Did J. Cole Do More Harm Than Good With His Deliberately Homophobic Lyrics?

Did J. Cole Do More Harm Than Good With His Deliberately Homophobic Lyrics?

J. Cole’s new album release is being overshadowed by Kanye’s new “Yeezus”, but that doesn’t mean that the younger rapper’s latest release is without its own controversy. “Born Sinner” is Cole’s second solo album, and its lead single, “Villuminati”, is causing a big stir because of its provocatively homophobic lyrics. The bars in question:

My verbal AK slay faggots/ And I don’t mean no disrespect whenever I say faggot, okay faggot/ Don’t be so sensitive/ If you want to get fucked in the ass/ That’s between you and whoever else’s dick it is/ Pause, maybe that line was too far/ Just a little joke to show how homophobic you are/ And who can blame ya

In an interview last week with the Huffington Post, Cole explained what he was trying to do:

“There will soon come a day when people in general, and rap artists specifically, are going to have to answer for their past usage of the word ‘faggot,’ much like the Grandfathers who are ashamed that they used the word ‘nigger’ as kids. At a time when public acceptance of gay rights is soaring (rightfully), hip-hop culture and general are still battling with homophobia (not excluding myself). Rather than run from it I chose to attack it playfully. Those lyrics are meant to make everyone uncomfortable for the sake of this very conversation.”

But Buzzfeed’s Saeed Jones isn’t buying it. Jones writes that Cole’s song features “perhaps the most homophobic lyrics I’ve heard from a major artist in the last few years.”

Did J. Cole completely miss the mark? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments. 

‘Motown the Musical’ Had Its Best Week Ever

'Motown the Musical' Had Its Best Week Ever

Data from the Broadway League was released on Monday and showed that the only thing we love more than Motown music is seeing those same records on Broadway. From the Washington Post:

“Motown the Musical” had its best week ever with $1,441,448 and set a new box office record at The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

The hit-studded show, which didn’t win a Tony but got valuable screen time with a great Michael Jackson medley, has grossed over $1 million every week since previews began March 11.

That Time Questlove Went Roller-Skating With Prince on Valentine’s Day

That Time Questlove Went Roller-Skating With Prince on Valentine's Day

If there’s one reason you need to add Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson’s new book, ‘Mo Meta Blues’, to your summer reading list, it’s probably to read about the time that he went roller-skating with Prince. And no, this is not a Dave Chappelle skit. It’s the real thing. The longtime Roots drummer recounted the adventure in an excerpt over at Slate’s culture blog:

Jay-Z’s Android Deal Shows How Race Colors Smartphone Market

Jay-Z's Android Deal Shows How Race Colors Smartphone Market

Love him or loathe him, you can’t knock Jay-Z’s hustle.

The rapper turned mogul has stepped up his business game considerably over the past several years, first by owning (and then selling) his stake in his hometown Brooklyn Nets, then starting his own sports agency, and finally this week announcing a new deal with Android that could permanently alter the mobile music market.

Jay-Z is teaming up with Samsung to release his new album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail”, on July 4. The new release will be free for the first one million Android users who download an app for the album. It’s a unique partnership and the first of its kind. TechHive points out that for Samsung, “it’s a chance to be associated with one of the coolest cats in pop culture and to showcase the company’s ability to compete with iTunes radio.”

But there’s obviously a big upside for Jay-Z, too. Mostly, the new Android deal shows what makes him a really savvy businessman: he knows his market. And that market just so happens to be the millions of young people of color who are adopting smartphones at astonishingly high rates. It’s a market in which Google has long reigned supreme, and the fruits are finally showing.


More than half of Americans — 56 percent — are now smartphone owners. And while Android is on its way to taking over the lion’s share of the U.S. smartphone market, smartphone ownership has long been colored by race. Back in 2010, the Pew Internet & American Life Project did a comprehensive study of exactly who owns which kinds of cell phones. Three years later those numbers may seem a bit dated considering how quickly the industry changes, but the overall takeaways are still the same. Here’s more from Pew’s more recent data from this year:

Android and iPhone owners are equally common within the cell owner population as a whole, although this ratio differs across various demographic groups. Cell phone owners from a wide range of educational and household income groupings have similar levels of Android adoption, but those from the upper end of the income and education spectrum are much more likely than those with lower income and educational levels to say they own an iPhone. Indeed, fully half—49%—of cell owners with a household income of $150,000 or more say their phone is an iPhone. And African-American cell owners are more likely than whites or Latinos to say that their phone is an Android device as opposed to an iPhone.

But while people are adopting smartphones at faster rates than ever, the market for them is, like Jay-Z pointed out, the Wild, Wild West: unregulated and often predatory. Here’s a snippet of reporting I did on this a couple of years ago:

mobile wireless is quickly taking shape as a second Internet, one in which people of color and users with little income are entirely dependent upon cell phone companies for access. That Internet is unregulated. Companies are free to do as they please with customers—they can control what users see, do and say online. And as the country grows more dependent on high speed Internet, the handful of companies who own its mobile version are steadily working to consolidate their power. Whether and how policy makers allow that to happen may determine who gets a voice in our 21st century economy, and who’s left as its prey.

Read more about how big telecom used smartphones to create a new digital divide.

House GOP Finds Everything Wrong With Immigration Law And Tries to Make It Worse

House GOP Finds Everything Wrong With Immigration Law And Tries to Make It Worse

After acting for months like the delinquent little cousin of the Senate, the House Judiciary Committee will finally take up immigration reform tomorrow when it considers a bill introduced on Friday by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC.  But unlike the Senate immigration reform package that would legalize millions of undocumented immigrants while also expanding border and workplace enforcement, the Gowdy bill does only the later, and in the worst way. The SAFE Act, as it’s called, would vastly expand immigration enforcement programs, curtail legal rights of non-citizens and authorize state and local law enforcement to act like immigration agents whenever they want to.  

“The SAFE Act is a callous assault on immigrants and will just lead to more detentions and deportations,” says Silky Shah of Detention Watch Network. “It would allow for the prolonged detention of thousands of immigrants and require expansion of detention.”

On it’s face, the bill looks like the kind of grandstanding for which the House GOP has become well known.  While the SAFE Act won’t become law on it’s own—the Senate would never pass the thing—it’s nonetheless positioned to pull the whole immigration reform process drastically to the right.  That’s because if the bill passes the House it could be among the pieces of legislation that get thrown into a House-Senate conference committee assigned to work out the differences between the two chambers’ immigration reform visions and spit out a shared bill for vote. Any process that involves adding the SAFE Act to the already compromised, enforcement heavy Senate bill, is likely to prodice a deeply punishing bill.

Here’s some of what the SAFE Act does:

  • Hands states and localities the power to pass and enforce their own criminal and civil penalties for immigration violations.  The provision is in direct opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling last year over Arizona’s SB 1070.
  • Authorize all local police to act as immigration agents, essentially nationalizing the 287(g) program, which has been widely criticized for encouraging racial profiling and eroding police-community trust.  
  • Lets local cops detain immigrants in their jails for up to two weeks and then requires ICE to lock up all immigrants that local cops detain.
  • Expands the kinds and categories of crimes that make people mandatorily deportable, without recourse to a judge. This would include people the government “has reason to believe” have ever been a member of a gang, even without a conviction.

In all, the bill is a wish list of far-right immigration enforcement provisions—the very kinds of things that much of the GOP establishment now says the party needs to move away from. The GOP leadership, including House Judiciary Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, have been quick to say that this bill is just one of several that the committee will work on in coming weeks, including a legalization program and a new guest worker bill. The four bills are meant to come together as a sort of piecemeal immigration fix.

If the House fails to pass a single “comprehensive” immigration bill, these laws are likely to get thrown into a House-Senate committee. And here’s the thing: the Senate bill is already brimming with enforcement provisions including nearly $7 billion in new cash for border enforcement and additional funding to prosecute people who cross the border. It won’t be a pretty picture if that framework moves right.

Internet Guru Baratunde Thurston Talks About Life Without the Internet

Internet Guru Baratunde Thurston Talks About Life Without the Internet

Most of us live our lives in public. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, email, or Instagram, the vast majority of us are way too attached to our gadgetry, and sometimes that addiction comes at the expense of healthy, in-person social interaction. But there’s hope. Fans of smart race writing will see a familiar face on the cover of the latest issue of Fast Company: Baratunde Thurston. The comedian and New York Times Best Selling author of “How to Be Black” on how he unplugged from the Internet and regained his sanity. 

Here’s a snippet:

Not surprisingly, there is lots of advice online about how to move your existence offline. Some of it was actually useful. For instance, there are plenty of good recipes for hot toddies, so I grabbed a couple. There are a plethora of posts on digital detox, including one called “How to Take an Email Sabbatical,” by Microsoft researcher danah boyd, who goes so far as to auto-delete all inbound emails and send an auto-reply informing senders “to resend their message when I return.” I couldn’t commit to that. The FOMO (fear of missing out) in me is strong. What if Kerry Washington (the Scandalstar, whom I have somehow never met) wrote me confessing her love and I missed it because of some extremist view on vacation emails? To ensure an inbox-free vacation, my chief of staff would log in every few days to check that I didn’t miss anything urgent such as a family emergency, holiday party invite—or that message from Kerry.

It’s a good read, and maybe a model for those of us who could use summer sabattical from the Interwebs. Read the entire thing here.

Dave Chappelle’s New Comedy Tour Coming to a City Near You

Dave Chappelle's New Comedy Tour Coming to a City Near You

After years of waiting, Dave Chappelle fans will finally be able to see their favorite comedian in action this summer. Gawker’s Neetzan Zimmerman has the details

Funny or Die announced this morning that Chappelle, who has been infamously difficult to track down since he abruptly left his widely acclaimed Comedy Central show in 2005, will headline the website’s first (annual?) Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival.

Kicking off in Austin, Texas, on August 23rd, the tour will go coast-to-coast over the following five weekends.

Tickets go on sale this Friday, June 21 at Live Nation. 


A Brief Look at Dwyane Wade’s Gender-Bending NBA Playoff Fashion

A Brief Look at Dwyane Wade's Gender-Bending NBA Playoff Fashion

Dwyane Wade is one of the NBA’s best players, playing for what is arguably the NBA’s best team, and he probably has the league’s boldest fashion sense.

The Miami Heat superstar hasn’t been shy about his aspirations to be a fashion icon, but he’s definitely stepped it up to the next level this season. Rod McCullom pointed out at just after Game 4 of this year’s NBA Finals that Wade rocked capri’s (again), a pair of Louboutins, and a cute little red purse. Behold after the jump:

3 Random Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ‘Fruitvale Station’ Director Ryan Coogler

3 Random Things You Probably Didn't Know About 'Fruitvale Station' Director Ryan Coogler

Oakland writer Chinaka Hodge recently caught up with Oakland filmmaker Ryan Coogler and good things happened. In a piece for San Francsico Magazine’s Writers on Writers series, Hodge interviewed Coogler about what it’s like to make art about their hometown. Coogler’s highly anticipated directorial debut, “Fruitvale Station”, is set to be released next month. It’s a really good interview, and you should read it and send it to all of your friends.

But what struck me most about the interview were the types of intimate details that you get when hometown folks get together and talk about their work. Things like:

1. Ryan Coogler brings his own PB&J sandwhiches to fancy places.

So, it’s 1:01 p.m. on a Monday. We sit in the cinematic lap of luxury, with all of the trappings one would expect from Lucas et al. But instead of grandly parading around the sprawling campus, we post up in a quiet cafeteria, nearly unseen, with Coog munching the humble PB&J he brought from home.

2. Favorite 2pac album? Me Against the World.

I press further: What’s your favorite Pac album? Coog furrows his brown-skinned brow as if I have asked him to pick a favorite child or most preferred appendage. He finally chooses: Me Against the World. That question is like a hood litmus test, and Ryan shows his true nature, picking the work that best epitomizes Shakur’s time in Oakland

3. He’s getting married!

Coog, age 26, has been preparing for the July national release of the film under the new name Fruitvale Station, planning his upcoming nuptials to his absolutely stunning fiancée, and somehow maintaining an admirable state of calm.

Read the full interview over at San Francsico Magazine.

Meet America’s Most Gangsta High School Nerd

Meet America's Most Gangsta High School Nerd

Think your senior quote in the yearbook was awesome? It wasn’t. Because Jessica Lee’s is the best thing ever. Angry Asian Man explains it:

Drawing on her knowledge of the periodic table, the graduating high school senior’s parting words of wisdom — published under her photo in the Garfield High School yearbook — appear to be a nerdy recitation of elements. But wait. Look a little closer, and you’ll see a coded message inspired by the lyrical stylings of none other than the Notorious B.I.G.:

“Flourine uranium carbon potassium bismuth technetiumhelium sulfur germanium thulium oxygen neon yttrium”

Which, in case you were wondering, is Biggie-speak for:

(F) flourine (U) uranium (C) carbon (K) potassium (Bi) bismuth (Tc) technetium (He) helium (S) sulfur (Ge) germanium (Tm) thulium (O) oxygen (Ne) neon (Y) yttrium.

See it? Got it? Good. Check out the actual photo after the jump.

Brittney Griner Put Haters on Blast This Father’s Day

Brittney Griner Put Haters on Blast This Father's Day

All Brittney Griner wanted to do was show her dad some love on Father’s Day. That’s it. But apparently when you’re a proudly gay 6’8” black professional women’s basketball player, even the most ordinary expressions of love invite the most vile demonstrations of hate.

Griner posted a photo on Instagram with her father on Sunday. The message was innocuous enough: “Happy Father’s Day love you daddy”. But one user, who apparenly is a regular troll of Griner’s Instagram account, responded “2 men.” Griner, who acknowledged in her recent ESPN profile that she regularly reads the messages of love and hate that people leave her on social media, had apparently had enough. So she responded:

you always got something smart to say! Why don’t you try to get a life and stop being a sorry individual that has nothing to do but be a horrible demon! You need to look and [sic] the mirror and se what u are!!! Get a life! So be happy u finally got your fam because I responded! But know u look like an axh though! :) have a good day!

Griner then posted a seperate Instagram photo of the regular doses of Internet hate that she gets every day. See below.

Regular Working People Might Be Able to Afford to Live in San Francisco Again

Like many people who grew up in San Francisco, I don’t live there anymore. And with the medium home prices in the city recently topping $1 million, I’m not likely to settle down there any time soon (sorry, Mom). But! San Francisco tenants just won a big battle 


Kevin Clash Won a Bunch of Emmys Last Week, Everything is Awkward

Kevin Clash Won a Bunch of Emmys Last Week, Everything is Awkward

Before Kevin Clash became a controversy, he was an anomaly. He was a history-making black performer in a world that was mostly white, and became the voice behind Elmo, one of the most loved figures in child entertainment. Clash has since been rocked by several accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior with several underage boys. The allegations led to Clash’s resignation from the show last year.

Nonetheless, Clash took home three Emmy Awards last week at the Daytime Entertainment Creative Arts show. In total, Clash took home awards for his work as executive co-producer of Sesame Street, which won for Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Series; Outstanding performer in a Children’s Series; and he shared another award for Outstanding Directing in a Children’s Series. 

Clash hasn’t been heard from publicly since the scandal broke, so he didn’t accept the awards in person. But his wins pretty much sum up the competing sentiments about him: talented, troubled, and ominously absent. 

(h/t Shadow and Act)


US Supreme Court Strikes Down Proof of Citizenship Voting Law

US Supreme Court Strikes Down Proof of Citizenship Voting Law

This morning the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship from residents as they register to vote is invalid because it violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Through the NVRA, a standardized federal form is provided to all states to keep voter registration uniform across the nation. But Arizona passed a state law in 2004, Proposition 200, that requested additional information such as hard-copy documents proving one’s citizenship, in order to register. This created burdens and barriers to the ballot for many Native and Latino Americans in Arizona. Today’s decision lifts the proof of citizenship law from Arizona’s law books. 

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion:

“We hold that [federal election law] precludes Arizona from requiring a Federal Form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself. Arizona may, however, request anew that the [Election Assistance Commission] include such a requirement among the Federal Form’s state-specific instructions, and may seek judicial review of the EAC’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act.”

This was an important victory for voting rights, especially given that a favorable opinion came from Justice Scalia, whose comments on voting rights lately have been discouraging. In March, after oral arguments concerning the case, Justice Scalia said he saw nothing wrong with requesting a birth certificate to register to vote.  As noted in his conclusion above, he is encouraging Arizona to appeal to the federal Election Assistance Commission board to have them require additional information — like proof of citizenship — for federal registration forms.  If the EAC did adopt such measures, then people across the nation would have to show forms like birth certificates to register, which would chiefly burden people of color.

“Today’s decision sends a strong message that states cannot block their citizens from registering to vote by superimposing burdensome paperwork requirements on top of federal law,” stated Nina Perales, Mexican American Legal Defense Education Fund’s Vice President of Litigation and lead counsel for the voters who challenged the Arizona law.  “The Supreme Court has affirmed that all U.S. citizens have the right to register to vote using the national postcard, regardless of the state in which they live.”  

MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, stated, “Arizona, and those states that choose to follow its irresponsible legislating, received a strong message today. The federal government has, through the NVRA, made clear that states may not place unnecessary and unreasonable obstacles to voter participation.”

Read Aura Bogado’s story “From Arizona to Montana, Native Voters Struggle for Democracy” here for further background. 

 UPDATE: 11:38 A.M. EST 

The Constitutional Accountability Center, a D.C.-based think tank and law firm that focuses on defending the U.S. Constitution and democracy, found the ruling favorable. Said CAC’s civil rights director David Gans: “The Court affirmed Congress’ decision to use a single federal form to help streamline the voter registration process, and prevent states like Arizona from denying the right of citizens to register to vote in federal elections.  At a time when states are engaged in voter suppression efforts, today’s opinion is an important reaffirmation that the text and history of the Elections Clause give the federal government broad power to preempt state law in order to protect the right to vote in federal elections.” 

Read CAC’s amicus brief with the court filed with the Brennan Center for Jusitce here


Civil rights law organization Advancement Project also found the ruling acceptable: 

“The Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona’s Proposition 200 is an important victory for voting rights,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “By rejecting the federal mail-in voter registration form and requiring additional proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers, the statute not only violated federal law but was also misguided. Between the time of the law’s implementation in 2005 and the first time it went to trial in 2008, more than 30,000 prospective voters in Arizona had their registration rejected because they did not include the additional documentation required. Nationally, more than 11 million American citizens lack access to these documents - which can be costly and difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. With the tremendous success of the National Voter Registration Act in boosting participation though the mail-in voter registration form, as well as safeguarding the process against fraud, there is simply no need for laws like Prop 200 that only restrict access to the ballot.”

Census: Asians Are the Fastest Growing Racial Group in the U.S.

Census: Asians Are the Fastest Growing Racial Group in the U.S.

The New York Times may have led its Thursday census story with handwringing over the decline of the white population in the U.S. But that wasn’t all that the U.S. Census Bureau released. The other big news? Asians are now the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the country. Asians in the U.S. now number 19 million, a change of 2.9 percent between 2011 and 2012, NPR reported.

The change comes on the heels of shifting migration patterns. According to a 2012 Pew report, Asian migration surpassed Latino migration to the U.S. for the first time, the AP reported last year. Rapid demographic changes are underway in the country. The majority of babies born in the U.S. are now Asian, Latino or black.

And yet, the reaction to demographic change in the U.S. is all too often nativist fear of some kind of newcomer-led overthrow. Where Asians are concerned, those fears become tinged by a yellow peril panic that xenophobes have been practicing for about as long as Asians have been coming to the U.S., which means, for well over a century.

Beau Sia’s poem “The Asians Are Coming, The Asians Are Coming” has always been one of my go-to salves for that tired xenophobia. It’s also the first thing I thought of when I heard the Census news. Enjoy.

U.S. Reports to U.N. on Ending Racial Bias, With No Plan of Its Own

U.S. Reports to U.N. on Ending Racial Bias, With No Plan of Its Own

The U.S. State Department submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination about the state of racial injustice in America. The U.S. government says in the report that “more can and should be done in many areas” regarding their commitment to race discrimination. They also admit that “more can be done” for “strengthening understanding and respect for human rights.”

The report helps the nation fulfill its obligations under the U.N.’s international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, or CERD. The State Department writes, “This Report shares our progress in implementing our undertakings under the CERD and on related measures to address racial discrimination.”

The ACLU is calling the report “a step forward,” but says there’s still much work to be done.

“With its submission of this report, the Obama administration makes the critically important point of acknowledging that racial discrimination still persists in the U.S.,” said Chandra Bhatnagar, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program. “However, the report glosses over how certain federal policies, such as those allowing state and local involvement in immigration enforcement, have been vehicles to enable racial discrimination to occur. Further, the report doesn’t address the pressing need for a national plan of action to end all forms of racial discrimination, which many other countries have already created.”

In March, the US Human Rights Network along with dozens of racial justice organizations sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he develop a “National Plan of Action for Racial Justice” that would bring the nation in full compliance with its commitments under the U.N. convention. 

“Despite a strong civil rights legacy, race disparities linked to institutionalized and structural forms of racism continue to exist in almost every sphere of life in the United States,” reads the letter, which lists examples of present-day unresolved racial discrimination:

  • In the 2009-2010 school year, 74 percent of African-American students and 80 percent of Latino students attended majority minority schools, where most of their classmates are nonwhite. An outcome of the deeply segregated and racially and economically isolated American education system is severe achievement gaps between students of color and white students.
  • Indigenous Peoples, African Americans, and Latinos are disproportionately incarcerated in the United States. Two-thirds of the two million prisoners in the United States are African-American or Latino. The disparities can be linked to improper policing practices like racial profiling. Drug policy and drug sentencing also contribute by disproportionately targeting African Americans and Latinos.
  • People of color and Indigenous Peoples are also more likely to live near hazardous waste facilities with nearly half of all people of color in the United States living within less than two miles of a hazardous waste facility.

There’s also the recent HUD-sponsored investigation that found people of color are less likely to be shown housing units by real estate agents and landlords than white people — findings that HUD apparently isn’t prepared to resolve anytime soon, as Seth Freed Wessler and ProPublica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones recently reported on (which won the National Low Income Housing Coalition Media Award for Hannah-Jones).

It should also be added that the Voting Rights Act’s Section Five, which prevents racial disenfranchisement intentional and unintentional in areas with a history of racial discrimination, and also race consideration in affirmative action policy are both in danger of being deleted from the law books by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Sherrilyn A. Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund who is helping defend both of those issues in the Supreme Court, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times today saying, “If there is public discomfort, it is precisely because race still does matter, because it still resonates so powerfully in American life.” 

We Say Goodbye, and We Say Hello

It’s a momentous week for the Colorlines team, as we say a bittersweet goodbye to an old friend, and offer a hearty welcome home to another.

As any regular Colorlines reader knows, Jorge Rivas has been part of the DNA of this publication and our community since—well, before it existed in this form. Back when our online presence was primarily a single news blog, Racewire, Jorge was one of our leading voices. In 2010, when we relaunched Colorlines magazine as, turning a quarterly print publication into a daily news beast, we leaned heavily on Jorge’s many skills to get us pointed in the right direction. Since then, he’s been in the mix doing just about everything—providing pop culture coverage that’s as fun as it is insightful; shooting and editing gorgeous video; developing reader polls and chats and other interactive features; laying out beautiful pages; and even fending off malware attacks. I don’t oversate the point in saying that would not exist without Jorge’s extraordinary efforts to make it so.

Today we bid him a sad, but excited farewell. Jorge will be joining one of the most buzzed about projects in news media today—Fusion, a joint project of ABC News and Univision that is launching formally later this year. While we hate to see him leave, we’re thrilled to know he’ll be bringing the same racial justice lens he created at Colorlines to this exciting new effort in cable news.

Also today, we welcome home one of our favorite contributors, Aura Bogado. Aura will be joining the Colorlines team as a news editor and reporter, and we’re thrilled to be able to bring her voice to the site daily. As a Colorlines editorial fellow, Aura helped lead our Voting Rights Watch project in 2012. As a both an editor and an investigative reporter, her coverage of immigration, Native communities and progressive organizing, among other things, has been groundbreaking and eye-opening. We are delighted to welcome her back to the team fulltime.

We’ll be adding more new contributors throughout the year, and expanding our coverage of culture, both high and low, later in the summer. More on all that soon. For now, join us in thanking Jorge for his incredible contributions—and in welcoming Aura as we look forward to many great stories to come.

TAGS: housekeeping

Defense Contractor Sponsors Sesame Street Incarceration Series

Defense Contractor Sponsors Sesame Street Incarceration Series

Earlier this week we brought you news of Sesame Street’s important new toolkit to help kids deal with a parent’s incarceration. It’s an important endeavor, though one with some suspect bankrollers. The Atlantic Wire pointed out on Thursday that British contractor, BAE Systems, is one of the feature’s main sponsors, and they make their money in part from for-profit prison labor. The support for Sesame Street comes from BAE System’s large philantrophic arm, which you can read more about here.

So far, the series itself has sparked strong reactions both for and against the project. More from The Atlantic Wire:

The package has so far elicited pretty polarized reactions. CBS News, which unveiled the effort, praise the attempt to confront the very real issue of children with loved ones in jail: “Sesame Street, in its simple, familiar way, is trying to break [incarceration] down, using imaginary characters to explore — and explain — what was once unimaginable, but now more and more common.” (Indeed, the U.S. incarceration rate is the world’s highest.) The libertarian magazine Reason, however, saw things a bit differently: “Congratulations, America, on making it almost normal to have a parent in prison or jail.”

You can see more about Sesame Street’s “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration” over on its website.

The Sergio Romo Pro-Migrant Ice Cream Is Happening

The Sergio Romo Pro-Migrant Ice Cream Is Happening

Back in December Bay Area-based ice cream company Three Twins released a mockup of an ice cream flavor they wanted San Francisco Giants pitcher Sergio Romo to front. And now it’s happening. The deal, announced last week, means that folks will be able to taste their Sergio Romo Mexican Chocolate ice cream soon. 

But that’s not all. The ice cream comes with the tagline “It only tastes illegal,” which is itself a nod to Romo’s first foray into political activism, when he stepped out at the Giants’ World Series parade wearing a bold t-shirt with the words “I Just Look Illegal” stretched across his chest. Immigrant rights supporters gleefully celebrated the athlete’s bold political statement, and it was after that turn that Three Twins reportedly approached Romo.

Back in December the company said that they wanted to partner with Romo for the ice cream flavor in part to, “raise money for immigration reform.” “[Romo’s t-shirt] got a lot of people talking and thinking about immigration policy in the United States,” Three Twins founder Neal Gottlieb told Haighteration. “Mexicans and Mexican Americans play such an important role in Major League Baseball and Three Twins Ice Cream that it seemed like a natural fit. While some claim to be offended by the logo and artwork, we think that it is topical, quirky and fun.”

But Romo’s doing more than inking ice cream deals. Romo, who was born and raised in a small Southern California town just north of the U.S.-Mexico border, recently recorded a video in support of immigration reform

Father’s Day Cards for Every Kind of Dad in Your Life

Father's Day Cards for Every Kind of Dad in Your Life

Families with two fathers? Families with just one father? And families with none? Immigrant families; families connected by love and commitment, if not blood; families with a father behind bars—those are all still real and legitimate families. And those fathers and families all deserve the love, support and access that mothers do. 

This Father’s Day, Strong Families, a project of the Oakland-based reproductive justice organization Forward Together, has got all of those kinds of families and fathers covered. After producing a similar series of inclusive Mother’s Day e-cards since 2011, 2013 marks the first year Forward Together is releasing a series for dads. 

Each e-card in the series is a real work of art, and entirely customizable. Send one here.

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