mr. Clinton about Barack Obama deeply strained the Clintons’ bond with African-Americans….”

What’s remarkable about the article—besides attributing a teenager’s hurt feelings to millions of voters and also assuming a disturbing level of unsophistication among them—is the absence of polling data. The Times’ barometer for sampling African-American voter sentiment is instead, chats with a few elected officials and media staples, Rev. Al Sharpton and Tavis Smiley. That’s like dipping a toe in the Maine portion of the Atlantic and guessing the ocean’s temperature for the entire eastern seaboard. Here’s to deeper and more complex coverage during 2014 and in the run-up to 2016.

Immigrants Begin Protest Inside El Paso Detention Center

Immigrants Begin Protest Inside El Paso Detention Center

Although the overwhelming number of immigrant detention centers are privately owned and operated, the El Paso Processing Center is run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Nevertheless, it confines immigrants who are being held for civil—not criminal—matters. Many of those held there are asylum-seekers, and staying in detention only adds to the trauma. 

Many of the asylum-seekers—who are mostly from Central America and India and fear violence because of their sexual preferences or religion—say they have established credible fear of persecution or torture with U.S. authorities. According to ICE, those asylum-seekers who have established credible fear are eligible for release from detention on a case-by-case basis. Parole requires a humanitarian need or a public benefit, and a reasonable expectation that the asylum-seeker doesn’t pose a security threat.

Colorlines has obtained a document smuggled out of the detention facility that lists 32 Indian men who have passed their credible fear interview but remain in detention nonetheless. Some entered in May 2013, were granted an interview and established credible fear the same month. Yet seven months later, these 32 men remain in detention, without any indication of when they will be paroled.

That’s why at 12 p.m. Mountain Time, up to 40 detainees began a demonstration in the common area where they’re served lunch. Ungo Ramírez, a 33-year-old asylum-seeker from El Salvador, spoke to Colorlines by phone before the action. “We’re going to sit down on the floor of the patio and refuse to eat,” said Ramírez. “We’re going to explain that we’ve been here long enough.”

Ramírez says he fears returning to El Salvador where he’s already been tortured by police officers for refusing to participate in a drug ring. But what he faces in detention, he says, is not much better and that’s why he’s participating in today’s protest. ICE has been known to retaliate against immigrant detainees who demonstrate inside of its facilities, and it’s unclear whether Ramírez and others will be placed in solitary confinement for their action today. 

The National Immigrant Youth Alliance has started a petition demanding the release of those asylum seekers who have already established credible fear.

A phone call requesting comment about today’s protest to ICE’s El Paso Field Office was transferred to voicemail, and wasn’t immediately returned.  

Looking for the Perfect Holiday Gift? Try An Aziz Ansari Sari

Looking for the Perfect Holiday Gift? Try An Aziz Ansari Sari

Comedian Aziz Ansari went on Conan yesterday to show off his new saris and the appearance is hilarious.

(h/t The Aerogram)

How Many Of These 100 Must-See Films Have You Seen?

How Many Of These 100 Must-See Films Have You Seen?

Here’s a fun test. There’s a list challenge our of 100 must-see black films that includes some perennial favorites, including “Set It Off” and “Coming to America.” How many have you seen?

TAGS: Films

The Sharkeisha Punch Viral Video Isn’t Funny, It’s Brutal

The Sharkeisha Punch Viral Video Isn't Funny, It's Brutal

It’s been more than a week since video of an assault by one teenage black girl over another went viral. The video shows one girl, 16-year-old Sharkeisha, sucker punching a former friend, 17-year-old Shamichael Manuel. The video of a black person in distress, like so many others before it, has become a joke for some viewers, with some viewers making racist comments about the girls’ names. But, as Demetria L. Lucas pointed out over at The Root, the real tragedy is how many people enjoyed watching the video: 

This isn’t funny. At all. It’s a vulgar display of violence, a tragic depiction of someone who lacks anger management and humanity and a shocking example of just how wayward some teens are. Sharkeisha’s reaction to a petty dispute over, likely, a boy who didn’t care about either of these girls is a clear-cut case of assault. This isn’t entertainment to get through the workday. The way that girl was kicked in the face could have resulted in her death.

To that point, the victim in the video has spoken out to local Houston news stations about how the popularity of her assault has impacted her life. 

(h/t Madame Noir)

New Film Follows Two Gay Muslim Teens Surveilled By U.S. Government

New Film Follows Two Gay Muslim Teens Surveilled By U.S. Government

The best films are often those with plots that are snatched from our most searing newspaper headlines. Back in 2012, the Associated Press broke the story of how the NYPD had monitored Muslim students on at least 16 college campuses, part of a growing post-9/11 effort to monitor Muslims in America. Now there’s a new film in the works called “Naz + Maalik” about two closeted gay Muslim teenagers who are unknowingly being surveiled by the U.S. government.

At its core, it’s a love story, but it needs your help to cross the finish line. The filmmakers have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $35,000. With less than a day to go, the campaign has already reached its goal, but every little bit counts. 

Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan Rocks Alexander Wang in GQ

Fruitvale Station's Michael B. Jordan Rocks Alexander Wang in GQ

Michael B. Jordan is big time. That much was made obvious this year with his stellar performance in Ryan Coogler’s debut film “Fruitvale Station.” But Jordan, known for his roles in hit shows “The Wire” and “Friday Night Lights,” has over time developed a reputation as one of the most important black actors of his generation. David Simon, the writer behind “The Wire”, had this to say about Jordan’s breakout year for GQ:

The drug war? Stop and frisk? Racial profiling? Black-on-black violence? Our separate Americas? All that is commentary. If you need white folks to actually feel something, it pays to aim a handgun at Michael B. Jordan’s delicate and nuanced humanity and pull the trigger. Suddenly the risks of being young and black on an American street are apparent.

See the rest of the photos from Michael B. Jordan’s GQ shoot. They’re super cute.

Over 100 Arrested in Walmart Black Friday Actions

Over 100 Arrested in Walmart Black Friday Actions

Last Friday some 111 people were arrested in civil disobediance actions around the country as part of Black Friday protests against Walmart, said protest organizers. In protests around the country, from Sacramento, California, to Hyattsville, Maryland, and Chicago, Illinois to Orlando, Florida, Walmart workers and their supporters came out to decry the labor practices and wages at the nation’s largest employer and largest retailer,* and to demand better. 

This year’s protests marked the second year that current and former Walmart associates went on strike over the Thanksgiving holiday to demand higher wages and better treatment. This year’s actions were larger than last year’s, and involved more public support. But striking Walmart workers weren’t the only ones claiming wins.

Despite low shopper turnout and decreased spending across the retail industry this Black Friday, Walmart spokesperson David Tovar said in a statement, “This has been the most successful Black Friday in Walmart’s history.”

Tovar also defended the company’s wages. “For our part, we want to be absolutely clear about our jobs, the pay and benefits we offer our associates, and the role retail jobs play in the U.S. economy,” Tovar said in a statement. “Walmart provides wages on the higher end of the retail average with full-time and part-time associates making, on average, close to $12.00 an hour.” But, say current and former Walmart workers with the union-backed group OUR Walmart, the truth is the majority of Walmart associates make less than $25,000 a year—a short hop from the current federal poverty rate.

Seven Democratic lawmakers urged Walmart to listen to its striking workers and increase wages, The Hill reported. Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Ed Markey from Massachusetts, Reps. Jan Schakowsky from Illinois, Judy Chu of California, Lacy Clay of Missouri, Gwen Moore from Wisconsin and Jim McDermott of Washington wrote, “We stand with the courageous Walmart workers who are demanding better wages and an end to illegal retaliation,” the lawmakers wrote. “Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, has a responsibility to their employees and our country to respect workers and their rights. No one should have to fear losing their jobs just for speaking up.”

*Post has been updated since publication. 

How the GOP’s Twitter Fail Led to a Great Conversation About Race

How the GOP's Twitter Fail Led to a Great Conversation About Race

At about 10 a.m. on Sunday morning someone on the Republican National Committee’s social media team decided it would be a good idea to tweet a photo of Rosa Parks along with one of her quotes that read, “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” That, alone, might have been fine and well if not for the message that the GOP tweeted alongside it: “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.”

Yup, that’s right. The GOP is celebrating the end of racism because apparently no one person or institution is racist anymore. A few hours later the RNC tweeted a correction that the “previous tweet should have read “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.” Whoops.

That sparked the moment when Twitter user @FeministaJones started the #RacismEndedWhen hashtag. Buzzfeed has a pretty concise history of what comes next, most of which includes some really great and sometimes snarky reflections on race in America. 

Life Without Parole for Selling a $10 Bag of Weed

Life Without Parole for Selling a $10 Bag of Weed

For possessing a trace amount of heroin, Paul Carter is 16 years into serving a life sentence. So too is Leon Horne but, for damaging two police cars while fleeing New Orleans police. The ACLU profiles both men in a new report drawing attention to a sobering legacy of 40 years of “tough on crime” policies. More than 3,000 people nationwide are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole (LWOP)—all for nonviolent offenses.

Of these nonviolent offenders, 65% are black, 17.8% are white and 15.7% are Latino. Most cluster in the south, with Louisiana ranked first among states for most LWOP prisoners. It’s presumed that the $1.8 billion spent by taxpayers to imprison these men, according to ACLU estimates, is significantly more than the repair cost of two police cruisers.

“If lengthy mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug addicts actually worked, one might be able to rationalize them,” says the report, citing one federal court judge. “But there is no evidence that they do. …[F]or all the times I’ve asked jurors after a drug conviction what they think a fair sentence would be, never has one given a figure even close to the mandatory minimum. It is always far lower.”

Watch Aamer Rahman Explain Reverse Racism

Watch Aamer Rahman Explain Reverse Racism

Aamer Rahman is a standup comic based in Australia who uses humor to tackle racism. Along with fellow Muslim comedian Nazeen Hussain, Rahman’s part of a touring comedy show called Fear of a Brown Planet.

He recently broke down colonization, enslavement, imperialism, systemic inequity, war, internalized racism and (“tun, tun, tun!”) reverse racism—all in less than three minutes. 

Do You Say ‘Y’all’ or ‘You Guys’?

Do You Say 'Y'all' or 'You Guys'?

In another example of how expansive and diverse the U.S. is, The Atlantic produced an audio map that charts 10 different English language dialects across country. Based on Bert Vaux’s 2003 Harvard Dialect Survey, and visualizations by Joshua Katz, reporters called people across the country and asked them to pronounce words such as “pecan,” “roly poly,” and “bag.” The map reflects unique phrases and pronunciations that might give some hints as to migration patterns and cultural differences across the nation. 

(h/t The Atlantic)

Five Quotes to Celebrate Bruce Lee’s Birthday

Five Quotes to Celebrate Bruce Lee's Birthday

Bruce Lee is arguably the most influential martial artist of all time—and his work as an actor and filmmaker marked a turning point in the way Asians were depicted in film in the U.S. Here are five quotes to remember him by on the day of his birth, 73 years ago today. 

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There’s a Battle Brewing to Stop the Construction of a Huge KKK Monument in Selma

There's a Battle Brewing to Stop the Construction of a Huge KKK Monument in Selma

Activists in Selma, Alabama have been fighting for more than a year to stop the construction of a new 12-foot monument dedicated to Nathan Bedford Forrest, a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War* and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Now, attorney Faya Rose Toure will be spending the Thanksgiving holiday in jail after being arrested for protesting at a Selma City Council meeting.

Tarana  Burke, one of the activists who’s been protesting the statue’s construction, told Colorlines why the fight matters.“I feel like allowing this monument to be erected is disrespectful to people who fought and died for our civil liberties,” she said. “What kind of message does it send to our children? We can’t just being complicit in our own oppression; it’s disgusting.”

Toure has reportedly been offered bail, but has refused in protest of the statue’s construction. 

Burke has started a Change.org peition calling the construction “unacceptable.” 

*Post has been updated since publication.

TAGS: KKK Selma

Chelsea Manning is Thankful for Malcolm X, MLK Jr., and Harvey Milk

Chelsea Manning is Thankful for Malcolm X, MLK Jr., and Harvey Milk

Every year before Thanksgiving, TIME asks public figures to write about what they’re grateful for. This year, there are some surprising contributions, including Ai-Jen Poo and Kid President. But one of the most poignant is from Chelsea Manning, who’s serving 35 years at Fort Leavenworth for leaking classified documents while she served in the Army—including video that illustrates U.S. forces targeting and firing upon children and innocent adults in Baghdad. Manning begins her statement with a clear understanding of why she’s reluctant to observe Thanksgiving:

I’m usually hesitant to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. After all, the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony systematically terrorized and slaughtered the very same Pequot tribe that assisted the first English refugees to arrive at Plymouth Rock. So, perhaps ironically, I’m thankful that I know that, and I’m also thankful that there are people who seek out, and usually find, such truths.  I’m thankful for people who, even surrounded by millions of Americans eating turkey during regularly scheduled commercial breaks in the Green Bay and Detroit football game; who, despite having been taught, often as early as five and six years old, that the “helpful natives” selflessly assisted the “poor helpless Pilgrims” and lived happily ever after, dare to ask probing, even dangerous, questions.

Manning goes on to explain that she’s grateful for Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Harvey Milk and others who put their lives on the line for social justice:

I’m also grateful for having social and human justice pioneers who lead through action, and by example, as opposed to directing or commanding other people to take action. Often, the achievements of such people transcend political, cultural, and generational boundaries. Unfortunately, such remarkable people often risk their reputations, their livelihood, and, all too often, even their lives.

For instance, the man commonly known as Malcolm X began to openly embrace the idea, after an awakening during his travels to the Middle East and Africa, of an international and unifying effort to achieve equality, and was murdered after a tough, yearlong defection from the Nation of Islam. Martin Luther King Jr., after choosing to embrace the struggles of striking sanitation workers in Memphis over lobbying in Washington, D.C., was murdered by an escaped convict seeking fame and respect from white Southerners. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in the U.S., was murdered by a jealous former colleague. These are only examples; I wouldn’t dare to make a claim that they represent an exhaustive list of remarkable pioneers of social justice and equality—certainly many if not the vast majority are unsung and, sadly, forgotten.

You can read Chelsea Manning’s entire statement on TIME’s website.

Watch Rare Video on What Would Have Been Jimi Hendrix’s 71st Birthday

Watch Rare Video on What Would Have Been Jimi Hendrix's 71st Birthday

Legendary rocker Jimi Hendrix was born 71 years ago today in Seattle. Though he died in 1970 at the age of 27, he’s still known as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Here’s some rare color footage of Hendrix performing his hit song “Hey Joe” back in 1967.

(h/t Afropunk)

Kanye West Can’t Really Explain Why He Loves Corporations So Much

Kanye West Can't Really Explain Why He Loves Corporations So Much

Kanye West recently did an interview with the Breakfast Club on New York City radio station Power 105.1. It’s a lenghty, 40-minute interview, but Gawker pulled out a clip in which Charlamagne the God takes him to task for his contradictory attitude about corporations (the rapper recently said that his new deal with Adidas allows him to be the “Tupac of Product”). The jabs include:

- “To me it seems like you’re such a walking contradiction because you’ll denounce the corporations, but then you’ll get on stage and say you need Nike and Adidas to back you. That makes no sense to me.”

- “Why do you talk so much about money nowadays, man? I used to look at you as, like, a real revolutionary. You know real revolutionaries didn’t need money to change the world?”

- “You do realize that [sneakers] are not why we love you? We love you ‘cause of the music, bruh.”

- “If you’re a genius, why do you feel the need to tell everybody? Why you just don’t show and prove with actions and deeds, and not words and lip-service?”

- “I’m from Columbia, South Carolina, where the Confederate flag still flies over the state house. I seen people protesting to take that flag down for years. It’s just like the word nigga: you can’t make that into a postive.” (Re: Kanye’s Yeezus tour merch.)

 

TAGS: Kanye West

Book of ‘Black Quotations’ Offers New Way to Look Back at History

Book of 'Black Quotations' Offers New Way to Look Back at History

In a long overdue adaptation of the classic Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Retha Powers offers an epic compendium of quotes by and about black people. Ranging from ”Go shorty, it’s your birthday” (50 Cent) to “You dance because you have to,” (Katherine Dunham), the book spans more than a century of black thought and writing through poetry, literature, speeches, and song lyrics.

Bartletts_FULL_112613.jpgPublished in 1855, the original Barlett’s did not include black writers until its 14th edition in 1968. This new version includes an introduction by Henry Louis Gates who describes it asthe finest thought produced by writers throughout the African Diaspora.”

Gene Demby at NPR’s Code Switch blog shares his thoughts on how this book might offer a new way to explore the history and evolution of black culture in the U.S.

The middle of the 20th century finds all kinds of people thinking thoughtful and urgent things about The State of Black People. (It’s always good to be reminded that Fannie Lou Hamer was a badass.) And then — boom — Ray Charles is singing about the woman across town that he’s creeping with. The tenor of the quotes changes as the book moves forward in time. So does their form. Scripture gives way to abolitionist entreaties; lyrics from soul music give way to hip-hop’s staccato cadences. It all seems a little random, but there’s serendipity in stumbling onto something juicy in that randomness.

(h/t NPR Code Switch)

Touching Photographs From an Asian Artist Reconciling Displacement

Touching Photographs From an Asian Artist Reconciling Displacement

Pimprae Hiranprueck, who goes by Nancy, barely spoke English when she left Thailand for the U.S. at age 13. And while she now calls the U.S. home, for many years she’s struggled to reconcile missing her home country, and the family she left behind. As a way of coping and investigating the layers of emotions she felt about her estrangement, and her imminent return to Thailand, she produced “Intersecting the Parallels,” a photography project where inserts herself into landscapes and family photographs. In a recent interview in Slate, Hiranprueck says the project enabled her to, “reacquaint myself with friends and family and to create new memories.” Read more on her website

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