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Oberlin President Says ‘Significant Progress’ Has Followed Campus Hate Speech

The president of Oberlin college says that the Ohio college is making “significant progress” investigating a series of hate speech crimes on campus during Black History Month. The college, known widely as a place that’s liberal and forward-thinking, canceled classes on Monday in order to hold a series of rallies to help unify students.

The incidents in question included a “whites only” being written above a water fountain and a swastika scrawled across a science center window, according to the college newspaper the Oberlin Review. The paper also reported a series of physical assaults on campus in which the assailant made derogatory remarks about a student’s ethnicity.

More from USA Today:

“All these reports are being investigated thoroughly,” President Marvin Krislov said at an afternoon rally at Finney Chapel, the The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported. “We have made significant progress in the investigation of these instances.”

“We believe these actions represent the work of a very small number of very cowardly people,” he told a packed audience of 1,200 students. “I am shocked that this happened at our college, which I love. It hurts all of us.”

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Did Somebody Say Malware? Bring on the Colorlines Community!

Did Somebody Say Malware? Bring on the Colorlines Community!

Once again, we’ve been reminded just how awesome our community is here at Colorlines. After a few harrowing days of battling a security breach on our site, we’re in suprisingly good spirits around here. Why? Because we couldn’t have fixed the problem without the amazing help of some of our eagle-eyed readers.

Many of you who visited Colorlines over this past weekend were met with scary warnings about malware attached to our site. Yikes! We were scared, too. But know that we have successfully chased away the evil demons of the Web. We submitted the site for review to experts at Google and they found it to be clean and malware free. Yay! But what happened?

Our content management system—or, the thing we use to publish stories—had a big, fat security hole that someone exploited. (We have no reason to believe we were targeted; rather, this is a problem many others have had with the same system.) We were first able to the identify the problem with the help of several readers who chimed in via email and social media to point us in the right direction. We thought we’d fixed it, but by Friday afternoon the problem had grown critical and Google placed us on its list of compromised sites.

Luckily, we were able to fully close the security breach over the weekend. And again, we asked both Google and outside consultants to give the site a once-over, and they confirm we’re in great shape. So we can now get back to the work of offering you daily news and analysis in which race matters. Thanks to all of you who helped out—and really, there were a bunch—and here’s to malware-free future!

TAGS: housekeeping

Female Veterans Are Fastest Growing Segment of Homeless Population

The Defense Department has found that about one in three military women has been sexually assaulted, a rate twice as high as that among civilians. Follow up studies have also found men and women who have faced sexual trauma in the military are now the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, with black females disproportionately affected.

This week Patricia Leigh Brown of The New York Times profiled several women who faced sexual trauma while in the military and are now homeless. The video below accompanied her story published on Wednesday.

An excerpt from Brown’s story is below

While male returnees become homeless largely because of substance abuse and mental illness, experts say that female veterans face those problems and more, including the search for family housing and an even harder time finding well-paying jobs. But a common pathway to homelessness for women, researchers and psychologists said, is military sexual trauma, or M.S.T., from assaults or harassment during their service, which can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. 

[…]

Of 141,000 veterans nationwide who spent at least one night in a shelter in 2011, nearly 10 percent were women, according to the latest figures available from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, up from 7.5 percent in 2009. In part it is a reflection of the changing nature of the American military, where women now constitute 14 percent of active-duty forces and 18 percent of the Army National Guard and the Reserves.

Women who have just completed an intensive therapy program for veterans in Long Beach, Calif., shared their experiences of sexual trauma in the military with the New York Times.

In December 2011 the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that found black female veterans are disproportionately affected by homelessness. [PDF]

According to the report 45% of homeless veterans they identified were black women, 41% white, 7.6% Latinas, and 1.3% were API. The majority of those homeless are veterans who fought in the Persian Gulf Period or after (8/90-present)—including conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Kansas, If You Can’t Beat Them Then Force Them to Take Drug Tests Too

In Kansas, If You Can't Beat Them Then Force Them to Take Drug Tests Too

Democrats in Kansas were unable to kill a Republican bill that would require welfare and unemployment recipients pass a drug test, but they were successful in adding an amendment that would require lawmakers to also face testing.

The bill approved by Kansas Senators on Thursday will require applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to undergo drug screenings before receiving assistance. Democrats approved the bill on the condition that the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and legislators also undergo drug screening tests.

The Kansas City Star explains:

State lawmakers may have to take a test to prove they’re not on drugs.

That’s because senators tentatively agreed Wednesday to add lawmakers to a bill that requires drug tests of any welfare or unemployment recipient who state officials reasonably suspect is using illegal substances.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” said Wichita Democratic Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, who opposed testing the poor and unemployed but wanted to include lawmakers if the idea were to pass.

Lawmakers, however, shot down another proposal that would have required drug tests of businesspeople controlling companies that get economic incentives from the state.

In the past two years at least 25 states have considered drug testing cash assistance applicants.

Earlier this week a federal appeals court struck a blow to a 2011 Florida law requiring drug tests for all applicants to the state’s welfare program.

The ruling, authored by Circuit Judge Rosemary Barkett, added that “there is nothing inherent to the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a ‘concrete danger’ that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use.”

Marco McMillian Had Big Plans for the Small City of Clarksdale, Mississippi

Marco McMillian Had Big Plans for the Small City of Clarksdale, Mississippi

Marco Watson McMillian was on track to make history in Mississippi. An ambitious, young, openly gay black politician, McMillian was running for mayor of Clarksdale, his hometown. It’s a city perhaps best known for the blues, the place where musician Robert Johnson said he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a guitar. Its roughly 20,000 mostly black residents may live in a place well versed in the music of heartbreak, but McMillian’s death has put a new tragedy in the national spotlight.

McMillian was a proud son of Clarksdale. At 34 years old, he was already accomplished. The Mississippi Business Journal listed him as one of its “Top 40 Leaders Under 40,” and in 2004 EBONY listed him as one of the nation’s best young leaders. He graduated magna cum laude from the WEB DuBois Honors College at Jackson State University. He was active in his church and served as the International Executive Director for Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. And he had big plans for Clarksdale.

Here are his political platforms on crime, education, and the economy.

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Man Arrested in Slaying of Black Gay Mississippi Politician Marco McMillian

Man Arrested in Slaying of Black Gay Mississippi Politician Marco McMillian

A 22-year-old man has been arrested in the apparent slaying of Marco McMillian, a promising black Mississippi politician who was openly gay. McMillian, 34, was running for mayor of Clarksdale, Miss., until his body was found along the Mississippi Delta on Wednesday.

Lawrence Reed, of nearby Shelby, was pulled from a wrecked car belonging to McMillian on Thursday. The accident happened about 30 miles from where McMillian’s body was found, according to ABC News. Reed was airlifted to a local hospital and is expected to be jailed for McMillian’s murder once he’s out of the hospital.

News of McMillian’s death has shocked his supporters and those around the country who admired his tenacity to seek office in such a conservative state. From all accounts, McMillian was a dedicated, accomplished young politician who stood a real chance to win elected office in a traditionally red state and worked toward changing the landscape of the state’s politics.

From CBS News:

McMillian, a Democrat, wasn’t running what many would consider a typical campaign for political office in Mississippi, which is known for its conservative politics. Campaign spokesman Jarod Keith said McMillian’s campaign was noteworthy because he may have been the first openly gay man to be a viable candidate for public office in the state.

McMillian, who was black, also forged ties while serving for four years as international executive director of the historically black Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. Photos on McMillian’s website and Facebook page show him with a younger Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat.

In addition to his role at the fraternity from 2007 to 2011, McMillian previously worked to raise funds as executive assistant to the president at Alabama A&M University and as assistant to the vice president at Jackson State University, according to his campaign. He was also CEO of MWM & Associates, described on its website as a consulting firm for nonprofit organizations.

A statement from the fraternity said he secured the first federal contract to raise awareness about the impact of HIV and AIDS on communities of color. It noted that Ebony Magazine had recognized him in 2004 as one of the nation’s “30 up-and-coming African Americans” under age 30.

After news of his death, McMillian’s campaign published this note to fans on its Facebook page:

Words cannot describe our grief at the loss of our dear friend, Marco McMillian. The shocking news of Marco’s death is beyond difficult for us to process. We remember Marco as a bold and passionate public servant, whose faith informed every aspect of his life. Tragically, that life has been cut short. At this time of loss, we ask that you keep the family and loved ones of Marco in your prayers.

GOP Finally Stopped Blocking Violence Against Women Act

The House voted on Thursday to pass the Senate’s bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA.)

The legislation that assists victims of domestic and sexual violence passed on a vote of 286 to 138, with 199 Democrats joining 87 Republicans to reauthorize the 1994 law.

President Obama has pledged to sign VAWA.

“Today Congress put politics aside and voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Eighteen years ago, I envisioned a world where women could live free from violence and abuse. Since VAWA first passed in 1994, we have seen a 64% reduction in domestic violence. I am pleased that this progress will continue, with new tools for cops and prosecutors to hold abusers and rapists accountable, and more support for all victims of these crimes,” President Obama said in a statement issued shortly after the vote.

ABC News/Univision politics reporter Emily Deruy points out House Republicans objected “to the fact that the bill includes a provision that allows Native American authorities to prosecute non-American Indians in tribal courts. It also includes protections for immigrants and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Akiba Solomon, Colorlines.com’s managing editor, said “it’s pitiful that it took the loss of a presidential election and a rethinking of the entire GOP strategy to convince some House Republicans that just because a bill is called the ‘Violence Against Women Act’ that doesn’t give them the right to obstruct measures designed to protect transgender people, gay men and reservation-based Native American women who are sexually assaulted by non-Native American men.”

“I’m still floored that not once, but twice, some House Republicans actually opposed a bill because it helps too many people suffering intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual violence. I’m glad, however that the bill passed and look forward to it becoming more effective,” Solomon went on to say.

Bloomberg Apologizes for Its Name-That-Racial-Stereotype Cover

Bloomberg Apologizes for Its Name-That-Racial-Stereotype Cover

Bloomberg has a message to readers: they’re sorry.

As reported by Dylan Byers over at Politico:

Our cover illustration last week got strong reactions, which we regret,” Josh Tyrangiel, the magazine’s editor, wrote in a statement sent to POLITICO. “Our intention was not to incite or offend. If we had to do it over again we’d do it differently.”

Read the full thing here.

TAGS: Bloomberg

Bloomberg Businessweek’s New Name-That-Racial-Stereotype Cover

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Uh, wow. As the American Prospect’s Jamelle Bouie says, a more racially diverse and equitable newsroom would have never let this cover go out: “It’s not just the black and Latino caricatures—the whole cover plays into the widely-debunked myth that unreliable minority borrowers were responsible for the financial crash. … [T]he truth is that they were disproportionately victimized by unscrupulus lenders. This cover, however, all but implies that minorities are primed to cause another crisis.


Update 1:15PM EST — The artist is Lima-born Andres Guzman, who may or may not be aware of the American legacy of imagery he’s summoning here. In our conversations about this, however, let’s keep the impetus where it belongs: on Bloomberg Businessweek’s creative director Richard Turley, who commissioned and approved the cover for the publication he represents.

Get Ready for Downton Abbey’s First Black Character

Get Ready for Downton Abbey's First Black Character

The British period drama television series “Downtown Abbey” is introducing its first black character as part of a storyline about race relations in the 1920s, according to the UK’s leading tabloid, The Sun.

(Continue reading at your own risk because there may or may not be spoilers below.)

The Sun has more details about the new black character:

The award-winning stately home drama is seeking an actor to play musician Jack Ross.

Casting notes were sent out to actors’ agents earlier this month. They describe Ross as “Male, 25-30. A musician (singer) at an exclusive club in the 20s.

“He’s black and very handsome. A real man (not a boy) with charm and charisma.”

Whoever lands the role should “ideally be able to sing brilliantly”. The notes add: “Overall he should be a very attractive man with a certain wow factor.” Jack Ross will play a key part in the fourth series of the hit TV saga alongside a string of other fresh faces.

The Season 2 finale of “Downton Abbey” earned PBS its highest overnight ratings since 2009’s “Ken Burns National Parks.” The series’ ratings were up 25 percent from its first season, doubling the average PBS viewership.

Academy Adds Lupe Ontiveros to ‘In Memoriam’ Slideshow

Academy Adds Lupe Ontiveros to 'In Memoriam' Slideshow

On Wednesday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences added actress Lupe Ontiveros to the 2012 ‘In Memoriam’ slideshow on the Oscars’ website). The addition came came four days after the Academy left Ontiveros out of the ‘In Memoriam’ reel that aired during the Oscar broadcast.

“Lupe Ontiveros is among the many worthy artists we were unfortunately not able to feature in the In Memoriam segment of this year’s Oscar show. She is, however, included in our In Memoriam gallery on Oscar.com,” read statement from the Academy sent to the LA Times.

Fox News Latino reports the Academy added Ontiveros to the slideshow after the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts sent a letter requesting the actress be included in the online gallery.

Ontiveros had a 35-year career in the film and television industry. Her first television appearances came in 1976 when she played a maid on the series “Charlie’s Angels.”

Her television and film career went on for another 35-years until she passed away on July 26, 2012 at the age of 69.

Ontiveros estimated she played a maid at least 150 times on screen, or 300 if you count stage performances too.

“I’ve given every maid I’ve portrayed soul and heart,” Ontiveros told the New York Times in 2002.

Chinese Farmers Battle for Wages Amid Glamour of Silicon Valley

Chinese Farmers Battle for Wages Amid Glamour of Silicon Valley

When most people think about Silicon Valley, they don’t think about farmers. Agricultural work seems almost like the antithesis of the Googles and Apples of the world. But a new piece published by Hyphen Magazine exposes the hardships faced by Chinese laborers in and around the world’s biggest tech hub.

Li Lovett writes at New America Media, in partnership with Hyphen:

Of the roughly 130 Asian growers documented in this county, the majority are Chinese, and most of the Chinese growers here own land in or on the fringes of urban zones. In areas zoned for agriculture, land can be purchased at $100,000 an acre, according to Aziz Baameur, a University of California farm adviser based in Santa Clara County. However, land in the bedroom communities of Silicon Valley, such as Gilroy and Morgan Hill, could easily fetch between $300,000 and $500,000 per acre. New farmers have few prospects of buying land “unless it’s someone from Silicon Valley who is cottage farming on the weekends,” Baameur says.

Read the full story here.

TAGS: Farmers

Let These Adorable Kids Inspire You to Celebrate Black History Every Month

Let These Adorable Kids Inspire You to Celebrate Black History Every Month

Today is the official end of Black History Month, a time that doesn’t exactly lend itself to easygoing celebrations. There’s a good portion of folks who argue that black history shouldn’t be limited to a month-long celebration, and still others who see it as a unique time to highlight black America’s contributions to this country. Regardless of where you fall along that spectrum, here’s one thing that everyone can agree on: adorable and hilarious kids.

Throughout the month of February, Maryland-based photographer Eunique Jones has been doing a series called “Because Of Them, We Can” that pays tribute to black leaders whose sacrifices paved the way for younger generations to realize their dreams. According to Jones’s website, the intention was pretty straightforward:

As a motivational speaker and a photographer, I recently realized that my lens can also be my microphone. For Black History Month, I wanted to create a campaign that would empower and excite young people about their history and their future in a creative and yet relatable way. I thought about my two sons and how they were both born during President Barack Obama’s election and re-election. How awesome is that?! From there, I began to think about all of the individuals, past and current, who have and/or continue to blaze new trails and pave the way for the future. Because of Them, We Can.

Each day of February, Jones released an new photograph that linked the present to the past. The photos each feature kids-lookalikes to some of the most notable names in black film, activism, and sports.

You can see — and share — the photos on Jones’s website and on Facebook. A quick sampling is after the jump.

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NFL Teams Are Asking if Manti Te’o Is Gay, Homophobia in Football Alive and Well

NFL Teams Are Asking if Manti Te'o Is Gay, Homophobia in Football Alive and Well

Apparently so, because the federal protections that apply to most of the rest of us don’t extend to the guys we root for every fall. Here’s more from Martin Rogers at Yahoo! Sports:

A quirk in the American legal system means that NFL teams are governed by differing laws on the level of intrusive questioning they can impose on potential draft picks such as Manti Te’o.

Te’o’s sexuality has been the subject of much debate following the fallout of the Notre Dame defensive star’s hoax girlfriend saga that thrust him into a storm of media attention and, unfortunately, public ridicule.

One NFL insider, NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, said Monday that several NFL organizations would like to know whether the powerful Hawaiian linebacker is gay, describing the matter as the “elephant in the room.”

…While federal law protects certain characteristics from discrimination, such as race, gender, religion or belief and disability, it “has been slow to catch up on aspects like sexuality,” according to Professor Dylan Malagrino, a sports law expert from Western State University College of Law, in Fullerton, Calif.

In total, 13 of the NFL’s 32 teams are legally allowed to ask Te’o about his sexuality based on what’s legally permissible in each team’s home state.

There was much hubbub around the varying stances NFL players took in the weeks leading up the Super Bowl. In short, the league really wants you to believe that it’s a forward-thinking space, but the culture of sports has long been filled with both overt and covert homophobia. This news about Manti Te’o seems like one more entrenched, systemic reason why we shouldn’t expect homophobia to go away in professional football any time soon, because a players’ presumptive sexuality is still seen as a huge off-field liability.

Lupe Ontiveros’ Family Speaks Out: Oscars Snub Was a ‘Glaring Omission’

Lupe Ontiveros' Family Speaks Out: Oscars Snub Was a 'Glaring Omission'

Lupe Ontiveros’ conspicuous absence from the Oscars’ “In Memoriam” montage this year was but one disappointment in an especially offensive year for the Academy Awards. The Latina actress’ family noticed, too. In a statement issued on behalf of his family, Ontiveros’ youngest son Elias Ontiveros said the show’s producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron made a “poor decision” when they left his mother out of their memorial montage this year.

Ontiveros called the omission a missed opportunity to reach out to Latino audiences, for whom his mother was a beloved star. But more, by failing to recognize Lupe Ontiveros’ lifetime of work in Hollywood, the Academy showed its true colors, which are, well, extremely white. It was exactly the kind of erasure that Ontiveros fought against during her career.

In life, and after her passing, Lupe Ontiveros was a highly regarded actress, a Hollywood mainstay who played by her own estimation at least 150 maids during her decades-long career. She imbued her characters with dignity, and yet chafed against the confines of an entertainment industry with so little imagination about the kinds of characters a Latina actress could portray.

“You’ve got maids and you’ve got maids,” she told NPR in 2009. In auditions she often knew exactly what to expect: “‘You want an accent?’ And they’d say, ‘Yes, we prefer for you to have an accent.’ And the thicker and more waddly it is, the more they like it. This is what I’m against, really, truly.”

“I long to play a judge. I long to play a lesbian woman. I long to play a councilman, someone with some chutzpah,” Ontiveros said. Chutzpah she certainly had. She also took pride in her career. “I’m proud to represent those hands that labor in this country,” she told The New York Times.

The Ontiveros family’s statement is included in full after the jump.

Student Protest Forces School to Talk Stadium Deal With Prison Giant

Student Protest Forces School to Talk Stadium Deal With Prison Giant

It’s been a hectic week for students at Florida Atlantic University. Recently, the school announced that it had sold its football stadium naming rights to GEO Group, the nation’s largest operator of private prisons. The school’s board of trustees approved the deal earlier this month, and it’s estimated that the school will receive $6 million over the next twelve years. It’s reportedly the largest one-time gift that the school’s athletic department has ever received.

That money is of little comfort to students at the school who oppose the move. This week, they’ve staged a number of protests, including a sit-in at University President Jane Saunders’ office.

Here’s more from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Hundreds Released From Immigration Detention to Save Government Money

Hundreds Released From Immigration Detention to Save Government Money

The Obama Administration announced yesterday that it would release hundreds of immigrants from federal detention facilities to save money in anticipation of the coming sequestration. Federal immigration authorities said the government could not afford to lock up so many immigrants.

It’s not clear how many were released but reports have emerged from around the country that detainees were released from lockup in New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, New York, Arizona, Alabama and Georgia.

Authorities were quick to note that none of those released posed a threat. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Gillian Christianson said in a statement that ICE’s “[p]riority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety.”

But immigrant rights groups immediately asked why these detainees were held in the first place. Advocates have long said that the detention system is expensive and unfair, and add that community-based alternatives to detention are far cheaper.


Chuck D. On CNN: ‘Since Reagan And Bush, There’s Been Nothing But Guns And Drugs In The Black Community’

Chuck D. On CNN: 'Since Reagan And Bush, There's Been Nothing But Guns And Drugs In The Black Community'

Hip hop artist Chuck D. was a guest on CNN with Carol Costello earlier today to discuss the impact that the slaying of Trayvon Martin had on the nation one year later.

“The bottom line is this: back when I was growing up, you couldn’t find a gun on anybody,” Chuck D. told Costello. “Since 1980, the beginning of R&B, Reagan and Bush, there’s been nothing but guns and drugs in the black community for the last 30-some-odd years.”

“Race is America’s folly,” Chuck D. went on to say.

Florida’s Welfare Drug Testing Law Struck Down by Federal Appeals Court

Florida's Welfare Drug Testing Law Struck Down by Federal Appeals Court

A federal appeals court today struck a blow to a 2011 Florida law requiring drug tests for all applicants to the state’s welfare program. The unanimous decision from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals also applies to a nearly identical bill signed last year by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. The decision cuts to the heart of a Republican-led efforts to conflate poverty and unemployment with drug abuse and sends a message to other states that the suspicionless testing laws will not stand.

In the years since 2010, conservative state legislators introduced a rash of bills to require applicants to state welfare, unemployment insurance and food stamp programs to submit to drug tests. Advocates of the bills argued that the laws were necessary to protect children from the harms of drug addicted parents and to interrupt a pattern of drug use among poor and unemployed people.

But the appeals court ruled today to uphold a 2011 decision by an Orlando district court to enjoin the Florida law on the grounds that it violates the 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

“The simple fact of seeking public assistance does not deprive a TANF applicant of the same constitutional protection from unreasonable searches that all other citizens enjoy,” the court wrote in its ruling today.

The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of Luis Lebron, a Navy veteran and college student who is raising his children alone while also caring for his aging mother. He applied for welfare assistance from the state of Florida but was barred from help when he refused to take the drug test.

The Florida drug testing law had a short life. But in the few months it was in effect before a court blocked it, nearly 98 percent of welfare applicants passed the test. Today’s Eleventh Circuit decision leaves the injunction in place and sends the Florida law back to the district court to rule on the law.

Georgia, for its part, waited until today’s ruling to determine whether to implement it’s own testing program, which was modeled on Florida’s. The Eleventh Circuit court has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and the decision today sends a clear message that the Georgia law would not survive legal challenge.

“We are grateful to the Court for their ruling today that essentially renders Georgia’s law dead in the water,” said Gerry Weber, an attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights, which planned to challenge the Georgia law if it went into effect.

Despite repeated court decisions finding bills like the ones in Florida and Georgia unconstitutional, other states continue to consider their own versions. At least 8 states have already considered welfare drug testing requirements this year.

Just One More (Authentic) Harlem Shake Video

Just One More (Authentic) Harlem Shake Video

We’re well aware you’ve seen enough Harlem Shake videos but we had to share one more. The folks at Power 105 tapped some young people to show how it really goes down.

TAGS: Harlem Shake
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