Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

Saved by the bell hooks Tumblr as Great as It Sounds

Saved by the bell hooks Tumblr as Great as It Sounds

It’s a match made in Tumblr heaven. The intersectional feminist theory of bell hooks, combined with the early 1990s teen sitcom “Saved by the Bell,” to become savedbythebellhooks. You heard right.

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There’s more at http://savedbythe-bellhooks.tumblr.com/

Commission Urges California State Parks to Welcome More People of Color

Commission Urges California State Parks to Welcome More People of Color

California state parks cover some 1.3 million acres of land, including 339 miles of the state’s famed coastline. But those parks are often left in disrepair, and visitors who do make pilgrimages to them don’t reflect the state’s demographics. The commission Parks Forward is filing a report today which urges the state to fix both of those fundamental problems, the Los Angeles Times reports.

California’s population is 40 percent Latino, though that might not be so apparent from a visit to a state park. “The visitors don’t look like California,” Parks Forward commissioner and USC professor of American Studies Manuel Pastor told the LA Times. The state ought to improve transportation to state parks for those who live in cities, and make the parks more accessible to short-term visitors, the commission recommended. 

Part of the urgency is about self-preservation. Without the political support of California’s fastest-growing demographic, its state parks could languish further, commissioners note.

The Golden State’s not the only one thinking hard about why its visitor demographics don’t reflect the larger population’s. The National Park Service is confronting the very same issues, Colorlines fam Brentin Mock wrote over at Grist.

Mock wrote:

Shelton Johnson, an African American ranger at Yosemite National Park in California, talked about the challenge of getting black youth into the great outdoors in Ken Burns’ 2009 PBS documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. “How do I get them here?” Johnson asked. “How do I let them know about the buffalo soldier history, to let them know that we, too, have a place here? How do I make that bridge, and make it shorter and stronger? Every time I go to work and put the uniform on, I think about them.”

Read Mock’s ideas for how to fix this over at Grist.

Weekend Reads: From Native Youth to The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland

Weekend Reads: From Native Youth to The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland

It’s fair to say, it’s not often that institutions self-reflect and run a kind of “racism audit”—and then release some of that assessment to the general public. But that’s what The New Republic, the elite, liberal ideas shop once described as “the in-flight magazine of Air Force One,” has done with journalist Jeet Heer’s, The New Republic’s Legacy on Race.” History nerds will love that Heer’s lit review, beginning in 1914, cites original thinkers from the time. But it’s the modern-day prejudices and bigotry promoted under Marty Peretz’s 30-year editorial leadership that come in for special focus (think, “Bell Curve,” black cultural pathologies, etc). Says Heer:

Whatever the problems had been with the early twentieth-century The New Republic, it published a spectrum of black voices, so readers (both black and white) had a sense of how black America thought about things. It published the conservative Washington, the centrist White, the militant Du Bois, and voices more radical than Du Bois himself, such as Du Bois’s Marxist critic Abram L. Harris. Under Peretz, with very few exceptions, the magazine printed only the more conservative end of black political discourse….

Moving on from Heer’s appraisal, recall, The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland,” in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine. On a November afternoon in 2013, one boy in a small group of teens set fire to the skirt of sleeping 18-year-old high school senior, Sasha Fleischman. What follows is a thoughtful look at that fateful day and the lives of the two teens involved: Sasha, a white youth* who identifies as agender (neither male nor female) and perpetrator, 16-year-old Richard Thomas, who is African-American. The piece asks whether children ought to be punished as adults and introduces the concept of restorative justice in both sentencing juvenile offenders and satisfying victims and their families.

In a five-part series in Al Jazeera America, journalist Tristan Ahtone looks at Native American gangs, a relatively new phenomenon dating back to the 1980s. Part one begins by asking why young people in Indian Country, subject to some of the nation’s highest rates of victimization by violent crime, are joining gangs in the first place. 

And because I’m a big fan of her music and I love the warmth between women in this interview, listen to Maria Hinojosa’s chat with Afro-Spanish singer Buika on LatinoUSA

*Post has been updated since publication to correctly identify Fleischman.

Senate Approves Keystone XL, Suge Knight Held on Murder Charge, GMO Mosquitos

Senate Approves Keystone XL, Suge Knight Held on Murder Charge, GMO Mosquitos

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

  • Suge Knight is arrested on suspicion of murder after running his friends over with with a car he was driving, leaving one dead and one injured. 
  • Russia’s Central Bank surprises economists and cuts interest rates from 17 percent to 15 percent. 
  • The FCC changes the rules on broadband ahead of its net neutrality decision on February 26. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

One Tweet Explains the Racial Wealth Gap

One Tweet Explains the Racial Wealth Gap

Here’s a thought exercise: How long could you maintain your current standard of living without a paycheck? A week? Six months? The next 20 years? That length of time is a measure of your personal wealth—which is quite different from hourly wages or annual income.

Wealth, in the form of home ownership for most Americans, is real security. It’s what enables families to bounce back from life-changing emergencies and survive into the next generation. (Or the next 20, if you’re related to John D. Rockefeller) With that in mind, consider the racial wealth gap chart below. Perhaps it’s time to talk more about wealth, and not just about wages and income.

Note that “households of color,” according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, includes Black or African-American; American Indian and Native Alaskan; Asian; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander; Hispanic or Latino; some other race; two or more races.

(h/t AssetsNAF)

Marshawn Lynch: ‘You All Shove Cameras and Microphones Down My Throat’

Marshawn Lynch: 'You All Shove Cameras and Microphones Down My Throat'

For The Win is reporting that Seattle Seahawk running back Marshawn Lynch addressed the media in a press conference Thursday, just three days ahead of this year’s Super Bowl. Lynch essentially turned his gaze on the media itself, stating, “I’ll just be looking at y’all the way you looking at me.”

Lynch, who, as my colleague Jamilah King has point out, has made the mistake of “being unapologetically black and rebellious in a league business that depends on military-like obedience,” scolded reporters for their obsession with him:

So you all can go and make up whatever you want to make up, cause I don’t say enough for you all to go put anything out on me. But I’ll come to y’all event and y’all shove cameras and microphones down my throat. When I’m at home in my environment, I don’t see y’all. But y’all mad at me. If y’all ain’t mad at me, then what are you all here for?

You can read more from Lynch’s statement—as well as his many shout-outs—today over at For The Win

Flight MH370: Accident, Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial, Bill Gates on Reddit

Flight MH370: Accident, Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial, Bill Gates on Reddit

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

  • Taylor Swift trademarks lyrics that she claims are entirely her own, like “party like it’s 1989,” which isn’t entirely her own since Prince wrote “party like it’s 1999” more than 30 years ago. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

At Loretta Lynch’s Confirmation Hearing, Senators Air Holder Grievances

At Loretta Lynch's Confirmation Hearing, Senators Air Holder Grievances

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder has rattled plenty of senators. On Wednesday, Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to replace him, sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee for an hours-long confirmation hearing full of the usual political posturing from both parties. It also functioned as an airing of the ill will Republican members of Congress have toward Holder.

Lynch, a U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, has sought to distance herself from Holder and she continued in that vein on Wednesday. She unflappably portrayed herself as a disciplined public servant with much less interest in the progressive politicking that Holder took up.

A quick check-off list of her stances on hot-button topics: Lynch called the death penalty an “effective penalty;” and said that Obama’s latest executive action on immigration was founded in a “reasonable” legal rationale. She considers waterboarding torture, “and therefore illegal.” She called the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs “certainly constitutional and effective,” and said “few things have pained” her more than “reports of tension and division” between police officers and the communities they serve. 

And she was game to play along when Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas pointedly asked her: “You’re not Eric Holder, are you?” “No, I’m not,” Lynch replied.

“Attorney General Holder’s record is heavy on our minds,” Cornyn continued. “And I agree with the chairman about his concerns when the attorney general refers to himself as the president’s wingman, suggesting that he does not exercise independent legal judgment, as the chief law-enforcement officer for the country. You wouldn’t consider yourself to be a political arm of the White House as attorney general, would you?” Cornyn continued.

“No, senator, that would be an inapporpriate use of the—” Lynch said, before Cornyn cut her off. 

“I will be Loretta Lynch,” she later said, when Cornyn asked her how she planned not to be Holder. 

If confirmed Lynch will be the first black woman to hold the position. 

Marissa Alexander Released; Now on House Arrest

Marissa Alexander Released; Now on House Arrest

After serving three years in jail, 34-year-old Marissa Alexander went home yesterday and is now on house arrest. A judge denied the prosecutor’s request for an additional two-year sentence in the case of the Florida mother who in 2010, and nine days after giving birth, fired a gun near her abusive husband and allegedly his children. Alexander subsequently used Florida’s “stand your ground” law as her defense. No one was injured but a jury, MSNBC reports, convicted her in 12 minutes. Alexander was initially sentenced to Florida’s minimum, 20 years, and could’ve faced 60 years in prison. The outcome for Alexander, an African-American woman, provided a stark contrast to that of George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic male, who in a 2013 trial also used the “stand your ground” law in, ultimately, a successful defense in the killing of unarmed 17-year-old African-American, Trayvon Martin. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, passed in 2005, has been widely criticized for excusing vigilantiism and uneven application but it remains on the books.

Alexander read a prepared statement as she left the Duval County courthouse yesterday. It said in part:

“Today, after the sentence given by Judge Daniel, my family and I will be able to move on with our lives. Although the journey has been long and there’s been many difficult moments, I could not have arrived here, where I am today, without the thoughts, many thoughts and many prayers of so many people who voiced their support and encouragement. Words can never express my gratitude for those who stood beside me, including my children and family. I am also grateful that Judge Daniel approached this case with such care and diligence.”

Alexander’s estranged husband, Rico Gray, according to First Coast News, “said he is happy that the case is over and that everyone can move forward — especially the children. [He] is happy that she has finally accepted responsibility [but] has concerns about whether she is really remorseful.”

For the next two years Alexander will be monitored by ankle bracelet. Supporters, according to News4Jax, have raised money to cover the associated fees and local pastors are offering a job in one of their ministries.

Jordan-IS Prisoner Swap, Marissa Alexander Leaves Prison, Measles Outbreak

Jordan-IS Prisoner Swap, Marissa Alexander Leaves Prison, Measles Outbreak

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

In Albuquerque, a DA Faces Intimidation for Charging Cops Who’ve Killed

In Albuquerque, a DA Faces Intimidation for Charging Cops Who've Killed

In the last four years, Albuquerque police have pulled their guns on people at least 37 times, and killed at least 23 people among them. The shootings added up: Albuquerque has a fatal police shootings rate that’s eight times that of New York City’s. Until two weeks ago, when Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg filed murder charges over a March 2014 fatal police shooting, no police officer had ever been criminally charged.

A new New Yorker article by Rachel Aviv examines the faceless web of power which protects police officers who kill people while on the job, and intimidates and possibly retaliates against those who seek justice or accountability. Aviv also reports on recruitment pressures in Albuquerque which forced the police department to ease up on their hiring standards, and accept those who, Aviv implies, otherwise would not belong on the police force. In the wake of Tamir Rice’s death at the hands of a Cleveland police officer who was rejected from another police department, Aviv’s reporting underscores the point that unleashing questionably qualified police officers into the community can be fatal.

Tucked deep in the story is Aviv’s account of the personal and professional price DA Brandenburg is paying for going after those police officers:

Last October, Kari Brandenburg told a police-union attorney that she was leaning toward filing murder charges against the officers who shot Boyd. Within weeks, Brandenburg found herself the target of an investigation by the Albuquerque Police Department. Her twenty-six-year-old son, who was addicted to heroin, had stolen thousands of dollars of his friends’ belongings, and Brandenburg had offered to reimburse them. In late November, an Albuquerque detective gave the state attorney general an investigative file that he said showed that Brandenburg had bribed and intimidated witnesses. In a recording of a conversation between officers working on the case, a detective with the Criminal Intelligence Unit acknowledged that the evidence against Brandenburg appeared insubstantial. He said, “There might be charges—they’re super-weak—it’s probably not gonna go anywhere, but it’s gonna destroy a career.”

The whole story is an infuriating, but not altogether shocking story, of political pressure and unchecked police power. It comes as the Albuquerque police department embarks on sweeping reforms mandated by the Justice Department.

Read the rest of the New Yorker story.

Following Ferguson: Did Your News Media Do A Good Job?

Following Ferguson: Did Your News Media Do A Good Job?

“I remember August 9th like it was 10 seconds ago,” St. Louis reporter Kenya Vaughn said to a Washington, D.C., audience yesterday. “I was going about my everyday business of social media-watching…and I saw a man holding a sign on Instagram that said, ‘The Ferguson police department just murdered my unarmed son.’ And I was like, ‘Ferguson, Ferguson!? Down the street, Ferguson!? Is this real?’” With that Vaughn sets the frame (11:00) for a truly excellent two-hour panel filmed at the National Press Club by C-Span on how news media covers race following the killings of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. The accounting comes at a time when #blacklivesmatter protests make race and racism a topical, mainstream conversation even as newsrooms have long been criticized for not hiring nor depicting diverse sources and talk-show guests. “Media can not cover race when it is unwilling to look at its own shops,” panelist Roland Martin says (32:26).

In addition to Kenya Vaughn, web editor at The St. Louis American and Roland Martin, host of NewsOne Now, panelists include: Paul Farhi, media reporter, The Washington Post; April Ryan, White House correspondent, Urban Radio Networks; Jeff Johnson, journalist, formerly* BET News; Athena Jones, general assignment reporter, CNN; and Gilbert Bailon, editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The panel is wide-ranging and worth the listen. How well does news media cover race or racism in your town?

(h/t Journal-isms)

 

* Post has been updated since publication to reflect Johnson’s affiliation.

Winter Storm Juno, Cosby Accused Yet Again, Benadryl Linked to Dementia

Winter Storm Juno, Cosby Accused Yet Again, Benadryl Linked to Dementia

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

  • Astronomers say this exoplanet has rings 200 times the size of Saturn. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Winter Storm Juno, Syriza Takes Greece, SAG Awards

Winter Storm Juno, Syriza Takes Greece, SAG Awards

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

  • The SAG Awards illustrate the need for racial diversity in Hollywood. 

*Post has been updated to reflect that Winter Storm Juno may be the most severe snow storm in New York City history, not in East Coast history. 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Melissa Harris-Perry: “Be Very Afraid” of Race Case Before Supreme Court

Melissa Harris-Perry:

“Housing discrimination” doesn’t make for sexy headlines. It’s a mouthful. But where groups of people live and why (or, why not) is ground zero in everyday battles for better schools and community health, easier transportation to jobs, fair lending, safety from violence—basically everything. As a result the housing discrimination case now before the Supreme Court led off this weekend’s “Melissa Harris-Perry Show.” She and her guests break down the stakes, the debate, how the Fair Housing Act is supposed to work and the implications if Roberts’ SCOTUS dismantles one of President Johnson’s key civil rights laws. “Be very afraid,” MSNBC host Harris-Perry says.

Watch the intro video above as well as extra segments on the current fair housing debate and implications of a SCOTUS decision. But the best way to understand how yesterday’s baked-in residential segregation affects the lives and outcomes of everyone, today? Listen to sports commentator Bomani Jones, at the height of the Donald Sterling scandal, explain the “real racism” of the longtime NBA owner who was also a much sued landlord (4:32-8:58).

Black Workers With Advanced Degrees, White Workers With B.A.’s Make Roughly the Same

Black Workers With Advanced Degrees, White Workers With B.A.'s Make Roughly the Same

You’ve heard of the racial wealth gap, the racial employment gap, and surely also about racial job callback disparities. Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers an updated look at another dynamic of our racialized economy: the racial income gap.

As in: In 2014, while white workers 25 years or older with at least an undergrad degree took home median earnings of $1,219 per week, similarly aged and educated Latino workers made $1,007, and Asian workers made $1,328 per week. Black workers with at least a college degree, meanwhile, posted median earnings of $970 per week.

The racial income gap is so pronounced that black workers with an advanced degree made $1,149—roughly the same as white workers who had only a bachelor’s degree ($1,132).

For more on what this kind of economic inequality means for the country, read Kai Wright’s in-depth look at young black men’s struggle for employment. As Wright wrote last June, “This is an inequity that grows from tangled roots—historic labor market discrimination, ongoing residential segregation, stubborn racial biases among employers. But it’s also one with consequences that stretch out beyond the men themselves, and that will linger long past today’s troubled economy.”

(h/t Catherine Rampell)

ICYMI: Watch Queer and Trans Activists of Color Shut Down San Francisco’s Historic Castro

San Francisco’s Castro district is known as one of the historic centers of America’s gay community. But for generations, it’s remained fiercely white. This dynamic was a centerpiece of filmmaker Marlon Riggs’s iconic 1989 documentary “Tongues Untied,” which examined how black gay men related to one another. And it’s still relevant today.

That past and present is the reason why the Castro became ground zero for queer and transgender activists who have been active in the Black Lives Matter movement. On January 17, the group marched through the heart of the Castro as part of 96 hours of actions taken to #ReclaimMLK last weekend. 

“As the Black Lives Matter movement gains strength nationwide, the larger LGBT community and our allies can no longer stand on the sidelines,” the collective of activists wrote in a statement to Colorlines. “The assault on Black lives is an LGBT issue. The average life expectancy of a Black transgender woman is 35 years. In 2013, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence programs reported that 72 percent of hate crimes were against trans women, 89 percent of whom were transgender women of color.”

Here’s video from last weekend’s action:

The Race Case Before the Roberts’ Supreme Court

The Race Case Before the Roberts' Supreme Court

For the third time in less than four years the Supreme Court is reviewing one particular case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. Experts say that’s curious. “It is unusual for the Court to agree to hear a case when the law is clearly settled. It’s even more unusual to agree to hear the issue three years in a row,” U-C Berkeley law professor Ian Haney López tells ProPublica. What’s being decided is the point at which the law can intervene in accusations of housing discrimination: when evidence proves intentional racism or when the evidence proves discriminatory outcome. The importance of this decision, now before a Roberts court with a history of hollowing out key civil rights gains and turning corporations into people, can’t be overstated. It could potentially gut the 1968 Fair Housing Act—passed days after King’s assassination—and has broad impact on everything from communities’ ability to fight predatory lending to the continuation of segregated schooling.

The court’s decision is expected before July 2015. Follow developments and read up on the background of this Texas case on SCOTUSblog

(h/t ProPublica)

Saudi Arabia’s Changes at the Throne, Rubio 2016, East Coast Prepares for Winter Storm

Saudi Arabia's Changes at the Throne, Rubio 2016, East Coast Prepares for Winter Storm

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

TAGS: Morning Rush

Black McDonald’s Workers Fired ‘To Get the Ghetto Out,’ Lawsuit Alleges

Black McDonald's Workers Fired 'To Get the Ghetto Out,' Lawsuit Alleges

This morning 10 former McDonald’s employees filed a federal civil lawsuit alleging that they were fired from their jobs this past May because there were “too many black people” in the Virginia McDonald’s stores where they worked.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, alleges that 15 black employees were fired in McDonald’s locations in South Boston and Clarksville, Va., after the franchise operator Soweva took over the stores in 2013. Soon after assuming management, the lawsuit alleges, Soweva owner Michael Simon complained that “the ratio was off in each of the stories,” and that restaurants were “too dark.” Black workers were called “bitch,” “ghetto,” and “ratchet,” and Latino workers were called “dirty Mexicans,” the lawsuit alleges. 

Nine of the plaintiffs are black, one is Latino, and they’ve worked a combined half century at McDonald’s restaurants. They also allege that in addition to racial harassment, management made anti-gay comments and sexually harassed workers.

“All of a sudden, they let me go, for no other reason than I ‘didn’t fit the profile’ they wanted at the store,” plaintiff Willie Betts, a cook at the South Boston McDonald’s, said in a statement. “I had no idea what they meant by the right profile until I saw everyone else that they fired as well. I worked at McDonald’s for almost five years, I was on time every day at four o’clock in the morning to open the store, and I never had a disciplinary write-up. They took away the only source of income I have to support my family.”  

If workers prevail, the lawsuit could have lasting impacts on the effort to hold major corporations responsible for what they’ve long contended are the labor practices of their franchise owners, Al Jazeera America reports. This past July, a landmark National Labor Relations Board ruling determined that McDonald’s should be considered a “joint employer” alongside franchise operators which run its stores. McDonald’s Corporate has claimed that they are not liable for their franchise operators’ labor practices.

The workers are supported by the NAACP and Fight for 15, a union-backed worker organizing group fighting for higher wages in fast food restaurants.

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