Imara Jones Discusses What’s Next for Government in #ShutdownChat2

When the government shutdown began, Colorlines engaged its Twitter community in a chat with Imara Jones about its worries, ideas and expectations for the impact and resolution. As the shutdown ended today, we reprised our discussion with Imara using the hashtag #shutdownchat2. The results were enlightening, as followers weighed in on everything from the impact of race in the shutdown and the racially coded langage used for public assistance to the various ways in which individuals were affected by loss of pay and services.

Here’s the Storify:

TAGS: Reader Forum

Obama Sets Priorities for Remainder of 2013

Obama Sets Priorities for Remainder of 2013

After Congress finally put a badly needed end to the government shutdown, President Obama laid out his immediate priorities moving forward. Speaking from the White House Thursday morning, the president says he wants to tackle the budget, immigration reform, and the farm bill:

“Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now.  And we could get them done by the end of the year if our focus is on what’s good for the American people. And that’s just the big stuff.  There are all kinds of other things that we could be doing that don’t get as much attention.”

It’s a very tall order. The next round of debt and budget negotiations may prove difficult if Republicans dig their heels in once more—which could result in another government shutdown in the next few months. But Obama cautioned against the “process of creating a budget as an ideological exercise.”

The Senate has already passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill—but time will tell whether the House will move forward on it. The farm bill has been stalled for a year. 

Sexy Female Video Game Avatars Can Negatively Affect Women

Sexy Female Video Game Avatars Can Negatively Affect Women

A new study from Stanford University says that hyper-sexualized female avatars, or characters taken on in video games, can have a number of harmful effects on women. Media critics like Anita Sarkeesian, creator of Feminist Frequency, have long decried common female video game tropes—such as the “damsel in distress”—that promote negative representations of women as passive, sexual objects in need of rescue. But this new study further investigates the effect those same representations have when women take on a persona. 

According to the study, women who took on the person of a sexy female avatar in a video game were more likely to objectify themselves  and were more accepting of rape myths in real life. These same effects were increased if the avatar resembled them. Eighty six women aged 18 to 40 were part of the study, and researchers say their findings confirmed what is known as the Proteus Effect, whereby people take on attitudes and behaviors they experience in virtual environments such as video games. There are numerous studies on the effects of videos games in particular on young people, but this one gives new insight into how some games can contribute to rape culture. 

Watch Idris Elba Play Nelson Mandela in New Film

Watch Idris Elba Play Nelson Mandela in New Film

Tambay Obenson over at Shadow and Act recently uploaded a YouTube clip of Idris Elba’s performance as Nelson Mandela in the upcoming biopic “Long Walk to Freedom.” The film opens in the United States on November 29. 

Poll: Majority See Why Washington DC NFL Team’s Name is Offensive

Poll: Majority See Why Washington DC NFL Team's Name is Offensive

The Oneida Indian Nation commissioned a poll to prove what’s increasingly becoming clear: a majority of people can see why the Washington D.C. NFL team’s name is offensive.

According to the poll, 59 percent of adults surveyed in the Washington region think that American Indians would have a right to feel offended if called “redskin.” 

Th poll also found that 55 percent of adults in the region would not support the team any less if the club finally decided to change its name. The NFL and the Oneidas will meet in coming weeks and 77 percent of survey respondents said that team owner Daniel Snyder should attend.

(h/t USA Today)

Prince Is Having a Pajama Dance Party At His House This Weekend

Prince Is Having a Pajama Dance Party At His House This Weekend

Prince continues to show off his excellent sense of humor. In an effort to plug his new single, “Breakfast Can Wait,” the iconic singer is hosting a pajama dance party at his Paisley Park home in Minnesota this weekend.  

The event/concert has been officially dubbed “The Breakfast Experience Pajama Dance Party” and kicks off at 2 am on October 19. The event is open to the public with a $50 donation, though it’s not clear what those proceeds go to. Also, you gotta dress to impress. 



(h/t Consequence of Sound)

TAGS: Prince

Listen to Angel Haze Freestyle Over Drake’s ‘Worst Behavior’

Listen to Angel Haze Freestyle Over Drake's 'Worst Behavior'

Angel Haze is on a mission to kick 30 freestyles over 30 days, and she’s off to a great start. She’s also done great takes on Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” and Jay Z’s “Tom Ford.” It’s a great prelude to her upcoming album, “Dirty Gold,” which is set to be released at some point next year.

(h/t Stereogum)

UCLA Study Finds Link Between TV Diversity and Higher Ratings

UCLA Study Finds Link Between TV Diversity and Higher Ratings

The bottom line tends to drive—or justify—so much of Hollywood decisionmaking. So the latest study from the UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies should be required reading. 

Researchers found that in the 2011 through 2012 season, cable television shows like “The Closer” and “Falling Skies,” with at least a third of their casts who were people of color had the highest ratings. The lowest performing shows, meanwhile, had casts that were more than 90 percent white. And the same held for broadcast television. Television shows whose casts were 40 to 50 percent people of color performed the best in median household ratings. 

“It’s clear that people are watching shows that reflect and relate to their own experiences,” Darnell Hunt, a UCLA professor and author of the study, said in a statement.

But viewing habits aside, Hollywood is embarrasingly out of touch with the demographic reality of the country. People of color are over 36 percent of the U.S. population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. But you wouldn’t know it from TV, where people of color are the leads in just 11 percent of broadcast television shows and 15 percent of cable shows, UCLA researchers found. 

Read the study in full here.

(h/t Take Two)

Obama Says He’ll Be Pushing for Immigration Reform Vote

Obama Says He'll Be Pushing for Immigration Reform Vote

During an exclusive interview with Univision yesterday, President Obama focused on the economy—but he also made some surprising remarks about immigration. Reporter Claudia Botero asked the president about moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform, and Obama answered that he will be pushing the House to vote: 

“Well, keep in mind this is not just a Latino issue. This is an American issue. We know our economy will grow faster if immigration reform passes. We know businesses will do better if immigration reform passes. We know that the deficits will be reduced if immigration reform passes; because people coming out of the shadows, paying more taxes, growing, the growth accelerating, all that brings down the deficit, so this is important to everybody.

And we had a very strong Democratic and Republican vote in the Senate. The only thing right now that’s holding it back is again, Speaker Boehner not willing to call the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives. So we’re going to have to get through this crisis that was unnecessary, that was created because of the obsession of a small faction of the Republican Party on the Affordable Care Act.

Once that’s done, you know, the day after I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform. And if I have to join with other advocates and continue to speak out on that, and keep pushing, I’m going to do so because I think it’s really important for the country. And now is the time to do it.”

It appears the partial government shutdown may finally be coming to a close, which means that Obama may start pushing the House for a vote on immigration in the next day or two.

For more about what the president said, you can read the interview transcript (which largely focuses on the economy) in full in English—or watch bits of the interview, presented mostly in English. 

Affirmative Action Prospects Dim After Schuette

Affirmative Action Prospects Dim After Schuette

The prospects for the pro-affirmative action plaintiffs in Tuesday’s Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Supreme Court case were never terribly promising. And the oral arguments yesterday did little to challenge that notion. 

Schuette concerns the constiutionality of Proposal 2, a 2006 Michigan state ballot initiative which banned affirmative action in public education, hiring and contracting. The law, pro-affirmative action plaintiffs argued, violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause by singling out people of color and those who want diverse college campuses and putting the political process further out of reach for them and them alone. 

The conservative wing of the Supreme Court wasn’t much convinced. Justices Roberts, Alito and Scalia were openly hostile toward the case against Proposal 2. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action attorney’s Shanta Driver asked in her opening argument that the Supreme Court, “bring the 14th Amendment back to its original purpose and meaning, which is to protect minority rights against majority, which did not occur in this case,” before Justice Scalia cut her off.

JUSTICE SCALIA: My goodness, I thought we’ve — we’ve held that the 14th Amendment protects all 
races. I mean, that was the argument in the early years, that it protected only — only the blacks. But I thought we rejected that. You — you say now that we have to proceed as though its purpose is not to protect whites, only to protect minorities?

Highest Minimum Wage Set by Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians

Highest Minimum Wage Set by Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians

Despite the ongoing effects of a federal sequestration, a partial federal government shutdown, and a looming debt default, the Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians is raising its minimum wage. The Jackson Rancheria operates a resort, which includes a casino, hotel and several restaurants about an hour south of Sacramento. It already pays many of its 1,135 workers more than $10 per hour. Workers also already earn pretty excellent benefits, including medical, dental and vision and life insurance, along with on-site childcare, paid holidays, and a generous retirement plan. 

But starting soon, the minimum wage will be bumped up to $10.60 per hour—that’s higher than any local, state or tribal government minimum wage within the United States. The highest minimum wage within the U.S. currently is offered by the City of San Francisco, at $10.55 per hour.

The wage hike will cost the Jackson Rancheria Band of Miwuk Indians an estimated $5 million per year, and comes at a time when the U.S. federal government is having a hard time keeping up with its own bills—and to its obligations to Natives. Tribal Chairman Adam Dalton was quoted in a press release as saying:

“While the federal government struggles with a government shutdown our Tribe has invested its resources cautiously and kept a balanced budget. Now we are able to share the results of those decisions with our hardworking employees.”

The wage increase kicks in in January.

(h/t Native News Network)

NY Police Union Joins Lawsuit Against Stop-and-Frisk Law

NY Police Union Joins Lawsuit Against Stop-and-Frisk Law

On Tuesday, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, New York City’s largest police union, joined exiting Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s lawsuit intended to block the City Council’s  Local Law 71, which would reform the controversial stop-and-frisk policy. The law, which came after a federal judge ruled the police tactic is a violation of rights that led to racial profiling, would go into effect next month, and would make it easier for people to file racial profiling lawsuits against the NYPD.

The police union says the new law would put police officers in danger, and makes vague amendments to existing police policies. But after more than a decade in place, stop-and-frisk has left its mark on a generation of young men of color in particular, and because it appears to be actively used in other cities, policy changes in New York City could have wider-ranging effects. 

Five Authors of Color Among National Book Award Finalists

Five Authors of Color Among National Book Award Finalists

Five authors of color are among this year’s finalists for the National Book Awards. The list includes: Jhumpa Lahiri (“The Lowland”)  and James McBride (“The Good Lord Bird”) for fiction; Adrian Matejka (“The Big Smoke”) for poetry; and  Cynthia Kadohata (“The Thing About Luck”) and Gene Luen Yang (“Boxers & Saints”) in young people’s literature.

Historian Alan Taylor’s book about slavery in Virginia is also up for a non-fiction award. 

The awards will be announced in New York City on November 20. Head over to the National Book Awards’ site to see a full list of the finalists

Dream 30 Activist Granted Release

Dream 30 Activist Granted Release

Another person from the Dream 30 group that crossed the Laredo, Tex., international border last month is being allowed coming home. According to National Immigrant Youth Alliance’s Mohammad Abdollahi, 31-year-old Sandra Jara has been notified that her release from the El Paso Immigrant Detention Center will be finalized as soon as today, and that she will be able to return to her home in Los Angeles. This is the group’s second victory in two days, following the release of 17-year-old Luis Lopez from an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility Monday. Aside from Jara and Lopez, 24 of the Dream 30 group remain in detention.

Jara traveled with the group, some of whom were released from Border Patrol custody almost immediately after crossing, last month. But the Dream 30 group, including Jara, has vowed to stay in detention in solidarity with one another until each of them is granted release. Because of the partial government shutdown, regional and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokespeople are not available or have not responded to requests for comments on the cases.  

When I spoke with Jara shortly before she crossed back into the United States, she explained her long journey to me. Jara first came to the U.S. with her mother as a teenager. As she grew older, Jara realized she wanted to go to school to sharpen her photography skills. She applied for a program in Spain but had to return to Peru order to apply for a travel visa. When that visa was denied, she was essentially stuck in Peru as a self-identified queer person with little protection. Jara began the process to apply to immigrate to Canada, where she thought she might be able to attend school and integrate in society. Since Jara left the U.S. a couple of years ago, she’s not seen her mother, who lives in Los Angeles.

In the middle of her planning process to move to Canada, she heard about the Dream 9, who were all released following a very public border crossing in July. When Jara heard about the opportunity to cross with the Dream 30, she jumped at the chance—selling her few possessions in Peru for a chance to come back to Los Angeles.

Jara was born in Peru, grew up in the United States, tried to get a visa to go to Spain, wound up back in Peru, and was planning to go to Canada. But when I asked her where home was, she simply answered, “Home is where my mother is. And I’ll be seeing her soon.”


Majority of Front-Line Fast-Food Workers Need Public Assistance

Majority of Front-Line Fast-Food Workers Need Public Assistance

This summer, fast-food workers across the country staged walkouts in 50 cities to demand a living wage, and a new study from UC Berkeley shows just how low those wages really are. Using data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau combined with public benefit programs, the study shows that 52 percent of front-line fast-food employees—such as cashiers, cooks, custodians, and greeters—are on some form of public assistance. The incredibly low median $8.94 hourly wage, combined with lack of healthcare benefits, and low hours make front-line fast-food employees particularly reliant on programs like food stamps and Medicaid.

A complimentary study produced by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), says the result of paying fast-food workers low wages is also costing taxpayers money. According to NELP the top 10 fast-food companies in the U.S. cost taxpayers approximately $3.8 billion. The findings from these studies also show that fast-food employees, more than those in any other type of service work, are disproportionately dependent on public assistance to make ends meet.  

Black Artist Photographs White Women Wearing ‘Black’ Hair Styles

Black Artist Photographs White Women Wearing 'Black' Hair Styles

In the not-sure-what-to-think category comes the work of Endia Beal, a black artist who convinced a group of mostly middle-aged white women to get so-called black hairstyles such as fingerwaves and cornrows and then pose for corporate-style portraits.  

I wanted people that had a certain idea of what you’re supposed to look like in the workspace, because it would be a challenge for them to understand what I experienced in that space,” Beal told “Slate” of the baby boomers who posed for her series titled “Can I Touch It?”


Beal produced “Can I Touch It?” during a short-term residency with the Center for Photography at Woodstock. But this isn’t her first racially transgressive piece involving hair. From Slate:

Some of these ideas first came to Beal while she was interning in the IT department at Yale while she was there getting her M.F.A. in photography. Beal is tall and black, and at the time she was sporting a large red afro that stood out among her colleagues, who were mostly shorter white males. One colleague told her about a rumor circulating around the office that many of the men were curious about her hair and wanted to touch it.

Being an artist and not wanting to shy away from her afro—or what Beal called “the elephant in the room”—she asked the men to not only touch her hair but to really pull it. She then recorded them a week later on video talking about what was for many of the men a new experience. 

See more images from “Can I Touch It?” at Slate.

Are ‘Anonymous’ Hackers Turning Their Attention to Rape Culture?

Are 'Anonymous' Hackers Turning Their Attention to Rape Culture?

The hacker collective that exposed a high school rape cover-up in Steubenville, Ohio has set its sights on a similar case in Maryville, Mo. Last year, 14-year-old Daisy Coleman says she was invited over by a football player from her high school who gave her alcohol and raped her, then drove her home and left her on her front porch. Her parents attempted to press charges, but the charges were dropped, after which the entire family was publicly shamed, had their house burned down, and were driven out of town.

On Monday hackers from the group known as “Anonymous” released a video statement detailing elements of the case, demanding an investigation, and threatening local Mayor Jim Fall with action. They also launched a social media campaign via Twitter using the hashtags #Justice4Daisy and #OpMaryville. Earlier this year, hackers who identify with the group were responsible for exposing the rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio by hacking the accused rapists’ social media accounts. 

“Anonymous” member Deric Lostutter told Mother Jones that he felt compelled to expose the Steubenville case because he was, “always raised to stick up for people who are getting bullied.” The group is perhaps better known for targeting Brazilian banks, the Church of Scientology, and PayPal with Operation Payback. But these two recent actions seems to signal a particular interest in directly addressing rape culture in the U.S.

Read an Excerpt from New Yorker Critic Hilton Als’ ‘White Girls’

Read an Excerpt from New Yorker Critic Hilton Als' 'White Girls'

Theater critic Hilton Als is set to release his first book in nearly 15 years. The new project is called “White Girls”and showcases Als’ uncompromising look at race, class, and gender and is due out on November 12. Guernica Magazine has an excerpt in their forthcoming issue, which you can read over at their website.

Robert Glasper Teams Up With Jill Scott, Common, Emeli Sandé

Robert Glasper Teams Up With Jill Scott, Common, Emeli Sandé

The Robert Glasper Experiment is readying for the release of “Black Radio 2” on October 29. Following the Grammy-winning success of the first “Black Radio,” the new album is packed with heavy hitters, including Jill Scott, Common, and UK songstress Emeli Sandé. According to Entertainment Weekly, the new project, which will be released on Blue Note, also features Norah Jones, Snoop Lion, Lupe Fiasco, Brandy, Dwele, Marsha Ambrosius, Anthony Hamilton, Faith Evans and Malcolm-Jamal Warner (yeah, that one).

The deluxe edition of the album features Macy Gray, Jean Grae, Bilal, Jazmine Sullivan, and Eric Roberson. It also includes a cover of the Bill Withers classic “Lovely Day” that includes a spoken intro from Mr. Withers himself.

On Monday, VEVO premiered Glasper’s video for the track featuring Scott. And it’s everything.


Blair Underwood’s ‘Ironside’ Offers Glimpse at Disability on TV

Blair Underwood's 'Ironside' Offers Glimpse at Disability on TV

Blair Underwood is starring in a new drama on NBC called “Ironside,” which follows a parapalegic NYPD detective. Underwood’s casting for the role was controversial all on its own since he does not have a physical disability that requires him to use a wheelchair. But since the show has aired, it’s shed a new light on the way that disability appears on screen and the challenges facing actors who have physical disabilities.

There are only six disabled primetime characters on television, according to a report from GLAAD. Nearly 20 percent of people in America live with some form of physical disability, but fewer than two percent of roles in TV and film feature any characters who are physically disabled. Those characters have most often been portrayed in science fiction films like X-Men, and even then the idea is that someone’s physical disability is a gateway for another extrordinary superpower. According to a new documentary called CinemAbility looks at how the portrayal of disability on screen has changed over time. 

It’s a discussion that’s slowly gaining more traction. Blair Underwood has said in interviews that the role is especially meaningful to him because his mother, Marilyn, is in a wheelchair as a result of her battle with multiple schlerosis. 

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