ICYMI: Alex Rivera Talks People of Color and Sci-Fi Futures

ICYMI: Alex Rivera Talks People of Color and Sci-Fi Futures

Alex Rivera—who directed “Sleep Dealer” as well as several immigration-themed music videos—spoke at the Platform Summit in Atlanta in the fall. In this clip he talks about his fascination with science fiction and why imagining the future should always be a reflection of the way our communities look today.  

How Century-Old Segregation Hurts Austin, Texas Today

How Century-Old Segregation Hurts Austin, Texas Today

In 1880, African-Americans were dispersed throughout the city of Austin, Tex. By 1940, however, African-Americans had been shunted to one section of the city. Many folks know federal housing policy and creative practices such as redlining are to blame. But less known is: How does residential segregation implemented and baked in a century ago affect white, black and Latino residents today? Get the answers in a three-part multimedia series (including fantastic maps and videos) from the Austin-American Statesman called, “Inheriting Inequality.” Check out the two-minute video above and the full project here

Mayor Wants ‘Outright’ Ban on Police Using Mug Shots for Target Practice

Mayor Wants 'Outright' Ban on Police Using Mug Shots for Target Practice

North Miami Beach Mayor George Vallejo criticized his city police department for using mug shots of black men in its sniper team target practice exercises Monday, the Miami Herald reported. Vallejo also took to Twitter over the weekend to say that he plans to call for city legislation to ban the practice “outright.”

After Florida Army National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant found a sheet of shot-up mug shots which included the face of her brother in December, she found out that the police department used photos of men who’d been arrested over a decade ago in its sniper training program. The training program has since been suspended, and the city’s police chief J. Scott Dennis has ordered an investigation into the practice, the Miami Herald reported.

The practice says nothing about how police interact with the community off the shooting range, North Miami Beach Maj. Kathy Katerman told the Miami Herald. “We have other targets, too,” Katerman told the Miami Herald. “We don’t just shoot at black males.”

The target practice sheets were discovered amidst widespread outrage and national protests over the 2014 police killings of black men, including Michael Brown and Eric Garner. 

New York’s Governor Wants to Raise Minimum Wage to $10.50

New York's Governor Wants to Raise Minimum Wage to $10.50

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced this Sunday that he will propose legislation seeking to increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.50-an-hour, the highest among U.S. states. The state minimum is currently $8.75. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan falls in line with other states and municipalities—at the behest of voters—moving ahead with increases in the face of inaction at the federal level. The debate continues however over whether anything less than $15, the new minimums first in Seattle and more recently San Francisco, is enough.

“Governor Cuomo’s proposal is also a missed opportunity to raise the wage to what New Yorkers really need,” Karen Scharff, director of Citizen Action of New York told Bloomberg News. “New York should be a national leader by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

Notably, Cuomo’s plan won’t give municipalities like New York City the power to determine their own increases—but it does propose to increase the city’s minimum to $11.50-an-hour.

(h/t Bloomberg)

Protestors Rally Nationwide to Reclaim MLK’s Legacy

Protestors Rally Nationwide to Reclaim MLK's Legacy

In cities across the nation, protestors took the streets with a call to reclaim Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy this holiday weekend. The actions were part of a coordinated effort, dubbed #ReclaimMLK on social media, that sought to build off of them momentum of last year’s rallies against police brutality.

St. Louis:

Bay Area:



New York City:

Washington, D.C.:


ISIS Hostages, Obama Prepares for State of the Union, RIP A$AP Yams

ISIS Hostages, Obama Prepares for State of the Union, RIP A$AP Yams

Here’s some of what I’m reading up on this morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Video: Black Lives Matter Delegation Visits Palestine

Video: Black Lives Matter Delegation Visits Palestine

A delegation of Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter, and Ferguson leaders has returned from a 10-day trip to Palestine, where they sought to forge connections with Palestinian activists.

“The goals were primarily to allow for the group members to experience and see firsthand the occupation, ethnic cleansing and brutality Israel has levied against Palestinians, but also to build real relationships with those on the ground leading the fight for liberation,” Dream Defenders’ legal and policy director Ahmad Abuznaid told Ebony. “In the spirit of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and many others, we thought the connections between the African American leadership of the movement in the US and those on the ground in Palestine needed to be reestablished and fortified.”

While on their trip, delegates met with black Palestinians, refugees, Palestinian activists, and those who’d been removed from their homes in East Jerusalem. The Institute for Middle East Understanding assisted in developing the delegation’s itinerary. During a stop in Nazareth, the delegation staged a solidarity demonstration.

Professor Marc Lamont Hill

We came here to Palestine to stand in love and revolutionary struggle with our brothers and sisters. We come to a land that has been stolen by greed and destroyed by hate. We come here and we learn laws that have been cosigned by ink but written in the blood of the innocent. And we stand next to people who continue to courageously struggle and resist the occupation. People who continue to dream and fight for freedom. From Ferguson to Palestine, the struggle for freedom continues.

For more photos, check out IMEU’s Flickr page.

Racial Mismatch: Will White Seniors Support Today’s Youth of Color?

Racial Mismatch: Will White Seniors Support Today's Youth of Color?

A new article by Stateline’s Teresa Wiltz begins with a provocative wealth and political disparity: “Nearly 80 percent of seniors in the U.S. are white—while nearly half of people younger than 18 are black, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern or multiracial.” Older and younger citizens obviously have different political interests—one prefers jobs training, the other, better roads. But add a racial mismatch and those generational differences widen, with critical implications for present state spending and the nation’s future. Take school funding, a priority for youth of color (and their parents). Wiltz writes:

“Since the late 1990s, researchers have found that when faced with a young population that looks markedly different from their own, Americans are more likely to vote “no” on local tax referendums to finance public school education and are more likely to support spending cuts. This is particularly true when the older population is predominantly white and the school-age population is not, according to a 2012 working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research

And according to sociology professor Manuel Pastor “states with the largest gaps also spend less on mass transit and are more likely to pass restrictive immigration laws.” (The racial generation gap is widest in the Sunbelt states: Arizona, New Mexico, California and Nevada.)

If relatively wealthier white generations fail to prepare and invest in today’s growing proportion of youth of color, experts predict devastating longterm consequences for the nation. Read more in Stateline.

Livestream: Protestors Hang Huge ‘Black Power Matters’ Banner in Oakland

Bay Area protestors have hung a giant banner with the words “Black Power Matters” on the Oakland federal building this morning. The action is part of a weekend of protests scheduled throughout the Bay Area this holiday weekend that aim “Reclaim King’s Legacy.” Protestors have also stopped some BART service in downtown San Francisco as part of the actions. This weekend’s events culminate in a Jobs and Economy March for the People on Monday, Jan. 19, beginning at 11 a.m. PST at Oscar Grant Plaza (Fruitvale BART), according to a press release. Here’s the scene from The Town:

Here’s a livestream of the events in downtown Oakland this morning:
Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Oklahoma Executes Warner, Target Leaving Canada, Astronauts Head to Space for a Year

Oklahoma Executes Warner, Target Leaving Canada, Astronauts Head to Space for a Year

Here are some of the stories I’m reading up on this morning: 

  • Authorities in Belgium foil a plot to kill cops en masse. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Watch Live: Isabel Wilkerson, Patricia Williams Talk Race in America

Watch Live: Isabel Wilkerson, Patricia Williams Talk Race in America

To celebrate The Nation’s 150th anniversary, the liberal publication is bringing together a bunch of brilliant minds to talk about race in America at the Schomberg Center for Black Culture in New York City. The center’s director Khalil Muhammad will moderate a discussion featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson, “Nation” columnist and Columbia law professor Patricia J. Williams, “Nation” editorial board member and DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University Eric Foner, “Nation” contributing writer and blogger Mychal Denzel Smith and award-winning author and essayist Darryl Pinckney.

The discussion begins at 6pm eastern, and you can tune in below. 

Despite Using MLK for Advertisement, Apple Doesn’t Observe MLK Day

Despite Using MLK for Advertisement, Apple Doesn't Observe MLK Day

Google does it. So does Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo. 

But Apple refuses to observe Martin Luther King Day. That means corporate employees for the company that uses MLK in its own advertising, and whose CEO, Tim Cook, touts his commitment to diversity and has a photo of MLK in his office, have to work on the holiday that celebrates him. Writing for ValleyWag (which, as part of Gawker doesn’t observe MLK Day, either—but also doesn’t run ads with MLK in them), Dan Lyons wonders why:

I believe Tim Cook is sincerely committed to diversity. Apple’s top management team isn’t exactly the most diverse group of people you’ve ever seen, but it is better now, under Cook, than it was under Steve Jobs.

In the Jobs era, the Apple management team had zero people of color. Now there are two. That is Cook’s doing.

So why not observe MLK Day? After all the news that came out last year about the dismal diversity statistics in the Valley, not observing the holiday looks pretty tone-deaf. And it is not often that Apple is accused of being tone deaf. If there is one thing Apple has always been good at, it’s marketing and PR and image management.

To be fair: Apple also does not give employees paid holidays on Presidents’ Day or Columbus Day []

Cook did give corporate workers extra days off around Thanksgiving in 2014, though. These holidays apply to corporate employees—not Apple Store employees. 

Apple’s not alone. Only 37 percent of employers will give their workers a paid day off this coming Monday, which became a federal holiday 15 years after a bill to do so was first introduced in 1968. South Carolina didn’t recognize the holiday until 2000. Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, meanwhile, observe the day but also celebrate Confederate General and slaveowner Robert E. Lee’s birthday. 

Oh, and for full disclosure: Colorlines is published by Race Forward—which most certainly observes and gives employees the day off on Martin Luther King Day.  

In Oakland, School Program Focuses on Black Boys’ Success

In Oakland, School Program Focuses on Black Boys' Success

In 17 Oakland public schools, a district-run program dedicated solely to the nurturing and development of black boys is seeing results four years into its operation. It’s called the Manhood Development Program, and black boys enrolled in its classes and mentoring initiatives have improved their grades and reading capacity, according to a new report (PDF) released today by the district’s Office of African American Male Achievement.

But that’s not all. The program, which was conceived as an initiative to decrease school suspensions and increase graduation rates for black boys in 2010, is dedicated to identity development and emotional nurturing of youth.

Half the students enrolled in the MDP report that by the ninth grade, they’ve seen someone get shot, according to the report, called “The Black Sonrise.” Meanwhile, only 28 percent of California’s black boys scored “proficient” or higher on a state English exam. While black boys are just 17 percent of Oakland’s public school enrollment, they’re 75 percent of students who get arrested while at school. The dynamics are not unrelated, the district determined.

In order to address what the Office of African American Male Achievement calls the “epidemic failure” of black boys, the MDP put together classes which are currently offered in 17 district schools to 450 students. The classes, which are held every five days a week during the school day, bring together a mix of “high-achieving,” “average,” and “under-achieving” students for a program “predicated on evidence-based community-defined best practices and insights.” The classes allow black boys learn from their peers and black men to support each other in an academic environment that’s all too often hostile to them and offer curriculum by and about other African-Americans.

“They’ve seen victimization everywhere they look — at the hands of police or sometimes at the hands of schools,” Vajra Watson, director of research and policy for equity at UC Davis and author of the report, told the UC Davis News Service. “And [they’ve] changed that into empowerment to know where they come from, who they are and importantly where they’re going.”

Read the report in full (PDF).

Black Lives Matter Shuts Down I-93, Oscar Nominations, Jobless Claims Rise

Black Lives Matter Shuts Down I-93, Oscar Nominations, Jobless Claims Rise

Here are some of the stories I’m reading up on this morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Rikers Island To End Solitary Confinement of Older Teens

Rikers Island To End Solitary Confinement of Older Teens

Rikers Island jail will extend its recently announced ban on solitary confinement to older adolescents, aged 18-21. Only 16- and 17-year-olds had previously been covered under an earlier announcement and the extension is being hailed “an innovation.” According to Christine Herrman, director of the Segregation Reduction Project at the Vera Institute, even the most innovative jails punish inmates over age 18 with solitary confinement. Of nearly 500 inmates, ages 19-21 in the facility, 103 are currently in solitary. Not everyone is pleased, however.

Corrections officers’ union president Norm Seabrook vowed to sue for every guard assaulted under the new policy.

A federal investigation into Rikers found what it described as, “a deep-seated culture of violence.” In 2014, according to data obtained by the Associated Press, guards set a record for use of force—many times against teens. 

Read more in The New York Times.



Black Churches Announce Scholarships for Students at Normandy High School

Black Churches Announce Scholarships for Students at Normandy High School

Seniors at Normandy High School got a surprise announcement Monday when black church leaders gathered in the school gym to announce that 11 students would receive a full ride to colleges operated by the churches, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Michael Brown graduated from Normandy High School days before he was shot and killed this past August by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer. His killing reignited national conversations about race and the policing of black people in the U.S. Brown’s death also shined a light on the larger educational inequities faced by Brown and his classmates. Normandy High School has for years struggled with accreditation issues and posted alarmingly high school discipline rates.

The scholarships, which will include full tuition, were offered by colleges run by African-American Methodist churches: African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion; and Christian Methodist Episcopal. The scholarship program “means a lot,” Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

How to Tell If Your Memoir’s Being Whitewashed for Network TV

How to Tell If Your Memoir's Being Whitewashed for Network TV

Remember back in November when Eddie Huang took to Twitter to sound off about voiceover lines he was being fed for “Fresh Off the Boat,” the upcoming sitcom loosely based on his eponymous memior? Now, the celebrity chef has written a no-holds-barred essay for New York magazine about whitewashing, images of Asians in media, the TV business and his clashes with writers of the ABC show set to premiere on February 10. 

Huang writes about how he fought the sanitized palate of producers and studio heads for a truer depiction of his childhood growing up the son of Taiwanese immigrants in suburban Orlando. What he gets isn’t exactly what he wanted, but it’s something. Huang writes:

This show isn’t about me, nor is it about Asian America. The network won’t take that gamble right now. You can’t flash an ad during THE GAME with some chubby Chinese kid running across the screen talking shit about spaceships and Uncle Chans in 2014 because America has no reference. The only way they could even mention some of the stories in the book was by building a Trojan horse and feeding the pathogenic stereotypes that still define us to a lot of American cyclope. Randall was neutered, Constance was exoticized, and Young Eddie was urbanized so that the viewers got their mise-en-place. People watching these channels have never seen us, and the network’s approach to pacifying them is to say we’re all the same. Sell them pasteurized network television with East Asian faces until they wake up intolerant of their own lactose, and hit ‘em with the soy. Baking soya, I got baking soya!

Our parents worked in restaurants, laundromats, and one-hour photo shops thinking it was impossible to have a voice in this country, so they never said a word. We are culturally destitute in America, and this is our ground zero. Network television never offered the epic tale highlighting Asian America’s coming of age; they offered to put orange chicken on TV for 22 minutes a week instead of Salisbury steak … and I’ll eat it; I’ll even thank them, because if you’re high enough, orange chicken ain’t so bad.

Read the rest at Vulture.

Charlie Hebdo Sells Out, Rikers Guards Set Record for Force

Charlie Hebdo Sells Out, Rikers Guards Set Record for Force

Some of this morning’s headlines:

Al Qaedaclaims responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

New edition of Charlie Hebdo sells out within hours of Al Qaeda’s announcement.

Rikers Island guards set record for use-of-force reports in 2014.

Astronauts evacuated from U.S. section of space station.

Ohio bartender accused of threatening to kill John Boehner.

Kurt Cobain’s suicide note is now on a T-shirt.

A timeline of the drama between MLK’s feuding children

TAGS: Morning Rush

Tips for ‘Moderate Muslims’ Who Want to Make Mainstream America Feel Safe

Tips for 'Moderate Muslims' Who Want to Make Mainstream America Feel Safe

Over at Salon, Al Jazeera America’s Wajahat Ali put together a tongue-and-cheek checklist for what he calls “moderate Muslims” who want to reassure the world (read: non-Muslims) that they aren’t terrorists. Some tips:

1. Use excessive, inflammatory language in sensitive, volatile situations. This is your first step in becoming a Moderate.

2. Generalize! Generalize! Generalize!

3. Callously exploit a tragedy to advance divisive political agendas.

4. When asked for no reason if you support ISIS, say, “No.”

5. Taylor Swift — Learn her. Love her. Embrace her. When confronted with bigotry and fear-mongering, simply recite “Haters gonna’ hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Shake it off! Shake it off!”

6. Invite representatives of minority communities to have a civil conversation, but then cut them off when they begin to speak.

7. Don’t wear keffiyahs. (Unless you are Rachael Ray or white hipsters.)

8. Don’t wear long beards. (Unless you are a cast member of “Duck Dynasty” or, again, white hipsters.)

9. Don’t eat halal food. (Unless you live in Manhattan.)

10. Don’t have an ethnic accent — America will be unable to understand or empathize with you. (Unless you are Arianna Huffington or Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

Read more at Salon.

TAGS: Muslim

Video: Debunking the Myth of Race in 3 Minutes

Video: Debunking the Myth of Race in 3 Minutes Play

Vox’s Jenée Desmond Harris explains why race isn’t actually a real thing.  

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