Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel “Half of a Yellow” sun is headed to the big screen. So far, it’s being described as an epic love story of four people caught up in the tumult of war in Nigeria. The film’s stars include Thandi Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and the director is Nigerian novelist and playwright Biyi Bandele. It looks fantastic.
But what they hate even more? Skyrocketing rates of childhood obesity.
In 2007, Ohio State University and Indiana University researchers analyzed 5,380 elementary schoolkids’ body mass indexes across the country and found that BMI grew more than twice as rapidly over the summer months. Public health experts have hypothesized that summer vacation means kids spend more time in front of the TV with more snacks than they would consume in school, and low-income communities without access to safe parks and healthier foods are especially at risk.
With these inequalities in mind, the Food Bank for New York City has dispatched an “anti-ice cream” truck targeted at teens in the summer months. Their “Change One Thing” outreach campaign will be popping up at parks, pools, and sports fields in Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, encouraging teens to change just one habit—even if it means swapping one soda for a bottle of water.
It’s important to point out that black children are at greater risk than others to develop health problems because of obesity.
Many are still reeling from George Zimmerman’s acquittal. But in Milwaukee, at least there’s this:
A 76-year-old Milwaukee man who fatally shot his unarmed teenage neighbor was sentenced to life in prison Monday, days after telling the court he killed the boy for justice because he believed he stole his shotguns.
John Henry Spooner’s home had been burglarized two days before the May 2012 shooting, and he suspected 13-year-old Darius Simmons as the thief. So he confronted the teen, demanded that he return the guns and then shot him in the chest in front of his mother when he denied stealing anything.
Spooner’s own home surveillance cameras captured the shooting, and prosecutors aired the footage in court.
A jury found Spooner guilty of first-degree intentional homicide last week, a conviction carrying a mandatory life sentence. The judge could have allowed for the possibility of parole after 20 years, but rejected that option, citing Spooner’s lack of remorse and desire to also kill the teen’s brother.
It’s also worth pointing out that Simmons’ mother witnessed the shooting and was initially detained by police as her son lay dying. The Huffington Post points out that, much like in the Zimmerman case, race was almost never mentioned. But apparently this guy was beyond reproach.
Legendary filmmaker Spike Lee is asking for your help to make his next feature film. Lee launched a Kickstarter campaign on Monday with the goal of raising more than $1 million dollars.
“The only way to insure, as an indepdendent filmmaker, that your vision gets on screen is when you bring the money to the table,” he said in a Kickstarter video.
So far, Lee’s Kickstarter campaign is doing extrordinarily well, raising more than $90,000 in a little over a day. Lee explains more on his Kickstarter page:
I have a different vision of what Cinema can be, a different vision of what some under-served Audiences might want to see. That is why I am here on KICKSTARTER, to raise the Funds for The New Spike Lee Joint, to get this BAD BOY financed. Nothing in Life is Free and if you want something you got to pay for it. If you have liked any of my Films in the past, this is the price it costs to see another one (which can be less than the cost of one Movie Ticket). We feel the different levels on contributions make it affordable for everyone to GET DOWN FOR THE CAUSE.
The campaign ends on Wednesday, August 21.
Yay for folks who think criticially about gender. From Mod Carousel:
It’s our opinion that most attempts to show female objectification in the media by swapping the genders serve more to ridicule the male body than to highlight the extent to which women get objectified and does everyone a disservice. We made this video specifically to show a spectrum of sexuality as well as present both women and men in a positive light, one where objectifying men is more than alright and where women can be strong and sexy without negative repercussions.
A message from Ms. Lauryn Hill, from Tumblr:
“I have known since very young to look for the purpose and lesson in everything, including the trials. Although it has taken some adjustment, I cannot deny the favor I have encountered while in here, and general warm reception from a community of people who despite their circumstances, have found unique ways to make the best of them. Thank you for the letters of concern and well wishes that I receive in the mail every day. Although I may not be able to write everyone back, please know that they have been received, read, acknowledged, and appreciated. With Love back, MLH”
Hill also thanks a number of fans by name for their encouragement.
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a network of white racial justice activists, has put out a Justice for Trayvon Action Kit (PDF) that has a variety of concrete things people can do—some quick, some more involved, some more policy change oriented, others more oriented toward cultural change. It’s a really great resource to get informed and involved locally, and includes a list of short (tweeting), medium (donating to a racial justice group), and long-term actions (joining a local organization). Check out the entire toolkit.
Fans flock to Comic-Con each year to see costumed superheroes walk among glammed up gods. This year, civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis was a top attraction at the 2013 Comic-Con International comic book convention in San Diego to promote his new graphic novel “March,” which tells the story of his role in the civil rights marches and demonstrations he helped lead as a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee activist in the 1960s. (Read more about those protests here.)
According to Roll Call’s “Heard on the Hill” blog, Lewis received a “hero’s welcome” at the convention, where he gave a presentation on the book project. More 100 people camped out in anticipation of his talk and he was “swarmed by supporters” at the moment of his arrival.
Said Warren Rojas at Roll Call:
Activists pressed him about how to restore Voting Rights Act protections that the Supreme Court recently struck down. Frustrated parents fished for guidance about justice for Trayvon Martin, the African-American teen killed in Sanford, Fla., by acquitted gunman George Zimmerman. Admirers swooped in for chummy pictures, pumping the stoic politician’s hand while praising his “courage,” “determination” and “character.”
Lewis co-authored “March” with his congressional aide Andrew Aydin, whose college dissertation was based on a comic book that proved instrumental among 1960s civil rights activists. In 1958, an organization called the Fellowship on Reconciliation produced “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story,” a 16-page comic book that illustrated the work and achievements of the Montgomery, Ala. bus boycott and the nonviolent methods of King and his fellow civil rights activists.
The comic book moved 200,000 copies, which was impressive — that would placed it among the top 30 highest-selling comic books in the nation in 1960. It also “apparently sparked the imagination of budding activist Lewis,” reports Roll Call.
Now Lewis is helping write his own comic series — “March” is a three-volume set — that he hopes young people will read and then pass “it on to other members of their family or to their students,” he told Rojas.
At last week’s Senate hearings on the Voting Rights Act, where Lewis testified, Sen. Patrick Leahy recognized “March,” showing his signed copy and telling the audience that he’d be giving copies to all five of his grandchildren.
On her MSNBC show Sunday morning, Melissa Harris-Perry brought attention to Texas’ recently-passed abortion regulations—and the burnt orange-clad demonstrators who had fought their passage—in her own way: with a pair of homemade tampon earrings.
“My producer Lorena made for me last week some tampon earrings,” Harris-Perry said as she put on the jewelry. “The Texas state legislature said that you couldn’t bring tampons in, when these women were going to, in fact, stand up for their own reproductive rights.”
Some folks on Twitter weren’t impressed. But it’s safe to say that Harris-Perry made her point.
Because an album featuring God isn’t enough, Kanye West is still out to prove to the world that his genius knows no bounds. West recently teamed up with high-end brand A.P.C. to release an all-white “hip-hop” t-shirt costs that $120. And, like all things Yeezus, the shirts are actually a hit and quickly sold out last week.
For those of you who are absolutely bummed that you won’t be able to spend most of your Con-Ed money on the Yeezus empire, Target’s also selling much more reasonably priced knock-offs.
I tried, and mostly failed, to watch Netflix’s much talked about new comedy-drama “Orange is the New Black” over the weekend. The show, based on a real life story, follows a WASP’y Connecticut white woman who’s sentenced to spend 15 months in prison on drug charges stemming from her rebellious post-college days.
I’m still very early into the show, but so far I just don’t think it’s all that funny. I felt the same way about “Weeds”, another show that was created by Jengi Kohan.* I get that I’m supposed to be laughing at the irony of white folks in black situations, but to what end? Both shows seem to traffic in tired racial tropes. Sometimes, that’s fine (see: the first two seasons of “Arrested Development”). But so far, I’m just not moved.
One bright spot in “Orange is the New Black” is Laverne Cox, who brings viewers one of the first developed transgender characters on mainstream(ing) television. Here’s an interview she did earlier this month.
*Post has been updated since publication.
Days after she made a fan catch the Holy Ghost at one of her concerts, Beyoncé joined husband Jay Z in New York City to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman’s murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin. The two attended a rally with Martin’s family, led by Al Sharpton.
“Jay Z and Beyoncé said they didn’t want to speak and they didn’t come for a photo op,” Sharpton told the crowd of thousands on behalf of the celebrity couple. “Jay Z told me, ‘I’m a father. Beyoncé is a mother.’ We all feel the pain and apprehension—the laws must protect everybody, or it doesn’t protect anybody. We do not come from hate, we come from love of children,” Sharpton continued.
The stars are just the latest big-name entertainers to come out in support of Martin’s family. OkayPlayer had a roundup of reactions to the verdict:
President Obama made news last Friday when he unexpectedly addressed Trayvon Martin’s murder and the role of race in America. “Trayvon Martin could’ve been me 35 years ago,” the president said in a rare moment in which the nation’s first black commander-in-chief directly addressed race. The Washington Post even went as far as to dub it a “remarkably personal speech.”
But some of black America isn’t impressed. Over the weekend, PBS host Tavis Smiley went on “Meet the Press” and said that Obama was “pushed to that podium.”
I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up. But this town has been spinning a story that’s not altogether true. He did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation; he was pushed to that podium. A week of protest outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House pushed him to that podium. So I’m glad he finally arrived.
But when he left the podium, he still had not answered the most important question, that Keynesian question, where do we go from here? That question this morning remains unanswered, at least from the perspective of the president. And the bottom line is this is not Libya, this is America. On this issue, you cannot lead from behind.
Smiley also took to Twitter after the president’s remarks, calling his race “mild” and his words “weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid.”
President Obama made a surprise visit at the daily White House press briefing today to make statements following the Zimmerman trial verdict. Obama mentioned last year that Trayvon Martin could have been his son. Today he claimed, “Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could’ve been me 35 years ago.”
At times, Obama appeared to be addressing white Americans looking for explainations about the massive rallies, vigils, and marches that have erupted since the verdict. “When you think about why in the African-American community, at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here,” he said. “It’s important to recognize the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and history that doesn’t go away.”
The president’s remarks also included some suggestions on moving forward—recalling his work as a state Senator:
Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.
When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.
You can read Obama’s entire remarks on the White House website.
Asiana Airlines has dropped its threat to sue a local TV station for an on-air gaffe identifying the pilots in this month’s plane crash by racially offensive names, a spokesman said Wednesday.
The South Korean airline had said it would sue KTVU-TV after the station misidentified the four pilots aboard Asiana Flight 214 when it crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.
Colorlines received overwhelming feedback to yesterday’s live chat discussing how to find true Justice for Trayvon Martin through long-term activism. Twitter discussion was especially robust, during our live-tweet session and during the rest of the day. We’ve collected some quotes from our panelists Jasiri X, Kai M. Green, Jessica Pierce, and Sharisse T. Smith, as well as from our host, Colorlines’ Aura Bogado. We’ve also added tweets from viewers and followers that came in after the chat, using the hashtag #HoodiesUpNext.
It’s happening again. Another American-born Latino sings the national anthem at a professional sporting event, and white racists are beside themselves. This time it was Marc Anthony, a Grammy-winning New York-born Puerto Rican singer who’s sold more than 12 million records, who sang the national anthem at this week’s MLB All Star Game.
One geographically challenged person asked on Twitter, “Why is a Mexican, Marc Anthony, singing god bless America? Doesn’t he know this is AMERICA’s song?”
You can see more of the racist backlash over at the Public Shaming Tumblr.
Anthony defended himself during an appearance on ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Michael”, telling the audience: “To set the record straight, I was born and raised in New York…And I’m more Puerto Rican than ever, and more New York than ever.”
Trayvon Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, did a series of interviews on Thursday, opening up publicly for the first time since George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of their son. During an interview on “Anderson Cooper 360”, they both expressed their shock at the verdict, and the justice system, in general.
“When I heard the verdict, I kind of understand the disconnect,” Fulton said, according to CNN. “Maybe they (jurors) didn’t see Trayvon as their son. They didn’t see Trayvon as a teenager. They didn’t see Trayvon as just a human being that was minding his own business.”