Queer Chicana theorist, activist and writer Gloria Anzaldúa was born 71 years ago today. Here are some of Anzaldúa’s many quotes—feel free to add your favorite in the comments section!
In an exclusive interview with NBC News today, George Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, discussed her recent altercation with her husband, and expressed doubts about the outcome of the Trayvon Martin verdict.
Two weeks ago Zimmerman called police after her husband allegedly punched her father in the nose, smashed her iPad, and motioned toward what she believed was a gun. She says she “saw a look in his eyes I’ve never seen before” on that day. She also said that she regrets not having pressed charges against Zimmerman, but was told by police that she would have been taken to jail if she did because she’s currently on probation after pleading guilty to perjury charges.
In her interview, she also says she now has doubts about the Trayvon Martin verdict.
“I think anyone would doubt that innocence. Because I don’t know the person I’ve been married to.”
Marissa Alexander was denied immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground defense—and was subsequently sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a warning shot in the air during an altercation with her ex-husband, Rico Gray. Alexander made clear that she feared for her life during the incident. Gray had twice been arrested for domestic abuse against Alexander; one of those times included an attack during a time when Alexander was pregnant.
But an appeals court ruled that the jury received flawed instructions—which means Alexander will get a new trial.
The case against Alexander was prosecuted by Angela Corey—the same attorney who also oversaw the prosecution in the George Zimmerman murder trial that resulted in a jury finding Zimmerman not guilty in connection to the killing of Trayvon Martin. The cases drew striking parallels about Florida’s justice system.
Alexander’s supporters have been demanding that she either be pardoned, or be released pending a new trial. The appeals court ruling is separate from a bail hearing, which could mean that Alexander may soon be released while she prepares for her new trial.
There are so many examples of GOP leaders admitting publicly that they count on suppression of voters of color for their victories, from Pennsylvania to Florida. The latest exhibit is Nevada, where GOP assembly leader Pat Hickey told a radio show host on Tuesday that 2014 will be “a great year for Republicans,” because “a lot of minorities, a lot of younger people will not turn out in a non-presidential” election year.
Hear the full audio where Hickey explains his low-turnout hopes.
Also in that radio show interview, Hickey derided the Democratic Party for being diverse and inclusive. As reported in HuffPost, Hickey said, “We Republicans look at our Democratic counterparts on the other side. They have the big tent philosophy and have a rainbow stripe on the top of the tent and some nutty characters inside.”
The Democratic National Committee responded via their spokesperson Kiara Pesante:
“With these comments, Pat Hickey is making it even clearer why Republicans across the country are working so hard to restrict voting rights. From North Carolina to Ohio, Republican governors and legislatures are enacting harsh voter ID laws that make it more difficult for seniors, young people and people of color to vote. With the twisted logic that Hickey so prominently put on display, Republicans believe that shutting people out is the best way to grow their party’s influence and win elections. Meanwhile, Democrats are leading the charge to expand voting rights for all eligible voters. The GOP’s tactics didn’t pay off in 2012, and it’s hard to see them paying off in 2014 with this backwards, exclusionary approach.”
It’s been a controversial pageant season. On August 31, seven-year-old Jakiyah McKoy won the title of Little Miss Hispanic Delaware. But last week news surfaced that she had been stripped of her title and crown because pageant officials couldn’t prove her Latina heritage. The response to her win has brought up issues of racism toward Afro-Latinos and complications faced by descendents of undocumented immigrants.
According to Latino Rebels, which spoke to pageant sponsor Nuestras Raíces Delaware, the pageant cannot prove McKoy’s Latina roots because her Dominican grandmother, who is deceased, was undocumented and they have no paperwork confirming her country of origin. Blogger *Dash Harris, quoted El Tiempo Hispano as saying the public who attended the pageant said McKoy was “not representative of Latin beauty,” and that she was the only contestant who was required to give proof of her ethnic heritage.
McKoy supporters have started an online petition to demand the crown be returned to her.
This article has been corrected to reflect the author of “Diaspora Dash” as Dash Harris, and to clarify that the quote “not representative of Latin beauty,” came from El Tiempo Hispano.
When Shaun Donovan, Barack Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, went to go visit Everett Middle School in San Francisco’s historically Latino Mission District, he probably expected to hear glowing things from students at a school that had drastically improved their academic performance in recent years.
Donovan sat with the school’s principal Lina Van Haren and several students about what they like and dislike about their neighborhood. One 12-year-old student’s gave a brutally honest answer.
“The Mission District, around here, has changed a lot because there’s a lot of white people taking over the Mission,” said a 12-year old, when asked by her principal what’s changed in the surrounding area, according to the San Francisco Weekly. “I used to always see Latinos in the Mission — and, yeah.”
She continued, “People are moving out of the Mission because it’s getting more expensive since so many more white people are moving to San Francisco,” she continued. “And that’s why it’s harder to get to school and black people are moving out.”
A recent map of rental prices backs up the middle schooler’s claim. The median rental price per bedroom in the Mission is about $2,400.
(h/t SF Weekly)
Before their scheduled eviction today, Gum Gee Lee and Poon Heung Lee, an elderly Chinese couple who’ve lived in their San Francisco apartment for 34 years, are putting up one last very public fight. They’re the last holdouts in a building that was bought by a real estate developer whose specialty is flipping old apartment buildings into luxury condos. Elected city officials, community members and the Lees are currently in front of the apartment building ready to engage in civil disobedience to protest their eviction, said Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus’ attorney Omar Calimbas, who represents the Lees.
The Lees worked in the city for decades, raised their family in their apartment and still care for a disabled daughter in their home. When developer Matthew Miller offered buyouts to the other tenants, the Lees tried to move as well. But as seniors on fixed incomes whose daughter is dependent on care she receives in San Francisco, Calimbas said, they didn’t have the kind of leverage they needed. So they decided to stay and fight.
In a daylong protest outside their 1840-A Jackson Street apartment building the Lees, accompanied by politicians like San Francisco Supervisors David Campos and Jane Kim and community advocates including the Chinese Progressive Association and the San Francisco Tenants Union, protested their eviction.
The Lees don’t actually have much legal recourse; under California law a landlord may evict tenants if they are pulling the unit off the residential rental market. But in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area where the tech boom has forced a rent explosion, the law, called the Ellis Act, has facilitated the evictions of long-time San Francisco residents—particularly those who can’t afford to stick around in the new housing market. Ellis Act evictions and buyouts have increased three-fold since just the beginning of the year, the San Francisco Examiner reported. The Lees’ fight is about much more than just tenants’ rights. It’s also a protest against the gentrification that’s remaking the city into a luxury playground that few but the rich can afford.
“The goal here is to get the ear of City Hall and start working toward concrete proposals to set up safety nets for families like the Lees, those most at risk of being evicted,” Calimbas told Colorlines. “Especially when there is a rebound that makes rent-controlled propoerties very attractive to short-term high-yield flipping strategies.”
Now, there’s a phone app for avoiding deportation. Immigration Advocates Network, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council teamed up to produce Pocket DACA as part of the “Own the DREAM Campaign,” which is now available for iPhone and Android. Applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA can be a cumbersome process, requiring a lifetime’s worth of documents such as school and medical records that prove continuous residence in the U.S. This app is meant to answer questions and help youth determine if they’re eligible to apply.
Say what you will about DACA, which is starting to show some cracks. But Google Play users took the opportunity to share their thoughts on immigration reform, many giving the product a one-star rating because they said it “encourages criminal behavior,” and that illegal immigrants are likely to join gangs. Otherwise, the app seems to be getting mostly positive reviews from youth and organizers who’ve used it.
There’s a group of queer artists of color who didn’t take too kindly to a recent story that depicted ’90s cartoon characters as sleek Fashion Week attendees. As writer Mia McKenzie wrote at her blog, “Lisa Simpson, proud feminist with so much to say about gender roles, body shaming and capitalism, drawn in this hyper-thin, rich girl way? Why, baby Jesus? Why?”
So McKenzie teamed up with artist Julio Salgado and fellow writer Tina Vasquez to re-create their favorite ’90s cartoon characters as grown-up, radicalized activists. The lineup includes Lisa Simpson (“The Simpsons”), Daria (“Daria”), Jasmine Du Bois (“The Bookdocks”), and Dora the Explorer, just to name a few.
Bio by Tina Vasquez
Lisa Simpson and Daria Morgendorffer met by way of an alumni group through their mutual alma mater: Smith College. Once, after the Feminism & Media conference, they had one too many cocktails and ended up kissing in a Marriott Hotel hallway, but no weirdness ensued. Their shared love of dismantling patriarchy, smashing mainstream beauty standards, and using their middleclass, cisgender, heterosexual, white girl privilege to fuck shit up from inside was strong enough to push past the awkward aftermath. Morgendorffer works as a writing instructor with San Francisco’s 826 Valencia and Simpson is a women’s studies professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In their free time, they collaborate on their zine Cat Fancy. Both women are still processing what they learned from #solidarityisforwhitewomen.
Bio by Mia McKenzie
Jazmine left Woodcrest, Illinois to go to college at age seventeen. Much to her father’s chagrin, she chose a historically black institution, in hopes of undoing some of the anti-black brainwashing she was victim to in her parents’ house. At college, she majored in music and embraced black militancy, which made her friend Huey Freeman very proud. Jazmine didn’t care, though, because she also found black womanism and stopped giving a shit what Huey thinks of her. She is not here for his or any man’s approval. She dropped out junior year to go on tour with her hip-hop-funk band, “Smashing Misogynoir,” and never looked back. She’s a social justice activist, a professional kickboxer, and a mom.
Bio by Tina Vasquez
Growing up, Dora became accustomed to her abuelitas and tias, even her own mom, pinching her chubby cheeks, patting her round little belly, simultaneously adoring her “baby fat” while also lamenting its existence. Dora had body issues for the bulk of her childhood, but in high school something snapped and she said Fuck. This. Shit. It was around this time that Dora began exploring other women’s bodies. Hearing her partner whisper, “You’re so fucking sexy” as they messed around in the girl’s locker room did wonders for her self-esteem. When her cousin Diego came out as undocumented after high school, organizing around the Dream Act, Dora was inspired by his movement work and began her journey as a queer, fat, femme activist. Using only her blog and camera, Dora fights fat phobia by showcasing the beauty of her cis and trans sisters - curves, dimples, stretch marks, and all. Dora also does queer porn, appearing in the latest installment of Courtney Trouble’s Lesbian Curves with April Flores. It was awesome.
The list includes many more of your favorite cartoon characters, and you can see it in full over at Black Girl Dangerous.
* This post has been updated since publication.
Low-wage workers from the nation’s federal workplaces are marching straight to their top executive today to demand fair, living wages from President Obama. It’s expected to be the largest strike yet for workers employed under federal contracts, concessions and lease agreements at workplaces like Union Station, the American Zoo, the Ronald Reagan Building and the Smithsonian Museum. Workers want President Obama to issue an executive order ensuring that federally contracted workers are paid a a living wage.
Backed by Good Jobs Nation, a coalition of workers’ rights and faith groups, workers argue that they’re are paid criminally low wages that force them to turn to public assistance to make ends meet. Folks who can’t retire on their $8.75 per hour janitor pay; fathers who can’t pay all their family’s bills even with full-time work as cooks, and young moms who don’t make enough in tips to make up for the $3 per hour they make as restaurant servers are the people who’ll be marching to the White House today, and delivering personal letters to Obama to demand some action.
Mega corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s are the most visible employers of the low-wage economy and indeed, in the last year low-wage workers from those very companies have staged broad public actions to demand fair pay, but Good Jobs Nation argues that big-box and fast-food companies are hardly the worst offenders. The U.S. government creates two million low-wage jobs, according to Good Jobs Nation, compared with the 600,000 low-wage jobs McDonald’s is responsible for, or Walmart’s 900,000.
The Labor Department is also investigating Good Jobs Nation’s formal complaint that federally contracted companies owe $1 million in back pay and wages to workers.
This morning, the MacArthur Founation named its 2013 class of MacArthur Fellows, commonly referred to as “Genius Grants,” and this year’s class includes five visionary artists and scholars of color. Photographer Carrie Mae Weems, playwright Tarell McCraney, choreographer Kyle Abraham, musician Vijay Iyer, and researcher Angela Duckworth have been named among this year’s winners.
Here’s more about each artist. Biographies and videos are from the MacArthur Foundation.
Carrie Mae Weems is a photographer and video installation artist examining the complex and contradictory legacy of African American identity, class, and culture in the United States. Her intimate depictions of children, adults, and families in simple settings document and interpret the ongoing and centuries-old struggle for racial equality, human rights, and social inclusion in America.
Tarell Alvin McCraney is a playwright exploring the rich diversity of the African American experience in works that imbue the lives of ordinary people with epic significance. Complementing his poetic, intimate language with a musical sensibility and rhythmic, often ritualistic movement, McCraney transforms intentionally minimalist stages into worlds marked by metaphor and imagery.
Kyle Abraham is a choreographer and dancer probing the relationship between identity and personal history through a unique hybrid of traditional and vernacular dance styles that speaks to a new generation of dancers and audiences. With diverse training in music, visual art, and dance—and breathtaking skill as a performer—Abraham’s highly physical dance vocabulary reflects the youthful energy of the hip-hop and urban dance he encountered in his adolescence as well as a strong grounding in modern dance technique.
Vijay Iyer is a pianist, composer, bandleader, electronic musician, and writer forging a new conception of jazz and American creative music through an eclectic oeuvre that includes compositions for his own and other ensembles, collaborations across multiple genres and disciplines, and scholarly research on the act of listening. An ardent investigator of musical communities, practices, histories, and theories, he mines core rhythmic, melodic, and structural elements from a wide range of sources to construct richly varied, improvisation-driven solo and ensemble music.
Angela Duckworth is a psychologist whose studies are clarifying the role that intellectual strengths and personality traits play in educational achievement. Duckworth’s work primarily examines two traits that she demonstrates predict success in life: grit—the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward long-term goals—and self-control—the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses. A major difference between the two qualities is that grit equips individuals to pursue especially challenging aims over years and even decades, while self-control operates at a more micro timescale in the battle against what could be referred to as “hourly temptations.”
In a landmark adoption ruling three months ago, the Supreme Court decided that the Indian Child Welfare Act didn’t apply to keeping a young Cherokee girl named Veronica with her biological father, Dusten Brown. But it remained unclear whether that meant Veronica would be turned over to the white couple that wanted to adopt her.
After bouncing the case back to South Carolina, there have been several developments. Most recently, Brown was involved in secret negotiations with the adoptive couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, but was barred from talking about the case because of a gag order. Those negotiations never worked out, however. Federal marshals took Veronica, who is four years old now, from Cherokee tribal headquarters in Tahlequah, Okla., on Monday night.
Suzette Brewer, who’s been detailing developments in the case for Indian Country Today, explains what a loss this has been for Cherokee Nation, as well as for the Brown family:
Exhausted and left with few options other than jail time and the loss of his military career and pension, [Dusten Brown] discussed her peaceful transfer with his family, legal team and tribal officials. He and his wife, Robin, packed a few bags for Veronica, who had just turned four years old last week. Before the family gathered to say their last goodbyes, Tommy Brown, Veronica’s grandfather, began suffering chest pains and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
The Capobiancos have previously said they will allow Veronica to keep her ties to her nation—but are not obligated by any agreement to do so.
A teenage black boy whistles at a white woman or stares at her a second too long in the 1950s and he gets bludgeoned, shot, attached to a cotton gin and sunk in the river. In the 2000s, finance investment brokers almost break the entire American economy by gambling with risky financial schemes, and then become the target of millions of furious workers and Occupy-ers who lost their 401k and pensions savings, but don’t do much more than wave hostile posters outside the brokers’ windows.
There’s no difference between the two scenarios, at least according to Robert Benmosche, CEO of the “Too Big To Fail”-tagged, multinational financial insurance company AIG that almost went belly up in 2008. When the company was saved, thanks to bailouts from Congress and President George W. Bush, it issued bonuses to its board members, as did many other finance corporations whose accounts took the same plunge.
Americans became understandably astounded that these companies issued bonuses at their expense, and much of that frustration helped trigger the Occupy movement. But Benmosche said that anger was unfounded. As he told The Wall Street Journal (via Ezra Klein at The Washington Post):
The uproar over bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitchforks and their hangman nooses, and all that — sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.”
According to the Tuskegee Institute, almost 5,000 people were lynched between 1882 and 1951 for “crimes” as trivial as insubordination — being black and talking back to a white man — or for simply trying to register to vote. AIG brokers got away with almost murdering the U.S. economy and walked away not with noose bruises around their necks, but with millions of dollars in bonuses.
Benmosche’s comments are a reminder of why it’s not people of color who need black history and ethnic studies programs, and also of how detached from reality the one percent really is.
Just as the prospects for passage of a House immigration reform bill looked to be imploding last week, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told a group of leading House Democrats and Washington immigration advocates that she plans to introduce her own immigration reform legislation. According to Politico, the California Democrat could release her legislation as early as the first week of October.
The Pelosi bill would closely resemble the legislation passed in June by the Senate but would incorporate border security provisions included in a proposal from the House Judiciary Committee. Its introduction could provide a jump-start to an immigration legislative process thrown recently into chaos.
Last week, two House Republicans who’d been heavily involved with drafting a separate bipartisan immigration reform bill announced publically that they were walking away from the table. Following the news, Illinois Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez, perhaps the leading reform proponent in the House, declared the bipartisan reform effort “stalled.” He added, “I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”
The Pelosi bill could pull immigration reform back out of the grave, but the bill’s ultimate passage still depends on House Speaker John Boehner, who would have to call the legislation to the floor for a vote, something he’s said he would not be willing to do without support from a majority of Republicans. Even with Pelosi’s adoption of the House Judiciary committee’s border security provisions, that level of GOP support remains a high bar.
Remember B-Girl Terra? We dubbed her the flyest six-year-old dancer around. And it turns out, she’s just one of many talented little b-boys and b-girls who occassionally battle each other at break dance performances around the world. Here she is battling B-Boy LeeLou last spring in France.
(h/t Jamie Thomas on Twitter)
The Broadway Musical “Miss Saigon” recently celebrated its 24th birthday and is gearing up to launch in Minneapolis and Detroit. But the play’s new run is giving some the chance to speak out. The musical, which was written by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boubil, and Richard Maltby, centers on a romance between an American man and a Vietnamese woman during the Vietnam War. Since its opening in 1989, the play has become one of the longest running and most enduring representations of Vietnamese people in the Western world. But many detractors accuse the play of trafficking in age-old Asian stereotypes.
A new Tumblr campaign has popped up called Don’t Buy Miss Saigon: Our Truth Project. In it, dozens of Asian-Americans, most Vietnamese men and women, can “share their truths, as an act of resistance,” according to the website.
I am a Vietnamese American woman, and this is my truth: It is not customary practice in Vietnamese culture to force marriages between family relatives, let alone cousins, nor force betrothals between children. Traditional Vietnamese culture is one of the most feminist progressive cultures - we had laws stating that daughters had equal rights to inherit family property as sons, women could own and inherit property as men, and women could keep their family names instead of forcing them to change their surnames to their husbands family’s at the same time that women in Europe were seen as little more than marriage chattel to be sold for their dowries. Miss Saigon doesn’t want you to know about these truths.
I am a Vietnamese American woman, and I would choose to fall in love with a Thuy over an American G.I. any damn day of the week. Miss Saigon doesn’t want you to know about this truth.
I am a Vietnamese American woman. Why don’t you care about my truth? - -NB
Tuesday is the official release date for Drake’s third full-length studio album, “Nothing Was the Same,” and he’s got big ambitious for his new record. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, the Toronto rapper talks about his process of making the new album and, specifically, his hit single, “Hold On, We’re Going Home.”
At about the 12-minute mark in the interview, Drake says: “My motive was to give people in this generation something similar to a Marvin Gaye song, similar to those songs that are still around in 15 years and you say, ‘I remember that moment. I remember that song. I still dance to that song.’”
As he raps on his six-minute long intro, “Tuscan Leather,” Drake’s on a mission to “change the culture.” And while his recipe of mixing rap with R&B may not be new, it’s certainly proving to be wildly successful.
Director Lee Daniels recently sat down for an interview with Southern California radio station KCRW and it’s what he didn’t say about being an out gay black filmmaker in Hollywood that made news. During a segment on “The Business,” Daniels is asked to comment on why it’s so hard for openly gay black actors and filmmakers to gain acceptance in the entertainment industry, but he chooses to remain silent. His rationale? “I want to work.”
(Jump to the 6:50 mark for Daniels’ interview) (h/t Shadow & Act)
On Saturday night Dr. Prabhjot Singh was brutally attacked in his neighborhood by a large group of young men, who yelled the words “Osama,” “terrorist,” and “get him.” He says they grabbed his beard, punched him, and dragged him to the ground where they continued to beat him. He was rushed to the hospital with a fractured jaw and several missing teeth. Singh is Sikh and wears a turban and beard, and says he’s been profiled as a Muslim and attacked in the past, although never so violently.
Singh is a professor at Columbia University, and is also a practicing physician. In addition he has also been an advocate for addressing historic discrimination against Sikhs in the U.S., which he says goes beyond mistaking this ethnic group for Muslims. The suspects have not yet been detained.