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‘Latino Americans’ Debuts on PBS

'Latino Americans' Debuts on PBS

In the latest endeavor to capture the emergence of the Latino community in the U.S., last night PBS aired the first episode of Latino Americans. The epic documentary charts five centuries of Latino immigration, social movements, racism, labor and political activity to show how deeply entwined Latino communities are with U.S. history.

From prominent activists such as Dolores Huerta to film stars such as Rita Moreno, the series aims to paint of picture of how Latinos grew to be one of the most influential ethnic groups in the U.S. But as when any documentary makes long brush strokes over several centuries, some critics have said the documentary falls short of conveying the subtleties and richness of Latino identity, while others have criticized the film for relying too closely on an assimilationist narrative.

The three-part series continues on PBS in the coming weeks, and full episodes are available online.

Meet B-Girl Terra, the Flyest Six-Year-Old Dancer Around

Meet B-Girl Terra, the Flyest Six-Year-Old Dancer Around

All the way from England, six-year-old Terra and her nine-year-old sister Eddie are b-girl prodigies. They’ve already become pretty famous after an appearance on “Ellen,” but it’s worth taking a look at just how skilled young Terra really is.

TAGS: hip-hop Kids

George Takai’s New Web Series Offers The Best Tech Tips

George Takai's New Web Series Offers The Best Tech Tips

It’s a pretty well established fact that George Takai knows his way around social media. He makes viral videos and has a strong Facebook following. So it only makes sense that the AARP has tapped the 76-year-old former “Star Trek” actor for a new series called “Takai’s Take,” which offers tips on how to use today’s most popular tech products. In the first episode that was published this week, Takai explains Google Glass. And yes, it’s absolutely awesome. 

Why No One Has Been Charged With Murder in the Death of Islan Nettles

Why No One Has Been Charged With Murder in the Death of Islan Nettles

Police investigating the beating death of Islan Nettles are asking for the public’s help in identifying the men who assaulted her in late August.

Nettles, a 21-year-old transgender woman, was walking with friends in Harlem when she was attacked by a group of men. She died days later at Harlem Hospital.

Police initially identified Paris Wilson, 20, of viciously attacking Nettles while yelling homophobic slurs. But DNA Info reports that the case has grown increasingly complicated:

At first, the case against Wilson appeared open-and-shut, but within a few days another Harlem man, apparently at the urging of Wilson’s friends and relatives, told detectives that he attacked Nettles.

Investigators scrambled to find evidence confirming his account or to discount it.

“He said he threw the punch, but could not provide anything else about what he did or did not do that night,” a law enforcement source said. The source added that the man was extremely intoxicated that evening.

Authorities were prepared to completely discount his “confession,” but then another witness stepped forward and claimed the second man was, in fact, the attacker.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. released a statement in which he vouched for patience. “As law enforcement officials, we want to make it very clear that this type of hatred and violence has no place in our city. (And) our primary objective is, as always, to make sure that justice is served.”

Stunning Portraits of Muxes, Mexico’s ‘Third Gender’

Stunning Portraits of Muxes, Mexico's 'Third Gender'

Mexico City-based photographer Nicola “Ókin” Frioli recently traveled to Zapotec communities around the town of Juchitán to capture the beauty of “muxes,” or transgender women who are celebrated as symbols of good luck. According to the New York Times, the third gender identity refers to pre-colonial “accounts of cross-dressing Aztec priests and Mayan gods who were male and female at the same time.” 

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(h/t Feature Shoot)

*This story has been updated since publication.

Comedian Kristina Wong Wants You to Celebrate White History Month

Comedian Kristina Wong Wants You to Celebrate White History Month

Kristina Wong has been on a tear this month. First she told the world about how “hipster” is the white man’s n-word, and then she made an appearance on W. Kamau Bell’s “Totally Biased.” Over at XO Jane, Wong offered eight tongue-in-cheek reasons for why people of color should be in favor of celebrating White History Month. “When I wrote an essay about white guys with Yellow Fever, I got backlash from white people who protested, “How come there is a Black History Month, but no White History Month? That’s not fair!” Wong wrote. Here’s her answer:

White People Have Done So Much Twerk For People Of Color And Yet, No Appreciation
 
Can’t Miley Cyrus co-opt black culture and use black bodies as props without criticism!?  Why not celebrate the ability of white people to bring a less threatening face to cultural practices originated by people of color? Let’s honor the white people who proliferate our traditions completely out of context, reap all the glory, and without social responsibility!
Besides, can you blame them? They need a White History Month to bring their own traditions back.
Being Accused of Racism Sucks As Much As Being The Target Of It
 
So many white people are hurt when they learn in school (if it is actually taught to them) that only white people can be racist because we live in the aftermath of a white supremacy that they continue to benefit from today. While people of color can harbor biases against other races, ultimately, the real culprit of racial inequity is white supremacy.
Yikes! This is too much of a burden! White guilt sucks! Ask any white person, and they’ll tell you they’d much rather wake up tomorrow in the body of a black man than deal with the shameful guilt of perpetuating racism! Am I right white people? Hello?
Unlearning Racism Can Make A White Person’s Head Hurt
 
All this talk about the lifelong effort to dismantle racism by becoming a white ally or understanding white privilege is HARD! It was so much easier when white people could just be oblivious to the mistakes their forefathers made. Can’t white people end racism WITHOUT having to actually deal with it?
She offers up eight reasons in total, which you can read over at XO Jane.

Census Releases New Poverty Stats

Census Releases New Poverty Stats

The U.S. Census Bureau released the latest set of data on national trends in income levels, poverty, and health insurance today. For the first time in five years, neither median household income nor poverty levels increased.

But health insurance rates did change. The number of uninsured people decreased significantly, but remains highest among Hispanics, followed by black people and Asians. Overall, the decrease was most significant among those under age 19, and those aged 18-25. According to Bureau representatives, this shift is due to an increase in Medicare and Medicaid coverage. 

But while changes in poverty and income rates remained constant, race continues to be a defining factor in wage and poverty disparities. Black and Hispanic communities have the highest levels of poverty, at 27 and 25 percent respectively, followed by Asian and white communities. And although poverty rates among Asians remain at 11 percent, Asians also have the highest median income, which some have pointed out skews perceptions of the existence of poverty in Asian communities. 

Women continue to earn about 23 percent less than men, although that gap has been steadily decreasing over the last several decades. And as with last year, poverty rates are highest for children under 18 at 22 percent. 

On Thursday, the Census Bureau will be releasing information from the American Community Survey, which, combined with the information released today, will give a fuller picture of regional differences, family relationships, and employment. 

That Time Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill Went on Queen Latifah’s Show

That Time Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill Went on Queen Latifah's Show

Queen Latifah’s new talk show debuted Monday on CBS. It’s Latifah’s most recent run at daytime success; her first talk show made its run in 1999. This time things will be different, she says, because the show is her top priority. “The first time around [in 1999], it wasn’t my number-one passion, which then was to become a great actor and producer,” Latifah told Glamour in an interview in which she also spoke about the injustice she felt after George Zimmerman was acquitted of Trayvon Martin’s murder. “Now I’ve accomplished a lot of goals; I’m ready to be stable and look at starting a family.”

No word yet on how Latifah will tackle race on the show, but she’s certainly not shy about talking publicly about racism in America.

Latifah kicked off the new show with John Travolta and Willow Smith. A couple of other fun facts: her DJ is MC Lyte and Lenny Kravitz designed her set, which she’s nicknamed “Big Sexy.” She says that her dream guests are the Obamas (“Their daughters are getting older now, hitting puberty; I’d want to ask what it was like having “the talk,” she told Glamour). But since the Queen is, well, the Queen, it’s worth taking a look back at that first show nearly 15 years ago, and a pretty classic performance by Mary J. Blige and Lauryn Hill.

Web Tool Helps Those Eligible to Apply for Citizenship

Web Tool Helps Those Eligible to Apply for Citizenship

Today is Citizenship Day, a day that marks the adoption of the Constitution and celebrates U.S. citizenship. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, some 8.5 million green card holders are currently eligible for citizenship. Yet many don’t apply. The process can be cumbersome and costly—but a new web tool seeks to make it easier.

The New Americans Campaign has created a database called Zip to Citizenship, which lists nearly 800 organizations that help with citizenship applications in every state. Green card holders simply enter their zip code and are then directed to a page of organizations that help with the process at little to no cost. 

Nigerian Poet Chris Abani, Andrew Dosunmu Involved in New Fela Kuti Film

Nigerian Poet Chris Abani, Andrew Dosunmu Involved in New Fela Kuti Film

Focus Features is developing a film based on the life of Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician Fela Kuti and already, Andrew Dosunmu has been tapped to direct the project. Nigerian writer Chris Abani is also involved in the project, reportedly having written the latest drafts of the screenplay.

Both men are Nigerian natives. Dosunmu’s most recent film was “Mother of George” and his 1999 documentary “Hot Irons” won the award for best film at FESPACO, Africa’s largest film festival.

Abani, meanwhile, is a noted poet and novelist who’s currently based in Southern California. His first collection of poetry, “Kalakuta Republic”, was based on his experiences as a political prisoner in Nigeria.

The new film is based on Michael Beal’s 2000 book “Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon.”

(h/t The Hollywood Reporter)

TAGS: Fela Kuti

Documenting the Mixed-Blood Dust Bowl Experience

Documenting the Mixed-Blood Dust Bowl Experience

Allison Hedge Coke says that when her father, R.L. HedgeCoke, saw Ken Burn’s “The Dust Bowl,” he was saddened that the documentary focused on the white experience. Hedge Coke’s family is mixed, and includes Huron and Metis descendants. During the Great Depression, mixed-blood people were, indeed, caught up in torrential dust storms, forcing their migrations west. But the Okies, as these folks came to be called, are rarely thought of as anything other than white.

Hedge Coke is now setting out to change that. She’s raising money to document and tell the story of mixed-blood Okies through her own father, who’s now 91-years-old. Today’s her last day to raise money for her film, titled “Red Bowl”—she’s about $4,000 shy if her $20,000 goal. 

KOKUMO’s Gorgeous ‘There Will Come A Day’ Will Melt Your Heart

KOKUMO's Gorgeous 'There Will Come A Day' Will Melt Your Heart

The fallout surrounding DJ Mister Cee’s very public grappling with his sexuality has opened up an important conversation about the invisibility of transgender women and the shaming of the men who date them. Over at Black Girl Dangerous, we meet KOKUMO, a transgender singer who was raised on Chicago’s South Side and has a beautiful new song out called “There Will Come A Day” about one woman’s fear of coming out to a new lover.

In an interview with BGD’s Mia McKenzie, KOKUMO says the following: “I propose cis black people put down their bibles and pick up their trans children. That book can’t die of AIDS, assault, or loneliness. But we will. We have.”

Read the entire interview over at Black Girl Dangerous

Charis Books Teams Up with Freedom U to Get Undocumented Students Textbooks

Charis Books Teams Up with Freedom U to Get Undocumented Students Textbooks

After the state of Georgia banned certain immigrant students from attaining higher education in 2010, a group of academics got together to ensure that any undocumented student have access to a college-level classes. According to its mission, Freedom University was founded, in part, because “Separate and unequal access to higher education contravenes this country’s most cherished principles of equity and justice for all.” 

But honoring that principle in a clandestine setting isn’t cheap. Freedom University’s professors volunteer their time—as do the people who provide transportation and other critical support. But textbooks aren’t free. That’s why the school’s teamed up with an Atlanta-based feminist bookstore, named Charis Books. Supporters can now purchase books so that undocumented students can read and learn from titles like Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” and Gloria Anzaldúa’s “Borderlands/La Frontera.” Supporters are asked to pick up books from an online storefront, and include messages for the students in them.

In an email today, Charis Books’ Sara Luce Look wrote that so far, about 10 people have participated in the book program. Freedom University students need about 20 more of each book (that’s around 80 books total) to meet their goal to help make college-level classes available to all. 

Paula Deen Got a 10-Minute Standing Ovation This Weekend

Paula Deen Got a 10-Minute Standing Ovation This Weekend

In her first public appearance since being outed as a discriminatory employer who occasionally used the n-word, Paula Deen got a 10 minute standing ovation at the Metro Cooking and Entertaining show in Houston over the weekend.

Deen told her fans: “”These are tears of joy, y’all. This is my first time out in three months. … The one place I wanted to make my first step out was in Texas. You are forgiving folks with hearts as big as your state. We all experience pain in some way but pain is also a good thing because it makes you grow.”

TAGS: Paula Deen

Pharrell Defends ‘Blurred Lines’ Suit

Pharrell Defends 'Blurred Lines' Suit

The “Blurred Lines” saga continues.

It’s been weeks since Robin Thicke and Pharrell preemptively filed suit against Marvin Gaye’s estate to protect their summer hit “Blurred Lines” from copyright infringement. Many listeners have noted the similarity between Thicke’s song, which features Pharrell, and Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.” Pharrell disagrees.

“I’m a huge fan of Marvin Gaye. He is a genius. He is the patriarch,” Pharrell said recently, according to the Huffington Post

“If you read music, all you have to do is read the sheet music. It’s completely different,” he said on the red carpet during an event for the Calvin Klein Collection during New York Fashion Week.

Is the NFL Blacklisting Kerry Rhodes Because He Might Be Gay?

Is the NFL Blacklisting Kerry Rhodes Because He Might Be Gay?

Free agent safety Kerry Rhodes was pretty much outed during the offseason, a fact that Deadspin blogger Drew Magary thinks is a big reason why he’s still out of a job. It’s a shame, Magary writes, because Rhodes is a really good football player:

This is a league that pays endless lip service to the idea that the best players play, regardless of skin color, politics, religion, whatever. If Rhodes’s sexuality is a nonissue for teams, then what else is wrong with him? What other explanation is there? Did his fucking legs fall off? There’s no indication that Rhodes is no longer interested in playing football. As recently as July, Rhodes said four teams were pursuing him. He has yet to file retirement papers. As a nine-year vet, Rhodes would be entitled to a league minimum of $840,000 under the current CBA: not cheap but not exorbitant. There’s no indication he is sitting around, expecting someone to hand him $30 million in guarantees. This is the NFL. If you’re on your couch and the league calls and offers you a job for the minimum, you go. Ask Brandon Jacobs.

It should be noted that Rhodes has insisted that he’s not gay. But if he remains jobless because of the rumors — along with the NBA’s out and proud Jason Collins, it would seriously question the idea that America’s male professional sports leagues are ready for an openly gay athlete. 

Russell Simmons: ‘I’ve Done More For Blacks in Fashion and Gay Rights’ Than André Leon Talley’

Russell Simmons: 'I've Done More For Blacks in Fashion and Gay Rights' Than André Leon Talley'

You may have heard of André Leon Talley. As a contributing editor at fashion bible “Vogue”, he’s Anna Wintour’s right-hand man who’s been a front-row fixture at fashion shows in New York, London, and Paris for nearly three decades. 

During New York Fashion Week, Talley told The Grio that Russell Simmons had no business sitting in the front row at some of this year’s most highly anticipated fashion shows after his Harriet Tubman sextape fiasco

“I don’t think Russell Simmons should be seated on anybody’s front row this week after having done that disgusting Harriet Tubman sex tape,” Tally said. “He is a man of great achievement. He is a great philanthropist — why would he think it would be an honorable thing to do? He said he thought it was funny. That is not funny, it is outrageously disrespectful to the legacy and history of Harriet Tubman and to the struggle.”

Late last week, Simmons responded in a Twitter rant in which he says that his track record in the fashion world speaks for itself.

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New Miss America Faces Harsh Racism

New Miss America Faces Harsh Racism

What could have been a celebration of a historic moment turned into an opportunity for many people to express racist attitudes. Nina Davuluri became the first ever Miss America of Indian descent, and it sparked a flurry of activity online. Davuluri, who is Miss New York and an aspiring physician, became the subject of fierce racist and xenophobic comments, much of which stemmed from people thinking she is Arab. 

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Davuluri has brushed off the comments, saying she will rise about them, and is proud to have won. 

(h/t BuzzFeed)

HBO’s ‘Girls’ May Be About to Welcome Its First Black Girl Character

HBO's 'Girls' May Be About to Welcome Its First Black Girl Character

Actress Danielle Brooks made waves with her role on the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” Now, according to an interview in EBONY, Brooks says that her next project will be a role on the HBO hit series “Girls.”

The show, created by 20-something writer and actress Lena Dunham, has already taken a ton of criticism for its lack of racial diversity. Donald Glover made an appearance in its second season, but the show has so far been without a black female character.

Brooks says that’s about to change.  EBONY asked what was next on her plate, and the actress responded: “Of course you’re going to get to see a lot of Taystee [on ‘Orange is the New Black”] in season two and I just shot an episode of ‘Girls’ for HBO. I will be the first Black woman to be on ‘Girls,’ so that’s exciting for me. Other than that I just don’t know. I’m hoping Melissa McCarthy will hit a sister up.”

(h/t Shadow and Act)

Latino Novel Banned in Arizona Public School

Latino Novel Banned in Arizona Public School

Arizona public schools are becoming notorious for censoring Latino literature.  This time, it’s Cristina García’s critically acclaimed book “Dreaming in Cuban,” which explores themes of exile, politics and family after the 1959 Cuban Revolution. The book has been banned at a Sierra Vista, Ariz., high school because a parent complained about sexually explicit content in the book. 

Dreaming_in_Cuban_091613.jpegThis book’s banning is the latest in what appears to be a statewide pattern of censorship. In 2010 the Arizona legislature voted to ban any courses that “promote ethnic solidarity, foster racial resentment, or encourage the overthrow of the United States,” which led Tucson public schools to do away with an experimental Mexican-American Studies curriculum. Earlier this year, the Tucson Unified School District approved a list of “culturally relevant” books for the upcoming term, which conspicuously excluded any literature written by Mexican Americans (even though Arizona’s Latino population is overwhelmingly Mexican). 

According to the book’s author, and the American Library Association, this book has never been banned before. 

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