Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Watch Traffic Cop Mentoria Hutchinson Dance in the Streets

Watch Traffic Cop Mentoria Hutchinson Dance in the Streets

Brooklyn native Mentoria Hutchinson has been directing traffic since 1980. The 61-year-old started dancing in the streets after she was injured on the job as a way to help her feel safe, and keep her happy. Watch her adorable video, part of the New York Times Character Study Column

TAGS: dance Videos

PBS ‘NewsHour’ Called Out for Lack of Diversity

PBS 'NewsHour' Called Out for Lack of Diversity

America’s publicly funded broadcast network is in trouble. In late October Latino journalist Ray Suarez left the network’s flagship news program “NewsHour” after serving as one of its senior correspondents for more than a decade. The longtime journalist later gave Fox News Latino the reasons for his departure.

“I felt like I didn’t have much of a future with the broadcast,” Suarez told Fox. “(They) didn’t have much of a plan for me.”

The National Hispanic Media Coalition has issued an open letter on what it calls the network’s “historic under-inclusion of Latinos.”

“PBS’ historic under-inclusion of Latinos is reflected not only in its employment practices, with Latinos being overlooked for new projects and initiatives, but also the underrepresentation of Latinos in its programming, and an alarming lack of transparency about the situation,” NHMC’s letter reads.

Among the evidence presented by the advocacy organization is not only what it sees as the network’s lack of diversity in senior leadership positions, but its lukewarm efforts to address the problem. The group says that a 2005 Ford Foundation grant to promote new diversity initiatives have led to underwhelming results. 

 

It’s Been 50 Years Since Malcolm X’s ‘Message to the Grass Roots’

It's Been 50 Years Since Malcolm X's 'Message to the Grass Roots'

This Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of one of Malcolm X’s most famous speeches, “Message to the Grass Roots.”Delivered on November 10, 1963, it captures the uncompromising, radical tone of activism at the time—which critiqued the March on Washington that had taken place just three months previously. It was also Malcolm’s last speech before leaving the Nation of Islam. 

But how well do you know this speech? Did you know, for example, that Malcolm explained that James Baldwin was barred from speaking at the March on Washington, and Burt Lancaster took his place? As illustrated in this quote, did you know that the speech was also a scathing indictment of the Vietnam War?

If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it’s wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it’s wrong for America to draft us and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.

Check out audio from the speech in the video above or read the text itself

Number of Immigrant Youth Left Alone in the U.S. on the Rise

Number of Immigrant Youth Left Alone in the U.S. on the Rise

Over the past five years the number of immigrant youth left alone in the U.S. has tripled, statistics show. Amid President Obama’s record numbers of deportations, many youth—both documented and undocumented—are left alone in the U.S. when their parents are detained or deported. CNN interviewed the Cabrera family, in a tragic story of three undocumented immigrant children who became orphans when their only surviving parent was killed in a car accident. The oldest, Brianda Cabrera, was 14 when her mother died and has been caring for her siblings in Springs, Ga. for the past nine years.

They are among the thousands of youth in the U.S. here without their parents. According to CNN:

Last year, the U.S. Border Patrol took more than 24,481 into custody, compared with 8,041 in 2008. The vast majority in 2012 came from Mexico (13,974), but some came from places as far away as India (23), China (16) and Romania (16).

But an immigration attorney interviewed cautions that this number only reflects those detained at the border, not families like the Cabreras. Their story mirrors that of Juan Gomez, a DREAMer who grew up in Miami and was forced to take care of himself and his brother after his parents returned to Colombia for fear of being deported.  Sometimes these same separations force the U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants into foster care. And a report from Human Impact Partners indicates that undocumented youth  experience heightened mental and physical health conditions because of the stress of family detentions and deportations. Recently, many young immigrant activists have turned their attention away from advocating for comprehensive immigration reform towards demanding an end to ballooning numbers of deportations. 

Senate Passes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

Senate Passes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

In a landmark decision, today the Senate voted to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that ensures equal employment protections for as many as 16 million LGBT people.  A prior version of this bill passed in 2007, but lacked provisions for transgender people. Ten Republicans joined Senate Democrats in the winning 64-32 vote, but House Speaker John Boehner came out in opposition, saying he doubted it would come to a full vote. There are currently 29 states in the U.S. without laws protecting LGBT people in the workplace.

Report: When It Comes to College Degrees, Latinos in Calif. at the Bottom

Report: When It Comes to College Degrees, Latinos in Calif. at the Bottom

Latinos are 38 percent of California, and growing—by 2050 they’re projected to be the majority of California’s population. It’s with that demographic reality in mind that the Campaign for College Opportunity analyzed college-going and graduation rates of Latinos in the state in a new report (PDF). The statistics are cause for concern: Latinos have the lowest percentage of college attainment across all racial groups in the California. Eleven percent of Latino adults hold bachelor’s degrees while 23 percent of blacks, 39 percent of whites and 48 percent of Asians do. However, in recent years Latinos have made big strides in educational attainment—graduating from high school and applying to college in higher numbers, and doubling and tripling their enrollment in the state university and college systems, respectively—but the report makes the case that focusing on the educational attainment of Latinos is a social and economic imperative.

There are several primary sources for the underrepresentation of Latinos in higher education: Latinos are more likely to have poor educational access, and aren’t graduating high school with the proper prerequesites and preparation for college. Affordability is a factor as well. Studies have shown that Latino students are extremely debt-averse. That, together with tuition hikes, access and readiness issues, may explain why Latino students who turn to higher education go overwhelmingly for community colleges over other more expensive options, namely for-profit and state university options which come with much higher price tags. 

Read the report here for Campaign for College Opportunity’s recommendations.

More on Racial Disparity in the U.S. Labor Force

More on Racial Disparity in the U.S. Labor Force

It seems the wage gap for people of color is worst than we thought. According to a report published today in The Atlantic, the amount of money a person earns is absolutely connected to their race—regardless of how much they work. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the report suggests that Latino men have the highest unemployment rates of any racial or gender category, but they work more often. Black women also have higher labor force participation rates than white or Latina women. But, white men and women earn more than black men and women, who earn more than all Latinos

The report also further illustrates how much your race could define what industry you work in. Latinos are particularly overrepresented in industries such as farming, landscaping and domestic work. Black people tend to have higher rates of working as home health aides, security guards and bus drivers. Asians make up by far the largest proportion of people working in the “personal appearance” industry, such as nail salons, but also are highly represented among software workers and physicians. And not surprising at all, 90 percent of all CEOs, and the overwhelming majority of managerial positions in various fields, are white.

But perhaps more confounding is the inverse relationship between earning potential and education. White people who have bachelor’s degrees earn the most, while black people with only a high school education appear to be earning more than those with bachelor’s degrees. This is even more the case for Latinos, who continue to have the largest high school dropout rates, and earn nearly the same whether or not they’ve finished high school, and less if they have a bachelor’s degree. 

Read the full report, complete with graphs, on The Atlantic

Watch Totally Biased Take on the Washington D.C. NFL Team Name

Watch Totally Biased Take on the Washington D.C. NFL Team Name

What are those fans really thinking? Totally Biased correspondent Citizen Dwayne tries to figure it all out in this hilarious clip. 

(h/t ICTMN)

Family of Slain Detroit Woman Wants Answers After Car Accident Led to Shooting

Family of Slain Detroit Woman Wants Answers After Car Accident Led to Shooting

Renisha McBride’s family wants answers. The 19-year-old woman died from gunshot wounds early on Saturday morning following an incident in which she sought help after a car accident. The shooting occurred in a mostly white city in the Detroit metro area called Dearborn Heights.

Bernita Spinks, McBride’s aunt, said the shooting was not justified even if the resident believed McBride was an intruder breaking into the home.

“He shot her in the head … for what? For knocking on his door,” Spinks told Detroit News on Tuesday. “If he felt scared or threatened, he should have called 911.”

The family met with officials from the area’s prosecutor’s office on Monday because they believe the shooting was racially motivated. “He killed my niece and he needs to pay for it. He needs to be in jail,” Spinks said. “There was no window broken. My niece didn’t bother anyone. She went looking for help and now she’s dead.”

McBride will be laid to rest on Friday.

Hilton Als Talks About Gender, Love and His Provocative Title ‘White Girls’

Hilton Als Talks About Gender, Love and His Provocative Title 'White Girls'

Cultural critic Hilton Als did an interview with Lambda Literary recently in which he talks about his new collection of essays, “White Girls.” What stands out to be about the interview, and the book, is the delicate way that Als writes about platonic and romantic love between black men. From his interview with Frederick McKindra:

It was really heartening to see your description of a powerful love existing between two black men-one gay and the other straight [a character only referenced by the initials SL] I didn’t realize how unique that experience would be until reading the essay “Triste Tropique.”

I think it’s just the feeling of connection. One of the things that’s happened recently with gay rights is that people can get married and all of that, but I don’t know how much that’s really going to solve the sense of being outside of things that gay people feel in general. I just think that gay marriage, outside of the Civil Rights which is a great, great thing, it’s not really a Band-Aid on the profound sense of isolation that gay people, particularly gay people of color, can feel. And how much we have to improvise around the gay status quo. When I met SL (and I also want to stress that half of that stuff is fictionalized), he had this great capacity to love and also to be loved, but it’s not without complications, which I also wanted to show. I also wanted to show how two men of color together can be very upsetting to the status quo in general.

Also also addressed the book’s title, which has will certainly get you some strange looks on the train. 

Can we begin by discussing how this particular project came together, especially under this title?

I think for years I avoided the idea of a collection of essays. I had been working on a project for a while and in between trying to make a living and avoiding that essay collection the title came to me. The title came to me because years ago, when I worked in fashion, they would always refer to black models as the “black girl.” They would never say “white girl,” they would never point to the white model and say “white girl.” So in thinking about it, I wanted to know what a “white girl” was in my head. I wanted to write about what that means not only in terms of society but what it means in terms of identification with men of color. So there was the title first, and then when the title came, I was able to really kind of narrow it down. I wanted the book to read as a whole, not as a collection. It was really important to me that it read deep thematically, so unified you would just think of it as a book and not a collection of essays. 

Read the entire interview over at Lambda Literary.

The Daily Show Makes Fun of Jay Z’s Loyalty to Barney’s

The Daily Show Makes Fun of Jay Z's Loyalty to Barney's

Jay Z is in the spotlight once again, this time for sticking by Barney’s, the luxury department store that’s recently made news for racially profiling shoppers who’ve made purchases. Hova’s getting ready to launch a luxury watch line with Barney’s in time for the holidays and, despite outrage over the instances of profiling, he’s sticking by the company.

In a recent segment of “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart and correspondent Larry Wilmore take the rapper to task. “He doesn’t care about black people who want him to boycott Barneys, and I don’t blame him, Jon…” Wilmore explained. “He’s got a multi-million dollar brand to protect… These days, he’s too big of a commercial force to rail against the danger of the man. He is the danger. He is the one who frisks. He’s not Jay Z, he’s Jay Z Penny!”

(h/t Consequence of Sound)

Albuquerque Residents Set to Vote on Abortion Ban

Albuquerque Residents Set to Vote on Abortion Ban

On Halloween night in Albuquerque, several parents were disturbed to find their children’s candy bags contained anti-abortion leaflets with an image of an unborn fetus on the cover. As shocking as this may sound, it seems in keeping with local sentiments around an abortion restriction measure that will come to a vote on November 19. If passed, the measure, which had a 54 percent approval rating in a September poll, would be the first municipal ban on abortion in the country.

Similar to other abortion restriction laws already passed in 12 states, the measure would make it illegal to perform abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where it would save the mother’s life or prevent her from becoming seriously impaired. This particular version of the increasingly common 20-week ban (one is even expected  to be introduced in Congress) offers no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest, or those who suffer from ”psychological or emotional conditions.” The well-known anti-abortion group Operation Rescue recently turned its attention to Albuquerque and has started harassing people at abortion clinics there. 

Albuquerque now joins a growing number of initiatives nationwide that are increasingly relying on back-door approaches to abortion bans and so-called TRAP laws that aim to cripple abortion clinics state-by-state. And these same regulations, which often force abortion providers out of business, have a disproportionate effect on low-income women of color who then have to travel farther distances and incur increased expenses to get reproductive health services they need. 

Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai Wants You To Be Self-Centered For a Good Cause

Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai Wants You To Be Self-Centered For a Good Cause

Spoken word artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai has a new project out called #SelfCentered. It’s a playful take on what would happen if the tables of what’s considered “normal” were turned and the everything were aimed toward, dictated by, and catered to 5’ 2,” tattooed Asian females. And it’s an interactive project. Tsai is also asking folks to tweet @yellowgurlpoet and use the hashtag #SelfCentered to describe what you would do if you were the center of everything for a day. 

 

TAGS: Poetry Video

Because Who Isn’t Looking for a Wu-Tang Version of Lorde’s ‘Royals?’

Because Who Isn't Looking for a Wu-Tang Version of Lorde's 'Royals?'

Here’s Wu-Tang’s Raekwon rapping over New Zealand teen sensation Lorde’s hit song, “Royals.”

(h/t Paper Magazine)

Laverne Cox, Brittney Griner, George Takei Among This Year’s Out 100

Laverne Cox, Brittney Griner, George Takei Among This Year's Out 100

Out Magazine’s annual list of LGBT power brokers is out and includes some of our favorite queer people of color. So who made the list? Terrel Alvin McCraney, playwright and McArthur GeniusGuillermo Diaz, actor on ABC’s ‘Scandal’Janet Mock, transgender advocate and writerBrittney Griner, WNBA starShayne Oliver, designerLaverne Cox, transgender actressBilly Porter, actorGeorge Takei, advocate and actor.

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The Battle of Bottled Water, Or Another Hilarious Look at Gentrification

The Battle of Bottled Water, Or Another Hilarious Look at Gentrification

Watch stand-up comedian Michael Che pokes fun at the gentrification that’s transformed his Lower East Side neighborhood.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Listen to a Deep House Remix of One of Kendrick Lamar’s Biggest Hits

Listen to a Deep House Remix of One of Kendrick Lamar's Biggest Hits

Kendrick Lamar has shown that he’s not afraid to take chances in his music. Earlier this year he teamed up with Sweedish singer Emeli Sandé to release an “international remix” of his hit song “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.” But now a South African producer and DJ has taken the song in an entirely different direction.

DJ Spyke of Johannesburg’s Tainted House Records recently dropped his own version of the track, stripping it of the rapper’s vocals but keeping its laid back essence and Sandé’s sultry hook. 

(h/t Okayfuture)

Should a Spitball Be a Misdemeanor? Broward County, Fla. Schools Say No More

Should a Spitball Be a Misdemeanor? Broward County, Fla. Schools Say No More

Last year Florida’s Broward County made over 1,000 school-based arrests. But Broward County school officials, together with law enforcement and civil rights advocacy groups like the NAACP and the Advancement Project, are vowing to do better, and in doing so to get rid of their top spot producing the highest number of school-based arrests in the state. This week the county and its community partners announced a groundbreaking collaborative discipline agreement with the aims of increasing school safety by reducing the number of youth who are arrested and introduced to the criminal justice system. 

According to the Sun Sentinel, Broward County kids were being arrested for things like showing up to school even though they were on suspension (considered trespassing), or throwing a spitball (considered misdemeanor battery) or tossing a lollipop at another student (battery). Six-seven percent of arrests fell under the umbrella category of “disorderly conduct,” which could include behavior like taking out a cellphone in class or using profanity toward a teacher. All of this eager arresting of students gave Broward County the distinction of producing the highest total number of school-based arrests in the state in 2011-2012.

With the new agreement, nonviolent offenses—even those which include drugs or alcohol—will be handled in school without the involvement of police. It’s an important step in a county which, like elsewhere in the nation, has disproportionately punished black and Latino students with its school discipline policies, pushing many of them into the arms of the criminal justice system and further from school. 

Read more at the Sun Sentinel.

Lawyers Want $2 Million For Gutting Voting Rights Act

Lawyers Want $2 Million For Gutting Voting Rights Act

The law firm that successfully convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to upend a key civil rights protection in the Voting Rights Act is now looking to collect $2 million for their work. According to The Blog of Legal Times, U.S. Department of Justice lawyers are trying to fend off the law firm Wiley Rein, the attorneys who represented Shelby County, Ala. in the Shelby v. Holder case. That SCOTUS hearing led to a ruling that VRA’s Section 4 “coverage formula” — which determined where the Act would apply — was unconstitutional

DOJ is arguing that the law firm isn’t entitled to fees at all. As explained by Legal Times, Rein feels entitled because, “Under the voting rights law, a party who sued to enforce the ‘voting guarantees’ of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendments could seek legal fees if they won.”

The conflict is over whether Shelby County’s case constituted enforcement of voting guarantees. 

Wiley Rein’s logic for why they are commanding millions is a glimpse into how firms arrive at what some consider such exorbitant fees. From Legal Times:

The firm said its rates were in line with what other major law firms charged. Rein, for instance, reported charging $920 per hour in 2012, which the firm noted was less than the $1,250 hourly rate charged by certain partners at Dickstein Shapiro, according to a survey by The National Law Journal. This year, Rein’s hourly rate went up to $950. …

The firm argued its request for fees was reasonable given the complexity of the high-profile litigation. Between 2010 and 2013, Wiley Rein reported spending more than 4,600 hours on the case. Rein, in a court filing, said he reduced the firm’s fees by more than 15 percent to avoid disputes about inefficiencies in how the firm managed the case and to account for clerical work by lawyers and paralegals.

Rein said today the firm’s rates were reasonable. “We think they’re what the market justifies and what we charge to our other clients,” he said.

Hope this isn’t a growing market to justify. 

 

Meet Kamala Khan: Jersey Kid, Muslim Teen and Marvel Comics’ Newest Superhero

Meet Kamala Khan: Jersey Kid, Muslim Teen and Marvel Comics' Newest Superhero

The newest addition to the Marvel Comics family is not just a female superhero. And she’s not only a teen, she’s Pakistani and Muslim and living with her family in Jersey City. Her name is Kamala Khan (or Ms. Marvel) and she’s a 17-year-old with the ability to change shape. Khan’s character represents the first time someone of Muslim faith has headlined a Marvel comic.

Khan is the creation of Marvel editors Sana Amanat and Steve Wacker and the creative team G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. Wilson and the team spoke with Marvel about what readers can expect from superhero teen Khan, whose book will be released in February 2014:

The Ms. Marvel mantle has passed to Kamala Khan, a high school student from Jersey City who struggles to reconcile being an American teenager with the conservative customs of her Pakistani Muslim family. So in a sense, she has a “dual identity” before she even puts on a super hero costume. Like a lot of children of immigrants, she feels torn between two worlds: the family she loves, but which drives her crazy, and her peers, who don’t really understand what her home life is like.

This makes her tough and vulnerable at the same time. When you try to straddle two worlds, one of the first things you learn is that instead of defending good people from bad people, you have to spend a lot of time defending good people from each other. It’s both illuminating and emotionally brutal. That’s what makes this book different.

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