“Scandal” fans, Shonda Rhimes has something new cooking. She’s collaborating with Dan Bucatinsky, who plays Cyrus Black’s husband James on the show, in a new series inspired by his recently published book “Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight.” The new series, called “Show & Tell,” will be a hour-long dramedy about the also scandalous lives of parents, including (from the sounds of Bucatinsky’s book) gay parents, whose children all go to the same school.
Julie Chen, the host of CBS’ “The Talk”, recently revealed that she had eyelid surgery to appear “less Asian.” At the urging of an agent, and after feeling pressure inside of local television newsrooms to appear more relatable, Chen got plastic surgery. As she tells the story:
“My secret dates back to - my heart is racing - it dates back to when I was 25 years old and I was working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio,” Julie began.
She then set the scene by showing a clip of what a young Julie Chen looked like as a reporter at one of her first jobs and explaining how it was her dream to be a network news anchor some day.
“So, I asked my news director… over the holidays if anchors want to take vacations, could I fill in? And he said, ‘You will never be on this anchor desk, because you’re Chinese.’ He said ‘Let’s face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton? On top of that because of your Asian eyes, I’ve noticed that when you’re on camera, you look disinterested and bored.’
“So, what am I supposed to say to my boss? I wanted to cry right then and there. It felt like a dagger in my heart, because all of my life I wanted to be a network anchor,” she continued.
With Congress back in session this week, 100 women—several among them undocumented—participated in an act of civil disobedience in front of the House of Representatives today. Organized by the We Belong Together initiative, the women came together to highlight the undue burden faced by women in the struggle for immigration reform.
Four undocumented women joined the demonstration today, risking arrest and subsequent deportation to advocate for immigration reform. These women were joined by directors and representatives from organizations including the National Domestic Workers Alliance, CHIRLA, NOW, UltraViolet, America’s Voice, The Black Institute, 9 to 5 Working Women, the Tennessee State Conference of NAACP, and many others.
With an incredibly short amount of time left this year to deal with a host of issues, Congress is unlikely to pass the much contested immigration bill. Yet activists have continued to participate in actions such as today’s protest to highlight the struggle of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who have been told —yet again—they must wait for reform.
If Mr. Cee’s resignation has proven anything, it’s that many of us continue to base our conversations about trans women on a sense of shame and secrecy—and a troubling, unnecessary urge to pathologize certain attractions. As writer and activist Janet Mock points out in a critical essay today, the conversation about Mr. Cee isn’t one about “soliciting sex from someone he perceived as a trans woman;” it’s about a pervading ideology that questions the mere existence of trans women:
The shame that society attaches to these men, specifically attacking their sexuality and shaming their attraction, directly affects trans women. It affects the way we look at ourselves. It amplifies our body-image issues, our self-esteem, our sense of possibility, of daring for greatness, of aiming for something or somewhere greater. If a young trans woman believes that the only way she can share intimate space with a man is through secret hookups, bootycalls or transaction, she will be led to engage in risky sexual behaviors that make her more vulnerable to criminalization, disease and violence; she will be led to coddle a man who takes out his frustrations about his sexuality on her with his fists; she will be led to question whether she’s worthy enough to protect herself with a condom when a man tells her he loves her; she will be led to believe that she is not worthy of being seen, that being seen heightens her risk of violence therefore she must hide who she is at all costs in order to survive.
You can read Mock’s full post, titled How Society Shames Men Dating Trans Women & How This Affects Our Lives, over on her site, janetmock.com.
Yesterday the legendary hip-hop DJ Mister Cee resigned from his 20-year post at New York City’s Hot 97 after a male video blogger named Bimbo Winehouse released audio of a man who sounds like the DJ soliciting sex for money. Born Calvin LeBrun, Mister Cee had been arrested previously for soliciting sex from transgender prostitutes.
This morning Mister Cee, who is most famous for DJing for Big Daddy Kane and serving as an associate executive producer on Notorious B.I.G.’s debut, “Ready to Die,” did a revealing interview with Hot 97 programming director Ebro Darden about sexuality, shame and homophobia in hip-hop. Throughout the interview, Darden invites the DJ to return to his job and reassures him that the station accepts him as he is. At times tearful, Mister Cee says that he’s tired of hiding his desires. The exchange is worth a listen.
Despite the fact there are nine black or biracial starting quarterbacks in the NFL these days, there are still lingering questions about whether black men can withstand what is arguably football’s toughest position.
Carolina Panthers’ third-yard QB Cam Newton addressed some of those questions in a recent press conference.
“I don’t think race hinders anybody at this position,” Newton said. “Opportunities are opportunities, whether you are African American, Chinese, Japanese, Caucasian. If you got skills to play this particular game of football, then you’re going to play, no matter what your race. For me, my opportunity presented itself, me going through Auburn, and it’s just that. I didn’t feel any type of pressure coming into this league saying that I have to represent all African-Americans, outside of saying all my fans are just African-Americans. When I play this game, I play it to the best of my ability, so I can inspire everyone, not just a particular set of people.”
Later, he added:
“Absolutely not,” Newton said. “You don’t have a Bat Mitzvah just because you’re starting African-American quarterbacks in this league, even though I’m fans of everybody. I can’t just say I root for Michael Vick, RGII, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and those guys. I still feel as if I learn more, or just as much, from Michael Vick as I do from a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, or even a RGIII.”
Bet you didn’t think Citi Bikes could pull bunnyhops to abubacas, huh? Animal put Dah Shop’s Tyrone Williams up to the task, and he shines.
Two University of Alabama sorority members have come forward to confirm what many already know: sororities are blocking black women from pledging. While a some sorority sisters chose to remains anonymous, Alpha Gamma Delta’s Melanie Gotz spoke with her school’s newspaper on the record, describing how alumnae bar black candidates:
“Are we really not going to talk about the black girl?”
The question - asked by Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie Gotz during her chapter’s sorority recruitment - was greeted by silence. The sorority’s active members and a few alumnae gathered in the room to hear the unexpected news that there would be no voting on potential new members that night. The chapter, they were told, had already agreed on which students would be invited back for the next round.
And it’s not just alumnae that are blocking black pledges. Some sororities have a voting system—but black women are still kept from pledging:
“Not a lot of rushees get awesome scores,” the Tri Delta member said. “Sometimes sisters [of active members] don’t get that. [She] got excellent scores. The only thing that kept her back was the color of her skin in Tri Delt. She would have been a dog fight between all the sororities if she were white.”
And a Chi Omega sister said a University of Alabama employee named Emily Jamison kept a promising black recruit from being considered:
“I know [the recruit] got perfect scores from the people in chapter the first day, and she got cut after the first day and I know it had to do with our advisor - is the one that dropped her,” the Chi Omega member said. “Her name is Emily Jamison.”
The University of Alabama is no stranger to segregation. Governor George Wallace made his now infamous “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” statement there fifty years ago in 1963. Although Wallace’s attempt to block black students from entering the university’s doors was thwarted, it seems he had a point about segregation sticking around for a while.
A new report shows that public universities are syphoning money away from grants for low-income students towards higher income students. These findings come from ProPublica and The Chronicle for Higher Education, which teamed up on the investigation.
Based partly on the U.S. Department of Education National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, the gap has almost closed between aid given to low vs high income students over the past 6 years, which means both pools are receiving almost equal funding. The investigators also found that financial aid is increasingly being given instead on the basis of athletics, merit, international students, and study abroad at various schools. And according to the report, this trend signals an effort on behalf of public universities to draw in wealthier, out-of-state students, to the detriment of those who most need aid.
The article, which focuses heavily on public universities in Pennsylvania through the lens of one student, comes amid recent reports that the Philadelphia public school system is in serious financial trouble.
Last week, rumors surfaced that Michael Jordan’s daughter, Jasmine Jordan, is in a relationship with former Syracuse University basketball player Carmen Tyson-Thomas. The rumors were sparked by a photo of the two together on Instagram.
In Jordan’s response, she doesn’t come out either way, but she does have something lovely to say:
“Until love, trust, honesty, respect, loyalty, commitment, genuine happiness and other characteristics or aspects I want in a relationship is defined by one gender then and only then will I discuss my sexual preference.”
(h/t HuffPo Gay Voices”)
It’s been a long twelve years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In order to commemorate the anniversary, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) has put together a post-9/11 timeline that represents the key events in the wake of the attacks. The timeline is particularly focused on the impact of the attacks on South Asian communities, specifically Sikhs and Muslims. To see the timeline, visit SAALT’s website.
It remains unlikely that a comprehensive immigration reform bill will work its way through the House this term. Aside from Obama’s media tour for a strike against Syria and a looming debt ceiling deadline that threatens to shut down the government next month (that may hold healthcare hostage as a result), immigration has largely fallen to last place. If anything, rather than build on the Senate’s comprehensive bill, the House will work on piecemeal legislation.
But while the Senate’s bill has been touted by some advocates as the best option moving forward, it doesn’t actually guarantee a pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. It would, however, increase criminalization. Abraham Paulos, who heads Families for Freedom, explains:
Among our biggest concerns is that S. 744 systematically binds a criminal legal system rooted in mass imprisonment with an immigration system driven by enforcement. Along with the current push for enforcement, the criminalization of our immigrant communities will continue to grow in order to justify the billions of dollars being pumped into immigration enforcement.
Read Paulos’s entire post about why Families for Freedom rejects the bill over at Huffington Post.
For over four decades, Sonia Sanchez has written, taught, and mentored her way to the forefront of contemporary black arts in America. Now there’s an effort to make a film about her life’s work. The 79-year-old poet is the focus of a new Kickstarter campaign for a documentary titled “BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez” by Barbara Attir, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon. The goal is to raise $55,000, and the title comes from Sanchez’s second book of poetry, “We a BaddDDD People.”
A federal judge ruled earlier this week that Abercrombie and Fitch violated federal anti-discrimination employment guidelines when it fired an employee who refused to remove her hijab while working at the store. Umme-Hani Khan first brought the suit in 2011 after being fired from her job at Hollister, a subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch, in Northern California. “When I was asked to remove my scarf after being hired with it on, I was demoralized and felt unwanted,” Khan told the San Mateo County Times that year.
Following the ruling, Khan’s supporters emphasized the importance of this case. “All Americans have a right to reasonable religious accommodation in the workplace, and for Muslim women this includes the right to wear a hijab to work,” Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (which filed the suit) told the Washington Post.
First, there was 2pac’s performance at last year’s Coachella Music Festival in Southern California. Then came this year’s Rock the Bells concert in Los Angeles, which brought us guest appearances from Eazy-E and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. How exactly have these long-deceased rappers managed to re-introduce themselves to the world? Thanks, in large part, to the work of hologram creators AV concepts and Chris Romero.
Here’s ODB’s recent performance at Rock the Bells (skip ahead to 2:08):
And here’s Eazy-E’s performance with Bone Thugz-N-Harmony (Skip ahead to 39 seconds):
MTV News caught up with Romero:
For Romero however, the journey started in 2001 when he was tasked with animating the late Big Pun for his posthumous “How We Roll” music video for his posthumous Endangered Species LP. “In 2001 I was sitting with Fat Joe in the back on an Italian restaurant… it was kind of the same types of conversations I have now with Eazy-E and Dirty’s family,” Romero told MTV News. “They have the same concerns that Fat Joe and Big Pun’s people had with his legacy 12 years ago. I carry that reputation and that desire to keep extending the legacies for artists who aren’t here.”
Romero and his team even hooked up with AV Concepts, the same minds behind the eye-popping ‘Pac stunt. “AV Concepts are actually the guys that did the execution of the avatar from a technology and set-up stand point,” he said. “My job is to recreate that feeling as good as possible and even a little bit larger than life.”
To recreate that feeling, Romero and a team of about 15 different people used a myriad of different reanimation techniques and even some motion capturing. “With Eazy-E, I actually worked with all of his kids,” he revealed. “One of his kids helped with the voice of Eazy-E talking to the crowd, one of his kids did his actual body movements and one of his kids did his facial movements.”
“We’re nothing short of magicians,” Romero says at the end of the profile, which you can read in full over at MTV News.
* This story has been updated since publication.
Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” has been getting rave reviews for its realistic portrayal of the horror of slavery. But for fans in Toronto, where the film is screening at the city’s annual film festival, the violence was too much to take.
From the International Business Times:
The movie focuses on the story of Ejiofor, who plays Northup - a free musician living in Saratoga, New York, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South.
An early scene shows him being beaten 15 times with a bat and then whipped 14 times by his kidnappers.
The director McQueen also shows slaves being hanged and killed. One scene, lasting 10 minutes, shows a plantation owner, played by Michael Fassbender, stringing up a slave to a post before ordering her beating. She is whipped at total of 41 times.
The film eventually recieved a standing ovation, but not before several audience members walked out, according to the Business Times. So far, it’s drawing comparisons with “Schiendler’s List.”
A Tulsa, Oklahoma charter school has amended a 14-year-old policy barring students from wearing “distracting” or “faddish” hairstyles such as dreadlocks and mohawks. The decision came after news broke that 7-year-old Tiana Parker, a student at Deborah Brown Community School, had been repeatedly reprimanded for wearing dreadlocks to school. In a tearful interview, Tiana says she’s sad because the school “didn’t like her dreads.”
Her father Terrance Parker, who is a barber and says he always takes pride in his daughter’s hairstyles, decided to enroll Tiana in a different school. But over the last week the story got nationwide attention, which forced the school to revisit their policies around appropriate hairstyles. Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC was among those who spoke out on Tiana’s behalf last week, with this delightful video letter:
Apple has announced the release of its new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S. It’s a significant moment, as most Apple product announcements are, because the company’s innvoations have so often shaped the landscape of consumer products over the past decade. It’s also an important moment to take a look at how race colors that landscape.
The new iPhone 5C is a lower cost device that Apple hopes will help them compete against its more affordable rivals, particularly Samsung. It features all the functionality of a traditional iPhone wrapped inside of a colorful plastic case, according to the Chicago Tribune. The device comes at a crucial time for the company as millions of people in the U.S. and abroad have adopted smartphones. “With smartphones surpassing 125 million U.S. consumers and tablets now owned by more than 50 million, we have crossed into the Brave New Digital World — a new paradigm of digital media fragmentation in which consumers are ways connected,” according to a report released earlier this year by comScore, an industry analytics company.
But just how we’re connected often has a lot to do with race. Another report released earlier this year by Pew noted that Latino 86 percent of Latinos own a cell phone, compared with 84 percent of whites and 90 percent of blacks. And Latinos are just as likely as blacks and whites to own a smartphone: 49 percent.
But that same research pointed out just how reliant Latino users are on their smartphones as their primary devices to get online. Latino users were more likely than whites to say that they use smartphones to go online, and equally likely to access the internet from a mobile decive. That means that since smartphones are often easier and cheaper to use than high-speed home internet access, there are still lingering effects of the digital divide, primarly between those who can consume content and those who can create it.
Magic Johnson is clear about what he thinks is most important in the black community: jobs. The NBA legend talked to The Grio’s Chris Witherspoon about advancing Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of racial equality, and was clear to point out that the LGBT community has an important stake in that fight. To bring that point home, Johnson talked about how he and his wife Cookie have supported their son, EJ, who came out publicly. “My son EJ came out, me and my wife Cookie are happy to support him a million percent,” Johnson told The Grio, adding later, “I don’t care about the backlash. If somebody don’t agree, that’s on them.”
Black comedians Chris Rock and W. Kamau Bell sat down for an interview with The Root recently to talk about how they inject smart cultural criticism in their work. Rock is an executive producer for Bell’s hit FX show “Totally Biased”, which has been tackling everything from Stop-and-Frisk to the n-word. Here’s a gist of the interview, in which they about how humor can be an effective platform for discussions about racial inequity:
WKB: So many white people in America can understand race simply by quoting Chris Rock or Bill Cosby. That just goes to show how powerful comedy can be. It helps people see through the eyes of others without the fear of misunderstanding. Laughter is a great equalizer that way. It brings us closer together, without us even realizing it.