Donald Glover’s got a new project out, and it’s neither an album nor a TV show. Instead, it’s a film project called “Look Around” that plays on continuous live loop and features appearances from Flying Lotus, Trinidad James, and Chance the Rapper. Glover hasn’t said much in the way of introducing the project, except “the new site isn’t meant for mobile devices. i want you to be home to explore it.”
Robin Thicke, along with producer Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I., have filed suit against deceased singer’s Marvin Gaye’s family in an effort to protect their summer hit song, “Blurred Lines,” which many have said bares too close of a resemblance to Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”
In filing the suit, the trio said that while they have “the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies,” they must “reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists.”
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news late Thursday night, and here’s some of the blow-by-blow of the copyright battle:
The suit claims the Gaye family is alleging that “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” “feel” or “sound” the same, and that the “Gaye defendants are claiming ownership of an entire genre, as opposed to a specific work.”
As for Funkadelic, there’s said to be claimed similarity between Thicke’s hit and Funakedlic’s “Sexy Ways.”
“But there are no similarities between plaintiffs’ composition and those the claimants allege they own, other than commonplace musical elements,” states the lawsuit. “Plaintiffs created a hit and did it without copying anyone else’s composition.
“Blurred Lines” is currently in its tenth week atop the Billboard Hot 100. For comparison’s sake, listen to both songs:
Remember when Attorney General Eric Holder said that we can’t just “incarcerate out way to becoming a safer nation”? Well, he’s got some interesting backup.
Before Holder made his formal announcement, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) board approved mock legislation that allows judges discretion for otherwise mandatory minimum sentences. Now, correctional officers want minimum sentencing reform, too.
The American Correctional Association—which, according to its website, “is the oldest and largest international correctional association in the world”—passed a motion supporting mandatory minimum sentencing reform. The resolution reads, in part:
“[T]he use of statutory “safety valves” helps to reduce both prison and jail crowding and corrections costs, in turn making prisons safer and more rehabilitative, preserving limited resources for the most violent and dangerous offenders, and ensuring continued funding of other important law enforcement and crime reduction programs.”
The resolution doesn’t point out, however, how “violent and dangerous offenders” are defined—and there’s no indication that any conservative groups are moving toward abolishing prisons any time soon.
The youth organizers of the Dream Defenders civil rights collective stood their ground and slept on the grounds of the Florida state capitol building for a full month in response to the “not guilty” verdict for George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin. That chapter is now drawing to a close, they announced today. They are now embarking on new actions across the state to draw attention to unjust policies that the youth leaders say made Trayvon’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal possible: Stand Your Ground laws, school-to-prison pipeline policies and racial profiling. The Defenders begin their new journey today by marching to Gov. Rick Scott’s home to deliver an “eviction notice.”
Former NAACP chairman Julian Bond was present with the Dream Defenders as they made the announcement and he said the youth activists were “ending a protest because [they] are starting a movement.”
“We came here to the capitol because we wanted what we all deserve—a seat at the table,” said Dream Defenders director Phillip Agnew at a press conference this afternoon, “and we said we were willing to stay here until our work was done.”
Their work will continue, said Agnew, but instead of staging sit-ins, teach-ins and making demands from the capitol building, the youth activists will be taking the fight back to their communities. In the meanwhile, the Dream Defenders can list a number of accomplishments in their 31-day stand-in that will probably send a bunch of Tea Party activists back to the drawing board.
- The Defenders called for state legislative hearings on Stand Your Ground laws, and were originally denied their request, but then Speaker of the House Will Weatherford called for a subcommittee to host hearings in the fall. “We look forward to having that debate because we know that Stand Your Ground don’t have a ground to stand on,” said Agnew.
- They’ve secured meetings with the heads of the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to discuss “zero tolerance” school policies.
- They authored a bill “Trayvon’s Law,” which the youth organizers will help state senators workshop through briefings and conferences.
- In addition to having that bill filed, they triggered a legislative poll, a head count to see where legislators stand today on the issue so the organizers know who to target.
- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has agreed to discuss racial profiling policies, where Defenders will have the opportunity to bring experts in the field to testify before the department.
Beyond that, the Defenders have initiated a massive voter registration drive, drawn celebrities from Talib Kweli to Jesse Jackson to the movement, and earned the attention of mainstream media outlets from The New York Times to MSNBC.
“This is the last time I’m going to sleep on any floor,” said Agnew. “Now the real work begins. Our work has grown too big for these halls.”
Anthony Stokes has a chance at a heart transplant now that doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will put him on the wait list, reversing last week’s decision to keep him off the list because of “non-compliance.” The hospital has yet to comment on why Stokes was found “non-compliant,” saying only that they “follow very specific criteria in determining eligibility” for transplants and that they would be working “closely with the family.”
Stokes’s mother Melencia Hamilton told CNN the doctors said their decision was partly based on her son’s poor grades in school and juvenile criminal record. He also has tattoos and wears an ankle bracelet, allegedly from an incident where he was defending his younger brother. According to a spokesman for the family, Stokes will be put at the top of the list because his condition is so severe.
Supporters came together this week to bring attention to Stoke’s case, creating an online petition to pressure the hospital. His family is thrilled by the hospital’s decision, but it could be 3—4 months before Stokes receives the transplant that could save his life.
There’s an “exciting new listing!” on Air BnB for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s former studio. But you probably won’t be able to stay there — because it costs $650 a night.
Like most things in SoHo since Basquiat’s untimely death in 1988, the artist’s loft has been significantly renovated. Just check out the photos.
For some context, here’s video of Basquiat in his loft back in the ’80s (interview starts around 1:04).
1. Harriet Tubman’s birth name was Aramita (“Minty”) Ross. She was born enslaved in Maryland sometime in 1820.
2. Tubman escaped slavery with her brother, Ben and Harry, on September 17, 1849.
3. Tubman is most famous for her role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, in which she led escaped slaves to freedom. Estimates vary, but Tubman is said to have helped anywhere from dozens to hundreds of slaves reach freedom. She was once quoted as saying, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
4. During the Civil War, Tubman worked for the Union army as a cook, nurse, and spy. She was also the first woman to lead an expedition in the war and guided the Combahee River Raid, which freed 700 slaves. Decades later, the raid would inspire a groundbreaking group of black feminists called the Combahee River Collective.
6. This year marks that 100th anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s death. Maryland has a series of commemorative events.
For a guy who launched his career with the stoner movie “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle,” actor Kal Penn’s recent tweets in support of stop-and-frisk come as a surprise. Yesterday, he applauded NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent op-ed, saying “Great op/ed by @MikeBloomberg on the merits of “stop-question-frisk.”
In a series of tweets, which have since been deleted but were saved by The Aerogram, he responds to criticism from fans, saying he supports racially profiling black and Latino people because they commit most crimes.
It seems he’s had a change of heart around racial profiling. In a 2011 interview with GQ he said he’d experienced racial profiling at the airport, and thought the practice was counterproductive. And, ironically, Penn’s recent film “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo” centers around two college friends who are racially profiled as terrorists.
(h/t The Aerogram)
Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” hits theaters this weekend, and there’s at least one person who’s decidedly not excited to see it: actor Harry Lennox. In a wide-ranging conversation with Sergio over at Shadow and Act earlier this summer, Lennox doesn’t hold back on his criticisms of the film, specifically, and black imagery in the media, more generally:
Which leads me to asking do you constantly have to think about the image you are portraying as black man every time to do a role?
“I think about it every day and any time that a role is offered, and believe me lots of crummy roles are offered. But at this point people know better than to mess with me with a lot of these things. For example Lee Daniels sent me the script for that film he’s making now, The Butler, about the black butler at the White House. I read five pages of this thing and could not go any further. I tried to read more of it, and I’m not a soft spoken guy, but it was such an appalling mis-direction of history in terms of taking an actual guy who worked at the White House. But then he “niggerfies” it. He “niggers” it up and he gives people these, stupid, luddite, antediluvian ideas about black people and their roles in the historical span in the White House and it becomes… well… historical porn. I refused.”
UPDATE 10:44 am EST: We’ve removed the video. It’s truly disgusting.
Yes, you read that headline correctly. Someone in Russell Simmons’s camp thought it would be a good idea to release a Harriet Tubman sex tape parody. Predictably, not many people thought it was funny. Shocked and outraged viewers, including the NAACP, thought the video was a desecration of the legendary abolitionist’s legacy, according to the Kansas City Star.
On Thursday, Simmons issued a lengthy apology on his GlobalGrind.com, writing:
In the whole history of Def Comedy Jam, I’ve never taken down a controversial comedian,” he wrote. “When my buddies from the NAACP called and asked me to take down the Harriet Tubman video from the All Def Digital YouTube channel and apologize, I agreed.
“I’m a very liberal person with thick skin and it’s hard to offend me. My first impression of the Harriet Tubman piece was that it was about what one of actors said in the video, that 162 years later, there’s still tremendous injustice. And Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master, I thought it was politically correct. Silly me.”
Ishmael Butler was well known to hip-hop fans before his latest hip-hop collective “Shabazz Palaces” began to make waves beyond their Seattle headquarters. Butler was formerly part of Digable Planets and Cherrywine, and along with making music, he’s also got a new gig: A&R rep for Seattle-based label Sub Pop.
What’s he looking for in the groups he’s scouting? “Courageous artists, independent-thinking artists,” Butler told Billboard. “Artists that aren’t relying on trends or superficial things to get noticed, artists that are more musically inclined rather than image inclined, artists that are hard workers and … cool.”
The Brookings Institute released a report today looking at the last year of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a band aid approach to addressing immigration reform for the estimated 1.6 million undocumented immigrant youth living in the U.S. DACA is by no means a permanent solution, but it does offer temporary reprieve from deportation and work authorization.
Nearly half of the estimated 936,000 eligible immigrants have applied and received DACA, and with immigration unlikely to pass this year it’s a significant option for many DREAMers. While the report is just a snapshot that doesn’t go into the program’s successes or failures, it does provide some insight into DREAMer demographics. A few things we know so far about DACA applicants:
1. More than half of those eligible have applied, but applications have been on the decline.
USCIS has received 557,412 applications between August 2012 and June 2013. Of those, 74.5 percent have been approved, 24.5 percent are still being reviewed, and only 1 percent has been declined.
To qualify for DACA, applicants must meet strict requirements around age, amount of time they’ve lived in the U.S., current school enrollment, and a clean criminal record, in addition to the $465 application fee. The numerous requirements are prohibitive for many immigrants, and according to the Brookings Institute older DREAMers may have a tougher time meeting all the requirements. In particular, proving continuous residence in the U.S. since 2007 involves documentation that may be challenging for older immigrants or those who have moved frequently.
2. The vast majority of applicants are from Latin America, but the accepted applicant pool is a little more diverse.
Although DACA applicants hail from 192 countries, nearly all of them come from 25 predominantly Latin American countries. Mexican immigrants dominate the DACA applicant pool at 74.9 percent, with immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador also showing high numbers.
Despite the high number of Mexican applicants, immigrants with higher-than-average approvals ratings are more varied. Applicants from South Korea, Philippines, Peru, India, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil have higher approval ratings, whereas only 57 percent of Mexican-born applicants have been approved. And some countries have lower-than-average approval ratings, such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, and Venezuela.
3. Applications reflect migration patterns.
Perhaps not surprisingly, California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida have the largest number of DACA applicants. Over the past ten years these states have also had the fastest-growing immigrant populations in the country, and have ranked highest in number of undocumented immigrants. East Coast states have more diverse applicant demographics, with New York being the most widely varied in applicant countries of origin.
4. Most applicants are under 21, and are evenly split male and female.
While one-third of DACA applicants were between 15-18 years old, 54 percent were younger than 21 years old. There are only slight deviations between men and women across age groups and states, with women trending only slightly older overall.
5. They were young when they arrived and have been here for a while.
Nearly three-quarters of applicants have been in the U.S. for more than 10 years, and about one-third were younger than 5-years-old when the arrived. The period from 1994—2001 had the highest influx of immigrants to the U.S. over the past two decades.
The people have spoken in New Jersey — at least the Democrats have — and Newark Mayor Cory Booker is the winner of the special primary election to replace deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg. While criticisms of 44-year-old Booker as a mayor and as a candidate are plentiful, moderation seems the unavoidable tax for African-American candidates looking to win statewide offices in states like New Jersey. If Booker wins the general election, he will be the first African American candidate to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, the sixth African American in the nation’s history elected to the U.S. Senate, and only the fourth popularly elected (two Senators from Mississippi, Hiram Rhodes Revels and Blanche Kelso Bruce, were elected to the U.S. Senate by the state senate).
Also, New Jersey will be the only state with people of color serving as both of its representatives in the U.S. Senate — and the first state in history to do so (other than Hawaii, where people of color are the majority), writes NorthJersey.com political columnist Mike Kelly. The other senator is Robert Menendez, a Cuban-American Democrat.
The fact that Booker has such huge support in New Jersey — his closest opponent Rep. Frank Pallone brought in just over 20 percent of the votes to Booker’s 60-plus percent — is no small feat, even with New Jersey’s strong Democratic lean. The state is still run by a Republican governor, Chris Christie, and a popular one at that. And Mitt Romney won over 40 percent of New Jersey voters last November (though Obama won the largest share of votes for a Democratic candidate in the state since 1964). But the state has never elected an African American to a statewide office. Only 14.7 percent of the population is African American compared to a 73.8 percent white population. Latino Americans make up 18.5 percent of the state.
This means that Booker needed a broad, multi-racial pool of voters to win the special election against two of his white primary opponents, and will need the same to defeat his Republican opponent Steve Lonegan.
He will also need money. While Booker has drawn much controversy for reeling in millions from Facebook and other Silicon Valley investors, having an outsized celebrity profile, and recently skipping NAACP events to raise money with non-New Jersey constituents like Oprah Winfrey, the stakes are certainly high enough in U.S. Senate races for such political maneuvering. Failing to focus on black communities and courting the Hollywood crowd are the same criticisms that were filed against Barack Obama as he became the first black president of the United States. African-American Democratic candidates for statewide offices have either had to opt for political moderation that angers African-American and progressive constituencies, or run from the far right as Republicans, like former U.S. Rep. Allen West in Florida.
Lonegan, the legally blind, climate change-denying, anti-immigrant, Koch Brothers-funded Republican candidate has promised Booker a “street fight.” But all that money raised by Oprah and other Silicon Valley millionaires has already come in handy for Booker, who is already in the general election race, as rapper Q-Tip said while DJing Booker’s party last night, “waaaayyy ahead.”
Booker’s primary win comes on the eve of the sentencing of former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. — son of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson Sr. and once largely popular black congressman with a promising future — who was given two-and-a-half years in prison for misspending campaign funds.
You made it clear when you talked to Willa Paskin earlier this year that you’re not a fan of folks who call Scandal a “guilty pleasure.” Why do some folks still insist on that phrase?
It’s because I write Grey’s Anatomy, because I write things people think are a little fluffier in their mind. Which is weird, because Grey’s Anatomy is pretty dark. It’s the same reason that when people call it a soap opera I get pissed — because it’s not a soap opera. And I don’t think it’s a guilty pleasure. It just sounds like a back-handed compliment. If you think it’s a guilty pleasure, don’t watch it. The Real Housewives of any city is a “guilty pleasure.”
Jenji Kohan, the writer behind this summer’s hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black”, on writing about race and getting the industry to watch:
You’re not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories. But it’s a hard sell to just go in and try to sell those stories initially. The girl next door, the cool blonde, is a very easy access point, and it’s relatable for a lot of audiences and a lot of networks looking for a certain demographic. It’s useful.
It’s a tactic that’s definitely proved successful, first with “Weeds” and now with “Orange is the New Black.”
ABC may have passed on airing ‘Devious Maids’, but the show is turning out to be a hit on Lifetime. The show follows a group of Latina maids and their rich, white employers and has been sharply criticized for its portrayal of domestic workers. Still, Lifetime is calling the show its “fastest-growing drama ever” and has renewed the show for another season. The show got off to a sluggish start but has steadily gained more viewers over the course of July.
“One of the most daring series on television, Devious Maids has quickly become a hit,” says Rob Sharenow, the executive vice president of programming at Lifetime Networks. “We are very proud of the show and are delighted to continue our partnership with Marc Cherry, Eva Longoria, Sabrina Wind, ABC Studios and Televisa USA. I am thrilled we are bringing Devious Maids back for a second season to lead our scripted slate in 2014.”
Everyone’s got something to say about Kendrick Lamar’s verse this week on Big Sean’s “Control.” In it, the 26-year-old rapper pretty much destroys all of his peers and anoints himself the King of Rap. It’s the sort of unfiltered braggadocio that’s been at the essence of hip-hop for years and it’s got everyone from LeBron James to the Washington Post and the LA Times talking. Some of the responses have even been too much for words — cue Lamar’s Compton brethern Dr. Dre. And some have been downright hilarious.
In Lamar’s verse, he calls out Jackson, rapping, “If Phil Jackson come back/still no coachin’ me/I’m uncoachable/ I’m unsociable.” On Twitter, Jackson — who knows a thing or two about coaching stars at the top of their games — offered up some unsolicited advice: “it’s okay to be cocky and sure, but we all need somebody to lean on. Let’s just call it mentoring.”
In light of Monday’s ruling by a federal court judge in New York City that Stop-and-Frisk unlawfully targets people on the basis of race, here’s a video from a local campaign from Communities United For Police Reform that shows the impact of the practice. The message is simple: We all have places to go, and Stop-and-Frisk shouldn’t stop you.
Here’s Kasiem Walters, a high school senior from East Flatbush in Brooklyn.
Anthony Stokes has been given less than six months to live after being denied a heart transplant due to ‘noncompliance.’ Stokes, a 15-year-old Atlanta native, was hospitalized on July 14 when he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. Authorities at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston have given little explanation for deciding to not put Stokes on the organ transplant waitlist, but his parents suspect it is because he’s had poor grades and ‘been in some trouble’ in the past. According to his mother, Melencia Hamilton, the doctors said they ”don’t have any evidence that he would take his medicine or that he would go to his follow-ups.”
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is also advocating for Stokes, saying the doctors’ vague decision isn’t good enough to give up on a young boy’s life. The hospital’s refusal to be more specific about the basis for ‘noncompliance’ resonates with a larger system of denying rights to people with criminal backgrounds, and racially motivated skepticism about young people of color.
(h/t Think Progress)
They said they would “slow walk” to a photo voter ID bill, but there has been no tar in the heels of North Carolina Republican state legislators in their race to make it law. After less than nine months as governor, Republican Pat McCrory signed what’s been called the most restrictive elections bills in the nation into law yesterday. The “Voter Information Verification Act” signed by Gov. McCrory was created and passed by a Republican-dominated state legislature on the premise that voter fraud is riding roughshod all over the elections system. But no evidence of system-upending fraud exists in North Carolina.
Besides asking voters now to carry one of a narrow list of photo ID cards to vote (starting with the 2016 election), the new law also slices a full week off of the early voting period, eliminates same-day voter registration, allows vigilante poll observers of the Vote Truther variety more leeway to harass voters, and makes it more difficult to add satellite polling sites for the elderly and disabled.
Thousands have marched and demonstrated, while hundreds have been arrested during the “Moral Mondays” sit-ins and pray-ins at the state legislative building this year, protesting this and other bills that may have a punishing effect on people of color and low income.
Right after Gov. McRory signed the elections bill into law, civil rights groups announced lawsuits against the state, anticipating that the law might lead to the disenfranchisement of thousands of African Americans, Latino Americans, college students and elderly voters.
One of those lawsuits, filed by the civil rights organizations North Carolina NAACP and Advancement Project, argues that the new law is in violation of Section Two of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits any voting procedure that discriminates against people of color from taking effect. It also claims the law violates voting rights protections for people of color guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit aims at a number of the more punitive voting provisions for minorities in the state, including the elimination of same-day registration and reducing early voting. During the 2012 elections, almost 70 percent of African Americans used early voting.
When Florida lawmakers reduced its early voting period last year, a federal judge found that it discriminated against black voters, who were more likely to vote early than white voters. Florida later apologized and restored the early voting period.
The NAACP’s lawsuit is filed on behalf of 92-year-old Rosanell Eaton, who was one of the first African Americans to vote in North Carolina. She registered in the 1940s amid threats of literacy tests and intimidation from the Ku Klux Klan. Her name on her driver’s license does not match the name on her birth certificate or voter registration card, which may disqualify her from getting the free voter ID card she’ll need to vote under the new law, according to a press release from the Advancement Project.
Mrs. Eaton follows in the footsteps of Viviette Applewhite of Pennsylvania and Desiline Victor of Florida, African-American women who withstood voter suppression last year to stand for the voting rights of all Americans. Mrs. Eaton has served with her state’s NAACP for over 60 years and has survived her house being riddled with bullets and crosses burned on her lawn for her work registering African Americans to vote. This year, she was one of the hundreds arrested with Moral Mondays protestors when speaking out against the new voter ID law. A Facebook page “Stand With Rosa Nell Eaton” has been created in her honor.