What are those fans really thinking? Totally Biased correspondent Citizen Dwayne tries to figure it all out in this hilarious clip.
What are those fans really thinking? Totally Biased correspondent Citizen Dwayne tries to figure it all out in this hilarious clip.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
Here’s Wu-Tang’s Raekwon rapping over New Zealand teen sensation Lorde’s hit song, “Royals.”
(h/t Paper Magazine)
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 Genius; Guillermo Diaz, actor on ABC’s ‘Scandal’; Janet Mock, transgender advocate and writer; Brittney Griner, WNBA star; Shayne Oliver, designer; Laverne Cox, transgender actress; Billy Porter, actor; George Takei, advocate and actor.
Watch stand-up comedian Michael Che pokes fun at the gentrification that’s transformed his Lower East Side neighborhood.
(h/t Huffington Post)
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Chief Mike Fisher told the Associated Press that agents would continue to shoot at people throwing rocks at them, despite a recommendation from the Police Executive Research Forum that they stop using deadly force in these cases. In September, CBP announced they would test out car cameras and overhaul basic training in response to criticism about their use of deadly force. But these most recent statement by Fisher seem to indicate they’ll continue using tactics that have resulted in at least 20 deaths, eight specifically from rock-throwing incidents, since 2010.
Last week, reporters at Fusion—working with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute— broke a story confirming that Mexican citizen Guillermo Arevalo was shot dead by border agents while at a family picnic on the Mexico side of the border, after someone allegedly threw rocks. According to Fusion, six of the 20 people shot by CBP were on Mexican soil. Steve Shadowen, a civil rights attorney working with the Arevalo family, shed light on how CBP continues targeting Mexicans at the border.
Imagine if a family of Caucasian Canadians was having a family picnic just across the border in Mexico. Can you imagine the outrage there would be if U.S. border agents took a rifle and indiscriminately shot into the crowd and killed someone?
Chief Fisher says that changing their policies around firing on rock-throwers would put CBP agents in danger, and that it is the “agency’s long-standing position that rocks are lethal weapons.”
A renewed version of the hit 1977 miniseries “Roots” is in development by the History Channel. The show, based on a book by historian Alex Haley, follows several generations of a slave family in the United States. When it aired it drew 100 million viewers and earned an unprecedented 37 Emmy nominations. It won nine of the awards.
The History Channel has also acquired the rights to Haley’s book, “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.”
Looking at state and local races around the nation, it appears that the nation’s electorate has begun to officially reject the Tea Party’s extreme, conservative platform. Top conservative candidates have not been able to hold up against more moderate Republican challengers, and in Virginia, the Tea Party candidate Ken Cuccinelli was soundly defeated by a true-blue Democrat, Terry McAuliffe. This tells us that voters are responding positively to issues like climate change and marriage equality, while rejecting the austerity and anti-choice measures of conservatives. Turnout is typically low during these election off-years, but yesterday we saw surprisingly higher-than-average results in some races, which means get-out-the-vote organizing is growing more effective. We’ll see if elections in 2014 and 2016 continue these trends.
1. Virginia Governor’s Race
Winner: Terry McAuliffe Significance: McAuliffe’s victory signals that this might be the beginning of the end of Tea Party season. His task now is to keep moderates happy, keep Sen. Mark Warner’s seat safe and deliver the state for the Democratic Party in 2016, which might have been why the Clintons were all up in this race. Turnout: Above 37 percent, the first upswing since 1989. A good sign.
2. New Jersey Governor’s Race
Winner: Chris Christie Significance: Right now Christie is probably the only challenger who stands a chance against Dems if he runs for President in 2016. He picked up 20 percent of African-American votes in the state. Turnout: Numbers still pending
3. New York City Mayor’s Race
Winner: Bill de Blasio Significance: Colorlines’ Imara Jones said it best— “Throughout his campaign, de Blasio encapsulated his point with the theme of a “Tale of Two Cities,” and constantly hammered away at the fact that half of all New Yorkers—six out of 10 of whom are people of color—are either poor or near poverty. The economic orientation of Bill de Blasio when compared to that of Michael Bloomberg is as different as chalk from cheese.” Turnout: About 25 percent.
4. Houston Mayor’s Race
Winner: Annise D. Parker Significance: You knew it was a big deal when The POTUS, who rarely gets involved in local races, stepped in to endorse Parker. All eyes are on Texas now, with that big race for governor coming next year featuring Wendy Davis against Attorney General Greg Abbott, the chief enforcer behind the state’s controversial voter ID law. Turnout: About 13 percent
5. Atlanta Mayor’s Race
Winner: Kasim Reed Significance: Reed has survived his freshman round as one of the nation’s few remaining black mayors of a major city. His next huge project: Finish the new NFL Atlanta Falcons stadium. His new tenure won’t be all peaches and cream, though. His pick for city council at-large member, H. Lamar Willis, the incumbent, was upset by Andre Dickens, who was heavily supported by former mayor Shirley Franklin. A power struggle may ensue. Turnout for Mayor’s Race: Roughly 46,000 voted. That’s about 15 percent of the active voting population.
6. Harrisburg Mayor’s Race
Winner: Eric Papenfuse Significance: After a rocky ride with the Pennsylvania capital’s first black female mayor, Linda Thompson, the city returns to white, male rule. Eric Papenfuse won the race by picking up 3,618 out of 7,285 ballots cast. He said the results send a “clear message” that Harrisburg is “ready for change.” His task is to bring the city back from the brink of bankruptcy though the state will have most control over the city. Turnout: With less than 20 percent turnout, perhaps the real “clear message” was that no candidate was inspiring enough to vote for.
7. Detroit Mayor’s Race
Winner: Mike Duggan Significance: Another city in bankruptcy has elected a white mayor to replace black leadership. Duggan will take over for Dave Bing, who decided not to run for re-election. Like Harrisburg’s mayor, Duggan will have little to no power over the city, which is run by the state due to its financial insolvency. He is the city’s first white mayor in over four decades. Turnout: Less than 20 percent.
8. Boston Mayor’s Race
Winner: Martin Walsh Significance: From the city of Whitey Bulger, the Boston Marathon bombings and the Boston Red Sox comes Walsh, and Irish-American labor leader who cruised to victory on a progressive platform and coalition of supporters across race, ideology and background. Does this mean labor is making a comeback? Turnout: More than 40 percent, estimated.
9. Pittsburgh Mayor’s Race
Winner: Bill Peduto Significance: This race was really decided earlier this year during the primary. No Republican challenger ever fares well in Steel City, try as they might. Peduto, a stalwart progressive had been gunning for the mayor’s seat for years and now finally gets his shot. The question now is if the city can build upon the momentum and coalition that elected him to help replace Gov. Tom Corbett, a.k.a. the most vulnerable governor in the nation, next year. Turnout: 20.54 percent.
10. Seattle Mayor’s Race
Winner: Ed Murray Significance: The city elects its first openly gay mayor in former state Sen. Murray who helped lead the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage last year. He defeated the incumbent mayor, Mike McGinn, who had developed a reputation for political brawls with city council members. Turnout: 57 percent. Seattle cares.
Back in July, M.I.A. asked fans for help with a documentary that she said was being blacklisted. But it looks like the project is now back on track. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the film has begun shooting in London.
Steve Loveridge is directing the project, which will explore M.I.A.’s life and music, from her arrival in the United Kingdom as a child fleeing war in Sri Lanka to her dominance of the pop charts. The U.K-based non-profit group BRITDOC will co-produce the project along with Yala Films.
Watch a clip of the film that M.I.A. circulated over the summer on Twitter:
Jazz favorite José James recently recorded a cover of “Who Loves the Sun” to honor rock pioneer Lou Reed. It’s a nice cross-genre tribute. Watch.
Elle Magazine recently caught up with Brittney Griner, the gender-bending, slam-dunking sensation who’s swept through women’s basketball. Griner’s become a trailblazer since at least last spring, when she nonchalantly came out of the closet. Elle’s profile takes up from where Griner finds herself now, amid the whirlwind of attention. And, in typical Griner style, she refuses to be anyone but herself:
[Griner] retreats into the tiny bathroom to change from her low-slung jeans and Nike T-shirt—the company has signed her to model its menswear, the first time a woman has had that gig—into her suit for Conan. Once the stylist has fussed over her, including rolling her pants cuffs to just the right height, lest they hike up if she crosses her legs—“I never cross my legs,” Griner assures her—Kagawa Colas calls her over for a quick makeup session. “See, it looks like nothing,” she says as she puts the slightest smudge of foundation and undereye concealer on Griner’s smooth, flawless skin.
At the WNBA’s rookie orientation, Griner says she declined to participate in a session about makeup application and how to dress. “I don’t need that shit,” she says without rancor, adding that the only lecture she appreciated was one on 401(k)s. (Yes, new WNBA players are taught how to apply makeup while NBA rookies learn to beware of gold-digger groupies who might prick tiny holes in condoms.) Now, peering at herself in the makeup mirror, Griner approves of her agent’s handiwork. “Looks like nothing,” she agrees.
On Nov. 6, 2013, our publisher, the Applied Research Center, officially became Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. Why the name change? Check out today’s column from Colorlines Publisher and Race Forward Executive Director Rinku Sen to get the full story. But it boils down to this: You can’t fix a problem you won’t name, and after more than 30 years of working for racial justice, we are still determined to directly and openly confront racial inequity. Our name needed to reflect that urgency. Watch (and share!) the video above to learn more about Race Forward’s work.