Reagan’s ‘morning in America’ has acquired a different resonance

We have another of those really long-running threads, focused on the problem of race in America, and particularly the issues highlighted by events in Ferguson, Missouri. There’s no shortage of material, and it keeps going and going, hampered only by the limitation of the blog medium: in particular, that I automatically shut down all discussion threads after 3 months, to block spam. That’s not enough time!

So here’s another semi-open thread — talk about America’s race problem. Forever, or until it’s fixed.


  1. says

    Racism is a general problem in the US that plays a big role in incidents such as Ferguson. But I think the role of police training and their style of functioning has to be explored as well. Its bad enough that dumb racists make a significant portion of US law enforcement. But what makes it worse is there is very little restraint on them on the use of lethal force. Of course, their use of lethal force is strongly race-specific, but just the fact that its considered OK for a cop to shoot a person dead on any sign of resistance or possibility of possession of a firearm is shocking to me. Shouldn’t cop at the very least wait till they are certain that they are being shot at before using lethal force? Seems as though they are trained to care about their own lives before anyone else’s. In that case, why do we need cops, coming in with instant epithets of “XYZ city’s finest” or “brave men and women”? Where does the “brave” part come in if they act & react no better than a George Zimmerman?
    and not just lethal force, you have cases of general police brutality where a 57 YEAR OLD Indian man was left partially paralyzed after police tackled him violently. His crime? Walking & looking at yards while brown,

  2. rq says

    Forever, or whenever it’s fixed.
    Not much of a choice there, PZ.
    At any rate, thank you for opening up yet another thread. Prepare for a barrage of posts once I get home. I have been maintaining the links, even if no suitable venue has been available. :)

    Sagar Keer
    I suggest you check out the link in the OP, which also points out the racial disparity that appears in cop-shooting cases. It is sometimes difficult to make a comparison, since there seem to be less white people shot by cops, but it isn’t just a matter of training in the use of lethal methods, but also a matter of subconscious biases that can influence the cops’ supposed feelings of danger. These two things combined are very fatal, indeed.
    Because there is one case where two BB-gun-armed gunmen entered a Wal-Mart and opened fire, and were arrested alive – contrast that to the case of John Crawford III, who was shot dead just for holding a gun in a non-threatening pose. And that’s just one example.

  3. rq says

    Basically, these comments begin where the last post left off. So some links may be a couple of days, sorry about that. Here goes!
    Crew waiting for the protestors arrested today to be released. STL.

    Bobby Shmurda Speaks Out About His Gang-Related Charges: ‘That Shit Is Bullshit’

    When Bobby Shmurda, the charismatic star of the surprise 2014 hit “Hot N—a,” emerged from the back of a New York County Supreme Court room in January, the 20-year-old looked sad and serious. Shmurda sat very still at the defense table, showing none of the viral persona that was responsible for 102 million YouTube views, a $2 million record deal and the international “Shmoney Dance” craze. Today he was just another young man before the judge, one of 13 reputed members of the East Flatbush, Brooklyn, alleged gang GS9 (“God’s Sons”) to have his case called.
    “When I see the judge and the DA, I just see a bunch of people trying to take my life away for being blessed,” says Shmurda, who talked with Billboard from the Manhattan Detention Complex, where he has been held since December. “When I look at them, it looks like a bunch of haters.”
    Four months ago, Shmurda was ¬racing around a Midtown soundstage, ¬sunglasses and gold chains glinting, as he performed “Hot Boy” (the “Hot N—a” radio edit) on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. With him were lifelong GS9 friends, -beaming, and two female dancers in “Shmoney Team” crop tops. The same month, “Hot Boy” reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Everything felt like the best moment of my life,” Shmurda says. “Everything.”

    But as Shmurda’s wildest dreams were coming true, the New York Police Department was closing in on him. At about 4 a.m. on Dec. 17, nine days after the rap artist appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote his Shmurda She Wrote EP, cops stormed Times Square’s Quad Studios, where Shmurda was recording (and where 2Pac was shot in 1994). Police also executed search warrants in East Flatbush. In total, they rounded up 15 GS9 members, including Shmurda’s older brother, Javase, 22. Officials claim they seized 10 weapons in the sweep, along with a small amount of crack.
    The following day, in a joint press conference, the NYPD and Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office delivered an indictment based on a yearlong investigation that accused GS9 members of 69 counts (later upped to 101), including conspiracy, second-degree murder (for a 2013 bodega shooting), attempted murder (for a 2014 shooting that struck an innocent bystander) and reckless endangerment (for June gunfire outside a Brooklyn barbershop). Also during the press conference, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton alleged that GS9 stood for “G-Stone Crips” adding, “This gang … gloated about murder, shooting and drug-dealing in YouTube videos and viral dance moves.”

    Further, the accusation alleged that “the driving force behind the GS9 gang and organizing figure within this particular conspiracy” was one Ackquille Pollard, aka Bobby Shmurda. (“He ‘murdered’ every track he did,” his mother says about her son’s stage name.) Prosecutors charged Shmurda with conspiracy to commit murder and assault, weapons possession, reckless endangerment and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. While the prosecution has not identified a GS9 hierarchy, it says his “status” made others defer to him. “That shit is bullshit,” insists Shmurda. Asked about the charges, he says, “Bullshit.” He offers, “I come from a bad neighborhood. They’re upset that somebody my age made it out and is making so much money.”
    “I do know that Bobby Shmurda isn’t proud of his background,” says Ebro Darden, morning show host at WQHT (Hot 97) New York. “When we broke his record, he expressed that to me. He doesn’t want to just be what his neighborhood is about — just a statistic. He was trying to have fun.”
    Early in 2014, Shmurda and his GS9 squad filmed a no-budget video for “Hot N—a” on the streets outside their apartments, mugging for the camera and intermittently pantomiming firing guns. About halfway through the clip, posted to YouTube in March, Shmurda casually flings his Knicks hat into the air, folds in his shoulders as if to indicate the unbearable weight of his own awesomeness and waves his arms while cocking his hips. Uploaded to Vine in June, this six-second routine went so epically viral that, within a matter of weeks, the “Shmoney Dance” became a worldwide meme. Soon, Beyoncé, Peyton Manning and Kevin Hart were caught on film imitating Shmurda’s silly, swaggy moves — along with grandmothers, college students, Elmo and an American soldier in Iraq.
    Amid the frenzy, Epic made him an offer. “I met with Shmurda and didn’t let him leave,” Sha Money, executive vp urban A&R, told Billboard in October. “I wanted to be in business that day.” (An Epic representative says the company stands by Shmurda and he’s still one of the label’s artists, but Epic refused multiple requests for further comment.)
    After “Hot N—a” went viral, Shmurda spent 2014 touring nonstop, leading caravans of friends and fans from Brooklyn to shows all over the country. “He was very much overwhelmed by everything happening all at once,” says his mother. DJ Mustard hit him up on Twitter, Drake brought him onstage to perform and French Montana invited him to video shoots. But throughout, friends say he remained quirky and open, a childlike guy who would jump into a pickup football game in the park, and he handled the attention with good humor: When TMZ confronted him on a sidewalk, he cheerfully taught the cameraman how to do the Shmoney Dance.
    “He’s like a puppy,” says GS9’s P-Gutta, Shmurda’s tour manager. “He wants to be lovable … He’s an innocent kind of guy.”
    Around the neighborhood, Shmurda became a hero — and his fame changed the place. Some GS9 members got “Shmoney” tattoos. His manic, goofy presence created a new vibe for a neighborhood that often had been somber. GS9 member Cash, 22, says local parties became fun in a way they hadn’t been for years: “He made the gangsters dance.”
    Shmurda found deliverance from the hood’s hopelessness, moving to a new, quiet, mostly Korean neighborhood in Brooklyn. “There was never no trouble,” he says. That feeling lasted less than six months.

    Kenneth Montgomery says that his client is no gang leader, just the most famous person in a crime-ridden area. “Mr. Pollard is not accused of shooting or assaulting anyone, nor was he found in receipt of any drugs,” he says. “It’s sad to me that this kid is facing the possibility of his career being ruined over something like this. He’s a bright and talented young kid.” (“The charge is conspiracy,” counters Special Prosecutor spokeswoman Kati Cornell. “Not just the people pulling the trigger are responsible for the shootings. Individuals play different roles.”) […]

    Shmurda’s next hearing date is March 18. For the most serious of his conspiracy charges, the viral rap star could face up to 25 years in prison. A conviction on the second-degree weapons possession charges could bring up to 15 years — for each of the six counts. But Shmurda, who says the first thing he’ll do when he gets out is “write some platinum songs,” remains optimistic: “It started off good last year and it ended up ass. So hopefully it started off bad this year and will end off outrageous.”

    (Video) Florida Drivers Challenging Police Over Legally Questionable DUI Checkpoints In my opinion, random DUI checks are a good thing… but then I’ve never had to worry abou the police turning it into a whole other thing.

    The Radical Brownies have made an appearance here before, but not in article form: Young Oakland Girls Called ‘Radical Brownies’ Learn Social Justice Instead Of Selling Cookies

    After the recent Black Lives Matter protests, there is a new brownie troop in Oakland. Instead of selling cookies, they are spreading a message.
    On a Saturday afternoon in Oakland, a handful of 8 to 10 year old girls are gathered, in brown uniforms, giggling and eating cupcakes. They look like Girl Scouts, but it’s not just fun and games.
    And it’s not just fun and games. “White policeman are killing black young folks such as women, men and children,” one of the girls said.
    Another girl said, “Mike Brown. He was shot because he didn’t do nothing. Only the police officer shot him because of his skin color.”
    These girls are called the “Radical Brownies.” And instead of learning sewing, they’re learning social justice.
    Even their uniforms have a message.
    “The beret, it’s a Black Panther/Brown Beret twist,” one of the Radical Brownies said.
    “I think it’s very appropriate. A lot of the work the Black Panthers did was community oriented,” Radical Brownies co-founder Marilyn Hollinquest told KPIX 5.
    Hollinquest and her friend Anayvette Martinez co-founded the group about a month ago, after Anayvette’s daughter Coatlupe told her she wanted to join a girl’s group.
    “How amazing would it be to have a girls’ troop that was really focused around social justice and where girls could even earn badges?” Martinez said.
    Their first badge, a fist emblazoned with the words Black Lives Matter. They earned it for marching in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Oakland last month.
    “The girls felt really just like passionate about the topic and they loved being there,” Martinez said.
    When asked about the big issues they are tackling, Martinez said, “They are big issues. But we also feel like these are conversations that they’re not too young to be having.”
    The Radical Brownies have triggered an avalanche of criticism online, with some accusing the group of brainwashing.
    “We did strike a nerve. We definitely did strike a nerve,” Hollinquest said.
    But Hollinquest said they are not telling the girls what to think. “Kids already understand fairness and unfairness, so we take that understanding at an age-appropriate level,” she said.
    The girls said they feel like they are a sisterhood.
    “It’s really good for me because it brings out who I am,” one of the girls said.
    Martinez said, “After this first year, we’re hoping to be able to support other chapters starting.
    In a matter of weeks, the Radical Brownies’ Facebook page received 10,000 likes. There have been requests from as far away as France and Bermuda to start chapters there. ”

    @deray Amazing timing! Last night @BLMPDX did #DateWithJustice. NW is turning up this weekend!
    Denver Community Defense Committee’s Official Statement on “March Against Police Terror”

    On Saturday February 14, over 300 people marched through the streets of Denver to show solidarity with families who have lost their loved ones or had their loved one’s lives threatened because of police violence.
    When the March arrived at the Denver Police Headquarters, a bucket of paint was thrown by unknown March participants at a memorial to police officers who have been killed while in performance of their jobs. This single action has gained the most attention in the media, and has become a rallying call for Denver police and those who defend their actions.
    We, as the members of the Denver Community Defense Committee, the organization that planned the March against Police Terror, voice our unwavering support and solidarity to all those who participated in the protests and March yesterday.
    It is telling that at this moment, local media and the Denver Police Department are more offended over red paint being splashed on a piece of stone than the very real red blood that continues to stain our streets because of unchecked police violence. Although the paint was easily washed off the memorial, the scars left by police terror can never be washed away.
    That a police department that stages raids to serve non-violent warrants on unarmed suspects during funerals, as was the case when police killed Ryan Ronquillo on July 2, 2014 outside the Romero Funeral Home during a funeral, would then complain about a small amount of paint on a piece of stone as “dis-honoring the dead” is beyond insulting.
    That a police department that would handcuff, search, and then brutalize an already dead body as they did on January 26, 2015 after they killed 17 year old Jessie Hernandez, would denounce an act of non-violent protest as “disrespectful” is beyond sickening.
    It is an act of extreme injustice that two people will face charges in court, accused of throwing paint on a piece of stone, and will face more jail time and harsher punishments than any police officer who has killed an unarmed suspect in this city. While two unarmed protesters will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for an act of civil disobedience where no one was harmed, officers like Jeffrey DiManna, who has been involved in three cases of shooting unarmed suspects in the last seven months, will continue to patrol our streets without fear of any punishment whatsoever.
    With these facts as the foundation for the situation we find ourselves facing within the city of Denver, how can anyone question why people would start to feel motivated to take bolder and more desperate actions against the institutions of police violence? The people of Denver have run out of cheeks to turn. We are being pushed into a corner by a system of police who murder with complete immunity, and the city officials and District Attorneys who do nothing to stem the flow of blood in our streets.

  4. rq says

    Jimi Hendrix. 1961. 101st Airborne.
    This i san orphan tweet from somewhere else: @MHPshow “Plaintiffs in this case are each impoverished people who were jailed by the City of Jennings because they were unable to pay debt”

    Brian Williams Used ‘Thuggish Kids’ To Dramatize Hurricane Katrina Story

    “Our hotel was overrun with gangs,” Williams told former “NBC Nightly News” managing editor Tom Brokaw in a video published by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in June 2014. “You’d hear young, kind-of-thuggish kids walking about and down the hall all night,” he told author Judith Sylvester for her 2008 book The Media and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to The Washington Post.
    It was revealed this week that Williams’ portrayal of the security situation at the Ritz-Carlton during Hurricane Katrina may not be accurate. As The Post points out, three individuals have said no gangs infiltrated the hotel, as Williams claims. The Post also spoke with the hotel’s manager at the time, Myra DeGersdorff, who said the closest thing to there being “gangs” in the Ritz-Carlton was one incident where “maybe one or two” looters entered the hotel but were “immediately” chased out.
    Whether or not his story is true, Williams’s choice of words is telling. Why did he seek to portray the criminals as “thuggish kids”? It seems that in grasping for a scary stereotype to add drama to his story, he settled on a word that conveyed a very specific image — that of a young black male, and one that white people might find frightening. The word “thug” is particularly useful in conjuring that stereotype because it’s a loaded term that stays (just barely) within the boundaries of what’s typically deemed “acceptable” language.
    But “thug” is a heavy word, fraught with hidden meaning. “It seems like it’s an accepted way of calling somebody the N-word now,” said professional football player Richard Sherman during a press conference in January of last year after being called a “thug” by hundreds of people on TV and the Internet, merely because he’d briefly taunted a player from another team in the presence of a video camera (after a truly exceptional play which no doubt left him feeling exhilarated).
    Sherman asked, “Can a guy on a football field just talking to people” be a thug? He questioned whether people would use the word to refer to white athletes who were acting belligerently: “There was a hockey game where they didn’t even play hockey! They just threw the puck aside and started fighting. I saw that and said, ‘Ah, man, I’m the thug?’”
    Sherman’s remarks represent only one of the latest examples in an alarming trend, where the word “thug” is used as a kind of code. Ever since 2008, the word has been a convenient dog whistle for conservatives and the right-wing to refer to President Barack Obama. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Karl Rove and Michelle Malkin have all used the word to drum up anger against the president and his policies. Limbaugh in particular seems to employ it on a fairly regular basis for this purpose. (Hat tip to the research group Media Matters for America for keeping track.)

    Ex-Chicago Officer Accused of Torturing Black Men Is Released From Prison

    Jon Burge was transferred to a Florida halfway house Thursday, the report says. Burge and the detectives he supervised terrorized the city’s mainly black South Side throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, according to the report. He reportedly forced scores into making false confessions.
    But after the expiration of the statute of limitations for his alleged crimes, Burge was convicted of perjury in 2010 on a charge of lying about police torture, the report says. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison on the perjury conviction.
    On Thursday Anthony Holmes, one of Burge’s victims, stood at Chicago’s City Hall and recounted the pain he endured under Burge’s crew. He told reporters of being arrested in 1973 and taken to a police station where detectives hooked him up to an electrical box and put a bag over his head, the Tribune reports. Holmes said that officers shocked him repeatedly until he confessed to a murder he did not commit. The nearly 70-year-old Holmes recalled Burge calling him the n-word and warning him against biting through the bag over his head, the Tribune reports.
    “I need some help,” Holmes told a crowd of reporters, according to the Tribune. “I try to hold my emotions back because I don’t want people to see me like that. … My family has been through a lot.”

    Lawmaker Opposes Education Funding Because It Would Go To ‘Blacks’ Who Get ‘Welfare Crazy Checks’
    I’m getting the feeling that using ‘Blacks’ as opposed to ‘black people’ is quickly becoming something a little bit like ‘thug’ but more polite.

    A Mississippi state lawmaker said he opposed putting more money into elementary schools because he came from a town where “all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks.’ They don’t work.”
    In an interview with the Clarion-Ledger regarding education funding, state Rep. Gene Alday (R) stated his opposition to a push to increase funding to improve elementary school reading scores. Alday implied that increasing education funding for children in black families would be pointless.

    The Mississippi legislature recently advanced a bill that would provide exceptions to the reading policy for students with learning disabilities. The bill is opposed by Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who supports the third grade gate policy.
    “It’s disappointing that 62 members of the House of Representatives would vote to socially promote children who cannot read,” Bryant told the Clarion-Ledger. “With votes like this, it is little wonder that Mississippi’s public education system has been an abysmal failure.”
    Bryant’s critics suggest that he needs to change his approach. “If the governor is sincere about making universal literacy a gateway, rather than a gatekeeper, he would support full funding for what it will take to get the literacy job done,” said Mike Sayer, co-founder of Southern Echo, a grassroots civil rights group that works with African-American students.
    Alday staunchly opposes increasing the funding. “I don’t see any schools hurting,” he said.

    LeBron James Reveals He Won’t Let His Sons Play Outside With Toy Guns (DETAILS)

    During a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, James touched on the Ohio police shooting that left 12-year-old Tamir Rice dead last November — an event that resonates with the 30-year-old father of two. When asked if he’s had the “talk” with his sons, LeBron said:

    “I have those conversations with my boys. They have tons of play guns. None of them look real. We have Nerf guns that are lime green and purple and yellow,” he says. “But I don’t even let them take them out of the house.”

    Tamir was playing at a park with a toy gun when he was fatally shot by a rookie police officer.
    He continued, detailing what he will tell his sons — LeBron Jr., and Bryce Maximus — about how to respond during encounters with officers.

    “And the talk is, ‘You be respectful, you do what’s asked and you let them do their job, and we’ll take care of the rest after. You don’t have to boast and brag and automatically think it’s us against the police.’ I’ve had one or two encounters with the police in my life that were nothing. But sometimes you just got to shut up. It’s that simple. Just be quiet and let them do their job and go on about your life and hopefully things go well.”

    In recent months, James has been vocal about dismantling police violence nationwide. In December, James and a handful of NBA players donned “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts, an act of solidarity to honor the life of Eric Garner, the father of six who died when an NYPD officer placed him in an illegal chokehold last summer.

    “It’s not a Cavs thing,” James told ESPN at the time. “It’s a worldly thing.”
    “It’s just for us to make a [statement] to understand what we’re going through as a society,” James said when asked about the T-shirt. “I’ve been quoted over and over about what’s going on as far as it’s more of a notion to the family, more than anything. Obviously, as a society we have to do better. We have to be better for one another. It doesn’t matter what race you are. It’s more of a shout out to the family more than anything, because they’re the ones that should be getting all the energy and effort.”

  5. rq says

    When the @SLMPD arrest a group of non-violent protesters and then release the ones who are popular on Twitter, there is a problem.
    Y’all, @MsPackyetti is leading a Racial Identity Training Session right now. And it’s incredible. Here’s the pdf on that: Racial Identity Development. From a black people’s perspective and a white people’s perspective, very interesting… thought-provoking.

    This Is How Black Girls End Up in the School-To-Prison Pipeline

    According to a report released Wednesday, incidents such as these in which black girls are subject to harsh, apparently unwarranted school discipline and end up in the juvenile justice system are much more likely than the existing research and public conversation about the school-to-prison pipeline suggest. Concern and interventions focus largely on boys of color, particularly black boys. But according to the report, titled “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected,” black girls are also disciplined at disproportionately high rates compared to white girls and, as a result, are excluded from opportunities to learn. Black boys are suspended more than three times as often as white boys, and often that statistic is held up as sole proof of a problem. But if black girls are suspended six times more often than white girls, which data analysis in this new report finds, then why and what can be done to reduce that disparity?
    The report, authored by the African American Policy Forum in collaboration with Columbia Law School, looked at 2011–12 school year data collected by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and found:
    —Twelve percent of all black girls in school were suspended, while two percent of white girls were subjected to that form of discipline.
    —In New York City’s public schools, black students made up 28 percent of the student body and white students were 14 percent. But black girls were 90 percent of all girls expelled, and no white girls were expelled that school year.
    —In Boston’s public schools, black students made up 35 percent of the student body and white students were 14 percent. Black girls were 63 percent of all girls expelled, and no white girls were expelled that school year.
    The report goes beyond simply reporting the problem and recommends solutions, such as training teachers how to work with students traumatized by violence and sexual assault and recognizing that girls have needs that can differ from boys’ and so demand specially tailored solutions. “This cannot be a trickle-down affair,” Kimberlé Crenshaw, a legal scholar and one of the report’s authors, said Wednesday on a call to announce its release.
    As for the problems girls face at school, some of these were explored in depth in a New York Times article late last year that examined the same Office of Civil Rights data for insight into race, gender and school discipline. According to that story, intraracial disparities exist as well. “Researchers say that within minority groups, darker-skinned girls are disciplined more harshly than light-skinned ones,” Tanzina Vega reported. Vega focused on a district in Georgia where a 12-year-old black girl was accused of criminal trespassing after writing graffiti in a school bathroom. The girl’s friend, who was also involved and is white, faced no such charges because her family was able to pay $100 in restitution.
    But the difference in how white and black girls are disciplined often isn’t just about who has the money to buy their way out of harsh punishment and who doesn’t. Making a decision about whether and how to discipline a student is subjective, so biases around race and gender creep into calls educators have to make every day. According to the African American Policy Forum report, the girls interviewed in focus groups believed their teachers and school counselors often perceived them as “loud and rowdy, ghetto,” and so relied on harsh discipline practices as a way to counteract and try to root out those behaviors.
    Last fall, I interviewed educator and scholar Monique Morris for a story I was reporting about how teachers can address behavior problems without turning to suspensions or otherwise pushing students out of the classroom. Morris, who’s working on a book on the criminalization of black girls in schools, has conducted interviews and run focus groups across the San Francisco Bay Area and in Boston, New Orleans and Chicago with students who have struggled in or been ousted from the traditional school system. She said sometimes teachers and administrators think they’re doing something innocuous by teaching girls to be ladylike or to meet some other standard of femininity—by sending a girl wearing short shorts home or requiring that she stay in the office, for example—when in reality they’re doing harm.
    “They try to police girls’ sexuality in ways that really just marginalize them from the school environment,” Morris said. “In an attempt to try to show love and maybe even engage with the young women, they end up pushing them away and criminalizing their behavior in ways that are unnecessary.” Instead, these are moments when educators should focus on boys’ inappropriate behavior rather than solely blaming that behavior on the way a girl dresses, she said.
    As for solutions, Morris said the girls she’s interviewed are longing for dependable, caring relationships with teachers who believe in their promise.“The girls who have the best relationships with teachers are the ones who do the best in school,” she said.
    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Women’s Law Center have organized a congressional briefing on improving educational outcomes for black girls, including how to reform zero-tolerance discipline policies to avoid school pushout. The event is February 11 in Washington, DC, and open to the public.

    Civil Rights Icon John Lewis: Without Selma, Obama Would Not Be President

    “I don’t think as a group we had any idea that our marching feet would have such an impact 50 years later,” Lewis said in an interview on “Face The Nation.”
    “If it hadn’t been for that march across Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday, there would be no Barack Obama as president of the United States of America,” he said.

    Despite the progress since Bloody Sunday, Lewis said that the country still had more work to do on race relations. He said that the country had let the tensions surrounding the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown — an unarmed black teen fatally shot by a police officer — “drift away.” If the country passes on confronting the complex racial issues raised by Ferguson, Lewis said, there will be similar incidents in the future.
    “We can make progress, we can deal with the issue of justice, we can deal with the issue of police and communities,” he said. “You bring communities and law enforcement and not sweep the issues under the rug.”
    Lewis added that FBI Director James Comey made a “profound statement” last Thursday when he acknowledged that law enforcement officers carried racial biases.
    Even with those challenges, Lewis said that he still thought the United States could achieve a colorblind society.
    “Sometimes I feel like crying, tears of happiness, tears of joy, to see the distance we’ve come and the progress we’ve made,” Lewis said. “When people tell me nothing has changed, I just feel like saying, ‘Come and walk in my shoes. I will show you. I will take you to those places.'”

    Police dash cam shows part of contested arrest – until St. Louis officer turns camera off
    Dash cams solve everyone’sp roblems!

    As video cameras begin to sweep post-Ferguson policing — and policymakers grapple with whether to bar the public from watching the images — one such recording sits at the heart of a new lawsuit.
    It shows St. Louis police making an arrest that would later be called abusive, and catches an apparently surprised officer yelling, in part, “Everybody hold up. We’re red right now!” before she abruptly shuts off the camera.
    Joel Schwartz and Bevis Schock, lawyers who filed suit Jan. 22 on behalf of Cortez Bufford, said “red” is cop slang for a running camera. What is seen before the video stops, they claim, supports their accusations in St. Louis Circuit Court that police lacked probable cause and applied excessive force.
    The video, which St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s office had asked a private lawyer to delay releasing last summer, shows city officers pull Bufford from a car, kick him repeatedly and shock him with a Taser. It played a role in the dropping of charges against Bufford.
    But a lawyer for the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association insists that the video really reflects a proper escalation of force applied against a resisting suspect who was lucky he didn’t get shot when he reached for a gun.
    Police Chief Sam Dotson declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

    More at the link.

    By performing on the ground Kanye is forcing the audience to compare his body to the dead bodies of black folk.

  6. rq says

    Here’s another on the dashcam situation: Police dash cam shows part of contested arrest – until St. Louis officer turns camera off

    And Shaun King on the same, via DailyKos: St. Louis police and mayor do not want you to see this video of police brutality

    On April 10, 2014, four months before Ferguson teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by St. Louis area police, another 18 year old, Cortez Bufford, was pulled over by police in St. Louis for “making an illegal u-turn.” Within a few minutes, a full-fledged scandal ensued and the the mayor of St. Louis has worked for months to keep it from the public.
    The video is below, but let’s break down the key facts. Let’s start with the strange reality that all charges were dropped against Cortez Bufford. These charges were:
    1. Police alleged that Bufford was a suspect in an area shooting.
    2. Police alleged they saw marijuana in the car.
    3. Police alleged they recovered an illegally owned gun from Bufford.
    4. Police alleged that Bufford made an illegal u-turn.
    5. Police alleged that Bufford kicked officers and resisted arrest.
    Now, think for a moment, and ask yourself why in the world would all charges be dropped against a young black with all of those things stacked against him? If it doesn’t add up, the video will make sense of it for you. At around 6:00 in the video, police force Cortez Bufford out of the car and begin assaulting him, kicking him, using their taser on him multiple times and even screaming for him to remain still while they tase him.

    Officer Kelli Swinton approaches Burkemper’s patrol car. There is the sound of an opening car door, and she loudly declares: “Hold up. Hold up, y’all. Hold up. Hold up, everybody, hold up. We’re red right now, so if you guys are worried about cameras, just wait.”
    The audio cuts out, and the video ends eight seconds later.
    In response to an open records request, City Counselor Winston Calvert released the same video on Friday, plus views from other dash cams.
    One shows that after Burkemper’s camera stopped, officers continued to huddle around Bufford. That camera shuts off, too, leaving a gap of more than two minutes before Bufford is seen on it again, stumbling and falling once as he’s taken to a police vehicle. Other videos show unrelated scenes and both Bufford and his passenger sitting inside vehicles.

    For 10 months, the mayor of St. Louis and the St. Louis police have worked to conceal this video knowing full well that it creates a negative image of their department and their work to remain on the up and up with the public. Yes, dash cams and body cameras are essential, but if any video has ever proven the need for real policies on how they are managed, it’s this.

    @ShaunKing @deray Again, cameras without an accountability structure will not work. No reforms will work w/o accountability.

    Nancy Green, aka “Aunt Jemima”, was the world’s first living trademark and signed a lifetime contract in the 1890s.

    .@deray “Aunt Jemima has become known as one of the most exploited and abused women in American history,” said one of her great-grandsons.

    7 out of the 11 major U.S. currency notes and coins (1, 5, 10, 25 cent coins, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 dollar notes) feature slave owners.

  7. rq says

    Scientists Reveal Secrets Behind Hip Hop’s Most Complicated Rhymes

    “With ‘traditional’ rhyme, the decision about whether two words rhyme or not is something we can explain pretty easily based on our conscious reflection (either they’re the same or they’re not),” Dr. Wendell Kimper, a linguistics professor at the university who supervised the research, told The Huffington Post in an email. “With half-rhyme, it becomes a lot harder to figure out where to draw the line — we know that it has something to do with how similar the sounds are to each other, but as an individual you wouldn’t be able to explain precisely why one half-rhyme works and another doesn’t. When it comes to speech sounds, there’s still a lot we don’t know about similarity and how to measure it.”
    For the research, Kimper’s student Louise Middleton, a third-year linguistics student at the university, examined the music of eight different rappers, paying close attention to their rhyming structures and patterns, vocabulary size, rhyme rate and the position of the rhyme in or across lines. The first 2,000 words from each artists’ debut album were analyzed.
    “It was a big enough sample to produce statistically significant differences between artists, and statistically significant correlations between certain types of rhyme and artists’ vocabulary size,” Kimper said in the email.
    So, what did Middleton find?
    “My research found that over 70 percent of the time artists used half-rhyme, such as ‘hop-rock,’ rather than traditional rhymes,” Middleton said in a written statement. “These imperfect rap rhymes are not something that you simply come up with on the spot but something that popular rap artists have the natural ability to create.”

    The Golden 13, the first black commissioned and warrant officers in the Navy. , wiki link:

    The CBC found the story: Civil rights lawyers sue Ferguson over ‘debtors’ prisons’

    Lawyers allege that the cities of Ferguson and nearby Jennings are routinely violating their citizens’ civil rights by locking people up for unpaid fines — a practice that hits the poor, and people of colour, especially hard.
    And the issue of local governments squeezing the poor for municipal revenue goes far beyond Ferguson and Jennings. It affects hundreds of communities across the United States.
    To find out more, we were joined by:
    • Michael-John Voss is the co-founder and managing attorney of ArchCity Defenders.
    • Chris Albin-Lackey is a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch in New York City. He authored the 2014 report, “Profiting from Probation: America’s ‘Offender-Funded’ Probation Industry.”

    Audio at the link.

    And the Sea Salt Company came up with a very avant garde advertisement. Remove the picture of a noose and the disgusting name “The Hanging Tree”, this is pretty offensive @seasaltcompany See pictures for puke-value.

    Yup, Voter ID Laws Have Nothing to Do With Fraud

    Put another way, the rush for voter ID has nothing to do with fraud—which is near non-existent—and everything to do with political gain. And for Republicans who want the most bang for their voter suppression buck, African Americans are an obvious target; reduce their share of black voters in the electorate, and—in states like Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina—you cripple Democratic chances in statewide elections.
    It’s not hard to see how this works. If you’re impoverished, unbanked, or otherwise outside of the mainstream economy, it’s hard to collect or purchase documents, and file for ID. Moreover, it’s simply true that, because of past discrimination and persistent racial inequality, blacks are more likely to fall into those categories. Any law that makes voting a function of resources—which is how voter identification laws work—is a law that will disproportionately harm African Americans.
    If this research says anything, it’s that partisan Republicans know this, and are acting accordingly. Does this make them “racists?” I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. What matters are outcomes, and with voter ID laws, the GOP is pursuing that one that’s unambiguously harmful to black people.

  8. rq says

    George Washington, Slave Catcher

    While Lincoln’s role in ending slavery is understood to have been more nuanced than his reputation as the great emancipator would suggest, it has taken longer for us to replace stories about cherry trees and false teeth with narratives about George Washington’s slaveholding.
    When he was 11 years old, Washington inherited 10 slaves from his father’s estate. He continued to acquire slaves — some through the death of family members and others through direct purchase. Washington’s cache of enslaved people peaked in 1759 when he married the wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis. His new wife brought more than 80 slaves to the estate at Mount Vernon. On the eve of the American Revolution, nearly 150 souls were counted as part of the property there.
    In 1789, Washington became the first president of the United States, a planter president who used and sanctioned black slavery. Washington needed slave labor to maintain his wealth, his lifestyle and his reputation. As he aged, Washington flirted with attempts to extricate himself from the murderous institution — “to get quit of Negroes,” as he famously wrote in 1778. But he never did.
    During the president’s two terms in office, the Washingtons relocated first to New York and then to Philadelphia. Although slavery had steadily declined in the North, the Washingtons decided that they could not live without it. Once settled in Philadelphia, Washington encountered his first roadblock to slave ownership in the region — Pennsylvania’s Gradual Abolition Act of 1780.
    The act began dismantling slavery, eventually releasing people from bondage after their 28th birthdays. Under the law, any slave who entered Pennsylvania with an owner and lived in the state for longer than six months would be set free automatically. This presented a problem for the new president.
    Washington developed a canny strategy that would protect his property and allow him to avoid public scrutiny. Every six months, the president’s slaves would travel back to Mount Vernon or would journey with Mrs. Washington outside the boundaries of the state. In essence, the Washingtons reset the clock. The president was secretive when writing to his personal secretary Tobias Lear in 1791: “I request that these Sentiments and this advise may be known to none but yourself & Mrs. Washington.”
    Washington almost made it through his two terms in office without a major incident involving his slave ownership. On a spring evening in May of 1796, though, Ona Judge, the Washingtons’ 22-year-old slave woman, slipped away from the president’s house in Philadelphia. At 15, she had joined the Washingtons on their tour of Northern living. She was among a small cohort of nine slaves who lived with the president and his family in Philadelphia. Judge was Martha Washington’s first attendant; she took care of Mrs. Washington’s personal needs.
    What prompted Judge’s decision to bolt was Martha Washington’s plan to give Judge away as a wedding gift to her granddaughter. Judge fled Philadelphia for Portsmouth, N.H., a city with 360 free black people, and virtually no slaves. Within a few months of her arrival, Judge married Jack Staines, a free black sailor, with whom she had three children. Judge and her offspring were vulnerable to slave catchers. They lived as free people, but legally belonged to Martha Washington.
    Washington and his agents pursued Judge for three years, dispatching friends, officials and relatives to find and recapture her. Twelve weeks before his death, Washington was still actively pursuing her, but with the help of close allies, Judge managed to elude his slave-catching grasp.
    George Washington died on Dec. 14, 1799. At the time of his death, 318 enslaved people lived at Mount Vernon and fewer than half of them belonged to the former president. Washington’s will called for the emancipation of his slaves following the death of his wife. He completed in death what he had been unwilling to do while living, an act made easier because he had no biological children expecting an inheritance. Martha Washington lived until 1802 and upon her death all of her human property went to her inheritors. She emancipated no one.
    When asked by a reporter if she had regrets about leaving the Washingtons, Judge responded, “No, I am free, and have, I trust, been made a child of God by the means.” Ona Judge died on Feb. 25, 1848. She has earned a salute during the month of February.

    TONIGHT @ #HSSU! Making the Connection: Meeting of the Minds between Students & Activists! 10pm until midnight.

    No free rein for misinforming and confusing jurors

    This lawsuit, Grand Juror Doe vs. Robert McCulloch in his official capacity as a Prosecuting Attorney,” deserves updates and editorial endorsements. It is a unique way to punish prosecutors for potential fraud against the court through misinformation, confusion and lack of timeliness as the grand juror points out in the complaint, which is supported and litigated by the ACLU. Specifically, Doe filed that “the presentation was made in a muddled and untimely manner.” Fraud against the court is a prosecutable offense.
    This is the charge that McCulloch and his team, including assistant prosecutor Kathy Alizadeh, could face. Alizadeh handed the grand jury a 1979 Missouri law that claimed it is legal to shoot a fleeing suspect — and did not tell them that the Supreme Court overturned the law 30 years ago, in 1985. Two weeks later, she gave the grand jury a document that reflected the current state of the law. But she told the jurors to fold in half the first document in order to remind themselves not to “necessarily rely on that because there is a portion of that that doesn’t comply with the law.” Confused, a juror asked if U.S. Supreme Court rulings overturn Missouri law. Instead of answering a simple “Yes,” another assistant district attorney spoke up and responded, “We don’t want to get into a law class.”
    Advertisement: Story Continues Below
    As a result, the grand jury operated on an unclear understanding of the relevant law for whether Darren Wilson was legally justified to shoot Michael Brown as he ran away (regardless of the confusion of whether he was surrendering or not).
    In addition, McCulloch and his team never confronted Officer Wilson sufficiently about why and how Michael Brown was shot the second time from 35 feet away. Since the officer claimed he was aware that Brown was unarmed, why didn’t the policeman shoot the final shots at the legs to disable rather than the head to kill?
    The ACLU, representing juror Doe in the case, asks that the judge lift restrictions on Doe’s First Amendment right to discuss the prosecution’s actions. The juror further argues that prosecutor McCulloch discussed the nonindictment in a way that falsely made the grand jury’s findings appear unanimous. However, only four of the 12 were sufficient to block the indictment and as many as eight, a majority, may have voted to indict.
    Prosecutors could also be held accountable in Staten Island, where the videographer who shot the footage of the illegal death-inducing choke hold and the “I can’t breathe” statements was dismissed after just 10 minutes of testimony, with no penetrating questions regarding what he saw, the angles, the time duration, the results and the like.
    There are a lot of proposals to improve future prosecutions’ objectivity, including police body cameras, training and community policing. These are all excellent and necessary, but prosecutors are the final bulwark when injustice is actually committed. The knowledge that they, too, are subject to prosecution and criminal cases will go a long way toward equalizing race and justice in America.
    The Doe case is an excellent first step, but is not as far as the jurors could and should go, not only for the right to speak but to hold the prosecution accountable. Tony Rothert, legal director of the Missouri ACLU, said his group is also supporting suits that would directly confront McCulloch and his team for fraud and removing McCulloch from office. Rothert says he “wants to get the conversation going.” These suits are also underreported in the media.

    First African=American woman licensed to practice medicine in America: Pioneer “@IsisPaperzZ: Nobody GAVE black women shit. “@ShannonLeeKiss: “”

    America’s Worst President
    , video at the link.

    Every February, a national holiday celebrates the accomplishments of the various men who have held America’s highest office. But this Presidents Day, let’s take a moment to remember the man who betrayed his running mate, Abraham Lincoln; let the South off easy after the Civil War; turned a blind eye on rampant domestic terrorism; and ensured a full century of disenfranchisement for black Americans. The video above makes the case that Andrew Johnson is inarguably America’s worst president.

    “Blacks around the table” Absent from the Academy

    If universities and higher education institutions exist as key sites for the manufacture of culture and knowledge, what impact does this lack of representation within Higher Education have on our nations and institutions? When we discuss issues such as institutional racism within the Metropolitan Police, or the excessively high rates of black underemployment, or growing ethnicity related health inequalities, is it possible to make sense of these phenomena without also looking at cultural reproduction? How are such phenomena created and shaped by experiences and discourses within the academies?
    With these questions in mind I wanted to use film to find out more about what lies behind the dearth of black professors within Higher Education. Absent From The Academy attempts to trace and uncover the impact that the lack of black professors has on the UK. I won’t go into too much detail here about my findings, as you can watch the film below. There were however a number of tangents that I was unable to include in the film, a few of which I think would be relevant for us to discuss now.

    In both the UK and the United States massive racial underrepresentation and flagrant misrepresentation also blights much of the media industry. The discourses and practices that feed into this industry, incubated in universities around the world, are marked by an implicit whiteness. I was reminded of this in the Award Season Roundtable series, featuring director Steve McQueen that took place in 2012. In the presence of some of Hollywood’s most well renowned directors, all of whom were white (and male), except McQueen – the interviewer asks McQueen specifically, why there are so few female and black directors. At this point it is only possible to imagine the conversation that would have ensued without the presence of McQueen.
    Alas, instead of answering the question posed, McQueen sidelined it in favour of another, asking instead how it is possible for directors to make films set in places such as New York and LA and not cast a single black or Latino person in any role of relevance. ‘Why is that?’ asks the interviewer, ‘I don’t know’ McQueen responds, ‘Ask them’, pointing to his fellow directors.
    The silence that follows is mesmerizing. McQueen has shone a light directly onto their previously invisible and naturalized whiteness. There is little they can say by way of response. The only option available is to question their own motives, their own positions in relation to accepted modes of Hollywood practice. They of course collectively decline to engage in such a conversation, but by that point it doesn’t really matter, the implications resonate across our screens.

    Both Rob Berkeley and Dr. Shilliam spoke off-camera with me about black academics that have specialized in topics such as German philosophy or Greek ethics, only to find gainful employment in those fields a struggle. A struggle not because they lacked the relevant knowledge to teach or to pursue further research in these areas, but because they were often overlooked for those roles, as they did not fit the image of such a scholar.
    This notion of racial specialization plays itself out everyday in HE in obvious but unchallenged ways – such as in the notions that Indians excel in computer science, blacks the arts, East Asians in mathematics. These types of stereotypes exist within universities and can impact upon the ways in which heads of departments, lecturers, teaching assistants and senior administrators interact with new academics and learners, as well as who gets funding and additional support.[…]

    Ahmed’s point is that not only can Black and brown people appear as aberrations within the spaces shaped by institutional whiteness, our bodies can also feel the weight of whiteness. We do not blend into the environment. Instead we can remain in a perpetual state of an excruciating Fanonian self-awareness ‘exposed, visible and different’, with our aspirations, capacities and habits held in check by the structures around us.
    While our experiences of university life can be personally disorientating and problematic, I don’t think we should be discouraged. There are increasing numbers of inspirational black academics and for that matter, fellow students, that are transforming the classroom, institutional cultures and knowledge itself. There is much to be gained from our presence.

  9. rq says

    The phenomenon of us being surprised (pleasantly or horribly) by facts from black history is a direct consequence of erasure’s success.

    Yay! Little League: Jackie Robinson West didn’t cheat

    The vice president of the Evergreen Park Athletic Association, which runs the Little League program for a portion of the southwest suburbs, said Tuesday he began expressing concerns about the authenticity of residences reported by Jackie Robinson West team members in late August, around the time the South Side team made its way up the ranks at the international Little League games in Pennsylvania.
    “The further Jackie Robinson progressed … the less interested people seemed to be in finding out the truth about where these guys actually live,” said Chris Janes, vice president of the Evergreen Park Athletic Association.
    But Brian McClintock, a spokesman for Little League International, which organizes the Little League World Series, said in an emailed statement Tuesday the organization investigated the residency complaints, and is “confident that the documentation provided to the organization from Jackie Robinson West Little League meets the residency regulations for the 2014 Little League Baseball tournament season” and the issue is considered “closed at this time.”
    Janes’ allegations that some members of the team didn’t live within the team’s boundaries were first reported Tuesday by DNAinfo[dot]com.
    McClintock said the organization confirmed the residency documentation of the Jackie Robinson West team at the beginning of tournament play in June, and reviewed it a second time in October after a neighboring league contacted it with questions about the players’ eligibility.
    “Following this additional review, our initial determination that the Jackie Robinson West players meet eligibility requirements still stands. Little League considers the issue closed at this time,” McClintock said in the emailed statement.
    Parents of team members reached Tuesday also said the allegations lack merit.
    “Every last kid lived in or went to school within the boundaries,” said Christopher Green, whose son, Brandon, 13, played catcher and pitcher. “They’ve (the Evergreen Park league) filed a complaint before when they lost. I just think it’s ridiculous they would bring this same allegation again.”
    “Some of these kids have been playing together from a very young age. That’s why they’re that good,” Green said.
    The Jackie Robinson West team became Chicago’s summer love story, taking the national Little League championship in August with a 7-5defeat over Las Vegas. During their rise to the top, the city hosted watch parties that drew hundreds.
    Janes said his essential concern is not about “taking something away from somebody else,” but rather ensuring teams follow the rules.
    “If leagues can manipulate these rules as easily as it appears they have, it’s going to give a whole lot of incentive to other leagues to do the same,” said Janes, who added that he is a father of three children who currently play in the Evergreen Park league. “What that’ll ultimately do is take away from Little League.”
    Carlton Hondras, father of Jackie Robinson West player Trey Hondras, said that he and other parents have nothing to hide.
    “We didn’t do anything wrong,” Hondras said. “Everything I did was in the best interest of my son and my family. I wouldn’t do anything to embarrass my family or the (Jackie Robinson) league.
    “I’m a little disgusted people would go to this measure to turn something a group of 13 kids tried to do as positive into a negative. I don’t understand that.”

    Miss. Judge Who Reportedly Hit Mentally Disabled Man and Yelled ‘Run, N–ger, Run’ Indicted After 9 Months

    Nine months ago a now-former Mississippi judge is alleged to have smacked a mentally disabled man before yelling, “Run, n–ger, run.” In response to that incident, a grand jury has “served an indictment for simple assault on a vulnerable adult,” the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.
    There was no word on why the process to indict former Madison County Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger took so long, but Weisenberger’s attorney told the newspaper in an emailed statement that the former judge has been cooperative since the alleged May 8 incident.
    According to witnesses who spoke with news station WAPT, 20-year-old Eric Rivers, an African-American man with special needs, was working as a traffic monitor and parking attendant at a Canton, Miss., flea market May 8, when Weisenberger reportedly smacked him and yelled, “Run, n–ger, run.”
    On Thursday, Weisenberger turned himself in to the Madison County sheriff and was released on $10,000 bond.
    “From the beginning of this matter, Judge Weisenberger has cooperated with each law-enforcement and investigatory agency that wanted to know what actually occurred at the Canton Flea Market last spring,” Weisenberger’s lawyer, Bill Kirksey, wrote in an emailed statement viewed by the Clarion-Ledger. “Judge Weisenberger has denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing or the commission of any crime against any person.”
    Kirksey also noted that he has no idea why this case has not been resolved faster; the Clarion-Ledger notes that some four grand juries came and went without ever having this case presented to them. He added that the attorney general’s office controls which cases the grand jury hears.
    The Clarion-Ledger reports that during the nine months that this case has been active but not resolved, Weisenberger has received his annual salary of $45,700, “though he voluntarily stepped down from the bench.”

    The article lists other misbehaviour by the same judge. Why is he a judge again?

    More than 100 workers, students, and faculty braving the cold at #umn supporting @WhoseDiv demands!

    A black Union soldier posted at a Slave Auction House, Whitehall Street, Atlanta (1864)

    Event called ‘Processing the Black Experience in St Louis’, for activists interested in healthy ways of processing trauma. RSVP- free group being offered this week! Please share the info. #stlabpsi #heal #workingthrutrauma

  10. rq says

    Target. America. Picture of a black man at the doctor’s, with a target on his back, the doctor asks: “How long have you had this?” The black man is thinking: “Too long…”

    The movement started with MB getting killed by a white cop. YES. But then ALL kinds of Black folks showed up to fight the good fight…
    …then those who are often marginalized were again marginalized within their own community while fighting for freedom.
    But those marginalized (women, the young, the LGBT) are suppose to shut up and deal while putting OUR bodies on the line? FUCK THAT.

    Black girls are suspended from school 6 times more often than white girls

    But new research by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies suggests that race is an even more significant factor when it comes to how girls are treated in school.
    The conclusion: The toll that harsh disciplinary policies and zero tolerance environments take on black female students deserves much more attention.
    Here’s one powerful example, based on data from schools in Boston and New York City, and published in the report, “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected”: researchers found that suspension rates for black girls when compared to white girls were even higher than those of black boys versus white boys. While black boys are suspended three times more than white boys — a pretty shocking disparity — black girls are suspended a staggering six times more than white girls.

    The researchers conclude that the way race, gender, and class issues work to push black girls out of school is tragically under-explored in conversations about racial educational disparities, which tend to focus disproportionately on the experiences of black boys.
    “The particular disparities facing Black girls are largely unrecognized in the mainstream discourse about punitive policies in public education,” the report’s authors wrote. “Consequently, efforts to confront the challenge of ensuring equitable and fair opportunities for Black girls in school remain underdeveloped.”

    What exactly is a microaggression?

    What makes microaggressions different from other rude or insensitive actions or comments?
    Microaggressions are more than just insults, insensitive comments, or generalized jerky behavior.
    They’re something very specific: the kinds of remarks, questions, or actions that are painful because they have to do with a person’s membership in a group that’s discriminated against or subject to stereotypes. And a key part of what makes them so disconcerting is that they happen casually, frequently, and often without any harm intended, in everyday life.
    They happen casually, frequently, and often without any harm intended.
    This is how psychologist Derald W. Sue, who’s written two books on microaggressions , defines the term: “The everyday slights, indignities, put downs and insults that people of color, women, LGBT populations or those who are marginalized experiences in their day-to-day interactions with people.”
    As he explained in the video below, which provides an overview of the concept, microaggressions often appear to be a compliment or a joke, but contain a hidden insult about a group of people (as in the example above, about the Asian-American student’s English, or when a lesbian is told, “You don’t look like you’re gay!” )
    Given the way social media gives a rare platform to a lot of the same groups who field these sorts of daily insults, it’s caught on and has become a popular topic of discussion on Twitter and Tumblr, especially among young people.
    Harvard University students’ “I, Too, Am Harvard” campaign — a collection of photos and testimonials about the microaggressions black students experienced — was hugely popular. There are Tumblrs dedicated to chronicling microaggressions at colleges including St. Olaf University, Swarthmore College, Oberlin College, Dartmouth College and Smith College, too.
    Here, students quote the things people have said to them (“You’re so lucky to be black — so easy to get into college,” and “You can’t be a woman if you can’t reproduce,”) and vent about their frustrations with the types of comments they have to field. (“‘What are you?’ is not an introduction.”)
    In an April 2014 interview with USA Today, Sue that he was happy to see the term go “mainstream,” and said he’d noticed that college students found microaggressions “experientially true.” In other words, people have embraced it because it described things that are really happening to them.
    Are microaggressions the same as racism, sexism, and homophobia?
    They are based on some of the same core ideas about people who are minorities or are marginalized in America (for example, that they’re not smart, that they don’t belong, or that they make good punchlines), but microaggressions are a little different from overtly racist, sexist, or homopohobic acts or comments because they typically don’t have any negative intent or hostility behind them.
    Sue explained in his video primer on the topic, “People who engage in microagressions are ordinary folks who experience themselves as good, moral, decent individuals. Microaggressions occur because they are outside the level of conscious awareness of the perpetrator.”
    “It (is not) the overt racists, the white supremacists, the Klan, the skinheads,” he told USA Today. But, he clarified, in some ways, this makes them all the more dangerous. The outright bigots, he explained, “are less likely to affect the standard of my living than individuals who are well-intentioned — educators, employers, health care providers — who are unaware of their biases.”
    In this way, microaggressions are closely tied to implicit biases, which are the attitudes, stereotypes and assumptions that we’re not even aware of, that can creep into our minds and affect our actions (also known as, “thoughts about people you didn’t know you had.”)
    A person with implicit bias against black people might have trouble connecting “black” with positive terms on the Implicit Association Test, a computerized test designed to measure how closely we associate certain topics in our minds. It’s fair to guess that that same person might be someone who gets a little nervous — and shows it — when she first sees a black man in the elevator she’s about to enter. So, more than expressions of conscious prejudice or intentional bigoted statements, you can think of microaggressions as implicit biases come to life in our everyday interactions.
    And yes, just like we all harbor various prejudices, we’ve all probably subjected someone to a microaggression at some point in life.
    What do I do if I want to avoid subjecting people to microaggressions?
    In short: make an effort.
    It’s not very hard to put some thought into the biases you might hold, become curious about the way your words and actions are perceived by others, listen when people explain why certain remarks offend them, and make it a habit stop for a beat and think before you speak, especially when you’re weighing in on someone’s identity.
    In his video on microaggressions, Sue offered five suggestions for things individuals can do to avoid them:
    1. Be constantly vigilant of your own biases and fears.
    2. Seek out interaction with people who differ from you (in terms of race, culture, ethnicity, and other qualities).
    3. Don’t be defensive.
    4. Be open to discussing your won attitudes and biases ad how they might have hurt others or in some sense revealed bias on your part.
    5. Be an ally, by standing personally against all forms of bias and discrimination.
    Bonus tip: Peruse the many examples of microaggressions that have been chronicled in articles, in academic research, and using social media. Once you hear about how they affect people, chances are, you will be more aware of what they look like, and suddenly much less likely to repeat them.

  11. rq says

  12. says

    @rq #5

    I absolutely agree about the racial disparity. White people get away with things black people can’t even dream of doing without being hunted down by these thugs in uniform.
    When I look at the narrative in media about such incidents, hearing the police commissioners/authorities talk about them: It seems to be taken for granted that the police have the right to use extreme force at even a hint of non-cooperation or struggle (completely disregarding the needs of suicidal or impaired people, or simply someone who doesn’t understand: children, older foreign nationals). That they choose to use discretion only for certain races and not others is the core issue. But don’t you feel it would help if we take away their “ammo” (that use of force is considered OK at the smallest of suspicions)?

  13. rq says

    Sagar Keer
    I feel that is a whole different conversation. We are not on this thread to discuss policing methods as such, we are here to discuss the effects of racism in everyday life, including that of police officers and how they police, and their (un)conscious biases. Taking away police officers’ use of force privileges will not stop racism. Talking about racism and how to stop it will stop racism.

  14. Anne Fenwick says

    If this is a thread to complain about all things racist in American life, I’d like to complain about the huge number of white Americans who’ve casually, gratuitously and ‘helpfully’ warned me away from black-majority areas and events. It both reflects and perpetuates the minset which leads to higher levels of engagement between law enforcement and black people which leads to more incarcerations and shootings. Also, it’s a form of slander, and while I usually disapprove of patriotism, slandering your compatriots to foreign visitors is about as shitty as it gets. Please stop doing it or letting people do it around you.

    Not that anyone here does that, I’m sure. Do you guys have any idea how often it happens?

  15. rq says

    Anne Fenwick
    Officially or unofficially?
    By that I mean, by city policy of some kind (or company, or real estate company, or etc) or by ordinary everyday folk? Because the former floats up from time to time in articles about ‘unofficial’ city division or where people are advised to buy homes, etc. The latter is harder to track, but I’m certain it happens.

  16. rq says

    On with the links!
    First Black Student being Harassed (Colorized)

    Interlude: music! In a New Video, Joey Bada$$ Takes on Police Shootings of Unarmed Black Men

    Some might describe the Brooklyn rapper Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott, a.k.a. Joey Bada$$, as up-and-coming, but it seems he’s already arrived. Even if his debut album, B4.DA.$$, was released just three weeks ago, the 20-year-old has already co-founded a successful hip-hop collective called Pro Era (which you may recognize from the t-shirt Malia Obama was wearing in her leaked Instagram selfie), performed for thousands on stages all over the world, and racked up millions of views on SoundCloud and YouTube.

    The new album was released to critical acclaim, garnering favorable comparisons to the iconic rapper Nas, who also gained fame and respect as a teenager. That’s partly by design: Bada$$ credits Nas as a source of inspiration, and, like Nas, he’s using his beats and metaphors to highlight social ills. “I think music is the most powerful tool when it comes to spreading messages and getting words across,” he told me over the phone. “It plays a really big part.”

    His latest single, “Like Me,” which Bada$$ premiered last month on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, gives his take on the recent string of shootings of unarmed black men by police, and on some of the baggage that comes with being born black in America. “My way of protesting is through my music,” he says. “With this newfound stature I have this voice where if I say something, a lot of people listen to it.”

    Bada$$ says the new video (premiered above) channels his state of mind: We see him caught up in a situation over a girl. He’s accosted by a man with a gun, and even though he’s unarmed, he becomes a police target. “In the video, the hot-headed guy, he gets killed by the police with a gun in his hand. And me, the cool guy, who is away from all the violence, I still end up being mixed in the loop—just being a victim because of my surroundings or where I’m from.” You’ll also catch some references to Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown.

    Yet the song and video both end with an element of hope. Bada$$ had wanted to leave people pondering. “I pray that there is hope,” he explains. “But even the fact that I have to dream like that is what’s disturbing. My message is that it can happen to any one of us.”

    Video at the link.

    Haha, Roorda! Controversial St. Louis police union leader muzzled when it comes to civilian review

    The St. Louis Police Officers Association’s business manager, Jeff Roorda, had spoken on behalf of city police officers on every topic up until Jan. 28, including the creation of a civilian board to review police shootings.

    But during a chaotic public hearing on the matter at City Hall that night, Roorda wore a bracelet with the words, “I am Darren Wilson,” shouted at an alderman about restoring order to the meeting and got into a scuffle with a protester that is still under investigation.

    Roorda’s actions dominated headlines following the meeting and led the St. Louis Police Officers Association to appoint union attorney Neil Bruntrager as the point person on the issue of civilian review, Bruntrager said.

    “It is very important that we as an organization portray ourselves in the most positive light,” Bruntrager said.

    “I also don’t believe (Roorda) did anything inappropriate … but I also think that people expect us to meet a higher standard, and our duty is to do that. Rather than be in a position where we have to explain the behavior, whether good or bad, it’s better if we only have to talk about the legal issues involved in this bill.

    “That’s what the executive board wants to do and that’s what Jeff wants to do, and as a consequence, I’m dealing with these issues. It’s about the issues and not about the people.”

    Roorda said he doesn’t regret any of his actions during the meeting and says wearing the bracelet was exercising his right to freedom of speech.

    Not entirely sure where he’s being muzzled. Perhaps someone else can point that out to me.

    Workers Awarded $15,000,000 After Bosses Called Them ‘N–gers’ and Separated Them by Race

    Seven Denver warehouse workers were awarded some $15 million after a federal judge found that bosses separated the blacks from other workers because of their race and called them n–gers and “lazy, stupid Africans.”

    The judge also found that managers at Matheson Trucking and Matheson Flight Extenders Inc. discriminated against the workers “in all phases of employment, including hiring, termination, conditions of employment, promotion, vacation pay, furlough, discipline, work shifts, benefits and wages,” the Daily Mail notes.

    According to the Denver Post, many of the plaintiffs were from the African country of Mali, one was from Brazil and another was a white whistleblower, who was dubbed “the tribe’s assistant” and ultimately lost his job after he complained about the treatment of his co-workers.

    “Basically, I did the right thing. This isn’t 1960 anymore,” Dean Patricelli, the white employee, told the Denver Post.

    The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit were Ernie Duke, Mahamet Camara, Andre De Oliveira, Bemba Diallo, Salif Diallo and Macire Diarra.

    The Denver Post reports that managers at Matheson, a Sacramento, Calif., company that moves large quantities of mail for the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx, forced blacks to work on one side of the warehouse, while whites worked on the other. The lawsuit filed by the workers also claimed that supervisors not only called the black employees racist names but allowed white employees to do the same, and that prime days on which workers could make double pay were given to white workers regardless of seniority.

    On one occasion, the Daily Mail notes, “an employee yelled that all black people should be shot.”

    According to the employees’ lawsuit, which was filed in 2010, things became unbearable in 2007 when Leslie Capra became the station manager. The lawsuit claimed that Capra was “more openly hostile toward black employees.” As such, working conditions quickly deteriorated.

    The verdict, which was handed down Wednesday, “includes $13 million in punitive damages, $318,000 in back pay for workers who were fired for being black and another $650,000 for emotional distress,” according to the Denver Post.

    Stacey Campbell, an attorney for Matheson, says the company “prides itself on hiring and employing a highly diverse workforce consisting of men and women of different races and cultures” and plans to appeal the decision, according to the Post.

    Apparently these things still happen. o.o

    Tangentially related, 16 theories for why crime plummeted in the US

    Around 24 years ago, crime rates in the US started to mysteriously decline. Since then, crime has fallen by roughly half, with violent crimes plummeting by roughly 51 percent and property crimes decreasing by about 43 percent.

    Almost as soon as the crime decline began, criminologists started trying to figure out the reasons. Different theories have come in and out of vogue over the past couple of decades. Some theories, such as mass incarceration, seemed very sound in the 1990s, but have been called into question as more data has come in. Some surprising theories, such as one related to the decreasing lead content in gasoline, have recently gained momentum.

    In a massive new report released Thursday, the Brennan Center for Justice looked at more than a dozen of these explanations and ran statistical analyses to show how much of the crime decline can be attributed to each one of them. Their conclusion is that a lot of things had some effect on crime in the 1990s — but there was no smoking gun.

    But even the Brennan report, by its own admission, only tells part of the story. It didn’t account for some additional theories touted by criminal justice experts, such as the idea that technology keeps people indoors. So we rounded up some of the Brennan Center’s ideas, plus a few they didn’t mention, to analyze 16 popular theories for the plummeting crime rate.

    Includes “More criminals in prison” with obligatory picture of black man; “More police on the streets” and “Broken-window policing”; other things like the economy, technology keeping people inside, gentrification (? really?) and the aging population. A few better-known theories (like legalized abortion, lead in the air) are also included.

    The indomitable. Ruth Bader Ginsburg on abortion, race and the broken Congress

    Ginsburg was more voluble about the lingering legacy of racial oppression in the United States. One of her most stinging dissents came in 2013 with Shelby County v. Holder, the 5-4 decision gutting the Voting Rights Act on the theory that federal protections against discriminatory state voting laws were no longer needed.

    The majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, effectively ended the system of preclearance, where states and localities with a history of racial discrimination in voting must clear any changes to voting laws with the federal government.

    “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” Ginsburg famously wrote then.

    In contrast to her conservative colleagues, some of whose decisions have rested on the premise that racism is an artifact of the past, Ginsburg told msnbc, “People who think you could wave a magic wand and the legacy of the past will be over are blind.” Residential and educational segregation persist, she said, as does discrimination in lending.

    “We’ve come a long way from the days where there was state enforced segregation,” Ginsburg said. “But we still have a way to go.”

    Her thoughts on other issues can be found within.

  17. Anne Fenwick says

    @20 – rq

    I mean ordinary, everyday folks, specifically of a Democrat voting persuasion,but it’s not just my personal experience, it’s a known thing among European visitors to America and it happens a lot. Is it ok to use this thread of everyday anecdotal complaints or is it mostly for your more serious references? Which are great, by the way.

  18. rq says

    Those who do not know their history… Oklahoma Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly To Ban Advanced Placement U.S. History

    Oklahoma Rep. Dan Fisher (R) has introduced “emergency” legislation “prohibiting the expenditure of funds on the Advanced Placement United States History course.” Fisher is part of a group called the “Black Robe Regiment” which argues “the church and God himself has been under assault, marginalized, and diminished by the progressives and secularists.” The group attacks the “false wall of separation of church and state.” The Black Robe Regiment claims that a “growing tide of special interest groups indoctrinating our youth at the exclusion of the Christian perspective.”

    Fisher said the Advanced Placement history class fails to teach “American exceptionalism.” The bill passed the Oklahoma House Education committee on Monday on a vote of 11-4. You can read the actual course description for the course here.

    For other lawmakers, however, Fisher is thinking too small. Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern (R) claims that all “AP courses violate the legislation approved last year that repealed Common Core.” She has asked the Oklahoma Attorney General to issue a ruling. Kern argues that “AP courses are similar to Common Core, in that they could be construed as an attempt to impose a national curriculum on American schools.”

    Advanced Placement courses are actually developed by a private group, the College Board, and are not required of any student or high school. They are the primary way that student can earn college credit in high school. Taking advanced placement course can save students money and are generally seen as a prerequisite to admission to elite colleges. A representative from the College Board called the claims by Fisher and others “mythology and not true.”

    In August last year, the Republican National Committee blasted the Advanced Placement U.S. History test, claiming it “deliberately distorts and/or edits out important historical events.” The RNC said a new framework for the exam “reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.” The College Board countered that the framework had not been changed since 2012.

    Must maintain exceptionalism! Negative aspects. Ha.

    Mroe on those body cameras: City body camera no-bid contracts raise questions

    While camera technology has been touted as among the most promising strategies to bolster flagging trust between police and minority communities, criminal justice analysts are urging law enforcement agencies to proceed with caution in its application.

    “Where I begin to sit up and take notice is when there is a lack of deliberation,” said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who has written extensively on police operations. “You want to be sure when you use new technology that it will be a benefit.”

    Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks, who once served as the city’s police chief, said the desire to move quickly can result in “corruption” of the process.

    “Regard for city controls and safeguards are important,” Parks said.

    In Albuquerque, municipal and state authorities are reviewing a 2013 no-bid deal between the city and Taser International worth nearly $2 million.

    Peter Pacheco, the city’s inspector general, said the review is focusing on former police chief Ray Schultz’s dealings with the company prior to the deal, which involved more than 500 cameras for the police department. The agency has been plagued by a wave of fatal shootings by police, resulting in last year’s finding by the Justice Department that officers were “routinely” using lethal force against residents.

    “We want to make sure the contract was secured properly,” Pacheco said, declining further comment.

    Schultz, now working for a Texas police department, declined to comment on the inquiry.

    Taser, which rose to prominence in the law enforcement industry as the nation’s largest provider of stun guns, has been on the receiving end of several sole-source camera deals. Company spokesman Steve Tuttle said that while many agencies have sought information from Taser since its cameras debuted in 2009, “Taser does not have control over the bidding process in any individual government agency.”

    “We work closely with our customers to make sure that their…body camera program runs successfully for their agency,” Tuttle said. “We encourage clients to work closely with their local city council and community to develop a set of best practices, guidelines and policies for implementing their program.”

    In Albuquerque, Tuttle said that the company has been “open and transparent.”

    “But since it’s an ongoing investigation we are unable to provide further comment,” he said.

    Some city officials defended the so-called sole-source contracting process, arguing that the need to quickly address public safety problems and the unique capacity of Taser to assist those efforts outweighed the need to seek competitive bids.

    San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Marti Emerald said the city approved a nearly $1 million sole-source contract with Taser last year because it offered a potential “solution” to a public safety problem.

    Emerald said the purchase was designed to quickly address incidents in which some officers were “abusing members of the public.”

    “We haven’t had a big problem, but enough of one that it gave us pause and we knew we had to come up with a solution,” she said.

    Emerald said the city considered other providers, including Seattle-based Vievu. But she said Taser offered a product that “meets our need.”

    Following a field trial of the Taser cameras, the city’s purchasing officials recommended approval because of “unique” functions of the Taser device that were “deemed a necessity,” according to city documents. Among the functions referenced by city officials: a 12-hour battery that would cover 10-hour patrol shifts.

    In documents supporting a $788,000 no-bid 2014 contract with Taser, Spokane officials also cited unique product functions and a “package deal” that would save the city $488,000. A city panel reviewing the police department’s use of force had recommended a body camera program.

    “Approving the sole source and purchase of these items will ensure we can implement the recommendations of the Use of Force Commission while also recognizing a significant amount of savings,” according to a city evaluation of the deal.

    Also, Mayor pledges police body cameras by year’s end

    Last year, Young championed legislation to require all of the city’s nearly 3,000 police officers to wear body cameras as part of an effort to end police brutality. Rawlings-Blake vetoed the bill, opting for a mayoral task force to study privacy issues and cost before purchasing cameras. She has argued that many practical issues have to be resolved before cameras are used, such as when officers might be expected to turn them off and how to store the footage.

    City Councilman Warren Branch, the lead sponsor of council bill, said residents of his district repeatedly asked him to have police wear the cameras to cut down on brutality. He has cited questions surrounding the 2013 in-custody death of Tyrone West and a 2014 video showing an officer repeatedly punching a suspect, among other cases, as reasons for the proposed law.

    The mayoral task force studying the issue is to release its recommendations Wednesday evening. The mayor said she will be getting a “full briefing” on the recommendations at the same time the public does. She said members of the audience will be able to ask questions and make comments.

    Oh, and speaking of Mr Patel, so brutally assaulted by cops – and the utility of having misbehaving cops on camera. Or, rather, speaking of the cop who assaulted him. What is Wrong with People? Fundraiser Set Up For Cop Who Paralyzed Innocent Grandfather

    An online fundraiser for Madison police officer Eric Parker, who is facing charges of third-degree assault after brutally attacking 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel, who does not speak English, has raised over $3,000 in only three days. The campaign- that has currently been shared nearly 600 times on Facebook, has a goal of $10,000 and 28 days left to reach it.

    Sureshbhai Patel is an Indian citizen who had come to the United States to help his son and his wife with their new baby as his son went back to school for his master’s degree. The innocent grandfather was taking a morning walk on February 6, when a bigoted neighbor called the police. The neighbor described the gentleman as, “a skinny black guy, he’s got a toboggan on, he’s really skinny.”

    When police arrived to unjustly harass him, he could not understand their commands or what the situation was. This resulted in the barbaric Officer Parker throwing him face first into the ground while holding his hands behind his back.

    Patel was left temporarily paralyzed and hospitalized with fused vertebrae, all because he could not understand what the officers were saying to him. The man had simply been out for a walk and had committed absolutely no crime to warrant being approached, let alone assaulted.

    The department has publicly apologized to the family and arrested the officer. He was freed the same day on a $1,000 bond. […]

    Patel is expected to incur over $250,000 in medical bills and does not have any form of health insurance. Thankfully, humanity is winning out, and a fundraiser launched for Patel has already raised over $167,000 from nearly 4,000 people in only four days. Patel’s lawyer has issued a statement to the Hindu American Foundation verifying that all proceeds from the Go Fund Me will be used solely for medical expenses and related issues and not for any legal fees.

    The fundraiser has received donations and well wishes from donors around the world, with many American’s expressing their shame and embarrassment that this could happen to a guest here.

    Link to fundraiser in the text.
    Also, they only let him out on bond? That means… he had to pay the cops for the assault???

    Man Claims St. Louis Cops Turned Off Dash Cam and Then Beat Him. Before it was all about ‘the video they didn’t want you to see!’, now the man is already ‘claiming’ these things happened. Wasn’t it all on video? But the article is basically a repost.

    News 4 Investigates: Traffic ticket quotas for officers?

    The mandate was put in writing. It requires officers to take a specific number of “self-initiated activities” each month. St. Clair gave News 4 Investigates copies of spreadsheets used by the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department to track those activities. It identifies seven different activities that officers are required to do. Those include writing ordinance violations, traffic arrests, uniform traffic tickets, parking violations and traffic warnings.

    St. Clair had to do 50 of them every month. The spreadsheet shows that Traffic Arrests represented up to 15 percent of the required activities for Bellfontaine Neighbors cops, an equivalent of up to 8 arrests per month, and that Uniform Traffic Tickets were up to 60 percent, or about 30 tickets per month.

    In September 2013, St. Clair was threatened with “disciplinary action” because he failed to meet the 50 minimum required. In a notification letter, he was told “you produced only 32 activities, which is less than 70 percent of your required minimum performance standard.” If he continued to fail to meet those minimum standards, he should “expect to be replaced, disciplined, or terminated.”

    Despite his concerns, after getting that letter St. Clair started writing more tickets, and from that point on, he says, he always met the minimum required standard for “self-initiated activities.”

    “I wasn’t comfortable doing it, but I had to do it. I have a wife and 2 children I had to support,” said St. Clair.

    Police Chief Robert Pruett insisted the policy “is not a quota system.” However, he admitted during an off-camera conversation that officers have been threatened with discipline and disciplined for not meeting the minimum numbers set for them. He told me that Mayor Robert Doerr had ordered him not to give us an interview.

    Even the mayor says it’s not quotas, so I guess it’s not. Right?

  19. rq says

    Anne Fenwick
    Actually, I think it’s even better to also complain about everyday experiences with racism. This thread would be all the better for it, since those personal-personal experiences aren’t usually written up in article form. I do find personal-type stories and perspectives, but it would be nice for there to be more, so you’re welcome to share!! Definitely!


    Interlude: St Louis 100 years ago. 30 Stunning Vintage Photographs of St. Louis Streets in the Early 20th Century .

    The War on the War on Poverty

    Today, that move looks downright prescient: Ranked better than average in poverty in 2005, North Carolina has since experienced the greatest increase in concentrated poverty in the country. Charlotte has the worst upward mobility of America’s 50 biggest cities. In the east, hundreds of black agricultural towns are neglected and abandoned, and in the west, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia are suffering from a meth and prescription drug epidemic.

    The Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity was formed by Edwards—the son of a mill worker—and UNC Law School Dean Gene Nichol with a stated mission to “advocate for proposals, policies and services to mitigate poverty in North Carolina.” Edwards used the center to hone his “Two Americas” platform for 2008, and an early bipartisan event featured former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp. Then Edwards left to run for president.

    After a controversial stint as president of the College of William & Mary, Nichol took over the Poverty Center in 2008. The following year, the Great Recession forced education cuts that ended public funding for the center, which carried on with a $117,000 budget made up of private grants from the UNC Law Foundation and Z. Smith Reynolds.

    Then Republicans swept the 2010 midterm and won the governorship in 2012, giving the GOP control of Raleigh for the first time since the Reconstruction. Despite the state’s fifth-highest unemployment rate in the nation, legislators cut unemployment benefits, refused to expand Medicaid, slashed taxes on the rich and raised them on the poor. North Carolina fell to eleventh worst in poverty.

    So Nichol joined the state’s Moral Mondays civil disobedience movement and began excoriating state government in columns for the News & Observer.

    “Few would have guessed, three years ago, that a governor and General Assembly would, or could, so swiftly alter the character and meaning of a commonwealth,” he wrote in March 2014. “North Carolina must reject and inter its unforgivable war on poor people…. It is a rank violation of our history, our ethics, our scriptures and our constitutions. We’re a decent people. We aren’t bullies. And we don’t like those who are.”

    With the American labor movement in decline, the last bastion of liberalism, especially in the south, is academia. But Nichol, and the center he helped build, today are on the verge of being ousted by the very same right-wing, free-market ideologues who are partly responsible for—and see no problem with—the state’s spiraling poverty. […]

    The Pope Foundation’s chairman is Art Pope, a free-market philanthropist and friend of the Koch brothers. According to the Washington Post, the foundation steered over $55 million to conservative think-tanks and advocacy organizations including the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, the John Locke Foundation, and the Civitas Institute.

    Not only did those organizations oppose the creation of the Poverty Center; they viscously denied poverty was even a problem.

    While Edwards was running for president in 2004, George Leef, director of research at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, wrote: “Now, we can feel sorry for kids in families where there are hard times, but why is that a governmental problem, much less a presidential one?… Most unemployed workers find new employment within a month or two and in the meantime they can get by.”

    When the Poverty Center launched, Leef disparaged its desire to move “more Americans out of poverty and into the middle class,” because poverty is “something individuals need to overcome through their own efforts.”

    Another Pope staffer argued that “the only way the law can contribute on those issues is by scaling back—reducing regulation, cutting bureaucracy, returning to a more laissez-faire approach toward people’s incomes and decisions.”

    If Art Pope’s friends ever took over the university system, the Poverty Center was finished. And Pope planned exactly that: His family and organizations spent $2.2 million in 2010, winning 18 of 22 targeted races in the legislature, and the Pope-backed Americans for Prosperity chapter in North Carolina backed Pat McCrory’s winning bid for governor in 2012. McCrory named Pope his budget director. […]

    When McCrory signed a voter ID bill, Nichol wrote a column in the News & Observer describing the governor as a “21st century successor to Maddox, Wallace and Faubus.” Three days later, Civitas’s Francis De Luca, and the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy’s Jane Shaw posted an article saying, “Nichol’s nastiness and increasingly unhinged partisanship … reflects an arrogance and radicalism that have been building for years,” and revealing Nichol’s $204,400 law school salary and that of his wife, the chief of staff for the UNC Health Care System.

    Then Civitas filed a public records request for six weeks of Nichol’s emails, phone calls, and text messages from the fall of 2013, obtaining 1,180 pages of correspondence. Over a hundred professors signed an open letter to McCrory and Pope calling the request an abuse of power, and “citizens may reasonably infer that a sitting administration is using a private tax-exempt nonprofit organization funded by one of its leading officials to retaliate for criticism of its policies and intimidate future dissent.”

    As a result of the controversy, Nichol was required to give the university a “heads up” before every column, and to add the words “He doesn’t speak for UNC” at the end. The News & Observer’s Jim Jenkins prophesied, “Republicans won’t respect the university for bending to their pressure. Instead, they’ll see weakness.” He was right.

    In June of 2014, Civitas recommended cutting from centers and institutes. Two months later, McCrory signed a budget directing the Board of Governors to consider cutting $15 million. Despite private funding, the Poverty Center was targeted by a BOG Working Group on Centers and Institutes formed last September to review all 237 centers within the university system.

    The working group selected 34 centers for scrutiny in “a very subjective process,” admits Working Group Chairman Jim Holmes. “Any member for any reason, or motivation, could pick a center they wanted to hear from, and we didn’t question [the] reason.” […]

    Closing the Poverty Center wouldn’t stop Nichol from writing, but it would be a further hollowing out of a public university system that used to have high regard for the poor. Former UNC system President Bill Friday was on stage when President John F. Kennedy told UNC students this “great institution … has required great sacrifice by the people of North Carolina. I cannot believe that all of this is undertaken merely to give this school’s graduates an economic advantage in the life struggle.”

    Friday, who served on the board of the Poverty Center till the day he died in 2012, later told Nichol’s students, “A million Tar Heels living in poverty paid taxes to support your education. You’ll want to think about what you’re going to do to pay ‘em back.”

    The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy sees it differently. Last month, in a 36-page paper unironically titled “Renewal of the University,” it proposed a national effort to replace centers that espouse “philosophies of multiculturalism, postmodernism, and statism” with centers that preserve and promote a “general philosophy of liberty.”

    “At times in my life,” Nichol says, “I’ve thought that if we work hard enough, that if we make these issues visible, then the wealthy will do more to help those at the bottom. I think that less frequently now.”

    Relatedly, Killing in Washington State Offers ‘Ferguson’ Moment for Hispanics

    Then, last week, one of their own was killed by the police, his death caught in a video that has sped around the Internet. Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, is shown running from three Pasco officers. He turns and swings his hands upward, before he is felled by a spray of bullets, his body slamming the concrete. He had been throwing rocks at cars and police officers.

    It was the third killing by the Pasco police since July, and the video has brought international attention, with a flurry of online commenters criticizing the use of force against a man without a gun or a knife, making comparisons to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

    It has drawn condemnation from the president of Mexico and multiple investigations, including inquiries by a task force of local police agencies, by the county coroner and by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. An official from the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Washington has also called community leaders, assuring them that the shooting will get a thorough review, which may include an examination of police training and whether it played a role. […]

    While many Hispanics have found work and stable, if not particularly affluent, lives here, the killing has drawn attention to their lack of clout. And, as with blacks in Ferguson, it has intensified feelings among Hispanics that they remain second-tier residents, despite their deep roots here, defined by the many Latino shops that now dominate the main thoroughfare, Lewis Street.

    “They had him like a deer, hunting him,” said Maria Paniagua, 41, a resident with six children. “What happens when one of my kids gets in a jam and runs. Will they shoot him down?”

    Though Latino workers have been here since at least the 1960s, attracted by jobs gathering fruit and asparagus in the region’s vast fields, few have moved into law enforcement or city government. Of the city’s 68 officers, 14 are Hispanic. A dozen officers speak Spanish fluently, and some residents cite language barriers that complicate interactions with the police. The City Council has one Latino member. The five-member school board, which oversees a system that is 70 percent Latino, typically has one or two Latino members, but this year has none. […]

    The shooting has caused soul-searching among some city officials, who, even as they urge the residents to wait for the results of an investigation, say the protests have uncovered anger bubbling below the surface.

    “This was about more than just Antonio,” said City Manager Dave Zabell, who took over the job last August. “It’s part of a community emerging,” he continued, “and frankly, it’s welcomed.”

    More at the link.

    High School Graduation Rates Between Black and White Males Widen. Some of the numbers are being questioned, though.

    The report, which provides a state-by-state breakdown of Black male graduation rates, should serve as a “barometer for where the country is at the moment,” said Pedro A. Noguera, an education professor and executive director of the Metropolitan Center at NYU.

    And while high school graduation rates have increased overall, disparities have intensified, said Noguera, who suggested a need to look “beyond the data” and search for other factors that might be contributing to educational disparities along lines of race and ethnicity.

    “It’s particularly important that we not simply look at the data but when we look at the data ask: Why is it that certain places like Montgomery County [in Maryland] have made so much progress and other places are lagging so far behind?” Noguera said.

    The report—formally titled “BLACK LIVES MATTER: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males”—found that, at the national level, estimates for the 2012-13 school year indicate a national graduation rate of 59 percent for Black males, 65 percent for Latino males and 80 percent for White males.

    “Since the Schott Foundation’s last report, the four-year Black male graduation rate has increased by seven percentage points, yet the graduation gap between Black and White males has widened, increasing from 19 percentage points in school year 2009-10 to 21 percentage points in 2012-13,” the report states.

    In a conference call Tuesday, some journalists took the Schott Foundation to task on its figures and claims.

    For instance, the new Schott Foundation report purports that, among large urban school districts, Philadelphia has one of the lowest Black male graduation rates in the nation at 24 percent.

    However, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook has published data that show the Black male graduation rate is more than twice as high as it is portrayed to be in the Schott report.

    “Our organization and District have been monitoring the graduation rate annually and find that the four-year cohort graduation rate for Black males in the District has been in the mid-50’s for the past three years, for the classes of 2011, 2012, and 2013,” wrote Philadelphia Public School Notebook writer Shannon Nolan in an e-mail in which she provided a link to the Notebook’s published report.

    The Schott report acknowledges that it uses “estimates” and “moving averages” to calculate what it believes graduation rates are in given locales.

    Diverse engaged Noguera in a conversation about whether school districts such as Montgomery County in Maryland, which the report says has the largest 2011-12 estimated Black male graduation rate in the country at 74 percent, actually deserve credit given the fact that the district has a high proportion of families of economic means, which is correlated with higher academic achievement.

    Conversely, Diverse asked whether school districts such as Detroit, which the report says has the lowest Black male graduation rate in the country at 20 percent, deserve blame given the fact that Detroit has higher proportions of children in poverty, which is correlated with lower academic achievement.

    Noguera acknowledged that Montgomery County has significant wealth but said it also has a disproportionate number of African-Americans and Latino families at or below poverty.

    “So I think it would be a mistake to just see Montgomery County as an affluent district,” Noguera said. “That being said I would say that it is one of the few districts in the country that’s actually been making steady progress over the last several years in reducing academic disparities,” Noguera said. “And this has been pretty well documented.”

    Ferguson: Thug Illusion in a Media Revolution

    The nationwide protests after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson have brought much needed attention to issues of institutional racism, police brutality and the killing of unarmed black men across the US. The #BlackLivesMatter protests have also brought people together and created unity in black communities throughout the country.

    Mainstream media broadcast images from Ferguson of stores being looted and buildings up in flames. The images shown in MSM succeeded in creating a massive media spectacle. MSM combined with some elements in social media also managed to push false narratives into the public discourse regarding who exactly was in the Ferguson streets and what they were doing there. The narrative that “thugs” were causing destruction and mayhem in Ferguson was amplified in MSM in attempts to smear and discredit the #BlackLivesMatter protests. But who are these so-called “thugs” running amok in Missouri?

    The word “thug” is a hot button word. It has a negative connotation, bringing to mind a mental image of gang members. Detractors tweeted images of red and blue bandana-wearing black men as proof that thugs were present in Ferguson and therefore police violence used against protesters was justified.

    Indeed we saw images of Bloods and Crips participating in Ferguson protests, but we did not see them looting stores – we saw them protecting local businesses. Some of those gang members were also organizing their communities and rival gangs were (and still are) working together.

    A video was sent to the Revolution News facebook page a few months ago and it had a powerful impact on us. We have not shared it yet because we wanted to learn more about these guys first. We were impressed with what they had to say.

    The following video by Shamir Maloney is a very candid interview with Trev and Shoota, members of the Bloods, speaking about their experience protesting in Ferguson.

    They have some very reasonable opinions. They want laws to be changed. Background checks on cops coming from the military who return with PTSD, working doubles when they’re supposed to be on point. They want better laws for who is running their streets, for cops to have some sympathy and talk to them about what’s going on.

    They want kids to look back at Ferguson protests and say, “bruh they straight changed it.”

    But what happens when a gang member with a criminal record who is released on probation gets re-arrested for protesting? What happens when they commit acts of civil disobedience? If they are arrested for failure to disperse at a protest, are they penalized with harsher sentences due to their past records? Do gang members with criminal records have a first amendment right to protest peacefully?

    Shoota, who was still protesting after this video was made, is now in Milwaukee helping with protests supporting Dontre Hamilton. Below is a follow up interview with Shoota where he explains more about his experiences protesting, such as being hit with rubber bullets, tear gassed and harassed by police in Ferguson for “abiding by the law and doing what the Constitution says we can do.” He was also “roughed up and slammed on the ground” in Milwaukee.

    Shoota also reveals something important that perhaps has not been highlighted enough: people in these communities are scared. Those who have previous felonies are afraid to protest, and they have good reason to fear. The risks they take to exercise their first amendment rights are much higher than the average protester. If people like Trev and Shoota are subjected to arbitrary arrests (like we see happen all the time) they don’t get held for a few hours and released on bail. They risk going to jail for a long time.

    Regardless of the consequences, they are not only protesting, they are on the front lines. And let’s be clear, these guys are no angels. They have a past. They’ve been through the system. They are fully aware of what will happen if they have past records or pending warrants and get arrested while protesting. Everyone else speaks for them because when they speak for themselves, they go to jail.

    Crimes they committed in the past should not invalidate their voices in the present. On the contrary, we as a society need to listen to their voices above all others. They come from communities most affected by poverty, crime and police brutality. They are the statistics everyone is talking about: poor, black men with felonies. They are the most marginalized in 21st century USA. They are working from within to make positive changes and their voices are being lost in the media spectacle that has become the “Thugs of Ferguson.”

  20. rq says

    Repeat information, but might be of use to someone – Ferguson Alternate Spring Break, running from now until April (each week, a new week-long session).
    Also, Updated time for the @SVA_News @VASASVA event this Thurs. #Ferguson #Ferguson2NYC #FergusonFoodShare (5-8pm not 7-10), also accepting winter clothes, toiletries, books and non-perishables.

    Waiting for more info on this: Trayvon Scott, 30, was suspect who died in Baltimore police custody Saturday after North Baltimore foot pursuit.
    Police say Scott was wanted in a 2010 att murder. Warrant for his arrest issued on 2/11/15. Officer spotted him Saturday & chased him.

    Relevant because black president, but I can’t read full article as I do not subscribe: President BuzzFeed.

    Meanwhile, down in Philadelphia, Wolf likely facing fight on controversial State Police Commissioner

    The veteran officer, who until recently headed the Maryland State Police, is not facing scrutiny just from legislators. He’s also fielding it from within his own ranks.

    A Facebook page has been created where retired troopers and others have excoriated Brown over his decision to don the gray uniform troopers wear – even though, despite a long career in policing, he did not attend the State Police Academy. They are mobilizing supporters to contact senators who could vote on his confirmation next month.

    In their mind, Brown, 50, is an outsider, not steeped in the culture and traditions of the agency, and therefore unable to understand its needs. They also assert that controversies in Brown’s past will give legislators pause.

    Hm, that almost sounds like the kind of person who would do well as commissioner. More:

    “I expect every trooper in this organization to care about this organization,” he said. “And every single day, I’m going to care about this organization.”

    In choosing Brown, Wolf cited his lengthy resumé, which includes assignments from beat cop to top cop. Wolf also noted Brown’s commitment to diversity: as head of the state police in Maryland, he recruited in areas with high minority populations and at historically black colleges.

    The Democratic governor is hardly the first to pluck someone from outside the agency, a decision that rankles those who have gone through the academy and risen through the ranks.

    Wolf’s Republican predecessor, Gov. Tom Corbett, tapped Frank Noonan, a career investigator with the FBI and the state Attorney General’s Office, to head the state police.

    But Noonan chose not to wear a state police uniform, a gesture troopers took as a token of respect.

    “That said a lot,” Joseph Kovel, head of the troopers’ union, told The Inquirer in 2013. This time around, the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association has remained silent on Brown since releasing an initial statement welcoming him.

    Thomas Stuckey, a retired state police corporal from Harrisburg, said the union should speak up.

    As one of the administrators of the Facebook page called “He didn’t earn it, he shouldn’t wear it,” Stuckey says he has heard from dozens of people upset about Brown’s selection.

    Active troopers, he said, can’t talk: “We are a paramilitary organization. You obey orders from above, and you aren’t allowed to take a political stance.”

    But Stuckey said troopers worry that Brown doesn’t care about how passionately they feel about the traditions of their organization. “If I tell you that wearing the uniform is not honoring me, shouldn’t you take that off?” Stuckey asked.

    Brown countered that he wears the uniform as a way to respect the agency. He said the uniform is what represents the organization, and when he speaks with elected officials, or is out in the community, “it’s important that the commissioner represents the agency.”

    Okay, let’s back up there a sec – they called themselves a paramilitary organization, where you obey orders from above. Still more:

    At the time, a furor erupted over his police pension. According to news reports, Brown took advantage of a provision in the Baltimore city code that permitted an employee to receive pension benefits if he or she had served between 15 and 20 years and was “removed . . . without fault upon his part.”

    In Brown’s case, he had worked for the Baltimore police just of shy of 15 years, and had received credit for his work in San Jose. He left the Baltimore police voluntarily to join the O’Malley administration, but the city police commissioner at the time wrote Brown a letter saying he had notified the retirement board of Brown’s “layoff.”

    Despite the uproar, a Police Department lawyer later determined that Brown, a former deputy police commissioner, had qualified for the pension.

    Brown defends the pension, noting that he got paid for only 18 years of service and that similar credit had been given to other employees. “This wasn’t done for Marcus Brown,” he said.

    Well, questions need to be asked, but then, everyone who has received a shady pension should be scrutinized. Either way, he can’t be any worse than other commissioners, amirite, what with that record of diversity? (Which certainly sounds liek the right kind of thinking.)

    The Rise of Homeschooling Among Black Families

    Marvell is one of an estimated 220,000 African American children currently being homeschooled, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. Black families have become one of the fastest-growing demographics in homeschooling, with black students making up an estimated 10 percent of the homeschooling population. (For comparison’s sake, they make up 16 percent of all public-school students nationwide, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.)

    And while white homeschooling families traditionally cite religious or moral disagreements with public schools in their decision to pull them out of traditional classroom settings, studies indicate black families are more likely to cite the culture of low expectations for African American students or dissatisfaction with how their children—especially boys—are treated in schools.

    Marvell, now 7 and in the second grade, was the only black student in both his kindergarten and first-grade classes, and one of only a few black students in his San Diego elementary school, according to his mother. And Marvell’s Asperger syndrome—a high-functioning form of autism that makes social interaction difficult—only added to the curiosity and cruelty with which his fellow classmates approached him, Robinson added. She was concerned the school wasn’t doing enough about it. “I just thought maybe I could do a better job myself,” she said.

    “They said, ‘kids will be kids,’ and the only solution was for Marvell to be monitored—like he had done something wrong,” Robinson said. “In the end, I don’t think that anyone should have to monitor my kid” because of other kids’ behavior. […]

    Robinson likely joins hundreds of other African American parents who’ve decided to homeschool their children because of dissatisfaction with the traditional campuses. Indeed, Joyce Burges at National Black Home Educators has watched her membership grow “exponentially” in the 15 years since the organization was founded, a trend also reflected in Marvell’s home state of California. While Burges’s national conferences in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, used to attract only around 50 people, they now attract upwards of 400, she said—a noteworthy number for the first organization for black homeschoolers in a sea of predominantly white organizations.

    Research conducted by Marie-Josée Cérol—known professionally as Ama Mazama—also offers insight into the growing trend. A faculty member in the African American Studies department at Temple University in Philadelphia, Mazama began homeschooling her three children 12 years ago and realized quickly that there was little research on black homeschoolers.

    “Whenever there are mentions of African American homeschoolers, it’s assumed that we homeschool for the same reasons as European-American homeschoolers, but this isn’t really the case,” she said. “Because of the unique circumstances of black people in this country, there is really a new story to be told.”

    In a 2012 report published in the Journal of Black Studies, Mazama surveyed black homeschooling families from around the country and found that most chose to educate their children at home at least in part to avoid school-related racism. Mazama calls this rationale “racial protectionism” and said it is a response to the inability of schools to meet the needs of black students. “We have all heard that the American education system is not the best and is falling behind in terms of international standards,” she said. “But this is compounded for black children, who are treated as though they are not as intelligent and cannot perform as well, and therefore the standards for them should be lower.”

    Mazama said schools also rob black children of the opportunity to learn about their own culture because of a “Euro-centric” world-history curriculum. “Typically, the curriculum begins African American history with slavery and ends it with the Civil Rights Movement,” she said. “You have to listen to yourself simply being talked about as a descendent of slaves, which is not empowering. There is more to African history than that.” Mazama’s studies show that black parents who choose to homeschool often teach a comprehensive view of African history by incorporating more detailed descriptions of ancient African civilizations and accounts of successful African people throughout history. This allows children to “build their sense of racial pride and self esteem,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Cheryl Fields-Smith, an associate professor in the department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University of Georgia, has in her own studies found similar motivations among black homeschoolers. “The schools want little black boys to behave like little white girls, and that’s just never going to happen. They are different,” she said. “I think black families who are in a position to homeschool can use homeschooling to avoid the issues of their children being labeled ‘trouble makers’ and the suggestion that their children need special-education services because they learn and behave differently.” [… – I would say, though, that it’s less that black boys should behave like white girls, but that their possible normal childish behaviours are blown well out of proportion, in synch with the perceived over-maturity of African-American children – Tamir Rice, for example, was 12, but the cops first said they thought he was 20…]

    However, both Mazama and Fields-Smith say this is beginning to change; barriers that in the past might have left homeschooling out of the question for many working-class families are being lifted. Greater access to public-education resources is making homeschooling more appealing, too. Mazama pointed to the availability of subsidies ensuring homeschooled children have access to standard public-school nutritional offerings, for example, and public programs allowing homeschooled students to enroll in extracurricular activities and after-school sports as reasons why families are increasingly seeing homeschooling as a valid alternative to traditional education. In fact, Fields-Smith is in the process of writing a book on black, single homeschooling mothers because she sees “more and more families of less means” making the decision to sacrifice traditional career paths so that they can pull their children from school. […]

    The poor education, according to McKnight, left Micah significantly behind in several subjects, which means she’s now trying to pack as much into his schedule as possible to get him back on track. “He doesn’t really get a day off—not right now, because he’s just behind. I feel like he doesn’t really have time to relax,” McKnight said, explaining she wasn’t aware just how behind he was until she started to homeschool him. Most devastating, she said, was when she realized her son was reading well below his expected third-grade level: “I felt like I had totally failed him, and the school had totally failed him, and the only thing I could do was work with him one-on-one to get him caught up.”

    To get Micah up to par in his academics, McKnight has employed a customized mix of purchased homeschool lesson plans and learning materials she developed herself—all on top of what he learns at the collective. When Micah is home, McKnight said her days are “totally dedicated to him.” They work for at least an hour on each of the core subjects, studying within the grade level that best suits him in each area. On days he returns from the collective, McKnight reads with him for two or three hours with the goal of getting him to a third-grade level by the end of the year. Lessons even continue on Saturdays and Sundays. He’s at his father’s place every other weekend, where he continues his reading schedule, and on the weekends that he’s home McKnight takes him on educational field trips—Atlanta’s many museums are frequent destinations.

    It’s this ability to shape everyday activities and lessons to meet the personal needs of each child that Fields-Smith finds so promising about homeschooling—especially for black families. “There is no one way to homeschool,” she said, noting all of the families that she consulted for her study were “catering to their children and customizing their education for them” instead of using a single stock homeschooling curriculum.

    Still, Mazama and Fields-Smith acknowledge that homeschooling is controversial, particularly in the black community. “For African Americans there is a sense of betrayal when you leave public schools in particular,” Mazama said. “Because the struggle to get into those schools was so harsh and so long, there is this sense of loyalty to the public schools. People say, ‘We fought to get into these schools, and now you are just going to leave?’”

    For Paula Penn-Nabrit, an African American scholar and writer who homeschooled her children in the 1990s, this struggle hits very close to home. Her husband’s uncle, James Nabrit, argued Brown v. Board of Education in front of the Supreme Court alongside Thurgood Marshall; he later served as the president of Howard University. When Penn-Nabrit decided to pull her three sons from public school, it angered many of her black friends. “A lot of people felt that because my family was intimately involved in the effort to integrate schools, that for me to pull my children out of schools was a betrayal of all that work,” she said. “But it really wasn’t. The case had nothing to do with what I, as a parent, decide I want for my child. That decision meant the state can’t decide to give me less than, but I can decide I want more than.” […]

    Upon deciding to homeschool their sons, Penn-Nabrit and her husband, both of whom have degrees in the humanities, elected to teach them the subject areas they knew well.** For the remaining science and math courses, however, they hired black, mostly male, graduate students from the Ohio State University to take over—in large part so that the boys had exposure to successful people who looked like them.*** After all, according to the Department of Education, less than 2 percent of current classroom teachers nationwide are African American males; until their homeschooling, Penn-Nabrit’s children had never had a black man as a teacher.

    “Most black people go to school and never have a teacher that looks like them, and this is particularly true for black boys,” she said. Similar concerns, she noted, led to the creation of single-sex schools—a particularly apt comparison for Penn-Nabrit, who attended Wellesley. “If women benefit from having a period of isolation from the larger group, that could be applicable to black boys as well.”

    Mazama, meanwhile, said that rooting children in their heritage in an educational setting allows them to do better emotionally and socially. “If anything, homeschooled black children would be much stronger because they would not have been devastated at an early age by racism,” she said. She explained that the absence of these early destructive experiences, combined with a heritage-focused curriculum, ultimately allows children to recognize and deal constructively with racism—”not by denying it, but by confronting it because they are comfortable with who they are.”

    “That’s the way I teach my own children,” she continued. “I have seen this work.”

  21. rq says

    All Scientists Are White Men, So Those Black And Latina Ladies Must Be Janitors

    The full report adds to the growing data on the challenges women in STEM fields face, and finds that the situation is especially bad for women of color, who frequently reported having to prove their competence again and again to male colleagues. The study had 500 online participants, and followed up with in-depth interviews of another 60 women of color. And it’s about as depressing as you might expect. For instance, Black women reported more pressure to prove their competence (76.9%) than did Latinas (64.5%), Asian-Americans (63.6%) and white women (62.7%) — a phenomenon the study calls “prove-it-again” bias. Also, black and latina women both reported that they had to be careful to avoid being seen as “angry.” Can’t imagine what would possibly make them angry in the first place.

    Surprisingly, the study found that “The stereotype that Asians are good at science appears to help Asian-American women with students — but not colleagues.” While Asian women reported more “prove-it-again” bias from their colleagues than did white women, they also reported the least “prove-it-again” bias from students as compared to the other groups.

    And another surprise: among women scientists from outside the US, women from India actually thought that gender discrimination was worse in labs and universities in the good old USA than in India. Women from Africa and Japan thought the situation was better here than at home.

    And of course, both white and minority women in science and tech reported being relegated to what they called “office housework” — filling in grant forms, planning meetings, and so on. And when they’re successful in their careers, they’re more likely to have that success attributed to luck than to brilliance or hard work. Or maybe they just should have gone to the local science museum to learn how to make makeup.

    BLACK MEN WHO MADE THAT “CORETTA WASN’T A FEMINIST” MEME, here you go: you’re welcome.

    ThinkProgress on James Craig Anderson, with previously unknown information (to me) – like the fact that his partner was a father of a young child (I say his partner was the father, though they were both parents to the child – but the law being what it is…). TW. The Brutal, Jim Crow-Style Lynching That Recently Took A Black Man’s Life In Mississippi

    James Craig Anderson sang tenor in the choir at the First Hyde Park Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. He’d worked at a car plant near Jackson for seven years, and he enjoyed gardening in his free time. Anderson’s partner of 17 years, a man named James Bradfield, was the legal guardian of a 4 year-old child, and Anderson and Bradfield were raising the child together. This child will not grow up in Anderson’s care, however, because Anderson was killed by a mob of white teenagers.

    The murder of Mr. Anderson recalls Jim Crow era lynchings. On a Sunday morning shortly before dawn, a group of teenagers were drinking in the nearby town of Puckett. According to police, one of them told his friends they should leave and “go fuck with some niggers.” Two carloads of the boys then drove to Jackson, where they found Anderson in a parking lot, beat him, and then drove their pickup truck over him. During the beating, some of the teens reportedly yelled out the words “white power.” […]

    On Tuesday, Anderson’s family found justice. But Anderson remains dead. Mr. Bradfield, a man who cannot even call himself a widower due to another form of unconstitutional injustice, said in a statement to the court that his adopted son sleeps in his bed because “he doesn’t want those people to get me.” The United States of America has a black president. That president appointed a black judge, a black attorney general, and a black prosecutor. And none of these men have the power to restore what a small band of drunk teenagers took away from Anderson and his family.

    Almost two years to the day after racism killed James Craig Anderson, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Shelby County v. Holder. “Things have changed in the South,” Chief Justice John Roberts explained in his opinion for the Court. “Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.” On these points, the Chief Justice is correct. The South is different than it was in 1965. Racial minorities do enjoy high offices, including the office of President of the United States.

    But it only took a few boys from a tiny town in the poorest state in the nation to re-create the age of Jim Crow lynchings.

    This is what Chief Justice Roberts missed in his opinion scrapping a key provision of the Voting Rights Act on the theory that it did not reflect “current needs.” He missed the fact that racism can be an intensely individualistic crime against reason. A police force can be committed to equality, and a single cop can still fire impulsively on a black suspect. A nation can be committed to universal suffrage, and yet a single state legislature can erect obstacles to the right to vote. Lynchings are now infrequent in the South, but that does not make Anderson’s death any less tragic. And it certainly does not justify eliminating laws banning racially-motivated killings.

    We are fortunate to live in a nation where most people do not commit serious violations of the law. Most employers do not act with racist intent. Most cops do not fire their guns unnecessarily. Most teenagers do not follow up a night of drinking with violence. Judge Reeves’ “New Mississippi” is slowly but consistently displacing the old one.

    But that does not mean that we should make Roberts’ mistake of blurring the line between less racism and no racism. Anderson did not die due to a racist regime of state-sponsored apartheid, he died because of a small band of hateful Americans. And that was enough to leave his adopted son without one of his fathers.

    I have to disagree with the conclusion, though – that it was individual racism, rather than collective racism. It may not be written in the books any longer, but there sure as hell is a systemic problem with racism – it’s not just individual people deciding to act racist. Their actions are the product of the system within which they live. Sure, less racism is better than a lot of racism, but it sure as hell isn’t no racism, and even less racism can be harmful and show up unexpectedly in the most ordinary of places.

    This is an old one (from November), so no quoting, but it serves as a bit of an outro/intro: FBI notorious for assassinating blacks: US activist. Contrast that with FBI director Comey’s speech last thread, and this: Civil rights group challenges FBI chief’s claim that police racial bias is ‘unconscious’

    Comey’s comments were meant to address mounting concerns in the wake of recent incidents in which African Americans have died at the hands of police – a fate suffered by Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York last year, among others. It came as part of a rare discussion on the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities.

    His comments prompted a concerned response from, a 1 million-member civil rights group formed in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a statement, the group said that Comey’s speech “perpetuated many of the dangerous, discriminatory perspectives that uphold the crisis of violent and abusive policing.”

    The group also said: “Director Comey presented false equivalencies around the police violence facing Black and brown Americans and the growing calls for systemic policing reform. Holding police accountable for addressing the crisis of discriminatory police misconduct is not ‘unfair,’ but is rather one of the most critical challenges facing our nation.”

    ColorofChange[dot]org also disputed Comey’s “argument that Black and brown communities are to blame for the daily terror and indignity of discriminatory policing. The reality is that law enforcement and leaders such as Director Comey and Attorney General Holder have the responsibility and obligation to address the violence and discrimination endemic to law enforcement.”

    According to the NAACP, 43 percent of the people incarcerated in the US prison system are African American. Yet while blacks make up roughly 12 percent of drug users, according to the group, African Americans make up 59 percent of the nation’s prison population with regards to inmates serving time for drug offenses.

    “The problems of law enforcement are structural just as much as they are about the implicit racial bias of police,” ColorofChange[dot]org said. “These problems require a complete overhaul of the systems, policies and practices that uphold discriminatory and violent policing, such as Stop and Frisk, Broken Windows policing and so-called predictive policing. These practices incentivize police to target, harass and unjustly arrest Black and brown people for the most minor of issues.”

    Tim Devaney, a reporter for the DC-based web publication The Hill, noted that the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) — a national group that represents the interest of law enforcement officials — took aim at Director Comey’s remarks as well.

    “Police officers are constantly reminded not to generalize about ethnic groups or religious groups or groups of any kinds,” Jim Pasco, the FOP’s executive director, told The Hill. “We would just remind Director Comey there are over 750,000 police officers and it is probably not good practice to generalize about them.”

    According to a poll published last month conducted by Reuters and IPSOS, nearly one third of the US public and almost half of African Americans believe that police “routinely lie to serve their own interests.”

  22. rq says

    All Scientists Are White Men, So Those Black And Latina Ladies Must Be Janitors

    The full report adds to the growing data on the challenges women in STEM fields face, and finds that the situation is especially bad for women of color, who frequently reported having to prove their competence again and again to male colleagues. The study had 500 online participants, and followed up with in-depth interviews of another 60 women of color. And it’s about as depressing as you might expect. For instance, Black women reported more pressure to prove their competence (76.9%) than did Latinas (64.5%), Asian-Americans (63.6%) and white women (62.7%) — a phenomenon the study calls “prove-it-again” bias. Also, black and latina women both reported that they had to be careful to avoid being seen as “angry.” Can’t imagine what would possibly make them angry in the first place.

    Surprisingly, the study found that “The stereotype that Asians are good at science appears to help Asian-American women with students — but not colleagues.” While Asian women reported more “prove-it-again” bias from their colleagues than did white women, they also reported the least “prove-it-again” bias from students as compared to the other groups.

    And another surprise: among women scientists from outside the US, women from India actually thought that gender discrimination was worse in labs and universities in the good old USA than in India. Women from Africa and Japan thought the situation was better here than at home.

    And of course, both white and minority women in science and tech reported being relegated to what they called “office housework” — filling in grant forms, planning meetings, and so on. And when they’re successful in their careers, they’re more likely to have that success attributed to luck than to brilliance or hard work. Or maybe they just should have gone to the local science museum to learn how to make makeup.

    BLACK MEN WHO MADE THAT “CORETTA WASN’T A FEMINIST” MEME, here you go: you’re welcome.

    ThinkProgress on James Craig Anderson, with previously unknown information (to me) – like the fact that his partner was a father of a young child (I say his partner was the father, though they were both parents to the child – but the law being what it is…). TW. The Brutal, Jim Crow-Style Lynching That Recently Took A Black Man’s Life In Mississippi

    James Craig Anderson sang tenor in the choir at the First Hyde Park Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. He’d worked at a car plant near Jackson for seven years, and he enjoyed gardening in his free time. Anderson’s partner of 17 years, a man named James Bradfield, was the legal guardian of a 4 year-old child, and Anderson and Bradfield were raising the child together. This child will not grow up in Anderson’s care, however, because Anderson was killed by a mob of white teenagers.

    The murder of Mr. Anderson recalls Jim Crow era lynchings. On a Sunday morning shortly before dawn, a group of teenagers were drinking in the nearby town of Puckett. According to police, one of them told his friends they should leave and “go fuck with some n*gg*rs.” Two carloads of the boys then drove to Jackson, where they found Anderson in a parking lot, beat him, and then drove their pickup truck over him. During the beating, some of the teens reportedly yelled out the words “white power.” […]

    On Tuesday, Anderson’s family found justice. But Anderson remains dead. Mr. Bradfield, a man who cannot even call himself a widower due to another form of unconstitutional injustice, said in a statement to the court that his adopted son sleeps in his bed because “he doesn’t want those people to get me.” The United States of America has a black president. That president appointed a black judge, a black attorney general, and a black prosecutor. And none of these men have the power to restore what a small band of drunk teenagers took away from Anderson and his family.

    Almost two years to the day after racism killed James Craig Anderson, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Shelby County v. Holder. “Things have changed in the South,” Chief Justice John Roberts explained in his opinion for the Court. “Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.” On these points, the Chief Justice is correct. The South is different than it was in 1965. Racial minorities do enjoy high offices, including the office of President of the United States.

    But it only took a few boys from a tiny town in the poorest state in the nation to re-create the age of Jim Crow lynchings.

    This is what Chief Justice Roberts missed in his opinion scrapping a key provision of the Voting Rights Act on the theory that it did not reflect “current needs.” He missed the fact that racism can be an intensely individualistic crime against reason. A police force can be committed to equality, and a single cop can still fire impulsively on a black suspect. A nation can be committed to universal suffrage, and yet a single state legislature can erect obstacles to the right to vote. Lynchings are now infrequent in the South, but that does not make Anderson’s death any less tragic. And it certainly does not justify eliminating laws banning racially-motivated killings.

    We are fortunate to live in a nation where most people do not commit serious violations of the law. Most employers do not act with racist intent. Most cops do not fire their guns unnecessarily. Most teenagers do not follow up a night of drinking with violence. Judge Reeves’ “New Mississippi” is slowly but consistently displacing the old one.

    But that does not mean that we should make Roberts’ mistake of blurring the line between less racism and no racism. Anderson did not die due to a racist regime of state-sponsored apartheid, he died because of a small band of hateful Americans. And that was enough to leave his adopted son without one of his fathers.

    I have to disagree with the conclusion, though – that it was individual racism, rather than collective racism. It may not be written in the books any longer, but there sure as hell is a systemic problem with racism – it’s not just individual people deciding to act racist. Their actions are the product of the system within which they live. Sure, less racism is better than a lot of racism, but it sure as hell isn’t no racism, and even less racism can be harmful and show up unexpectedly in the most ordinary of places.

    This is an old one (from November), so no quoting, but it serves as a bit of an outro/intro: FBI notorious for assassinating blacks: US activist. Contrast that with FBI director Comey’s speech last thread, and this: Civil rights group challenges FBI chief’s claim that police racial bias is ‘unconscious’

    Comey’s comments were meant to address mounting concerns in the wake of recent incidents in which African Americans have died at the hands of police – a fate suffered by Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York last year, among others. It came as part of a rare discussion on the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities.

    His comments prompted a concerned response from, a 1 million-member civil rights group formed in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a statement, the group said that Comey’s speech “perpetuated many of the dangerous, discriminatory perspectives that uphold the crisis of violent and abusive policing.”

    The group also said: “Director Comey presented false equivalencies around the police violence facing Black and brown Americans and the growing calls for systemic policing reform. Holding police accountable for addressing the crisis of discriminatory police misconduct is not ‘unfair,’ but is rather one of the most critical challenges facing our nation.”

    ColorofChange[dot]org also disputed Comey’s “argument that Black and brown communities are to blame for the daily terror and indignity of discriminatory policing. The reality is that law enforcement and leaders such as Director Comey and Attorney General Holder have the responsibility and obligation to address the violence and discrimination endemic to law enforcement.”

    According to the NAACP, 43 percent of the people incarcerated in the US prison system are African American. Yet while blacks make up roughly 12 percent of drug users, according to the group, African Americans make up 59 percent of the nation’s prison population with regards to inmates serving time for drug offenses.

    “The problems of law enforcement are structural just as much as they are about the implicit racial bias of police,” ColorofChange[dot]org said. “These problems require a complete overhaul of the systems, policies and practices that uphold discriminatory and violent policing, such as Stop and Frisk, Broken Windows policing and so-called predictive policing. These practices incentivize police to target, harass and unjustly arrest Black and brown people for the most minor of issues.”

    Tim Devaney, a reporter for the DC-based web publication The Hill, noted that the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) — a national group that represents the interest of law enforcement officials — took aim at Director Comey’s remarks as well.

    “Police officers are constantly reminded not to generalize about ethnic groups or religious groups or groups of any kinds,” Jim Pasco, the FOP’s executive director, told The Hill. “We would just remind Director Comey there are over 750,000 police officers and it is probably not good practice to generalize about them.”

    According to a poll published last month conducted by Reuters and IPSOS, nearly one third of the US public and almost half of African Americans believe that police “routinely lie to serve their own interests.”

  23. says


    Jennifer L. Eberhardt, 49, an associate professor of psychology at Stanford University, studies the effect of unconscious ideas about race on the workings of the criminal justice system. She was one of 21 winners of 2014 MacArthur “genius” grants.

    Interest in her work has grown after the deaths of black suspects at the hands of police officers in Missouri and New York. We spoke for two hours in New York in September and again by telephone on Jan. 1. Here is an condensed and edited version of our conversations.


    The particular study they were referring to was on the death penalty. We gathered photographs of people convicted of capital crimes and who were eligible for a death sentence. We then cropped them and asked Stanford students to rate how stereotypically black the faces appeared to be.

    We told our subjects to use any dimension they wanted with which to make that judgment: skin color, width of nose, thickness of lips. Interestingly, though we didn’t give them clear direction of what we meant by “stereotypically black,” there was a lot of agreement about what that was.

    Now, the students had no idea where these pictures came from or that these were convicted felons. We wondered if their ratings of blackness could predict whether the person had received a life or a death sentence.


    Oh, yes. People who were judged to be most black were, in reality, most likely to have drawn a death sentence. In fact, they were over twice as likely to get a death sentence.


    There’s one where we exposed people subliminally to black and white faces. We did this by sitting subjects in front of computer screens and exposing them to pictures of faces at such a rapid rate that they couldn’t consciously detect what they’ve been exposed to.

    Then we displayed a blurry object on the screen. Sometimes, the object was crime-relevant — a gun or a knife. At other times, it was crime-irrelevant — a stapler. In 41 frames, this blurry object moved into focus.

    Our participants told us that when they’d been exposed to the black faces beforehand, they were able to identify the crime-relevant objects quicker. Exposure to the white faces led them to need more frames to say, “That’s a gun.”


    Seeing a lot of black faces created a perceptual readiness to detect crime-related objects.


    This is an experiment that another social psychologist, Josh Correll at the University of Colorado-Boulder, has done. But we’ve done it, too.

    You have a computer game simulation where a subject sees someone holding an object. If it’s a gun, they hit a button labeled “Shoot.” If it’s a harmless object, they hit another labeled “Don’t Shoot.”

    It turns out that if they are shown a black person with a gun, they’ll respond with “Shoot” faster than when flashed the image of a white person with a gun. People are more likely to mistakenly respond with “Shoot” to a black person with no gun than to a white person with no gun.

  24. opus says

    What a surprise!

    Between 2000 and 2004, Enos and a group of Harvard graduate students studied a public-housing reconstruction project in Chicago that caused the displacement of more than 25,000 African Americans, many of whom had previously lived in close proximity to white voters. After the African Americans moved out of the voting district, a startling effect became apparent: the white voters’ turnout dropped by 12 to 15 percentage points, leading Enos and his team to believe that white residents’ previously higher levels of civic engagement were in large part caused by feelings of racial threat.

    “That’s a lot of people. Political parties work really hard to try and turn out two or three percentage points of people—this is a 15 percentage point drop, so it’s a huge swing in who votes and who doesn’t,” Enos notes. “What it looks like…[is that] when [whites] were living next to these black neighbors, they were ‘racially threatened.’ The presence of these African Americans was affecting their psychology in some way and causing them to vote in a certain way.”

    After dividing voters by race, Enos and his team measured how far they lived from the demolished housing projects and then estimated voting patterns, using a method called ecological inference (the process of using aggregate data to draw conclusions about individual-level behavior) developed by Weatherhead University Professor Gary King.

    Enos found that the way people voted changed according to their proximity to housing projects: whites who lived nearby were voting for Republicans at a higher rate than whites living in other areas. “After those projects came down, they all voted Republican at the same rate,” Enos adds. “It looked like the presence of those housing projects caused them to vote Republican.”



  25. opie says

    Racism: photons of varying wavelength striking retinas are literally changing culture and the course of human history. A testament to the rationality of 3 lbs of cranial meat.

  26. says

    I was asked to repost this in the comments here, as it seemed topical.

    I was just reading this story on the CBC website:
    about a police shooting and the complete lack of real legal consequences for police officers that kill people. It is one of the few articles I have seen in the mainstream press that has been critical of police officers and their expectation of complete submission to authority by people. What amazed me in this case is that four fellow officers actually contradicted the story of the shooter, breaking that wall of silence that normally goes up. But even with this being the case, nothing has happened.

    But the killing of John Geer should frighten everyone. It is the best example yet that while police often target minorities disproportionately, their basic and overriding demand is total and unquestioning submission to their authority.

  27. rq says

    This is a rather tangential article, but I’m sure the program would have an impact on poor black people and families who are temporarily or chronically homeless: Room for Improvement

    We could, as a country, look at the root causes of homelessness and try to fix them. One of the main causes is that a lot of people can’t afford a place to live. They don’t have enough money to pay rent, even for the cheapest dives available. Prices are rising, inventory is extremely tight, and the upshot is, as a new report by the Urban Institute finds, that there’s only 29 affordable units available for every 100 extremely low-income households. So we could create more jobs, redistribute the wealth, improve education, socialize health carebasically redesign our political and economic systems to make sure everybody can afford a roof over their heads.

    Instead of this, we do one of two things: We stick our heads in the sand or try to find bandages for the symptoms. This story is about how Utah has found a third way.

    To understand how the state did that it helps to know that homeless-service advocates roughly divide their clients into two groups: those who will be homeless for only a few weeks or a couple of months, and those who are “chronically homeless,” meaning they have been without a place to live for more than a year, and have other problems—mental illness or substance abuse or other debilitating damage. The vast majority, 85 percent, of the nation’s estimated 580,000 homeless are of the temporary variety, mainly men but also women and whole families who spend relatively short periods of time sleeping in shelters or cars, then get their lives together and, despite an economy increasingly stacked against them, find a place to live, somehow. However, the remaining 15 percent, the chronically homeless, fill up the shelters night after night and spend a lot of time in emergency rooms and jails. This is expensive—costing between $30,000 and $50,000 per person per year according to the Interagency Council on Homelessness. And there are a few people in every city, like Reno’s infamous “Million-Dollar Murray,” who really bust the bank. So in recent years, both local and federal efforts to solve the homelessness epidemic have concentrated on the chronic population, currently about 84,000 nationwide.

    In 2005, approximately 2,000 of these chronically homeless people lived in the state of Utah, mainly in and around Salt Lake City. Many different agencies and groups—governmental and nonprofit, charitable and religious—worked to get them back on their feet and off the streets. But the numbers and costs just kept going up.

    The model for dealing with the chronically homeless at that time, both here and in most places across the nation, was to get them “ready” for housing by guiding them through drug rehabilitation programs or mental-health counseling, or both. If and when they stopped drinking or doing drugs or acting crazy, they were given heavily subsidized housing on the condition that they stay clean and relatively sane. This model, sometimes called “linear residential treatment” or “continuum of care,” seemed to be a good idea, but it didn’t work very well because relatively few chronically homeless people ever completed the work required to become “ready,” and those who did often could not stay clean or stop having mental episodes, so they lost their apartments and became homeless again.

    In 1992, a psychologist at New York University named Sam Tsemberis decided to test a new model. His idea was to just give the chronically homeless a place to live, on a permanent basis, without making them pass any tests or attend any programs or fill out any forms.

    “Okay,” Tsemberis recalls thinking, “they’re schizophrenic, alcoholic, traumatized, brain damaged. What if we don’t make them pass any tests or fill out any forms? They aren’t any good at that stuff. Inability to pass tests and fill out forms was a large part of how they ended up homeless in the first place. Why not just give them a place to live and offer them free counseling and therapy, health care, and let them decide if they want to participate? Why not treat chronically homeless people as human beings and members of our community who have a basic right to housing and health care?”

    Tsemberis and his associates, a group called Pathways to Housing, ran a large test in which they provided apartments to 242 chronically homeless individuals, no questions asked. In their apartments they could drink, take drugs, and suffer mental breakdowns, as long as they didn’t hurt anyone or bother their neighbors. If they needed and wanted to go to rehab or detox, these services were provided. If they needed and wanted medical care, it was also provided. But it was up to the client to decide what services and care to participate in.

    The results were remarkable. After five years, 88 percent of the clients were still in their apartments, and the cost of caring for them in their own homes was a little less than what it would have cost to take care of them on the street. A subsequent study of 4,679 New York City homeless with severe mental illness found that each cost an average of $40,449 a year in emergency room, shelter, and other expenses to the system, and that getting those individuals in supportive housing saved an average of $16,282. Soon other cities such as Seattle and Portland, Maine, as well as states like Rhode Island and Illinois, ran their own tests with similar results. Denver found that emergency-service costs alone went down 73 percent for people put in Housing First, for a savings of $31,545 per person; detox visits went down 82 percent, for an additional savings of $8,732. By 2003, Housing First had been embraced by the Bush administration.

    Still, the new paradigm was slow to catch on. Old practices are sometimes hard to give up, even when they don’t work. When Housing First was initially proposed in Salt Lake City, some homeless advocates thought the new model would be a disaster. Also, it would be hard to sell the ultra-conservative Utah Legislature on giving free homes to drug addicts and alcoholics. And the Legislature would have to back the idea because even though most of the funding for new construction would come from the federal government, the state would have to pick up the balance and find ways to plan, build, and manage the new units. And where are you going to put them? Not in my backyard.

    They got the LDS involved, which got the program going, but there’s no mention on how much of their religion they also push, except this:

    If you’re a member of the church and you lose your job, your house, and all your money, you can go to your bishop and he’ll give you a place to live, some food, some money, and set you up with a job…no questions asked. All you have to do in return is some community service and try to follow the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. A system very much like Housing First—give them what they need, then work on their problems.

    Which refers specifically to members of the church, but I don’t know how much of that carries over into the Housing First program.

    This Supreme Court Decision Could Encourage One Of The Worst Forms Of Racism

    The country has progressed since the late ’60s, and blatant prejudice is now much less common. Yet housing discrimination persists, often due to bias built into the system. So over the years, the federal courts have expanded the Fair Housing Act to cover practices with a discriminatory outcome. Under this theory, known as “disparate impact,” a policy or practice can be illegal if it disproportionately affects minorities, regardless if that was its purpose. Disparate impact claims are crucial to fighting racial inequality today.

    But this key weapon could soon be taken away. The Supreme Court will likely rule this summer in a case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, that may forbid disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. Such a decision would effectively defang the law. It would also shed a disturbing light on how this court believes the law should react to entrenched discrimination.

    The underlying reality of the Texas case is that certain housing policies disadvantage minorities more than whites, whether by hidden design, careless disregard or unfortunate coincidence. It’s this type of discrimination — in housing, but also employment, voting and education — that today produces some of the biggest barriers to bridging the racial divide. If the Supreme Court acknowledges this truth and believes justice is best served by fostering equality “in fact, and not simply in form” — to borrow a phrase from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — its decision should be easy. That it probably won’t be helps explain why racial inequality remains such an unrelenting problem for the nation.

    The article includes a closer look at the segregated past of housing and mortgaging etc. Here’s another factor:

    The Supreme Court is now debating whether disparate impact claims can even be raised in housing cases.

    On Jan. 21, the justices heard oral arguments in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project. The Dallas-area nonprofit, which promotes racially and economically diverse communities, filed suit after finding that for the past few decades, the Texas housing department had allocated almost all affordable-housing tax credits to developments in minority neighborhoods, while denying credits to those in white neighborhoods. This effectively kept low-income residents from moving to white communities. The nonprofit is raising a disparate impact claim under the Fair Housing Act.

    The Texas agency, unable to show there was no less-discriminatory alternative to its practice, lost the case in federal district court and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. It petitioned the Supreme Court to rule for the first time on the overall permissibility of disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. Court watchers suggest the decision may come down to Justice Antonin Scalia, who during oral arguments indicated sympathy with both sides.

    Opponents argue that disparate impact claims are unfair to policymakers, financial institutions and property owners. If housing policies and practices are instituted for legitimate reasons based on race-neutral criteria, the basic argument goes, then they should be legal despite any unintended discriminatory effects — and the people who implement those policies and practices should not be blamed.

    During oral arguments, Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller suggested another problem: that housing officials and developers wary of possible Fair Housing Act lawsuits might make race-conscious decisions in favor of minorities, creating “the functional equivalent of a quota system.” This would raise constitutional issues of its own.

    Other critics have expressed concerns that the idea of disparate impact is too fluid — that just because a practice unevenly affects a minority group doesn’t mean that it harms the group or that it doesn’t help other minority groups.

    And to finish off:

    A Supreme Court ruling against disparate impact would cap a string of controversial civil rights decisions.

    “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a 2007 decision on school desegregation in Seattle. That sounds simple enough, but such a focus on explicit racial preferences overlooks the issues of structural discrimination — the kind found in housing and other areas today.

    In 2009, the Supreme Court declared that New Haven, Connecticut, had violated the civil rights of white firefighters when it threw out a promotion exam that no black firefighter had passed. The city took the racial gap in exam results as a sign that the test itself might violate employment protections under the Civil Rights Act, but the court ruled against New Haven. In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted a key section of the Voting Rights Act that determined which states had to obtain pre-approval from the federal government before making changes to their voting systems. And last year, the justices upheld a Michigan ban on affirmative action, declaring that a state’s voters can prohibit the use of race as a factor in college admissions.

    As ProPublica noted, a ruling against disparate impact claims this year would give the Roberts Court a dubious hat trick: It would have effectively undermined the three most substantial civil rights laws of the 1960s — the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

    Whatever the Supreme Court decides in the current case, some of the justices are clearly unconvinced that discrimination not driven by overt bias is a problem, or at least one that the law should take a stand against.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke to this troubling pattern last year in her dissent in the Michigan affirmative action case. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination,” she said, responding to Roberts’ quote from seven years earlier.

    Sotomayor, one of only two racial minorities on the high court, chose to read aloud her dissent, something the justices do only when they feel particularly strongly.

    A ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project is expected sometime in June.

    So go Texas, I suppose?

    St. Louis police turn over Kajieme Powell shooting case to prosecutor

    Police found no criminal wrongdoing in two officers’ fatal shooting of Kajieme Powell last summer, but Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said Tuesday that under new procedures her office will take a fresh look anyway.

    It is part of a process in which prosecutors now review officers’ use of deadly force, whether the department recommends criminal charges or not. Joyce said that in this case, it did not.

    After receiving the police reports Tuesday, Joyce issued a statement that the department findings “do not, in any way, dictate the actions to be taken by my office.”

    She wrote that experienced prosecutors will review the evidence, including a cellphone video of the shooting made by a bystander. She promised, “If necessary, we will conduct our own witness interviews to get to the truth of the circumstances of the shooting.”

    On Aug. 19, two St. Louis officers were sent to the Six Stars Market, in the 8700 block of Riverview Boulevard, on a report that a man stole energy drinks and pastries. The officers said he advanced at them with a knife. Each fired six shots, police said.

    The cellphone video shows the event at some distance, and includes the sound of Powell shouting “Shoot me! Kill me now!”

    One officer, 25, had been on the force a little more than three years; the other, 31, was on for about 2½ years. Powell lived with his grandmother in the 1500 block of Hornsby Avenue in St. Louis.

    Police Chief Sam Dotson has defended the shooting, noting that policy allows deadly force against someone threatening an officer with a knife from up to 21 feet away.

    Powell appears on the video to be much closer when he was shot, but calculations of just how close have not been released.

    The chief said Tasers were not an option against a potentially deadly weapon, and with Powell wearing a coat that might stop the probes.

    The case was reviewed separately by homicide detectives and then by the newly created Force Investigative Unit, Dotson said.

    Some aspects, including the video, were publicly released. Others, including the officers’ names, were not.

    “Once the circuit attorney’s office has reviewed the findings and a decision is rendered, all findings permissible under the Sunshine Law will be released to the public,” Dotson said in a prepared statement.

    Joyce invited anyone with relevant information to contact her office, and asked for patience from the public. She wrote, “A thorough review demands sufficient time to seek the truth.”

    The opening paragraph/sentence pretty much sums things up. ‘Anyway’ – you know, if they have time. I certainly hope they find the time and the effort.

    Here’s CNN on the officer who turned off his dashcam, St Louis officer under fire for turning off dashcam video during arrest, video at the link.
    Also from CNN: What really happened to Malcolm X?, video at the link.

    Taking a look back at Ferguson, though, Justice Department ‘seriously examining’ Ferguson race case. Well, thatš alright then, they’re taking a ‘serious’ look!

    The organization, Arch City Defenders, has been investigating for months allegations that the city of Ferguson engaged in a pattern of discrimination and encouraged its police department to target low-income residents and jail those who could not pay the fines.

    Thomas Harvey, executive director of Arch City Defenders, told POLITICO that he and his colleagues have consulted Justice Department lawyers and that he met one-on-one with Christy Lopez, the deputy chief of the department’s Civil Rights Special Litigation Section. Lopez has been tasked with leading the Justice Department’s larger investigation of the Ferguson police.

    “All discussions [with the Justice Department have focused on what we believe to be a connection between the allegations of police misconduct and the erosion of trust between members of communities of color and their government,” Harvey said.

    In public comments Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder didn’t discuss the direction of the federal probe, but emphasized that he expects the investigation to wrap up by the time he leaves office — likely within the next few weeks.

    “I’m satisfied with the progress that we have made, and also I’m comfortable saying that I’m going to be able to make those calls before I leave office,” Holder told reporters at the National Press Club on Tuesday. […]

    In the Ferguson matter, the Department of Justice reportedly is unlikely to pursue charges against Wilson. But it previously authorized a second autopsy of Michael Brown, and Attorney General Holder met personally with Brown’s family and local officials in Ferguson last year.

    The private lawsuit alleges that the city of Ferguson has violated citizens’ constitutional rights by placing them in unsanitary, overcrowded jails for outstanding debt to the city. These jails, the lawyers claimed, are often coated in mucus, dirt and feces. Jails in neighboring Jennings have reported two suicides in the past two years.

    The Ferguson Police Department, the lawsuit claims, excessively fined residents because of pressure to generate revenue for the town. Missouri law limits the amount of a city’s operating budget that can come from traffic fines to 30 percent, though The New York Times reported that many cities either ignore this law or fail to report their figures.

    Various Missouri lawmakers have proposed reducing the state’s cap on the portion of a city’s budget that can come from tickets to 10 percent.

    The Ferguson Police Department last week issued a statement disputing the lawsuit’s claims, asserting that no prisoner is held in city jails for longer than 72 hours, that the jails are sanitary and that those in custody have access to “toilet, wash-basin, and drinking water.”

    “We believe this lawsuit is disturbing because it contains allegations that are not based on objective facts,” Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said in a statement.

    But Harvey believes that his investigation could provide key insight into the anger exhibited by protesters after Michael Brown’s shooting. “They’re just pissed off because they’re being exploited; they’re not dangerous.”

    Interlude: Idris Elba
    Pierce Brosnan backs Idris Elba to be the next James Bond – awful nice of Pierce!

    He has been backed by everyone from Kanye West to Jamie Foxx – and now Idris Elba has earned the support of a former James Bond actor to take on the role of 007.

    Pierce Brosnan has said Idris Elba could step up to the mark to play the British spy. In an interview with the RadioTimes, he said: “Yeah, he would make a good Bond”.

    Brosnan also said Colin Salmon, who the actor starred alongside in The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day as MI6 deputy chief of staff, would be a good fit for the role.

    Pierce Brosnan has also backed British actor Colin Salmon for the role “Colin Salmon also. May the best man get the job and may Daniel [Craig] bring home the bacon for as long as he wants,” he said.

    Elba has been rumoured to play the British spy for a number of years, but his name resurfaced again in 2014 when a hacked Sony email revealed the company thought the actor “should be the next Bond”.

    Rather a shame that Daniel Craig still has a couple more movies to make before he can leave the franchise.

  28. rq says

    Crap. You’re missing out on the Elba previous comment. Onwards! Directly to the annals of Stupid:
    Krispy Kreme’s “KKK Wednesdays” promotion backfires, obviously

    A United Kingdom branch of Krispy Kreme has officially apologized after advertising their short-lived “KKK [Krispy Kreme Klub] Wednesdays” promotion for their Hull location. Apparently, people outside the U.S. — including the representatives from Krispy Kreme’s British headquarters who approved the promotion — are unfamiliar with the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist organization known for grotesque violence primarily against black people.

    “Krispy Kreme apologizes unreservedly for the inappropriate name of a customer promotion at one of our stores,” said a Krispy Kreme spokesperson in a statement. “The promotion was never intended to cause offense. All material has been withdrawn and an internal investigation is currently underway.”

    According to the Hull Daily Mail, the promotion was part of a calendar of children’s activities and was advertised on the company’s national Facebook page. It wasn’t long before commenters began pointing out the regrettable oversight.

    “This was sent from the head office, so it has been advertised at all the outlets,” said the spokesperson in an interview. “But we have now taken down the sign from our point of sale. We don’t have a new name for the event yet but it is still going ahead this week.”

    The promotion has scheduled events including “Colouring Tuesday” and “Face Painting Thursday.”

    I will only make the comment that ‘Colouring Tuesday’ might also resonate poorly. No further comment from me.

    More frighteningly, ‘White Power’ Signs Held Up at Texas High School Basketball Game

    It was an interesting basketball game—one that went into three overtimes—between Flower Mound High School and Plano East High School in Texas Friday, but what got the most attention was a picture tweeted out showing attendees holding up two signs that jointly read “White Power,” WFAA-TV reports.

    The signs, held up in Flower Mound’s student section, shocked both parents and students alike.

    “We thought it was racist,” one Plano East student athlete, who asked not to be identified, told the news station. “[The sign] said ‘white power,’ and we were shocked.”

    Witnesses at the game said the sign was held up late in the game as play intensified and scoring leads switched several times.

    “Our student section started pointing at the sign,” the Plano East athlete added. “That’s when it clicked into everyone’s mind … ‘Whoa … what are these guys doing?’ And the teachers came and took the signs down.”

    According to WFAA-TV, it is believed that the “white” meant the team’s color, but the “power” in the sign did not fit in with any of the school’s cheers. Witnesses also reported that there were slurs hurled at players throughout the game.

    Eric Littleton, coach of the Flower Mound team, took to social media to decry the sign.

    “Unacceptable. As head coach at FMHS I offer our full voice apology. I will pursue this fully. No place for this,” he wrote.

    The Lewisville Intermediate School District reportedly is investigating the incident.

    Video apparently at the link; work computer is blocking it out. :P

    A worthy comparison: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Claiming Isis represents Islam is like claiming to the Ku Klux Klan represents Christianity

    Asked by host Mika Brzezinski what he thought really drove the militant group, he said: “It’s a play for money and power, and these people try to impose their will on people so people will listen to them, and they can be in charge. That’s all it’s about. They’ve taken on a fascist attitude and a fascist approach to everything. You do what we say or you die.”

    “You can make parallels to things that have happened here in America. Like the Ku Klux Klan saying they are the Christian knights,” he added. “And they do not practice Christianity.”

    Using the First Crusade of 1095 as an example, he said that religion has always been used “as an excuse” to gain status and commit harrowing acts of violence, like beheadings and execution by burning.

    “It’s not an excuse, it’s no excuse and oppressing one group means that we have to look out, all groups have to get together to fight that type of oppression, because we all should be free,” he said.

    Black Police Officers Divided Over Eric Garner’s Death

    “The most difficult part of this whole process is people failing to understand that I am an African-American man. I could be Eric Garner or I could be Daniel Pantaleo – I could be either or,” says 48-year-old NYPD Detective Yuseff Hamm.

    Hamm readily admits that he is caught in the middle of a firestorm within his own ranks. He is the president of the NYPD Guardians Association, a fraternal organization of African American police officers. There are about 2,000 members and they are sharply divided about the use of force in the death of Eric Garner. Many members want Yuseff Hamm—who’s been on the job since 2001—to condemn what some black officers believe is excessive force, but Hamm refuses. For that, he says, he’s been harshly criticized.

    “You should read some of the emails that I receive. They call me all kinds of names except the one name that I remember,” says Hamm. “The guardians position is unique. As the president of this fraternal organization, I’ve made a conscious decision to stand on the side of justice.”

    “He caused a man to lose his life and as far as I’m concerned that’s unforgivable,” says Charlie McCray, the president of the Retired NYPD Guardians.

    McCray has harsh words for NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is seen here taking Eric Garner down. He says his 800 African-American retired NYPD members are unanimously opposed to the way officers handled Eric Garner—and the group also has strong views about Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch.

    “Pat Lynch is protecting his job, but he really, really overdid it,” McCray says.

    Although Hamm and McCray have different points of view, both agree that more dialogue is needed and The Guardians should be included in the ongoing dialogue at City Hall.

    Also video at the link.

    One more on Ferguson and Holder-before-he-leaves-office. Holder confirms separate Ferguson probes to be finished before he leaves office

    On Ferguson, Holder denied he had unduly influenced the Justice Department’s investigation of Ferguson police when he said less than three months after the shooting that “wholesale change” was needed in the department.

    “I don’t think that that response was inappropriate,” Holder said, adding that “the reality was I had been briefed all along on this matter.”

    Holder, who visited Ferguson 11 days after the shooting, argued that “nothing I say… would have an impact on career people” in the Justice Department doing the investigations.

    “I think everybody will see when we announce our results that the process that we have engaged in is, as I said back at the time when I went to Ferguson, independent, thorough, and based on all the facts,” Holder said. “And I am confident that people will be satisfied with the results that will be announced.”

    But Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said he believes Holder tainted the Justice Department’s investigation.

    “The public should be skeptical of the integrity of the investigation given that the ultimate boss in that department has gone public with his conclusion prior to the investigation being completed,” he said.

    Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III agreed, saying the probe was “set up to be extremely political.” He said the city would study any recommendations the department might make.

    “We’re always looking to make positive improvements in our police department,” he said. “If there is a legitimate issue, we want to address that, but right now I don’t really have any idea what that is in eyes of the DOJ.”

    I love it when the Authoritehs scream Bias! and Politicized! when they have so much of both themselves.

  29. rq says

    Mmkay, and this is the last link that is working for me from work; I have a few more lined up ready to go but they’ll have to wait for home computer. Where there will be even more (probably tomorrow).
    Racism against black people – not just in America! Time to shut down this modern-day minstrel show

    Whenever possible — that is, when the incident in question is not blatantly screaming “racism” at the top of its lungs — one must learn to extend the benefit of the doubt to what might seem to be way beyond the reasonable. Otherwise, it’s very likely you’ll be seeing behavior that could be classified as racist at every turn. You really will. Especially in Japan.

    And, to make these modifications all the more appealing, I’ve found that this kind of thinking and behavior gets rewarded. People, particularly whites and Japanese, find you much more appealing and approachable. After all, nobody wants to be told that they’ve been unintentionally racist — or that behavior they’ve sanctioned as cultural quirks and implicit biases are likely indicative of something a lot uglier. But, if you modify that modus operandi, you get labeled an evenhanded, fair-minded guy — instead of a hothead who presumes racist intent, or un-intent, at every questionable act they come upon. These guys lose credibility quickly, like the boy who cried wolf when the canine in question was just a beagle or chihuahua.

    So when that Japanese person stands, vacates the seat beside you and sits elsewhere on the subway or bus, you must train yourself to sell yourself on the notion that the person could just as well have needed to stretch their legs, or wanted to, umm, give you some extra room. Or perhaps they had been harassed the previous week by a guy who looked just like you, or have had random foreigners just turn and embarrassingly spit English at them. Make it feasible now, cuz you’re the one who’s gotta sell it and buy it!

    And if you find yourself, as some of my fellow expats have, being stopped by cops an inordinate amount of times on your bike, or just walking down the street? Before you sprint to the default reason of supposed oversensitive Americans, take a deep breath, man up and tell yourself, sell to yourself, that it’s just as likely — hell, more likely — that the cops are being extra-vigilant because there have been a string of bike robberies by illegal aliens, and, like it or not, you kinda sorta fit that description. (Of course, you fit the description of a legal alien too, but that’s beside the point. Sell it. Buy it.)

    And when a former adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe goes on record extolling the system of apartheid, whereby blacks, whites and Asians are forced to live separately, instead of calling her a racist, you can appreciate her words for their honesty and forthrightness. You can even admire her a bit for having the audacity to say what you’re pretty sure many of the people you encounter here would endorse if they had half her courage.

    And when you turn on the television one night soon and see a J-pop group called Rats & Star — who’ve clearly raided Little Richard’s (or maybe Flavor Flav’s) wardrobe — singing doo-wop songs in shoddy English with their faces painted black as tar, just do yourself a favor and stop! Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t drop any R-bombs!

    Just consider the possibilities first: Like maybe, just maybe, these guys really, really love black people so much that they are prepared to forsake their own race in favor of blackness — at least during performances, anyway. (I’m pretty sure they don’t wanna be black full-time. Even these guys know there’s a lot more to being black in this world than doo-wopping and shoe polish.)

    Or, like my Japanese then-girlfriend back in 2009 told me after I referred to Gosperats, another homegrown blackface group, as “ignorant bastards”: I ought to stop to consider that these guys have been around, like, forever and have nothing but respect and adoration for black people and music, and that this minstrel show of theirs is their way — the Japanese way — of paying homage to black music history. (Need I explain why I dumped her?)

    “You’re way too sensitive about race,” she’d snapped over my shoulder as I blogged about these guys. “Everything is race, race, race, race, race with you. Are all black people like that?”

    And she had a good point. Perhaps it is my tender sensibilities that are at fault sometimes. But in this case, I seriously doubt it.

    I wasn’t going to write about this, you know. I tackled this years ago on my blog, Loco in Yokohama, back when this kind of stuff — this low-hanging fruit — used to get me all worked up. But some white guys figured that a black guy ought to be the guy writing about these Japanese guys, and I’m that black guy.

    I had been planning to publish a column this month about how black history can be constructive or detrimental to your health, and included in it some thoughts on how Japanese people might benefit from a bit of black history. I sh-t you not.

    All of which speaks directly to this racist bullsh-t — I mean, this cultural misunderstanding — one that could have been avoided in the 30-some-odd years this band has existed if, while they were researching the music, costumes and other aspects of black music and performance, they had simply taken a second to see if what they wanted to do with blackface had ever been done before. You know, just a little proactive research about the industry they would spend the next three f-cking decades profiting handsomely from.

    But alas, when I saw this story on the Net the other day — that they were going to be on Fuji TV alongside popular girl group Momoiro Clover Z, who would be similarly blacked up — all I could say was, “Mata ka yo?” (“Jeezus! Again?”), suck my teeth and click away. To me, it’s not shocking to see blackfaced bands here. With the attitudes and ignorance encountered here regularly, the only shocking thing is that there aren’t more of these groups. A Ku Klux Klan-themed idol group wouldn’t even surprise me here.

    I’m still, however, pleasantly surprised when non-Japanese people in Japan get worked up over something important. They’re a beautiful sight to see! Like when Julien Blanc was spreading his misogynistic garbage about Japanese women. Remember how the Japanosphere responded? They damn near shut down the Internet with their furor over his antics. Of course, everything he said could be heard in any gaijin (foreigner) bar in Tokyo or Yokohama on any given day, but it was still great to see people get activated for a good cause. Not to mention that, let’s say, inappropriate ANA advert that got a lot of people upset and resulted in Japan’s biggest airline re-editing a television commercial advertising new flights.

    And even Japanese get worked up when they want to. Like back in 2011, when the Japanese Embassy in London sent a letter to the BBC complaining about A-bomb jokes on an episode of a British TV comedy quiz, leading the BBC to apologize for offending Japanese sensibilities. And very recently, conservative Netizens in Japan campaigned to keep Angelina Jolie’s biographical movie about a former American POW from opening in theaters here because of its depictions of Imperial Japanese Army brutality. All beautiful acts of activism, right?

    Well, I say, if ANA and the BBC can be made to change their tunes, and if Blanc can be shut down, so can these guys. And if this crap does air, I say shame on you, Fuji TV, for airing a modern-day minstrel show and shining a national spotlight on this extreme ignorance. And shame on you, blackface bands, for not bothering to Google the term or for ignoring what you found when you did. And shame on anyone that suggests these performers deserve the benefit of the doubt!

    And notice, I didn’t drop an R-bomb on these guys, not even once.

    Reading the first part, I was getting ready to be all ‘never MIND the cultural differences, racism is racism!’ but I loved the turnaround.
    As for me and my locality, I can say, with conviction, that blackface is a thing here, too, and nobody sees a thing wrong with it. Last summer (I think, may have been the summer before) there was a concert show being put on for one of the many summertime festivals, and the theme was… well, I forget what the theme was, something about journeys and fairytales, though I could be wrong. Nice location – open-air stage in the Rātslaukums, which lies between the Riga City Council building and the Melngalvju nams, with the statue of Rolands looking on. Directly behind the stage, the Museum of Occupation, somewhat lost in the background even with it’s starkly cubed, black brutalism. All corners and lines, is that building. And right there, on stage, an actor MCing the show – dressed as, you will not guess it, someone from the Arabian Nights. The fantasy-like ones, that is, where the people of Arab descent (or perhaps it was a Moor in this case :P) wear shiny turbans, embroidered open vests, loose satin pants, gold-touched curled-toe shoes… and blackface. No, they couldn’t find someone of colour to MC (and there are people of colour in Latvia). No, they couldn’t do with just the costume but without the blackface.
    But then, one of the more contemporary theatre troupes put on a showing of Othello with white Othello in full-body blackface (blackbody?). Because it just wouldn’t do for Othello to be white and still of a different nationality? At least the ballet version hired a black dancer for the primary role, for the first season of shows. Nowadays they make do with a local white guy, sans black facepaint. For some people, it’s a theatrical device. What I find damning is their inability to research the gimmick, to see that it isn’t such a gimmick so much as an appropriation… but then, there aren’t so many black people in Latvia that they would care, right? :P

  30. rq says

    Yesterday’s leftovers:
    Two letters from the Denver police to the mayor. Can’t confirm how real they are; if they are, they’re rpetty terrible!
    First one here (pdf) and the second one here. To specify, from the Fraternal Order of Police in Denver.

    Some people are racist and proud of it. Chelsea fans chant “We’re racist” while keeping black man off train

    Not to be outdone, Chelsea fans riding the Paris metro on the way to their Champions League clash against Paris Saint Germain physically prevented a black man from getting on the train while chanting “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.” So they’re going to have to come up with something other than “no one can say we’re racist” when they offer their public apologies.

    There’s video at the link. Oh, and the person they’re trying to one-up is Sacchi, a soccer trainer in Italy, who lamented the excess of black people on the Italian team, but he’s not a racist.

    Positive news? More police departments choosing restraint over quick action

    But at a time when some police departments have been criticized for using military-style methods of crowd control against protesters, Denver’s approach of restraint is being shared by agencies across the country, as experts say police interference can actually escalate violence and erode trust.

    “We have learned that providing route security at a distance and intentionally avoiding direct confrontation prevents injury to officers, limits liability, and minimizes the criminal actions of many protesters,” the chief wrote in the email to officers, adding that police should take “immediate enforcement action” only rarely. In Saturday’s case, police arrested two protesters for vandalism, but only after the demonstration.

    “There’s a lot more emphasis today on de-escalation,” said policing consultant Joe Brann, a former chief and founder of the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing program. “It provides more confidence, with these protests, when you see signs that the police are being very reasonable and calculated when they do have to take enforcement action and they’re not jumping into the fray willy nilly.”

    Aggressive police tactics drew criticism in Ferguson, Missouri, where officers with riot gear and military-grade equipment clashed with protesters after the police shooting of Michael Brown. The response renewed questions about how best to respond to protests and caused many departments to re-evaluate their own policies.

    Denver Police Chief Robert White told officers the department’s policy of restraint had proven effective in earlier protests over killings by police, including Brown’s and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City. Protests flared again when officers involved in both deaths were not indicted by local grand juries.

    “We always have to weigh, what are we getting in the middle of? If the situation deteriorates because of the police action, it’s not always the best action,” said Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, whose officers watched as a man defaced their headquarters with a marker during a recent protest. They arrested him later. “I understand the frustration. But we’ve got to look at the bigger picture.”

    That’s a departure from a time when officers would rush in and make arrests, said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. “You’re not going to let them off the hook. It just isn’t necessary to wade into a crowd and create more conflict,” he said.

    Well, from what activists have mentioned, there are still departments who will rush into the crowd and snatch people for arrest. More:

    Police chiefs in Chicago, Boston, Nashville, Tennessee, and elsewhere have taken a largely hands-off approach to demonstrations, shutting down streets for marches and opening lines of communication with protest groups. Attorney General Eric Holder urged police restraint to “minimize needless confrontation” ahead of November’s announcement that the Ferguson officer who shot Brown would not be criminally charged.

    Dealing with protests starts before demonstrators even hit the streets, said Maj. Max Geron of the Dallas Police Department, speaking in his capacity as a security studies scholar who wrote his master’s thesis on policing and protests. He studied the responses of the Dallas; Portland, Oregon; New York City and Oakland, California, police departments to Occupy Wall Street protests and found that a hands-off approach works best whenever possible.

    Portland Police, for example, assigned specific officers to patrol Occupy encampments so protesters could become familiar with them, Geron said. In Salt Lake City, police made arrangements with Occupy protesters so they could be arrested on their own terms.

    “I’m convinced that if the police’s first response to a gathering is riot shields and helmets, then that says, throw rocks and bottles at us, we’re expecting this horrible confrontation,” Burbank said. “What you try and do is meet and say what do you need how can we facilitate your free speech?”

    More conversations would be nice – and it would also be nice for the police to actually listen to the free speech on offer, draw some conclusions, and make some changes. But then, as on another thread, being necessarily heard is not a right. :P It’s just not always the smart choice not to listen.

    There are some things white and black folk can agree on. Or, Interlude: Kardashian! Dear Tyga:
    Blacks and Whites Are Quite Clear on Friendships Between Grown Men and Little Girls

    However, it’s difficult for me to be silent when a relationship between a teenaged girl and a grown man—someone’s father, at that—is being normalized, especially when other little girls are watching this paring play out and take notes. I don’t want my little girl or anyone else’s looking at Tyga and Kylie, be they ‘just friends’ or otherwise, and thinking it’s acceptable.

    I recall hearing some months ago that Kyle Jenner kicked it for her 17th birthday with Tyga, Chris Brown and Trey Songz and thinking, “What in the hell is going on?” What parents would ever, in a million years go for this? Alas, this is the mystical land of Kardashia, where everyone is for sale, and existing through the lense of deluxe Instagram filters and paparazzi photos running on blogs the family is rumored to keep on retainer.

    As the rumors persisted, it started to look like Tyga was participating in a behavior that we can find in both hoods (such as the fast food parking lots that R. Kelly terrorized in 1990s Chicago) and elite spaces (hello Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld) across the country. Yet another gross grown man choosing to be enamored by a ‘hot’ young girl, as opposed to the many adult women who’d be more than happy to ignore his reptilian appearance because he’s got coins. How dreadful and, in the state in which they live, illegal if they are, in fact, having sex. […]

    For how dishonest his defense of his ‘innocent’ relationship with the 17-year-old sounded, equally troubling is Tyga’s assertion that there is some great difference in the capability of Blacks and Whites to have friendships:

    “In Black culture it’s different. If you hang around somebody you’re smashing them, White people, White culture, it’s different. They really friends. It’s genuine, it’s different. How we think is a little different with our mentality.”

    It’s hard to understand exactly what he’s trying to say here, because his word choices are so awkward. Does he mean that White people know how to really be friends in ways that Black people don’t? Are white folks better at being platonic friends across gender lines? Wouldn’t a 26-year-old who was falsely accused of dating a teenager state, unequivocally “I AM NOT DATING A LITTLE GIRL, THAT IS DISGUSTING, WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT?”

    YOU ARE NOT TELLING ME THAT WHITE PEOPLE THINK IT’S OKAY FOR 26-YEAR-OLD MEN AND 17-YEAR-OLD GIRLS TO BE FRIENDS, TYGA, THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU ARE TELLING ME. There are still communities in this country where you’d get strung up on a tree for such a relationship even if you were the same age, so please spare me your pathetic attempts at critical race theory.

    This isn’t a Black/White thing, this is a Hollywood/Kardashian thing that would not play out with parents who aren’t permissive to the point of neglect—this same child dropped out of home school to focus on her “career!” Perhaps Black people have been more vocal in calling this relationship out for what it is—inappropriate—but when White gossip rags routinely run pictures of people who barely know each other with the suggestion that they must be sleeping together, please don’t tell me that our paler countrymen are simply better equipped at managing friendships.

    Grand juries are ‘relic of another time’: New York’s top judge urges reform

    During his State of the Judiciary speech, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said he had introduced legislation that would compel courts to disclose the specific charges filed, instructions given to a grand jury panel and the testimony provided by public servants and experts in cases of great public interest. The bill would also require that a judge be physically present during hearings involving police officers charged with assault or homicide.

    “In cases of significant public interest, secrecy does not further the principles it is designed to protect but, in fact, significantly impedes fair comment and understanding of the court process,” Lippman said, according to a transcript of the remarks delivered Tuesday.

    Lippman’s bill comes less than four months after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict a New York City police officer in the death of Eric Garner, who collapsed after he was placed in what many have described as a chokehold during an arrest in July. Chokeholds have been outlawed as a law enforcement tactic by nearly every major police department in the U.S.

    Under New York state law, only presiding district attorneys have the power to make grand jury information public.

    After the Garner decision, Richmond County Dist. Atty. Daniel Donovan asked a state court to make public only the type of evidence reviewed by the grand jury and the number of witnesses who testified.

    Transcripts of witness testimony, Garner’s autopsy report and the exact charges Donovan pursued against Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo remain secret.

    Donovan’s decision was in stark contrast to decisions made by St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo. Brown, like Garner, was unarmed at the time of his lethal encounter with a police officer. McCulloch elected to make testimony and witness statements public just minutes after the grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown to death.

    The New York state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Garner’s family are suing to make that information public. Calls to a spokesman for Donovan were not immediately returned.

    Lippman’s bill is the latest in a series of moves to make investigations into police killings of civilians more transparent and less ripe for skepticism. Two New York state Assembly members introduced similar legislation late last year, and state Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the power to investigate police killings, which would essentially allow him to appoint special prosecutors in cases like Garner’s.

    The move is meant to alleviate concern that district attorney’s offices cannot investigate police officers without bias, as the agencies normally work together on homicide investigations and various task forces.

    I love the comment that was at the forefront when I blockquoted: “Just what we need, another judge who thinks he is omnipotent or better than our Founding Fathers and years of judicial process”. (Somewhat paraphrased. :P) Apparently the Founding Fathers were absolutely infallible and could predict the future so as to align all laws and every paragraph of the constitution with everyone’s future needs, amendments be damned!

  31. rq says

    Pussy Riot Get Buried Alive In “I Can’t Breathe,” Dedicated To Eric Garner

    “We’ve known, on our own skin, what police brutality feels like and we can’t be silent on this issue,” the band members have said in a statement. As such, they recorded “I Can’t Breathe” over the course of one long night back in December, when protests against police brutality raged across the country. Pussy Riot’s English-language debut has an industrial feel and an urgency that’s a bit of a departure from their previous work, and it was recorded with an assist from Richard Hell and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner. If the mere title of the song sounds inflammatory, the video is a visual Molotov.

    The entire affair unfolds in one long, uncomfortable take that finds the two remaining band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, being buried alive. During a slow pan to a dirt pile, the camera passes over a pack of cigarettes that recalls the illegal-sale-item Eric Garner was reportedly killed over. Next we see the two women lying on their backs, wearing Russian army fatigues with insignia that reads ‘Homo,’ and it is not long before they are showered with dirt. To completion.

    I would just like to note that their shirts don’t say ‘HOMO’, but are the Russian spelling for ‘OMON‘. Basically, the special forces of the military. Which as a significance of its own.

    Fifty Years After Medicare Desegregated Hospitals, Blacks Still Fighting for Health Care Access

    While my research examines the interaction of racial politics with efforts to pass large-scale health reform from the New Deal to the ongoing opposition to the ACA, focusing on this year’s 50th anniversary of the passage of Medicare and Medicaid offered an opportunity to shine light on how important these programs have been in reducing the discrimination and institutional racism that were once hallmarks of American health care.

    For a good part of the 20th century American health care was segregated and national health care policy like the Hill-Burton Hospital Construction Act was structured by powerful Southern legislators who used states’ rights as the guiding principle for incrementally expanding federal involvement in health care while maintaining “separate but equal” facilities throughout the South. The deeply entrenched Jim Crow system of segregated hospitals in the South often relegated blacks to substandard care and denial of admission to white hospitals even as black patients experienced life-threatening emergencies right outside their doors. Moreover, African American health care providers were excluded from membership in professional associations such as the American Medical Association that were crucially important for credentialing purposes and hospital admission privileges.

    When Medicare went into effect in 1966, the Johnson administration used the Civil Rights Act as the basis for requiring hospitals to desegregate as a condition for receiving Medicare funds. By pulling this important policy lever, the Johnson administration ushered a relatively swift end to the Jim Crow hospital system in the South.

    Medicare was a breakthrough in the long battle to achieve universalism in federal health care policy. Universalism as a principle means that every American has access to the same benefits. It is an important safe guard against discrimination and the nuances of state politics. […]

    As originally written, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provides uniform eligibility requirements across the states by making adults with incomes at or below 138% of the poverty line eligible for coverage. With this provision, the nation was the closest it has ever been to implementing a national, universal health care program for poor adults.

    Medicare and Medicaid have been important vehicles for ensuring access to care for seniors, the poor and other vulnerable populations. Both of these programs have been especially significant for African Americans as they not only helped to dismantle the Jim Crow health system but continue to serve as powerful public health tools for reducing racial disparities in health.

    State Medicaid expansion decisions and their impact on communities of color point to the unfinished business in the fight to ensure equitable access to health care. The ACA has the potential to bring us closer to reducing the disparities in health care access that have far too long defined black life in America. Republican legislators and governors can play a crucial part in this effort by expanding Medicaid.

    Man killed in altercation with TPD officer

    Jeremy Lett, 28, was shot by TPD officer David Stith, who was responding to reports of a burglary at the Shadow Ridge Apartments on West Tharpe Street around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

    After Stith spotted and confronted a man matching the burglary suspect’s description, the two men were involved in a physical altercation during which Stith shot Lett, according to TPD spokesman David Northway. The burglary was reported at the complex, but Northway did not know which apartment.

    Stith, who was not injured, has been placed on administrative leave with pay following the incident, which is protocol when an officer fires his weapon in the line of duty.

    Leon County court records show Lett was a resident of the single-story apartment complex. He did not have a criminal record.

    Stith joined TPD in 1999 and since then has had several disciplinary actions brought against him.

    He was suspended in February 2012 for 40 hours for violating TPD policies and again in May of that year for 10 hours without pay for his use of force while responding to a domestic battery incident, according to his personnel file.

    “Officer Stith used excessive force and failed to document use of force during his response to a possible domestic disturbance,” the summary of an internal investigation into the incident says.

    Here’s a thought, because it’s another case where a physical struggle was involved – maybe, if police officers weren’t so busy reaching for their guns, they’d have an easier time subduing their suspects? I mean, how easy can it be to fight off or hold onto someone if you’re only using one hand, right? Which means obviously you feel in danger and will shoot at first opportunity – but wouldn’t it be wiser to use both hands in the first place?

    In Chicago, an event – Civil Rights: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow February 20-21, 2015 9:00 am – 6:00 pm (come hang with Diane Nash & me).

    You need an account to listen to Ta-Nehisi Coates here, but I’m hoping a youtube link will turn up (there was one, but it doesn’t seem to be working anymore – it was here, for what it’s worth. From the tweets, it must have been an excellent presentation – Mr Coates reading from his newest book. Will keep an eye out.

  32. rq says

    Night court. No seats. 12 degrees. Some defendants left. Warrants for not entering building they were locked out of.

    Two FB events:
    Stand with MOA10 in Court

    #BlackLivesMpls organized a nonviolent, peaceful demonstration at the Mall of America (MOA) in Bloomington, one of the most visible locations in the country. On December 20, 2014, 3,000 people from all walks of life descended upon MOA to sing, chant, and to remind the world that #BlackLivesMatter. Rather than welcome the demonstrators into MOA, we were met by police in riot gear. In spite of the demonstration being peaceful, roughly two dozen people were arrested, stores were shut down by mall security and police, and exits were sealed. What started as a demonstration of Dr. King’s vision of the ‘beloved community,’ became a reminder of what Dr. King warned could destroy our nation: The triple giants of racism, militarism, and extreme materialism. All three of those giants were present that day at MOA and they set out to crush the spirits of ‘the little guy.'”

    Defendants face up to 8 misdemeanors which carry a maximum of 2 years in jail and a $7,000 fine on top of the $25,000 being sought in restitution for “lost revenue” and “police overtime”.

    “This amounts to political persecution and is a gross misuse of prosecutorial discretion and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Thankfully, these intimidation tactics will not be effective in shutting down our movement. Our voices will only grow stronger in the process.”- Nekima Levy-Pounds

    We urge each and every person who believes in the goal of creating a just and equitable society to raise their voice in support of the movement.

    Now is the time to stand with, and support, the 10 defendants charged for the Mall of America protest

    MOA is Mall of America, just in case anyone has forgotten. Link to the legal defense fund over there, don’t need to be logged in or have facebook at all to view this event.
    And the other one: PACK THE HEARING ROOM

    There is a MN State Senate hearing on body cameras & felon voter re-enfranchisement in Capitol Rm. 15.

    Currently the language surrounding Body Camera Policy is weak at best. We need to show our legislators that we want body cameras to increase public safety and police accountability in the state of Minnesota.

    Join Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and Pack The Room to show our State Senate the strong support for All People’s voting rights and Comprehensive, Community-inclusive Body camera standards.

    That one’s today, at noon CST. In Minneapolis, the miracle city.

    Which reminds me, pulling two links from that thread to put over here, thanks to kelecable.
    If Minneapolis is so great, why is it so bad for African Americans?

    As Derek Thompson writes in the March issue:

    What’s wrong with American cities? is a question that demographers and economists have debated for years. But maybe we should be looking to a luminary exception and asking the opposite question: What’s right with Minneapolis?

    Well, to start, the area is a corporate hub that employs a generous swath of educated middle-class workers. The region possesses an ample supply of housing, too, its suburbs sprawling free in every direction. The city also is isolated enough that people find it hard to leave. Where would you go? Iowa?

    On top of these advantages, Thompson credits two policies that spread out the rewards and responsibilities of growth. In 1971, municipalities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul orbit agreed to share a portion of their commercial property tax revenue. Then, in 1976, Minnesota passed a law requiring every neighborhood in the metro region — both the suburbs and the inner core — to build affordable housing.

    These initiatives helped smooth the jagged inequities that often accompany increased prosperity. But how much did they contribute to what Thompson calls the Minneapolis “miracle”? And just who benefited from these policies?

    The questions arise because Minneapolis has another quirk, one that’s a bit more difficult to talk about: It’s really white. In the 2010 Census, about 79 percent of people in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area said they were non-Hispanic white. Only 8.4 percent said they were non-Hispanic black. […]

    Race is directly related to the question of whether children born to poorer parents will prosper. The authors of the Harvard-Berkeley study of intergenerational mobility devote a section to discussing the connection. “The main lesson of this analysis [in this section] is that both blacks and whites living in areas with large African American populations have lower rates of upward income mobility,” they write. They cannot pinpoint why, exactly, but their calculations say that segregation plays a role. […]

    The picture is less rosy these days. Since the 1970s, the city’s minority population has swelled, and segregation has worsened, particularly in its schools. About 62 percent of black students attend high-poverty schools, compared with 10 percent of white students. Beyond Minneapolis, the state of Minnesota has one of the largest gaps in black-white student achievement. Recently, WalletHub analyzed the black-white gap in census indicators such as household income, homeownership and educational attainment. It ranked Minnesota as the worst state for financial inequality.

    Over the past 40 years, other cities have been puzzling over how to share opportunity with people who had been systematically denied it for centuries. Minneapolis largely sat out that debate, and its lack of experience shows. Consider these maps from the Urban Institute of people living below the poverty line.

    Poverty, particularly nonwhite poverty, has been pooling in the city’s center for decades. As Thompson mentions, the city once had vigorous schemes to bust up concentrated poverty. Those efforts have fallen by the wayside, and today, low-income housing is mostly being built downtown, further clustering the poor. The MinnPost noted in 2010 that Minneapolis has race and income gaps between its urban core and wealthy suburbs and is doing worse on these measures than peer cities such as Denver, Seattle and Portland.

    This is not to dispute that the Twin Cities area has a lot of comfortable, affordable neighborhoods, which is the premise of the Atlantic’s piece: Minneapolis has good jobs, and living there is fairly cheap. But it is also developing serious problems with racial disparities and segregation, issues that its equitable-growth policies have done little to fix.

    And the other one, About that “Miracle”

    The claim that the Twin Cities are, and have been, such dynamic places to live is likely to ring hollow to at least one large category of Twin Cities residents: people of color.

    Indeed, within hours of Thompson’s post going up, critics on Twitter began to point out, rightly, that for people of color, life in the Twin Cities is, and has been, a far cry from miraculous.

    For many, the more realistic assessments came when Minnesota was recently named the second-worst state in the country for Black people to live. Or when statistical studies confirmed the lived educational experiences of people of color here: that Minnesota has the worst educational inequity for Latino students in the country; that Minnesota ranks dead last in the country in graduating Native American students.

    The list of disparities goes on and on. In Minnesota, very HIGH income Black people were 3.8 times more likely than very LOW income White people to be given subprime loans when purchasing a home. Black Minneapolis residents are over 11 times more likely than White residents to be arrested for marijuana possession. The overall arrest rate for Black Minneapolis residents is over six times higher than that for non-Black residents.

    The Twin Cities is, indeed, a place where youngish White folks can thrive. One need only take a walk through the Minneapolis skyways over the lunch hour to find them teeming with thousands of twenty- and thirty-something professionals, dressed to the nines, an overwhelming proportion of them white.

    But the history and present day story of Minnesota, like the rest of the United States, is a story of the exploitation and oppression of people of color by White people. […]

    To investigate the success of the Minneapolis project, Thompson looks to history. But it is a very specific and narrow history. He goes back to the 19th-century, but focuses his attention only on the mill owners who set up shop on the Mississippi. Sadly (and, unfortunately, typically), his brief venture to the past does not include the first governor of Minnesota declaring “the Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state.” Nor does it include Abraham Lincoln condoning the hanging of 38 Sioux after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, nor the United States Congress, in the aftermath of that war, passing an act declaring that the Dakota had “made an unprovoked, aggressive, and most savage war upon the United States” and therefore abrogating all treaties with the Dakotas.

    This abrogation of treaties and seizure of lands represented not only individual tragedy for the people involved, but a tangible transfer of exceedingly valuable land from Native people to White people.

    Many Latino families in Minnesota can trace their ancestry back to the end of the 19th century, when huge agriculture companies, like American Crystal Sugar (then called Minnesota Sugar Company) recruited migrant workers from the U.S.-Mexico border to come work in Minnesota. The ag companies used their political influence to ensure that labor laws weren’t applied to these migrant workers (which allowed them to put children to work), and government officials would often give the companies a heads-up before coming to inspect the dilapidated housing they provided for their workers. When the Great Depression hit, Latino workers on farms and in cities were often the first to be fired. In some cities, unemployment levels passed 80%.

    This history represents not only an unfortunate reality for the migrant agriculture workers at the time, but also, in the words of Coates, a specific transfer of wealth from the workers to whom it was owed to the White owners and managers of the ag companies. […]

    It’s not just that racial restrictive covenants made desirable housing stock less accessible to people of color; it’s that, by definition, it made that stock more accessible to White people. Generations of racist housing practices have been a huge contributor to the chasm in wealth disparities in our country. The wealth that many Black families would have accumulated had they had access to the housing they wanted was instead transferred to White people.

    None of this is to say that every analysis of urban policy must include an exhaustive history of all of its peoples. But any analysis of the success of a community, particularly when that success is so clearly demarcated along racial lines, must spend as much of its energy investigating taking as it does investigating creating. And that, to me, is the great flaw in Thompson’s post. He treats the “miracle of Minneapolis” solely as something that was built and created, without bothering to examine how the current social reality is the product of both building and taking simultaneously.

    Yes, the mill owners built their mills. Yes, innovative tax policies were enacted. But the relative strength of the prospects of White Twin Cities residents is also the product of taking land and wealth from Native Americans, taking labor and wages from Latino workers, and taking housing wealth from Black residents, to name just a few.

    Here is a brutal reality with which we White folks need to grapple: you cannot disadvantage one group of people without advantaging another. You cannot look solely at what has been built, without also looking at what has been taken, from whom and by whom. And you cannot treat that taking as an exclusively historical phenomenon.

    In his article, Thompson doesn’t acknowledge the realities of racial disparities and injustice in the Twin Cities at all. But I’d argue that any serious analysis of the “miracle” of Minneapolis must go several steps past acknowledging the realities of racial inequity and grapple with this question: to what extent do White people in the Twin Cities experience disproportionate prosperity as a result of the oppression and exploitation of people of color? It’s not enough simply to note that one group is in a position of advantage relative to another; we must consider how one reality may have led to the other.

    I submit that the dual realities that the Twin Cities are home to both strong White prosperity and also some of the worst racial inequity in the country are neither coincidental nor incidental. Those two realities are profoundly intertwined.

    As White people, we have a prevailing inability to perceive the role race and power are playing in the world. Too often, we interpret this lack of perception to mean that race is playing no role. This is true in how we interpret and present our history as well.

  33. rq says

    The second paragraph in the second-last link previous comment should be blockblockquoted, I blame tpyos.

    Magic Johnson to invest $10M in Chicago youth summer job program

    Earvin “Magic” Johnson is making a big investment in Chicago’s youth. The NBA legend and Kimbra Walter are co-founders of Inner City Youth Empowerment.

    They are expected to announce a two-year, $10 million investment in the city’s summer job program for at-risk youth, One Summer Chicago Plus.

    The mayor’s office said the funding is expected to provide 5,000 jobs for children and young adults who are at risk of becoming involved in violence.

    One Summer Chicago Plus provides opportunities for young people to work 25 hours a week, to connect with mentors and build social skills.

    Yay proactive!

    Pray the Gay Away by @BlackGayPoet. This young man is power. The youtube link: Pray the gay away By Thomas “Vocab” Hill

    Me performing a piece portraying the emotions of a boy forced to “pray the gay away” from himself.

  34. rq says

    I said it when Lebron wore it & I’ll say it re: the SELMA cast, if this shirt offends you, you are probably racist.

    Racist letter sent to Bridgeport cops spurs probe

    With African-American officers calling for action, State Police have launched an investigation into a racially charged letter placed in a police officer’s workplace mailbox last week.

    On Wednesday the Bridgeport Guardians, a group representing minority police officers in the city, was joined by the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, or NABLEO, and members of the Westchester/Rockland counties Guardians in calling for the firing of whoever is responsible for distributing at least three racist letters to police officers’ mailboxes.

    One of the letters in particular, which has the words “white power” at both the beginning and end, calls out and threatens one officer, Clive Higgins.

    Higgins is the only one of three police officers acquitted in what is known as the “Beardsley Stomp.” The video, posted on YouTube, shows three city police officers kicking a downed suspect.

    The short letter, which was sent anonymously and typed on Police Department letterhead, states that Higgins doesn’t belong in the department, that black officers belong in the toilet and goes so far as to say, “You better watch your back. We know where you live.”

    “Right now, there’s an active investigation at the state level, so everything is in question: its authenticity, the motive and every part of the development and distribution of it,” said city spokesman Brett Broesder. “With that said, the city has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination of any kind, especially that of a racial nature.”

    He said the department, which is recruiting new officers, is the most diverse in the state.

    “Any allegation of racial discrimination that seeks to divide our police department or our community will not be tolerated,” Broesder said. “If the investigation turns up any wrongdoing, swift, fair, just and immediate action will be taken against those guilty of wrongdoing. Racial discrimination will not be tolerated. Period.”

    Detective Harold Dimbo said the letters, sent out over several months, were not only distributed to black officers, but all spoke negatively about black officers.

    The Guardians’ attorney, Thomas Bucci, said the group wants to make clear that most of the department, regardless of race, finds the letters “intolerable.”

    Reading a letter written by national president Chuck Wilson, Hubert Smith, a Norwalk police officer and vice president of NABLEO, compared the situation to the “Domelights” scandal in Philadelphia in 2009, in which black officers sued the department for allegedly allowing its officers to post racist remarks on the website of that name.

    The organization said “there is no doubt” that the Bridgeport letters were sent by someone within the department because the letters were sent on department-issued letterhead and placed in mailboxes only accessible by police.

    “These issues severely highlight what can only be considered as a thriving, condoned hostile work environment, one which is apparently condoned both administratively and systemically,” Smith said. “The perpetrators of these assaults, for that is exactly what they are, apparently feel secure in their current anonymity, even with the recognition that they may possibly face no adverse action if their identity is known. Yet they must be stripped of their anonymity and outed in the most public fashion possible, regardless of who they are and what station they maintain. Issues such as this have no place in our profession or society, and only serve to further inflame already unsteady relationships.”

    Here’s a link between (former?) cops and torture at Guantanamo – Guantánamo torturer led brutal Chicago regime of shackling and confession

    In a dark foreshadowing of the United States’ post-9/11 descent into torture, a Guardian investigation can reveal that Richard Zuley, a detective on Chicago’s north side from 1977 to 2007, repeatedly engaged in methods of interrogation resulting in at least one wrongful conviction and subsequent cases more recently thrown into doubt following allegations of abuse.

    Zuley’s record suggests a continuum between police abuses in urban America and the wartime detention scandals that continue to do persistent damage to the reputation of the United States. Zuley’s tactics, which would be supercharged at Guantánamo when he took over the interrogation of a high-profile detainee as a US Navy reserve lieutenant, included:

    • Shackling suspects to police-precinct walls through eyebolts for hours on end.

    • Accusations of planting evidence when there was pressure for a high-profile murder conviction.

    • Threats of harm to family members of those under interrogation used as leverage.

    • Pressure on suspects to implicate themselves and others.

    • Threats of being subject to the death penalty if suspects did not confess.

    The Cook County state’s attorney office now has an examination open into a second conviction involving Zuley, filings in an Illinois court showed on Tuesday. (The Guardian is publishing the first part of its investigation on Wednesday.) While representatives of the state’s attorney’s office told the Guardian that the examination concerns only a single case, the office is seeking civilian complaint files regarding Zuley from a local independent police review authority.
    Richard Zuley While ‘assigned’ to the US military base at Guantánamo Bay, longtime Chicago detective and US Naval reservist Richard Zuley led one of the most brutal interrogations ever conducted at the prison. “I’ve never seen anyone stoop to these levels,” a former Marine Corps prosecutor said. Illustration: Nate Kitch/The Guardian

    The wrongful-conviction examination into Zuley follows an extraordinary 2013 decision by state’s attorney Anita Alvarez to free an innocent man Zuley’s faulty police work sent to prison for 23 years.

    Lathierial Boyd, convicted in 1990 of murder, accuses Zuley in a federal civil-rights lawsuit of planting evidence and withholding crucial details.

    Boyd told the Guardian that Zuley had a racial animus as well. “No n*gg*r is supposed to live like this,” he remembered Zuley telling him after the detective searched his expensive loft.

    Other Chicago cases detailed by the Guardian, centering on three people interrogated by Zuley who are still in state prison, turned up evidence in police precinct houses of severe and internationally condemned tactics in Guantánamo Bay interrogation rooms.

    Several of those techniques – prolonged shackling, threats about family, pressure to confess – used by Zuley bear similarities to those he enacted when he took over the interrogation of Mohamedou Ould Slahi at Guantánamo, described in official government reports and a best-selling memoir serialised last month by the Guardian as one of the most brutal in the history of the notorious US wartime prison.

    After Zuley took over in July 2003, Slahi was subjected to even more extreme interrogation tactics: multiple death threats, extreme temperatures, sleep deprivation and a terrifying nighttime boat ride in which he was made to believe that worse was in store.

    Most official accounts of Slahi’s torture have concealed or glossed over Zuley’s name.

    This shit spreads easily.

    Prince C. Jones Jr. , a friend of @tanehisicoates shot dead because of police profiling. Sad story.

    This author, Naomi Murakawa, was recommended for several books into policing and race, among other things.

    Selected Publications:

    Naomi Murakawa, The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

    Katherine Beckett and Naomi Murakawa, “Mapping the Shadow Carceral State: Toward an Institutionally Capacious Approach to Punishment,” Theoretical Criminology 16 (2012): 221-244.

    Naomi Murakawa, “Phantom Racism and the Myth of Crime and Punishment,” Studies in Law, Politics, and Society 59 (2012): 99-122.

    Naomi Murakawa, “Toothless: The Methamphetamine ‘Epidemic,’ ‘Meth Mouth,’ and the Racial Construction of Drug Scares,” Du Bois Review 8 (Spring 2011): 219-229.

    Naomi Murakawa and Katherine Beckett, “The Penology of Racial Innocence: The Erasure of Racism in the Study and Practice of Punishment,” Law & Society Review 44 (September/December 2010): 695-730.

    Naomi Murakawa, “The Origins of the Carceral Crisis: Racial Order as ‘Law and Order’ in Postwar American Politics,” in Race and American Political Development, eds. Joseph Lowndes, Julie Novkov, and Dorian Warren (New York: Routledge, 2008): 234-255.
    Rebecca Bohrman and Naomi Murakawa, “Remaking Big Government: Immigration and Crime Control in the New American State,” in Global Lockdown: Women of Color and the Global Prison Industrial Complex, eds. Julia Sudbury and Asale Angel-Ajani (New York: Routledge, 2005): 109-126.

    Mo’Nique Says Roles in Empire and The Butler ”Just Went Away”: Lee Daniels Told Me I’ve Been ”Blackballed”

    The former star of The Parkers, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the title character’s abusive, domineering mother in Precious, writes in an essay in the Feb. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter that director-producer Lee Daniels clued her in just a few months ago.

    Noting that an Oscar win “normally does” lead to “more respect, choices, money” in the business, Mo’Nique writes, “But I got a phone call from Lee Daniels…And he said to me, ‘Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed.’ I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because you didn’t play the game.'”

    People who would say that she’s “difficult,” “tactless” or “tacky” would “probably be right,” the actress writes. “That’s why I have my beautiful husband because he’s so full of tact. I’m just a girl from Baltimore. But being from that place, you learn not to let anybody take advantage of you.”

    Since co-starring in Precious with Gabourey Sidibe, Lenny Kravitzand an unrecognizable Mariah Carey, the 47-year-old actress only has a few credits to her name, none of them major theatrical releases.

    Mo’Nique also writes that she was offered the role of Forest Whitaker’s wife in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, a part that ultimately went to Oprah Winfrey; a role in the Daniels-produced Fox hit Empire; and the role of Richard Pryor’s grandmother [also now set to be played by Oprah] in the upcoming biopic Daniels is working on—but, she adds, “they all just went away.”

    In response to Mo’Nique, Daniels said in a statement to THR:

    “Mo’Nique is a creative force to be reckoned with. Her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community. I consider her a friend. I have and will always think of her for parts that we can collaborate on, however the consensus among the creative teams and powers thus far were to go another way with these roles.”

  35. rq says

    White aldermen betray black lives

    It was a dramatic scene just weeks ago when Alderwoman Sharon Tyus shut down the Board of Aldermen with her tribute to Black Lives Matter. And even more dramatic at the end when alderpersons, black and white, stood up holding Black Lives Matter signs. They each took turns speaking, stating their commitment to changing a persistent culture of institutionalized racism.

    Among those participating were Lyda Krewson, Christine Ingrassia and Shane Cohn. That was then. This is now.

    Those three turned tail. They let down those they had stood with and symbolically committed to protect. Like so many (too many) “white allies,” they stood down when it was for real – when it was time to cast a meaningful vote.

    Friday, February 13 was their opportunity to vote to move forward the bill for civilian oversight of the St. Louis police. It was a straightforward vote on a bill they had studied and whose language had remained essentially the same since they had signed on as co-sponsors. It was time to say if they stood with the folks they said they would stand with.

    All three voted no. […]

    When people are in the streets crying out for justice, does it really matter if you like the sponsor of the bill? Is your confusion over procedural tactics so self-justifying that you can’t walk across the aldermanic chamber and seek clarity? Is your fear of the threat of a police slowdown in your ward more important than the fear of our black brothers and sisters every time police look their way?

    Please spare us the complaint that you only wanted a better bill. We all want a better bill, but this one has been carefully negotiated into a delicate balance. You are the ones now carelessly threatening to derail the process – you, who are white, protected and privileged enough to find justification for standing down.

    There are ways we can “spend” our privilege, by taking on some discomfort ourselves to fight with others who have no choice but to fight. But there are ways our privilege can be sadly misspent – when we forget what really matters and hide behind whiteness as a shield. These three spent like drunken sailors on Friday.

    And here’s one for your ‘black-on-black crime’ square. For the nth Bingo in a row.
    Black lives should also matter when the killer is black: Phillip Morris

    I’m still waiting on the rallies.

    I’m still waiting on fed-up people who are down with the cause. I’m still waiting on social justice activists to lie in the streets, disrupt commerce and protest ad nauseam the killings of black men.

    I’m still waiting for a community willing to rise up and act as if it really gives a damn about six people shot – three fatally – in a barbershop massacre on the evening of Feb. 3rd.

    Where’s the rage, folks?

    I’m still waiting on people willing to demonstrate that they really believe black lives matter. When will they march through the streets of Cleveland, East Cleveland, Warrensville Heights, on those avenues and into the alleys where black men routinely shoot, stab and beat one another to death over the most trivial of slights.

    I’m waiting for the same level of angry protests, the looting, the despair, the angry gnashing of teeth that happen when a conflict involves a white cop and a black suspect, who dies. Let’s be consistent – all black lives matter.

    Or, do they?

    Do black lives matter less when the killer comes in the same skin color as the deceased? Or do they simply matter more when the killer is a white cop in a blue uniform? What is the convoluted racial arithmetic here? […]

    “But something happens to people in law enforcement. Many of us develop different flavors of cynicism that we work hard to resist because they can be lazy mental shortcuts,” Comey said.

    Translated: Many officers – white and black – must constantly fight the instinct to racially profile simply because experience leads them to be hypersensitive to the movement and the threat posed by black males.

    FBI directors don’t talk like that. But Comey took it a step further. He was curious to know the full extent of fatal outcomes between police and black Americans. When he ordered his staff to provide him with data on the number of blacks shot by police in America each year, it couldn’t. The information is not kept.

    That’s the shocking confession. That’s the candid opening that offers a useful way forward.

    “The first step to understanding what is really going on in our communities and in our country is to gather more and better data related to those we arrest, those we confront for breaking the law and jeopardizing public safety, and those who confront us,” Comey said.

    Which brings us back to the African-American community and the urgent need to see a much higher premium placed on all lives lost. It’s not just tragic incidents like this month’s barbershop massacre, or the five lives gunned down in a home invasion on the city’s East Side in November.

    It’s the local (and national) body count that goes up daily without a whimper of neighborhood concern or any sustained community outrage. That’s the confession that’s needed from the black side of this equation. Too many African-Americans act as if they don’t care or have a meaningful say in the matter.

    Yes, black lives matter. But black lives must not matter only when the hand holding the gun is white. Yes, police reforms are needed. But, ultimately, law enforcement isn’t the root of the problem.

    The complex root of the criminal problem that threatens both law enforcement and African-Americans trapped in poverty, is the greatly weakened state of the black family and continuing cycles of punishing economic futility. This leads to the dangerous and criminal mindset of far too many fatherless young black males. This reality is what breeds barbershop killers.

    Several other squares within the article, including ‘decline of the black family’, ‘fatherless boys’ and I’m sure a couple of more.

  36. rq says

    Rather tangential, but with an effect. Infoporn: College Faculties Have a Serious Diversity Problem

    To be a professor is to belong to a select few—an insider’s club of vanishing tenured faculty positions. It’s no secret that a fancy diploma can help grads vying for those coveted spots. But while working on his PhD and contemplating his career prospects, computer scientist Aaron Clauset wanted to know just how much weight a prestigious alma mater—an MIT, a Stanford, a Harvard—carried. So he decided to dive into the data himself.

    Clauset and a couple of grad school friends started gathering information about who’s hiring whom. After a break in the project, during which he graduated and landed a faculty position at the University of Colorado at Boulder (yup, he joined the club), Clauset started up again—recruiting his new students for help. They spent three years grabbing and analyzing hiring data from computer science, business, and history departments, collecting info on 19,000 faculty positions across North America.

    Their results: 71 to 86 percent of all faculty came from only a quarter of the institutions surveyed. In computer science, just 18 institutions produced half of all faculty jobs. “Essentially, faculty jobs are reserved for a small number of graduates from a small number of institutions,” Clauset says.

    But that’s not necessarily bad, right? The prestigious universities are supposedly the best, so shouldn’t their graduates be the best too? Not so, Clauset says. The imbalance is just too stark to be merit-based. Academic hiring leans heavily on name-recognition, biasing the universities’ decisions toward prestigious, branded institutions—just like hiring in a lot of other industries.[…]

    What does that mean for companies like Google and Facebook? Well, like universities, it means that they’re hiring a lot of the same kind of people, over and over again. And that means less diversity—of opinion, of technical and cultural background, of ideas, of talent.

    Those practices are also what make gender (and racial and ethnic) diversity so hard to come by. Hire based on familiarity—either a name-brand school, or maybe, your sex chromosomes—and you end up with a homogenous workforce. Google, for example, has a worldwide employee base that’s only 30 percent female. That number drops to 17 percent when considering only technical jobs. And the same problem exists in academia, Clauset says: “Only 15 percent of computer science faculty is female.”

    Not only that, but Clauset’s analysis shows that women in computer science have a harder time finding quality faculty jobs. Most graduates tend to get jobs at a lower-ranked institution than the one they attended. But in computer science (and business), women have to settle for jobs at schools ranked especially low—the drop in rankings between their alma mater and their new employer was 12 to 18 percent greater than for men. “I was surprised that the difference was large as it is,” Clauset says.

    Biases in hiring practices run deep, so if companies and universities want to change these trends, they have to tackle diversity head-on. “If we want to improve it, we’re going to have to make a concerted, conscious effort to change it,” Clauset says. He thinks extending his analysis to job placement in the tech industry could help companies figure out how to improve diversity and retention rates.

    St Louis University apparently showed some art that not everyone agreed with. Here’s their statement on that: An Important Message from the President
    Clarification of Artwork
    , cited in full, emphases mine:

    Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

    I write today to address concerns regarding the proposed artwork that was one of the 13 Clock Tower Accords.

    Let me start by saying that there has been considerable misinformation and confusion regarding this artwork, and I have heard from many of our friends of the University who have expressed their strong opinions regarding reports from various media sources and blogs.

    So, I want to clarify the record: Contrary to some reports, it was never our intention to – nor will we – commission artwork that would be anti-police or would honor the Ferguson protesters. Those reports are just wrong. [I guess honouring the protestors protesting police brutality is just wrong?]

    What we envisioned with the artwork was a way to honor our shared Jesuit values that promote inclusion rather than division. Our commitment to open dialogue and discussion of difficult issues has not wavered. As we engage in dialogue, let us focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. One common thread running through all of the communications I have received is a commitment to SLU’s mission. If we can unite around that, we will find common ground on how to recognize the dedication of a great University to diversity and inclusion.

    At Saint Louis University, we are proud to be the first historically white institution of higher education in a former slave state to formally admit African American students. [We used to be racist but now we’re not.] There have been many significant people and events that have impacted inclusion on our campus in the 71 years since Father Claude Heithaus’ courageous homily laid the groundwork for the integration of SLU.

    Some community members who have contacted me have suggested that the artwork depict a timeline of key milestones in the University’s civil rights history. I welcome your thoughts about such a timeline or other ways to commemorate SLU’s history of inclusion.

    It is important to note that we are not alone in promoting dialogue and inclusion in the St. Louis region. A myriad of companies, foundations, universities and non-profits have stepped forward to address the issues our region faces. SLU has formed many new partnerships because of the work they have begun.

    While the issue of the artwork has generated a lot of discussion, there is so much more taking place on our campus. Groups of administrators, faculty, staff and students are actively working to develop our strategic plan to guide SLU’s future. A separate committee is reviewing our operations to find ways we can be more effective and efficient. A new residence hall will soon rise out of the ground along Laclede Avenue. We have been interviewing four strong candidates to be our next provost. And last weekend, we welcomed 600 visitors from across the country – prospective students and their families – for the first of two Presidential Scholar events. There are many other major initiatives underway across the University that will move SLU forward in the months and years ahead.

    In the coming days and weeks, I hope to talk with as many of you as possible about all that is going on at SLU. I promise to listen and to share my thoughts with you.

    I thank you for your passion and your devotion to Saint Louis University.


    Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.

    Pasco shooting: police will not say how many bullets fired at unarmed man

    At a press conference on Thursday, Sgt Ken Lattin of Kennewick police, the spokesman for the special investigative unit (SIU) of neighboring forces investigating the incident, conceded for the first time that all three officers involved in the shooting had opened fire. He would not reveal how many rounds were discharged, arguing the medical examiner’s office would disclose the tally at a later date.

    Zambrano-Montes was killed in a volley of fire last week at a busy intersection in Pasco. Police say the Mexican national was throwing rocks at traffic and officers just before the shooting. Video footage depicting the incident appears to show him running away from police and then raising his arms before turning towards the three officers. He is then shot dead. Community members, police reform advocates and the Mexican foreign ministry have argued the use of force against Zambrano-Montes was grossly unjustified.

    Lattin also said the FBI were monitoring the police investigation into the incident, marking the potential for a federal intervention in the case.

    “If [the FBI] chose to come in and take over, they certainly can. But right now they’re just monitoring,” said Lattin, adding that the Washington State crime lab had begun examining forensics from the case as a “top priority”.

    Lattin informed reporters that none of the officers were wearing body cameras, and that none were certified Spanish speakers, although it remains unclear if any of the officers attempted to address Zambrano-Montes is Spanish.[…]

    The Franklin County coroner Dan Blasdel has confirmed a coroner’s inquiry into the shooting will occur after the SIU investigation, which is likely to take a number of months, has concluded.

    Blasdel told the Guardian that Zambrano-Montes has died as a result of “multiple shots to the torso” but that no further information on the number of bullets would be released until the case came before a jury.

    “I have all the confidence in the world of the SIU investigation,” Blasdel told the Guardian on Thursday. “The reason that I set up the inquest is because there’s a lot of Hispanic people that are pointing and saying this is cops investigating cops and so it’s biased. That’s not fair. So I want to make sure that’s brought out to the public, that investigation is transparent and everyone can see that it’s not bias.”

    Ferguson Police Chief responds to report that DOJ is wrapping investigation

    The Ferguson Police Chief is responding to leaks about possible action from the Justice Department. CNN reported Wednesday night that the feds would file a lawsuit if the Ferguson police department didn’t make some big changes.

    Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson says he hasn’t been told that the Justice Department investigation is wrapping up now. He said as recently as Saturday the DOJ was still requesting documents from his police department.

    CNN is reporting that the Justice Department is preparing legal action against the Ferguson Police Department if it does not make some changes on its own concerning tactics that discriminate against minorities. This comes after a federal investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown and a broader look at the police department as a whole.

    Chief Thomas Jackson told me this afternoon that his department already is implementing some of the Justice Department recommendations. He said he is extremely disappointed with the apparent leak from the federal government.

    Chief Jackson says his city already has implemented DOJ recommendations including court reform, reduction of jail time and failure to appear warrants to help people who are struggling financially.

    The Chief also says he has no intentions of resigning. He wants to see the Ferguson police and citizen issues resolved first. THen, he says anything is on the table as far as his future.

    And because he makes a regular appearance here, a round of applause! Ta-Nehisi Coates Honored With 2014 George Polk Award

    The Atlantic national correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates is being honored with a 2014 George Polk Award for Commentary for “The Case for Reparations,” his June 2014 cover story. In this powerful essay, Coates mapped the obstacles African Americans have faced in accumulating wealth across generations, challenging the country to reckon with the moral debts it has incurred from slavery through Jim Crow to racist housing policies. Long Island University announced the recipients of the 66th annual awards last night.

    “It’s a tremendous honor to receive the Polk Award. I take it as recognition for the tremendous effort and investment The Atlantic has put into pushing new ideas into the mainstream backed by thorough research and reporting,” said Coates.

    “I’m grateful to the Polk committee for recognizing the power and importance of Ta-Nehisi’s work. Here at The Atlantic we see his essay as a landmark contribution to a tradition of promoting true equality of citizenship and opportunity that stretches back to our founding in 1857 as an abolitionist magazine,” said James Bennet, editor in chief and president of The Atlantic.

    “The Case for Reparations” focused on the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago’s West Side. Coates traced the dire problems of the neighborhood—skyrocketing rates of poverty, infant mortality, unemployment, and homicide—to housing discrimination officially mandated by the Federal Housing Administration after World War II. In moving interviews, Coates documented the predatory loans that were the only choice available to aspiring black homeowners in Chicago—and described a countermovement, the Contract Buyers League, that sprang up in the late 1960s seeking, in essence, reparations. The Atlantic paired the article with two original video documentaries, along with interactive maps that illustrated the enduring consequences of redlining on Chicago’s population.

    The piece received overwhelming reader response and critical praise, and has continued to drive a national conversation about addressing racism. “The Case for Reparations” brought more unique visitors in a single day to The Atlantic’s site than any previous magazine story, and the June issue sold 60 percent more copies on newsstand than its 2013 counterpart. Coates has appeared on dozens of television and radio shows and spoken in many sold-out forums across the country, including in North Lawndale.

    The George Polk Awards honor special achievement in journalism, placing a premium on investigative and enterprising reporting. They were established in 1949 by Long Island University (LIU) to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war. Awardees will be honored at a ceremony at The Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan on Friday, April 10.

    And here’s another on the disparate numbers of people in jail. We Lock Up Tons of Innocent People—and Charge Them for the Privilege . Because the report discussed has been mentioned before, I will only turn attention towards the article’s final point:

    5. Society’s race problems are amplified by the local jail dynamic: The Vera report notes that about 38 percent of felony defendants will spend their entire pretrial periods in jail, but only one in 10 were denied bail in the first place. The rest, many of whom are African American men, simply can’t afford to post bail: “Black men appear to be caught in a cycle of disadvantage: incarcerated at higher rates and, therefore, more likely to be unemployed and/or in debt, they have more trouble posting bail.”

  37. rq says

    For general reading, The Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI)

    The Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity (MMRI) represents a synthesis of ideas from many existing models of African American racial identity (Sellers et al., 1998). The MMRI defines racial identity as that part of the person’s self-concept that is related to her/his membership within a race. It is concerned with both the significance the individual places on race in defining him/herself and the individual’s interpretations of what it means to be Black. The MMRI proposes four dimensions of racial identity in African Americans: the salience of identity; the centrality of the identity; the ideology associated with the identity; and the regard in which the person holds African Americans. The first two dimensions address the significance of race in the individual’s self-definition; the second two dimensions address the qualitative meaning that the individual ascribes to being Black.

    Racial identity salience refers to the extent to which a person’s race is a relevant part of her/his self-concept at a particular moment in time. Salience is concerned with the specific event as the level of analysis. It is highly sensitive to both the context of a situation as well as the person’s proclivity to define her/himself in terms of race (i.e., centrality). Salience is the dynamic aspect of racial identity. Salience is the mechanism by which the other three stable dimensions (centrality, ideology, and regard) influence the way a person experiences a particular event. When racial identity is made salient, individuals’ ideology and regard influences their construal and behavioral response.

    The centrality dimension of racial identity refers to the extent to which a person normatively defines her/himself with regard to race. It is an indicator of whether race is a core part of an individual’s self-concept. Implicit in the conceptualization of centrality is a hierarchical ranking of different identities with regard to their proximity to the individual’s core definition of self.

    The third dimension of racial identity, ideology, is the individual’s beliefs, opinions, and attitudes with respect to the way s/he feels Blacks should act. This dimension represents the person’s philosophy about the ways in which African Americans should live and interact with society. Four ideologies are proposed: 1) a nationalist philosophy, characterized by a viewpoint that emphasizes the uniqueness of being of African descent; 2) an oppressed minority philosophy, characterized by a viewpoint that emphasizes the similarities between African Americans and other oppressed groups; 3) an assimilation philosophy, characterized by a viewpoint that emphasizes the similarities between African Americans and the rest of American society; and 4) a humanist philosophy, characterized by a viewpoint that emphasizes the commonalties amongst all humans. Although some individuals can be categorized as possessing one ideology predominantly, but it is likely that most people hold a variety of ideological philosophies that vary across areas of functioning.

    The fourth dimension, regard, refers to a person’s affective and evaluative judgment of his/her race. The regard dimension consists of a private and a public component. Private regard refers to the extent to which individuals feel positively or negatively towards African Americans and their membership in that group. On the other hand, public regard refers to the extent to which individuals feel that others view African Americans positively or negatively.

    The link further looks at black identity specifically, and black identity in teenagers. Related to Racial Identity Development in pdf above.

    Frontline Ferguson Protester and Palestinian­-American Bassem Masri on How the #Ferguson2Palestine Solidarity Movement Was Formed

    In one of the most amazing shows of solidarity, the people of Palestine and Ferguson are reaching out to each other because they are fighting a common system of injustice, control and racism.

    I speak about this connection from personal experience. I am a Palestinian-American who has lived in both Jerusalem and in Ferguson. I have lived under the racist regimes of both cities and know first hand the sense of occupation that both populations experience on a daily basis.

    The Ferguson protests have highlighted a racist system by kindling a worldwide conversation about police brutality, a conversation sparked by the execution of Mike Brown at the hands of an officer in the Ferguson Police Department. The police’s hard-handed reaction to protests made it inevitable that people around the globe would draw similarities between the people of Ferguson and the ongoing struggles of the people of Palestine. Both movements would have collided at some point.

    But “Palestine 2 Ferguson” manifested itself from day one.

    Linked Oppression, Linked Struggle

    In August 2014, Palestinians reached out via Twitter with advice to protesters on how to protect themselves properly from chemical agents. These Palestinians were veterans of the weekly protests in occupied towns in the West Bank like Nabi Saleh and Bil’in. They had faced the teargas, rubber coated steel bullets and even live fire that the Israeli army used to crush unarmed demonstrations. They had served as lab rats as the Israelis tested weapons and methods of repression they would later export to American police departments. While Palestinians were tweeting out that advice and support, instructing Ferguson protesters on how to wash teargas residue from their eyes and how to make a gas mask from Hawaiian punch bottles, bombs were raining down on the Gaza Strip and demonstrators were cut down with live bullets at the Qalandiya checkpoint that separated Ramallah from Jerusalem. In one picture shared widely on social media, a resident of Bil’lin, Hamde Abu Rahme, held a sign reading, “The Palestinian people know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity.” He concluded the sign with the hashtags #Ferguson and #Justice.

    That was a very powerful statement of solidarity, and it showed that oppressed people could make alliances across oceans and heavily fortified borders in a joint struggle to achieve justice. Before August 9, the day Brown was killed, many Palestinians didn’t know the struggles African Americans and other minorities faced in America, and many African Americans didn’t know much about Palestine. But in the assault against peaceful protesters following the murder of Mike Brown, the system made a huge mistake. It wound up uniting people from all across the world who were sick of violent police repression and the impunity that their oppressors enjoyed. More importantly, it exposed how America and Israel share values of ethnic cleansing and discrimination.


    Segregated Spaces

    I’ve experienced the Ferguson to Palestine connection in visceral ways.

    Walking down the street in Al Quds (Jerusalem), the smells of the bakeries and coffee shops fill the air. The unrelenting dry heat beats down on you and history is beneath every step. It’s breathtaking. Succumbing to that beauty makes it easy to forget you live under a brutal military occupation–at least for a little bit.

    When I’m in Jerusalem, I feel how tense it is. I remember walking down the street minding my own business, watching a teenager kick around a soccer ball, doing tricks with it. Out of no where a military jeep stopped and threw this teenager in the back of the jeep. There was no question, no muss, no fuss–this was the the Israeli military’s version of Stop and Frisk. The same sort of thing happens here in Saint Louis on a daily basis, where the police stop people for no apparent reason, hauling them off to jail, splitting families apart to instill fear into a community. Both Israel and the police do this for a very specific reason: to force people into obedience. […]

    In Ferguson, being caught in a neighborhood where you don’t “belong” raises immediate suspicion among the police. I have found myself wandering into neighborhoods I didn’t “belong” in in both Jerusalem and in St. Louis. In both cases, I was harassed by racist authorities, who ask me what I am doing there and suggest that if I don’t leave, there will be consequences.

    Invisible borders exist between separated communities. Your race determines if you are allowed to cross that border drawn along lines of fear, intimidation, and generations of violence and pain.

    Now the task is clear: we must break down these borders together.

    The Road Ahead: Black Liberation to Palestinian Liberation

    On August 9th, we in Ferguson started a conversation about human rights and police brutality. I have made it my personal mission to inform as many people as I can about how the United States enables and supports oppression both here and abroad.

    More than a conversation is taking place, though. Concrete links are being forged.

    Front line Ferguson protesters recently traveled on a delegation to Palestine. Among them were members of Hands Up United, the Dream Defenders and more — groups that were integral to the demonstrations that broke out on August 9 in reaction to Mike Brown’s shooting. They took it upon themselves to go see these atrocities in Palestine with their own eyes.

    I was excited that my friends were able to see what Palestinians have experienced for decades. They came back with an intense sense of purpose.

    “There is no grey area in right or wrong. This is one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of human rights,” Tef Poe said after returning from Palestine. Poe is an African-American hip-hop artist and co-founder of Hands Up United who has emerged as one of the most outspoken Ferguson activists. He added: “What’s happening in Palestine is bloody murder and the Israeli settlers are guilty of building an empire on the bones of the Palestinians.”

    What Poe’s statements show is that we have created a collective voice where we amplify one another, a voice most prominent on social media. We have connected using hashtags such as #Palestine2Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, #CommonOppressor and #BlackAndBrownAlianza. It has been a way to intersect struggles, raise awareness, and unite under the banner of humanity.

    The struggle against police brutality has extended into the year 2015. But the lesson of the hot summer of 2014 is that we can build our ranks with solidarity our natural allies — people who have experienced racism and occupation beneath the cover of a fake democracy. For, Palestinian freedom and Black Liberation have become inseparable.

    And it’s still Black History Month, so here, have some black history! 5 Black Women Historical Figures from Around the World You Should Know

    As we celebrate what’s left of Black History Month and look forward to Women’s History Month, it’s important to remember that Black women around the globe have made incredible contributions to world history. From Brazil to the United Kingdom and everywhere else, Black women have done incredible things, created incredible things, and have been incredible people. Take a passport-free journey through time and geography and get to know about 5 such women.

    On the list are Queen Nanny of the Maroons, Olive Morris, Marie-Joseph Angelique, Chica (or Xica) da Silva and Amina Sukhera. What’s even more awesome about the list is that it has only one women from ‘western’ culture – and that is Olive Morris, from the UK. The rest are from, as it were, the rest of the world.

  38. rq says

    Whoops sorry Marie-Joseph Angelique began her life in Portugal but lived and died in Canada, but the point about a non-focus on the former British Empire still stands.

  39. rq says

    LBJ’s Condolence Letter to Coretta Scott King to Be Auctioned

    In the historic letter, Johnson expresses his condolences to Coretta Scott King and adds that King’s assassin would be found.

    “We will overcome this calamity,” Johnson wrote.

    Years later, in 2003, Coretta Scott King gave the letter to singer Harry Belafonte, a staunch supporter and friend of her husband.

    Around 2008, the Post reports, Belafonte thought to auction the letter through Sotheby’s after Coretta died, but the Kings’ three surviving children were against the plan, being particularly guarded regarding their father’s legacy.

    This led to a lawsuit between Belafonte and the King estate after the estate claimed that the letter had been taken without permission, which ended any plans for a possible auction.

    Belafonte was allowed to keep ownership of the letter after the two sides reached a settlement early last year.

    Now the letter is set to go on the auction block in early March, just days after the 50th anniversary of the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., the Post notes.

    However, Belafonte isn’t the one trying to sell. The new consignors are Shirley and Stoney Cooks, Belafonte’s half sister and brother-in-law. According to the Post, Belafonte gave the letter to Shirley Cooks as a symbol of his appreciation for her support during the legal fallout.

    The minimum bid for the historic letter is $60,000, although Quinn’s Auction Galleries, where the sale is set up, thinks it could net at least $120,000.

    The price of history.

    Yesterday this tweet came up, Guiliani’s dog-whistle is beautiful b/c his audience could read whatever racist, conspiratorial, fear-monger-y thing they wanted into it. and today I found context:
    Giuliani: Obama Had a White Mother, So I’m Not a Racist

    Mr. Giuliani’s remarks — made at a New York fund-raising event for Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin on Wednesday night and first reported by Politico — set off an uproar.

    “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Mr. Giuliani said at the event. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”

    Critics suggested that Mr. Giuliani’s description of Mr. Obama’s upbringing reflected a prejudiced view that Mr. Obama was different from other Americans.

    In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Giuliani dismissed the criticism and said he was describing the worldview that had shaped Mr. Obama’s upbringing.

    “Some people thought it was racist — I thought that was a joke, since he was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools, and most of this he learned from white people,” Mr. Giuliani said in the interview. “This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.”

    He also challenged a reporter to find examples of Mr. Obama expressing love for his country.

    “I’m happy for him to give a speech where he talks about what’s good about America and doesn’t include all the criticism,” Mr. Giuliani said.

    Mr. Giuliani said his remarks on Wednesday night were in response to a question about what kind of president he would like to see elected in 2016. He responded, he said, by telling the audience that he wanted a leader who was Mr. Obama’s opposite.

    “I want an American president to raise our spirits again, like a Ronald Reagan,” he said.

    Mr. Giuliani said he also objected to the president’s comments about the Crusades at the National Prayer Breakfast this month, in which Mr. Obama said that during the Inquisition, people had “committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

    “Now we know there’s something wrong with the guy,” Mr. Giuliani said of the president. “I thought that one sort of went off the cliff.’’

    He added: “What I don’t find with Obama — this will get me in more trouble again — is a really deep knowledge of history. I think it’s a dilettante’s knowledge of history.”

    The White House declined to comment.

    (I’m just flabbergasted by the suggestion that, because he moved in white circles – those most often proclaiming great patriotism and xenophobia – Obama could be considered to ‘not love America’. Wouldn’t those be exactly the circles where he would learn to love America? I’m so confused!) Meanwhile, here’s more on Giuliani and love: Rudy Giuliani and the Meaning of Love

    What does it mean if someone “doesn’t love” Rudolph Giuliani? Many New Yorkers have considered that question, or a stronger variation; there are a lot of passions in this city. The inquiry hasn’t made us doubt ourselves. It shouldn’t make President Obama feel bad, either—even though Giuliani, on Wednesday night, managed to conflate love for himself with all kinds of grander emotions. “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the President loves America,” Giuliani said at an event for Scott Walker, in Manhattan, according to Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me.”

    We know the weight of the “me” in there—with Giuliani, it is always, in the end, about Giuliani. He spent eight years as New York City’s mayor, which is no time at all compared to the number of hours he has spent bragging about it. But who is this “you” whom Obama also doesn’t love? Giuliani was speaking to, as Politico put it, “60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types.” The President was less loving than all of them, Giuliani said, because, “He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

    What faces did Giuliani see—or fail to see—at the event that made him so sure of that assessment? He talks as if he knows what the children of loving, patriotic parents look like. Obama was brought up by a single mother who, even when they lived abroad, played him recordings of the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., an act in which one really can see many kinds of love mixed together. He was also cared for by grandparents whose love of country Giuliani has no business impugning. These types of casual insults, so characteristic of Giuliani, remind us that he has no business pontificating about other people’s affections. (He talks freely enough about his own.) But, leaving Obama’s heritage aside, is Giuliani really saying that someone without American parents, and without specific early instruction in a particular brand of patriotism, can’t get his mind around this country’s greatness? There are a lot of immigrants who have loved this country and died for it—that is the idea of America. Or was Giuliani just suggesting to the audience that there was something different about Obama? And what might that be? […]

    Politico spoke to Giuliani after the dinner, and reported that he “elaborated” by complaining that Obama “sees our weaknesses as footnotes to the great things we’ve done,” which raises the question of where, if even footnotes are too presumptuous, the weaknesses should go in the book of America. Giuliani continued, “What country has left so many young men and women dead abroad to save other countries without taking land? This is not the colonial empire that somehow he has in his hand. I’ve never felt that from him. I felt that from [George] W. [Bush]. I felt that from [Bill] Clinton. I felt that from every American president, including ones I disagreed with, including [Jimmy] Carter. I don’t feel that from President Obama.” So this is, again, about how Giuliani has “felt” when he’s been with Obama: as if he were talking to someone else’s colonial who was out of place in a position of power. Giuliani also weighed in on the Crusades—“I’m not sure how wrong the Crusades are. The Crusades were kind of an equal battle between two groups of barbarians”—a matter whose connection to American patriotism he left unclear.

    John McCain had a fine moment in the 2008 campaign when he told a woman at a town-hall meeting who said that she was scared of Obama because he was “an Arab” that Obama wasn’t, and that she didn’t have to worry. But that was a moment of basic decency, not some grand act of bravery. Trying out rhetoric of the Giuliani kind may be a temptation for the candidates in 2016. They won’t be running against Obama, but they also won’t have to look him in the face. His Americanism will be an idea that the G.O.P. can accept as a given or use to discredit itself.

    As it happened, Obama gave a speech on Wednesday, too, at a White House summit on combating violent extremism. In it, he talked about “the ideals that have shaped us for more than two centuries” and said, “The story extremists and terrorists don’t want the world to know—Muslims succeeding and thriving in America. Because when that truth is known, it exposes their propaganda as the lie that it is. It’s also a story that every American must never forget, because it reminds us all that hatred and bigotry and prejudice have no place in our country. It’s not just counterproductive; it doesn’t just aid terrorists; it’s wrong. It’s contrary to who we are.” He also talked about a card he’d received from an eleven-year-old girl named Sabrina, who is Muslim. She wrote on it, “I enjoy being American.” It was a Valentine’s Day card, in the shape of a heart.

    Because low-income children. The famous ‘word gap’ doesn’t hurt only the young. It affects many educators, too.

    While parents play a vital role in early literacy skills, so do early childhood educators (day-care teachers and child-care providers). Millions of children today spend a great deal of time in early education (child-care) settings. Low-income children can spend more hours a week in child care than in quality time with their parents.

    It will come as a surprise to Americans to learn that as many as 1 million state-licensed and nationally credentialed early childhood educators are at-risk for functional illiteracy; their reading and writing skills are inadequate to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level. […]

    There are approximately 10,000 early childhood educators in Massachusetts who would benefit from base-line literacy testing; these early childhood educators have not enrolled in college programs. We have tested 120, the majority scoring at fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade equivalence in all areas. Eighty-five percent knew little about computers (all have smartphones). Most had no e-mail address, had never done an Internet search or used Microsoft Word.

    To further assess their skill levels and interest in the field, we asked the educators to complete a career survey. Even we were surprised to learn that 97 percent had little or no interest in early education and 98 percent had little knowledge or skill needed for the job. (After the completion of the coursework and re-administering the same career survey, early childhood educator interest and skills levels increased considerably.) To add to the mix, most educators had no idea how little they knew or why their low literacy test scores mattered.

    Massachusetts is not alone in the hiring and licensing functionally illiterate early childhood educators. Most states require extremely low levels of education for early childhood teacher licensing. No state in the nation measures or ensures the basic adult literacy competence of non-college early childhood educators. In 32 of 50 states, a half-million non-college early childhood educators are licensed as lead teachers and hold a high school diploma or less. To put this in perspective, a high school diploma in no way ensures adult literacy competence, even at tenth-grade competence. In 2014, 31 percent of American high school graduates met “no“ college readiness benchmarks in English, reading, writing, math and science on the ACT. […]

    Americans remain in the dark about this workforce because it is invisible. Like other low-wage workers, there’s no time or money to politicize their struggles. The irony and tragedy here is that this low-wage work is intricately tied to how well our children are being educated. The lives of these low-wage workers mirror those of disadvantaged children. Both face the ravages of poverty, lack education, suffer from greater depression and poorer health outcomes and have no power to change of any of it. Low-literacy early childhood educators struggle with their own word gaps — and for the same reasons low-income children do. They have lived with (and in spite of) academic, social and income disparities for decades.

    We cut off our noses to spite our faces by ignoring this crisis. Low-literacy early childhood educators and children in their care share misfortunes that perpetuate what I call a mirroring of disadvantage. Each reflects to the other the persistent, durable and complex adversities thrust upon them. Such adversities have consequences outside in the world and inside the classroom, the place they meet for sustenance. […]

    With 49 of 50 states implementing Quality Rating Improvement systems (QRIS) a functionally illiterate workforce will slow, if not prevent, them from meeting requisite quality standards. It’s no secret that effective professional development for early childhood educators has long been lacking. Critics point to its historically high price tag, its short-sightedness, its inconsistent nature and its inability to meet the needs of non-traditional learners (a majority of early childhood educators).

    Adult literacy testing, on the other hand, is cost-free and convenient to take (online), and test scores are immediate, easy to assess and can readily be integrated into current professional development standards. Early childhood educator literacy test scores are integral to creating effective professional development strategies for those who need support. Contextualized learning will allow a large American workforce contingency to keep their jobs while they develop their literacy proficiency. Greater literacy proficiency will better prepare low-literacy early childhood educators to teach young children and will move them closer to college entrance.

    If we’re serious about closing the word gap for low-income children, we must also be serious about closing the word gap for functionally illiterate early childhood educators. By implementing professional development strategies that use adult literacy testing to assess and then develop low-literacy early childhood educators, we will not only help to transform the “juxtaposed inequalities” of these educators and the children in their care, we also will help to close the achievement and opportunity gaps of both.

    Does it get any better than that?

    Off Target on Toy-Gun Regulation

    Though mock gunplay may be ubiquitous among young people, that hardly means all children brandishing toy weapons are looked at the same. Around dinnertime on Sept. 27, 1994, a 13-year-old named Nicholas Heyward Jr. and three friends were playing cops and robbers on the roof of the Gowanus Houses in Brooklyn. Heyward, carrying a replica rifle with a bright orange grip and tip, was walking down the stairwell to his home when he was shot and killed by a 23-year-old housing police officer named Brian George. In response to Heyward’s death, Toys “R” Us and Kay-Bee Toy Stores pulled realistic toy guns from their shelves.

    Heyward wouldn’t be the last. In December 2010, Rohayent Gomez, also 13 at the time, was playing cops and robbers with his friends in Glassell Park in Los Angeles. They were confronted by two L.A.P.D. officers, who, according to their statements to investigators, were on the lookout for graffiti and gang activity. Upon spotting an “airsoft” pistol on Gomez, one officer shot him in the chest, leaving him paralyzed.

    Last month, Tamir Rice was in a park in Cleveland holding an airsoft pistol from which the blaze orange plug had been removed. According to a 911 caller, Rice waved the pistol in the air and pointed it at others in the park. The caller told the police dispatcher he didn’t think the gun was real, but that was not relayed to responding officers. In video footage released by the Cleveland Police Department, a police cruiser pulls up alongside Rice, who is standing by a gazebo. Less than two seconds after the car stops, Rice, shot in the torso, crumples to the ground and disappears from sight.
    Continue reading the main story
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    23 December 2014

    One has to have a license to drive, to sell liquor, to get married, to import and export merchandise, to work as a medical professional, and…
    22 December 2014

    In a society awash in guns, the police feel outgunned and endangered and over react when they sense someone, no matter what age, wishes them…
    Tony Mack
    21 December 2014

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    Cleveland authorities quickly released a photo of the airsoft. All black with a textured grip, it looks so much like the real thing that you might wonder if, in the two seconds it took the police officer to shoot Rice, a blaze orange plug would have even been noticed. Besides, the gun’s barrel was reportedly tucked into the waistband of Rice’s pants.

    In response to Rice’s shooting, Aaron Dilks, a St. Louis County police officer, wrote a post on his department’s Facebook page titled, “Kids Will Be Kids?” He warned parents of the risks airsoft and other replica weapons could pose to their children’s lives, how all realistic toy guns would be treated as real by law enforcement. “The police will respond [with] lights and sirens and come to a screeching halt in the area where your child is playing with the gun,” he wrote, before offering tips for how to ensure their safety: comply with officers’ instructions, drop the gun immediately and don’t run away.
    Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
    Continue reading the main story

    Rice didn’t seem to have time for any of that, nor did John Crawford III, a 22-year-old father of two who was shot by the police in an Ohio Wal-Mart just three months earlier. At the time he was killed, Crawford was holding an MK-177 pellet rifle. A concerned shopper called 911 and said that Crawford had been pointing it at children (but later recanted this statement). The surveillance video that has been released to the public does not show Crawford pointing the rifle at anyone, nor does it corroborate the testimony of the police, who said they shot Crawford after delivering several verbal warnings. Instead, the video shows Crawford chatting on his cellphone, the pellet rifle swinging from his hand. According to the person who was on the other end of the line, Crawford only had time to say, “It’s not real,” before the gunfire started.

    Rice and Crawford, both killed in Ohio, had less than a total of five seconds to respond before police opened fire.

    Last month, in response to the shootings, Alicia Reece, an Ohio state legislator, announced that she would be introducing legislation to expand existing laws mandating bright markings on replica guns to include BB, pellet and airsoft weapons. But Reece’s legislation, if passed, would not prevent children from painting over any brightly colored markings, and it certainly would not force the police to take more time to assess a potentially dangerous situation.

    More subtly, a focus on regulation serves to excise the deaths of Tamir Rice and John Crawford III from the larger conversation on race and policing that began anew with the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. What little information exists on police shootings of people with toy guns suggests that blacks and Latinos are overrepresented among the victims. The 26 years that have passed since Roberti’s proposition have proved too little about the efficacy of blaze orange, and too much about the inevitability of tragedy in neighborhoods where even children at play can be presumed guilty.

  40. rq says

    Apologies for not deleted the ads and comment teasers out of previous blockquote. :P

    And I hear that the riot police will be on hand for McCulloch’s upcoming appearance at SLU. St. Louis, the conspiracy continues.

    McCulloch stifles speech by keeping grand juror from talking

    A student organization at St. Louis University School of Law is hosting St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch as the opening speaker Friday at a symposium titled “The Thin Blue Line: Policing Post-Ferguson.” The symposium features several prominent, national academic scholars, and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.

    Many in St. Louis question the logic behind having McCulloch kick off an academic symposium on policing, as he is not an academic scholar on policing and he is not a police officer. However, others view that McCulloch will contribute to the dialogue because of his tenure prosecuting police in St. Louis County and supervision over the Darren Wilson grand jury.

    Because of McCulloch’s experience and the reference to Ferguson in the symposium’s title, it seems highly likely that he will speak on the events that led to Michael Brown’s death and the subsequent grand jury. More speech continues the conversation as St. Louis grapples with how to reform local law enforcement practices and Missouri’s criminal justice system. What St. Louis needs is more dialogue and more speech.

    However, McCulloch’s office is stifling speech. Last week his office filed a motion to dismiss a complaint brought by a juror from the Darren Wilson grand jury. The juror seeks to openly speak about her or his service on the grand jury but fears legal reprisal.

    If McCulloch speaks at a symposium on policing post-Ferguson with the hope of contributing to the dialogue that improves our justice system and community relations, then the juror must be allowed to add her or his voice to the conversation, too. Now is not the time to stifle speech in St. Louis.

    Mentioned yesterday in connection with torture, more on Zuley. Evidence from Chicago detective’s cases re-examined for multiple exonerations

    Just days after Illinois state officials indicated their own review of the long-time police officer’s civilian-complaint file, Chicago attorney Kathleen Zellner told the Guardian on Thursday she has requested that evidence in the cases of Andre Griggs, Benita Johnson and Lee Harris, who were all convicted on the strength of Zuley’s detective work, are re-examined with the potential for multiple exonerations.

    If the wrongful convictions are established, “it’ll be a very strong civil rights case … against Zuley and others,” Zellner said, to serve as a deterrent against future police abuses in a city notorious for them.

    “We believe there are probably additional cases.”

    Police did not conduct DNA testing at the time on what little physical evidence there was in the cases against Griggs, Johnson and Harris. But now, state of the art forensic and DNA testing may finally be able to determine – definitively – their innocence.

    On Tuesday, as the Guardian was preparing to publish an investigation into Zuley’s police work, filings in an Illinois court showed the Cook County state’s attorney office now has an examination open into a second conviction involving Zuley.

    While representatives of the state’s attorney’s office told the Guardian that its examination concerns only a single case, the office is seeking civilian complaint files regarding Zuley from a local independent police review authority.

    Since state’s attorney Anita Alvarez established a convictions-integrity division in 2012, the unit has voided 10 convictions, and is currently examining 170 others.

    Zellner is also representing Lathierial Boyd, whose murder conviction was voided in 2013 after 23 years in prison, in a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Zuley and other police. Having helped exonerate 16 clients already, Zellner said she intends to press forward with the Griggs, Johnson and Harris cases even if the DNA evidence is inconclusive.

    Zellner, who has won more exonerations than any other lawyer in the US, is moving forward with re-examinations of what evidence those high-profile cases – in which a white detective sent three black people to prison for killing two white women – actually have.

    If DNA tests, requested by Zellner, exonerate the three people Richard Zuley was central in convicting, Zuley’s current civil-rights legal woes are likely to compound.

    “We’re going to do a lot of new forensic testing on all these cases,” Zellner told the Guardian.

    As detailed in a Guardian series published this week, Andre Griggs, Benita Johnson and Lee Harris were convicted in Chicago murder cases investigated by Zuley. All three 1990s-era convictions depended heavily on interrogations described by the three and detailed in court records as coercive, and were slight on physical evidence connecting the suspects to the crimes.

    And remember, this is just the one guy…

    Anonymous activist faces 3 years in jail for protesting in Ferguson

    As soon as the masks became visible, the traffic stop quickly escalated to charges of trespassing. One member of that group, who was arrested a total of seven times while protesting against police brutality in Ferguson last year, now faces up to three years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines for five criminal charges incurred during one month of protests.

    At home, Alex Poucher is a 29-year-old father to a 7-year-old girl. But online and in the streets, he’s a self-described member of Anonymous who currently has five charges pending against him in Missouri courts, including two counts of interfering with an officer, impeding traffic, refusal to disperse, and unlawful assembly.

    Of his seven arrests, Poucher caught at least three on video. Now, he’s using that footage to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise $12,000, an effort to help him fend off the charges without using a state-appointed lawyer, a system he doesn’t trust to defend him.

    With his first court date on Thursday, Feb. 19, Poucher denies ever breaking the law or disobeying any orders.

    Poucher first popped up on our radar when he sat down with a member of the KKK in an effort to talk them out of violence during the Ferguson protests. He was first arrested for interfering with an officer on Nov. 19, 2014, three days after he first arrived in Ferguson. He faces up to one year in jail or a $1,000 fine for the offense.

    The letter sent to Poucher from the St. Louis County Municipal Court to Poucher says he was arrested because he was “interlocking arms with other protesters to prevent police officers from moving protesters from the street to the sidewalk and to avoid arrest.”

    Poucher’s arrest happened to be captured on video by the Associated Press. It’s not a perfect account of what happened, but it shows that, when police reached him, Poucher wasn’t particularly near another protester—never mind linking arms in interference with them. He was turned and walking toward the sidewalk, as police had instructed. […]

    After Poucher and the rest of the group were hauled off to jail, the police searched the car. The gas masks, megaphones, first aid kits, and tool kits—Poucher says he’s a “trained street medic,” the skills of which he used when police and protesters clashed—items that police found in the back trunk were never seen again.

    “Under Missouri’s laws, an unlawful assembly is a gathering of six or more people who agree to violate any criminal laws by force or violence,” Poucher explained. “There were only five of us in the car, and none of us agreed to violate any criminal laws nor did we. And we left when asked to. We were lawfully assembled.”

    Poucher, who has only raised about $285 as of publication, has already become a target for a number of people opposed to the Ferguson protests.

    Poucher reached out to organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, but has been declined legal help so far.

    Poucher’s phone, which captured the entirety of his Dec. 11 arrest unbeknownst to police, stayed on as officers drove the evidence to a nearby precinct.

    And here’s one for the police behaving badly file. Video Captures Louisiana Cop Repeatedly Punching a Restrained Teen in the Face

    According to police, Brady Becker fessed up to drinking half of a bottle of Crown Friday night before running into police. He was with a “large group of individuals” in a parking garage when a couple of plainclothes officers first encountered him. They say Becker was yelling “Fuck the cops” even before the officers identified themselves (what an impressive display of prescience). Becker then shoved detective Nicholas Breaux, and Breaux “escorted” the kid to the ground (an interesting choice of words). Police also say Becker refused orders to stop and struck Breaux.

    Throughout the ordeal, Becker’s lawyer says Breaux didn’t identify himself as a police officer until he’d already beaten the shit out of the kid. Attorney David Belfield III says there are several witnesses to dispute the arrest report, and Becker never pushed, attacked, or struck the officer. He went on to say the undercover cops instigated the altercation.

    Becker was taken to the hospital for “unspecified injuries.” His mugshot shows two black eyes and a couple of butterfly strips over his eyebrow.

  41. rq says

    Here’s a few links, the rest will have to wait for later (prob tomorrow, sorry it’s ab usy weekend).

    Just in the interest of getting non-mainstream work out there by black people outside of America: CRUMBS, a surreal post-apocalyptic film from Ethiopia

    Check out this surprisingly twisted and odd trailer for CRUMBS, a feature length science fiction film from Ethiopia.

    Our friends at Comic Book Resources share:

    Billed as both “an Ethiopian post-apocalyptic surreal sci-fi feature-length film” and a “love story,” it’s the brainchild of Miguel Llansó, Spanish filmmaker who lives in Addis Ababa. The trailer is downright Lynchian — never mind the violent Santa, who’s the guy in the Nazi uniform? — and goes a long way to establish the film’s off-kilter tone, if not necessarily the plot, which involves alien visitors, a couple of scrap collectors and, well, not-so-jolly ol’ Saint Nick.

    Man Arrested In Explosion Near Colorado NAACP Office Was Allegedly Targeting Accountant

    According to the Associated Press, which cited court records filed on Friday, Murphy was distraught over financial problems, and built an improvised explosive device to harm an accountant he said would not return his phone calls and who had not returned his tax records.

    Murphy’s arrest came after a series of interviews with witnesses who noticed “a specific type of truck” and an individual fleeing the scene, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

    After a monthlong investigation, authorities tracked down a person and vehicle that “closely matched” a description witnesses had given days after the incident. Authorities then obtained a search warrant for Murphy’s home, where officers found “seven firearms, and devices similar to the one used at the building,” according to the statement.

    Because Murphy has prior felony convictions, it is against the law for him to carry firearms. He told police in an earlier round of questioning that the target of his device was not the NAACP.

    If Murphy is found guilty of arson, he will be sentenced to at least five years in prison and fined up to $250,000. If he is convicted of being a felon in possession of firearms, he will face as many as 10 years in prison, and another fine of up to $250,000. […]

    The NAACP chapter’s president, Harry Allen Jr., told The Gazette he would wait for the outcome of the investigation before labeling the explosion a hate crime.

    “This won’t deter us from doing the job we want to do in the community,” he told The Gazette.

    The NAACP released a statement saying the cause of the explosion was still unknown. “The NAACP looks forward to a full and thorough investigation into this matter by federal agents and local law enforcement,” the statement said.

    As twitter said: The official story is that the guy accused of bombing the NAACP ACTUALLY wanted to frighten his accountant. So no hate crime, no terrorism. Easy peasy!

    Justice Department Looking Into Fatal Utah Police Shooting Of Black Man

    In a letter released late Friday, the Department of Justice revealed that it is conducting a “federal review” into the killing of Darrien Hunt. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah also are participating in the review.

    Last September, two white officers in Saratoga Springs, Utah, fatally shot Hunt, who is black, six times. Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman ruled in November that the officers were justified in killing Hunt. At a news conference to announce the ruling, investigators displayed a samurai sword they said Hunt was carrying at the time of the shooting. […]

    Robert Sykes, an attorney representing Hunt’s family, told BuzzFeed News that he received the letter Friday but was not given any additional information. The letter itself also doesn’t mentioned the impetus for the review, though it invites Sykes to submit any evidence he feels is relevant to the case.

    An attorney for Saratoga Springs told the Salt Lake Tribune the city also learned of the review Friday.

    Hunt’s family has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and the officers involved in the shooting. In the suit, they argue Hunt was “peaceful and non-threatening” before he was shot. The suit also alleges that Hunt was “outfitted like a swordsman character in a Japanese anime series” and that his sword was “a decorative, anime-style katana sword.”

    Hereš two Malcolm X videos:

    Next post going to put up some pictures from the protest at SLU Law, where McCullogh was giving his talk. Lots of action there, but only a few tweets via me.

  42. rq says

  43. rq says

    Here’s a peek at the inside: At least two in audience interrupt McCulloch. 1 wears a judge’s robe and calls for a “trial” of McCulloch. #PLR2015

    Also action in Pasco: Still outside Pasco City Hall as the sun starts to go down. #PascoShooting
    Some more signs outside Pasco City Hall. #PascoShooting

    Random: First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a WH event celebrating women of the Civil Rights Movement. #BlackHistoryMonth
    Art: Harp by Augusta Savage.

    And Malcolm X – Malcolm X Remembered 50 Years After 1965 Assassination

    This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century. He was shot dead as he spoke before a packed audience at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City on February 21, 1965. Malcolm X had just taken the stage when shots rang out riddling his body with bullets. He was 39 years old. Details of his assassination remain disputed to this day. We air highlights from his speeches, “By Any Means Necessary” and “The Ballot or the Bullet.” We also speak with journalist Herb Boyd, who along with Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, co-edited “The Diary of Malcolm X: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, 1964.”

    Video at the link, with transcript in the article.

  44. rq says

    Here’s more on Malcolm X, in photos – TW for death: Malcolm X: Powerful Images From the EBONY Archives

    “N*gger” Spray Painted on Lincoln University Sign

    Someone spray-painted the “n”-word on a sign at the entrance of Lincoln University overnight, according to a message sent to the university community Thursday morning. Public safety officers at the university in Chester County discovered the graffiti on its northwest corner entrance sign at 1:50 a.m., and the word was gone later Thursday morning, officials said.

    Lincoln University, founded in 1854, was the nation’s first historically Black college or university.

    Black history of the architectural vein:
    In Jim Crow South, Iconic Duke Basketball Arena Was Designed by Black Architect Julian Abele

    Little-known Black history fact: Duke’s venerable and historic Cameron Indoor Stadium, which opened 75 years ago Tuesday, was designed by Julian Abele, a Black man whose architectural gifts were mostly concealed because of his race.

    Abele was the first Black person to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture department and, at the turn of the century, joined the firm of Horace Trumbaur. His talent was undeniable, even during those times, and he eventually rose to chief designer.

    Trumbaur’s firm designed many of the edifices on Duke’s campus. Abele was unable to sign his name to his creations, however. It was not until Trumbaur died, just before the designing of Cameron Indoor Stadium, that Abele begin signing his name to his work.

    “Therefore, our drawing of Cameron Indoor Stadium is one of the very first that we have that we can directly ascribe to Julian Abele,” Duke archivist Valerie Gillispie said to “He was really in the background.

    “So he was actually designing buildings that were being used on a segregated Southern campus. So it’s very unusual.”

    Abele created what was considered at the time the most state-of-the-art basketball facility south of Philadelphia. It had amenities no other arena had.

    “The ability to heat it, the ability to light it brightly—those were really all brand new and made the stadium one of the most desirable places for people to play,” Gillispie said.

    Abele’s building has long been one of the iconic college basketball facilities in the country, a place enthusiasts put on their bucket list to visit.

    Ironically, it was not until 25 years after the building opened that a Black player first played in the building designed by a Black man. That was 1965. Two years later, C.B. Claiborne became the first Black basketball player at Duke.

    Abele also designed the Widener Memorial Library at Harvard and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    In education, Fox Host: ‘There Really Shouldn’t Be Public Schools’ Anymore

    Fox host Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery suggested getting rid of the nation’s public schools during a discussion on Thursday’s “Outnumbered.”

    Kennedy’s comments came during a segment about an Oklahoma bill, approved by a House committee, that seeks to eliminate AP US History. The bill asserts that the current iteration of the course doesn’t show “American exceptionalism,” instead highlighting “what is bad about America.”

    “There really shouldn’t be public schools, should there?” Kennedy said. “I mean we should really go to a system where parents of every stripe have a choice, have a say in the kind of education their kids get because, when we have centralized, bureaucratic education doctrines and dogmas like this, that’s exactly what happens.”

    Alex Ferrer, the show’s “OneLuckyGuy,” laughed off Kennedy’s comments before stressing the importance of accepting the good and the bad of American history.

    Co-host Andrea Tantaros chimed in, saying the nation should “abolish the Department of Education” before Kennedy continued.

    “You’re already paying for it with your taxes,” she said. “What if you got that money back, whichever, you know, county or city, however much they allocate to your child’s education? What if you got that back and you got to decide? And you had a say in your teachers and where your kids went to school.”

    It seemed tangentially related, for right-wing stupidity and for privilege.

    And two from Black History of Technology: Jerry Lawson, a self-taught engineer, gave us video game cartridges

    If you’ve got fond memories of blowing into video game cartridges, you’ve got Gerald “Jerry” Lawson to thank. As the head of engineering and marketing for Fairchild Semiconductor’s gaming outfit in the mid-’70s, Lawson developed the first home gaming console that utilized interchangeable cartridges, the Fairchild Channel F. That system never saw the heights of popularity of consoles from Atari, Nintendo and Sega, but it was a significant step forward for the entire gaming industry. Prior to the Channel F, games like Pong were built directly into their hardware — there was no swapping them out to play something else — and few believed that you could even give a console a microprocessor of its own. Lawson, who passed away at 70 from diabetes complications in 2011, was the first major African-American figure in the game industry. And, just like the tech world today, it still isn’t as diverse as it should be.

    Only 2 percent of game developers in 2005 were African-American, according to a study by the International Game Developer Association (who also honored Lawson as a game pioneer a month before his death). But things were even worse during Lawson’s time: For his first five years at Fairchild, the company and its executives actually thought he was Indian. He was also one of two black members of the Homebrew Computing Club, a group that famously included Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and other Silicon Valley pioneers. […]

    It’s hard to fathom today, but trying to make removable game cartridges was an incredibly new concept in the ’70s. Lawson and his team at Fairchild had no clue how the cartridges would fare after being plugged in and out multiple times — remember, nobody had ever done it before. The company also caught the attention of the FCC, as it was aiming to deliver the first consumer device with its own microprocessor. Lawson’s description of meeting the agency’s grueling requirements reads like engineering comedy: Fairchild had to encase the console’s motherboard in aluminum; it put a metal chute over the cartridge adapter to keep in radiation; and every cartridge it produced had to be approved by the FCC. He was also justifiably apoplectic when, years later, Texas Instruments successfully lobbied to change the laws that determined the FCC’s harsh requirements.

    As for how race affected his job prospects during the ’60s and ’70s, Lawson told Vintage Computing it “could be both a plus and a minus.” If he did well, it seemed as if he did twice as well, since any accomplishment received instant notoriety. But the idea of a 6-foot-6-inch black man working as an engineer was still surprising to many people. Lawson noted that some people reacted with “total shock” when they saw him for the first time.

    Lawson also had plenty of insightful advice for young black men and women who were interested in science and engineering careers:

    First of all, get them to consider it [technical careers] in the first place. That’s key. Even considering the thing. They need to understand that they’re in a land by themselves. Don’t look for your buddies to be helpful, because they won’t be. You’ve gotta step away from the crowd and go do your own thing. You find a ground; cover it; it’s brand-new; you’re on your own — you’re an explorer. That’s about what it’s going to be like. Explore new vistas, new avenues, new ways — not relying on everyone else’s way to tell you which way to go, and how to go, and what you should be doing.

    “The whole reason I did games was because people said, ‘You can’t do it,'” Lawson told the San Jose Mercury News in an interview. “I’m one of the guys, if you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll turn around and do it.”

    Whoa. And the second: Mark Dean designed the first IBM PC while breaking racial barriers

    Dr. Mark Dean, an African-American computer scientist and engineer, spent over 30 years at IBM pursuing the Next Big Thing. He was chief engineer of the 12-person team that designed the original IBM PC in the early ’80s, earning him three of the nine original patents for that device. Dean was also instrumental in designing the Industry Standard Architecture bus (which made it easy to plug external devices into IBM’s PCs), laid the groundwork for color PC monitors and led the team that created the first gigahertz microprocessor. And despite his many accomplishments shaping our modern computing landscape, Dean isn’t afraid to admit that the PC may now be going the way of the dodo.

    IBM’s 5150 PC with a color monitor

    It’s impressive enough that he was instrumental to so many significant projects, but it’s even more remarkable in an industry where African-American representation is still an issue today. When younger tech companies like Google are reporting that only 2 percent of its workforce is black and only 3 percent is Hispanic in 2014, it’s tough to imagine what the landscape was like for minorities decades ago. (IBM, for its part, claims a long history of diversity initiatives.) When we asked if he noticed much of a change in the tech industry’s diversity over the years, Dean said in an email:

    I personally believe most of the industry [doesn’t] understand the benefits of a diverse workforce (awareness of societal norms and biases, cross-sectional innovation, diversity of leadership styles, out-of-the-box thinking, brand strength across all parts of society, better understanding of emerging markets — domestic and international). Most industry leaders, including corporate boards, aren’t willing to do what it takes to make a difference and create a diverse workforce.

    Throughout all of his work, he focused on predicting where computing was headed. Dean was right on target in the late ’90s, when he was dreaming up a magazine-sized tablet that could accept voice commands, play media and replace your PC. He predicted that we’d see that within 10 years, which was pretty much in line with the iPad’s debut in 2010. You might recall Dean’s surprising comments on the IBM PC’s 30th birthday, where he said the PC was “going the way of the typewriter” and revealed that his main computer was a tablet. He called IBM a “vanguard of the post-PC era” for selling its PC division to Lenovo in 2005 — perhaps a wise move given the slowdown of the PC market over the past few years. And he argued the push away from commodity markets like PCs, printers and disk drives (RIP, Deskstar) allowed IBM to focus on next-level projects like the Watson supercomputer.

    “I ignored the people attempting to block my progress and had no limits to who I talked to and in sharing my opinion,” Dean said when we asked how he dealt with issues around racism (which includes both the subtle, systemic type of racism, and the more obvious form). “I also was able to demonstrate my ideas to a point where it was hard to argue their viability. It took a lot of work and sacrifice. But I was confident and believed I had some good ideas. Fortunately, there were a few in the right leadership positions that agreed with my ideas.” […]

    Dean’s ultimate advice to young people confronting racism at work: “Don’t give up.”

    “If someone is blocking your ideas and advancement, find a different way to expose your proposals, innovations and request,” he said. “There is often someone at the next level or an associate manager that is willing to listen. To break through, you often have to be better than the rest. This takes a lot of work, but it is achievable. I would also suggest young people consider emerging areas of opportunity: bio-engineering, civil engineering, nano-technology, analytics, security, sensor technology, material science.”

    So yes, I learned several new things today.

  45. rq says

    Okay that’s one in moderation but keep an eye out, has lots of interesting new stuff in it – not necessarily pertaining to any actual case, but out of history.

    Here’s part of the letter the Justice Dept. sent to the lawyer for #DarrienHunt’s mother. @fox13now #Utah

    Black Arts Boomerang

    In the current movement against white supremacy and the police we can see the beginnings of a new Black Arts Movement

    Tell me something
    what you think would happen if
    everytime they kill a black boy
    then we kill a cop
    everytime they kill a black man
    then we kill a cop
    you think the accident rate would lower subsequently?

    In 1978, June Jordan presaged the fire our time with her “Poem about Police Violence,” written after the NYPD choked Arthur Miller to death in Crown Heights (a lynching method that would later kill Anthony Baez in 1994 and Eric Garner in 2014). Her poem highlighted how the “diction of the powerful” can re-construe police brutality as “justifiable accidents”, while community defense efforts are distortedly framed as resisting arrest and incitement to riot. Jordan’s question—how to settle scores, how to push the limits of freedom as an act of re-humanization—flows out of the long lineage of the Black Arts Movement, in which poetry and performance offer insurgent experimental space to test ideas that can be enacted, while social conflicts are absorbed into and shared across spoken words. Jordan and other radical artists called for retribution against police violence, revealed the dignity in rioting (reparations), and illuminated new directions for Black lives not just to matter, but to articulate the furthest horizons of liberation.

    Chickens have once again come home to roost in New York City. Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, killed on December 20, then Andrew Dossi and Aliro Pellerano shot on January 5, are likely the first of more police officers who will be targeted for street retribution, and the NYPD’s longstanding policies of racial violence are squarely to blame. The NYPD’s “work” slowdown backfired amidst major fissures between Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Bratton, City Councilmembers, and police officers, opening up a remarkable opportunity for community control, transformative justice, and other alternatives to policing to be undertaken. Meanwhile, recognition of queer Black women’s creation of the #BlackLivesMatter meme, defenses of rioting, and critical histories of policing circulate, as Black movement-centering films like Concerning Violence, Dear White People, Fruitvale Station, Selma, and The Throwaways begin to proliferate.

    What can we learn from the Black Arts Movement, at its height during the last long period of urban rebellions in the 1960s and 70s? We can begin by assessing the direct link between poetics and street tactics manifested by Jordan and other writers like Amiri Baraka, who demanded in the 1966 poem “Black Art,” “we want ‘poems that kill.’ / Assassin poems, Poems that shoot / guns. Poems that wrestle cops into alleys / and take their weapons leaving them dead.” In the 1967 poem “Black People!,” he urged readers to reclaim countless goods that an economic system had stolen from them across centuries: “All the stores will open if you will say the magic words… Up against the wall mother fucker this is a stick up!” At his packed community readings, people would shout these familiar lines with explosive delight. With the Black Arts Repertory Theater in Harlem and Spirit House Players in Newark, Baraka wrote and performed one-act plays like Arm Yourself or Harm Yourself infused with debates about how poor Black communities could confront police brutality.

    Diane DiPrima, an Italian-American sister of the Black Arts Movement, dispatched “Revolutionary Letters” that enjoined uprising communities to store dry foods, water in bathtubs, salt and matches in case city officials shut off utilities. She launched these poems as direct action trainings for readers to anticipate and avoid tear gas, kettling, unfamiliar protest sites: “Everytime you pick the spot for a be-in / a demonstration, a march, a rally, you are choosing the ground / for a potential battle. / You are still calling the shots. / Pick your terrain with that in mind.” David Henderson’s 1970 poem “Keep on Pushing,” also analyzed the geographies of urban warfare in the Summer of 1964’s Harlem Riots. Henderson warned of the crude mathematics of wide avenues that can swallow protest pickets, easily dismantle popular barricades, and muster five hundred cops in fifteen minutes, but he also suggests how, “For Harlem/ reinforcements come from the Bronx / just over the three-borough Bridge. / a shot a cry a rumor / can muster five hundred Negroes / from idle and strategic street corners / bars stoops hallways windows.”

    As today, so Black women half a century ago were among the most lucid movement leaders and artists, possessing a unique insight to speak and listen across multiple valences of oppression and resistance. In 1959, Black lesbian playwright Lorraine Hansberry measured how “the most oppressed group of any oppressed group will be its women, obviously”—therefore, those who are twice oppressed can become twice militant (or in the case of Hansberry, thrice militant). By 1970, Black novelist and filmmaker Toni Cade Bambara documented:

    Black women have been forming work-study groups, discussion clubs, cooperative nurseries, cooperative businesses, consumer education groups, women’s workshops on the campuses, women’s caucuses within existing organizations, Afro-American women’s magazines… they have begun correspondence with sisters in Vietnam, Guatemala, Algeria, Ghana on the Liberation Struggle and the Woman, formed alliances on a Third World Women plank.

    As these political formations widely flourished, Black Arts poetics also identified women of color’s holistic rebirths and reclaimed lineages, as Sonia Sanchez revealed in 1974, “come ride my birth, earth mother / tell me how i have become, became / this woman with razor blades between / her teeth. / sing me my history O earth mother / about tongues multiplying memories / about breaths contained in straw.” […]

    Meanwhile, our streets have swelled with direct action poetics, polyphonic melodies, counter-power maps, images of alchemical resistance. Black Arts cultural critic Larry Neal’s words in 1970—”A realistic movement among the black arts community should be about the extension of the remembered and a resurrection of the unremembered“—resound today. During the recent Millions March NYC, Eric Garner’s stare was held aloft by a surging body of thousands, as Mike Brown’s walk down the middle of the street was reenacted by entire families. “Hands up, don’t shoot” became “Fists up, fight back.” Marches stretched up to Harlem proclaiming “No struggle, no progress” and “By any means necessary” on Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X Boulevards. Final words were transformed into incantations of endurance: I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.


    Lyrical eulogies fashioned on the spot carried the names of the dead: “Turn up, don’t turn down: we do this for Mike Brown. Push back, now push harder: we do this for Eric Garner. Hands up to the sky: we do this for Akai. This is why we’re here: justice for Tamir.” Remixes, layered one after another, wove improvisations and pop references: “No cop zone, No cop zone! They know better, they know better!” (after Rae Sremmurd’s “No Flex Zone”)… “Turn down for what?” (DJ Snake and Lil Jon)… “All I wanna say is they don’t really care about us!” (Michael Jackson). Humor ridiculed over-inflated police: “Why you dressed in riot gear? I don’t see no riot here.” Double dutch-swarms cleverly shut down intersections: “They think it’s a game. They think it’s a joke.” New strategies were tested on the tongues of those who will enact them: “Community control, it’s our demand. Can we do it? Yes we can!”

    Interventionist theater played out on bridges, highways, squares, parks, stations, commerce events, as helicopters crisscrossed the sky and cop cars trailed behind crowds like sideways christmas lights. Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Triborough, Verrazano, FDR, West Side Highway, Foley Square, Times Square, Union Square, Washington Square, Bryant Park, Columbus Circle, Grand Central Station, Macy’s Parade, Rockefeller Tree Lighting, Saks Fifth Avenue—these major city arteries clogged with the thick boil of intergenerational blood. Most recently, #BlackBrunch’s 4.5 minute Sunday interruptions in posh restaurants lay realities of bullet-riddled Black lives on the tables of white supremacist insularity, whose furious backlash offers the most damning evidence of the action’s relevance. These wildcat tactics inherited from anticolonial liberation movements practice the “war of the flea”—urban guerrilla methods of swarm-strike-fade-repeat to disrupt/transform multiple places at once, while avoiding “hard lock” occupations that can result in mass arrests that would slow down mobilizations of such confident character.

    These Black Arts legacies from half a century ago can also help us articulate today how freedoms of artistic expression are neither synonymous nor compatible with maintaining systems of oppression, but can rather work to overturn caricatures and the ideologies that shape them. For instance, Black Panther artist Emory Douglas’s work was suffused with satire, violence, and critiques of religion, but his creative compass was antithetical to the likes of Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Although the 12 French artists should not have been murdered, their pens flowed from the ideological wells of European and United States neocolonial that are inflicted upon the rest of the world. For the Western world to consider the recent attacks a complete shock recalls a dangerous naivete that Jean-Paul Sartre warned about in 1961: It is the moment of the boomerang; it is the third phase of violence; it comes back on us, it strikes us, and we do not realize any more than we did the other times that it’s we that have launched it. It’s indeed telling of the dominant moral calculus how little mainstream U.S. media covered the January 3 Boko Haram massacre of up to 2,000 Nigerians and the January 6 Colorado Springs NAACP office bombing, in contrast to the Paris shootings.

    To wrench justice from the mouth of the impossible, to prepare for the 22nd century tomorrow (in the words of Black Arts high priestess Nina Simone), we will need all of our creative tools and political experiences across generations and ethnic backgrounds. We need those who march for miles, those who stay home to care for infants and elderly, and those who are differently able to struggle. We need prisoner solidarity lessons from abolitionist movements and families whose members are encaged. We need to nurture strong communities not only to make the police obsolete, but to unlearn how we police each other in relationships, workplaces, classrooms, neighborhoods, and movements. We need to wield arts as purposefully as Copwatch cameras, resist arrests as deftly as we embrace friends and lovers, and continue to sing the names of our dead as vibrant political discourse. We need to see each bit of respiration as an act of warfare against a system that would rather see us extinguished. The fire of these last tumultuous months—of our long incendiary past—is not out, but its blaze has momentarily dimmed. Together, let’s keep breathing on the flame. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe…

    Why Malcolm X Is Getting Written Out of History

    He is an icon. He is a face on a T-shirt. But although he was certainly not silent in life, his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz fears he is not well understood. “It was when I was watching the second Obama inauguration that I started to really worry that my father was being written out of history,” she says, explaining her determination to correct what, she believes, is the misrepresentation of her father’s legacy with a series of projects that include turning the memorial centre for both of her parents at the Audubon Ballroom into a more active institution, commemorating the afternoon of Malcolm X’s murder with a moment of silence, and supporting a campaign for his birthday to become a national holiday in the US, as is Martin Luther King’s.

    On a quiet winter’s morning at the Audubon Ballroom, with its small exhibit and sole staff member on the premises, some of these plans seem far from fruition – but Malcolm X continues to be a powerful figure in the political consciousness and a widely accepted part of the American story. In 1972, Malcolm’s widow, Betty Shabazz, dined with Richard Nixon, and in 1999 the US Postal Service issued a Malcolm X stamp in his honour – something the man himself might have found unbelievable.

    Even so, it may be more difficult for President Obama – who has rejected the false claim that he is a Muslim – to recognise Malcolm X, than Clinton or Nixon. Although Obama has talked about The Autobiography of Malcolm X inspiring him as a young man, it was a bust of Martin Luther King that he installed in the Oval Office.

    If it is easier for the political establishment to embrace Martin Luther King’s doctrine than to look into the mirror of the consequences of racial oppression and justice held up to the world by Malcolm X, the political reality annoys Ilyasah: “Why can’t these people just have a backbone and invite Malcolm? I mean, what is the big deal? Put a bust up of Malcolm X. Let’s tell the truth about Malcolm X,” she says. […]

    At the time of his death he was no longer Malcolm X, preaching to black urban ghettos, but Malcolm the global revolutionary, who had brought together an alliance of African and Middle Eastern leaders in support of his new Organization of Afro-American Unity, and who was intent on pressing his human rights claims against the US government at the United Nations.

    It was an evolution lost on most of mainstream America, however, who remembered the man who once said, “The common enemy is the white man,” reminded black Americans that it was within their legal rights to buy a shotgun, and said president Kennedy’s assassination was a case of “chickens coming home to roost”. After his murder, The New York Times called him an “extraordinary and twisted man” who had turned his gifts to “evil purpose”, while TIME denounced him a demagogue whose “creed was violence”. […]

    Last summer’s protests over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and then over the death of Eric Garner in New York, made Ilyasah want to reach out again to young Americans and explain her father’s legacy.

    “Now you have people of all different ethnic backgrounds saying, yes, black lives matter. Then you start to think about Malcolm X and say, well, wait a minute, what did he really say that was wrong? And because you silenced people like Malcolm X we find that the same problem persists 50 years later.”

    While she supports the protests, Ilyasah questions what follow-through there will be: “What is the end result?”

    The end result for the memory of Malcolm X may not yet be a national holiday. Howard Dodson, who oversaw the Malcolm X papers at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, recounts that only intense lobbying by his family, and well-known figures, achieved that objective for Martin Luther King in the face of much opposition. Such opposition would be only more intense over Malcolm X.

    More recently, Ilyasah and her family have disputed a series of lurid personal claims in a 2011 biography of Malcolm X written by Manning Marable. “It was a great book but they inserted three things that were just absolutely ridiculous, and we felt that it was sensationalised,” she says. In addition to alleging that Malcolm X was a cross-dresser, “they said that my father liked putting powder on old white men’s butts”, and alluded to a relationship Betty Shabazz may have had with another man while married to Malcolm. These things are “just not true”, Ilyasah says, adding that her mother was a widow for many years and never remarried. If anything of these allegations had been true, she points out, the FBI would have had a field day revealing them in the 1960s.

    Ilyasah Shabazz believes the father she was denied the opportunity to know in life should go down in history as “a courageous man. A compassionate man. He was such a loving person, but he sacrificed his personal self for the benefit of humanity.” Like many of the protesters Ilyasah saw on the streets this summer, she says: “He was a young man seeking justice.”

    Lots of background on Malcolm X at the link.

    The above articles are too smart, so let’s take it back a notch. Ferguson police chief: No racial problem in police department, with video (autoplay).

    Ferguson, Missouri Police Chief Tom Jackson says his department is misunderstood.

    Ferguson, Missouri Police Chief Tom Jackson
    CBS News
    “There is not a racial problem in the police department,” said Jackson in an interview with CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds.

    Jackon’s department has been the subject of intense scrutiny ever since Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown last year. The shooting and the subsequent decision by a grand jury to not charge Wilson led to nationwide protests.

    Watch the video above to see Jackson’s full interview.

    And I’ll have to finish later. :)
    … And that whole comment was written about an hour ago, but it will still be a short while until I finish up.

  46. rq says

    Colorado man says he wanted to bomb accountant, not NAACP headquarters

    During interviews with federal investigators, Murphy admitted to the attack, but claimed he was trying to threaten an accountant who was withholding years of tax records, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday. Murphy did not appear to make any mention of animosity toward the NAACP in the interviews, though the complaint does not contain a complete transcript of his conversation with investigators.

    On the morning of Jan. 5, Murphy is believed to have placed a pipe bomb near a container of gasoline before igniting the items outside a building that houses the NAACP’s Colorado Springs chapter and a barbershop.

    The contents of the container did not ignite properly, the FBI has previously said. No one was injured and the building did not sustain significant damage.

    Murphy is expected to appear in federal court at 2 p.m. Friday.

    According to the complaint, Murphy told investigators that he built the pipe bomb using a shotgun shell, fireworks and other home materials that he used as a carpenter. He then placed the pipe bomb, a two-gallon can of gasoline and a road flare beside the building on South El Paso Street where he believed the tax offices were located. He told police that the “rationale for the pipe bomb was rage.”

    Murphy, who spent three years in a Colorado state prison for a 2007 theft conviction, told investigators he was having financial troubles and believed the accountant he was targeting had purposely destroyed his tax records.

    However, Henry Allen, the president of the NAACP’s Colorado Springs chapter, seemed highly skeptical of Murphy’s motives during an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Friday.

    Allen said there hasn’t been a tax office connected to the building on South El Paso Street in nearly 20 years.

    And there you have it folks, not a hate crime. Just like Chapel Hill was about parking.

    Now this sounds like a good step: Baltimore police want to pair officers with mental health professionals

    Batts wants to form 18 teams made up of one police officer and one mental health professional who would respond to emergency calls where mental illness is suspected. He said such teams could make a big difference in dealing with people who are homeless, suicidal or have mental health problems.

    The teams would be split among the city’s nine police districts, with half working day shifts and the others on night shifts, Batts said.

    The commissioner told the delegation that a similar program has been place for 12 to 15 years in Long Beach, Calif., where he used to work.

    State Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, a Democrat whose district straddles the city-county line, has introduced a bill that would require that city and Baltimore County police establish such programs by June 1, 2016, though it does not include funding.

    Police train all new officers on how to deal with calls involving people suspected of being mentally ill and review shootings to aid in training.

    But the Baltimore Police Department has faced criticism amid allegations of excessive use of force and other misconduct. A Baltimore Sun investigation found that the city has paid nearly $6 million in court judgments and settlements in more than 100 lawsuits filed since 2011. The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing department policies and practices at Batts’ request.

    Cops behaving badly: “Officer of the Year” Admits to Raping 20 Male Immigrants, Not Charged as Sex Offender. *sigh*

    About the eminent domain case in St Louis, St. Clair County plans to offer land near Scott AFB at no cost for National Geospatial-Intelligence relocation

    “My recommendation would be that it is no cost to the federal government,” said Mark Kern, the chairman of the St. Clair County Board.

    The agency is looking to move from its current facility near the Anheuser-Busch brewery. It has named four potential locations in the St. Louis region, including one in north St. Louis. City officials are fighting hard to keep the agency within its borders.

    The agency, which provides mapping support for the U.S. military, employs 3,000 people. Its workforce brings in an estimated $2.4 million in annual earnings tax to city coffers and has an average salary of $75,000.

    But St. Clair County’s offer is one that could prove enticing to federal officials.

    The land offered to the government, near MidAmerica Airport and adjacent to Scott Air Force Base, is owned by St. Clair County and is infrastructure-ready and equipped with fiber optics.

    Kern said the county could simply transfer the land to the federal government and federal officials could make it part of the air base.

    Cost is one of the factors the federal government is considering. The Army Corp of Engineers, the agency that will build the facility, currently is analyzing each site. Its staff is judging them based on the following priorities: location (zoning, neighborhood quality, commuting impact), infrastructure (power, traffic and transportation, availability of utilities), development suitability (cost impacts, design restrictions, expansion capability, environmental impacts) and quality of site (configuration, size, topography).

    Agency officials appear to like the idea of being near other military installations. The geospatial agency relocated its eastern headquarters in the Washington area last decade. It moved from Bethesda, Md., to the Fort Belvoir army base in Virginia.

    The relocation would be a coup for St. Clair County officials, who have long worked to secure the fate of Scott, the Metro East’s largest employer.

    Meanwhile, the north St. Louis land would come at a significant cost.

    St. Louis city, which approved a bill to use eminent domain to clear 100 acres of land near the demolished Pruitt-Igoe housing complex, would pay $8 million to $10 million for residential properties and an additional $10 million to $15 million for businesses. That means the federal government would have to pay upward of $20 million for land in St. Louis.

    Local governments typically buy or secure the land involved in such a proposal and then sell it to the federal government for fair market value.

    The city still needs to do significant infrastructure improvements around the site. The Board of Aldermen has so far failed to put a $200 million bond issue on the ballot that would enable them to do so.

    Still, officials in St. Louis argue that an executive order encouraging federal investment in urban areas will help their case. Last year, the government pulled 800 Veterans Affairs jobs out of downtown St. Louis and moved them to St. Louis County.

    The geospatial plan has raised concerns in the neighborhood, however, especially from those who would be forced to lose their homes to make way for the project.

    Kids pose as inspiring trailblazers for Black History Month

    Nonprofit organization Because of Them, We Can has launched a new campaign for Black History Month. However, founder and photographer Eunique Jones Gibson hopes to inspire young people beyond just February.

    The organization’s latest campaign features kids dressed as inspiring black leaders and trailblazers such as Desmond Tutu, Ella Fitzgerald and Chuck Stone. The organization has also partnered with Nickelodeon to air national PSA’s inspired by figures like Maya Angelou (shown in the video above) and Muhammad Ali.

    In addition, the organization will be releasing a new photo every day during the month of February on their Facebook page. In addition to Black History Month, the organization has also broadened their campaign with billboards and bus shelters with campaign images, beginning in Newark, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York.

    Pictures and video at the link.

  47. rq says

    The End of Black Respectability Politics

    “Black respectability politics” describes African-Americans’ self-policing morality and propriety in order to better reflect themselves to the white mainstream. I would be lying if I said I didn’t benefit from the cultural gymnastics of learning and adapting to mainstream etiquette, values, dress codes, hairstyles and preferred media. This is how most people, regardless of race and class, try to live. There is nothing wrong with self-improvement, dressing well and speaking proper English.

    But black respectability politics is more than self-help and discipline. It’s like living your life as a job interview. Forever. It is a state of always striving to impress and never arriving at the promised land of equality. It’s a mindfuck, because in order to be “equal” to whiteness, I have to take it upon myself to do more, to counteract the feeling that I am less.

    When some of us fail at this task, we chastise our own as “bringing down the race.” NBA analyst and Hall of Fame Basketball player Charles Barkley said as much in October amid protests against police murders: “It’s a dirty dark secret in the black community, one of the reasons we’re never going to be successful as a whole is because of other black people.”

    These statements have been a long-held Black Respectability Political party line among African-American community leaders, politicians and media barons. But hip hop, the black community’s widening generational gap, and now Cosby’s very public demise may have killed BRP for good. […]

    As we moved into the 1990s, I began to doubt that being “respectable” was enough to lift my community into Cosby heaven. It seemed like many of these goals and requirements came out of a sense of not feeling worthy. We internalized the racism we feared and then used it to castigate the people in the community who had less. There was a growing tension between the expanding black middle class and lower-class blacks who were living in areas ravaged by crime and crack-cocaine. The first major blow to 1980s BRP happened toward the end of the decade with the explosion of gangsta rap music.

    Rap music was the unruly child that would not cooperate with BRP parenting. For an older generation of African-American leaders, it was blaxploitation on steroids. These weren’t just Hollywood actors running around playing pimps and drug dealers. These were, in many cases, the real pushers and street hustlers. This time, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton couldn’t just call up Sony Music and threaten boycotts. The music was reaching its target market.

    Even as it became co-opted, commodified and watered down, hip hop crippled BRP forever. The cultural change didn’t come from Harvard MBAs and Georgetown political science majors; it came from the streets, from hustlers who were operating on the simple economics of supply and demand.

    Black television has struck a blow to BRP, too. In the 1990s, white showrunners earned millions for The Wire and The Sopranos, and African-American artists had to make an uncomfortable choice: try to compete with prestige pieces in an increasingly shrinking market, or jump into the cultural stew. They chose option B. Movies like Menace II Society and Boyz N The Hood helped to lay the groundwork for tales like Hustle & Flow, which in turn paved the way for Power and Empire. These shows are run by black storytellers retaking the African-American narrative. Like hip hop artists, they’ve sacrificed some cultural respectability in exchange for commercial success and professional viability.

    In 2014, BRP just may have died of its wounds. From the diminishment of its main spokesman Bill Cosby, to the wholesale discrediting of police murders where BRP buzzwords like “thug” were lobbed at black victims, to even President Obama’s gradual abandonment of lecture-y speeches directed at the black community, “respectabilility” reads as hollow and manipulative to a new generation.

    President Obama has come a long way from the days of scolding black families for feeding their kids a cold Popeye’s dinner. Six years ago, he was the Platonic ideal of a BRP candidate. He was clean, articulate and uncorrupted. He even weathered attempts to associate him with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the radical, evil, crazy Negro. For a second there, it seemed like respectability politics could work if all blacks just kept a pristine record, graduated from Harvard, lead a quiet life, came from a biracial background, had beautiful kids and a dynamic wife, said all the right things, made all the right moves. Perhaps Obama would singlehandedly be able to overcome 400 years of America’s intractable execration of the black body and mind by just being…perfect.

    We all know how this hypothesis has played out. Despite the brilliant speeches, the painstaking compromises, foreign policy successes, legislative achievements and, to some, being one of the most objectively successful presidents in America’s history, he is still unpopular with vast sections of white America. If a black man like Obama is still hated by almost half the population, then what hope is there for the average middle class family, a single mother, the teenage kid with a hoodie, the creative artist who likes to provoke, or the philosopher who proposes change? What hope is there for me?

    In this game of respect, maybe I’ve been playing it all wrong. Maybe we all have.

    Celebrating The Forgotten Heroines Of Black History

    Black History Month aims to celebrate the achievements of African American icons who have changed the course of history, but not all are afforded the same recognition.

    Few know about the contributions of Claudette Colvin, who was just 15 years old when she refused to give her seat on the bus to a white passenger, months before Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955.

    Treva Lindsey, a professor at Ohio State University, joined HuffPost Live on Monday to discuss Colvin’s “tremendous story.” Colvin was also one of four female plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle, which overturned Montgomery’s bus segregation laws. Still, Colvin is not among the well-known civil rights leaders pegged to Black History Month, and Lindsey said there are numerous reasons for that.

    “We can talk about class, we can talk about color, we can talk about all kinds of politics that intersect with why she is not supported,” she told host Marc Lamont Hill.

    Lindsey explained that Colvin represents “tensions” in the black community that inform “how we remember, who we remember and who we celebrate” in history. Colvin, who became pregnant after her arrest, didn’t fit the profile that the NAACP wanted to lead the fight against segregation.

    “If we were to remember her as a symbolic mother [of the civil rights movement] … what does that mean about what we think a historical actor can be? What would it mean to think about a possibly unwed teenage mother being … central to even a contemporary movement?” she asked. “We have so much pejorative language around certain kinds of black pathology, and I think Claudette Colvin is an excellent example of what that does in terms of how we remember and who we engage in terms of radical racial politics.”

    Marsha P. Johnson is yet another activist whose achievements seem to have been lost in the shuffle of history.

    Johnson was an integral part of New York City’s LGBT community in the 1960s. She was photographed as part of Andy Warhol’s series on drag queens and resisted police during the 1969 raid of the West Village’s Stonewall Inn. The case of Johnson’s mysterious death, which was deemed a suicide in 1992, has since been reopened, with some suspecting foul play.

    Lindsey emphasized the importance of Johnson’s story and rewriting the narrative of black history from an “inclusive space.”

    “We start from trans inclusivity, we start from gender inclusivity, we start from the margins of the margins to really get at what that story looks like. That’s how we get through the silence. Thats how we break through the fissures,” she said.

    By focusing on a different set of actors, Lindsey suggested we may see a new and more complete version of black history.

    “I think that Marsha [Johnson], if we were to center her … in that conversation and start from someone like her to map back this long history of activism and struggle of justice, of triumph, of creation and invention, we end up somewhere different,” she said.

    Black History Month, Indian-Style: Natives and Black Folks in This Together Since 1492

    I literally didn’t realize I was a quarter black (actually a bit less than a quarter, but I’ll claim a quarter for easy math) until I was almost 13. My (almost) half-black dad really didn’t look stereotypically “black.” He looked Hispanic or maybe even Middle-Eastern—handsome dude with long wavy hair, brown skin and he had the coolest mustache. Hey, it was the 80s!

    Growing up on the Blackfeet Reservation (and then later on the Nisqually and Suquamish Reservations, as well as urban areas), I was a dusty rez kid just like the other dusty rez kids. I didn’t really get treated differently or even know that I was part black—at least I never really noticed. I always identified as simply “Native” because I was raised by a full-blooded Native, single mom—but when I actually found out, I was overjoyed!! “Heck, that means I’m a little bit like Michael Jackson!!”

    It was never really an issue.

    In hindsight, I realize that I (probably fortunately) missed out on some of the complicated and ugly stuff that sometimes happens to Natives with black ancestry. Colonization is complicated, and in the same way that even black folks have been convinced that other black people are inherently dangerous—hence the disgusting amount of black-on-black crime—many Native people seemingly have bought that lie and sometimes given into ugly racist attitudes toward black folks (to wit, the Cherokee Nation with the Freedmen racism).

    We also sometimes see examples of black folks buying into the ugly racism against Native people and we realize that we all buy into the racist bullsh*t. Even black folks. Even Native folks. None of us are exempt.

    We’re all human.

    For example, a friend of mine told me about his experience learning proper protocol for ceremony. He’s a young man, fluent in his Native language and consequently was being trained in being a leader in his people’s ceremonies. He was also, like many young people, a product of the hip-hop generation and dressed accordingly. One day, one of the older ceremonial men asked him, “Why do you dress like those black rapper guys?”

    My friend responded, “Should I dress like those white cowboy guys like you?”

    And that’s precisely right. Natives oftentimes don’t question white people’s influence on Native culture—from the English language we speak to the white blood in many Natives. Most Natives don’t bat an eye when they see a Native person with light hair or light eyes or light skin—“that’s just a fair-skinned Native”; many of those Natives do, consciously or unconsciously, question the “Nativeness” a person when they have kinky hair or dark skin.
    “Natives oftentimes don’t question white people’s influence on Native culture.”

    It’s not our fault—all of us have been trained through 500 years of brainwashing, that light skin is “normal.” The dark skin is foreign to us even though, before colonization, Native people’s skin color was much closer to that dark skin than white skin. In the words of Chris Rock, “It’s alright because it’s all white.”

    Hopefully that’s changing a bit. African-Americans dominate pop culture in America; they influence everyone. While some talk about non-Natives appropriating (I call it “being influenced by”) Native culture, we must also acknowledge the Natives who appropriate (“are influenced by”) black culture, as evidenced by the many Native hip-hop artists, fashion, etc. Everyone is influenced by someone, right? Nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s positive—with every single Native kid who loves or emulates Jay-Z or Drake, it’s actually acknowledging a link that’s been present for centuries. […]

    In 2015, we still see those narratives intersect, with increasing scrutiny for the brutal pattern of law enforcement’s treatment within both of our communities. When we look close enough we realize that black folks’ and Natives’ history, conquest and ultimately, liberation is very closely related. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shore, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society.”

    In other words, we’re stuck with each other. Black folks know it too—that’s why so many of them are always excited to tell any Native person within earshot about their Native ancestry.

    Together, we could be an incredibly powerful force if we’re just willing to look deeply enough.

  48. Saad says

    Giuliani: Obama was influenced by communism at an early age

    “Look, this man was brought up basically in a white family, so whatever he learned or didn’t learn, I attribute this more to the influence of communism and socialism” than to his being African-American, Giuliani told the New York Daily News.

    “I don’t [see] this president as being particularly a product of African-American society or something like that. He isn’t,” Giuliani said. “Logically, think about his background … The ideas that are troubling me and are leading to this come from communists with whom he associated when he was 9 years old.”

    Trying to shift from anti-black bigotry to McCarthyism…

  49. rq says

  50. rq says

    White-on-white murder in America is out of control

    Yet the disturbing truth, according to the FBI’s most recent homicide statistics, is that the United States is in the wake of an epidemic of white-on-white crime. Back in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, a staggering 83 percent of white murder victims were killed by fellow Caucasians.

    This is not to say that white people are inherently prone to violence. Most whites, obviously, manage to get through life without murdering anyone. And there are many countries full of white people — Norway, Iceland, France, Denmark, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom — where white people murder each other at a much lower rate than you see here in the United States. On the other hand, although people often see criminal behavior as a symptom of poverty, the quantity of murder committed by white people specifically in the United States casts some doubt on this. Per capita GDP is considerably higher here than in France — and the white population in America is considerably richer than the national average — and yet we have more white murderers.

    To understand the level of cultural pathology at work here, it’s important to understand that 36 percent of those killed by whites are women — a far higher share than you see with black murderers.

    Clearly, the social disaster of white violence has complicated roots. But the beginning of an answer is to admit that we have a problem. It’s striking that President Obama, who’s frequently found time to comment on the height of black men’s waistlines, seems oblivious to this torrent of white killing. To be fair to the White House, however, it would be uniquely difficult for Obama to address this delicate issue. The real tragedy is that none of Obama’s 43 white predecessors have addressed it either. Indeed, looking back on America’s political iconography, there are disturbing trends toward the glorification of white violence. Peer inside the US Capitol building, and you’ll find a monument to Confederate President Jefferson Davis — the leader of an insurgency that caused an unprecedented quantity of violent white deaths.

    But whatever the causes or past mistakes, the important thing is to confront this important subject in the future. As we look ahead to a 2016 matchup that should give us two Euro-American major party nominees for the first time in a decade, perhaps America can finally get the debate about white violence it deserves.


    2nd-year @SLULAW student came to #plr2015 wearing #IAmDarrenWilson & #ThinBlueLine bracelets. Disgusting. #Ferguson

    Lawyer: Video of police shooting differs from official account

    BRANDON TATE-BROWN was running – not reaching into his car for a gun – when he was fatally shot by a Philadelphia police officer in December, a lawyer representing Tate-Brown’s family told the Daily News last night.

    Attorney Brian Mildenberg said he and Tanya Brown-Dickerson on Thursday viewed surveillance footage of Tate-Brown’s encounter with two patrol cops during a traffic stop on Frankford Avenue near Magee in Mayfair on Dec. 15.

    The footage, recorded by four different cameras at nearby businesses, is imperfect – grainy images that are sometimes obstructed or washed out by the police cruiser’s flashing domelights.

    But what’s clear, Mildenberg said, is that Tate-Brown’s shooting didn’t mirror police accounts of the incident.

    The Police Department has repeatedly said Tate-Brown had knocked one officer to the ground after a violent struggle, and was fatally wounded by the other officer as he reached into the front passenger side of his 2014 Dodge Charger for a stolen, loaded handgun that was near the center console.

    Mildenberg confirmed that Tate-Brown is shown fighting with the officers, a battle that stretched from one side of Frankford Avenue to another.

    But the attorney said Tate-Brown’s final movements played out differently than many think.

    “From the video, the moment he was shot, he was running away from the officer, across Frankford Avenue,” Mildenberg said.

    “He was behind his vehicle, near the trunk of the vehicle – not near any doors – when he was shot and dropped down.”

    Mildenberg said he and Brown-Dickerson want the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case, which is still being reviewed locally by District Attorney Seth Williams.

    Mildenberg said he also wants the Police Department to release the surveillance footage to the public, along with witness statements, police radio chatter and any other records about the shooting.

    “If you’re running across Frankford Avenue, obviously that’s not complying with the police officer, and we’re not saying that’s OK,” he said.

    “But police aren’t licensed to shoot every person that runs from them.”

    Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said last night that the “quality of the tapes are not very good” and were filmed at a distance that did not offer much clarity.

    “The investigation did not rely solely on the tape,” he said. “You have the officers’ statements, and statements from four independent eyewitnesses who actually observed the incident as it took place.”

    Ramsey said he won’t release those statements, or the videos, to the public. He has also declined to release the names of the officers, out of concern they could face retaliation of some kind.

    “Believe me, I understand the loss of life, and the tragedy that goes along with it, but we also have to be very mindful to let the investigation take place,” he said.

    “This isn’t trial by media, and it’s not trial by public opinion. This has to be based on facts.”

    Earlier this week, Ramsey apologized to Brown-Dickerson for not notifying her weeks ago when the two officers who were involved in the shooting returned to street duty, having been cleared of any departmental violations.

    He also arranged for Brown-Dickerson to view the footage at the Internal Affairs Division’s headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia, something she had called for publicly for the last two months.

    Brown-Dickerson did not feel up to commenting yesterday, her lawyer said, but earlier this week, she told the Daily News: “Show us the proof now. They said once the investigation is up, I would get proof. Then show me. Show me the footage. Until I see that, it’s not over.”

    “We did let them see the tape. That’s what was being asked, and we did see to that,” Ramsey said. “We have nothing to hide.”

    Mildenberg said Brown-Dickerson “had to leave the room” as she watched the footage.

    “It was obviously extremely difficult, as it would be for any mother, to view video of her son’s death.”

    The attorney said he is not preparing to file a wrongful-death lawsuit. He and Brown-Dickerson want to get to the bottom of several discrepancies, including why Tate-Brown was pulled over in the first place.

    Packed house at the Walker-Ford Center in Tallahassee, learning about the school to prison pipeline.
    #teachers leading #teachers in a conversation about race and equity #teacherdiversitymatters #E4EMN

    And one more for Giuliani! Fran Lebowitz: When Giuliani was mayor an unarmed black man was killed every 5 minutes

    Lebowitz said that when Giuliani ran for mayor of New York City in 1993, his ads said “vote for me and it’ll be 1952 again. He is just soaked in nostalgia. That’s what he meant when he said Obama doesn’t love the country the way we love the county.”

    “What does it mean,” Maher asked, “that Republicans want to go back to an era, the Fifties, where America was run by socialism?”

    “You mean economic policy,” Lebowitz replied. “The New Deal. That’s not the part they miss. They miss — you know, what is behind Giuliani’s comments, and we’re not allowed to say this, but it’s racism. We now live in a society where it’s worse to call someone a racist than to be one.”

    “And yet they say the most racist things,” Maher said. “Ben Stein, last year, said ‘Obama is the most racist president we’ve ever had.’ And I thought, even more than the eleven who actually owned slaves?”

    “Andrew Jackson killed Indians by hand — just because they were Indians,” he continued. “Ethnic cleansing was just the thing to do.”

    “What happened to Giuliani? He was the mayor of a liberal city. He used to be a moderate Republican.”

    “No,” Lebowitz interjected, “when Giuliani was the mayor, every five minutes an unarmed black guy was getting shot in the back. It was always a different excuse from the cops — ‘he had something in his hand, I thought it was a gun,’ and it was a candy bar. It was a key chain.”

    Maher then read Giuliani’s statement from Friday, in which he said that “what I said wasn’t racism, it couldn’t be — because Obama had a white mother, a white grandfather, he went to white schools, and most of what he learned was from whites.”

    “See,” Maher said, “this is what Republicans have against Obama — he’s too white.”

    After noting that Scott Walker — who was hosting the event at which Giuliani made these statements — failed to denounce Giuliani for them, Lebowitz said “of course they didn’t, because that’s the thing, they agree with it. It’s not that they’re holding back their criticism — it’s that they have no criticism.”

    “The problem [conservatives] have,” Bill Nye chimed in, “is their primary and the general [election].”

    “Yes,” Lebowitz replied, “because the lunatics vote in the primaries and Americans vote in the general. That’s why we don’t have a Republican president.”

    Maher then pointed out the other thing Giuliani said, that “it’s not racism, it’s socialism, or possibly anti-colonialism.”

    “Where are our colonies?” Rob Reiner asked. “We’re the colonies! We’re against ourselves!”

    “Exactly,” Maher replied. “Isn’t colonialism bad? I thought we were all kind of on that page, and now it’s bad to be anti-colonialism? I mean, what was George Washington fighting against?”

    “They’re not talking about that anti-colonialism,” Lebowitz said. “They’re talking about African and Indian anti-colonialism against the British.”

    More later, with probably at least one comment on Malcolm X articles.

  51. rq says

    History in Pictures – February

    Zinn Education Project

    #tdih Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X/ El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazzin 1965. As many people learn when they see the Selma Movie, Malcolm X spoke in Selma on Feb. 4, just weeks before he was murdered. He came at the invitation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to speak with young people at the Brown Chapel AME Church.

    Links for video and more material at the link, it is facebook, but no login or account required to view.

    Front page of Chicago Tribune on Malcolm X assassination. It’s the narrow highlighted column on the far right.

    Malcolm X assassination: 50 years on, mystery still clouds details of the case

    Malcolm X was a dangerous man. Not dangerous as the widely circulated image of him holding a rifle and peeking through the curtains in his home would suggest. Nor because he disagreed with the nonviolent wing of the civil rights movement and its assertion that racial integration was the primary objective of the black freedom struggle. By challenging integration as a primary goal, Malcolm X threatened to undermine the tenuous support that mainstream civil rights leaders were receiving from the government and white liberals. For many white people, Malcolm and the Nation of Islam embodied their greatest fears.

    As the public face of the National of Islam, he confronted racism well beyond the confines of southern segregation. He worked tirelessly to denounce America as a damaging imperialist and neo-colonialist system. “Just as a chicken cannot produce a duck egg”, he charged, “the system in this country cannot produce freedom for an Afro-American.” And with his characteristic wit, he added that if it did, “you would say it was certainly a revolutionary chicken.”

    By 1963, Malcolm had been suspended from the NOI for calling President Kennedy’s assassination a case of “chickens coming home to roost.” The rift deepened after Malcolm revealed that the group’s leader, Elijah Muhammad, had fathered children out-of-wedlock with NOI secretaries. This public feud combined with competing political visions to cause deep divisions within the Muslim community. Malcolm formed two independent groups in 1964: the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) and Muslim Mosque, Inc. (MMI). A year later, he prepared to release a new political program which would have likely included voter registration drives, local organizing against police brutality, and a call for the United Nations to denounce American racial practices as human rights violations. He was gunned down on the very day he was set to unveil it. […]

    In the following days, the NYPD also arrested two other members of the Nation of Islam’s Mosque 7 in Harlem: Norman 3X Butler (Muhammad Abd Al-Aziz) and Thomas 15X Johnson (Khalil Islam). Both men, as well as key witnesses who knew them, denied they were at the ballroom that day. Hayer also testified at the end of the 1966 trial that the two men had not been involved. But he refused to name any other accomplices, and all three received life sentences.

    A decade into his incarceration, Hayer came forward with new information, identifying four co-conspirators. He signed an affidavit offering the names and addresses of these men, along with a detailed timeline of their plot. With the help of the self-described “radical attorney” William Kunstler, Butler and Johnson appealed their convictions.

    Hayer named William Bradley, a NOI member called Willie X, as the man who fired the fatal shotgun blast, adding that Bradley was “known as a stick-up man.” The petition noted that Bradley was “upon information and belief presently incarcerated in the Essex County Jail, Caldwell, New Jersey.” Kunstler added that he did not know of “any comparable case in American jurisprudential history” in which an accomplice had described a crime in such detail without a thorough reinvestigation. Yet, judge Harold Rothwax rejected a motion to reopen the case. […]

    The notes appear to substantiate the accounts of Herman Ferguson and the AP of a “second man” taken into police custody. That a name should resurface 50 years later is remarkable. But more significant is that the “Ray Woods” named in the note was likely Raymond A Wood, an undercover New York City police officer with the Bureau of Special Services and Investigation (BOSSI).

    Wood began his career by infiltrating the Bronx Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter under the name Ray Woodall in 1964. There, he posed as a 27 year-old graduate of Manhattan College studying law at Fordham. He was soon named CORE’s housing chairman and oversaw a voter registration project.

    Wood earned his activist bonafides by getting arrested with two others at city hall while attempting a citizen’s arrest of mayor Wagner for allowing racial discrimination on a public construction project. Feminist Susan Brownmiller, a fellow CORE activist at the time, recalled that if “CORE had placed an advertisement in the Amsterdam News describing what it was looking for, Woodall would have fit the bill.”

    By 1965, “Woodall” had been reassigned under his real name to infiltrate a group calling itself the Black Liberation Movement (BLM). He was credited with foiling a bomb plot by the BLM that allegedly targeted the Statue of Liberty and other national monuments, just a week before Malcolm X’s assassination. One of the four arrested in the plot was Walter Bowe, who also co-chaired the cultural committee in Malcolm’s OAAU. Wood’s close association with an OAAU member makes it likely that others within the organization would also have known and recognized him.

    Wood was promoted to detective second grade for making the arrests in the BLM case. And although his name and a photo of the back of his head circulated throughout the press in the week leading up to Malcolm X’s assassination, the NYPD reported that he was put back to work because his “face is still a secret.” […]

    The most obvious avenue for reopening the investigation into Malcolm X’s assassination is the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. In 2011, the Justice Department responded to calls to reopen the case with the statement that “the matter does not implicate federal interests sufficient to necessitate the use of scarce federal investigative resources into a matter for which there can be no federal criminal prosecution.” The Till Act, however, was specifically crafted to render these objections moot. It allocates $10m annually for such investigations, and requires the Justice Department to work in concert with local law enforcement to implement state law.

    Janis McDonald, who co-directs the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University College of Law, told me that rulings such as this ignore “the intent of Congress when the Emmett Till Act was enacted.” Its implementation, she said, “has been a failed promise to the families of those who were killed and a disregard of the congressional intent to preserve the integrity of the law for everyone. This Act has never been a priority for the Department of Justice.” It is set to expire in 2017 if not renewed by Congress.

    According to Paula Johnson, co-director of the Syracuse Cold Case Justice Initiative, the “purpose of the Emmett Till Act is to fully investigate and resolve just such killings.” The account placing Ray Wood at the scene, she said, “warrants further investigation into the knowledge or role of law enforcement in Malcolm X’s death.”

    Until Malcolm X’s assassination case is reopened and surveillance files are made fully available, the injustice to one of America’s boldest civil rights figure continues, while one or more of his killers may roam free.

    As the case turns 50 this week, the NYPD and other surveillance agencies must make their records public. It is time to for a new investigation into the assassination of this civil rights leader that will lay to rest the lingering questions about the case, and ensure that all those involved have been brought to justice.

    Malcolm X’s legacy survives 50 years after his assassination

    The uncompromising message of Malcolm X, who had virtually embodied the black power movement in its early years, carries particular resonance today, they say, a half-century after his shooting death in New York on Feb. 21, 1965.

    His ideas are at the core of a national debate over the treatment of African-Americans and other minorities by the U.S. criminal justice system that heated up after last summer’s killings of unarmed black men by white police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.

    Those two galvanizing cases echo an incident in April 1957, when a black man named Johnson Hinton was beaten by police in New York’s Harlem neighborhood and a young Malcolm X famously came to his defense. The incident helped propel him to the national stage.

    “Some of what you see in terms of the pride of being black in America, or just being black period, come from the teachings of Malcolm X,” said Angelo Pinto, 32, an organizer for Justice League NYC, one of the groups that staged rallies across the country last fall to protest police violence against minorities.

    Malcolm X, born as Malcolm Little and also known as Malcolm Shabazz, was a powerful orator who rose to prominence as the national spokesman of the Nation of Islam, an African-American Muslim group that opposed integration with whites.

    Later, he broke with the organization and moderated some of his earlier views on the benefits of racial separation.

    He was killed at New York’s Audubon Ballroom while preparing to deliver a speech. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted in the shooting.

    Five decades later, the Audubon is long gone and the building now houses a bank, a restaurant and Columbia University offices. It also is home to the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, set up by the activist’s late wife and six daughters.

    Malcolm X’s eldest daughter, Attalah Shabazz, was a schoolgirl in 1965 when she witnessed her father’s death. “I was watching it as it all happened,” she said.

    She remembers her father as “one of those persons you wait for all day to share that special something.”

    Since then, Attalah has worked to recast the image of her father, who critics have said rejected non-violence as a strategy, in contrast with the approach championed by Martin Luther King Jr., the leader to whom Malcolm X is most often compared.

    “Malcolm Shabazz is a whole man, not excerpt periods of his life,” she said. “I would never suggest that my father would want the revolutions of today to have to be violent.”

    The complexity of Malcolm’s views has become more apparent in recent years as researchers revisit his speeches, said Monica L. Miller, an associate professor of English and African Studies at Barnard College.

    “He had always in some forms linked up the struggle of African Americans to people in the world,” she said. “It became more an emphasis after he left the Nation and started traveling extensively.”

    Still, she said, “the violent nature of his death seemed to confirm what people thought about him.”

    On Saturday, the Shabazz Center will host a ceremony marking the anniversary of Malcolm X’s death. Delroy Lindo, an actor best known for his roles in films by director Spike Lee, will recite a eulogy first delivered by actor Ossie Davis at Malcolm X’s funeral.

    This is the telegram MLK sent Malcolm X’s wife after her husband’s assassination

    In it, King wrote, “While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had the great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem.”
    The complex relationship between two Civil Rights leaders

    That telegram was the coda to the complex relationship between two civil rights leaders who did not agree on how the fight for racial equality should be waged — King was known for his dedication to strictly non-violent resistance, while Malcolm X’s philosophy was that equal rights should be obtained by “any means necessary.”

    But that doesn’t mean Malcolm X didn’t try to work with King in his own way. In 1963, he invited King to speak at a rally in New York City, to speak to the group “before the racial powder keg explodes.” A year later, Malcolm X sent King a telegram offering what was surely a much more aggressive form of resistance to the Ku Klux Klan than King was comfortable with:


    It’s common to view Malcolm X entirely in opposition to King. However, in a 1988 interview, King’s wife Coretta Scott King lent a more complete perspective to the pair and their relationship, which she implied would have flourished if they had lived longer:

    I think they respected each other. Martin had the greatest respect for Malcolm and he agreed with him in, and, in terms of the feeling of racial pride and the fact that Black people should believe in themselves and see themselves as, as lovable and beautiful. The fact that Martin had had a strong feeling of connectedness to Africa and so did Malcolm. Ah, I think if he had lived, and if the two had lived, I am sure that at some point they would have come closer together and would have been a very strong force in the total struggle for liberation and self determination of Black people in our society.

    They were both killed at age 39.

    Reflections on X

    As people across the world commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, EBONY asked some of our favorite thought leaders to reflect on how “our Black shining prince” impacted their worldview, cultural identity and work:

    “Malcolm died advocating for teenaged, single Black mothers. He died for not remaining silent about the abuse of Black girls.” -dream hampton, writer/activist/educator

    “The words of Malcolm X, constantly remind me to pay attention to who loves me. Not superficially. Not when it’s convenient. But when it is necessary, affirming, truthful, and unconditional.” -Cheeraz Gormon, activist/poet

    “Malcolm was intentional about putting white supremacy on trial, at every juncture, and he did it so unapologetically.” -Cherrell Brown, activist

    “He taught me what it meant to publicly be a work in progress, to publicly admit when you were wrong, all in a lifelong effort to be the best person he could be for his people, his family, and himself. I take him with me everywhere I go.“-Rembert Browne, writer

    “I remember the first time I heard Brother Malcolm’s speech when he asked, “Who taught you to hate yourself?” I was 15. For me, there was a healing in his truth-telling. His words gave me permission to always call it as I see it. And without apology. “-Yaba Blay, scholar/author

    “Malcolm’s journey to Africa reminds me that we all need space for the type of black imagination that can fuel our political work.“-Darnell L. Moore, activist/writer

    “Fearless in his love of blackness, Malcolm pushed us to think deeper about the terror of The American Dream. He dared to tell our truth.” -DeRay Mckesson, activist

    “As a Black man, Malcolm X was one of my first glimpses into what it meant to be proud of your Blackness on your terms; as a storyteller, his book taught me the value in honesty and owning your truth, no matter how messy it might look in the rear view mirror.”-Michael Arceneaux, writer

    “More than anything, Malcolm X taught me that the oppression we face as Black people isn’t a matter of injustice but rather a violation of international Human Rights.”-Shantrelle P. Lewis, curator

    “I did a 10 page book report on The Autobiography of Malcolm X when I was 12 years old. That was the catalyst for the social justice work I do today.” -Tiq Milan, writer/activist

    “Change is revolutionary by nature and Malcolm’s transformation serves a lasting testament that we as people are not resigned to our character flaws or personal misfortunes. Your world is a microcosm of our world and they shift accordingly as well.” -DonWill, musician/actor

    “‘By any means necessary’–be ready to do what’s necessary for your people to have the means to live, thrive, and dream. [That] is how Malcolm X impacted my life.” – T-Dubb-Oh, activist/rapper

    “Malcolm X. helped me understand that Black Love is the greatest weapon we have in the fight against White supremacy.” -Feminista Jones, writer/activist

    “The more I learned the truth about Malcolm X, the more I began to love myself. His unwavering courage is how I attempt to show up in the world and in my work.” -Wade Davis, former NFL player/Executive Director, You Can Play Project

    “Malcolm wasn’t perfect, but he strived to be, and do, better—to be his best possible self for his people. That is the true worth of a freedom fighter.” -Jason Parham, writer/editor

    “Malcolm X’s life taught me that being angry about injustice is an opportunity to use my voice to speak out and use my gifts to spark change.”-Ebonie Johnson Cooper, philanthropist

    “Watching the Malcolm X film as a child let me see that other Black people were proud to be Black outside of my family. Malcolm made it real for me to be extremely proud of who I am and my melanin.”-Johnetta Elzie, activist

    “The moment I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, I was convinced that Malcolm X was the most brilliant human being I had ever encountered. He changed my idea of Blackness, my idea of what it takes to fight for ourselves, and our loved ones. He changed me. “ -Patrise Marie Cullors, artist, organizer, freedom fighter

    “Malcolm gave me the language to recognize and process the daunting system of White supremacy. I had always been taught about racism and our struggle for freedom but Malcolm X was the first historical figure that I literally felt in my gut because he was brutally honest—about his childhood hunger, his parental loss, his illegal hustles, his time in prison, his religious development, his hatred of Whiteness and his shifting perspective. He was fearless yet utterly human. And he was just so real.” Akiba Solomon, writer/editor

    “Malcolm X taught me that my power is directly related to the knowledge I hold and the freedom of my imagination.” – Ashley Yates, activist

    “Reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as suggested to me by a White teacher at my all-White school, made me feel unapologetically Black.”-Richelle Carey, journalist/anti-domestic violence activist

    “‘By any means necessary.’ This quote from Malcolm X reminds me of the dedication to freedom demonstrated by those that came before me, what is demanded of us today, and what future generations must never forget.”- Souleo, curator/columnist

    “Malcolm X made me reconsider identity – from the names we are given to the categories society places us in. The first time I heard ‘Who Taught You to Hate Yourself?’ – it was electrifying and sparked so many questions in my mind, so many things I had never thought about seriously before. Malcolm X sparked critical thinking and self awareness in me, tools that impacted my life and my work beyond measure.” Patrice Grell Yursik, creator, Afrobella[dot]com

  52. rq says

    Malcolm X remembered on 50th anniversary of his murder

    About 300 people converged to hear remarks from one of Malcolm X’s six daughters, Ilyasah Shabazz, as well as elected officials. The ceremony was held at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, formerly known as the Audubon Ballroom.

    A blue light shone onto the floor in the exact spot where he was killed. A mural with images of Malcolm X adorned a wall.

    By the time he died, the Muslim leader had moderated his militant message of black separatism and pride, but was still a passionate advocate of black unity, self-respect and self-reliance. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of murder in his death. He had repudiated the Nation of Islam less than a year earlier.

    In an interview with The Associated Press on the eve of the anniversary observance, Shabazz said she was pleased that the site is now a place for people to get a sense of empowerment.

    “One of the great things about Malcolm is that he redefined the civil rights movement to include a human rights agenda,” she said.

    “So while we are focusing on integrating schools, integrating housing and all these other things, Malcolm said that we demand our human rights ‘by any means necessary.’ And that means … that we have to address these problems — that we have to identify them and absolutely discuss them.”

    Tangentially related via truthiness in entertainment, harping on Selma. Why Hollywood won’t win an Oscar for history

    The problems with Selma

    The much-admired filmSelma has won the overwhelming praise of critics for its powerful portrayal of Martin Luther King, the bruising struggle for civil rights in the U.S. and the astonishing courage of those who risked their lives to counter vicious racism.

    Its main criticism is for making Johnson appear to be an opponent rather than backer of voting rights legislation and the Selma march, which Johnson suggested to King in the hope it would boost his campaign to win support for reform.

    But Reynolds — who knows King’s wife Coretta — is also unhappy with the film’s portrayal of the lifelong activist as an accessory to her husband who is “tearful” over his suspected infidelity and living “under a fog of fear” in segregation-era Alabama. A long stretch, she says, from the real Coretta’s steel-spined determination to campaign for racial equality no matter the consequences.

    Shallow history

    It’s not only personality that is digitally altered by films, but history itself. In an era of dwindling attention spans, and where reality shows are more celebrated than real events, few people bother to delve deeper into the historical records behind the biopics they see.

    In recent years, directors have strived to produce biopics with a greater sense of reality than, say, the towering portrayals in 1963’s Cleopatra. Ancient cities are no longer mocked up on the back lots of movie studios, and ethnic roles aren’t fulfilled by painting the faces of white actors. [Actually, these days they just put white actors and actresses into roles of colour.]

    But in film, verisimilitude isn’t everything, says Guardian contributor Ronald Bergan, president of the Federation of European and Mediterranean Critics.

    “One shouldn’t go to films for absolute accuracy. If it’s a good film it need not be bogged down in the details of life. If you really want to know someone’s life, get a good biography. For a feeling for the kind of life they led, go to film. Good directors take liberties.”

    They surely do take liberties, but I really can’t remember when the historical accuracy of movies was so emphasized. It’s a movie based on real-life events, why is accuracy such an important factor? And I really have problems with Selma always being brought up as the first offender in these lists (or so it seems), with American Sniper sort of a thrown-in ‘okay, this one too’. When I would say the second deserves the greater condemnation.
    After all, Selma is a movie about civil rights told from the perspective of a black director, a rare enough view. So it paints a famous white guy in a non-positive light – so what? Was Johnson an angel? I highly doubt it. And so many other historical figures get mistreatment-by-dramatization to make a better story, I don’t see why people should take issue with it in that particular instance. (Actually, I can see why, but I really, really hate the reason.)
    Re: Coretta’s portrayal, I suppose it’s an argument for having more well-rounded women characters in movies as a whole, or perhaps she just deserves an all-female-cast movie of her own, directed and written and produced by black women. But it’s funny how in so many other movies, nobody really complains about the wife-character being moved to the background. Or at least, not so openly. Annnnyway.
    Some more on a couple of other movies in the article, though they avoid discussion of The Theory of Everything, is that one supposed to be 100% historically accurate?

    And because all black lives matter, but some fall off the radar: As Boko Haram grows stronger, Nigeria prepares for vote

    They are still missing.

    #BringBackOurGirls was pleaded from the United Nations to the red carpet, from Michelle Obama to the Pope, but the Twitter activism and all the attention it garnered didn’t help.

    If anything, Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped and enslaved 276 young women in Nigeria 10 months ago, has only gotten stronger.

    Nigeria’s elections, originally scheduled for Feb. 14, were postponed until March 28, ostensibly to give President Goodluck Jonathan’s government time to improve security.

    But the delay was met with allegations of political interference, as Jonathan is in a tight race against opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari, who is from the northeastern region where Boko Haram is strongest.

    Boko Haram’s rise to power, from a small group of disenfranchised Muslim men from Nigeria’s north to one of the most virulent terrorist groups today, began in 2009 but has accelerated dramatically.

    Since the April kidnappings in the town of Chibok, other schools have been burned, dozens more people abducted, mosques and market places bombed, villages razed.

    In January, Boko Haram militants stormed the town of Baga, killing with impunity. Hundreds were murdered — possibly as many as 2,000. The little-noted attack took place the same week that 17 people were killed in Paris.

    If the number of Boko Haram victims is numbing, then there is this: On Jan. 10, a young girl walked into a crowded market in Maiduguri with explosives strapped to her body. She was no more than 10 years old, witnesses said.

    Unlike the fights against other terrorist groups, complicated by intractable regional conflicts, the fight against Boko Haram should be more straightforward.

    So why is it not?

    Meanwhile, Boko Haram has carved out what analysts are now calling “Africa’s Islamic State,” which is about the size of Belgium.

    “They have had the space to get funding, to kidnap, travel, to get logistical help from other groups,” says Nigerian analyst Atta Barkindo.

    “They’re able to recruit young people who may never get any help from the Nigerian government and Boko Haram is able to pay them,” says Barkindo, adding they gain more foot soldiers and finances in every town they overtake.

    Barkindo says Nigerian soldiers combating Boko Haram have complained privately about the lack of support and resources — instances where they are left without weapons, ammunition and fuel.

    But talk is rarely about rescuing the kidnapped girls anymore. Fifty-seven have managed to escape but it is believed 219 are still being held.

    They continue to haunt Nigeria. Until the girls are rescued, Rotimi Olawale wants to keep it that way. Every day, for about two hours as the sun is setting, he demonstrates in Nigeria’s capital, as part of a diverse group, Bring Back Our Girls. “We thought it would take one or two weeks,” he said in a telephone interview from Abuja this week.

    In the beginning, thousands came to protest. Now, there are about 60, with as many as 90 on the weekends.

    “Sometimes we have parents of the girls come from Chibok, others come who have been victims of terror and they share their stories,” he said.

    Olawale is from Nigeria’s southwest and did not know the kidnapped girls, although he has come to know their families. “I am not from that region but we need to take a stand as a nation, as citizens, united.

    “We will not allow this to be swept under the carpet. We need to keep pressure on.”

    Oh, and another entertainment aside, the Toronto Star wrote about Mo’Nique, too: Mo’Nique ‘blackballed’ by Hollywood after Oscar win.

  53. rq says

    #MUBB #MarquetteDay #BlackLivesMatter #WeAreMarquette @BMOHBC @MarquetteU @VillanovaU @mutribune @journalsentinel

    Editorial: Grand juries don’t need to be so secretive

    New York’s top judge has just come out in favor of two provocative changes to the secretive grand-jury process — ideas that should get the utmost attention in Albany.

    In the aftermath of several dismaying and deadly incidents involving civilians and police, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman is suggesting courts release transcripts and documents from the closed-door proceedings if the grand jury does not indict. A judge would have the authority if reveal documents deemed in the public interest.

    Further, he says it would make sense for a judge to be present during grand jury proceedings if the matter involves a violent incident between civilians and police.

    Lippman’s suggestions are positive because they would promote a more open, responsible government, and help bridge the alarming gap of distrust that has developed in recent years.

    In one instance, a New York City grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the case of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old unarmed black man who died in July in a police chokehold. This came after national debate regarding a white officer in Ferguson, Mo., who wasn’t indicted in the August shooting death of black teenager.

    But the death count didn’t end there. Two New York City police officers subsequently were killed in cold blood, gunned down by a man with criminal record, a history of mental instability and an apparent deranged vengeance for what happened in Ferguson.

    New York’s leaders have been focusing on numerous improvements for the Empire State — actions that could not only better protect suspects but police officers too. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suggested equipping police officers with body cameras, bolstering funds for bulletproof vests for officers and installing bulletproof glass in patrol cars in high-crime areas. Recruiting more minorities into law enforcement positions makes sense as well.

    So does Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s push for more authority to investigate and prosecute police officers involved in altercations with civilians. Local district attorneys have close working relationships with their local law enforcement; it’s the nature of their jobs. Appointing special prosecutors or the attorney general’s office in cases involving police officers would be a good way to ensure objectivity and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

    The state has a lot to consider here. In the last few months, plenty of suggestions have been made to improve both the protection of police and citizens. A massive effort must be made to ratchet down emotions and restore faith in the system.

    OPINION: Black Panthers redux offers untold tales

    This most recent incarnation of the Black Panther Party emerged recently at the opening of Documentary Fortnight 2015, the Museum of Modern Arts’ annual showcase of documentaries.

    The movie, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, is the latest work of Stanley Nelson, himself something of a revolutionary. Nelson’s films — eight of which have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival — probe the soft underbelly of America’s lingering race problem. From his examination of the Jonestown massacre, the murder of Emmett Till and the 1964 Mississippi voter registration drive, Nelson’s works shine a light into the dark places that few other filmmakers venture.

    In his latest work, Nelson doesn’t rewrite history so much as he reveals a parallel story of a Black Panther Party that was more complex — and well-intended — than was portrayed during the group’s tumultuous history. In 1969, then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover branded the Black Panther Party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”

    Nelson’s documentary tells the story of Hoover’s animus for the Black Panthers — and the organization’s bloody conflicts with law enforcement. Many of the clashes were precipitated by the FBI. Of the 295 actions taken by the FBI to “disrupt” black nationalist groups under COINTELPRO, 233 targeted the Black Panthers, a U.S. Senate committee reported in 1976.

    “I felt the story of the Panthers hadn’t really been told,” Nelson said shortly after the screening ended. “I think it was important in this film to find new things.”

    And he did. The documentary gives more than a fleeting glimpse of the role played by black women in the Black Panther Party. By the end of the 1960s, it reveals, a majority of the group’s members were women. Among others, it gives voice to Kathleen Cleaver, the influential wife of Eldridge Cleaver, the Panthers’ minister of information, and to Elaine Brown, who replaced him in that job.

    But it is the relevance of Nelson’s documentary to the recent spate of run-ins between blacks and cops that makes his theatrical resurrection of the Black Panther Party a compelling bit of filmmaking. In one scene, actor Marlon Brando decries the police shooting of a young member of the organization. “That could have been my son lying there,” Brando said, sounding eerily similar to what President Obama said on the heels of the killing of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman and wannabe policeman. “You know, when (Martin) was first shot I said that this could have been my son,” Obama said in July 2013.

    Nelson’s film tells us about the Black Panthers’ efforts to address some of the most daunting social problems in black communities around the country. At the height of its breakfast program, the group served 20,000 meals a week to poor children, it operated free health clinics and free food giveaway programs in inner city neighborhoods.

    Of course, Nelson’s film is not the whole truth of the Black Panther Party. But it is a large part of what has gone missing in the telling of its story. “Until the lions have their own historians,” the African proverb goes, “the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

    Bridge blocked by group protesting Pasco police shooting

    The newspaper says the demonstrators shut down traffic along the cable bridge as they slowly marched south toward Kennewick. Many motorists yelled and honked in support.

    The protesters then turned and marched back toward Pasco, blocking traffic heading north as the sun set on the Columbia River. The marchers shouted “We will not be silenced” and “We are all Antonio,” referring to Antonio Zambrano-Montes, who was killed by police. The protesters then left the bridge and rallied in Pasco.

    “This is about the right not to be shot by police because you have a rock in your hand,” said Alfredo Lamedo, 53, of Spokane, as he marched. “How many bullets were in that rock?”

    The Feb. 10 killing of Zambrano-Montes — captured on cellphone video by an onlooker — has sparked calls for a federal investigation. Police have said Zambrano-Montes did not have a gun or a knife.

    The killing was the fourth by law enforcement officers in Pasco in less than a year. It has roiled this fast-growing agricultural city of 68,000, where more than half the residents are Hispanic but few are members of the police force or the power structure.

    Business suffering for cafe at shooting scene

    Owner Vinicio Marin Gomez says business has dropped by 85 percent and he was forced to close the doors to Vinny’s Cafe & Bakery twice last week to cut costs.

    The fourth-generation baker believes people have been scared off by the shooting.

    “People used to come in before and have breakfast and eat lunch,” he said from behind the counter of his shop. “Now, zero. Zero.”

    The cafe is on Lewis Street and its front door is just feet from Zambrano-Montes was shot and killed by police. Marin Gomez opened the shop up for Zambrano-Montes’ family, hoards of media and city officials in the days following the shooting,

    However, few people actually bought Marin Gomez’s homemade pastries or hearty sandwiches, he said. He estimates he has lost thousands of dollars in the last two weeks.

    The store opened in December and business was good until the shooting, Marin Gomez said. It’s the first business the Pasco man has opened and he is hopeful the shooting will not force him to close down.

    Pasco police set up a GoFundMe account to help raise money to offset the drop in sales. By Saturday night the account had raised $365 out of the $25,000 goal. Police Chief Bob Metzger told the Herald local police donated $500 as well.

    Marin Gomez says he is hopeful people will come back despite protests and the constant flow of media outside the shop.

    Oscar’s First Black Winner Accepted Her Honor in a Segregated ‘No Blacks’ Hotel in L.A.

    On a February afternoon in 1940, Hattie McDaniel — then one of the biggest African-American movie stars in the world — marched into the Culver City offices of producer David O. Selznick and placed a stack of Gone With the Wind reviews on his desk. The Civil War epic, released two months earlier, had become an instant cultural sensation, and McDaniel’s portrayal of Mammy — the head slave at Tara, the film’s fictional Southern plantation — was being singled out by both white and African-American critics as extraordinary. The Los Angeles Times even praised her work as “worthy of Academy supporting awards.” Selznick took the hint and submitted the 44-year-old for a nomination in the best supporting actress category, along with her co-star, Olivia de Havilland, contributing to the film’s record-setting 13 noms.

    The 12th Academy Awards were held at the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub in The Ambassador Hotel. McDaniel arrived in a rhinestone-studded turquoise gown with white gardenias in her hair. (Seventy years later in 2010, a blue-gown– and white-gardenia–clad Mo’Nique, one of 11 black actors to win Academy Awards since, was the only one to pay homage to McDaniel while accepting her best supporting actress Oscar for Lee Daniels’ Precious.) McDaniel then was escorted, not to the Gone With the Wind table — where Selznick sat with de Havilland and his two Oscar-nominated leads, Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable — but to a small table set against a far wall, where she took a seat with her escort, F.P. Yober, and her white agent, William Meiklejohn. With the hotel’s strict no-blacks policy, Selznick had to call in a special favor just to have McDaniel allowed into the building (it was officially integrated by 1959, when the Unruh Civil Rights Act outlawed racial discrimination in California).


    But Hollywood’s highest honor couldn’t stave off the indignities that greeted McDaniel at every turn. White Hollywood pigeonholed her as the sassy Mammy archetype, with 74 confirmable domestic roles out of the IMDb list of 94 (“I’d rather play a maid than be a maid,” was her go-to response). The NAACP disowned her for perpetuating negative stereotypes. Even after death, her Oscar, which she left to Howard University, was deemed valueless by appraisers and later went missing from the school — and has remained so for more than 40 years. Her final wish — to be buried in Hollywood Cemetery — was denied because of the color of her skin.

    McDaniel’s career was defined by contradictions, from performing in “whiteface” early on to accounts that her refusal to utter the N-word meant it never made it onscreen in Gone With the Wind. “We all grew up with this image of her, the Mammy character, kind of cringing,” says Jill Watts, author of Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood. “But she saw herself in the old-fashioned sense as a ‘race woman’ — someone advancing the race.” Adds Mo’Nique: “That woman had to endure questions from the white community and the black community. But she said, ‘I’m an actress — and when you say, “Cut,” I’m no longer that.’ If anybody knew who this woman really was, they would say, ‘Let me shut my mouth.'” […]

    Said McDaniel in 1944 about her disappointing prospects following her Oscar win, “It was as if I had done something wrong.” Selznick’s first move had been to dispatch her on a live, movie-palace tour as Mammy, which played to half-filled houses. But he saw less and less use for his typecast star, and Warner Bros. eventually bought out her contract.

    Even after World War II, she continued to play underwritten maid parts in such films as 1946’s Song of the South, Walt Disney’s adaptation of the Uncle Remus stories, now considered a rare racist blot on the studio’s legacy. In her final years, McDaniel found success on the radio, taking over in 1947 from Bob Corley — a white voice actor who mimicked an African-American woman — as the title character in Beulah, a hit comedy series about a live-in maid. It was the first time an African-American woman starred in a radio show, earning McDaniel $1,000 a week. She was cast in the TV version of Beulah in 1951 but shot only six episodes before falling ill. She died Oct. 26, 1952, of breast cancer. She was 57.

  54. rq says

    St. Louis County Prosecutor: ‘I’m Pretty Sure All Lives Matter’

    McCulloch, an SLU alum, was invited to be the opening speaker at a discussion at the university called “Thin Blue Line: Policing Post-Ferguson.”

    “There’s no post-Ferguson,” student Christian Gordan, 22, told HuffPost as he demonstrated outside the SLU building. “Ferguson is still a city. There’s still a problem; there’s no post-anything.”

    Days before the event, SLU president Fred Pestello released a letter in response to scrutiny over inviting McCulloch. The letter insisted McCulloch’s presence would be beneficial to the conversation students need to have, saying, “One way to fulfill our mission is to expose members of the community to our academic world and to help our students gain a richer understanding of the societal challenges outside our classrooms.”

    Only a limited amount of registered participants and media members were allowed inside the private event. McCulloch began his presentation by discussing the procedures used in the Mike Brown grand jury process. In December, McCulloch admitted to calling a troubled witness to the stand to testify in front of the grand jury.

    In his speech, McCulloch said his job was “to see justice done,” and not solely to get an indictment of Wilson.

    Just 15 minutes into his speech, protesters stood up and pleaded to put Bob McCulloch on trial and began singing the “requiem for Mike Brown” song. In response to protesters chanting, “Black lives matter,” McCulloch said, “I’m pretty certain all lives matter,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

    Protesters were eventually escorted out of the courtroom by police officers. None were arrested. Meanwhile, back inside the courtroom, McCulloch told the audience the protesters had not used freedom of speech in a respectable way. “I’m always amazed when those who profess their rights to free speech won’t let anyone else speak,” the Post-Dispatch noted McCulloch saying.

    #BlackLivesMatter Activists Shut Down Emeryville Home Depot; Demand Surveillance Tapes Of Fatal Police Shooting

    Dozens of #BlackLivesMatter protesters forced Home Depot in Emeryville to close its doors for several hours Saturday.

    The group was demanding answers about the February 3 shooting death of Yuvette Henderson, an Oakland woman shot and killed by two Emeryville officers.

    Henderson was accused of shoplifting at Home Depot and trying to carjack motorists. Police said Henderson pointed a gun at them, but protesters don’t believe that. They want the store to release security tapes of the incident.
    #BlackLivesMatter activists block the entrance to Home Depot in Emeryville in protest of the Feb. 3 police shooting of Yuvette Henderson in the store parking lot.

    One protester told KCBS, “Home Depot has tapes of what happened both outside and inside the store and they are refusing to release them. We’re demanding that police forces, both private security and police forces on our street to stop terrorizing our people and stop militarizing our communities.”

    According to the organizers, Henderson was shot with three different weapons, one of which was an AR 15 semi-automatic rifle.

    Protesting in snow: End of Brandon Tate Brown rally. But clearly not the end.
    Happening right now. We are coming. We are ready. Tear it down. #BlackOutTour

    Valerie Smith of Princeton to become Swarthmore’s first African American president

    A Princeton dean and professor of literature and African American studies will lead Swarthmore College when the new academic year begins.

    The school announced Saturday that Valerie Smith, 59, would become the 15th president of the 150-year-old institution beginning July 1. She becomes Swarthmore’s first African American president.

    “I was really struck by the passionate commitment faculty, staff, and students have toward Swarthmore,” Smith said, ” . . . the level of deep intellectual engagement.”

    Smith expressed an interest in deepening Swarthmore’s interdisciplinary work and increasing the school’s ties with its neighbors.

    “I would hope to be able to enhance opportunity for engagement with the broader Swarthmore community, with the region, and the city of Philadelphia,” she said.

    Of Swarthmore’s 1,500 students, 6 percent are African American, while whites make up 43 percent of the student body.

    Smith comes to the school after recent years in which its students became leading voices in national debates over higher education’s social conscience and responsibilities toward victims of sexual misconduct. Swarthmore students were among those who filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education that their school mishandled reports of sexual assault – making sexual misconduct on college campuses part of a national conversation.

    Since receiving a consultant’s report, Swarthmore has brought on additional staff, provided training for employees, and adopted an interim policy on the handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints.

    Smith declined to speak in depth on the issue, only saying the school had made “tremendous progress,” but acknowledging that work on the issue remains.

    Mia Ferguson, 21, who will graduate in May, is one of the leaders at Swarthmore on the issue of sexual violence.

    “I think it’s exciting to see someone who’s so passionate about her academic background and is speaking a lot about race and class, topics that haven’t been at the focus of what the college is doing the past few years if ever, really,” Ferguson said.

    Ferguson agreed the school was doing better addressing concerns about sexual misconduct, but said Swarthmore had not taken full advantage of an internal task force assembled to review issues of discrimination at the school. She said there remained a lack of communication among different groups on campus. She was hopeful Smith would improve that.

    “Her academic work speaks pretty strongly to social inequalities,” she said.

    UN calls for police torture reparations seem to have made no difference to the city #traintakeover #rahmrepnow
    Come to UC Berkeley NOW for a tribute to Malcolm X, 50 years after his assassination. 2050 VLSB. #MX50Forever – program in the pictures at the link.

  55. rq says

    Nice crowd for the screening. #BlackHomesMatter

    Earlier we demanded passage to reparations ordinance during the #Traintakeover #RahmRepNow
    “@EthosIII: TRAIN TAKEOVER,,, Demanding reparations for victims of CPD torture #ReparationsNOW #traintakeover ”

    DEVELOPING: Officer Involved Shooting At Trayvon Martin Memorial In Baltimore -@yvonnewenger. The story in tweets, no details at all, yet.

    Oh! And speaking of the Oscars, Oscars Protest Planned Over Lack Of Diversity

    Activist and political commentator Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, civil rights group Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable said they would demonstrate on Sunday before the televised ceremony.

    “We are calling for a boycott of Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony,” National Action Network political director Najee Ali said at a news conference. “We believe the Oscars needs more diversity within its membership.”

    The location of the Los Angeles demonstration has yet to be determined with police, Ali said.

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars, does not disclose the demographic breakdown of its roughly 6,100 members, but has long been criticized for being predominately white and male.

    A 2012 investigation by the Los Angeles Times found Academy members were 94 percent white and 77 percent male. Members, who are selected for their work and recommended by existing members, had a median age of 62, the study said.

    This year’s nominations had no ethnic minority actors among the 20 nominees in all four acting categories, which spawned the trending Twitter hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite.”

    “It is very important that the Academy Awards and its leadership have a membership and a type of voting system that represents America,” Ali said.

    Notable minority exclusions this year include British actor David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay of Martin Luther King Jr. biopic “Selma,” which earned a best picture nomination.

    And the reason? They’re just white men who got into the Academy on merit. See this tweet: Fuck the Academy & its members’ horrible baby opinions via @pointfivekorean, see attached picture. I can’t seem to find the article it’s from at the moment, though.

  56. rq says

  57. rq says

    Highlights from #MalcolmX50 rally in #Lowell MA @deray, see picture, a list of black lives that matter.

    Black Primary School Students In Rhode Island Are 6x More Likely To Be Suspended Than White Peers

    According to the organization, “significant and persistent racial disparities exist” in Rhode Island’s education system — and elementary school students are not exempt. Between 2004-2012, 17,000 suspensions were issued in the state’s elementary schools. Although black students only received 28 percent of those suspensions, they make up 9 percent of the kids in that age group. On the flip side, white students were suspended 0.7 times less frequently than would be expected for their population size.

    Similar trends follow students into their high school years as well. There, black students are still two times more likely to be suspended.

    These disciplinary patterns set the stage for a racially uneven justice system in the state. Black males in the state are 9.3 times more likely than their white counterparts to spend time in juvenile detention. When looking at Rhode Island’s black population, there were “331.8 black arrests per 1,000 residents compared to just 36.3 non-black arrests.” In 2010 alone, 30 percent of the state’s prison system was black, even though black people only constitute 6 percent of the general population.

    Indeed, the impacts of harsh disciplinary actions in schools are well-known. Although the ACLU’s report did not explore student interactions with police, high suspension rates are still problematic.

    They put every black person in the Oscar commercial they could think of including Jack Black. Lol. Guilt much?? Haven’t checked youtube for it yet, though it sounds intriguing!!

    Here’s where “white” Americans have the highest percentage of African ancestry

    In a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics in December 2014, researchers used the ancestry data compiled by the commercial genetic testing company 23and Me to measure the percentage of African ancestry of people who self-identified as white. It turns out that self-identified white people who live in the South have the highest concentrations of African DNA.

    In South Carolina and Louisiana — the states shaded the darkest green on the map above — researchers found that one in 20 people who called themselves white had at least 2 percent African ancestry. And in a lot of the South, about 10 percent of people who identified as white turned out to have African DNA.

    Some maps and charts at the link.

    11 ways race isn’t real

    The discussion surrounding the actress’s identity is just the latest example of how there’s no consensus when it comes to who should be called what — black, white, Asian, or Latino — in the United States. It’s a reminder that race is a social and political construct.

    Most people have heard that concept by now. But what does it actually mean?

    It means that racial categories are not real. By “real,” I mean based on facts that people can even begin to agree on. Permanent. Scientific. Objective. Logical. Consistent. Able to stand up to scrutiny.

    This, of course, does not mean that the concept of race isn’t hugely important in our lives. Although race isn’t real, racism certainly is. The racial categories to which we’re assigned, based on how we look to others or how we identify ourselves, can determine real-life experiences, inspire hate, drive political outcomes, and make the difference between life and death. But these important consequences are a result of a relatively new idea that was based on shaky reasoning and shady motivations. This makes the borders of the various categories impossible to pin down and renders today’s debates about how particular people should identify futile.

    The 11 items follow, incl. the fact that Americans embraced race to make slavery seem okay, that definitions of race can change on a whim, that sometimes European people of certain ancestries weren’t considered ‘white’, and a whole bunch basically saying people can define race for themselves. I’m not convinced by the article, mostly because even if it is an artificial construct, race and racial identity, at the moment, are so involved in shaping the world and individuals and how they live in the world that it’s hard to just say ‘oh hey it doesn’t exist’.

  58. rq says

    We know that the incident began inside Home Depot & we are demanding they #ReleaseTheTapes #JusticeforYuvette

    #Ferguson right now.

    How blacks were portrayed in cartoons 50 years ago vs. now. Progress, I would say.

    In the UK, Ex-UKIP councillor Rozanne Duncan: ‘No regrets’ over comments

    In the fly-on-the-wall documentary, Mrs Duncan was recorded as telling UKIP press officer Liz Langton Way: “The only people I do have problems with are negroes. And I don’t know why.

    “I don’t know whether there is something in my psyche or whether it’s karma from a previous life or whether something happened to me as a very, very young person and I’ve drawn a veil over it – because that sometimes happens, doesn’t it?

    “But I really do have a problem with people with negroid features.”

    She was forced out of UKIP when the party became aware of the comments.

    Mrs Duncan claimed there was a “hidden agenda” behind her expulsion and insisted there was nothing “racist or derogatory” in what she said.

    She said: “I don’t regret saying it. I don’t regret anything, that’s the truth.

    “I still honestly believe that what I said was never at any time racist or derogatory.

    “I used the word ‘negroes’ as you would do Asians, Chinese, Muslims, Jews. It’s a description, it’s not an insult – in the same way as you would say, ‘What do you mean by Jewish? Well, they belong to a community, they have got a certain faith, they have usually got noses that have got a bit of a curve to them, married women – if they are orthodox Jews – wear wigs.’ It’s description.”

    And in Ethiopia, Space Observatory Offers Ethiopia Pathway to Stars, Development

    Space technology is new to Ethiopia, but a lot is expected from two new telescopes that are part of Ethiopia’s development program. VOA’s Marthe van der Wolf reports.

    Video at the link. Go, Ethiopian space explorers!!

    Obama to designate 3 new national monuments, including Pullman District in Chicago

    The White House said Obama will be in his hometown Thursday to announce the Pullman National Monument.

    The neighborhood on the city’s South Side was built by industrialist George Pullman in the 19th century for workers to manufacture luxurious railroad sleeping cars. The neighborhood was crucial in the African-American labor movement.

    Obama also is expected to announce designation of Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii, the site of an internment camp where Japanese-American citizens and prisoners of war were held during World War II; as well as Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, a 21,000-acre site along the Arkansas River popular for whitewater rafting.

  59. rq says

    Related: As many as 2,800 inmates to be moved from Texas prison

    Ed Ross, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, said the inmates who had taken control are “now compliant” but that negotiations were ongoing Saturday in an effort for staff to “regain complete control” of Willacy County Correctional Center.

    “The situation is not resolved, though we’re moving toward a peaceful resolution,” FBI spokesman Erik Vasys said Saturday evening.

    It wasn’t immediately clear what progress had been made through the negotiations, but Sheriff Larry Spence said there were no hostages involved in the standoff and only minor injuries reported. Spence said the inmates “have pipes they can use as weapons.”

    Management & Training Corp., the private contractor that operates the center for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, said about 2,000 inmates became disruptive Friday because they’re upset with medical services and refused to perform work duties.

    MTC spokesman Issa Arnita said in a statement that prisons officials have begun moving the inmates and that the process would continue into next week.

    Arnita said prison administrators met with inmates Friday to address their concerns but that the prisoners “breached” their housing units and reached the recreation yard. The Valley Morning Star reports fires were set inside three of the prison’s 10 housing units.

    Authorities say about 800 to 900 other inmates are not participating in the disturbance. The inmates being held at the facility, which is in far South Texas more than 200 miles south of San Antonio, are described as “low-level” offenders who are primarily immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

    “Correctional officers used non-lethal force, tear gas, to attempt to control the unruly offenders,” Arnita said in the statement.

    No inmate breached two perimeter security fences, and there’s no danger to the public, he said.

    The large Kevlar tents that make up the facility were described in a 2014 report by the American Civil Liberties Union as not “only foul, cramped and depressing, but also overcrowded.”

    The report said that inmates reported that their medical concerns were often ignored by staff and that corners were often cut when it came to health care.

    When 12 major magazines first put black people on their covers

    Over the decades, magazines have been flaky when it comes to featuring black people, or any people of color, on their respective and coveted covers. Though some might denounce this as a problem from the past, a rundown of 2014 fashion magazines shows how prevalent it still is. A lengthy report from the Fashion Spot of 44 major fashion magazines worldwide showed that out of 611 covers, people of color overall only made 119 appearances. About 60% of that group was black, the report finds.

    Black-centric mags like Ebony and Essence have combatted this uneven tilt by regularly featuring black cover stars. As powerful as their impact has been, it’s a big fight in a larger war.

    Let’s put that into perspective. Magazines like Vanity Fair only had two solo black women on the cover in the past decade: Beyoncé in 2005 and Kerry Washington in 2013. Jay Z nabbed a cover soon after Washington.

    In 2002, Halle Berry became only the fifth black woman ever to cover Cosmopolitan, a magazine that’s been around since 1886. And it took all the way until 1996 for GQ to feature a black woman on the cover (supermodel on the rise, Tyra Banks).

    You don’t have to look far in the past to see the magazine industry’s spotty history with diversity. We found the first time many major magazines put black people their covers. While this list is not exhaustive, we selected some of the most iconic covers, the moments that dropped jaws, sold millions of copies and landed a spot in history.

    Ranges from Times in 1930 to Paris Vogue in 1988.

    Black Brunch actions still happening: Lost Lakes Cafe. #blackbrunchseattle
    Capitol Hill. Seattle. #blackbrunchseattl
    #BlackBrunchSeattle on the move again this morning in Cap Hill!

  60. rq says

    Update on the shooting at the Trayvon Martin memorial:

    Police are investigating an officer involved shooting at Riggs and Freemont.

    The suspect is listed as critical but stable, according to CBS Baltimore.

    The altercation occurred during a traffic stop and the suspect was tased and then shot. It’s not clear what led to the shooting.

    Same link as above.

    Brilliant, sad, spot-on. Mad Magazine, as relevant as ever. Credits: Desmond Devlin/Richard Williams/Norman Rockwell.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates vs Shelby Steele Reparations Debate This Week Abc

    on this week abc with george stephanopoulos Ta-Nehisi Coates and Shelby Steele debate Reparations abc news, ta-nehisi coates defends calls for reparations while shelby steele pretty much says let things be as they are

    And a screenshot of Coates’ reaction: I think we all had the same reaction when hearing Shelby Steele say we shouldn’t stop racial income inequality. Side-eye and a half.

    Oh, goodbye, history. Oklahoma Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly To Ban Advanced Placement U.S. History

    Oklahoma Rep. Dan Fisher (R) has introduced “emergency” legislation “prohibiting the expenditure of funds on the Advanced Placement United States History course.” Fisher is part of a group called the “Black Robe Regiment” which argues “the church and God himself has been under assault, marginalized, and diminished by the progressives and secularists.” The group attacks the “false wall of separation of church and state.” The Black Robe Regiment claims that a “growing tide of special interest groups indoctrinating our youth at the exclusion of the Christian perspective.”

    Fisher said the Advanced Placement history class fails to teach “American exceptionalism.” The bill passed the Oklahoma House Education committee on Monday on a vote of 11-4. You can read the actual course description for the course here.

    For other lawmakers, however, Fisher is thinking too small. Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern (R) claims that all “AP courses violate the legislation approved last year that repealed Common Core.” She has asked the Oklahoma Attorney General to issue a ruling. Kern argues that “AP courses are similar to Common Core, in that they could be construed as an attempt to impose a national curriculum on American schools.”

    Advanced Placement courses are actually developed by a private group, the College Board, and are not required of any student or high school. They are the primary way that student can earn college credit in high school. Taking advanced placement course can save students money and are generally seen as a prerequisite to admission to elite colleges. A representative from the College Board called the claims by Fisher and others “mythology and not true.”

    In August last year, the Republican National Committee blasted the Advanced Placement U.S. History test, claiming it “deliberately distorts and/or edits out important historical events.” The RNC said a new framework for the exam “reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.” The College Board countered that the framework had not been changed since 2012.

    What Caused the Crime Decline? , book.

    What Caused the Crime Decline? examines one of the nation’s least understood recent phenomena – the dramatic decline in crime nationwide over the past two decades – and analyzes various theories for why it occurred, by reviewing more than 40 years of data from all 50 states and the 50 largest cities. It concludes that over-harsh criminal justice policies, particularly increased incarceration, which rose even more dramatically over the same period, were not the main drivers of the crime decline. In fact, the report finds that increased incarceration has been declining in its effectiveness as a crime control tactic for more than 30 years. Its effect on crime rates since 1990 has been limited, and has been non-existent since 2000.

    More important were various social, economic, and environmental factors, such as growth in income and an aging population. The introduction of CompStat, a data-driven policing technique, also played a significant role in reducing crime in cities that introduced it.

    The report concludes that considering the immense social, fiscal, and economic costs of mass incarceration, programs that improve economic opportunities, modernize policing practices, and expand treatment and rehabilitation programs, all could be a better public safety investment.

    pdf downloadable at the link.

  61. rq says

    Thomas “Vocab” Hill, @ Busboys and Poets

    Performing an original piece titled “War” at Busboys and Poets 5th and K Washington, DC

    A woman named Nicole held Shantel Davis as the life left her body. And Shantel said, “Call the ambulance. Please don’t let me die.”
    The story: Unarmed woman, 23, shot dead by Brooklyn cop was on attempted murder rap

    Shantel Davis, 23, took a bullet in the chest during a wild struggle with police after she tried to drive away from the smashup on Church Ave. and E. 38th St. in East Flatbush on Thursday, cops said.

    No gun was found on Davis. Her rap sheet — which included robbery and drug busts — shows she was no stranger to run-ins with the law.

    Davis was due in court Friday on charges stemming from an attack on April 23, 2011 — when she and a band of brutes allegedly held a man hostage as they robbed his Clarendon Road apartment, court papers show. […]

    The two plainclothes officers — who sources identified as Detective Phillip Atkins, 44, and Police Officer Daniel Guida, 27 — began to follow Davis in their unmarked car as she sped through a series of red lights before she crashed, cops said.

    Davis was driving a 1998 Toyota Camry that she allegedly stole the week before. Armed with a pistol — and just a block away from her E. 52nd St. home — Davis approached the car’s owner, Vilma Craig, 57, and told her to hand over the keys, sources said.

    “She had the gun pointed at me,” Craig told the Daily News Friday. “She took my car, my pocketbook and everything in the car.”

    It was not clear whether the two cops knew the car was stolen when they approached Davis after she wrecked it.

    The 5-foot-6, 185-pound Davis slid into the passenger side of the car in an attempt to flee, cops said.
    After a brief struggle with Guida, Davis hopped back in the driver’s seat and tried to drive away.

    Atkins, holding his service-issued Smith & Wesson 9-mm., began to grapple with the frantic woman and tried to stop her from putting the car into gear.

    But Davis managed to put the car in reverse and hit the gas. During the struggle, Atkins fired one shot, hitting Davis in the chest and killing her.

    Atkins had never fired his weapon while on duty, cops said, but court papers show he has been the defendant in six federal lawsuits.

    But some say litigation is common for active officers like Atkins, who boasts more than 800 arrests during his 12-year career.

    “It’s unfair to measure a narcotic detective’s performance by the lawsuits that are filed against him,” said Michael Palladino, head of the Detectives’ Endowment Association. “Drug dealers are interested in one thing: making money, either by selling drugs or filing lawsuits.”

    Friends and neighbors described Davis as “a sweetie.”

    “She was sweet,” said friend Kelvia Joseph, 24. “She did her stuff on the side, but she was a good person.”

  62. rq says

    This is going to be the Oscar edition. Not exclusively, but mostly.
    Oscars protest stopped at the request of Selma director

    A scheduled protest against the Oscars was canceled at the request of Selma director Ava DuVernay, but organizers say they will continue to demand more diversity in Hollywood.

    The political director of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network, Najee Ali, said in a statement that the group will “pursue instead a direct dialogue with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.” This year, all 20 of the acting nominees are white, and the show has been criticized for not recognizing DuVernay or the stars of the civil rights film Selma, the Los Angeles Times reports. “We salute all the artists being celebrated today at the Oscars while demanding an examination of the sidelining and underrepresentation of artists of color and women artists,” Ali said in the statement. “Art can change the world, and the world is more diverse than this year’s honorees.” Catherine Garcia

    Going to interlude already with Chicago elections. Re-election Bid Offers Test of Mayor’s Appeal to ‘Two Chicagos’

    Fast-forward four years and Chicago has gotten to know Mr. Emanuel. He oversaw the closing of nearly 50 public schools, and many of the schools were in minority neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. He clashed with the Chicago Teachers Union, which went on strike for the first time in a quarter-century. He presided through an increase in killings that included more than 500 homicides in one year, most of which took place on the South and West Sides.

    Seeking a second term, Mr. Emanuel is seen as the front-runner beside four lesser-financed, lesser-known candidates. Yet as he tries to win re-election next week, an essential worry for his campaign is how well he will do with black residents, who make up about a third of the city’s population of 2.7 million. To avoid a runoff in April, Mr. Emanuel must win at least one vote more than 50 percent on Tuesday — an outcome that is threatened by the possibility of a weak showing from alienated black voters.

    “It all seems to be just for the people who have money, not for the middle-income or the lower-income,” said Mary Anderson, a nursing educator from the South Side’s Chatham neighborhood. She said she supported Mr. Emanuel in 2011 but had yet to decide this time. […]

    “Nothing has happened in those communities that are desolate right now,” she said, adding of Mr. Emanuel: “He talks about a lot of plans. But who’s at the table? It’s still two Chicagos.”

    That dynamic may help explain why Mr. Emanuel was standing beside Bobby L. Rush, a black South Side congressman, the other day inside the Little Black Pearl, a youth art center. Mr. Emanuel stood close, touching Mr. Rush’s arm several times, as the congressman spoke to a crowd that included the pastor to Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor, as well as the mother of Hadiya Pendleton, the black teenager killed by gang-related crossfire not long after she performed in festivities to mark Mr. Obama’s last inauguration.

    “I offer my support to the mayor fully cognizant that a few will strongly disagree with this decision,” Mr. Rush said. “They will say, ‘Bobby, why?’ ” […]

    In an interview, Mr. Emanuel addressed the notion of two Chicagos. “ ‘The city that works’ has to work for everybody,” he said, alluding to a nickname for Chicago. “Have we made progress in areas that had developed for years? Yes. Is our work done? Absolutely not.”

    Mr. Emanuel said the decision to close so many schools had been extremely difficult. “But I did not want to be the mayor who says kids should have a better school and relegate them to underenrolled, underperforming schools because it was easier for me and harder for them the rest of their lives,” he said.

    He pointed to other choices that he said had helped the city — and its most struggling neighborhoods. “We also did full-day kindergarten, we did pre-K universal, we turned the community colleges into a career and a job builder rather than a repeat of your high school years, which is why we doubled enrollment,” he said.

    For a city accustomed for the better part of a half-century to having someone named Daley at its helm, Mr. Emanuel, 55, has made himself at home with uncanny speed and apparent ease. After winning a legal fight over whether he had lived in Chicago long enough to run for mayor, Mr. Emanuel captured more than 55 percent of the vote in 2011, sidestepping a runoff. […]

    In the end, Mr. Emanuel’s competition in Tuesday’s nonpartisan election reads like a tour of Chicago’s neighborhoods. Jesus Garcia, a Mexican-American county board member known as Chuy, was endorsed by Ms. Lewis and the teachers’ union, which is again starting negotiations over a new contract. Willie Wilson, a black businessman, boasts about his lack of experience in politics. Bob Fioretti, a white alderman with Polish and Italian roots, portrays himself as a rare voice of independence. William Walls III, once an aide to Mayor Washington, is a perennial candidate.

    Mr. Emanuel has raised about $13 million since 2012, more than his opponents combined, and his ads are filling the airwaves. A Chicago Tribune investigation concluded that more than half of his top donors received some sort of benefit from City Hall — just the sort of finding that has stuck Mr. Emanuel with a nickname alluding to wealth: “Mayor 1 Percent.”

    Still, a Chicago Tribune poll published on Tuesday showed Mr. Emanuel ahead, with 45 percent support — not enough to avoid a runoff, but 18 percent of voters in the survey said they were still undecided. And Mr. Emanuel’s approval ratings among black voters appeared greatly improved from just six months ago; this time, about a third of those polled said they disapproved of his performance.

    Mr. Emanuel has received endorsements from The Chicago Sun-Times and The Tribune, and he was backed last week by The Chicago Defender, a traditionally black newspaper.

    Darius Shannon, who lives on the South Side, said Mr. Emanuel had won his vote. His street was swiftly swept after a blizzard hit the city a few weeks back, he said, and the school closings were unavoidable. “To build a better city, some things have to be moved around,” Mr. Shannon said.

    But Tracey Lasenby of South Shore has yet to decide. “Look, I believe that the city has become a great tourist destination under Mr. Emanuel,” she said. “But what’s the sense of building a park if my child can’t play in it because they’re going to get shot? What’s the use?”

    Missouri Lawmakers Propose Banning Public From Viewing Footage From Police Body Cams

    The bill, introduced by Sen. Doug Libla (R), would make all footage recorded by police officers, including dashboard and body cameras, exempt from the state’s open records law, and would prevent the state from requiring that police departments purchase and use body cameras. As the law currently stands, the public is able to request police videos through Missouri open record, or Sunshine, law.

    Missouri’s Attorney General Chris Koster (D) also recently supported restricting public access to footage recorded on body cameras.

    Supporters of Libla’s bill, including Sheldon Lineback, the executive director for Missouri Police Chiefs Association, cited privacy concerns. “Individuals may make mistakes and those mistakes never come off the Internet,” she argued.

    Others, however, are less convinced.

    The ACLU’s Sarah Rossi called it an “end run around Missouri’s Sunshine law,” which she claimed already enables law enforcement to withhold evidence from active police investigations.

    “By not making [the videos] public record, it seems useless to have [body cameras] when the purpose is to create a system to go back and see what’s going on,” a St. Louis resident member of the Don’t Shoot Coalition told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

    Debate about the Missouri bill underscores a national conversation about the deployment of body cameras and their potential to curb police brutality. Indeed, some research has shown that cops are often on their best behavior when they’re being watched — in Rialto, California, for example, complaints against police dropped 88 percent after officers were required to wear cameras.

    However, video footage of police misconduct doesn’t always guarantee that justice will be served. In December, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was filmed using an illegal chokehold on Eric Garner. Last year, a jury acquitted two former police officers for beating a homeless schizophrenic man to death, despite harrowing video showing the man pleading for help and asking for his father. And in 2013, a Chicago police officer dodged charges for fatally shooting an unarmed man, in spite of footage that showed the officer firing 16 times while standing over the victim’s body.

    Additionally, problems can arise when cops intentionally tamper with recording equipment or use the cameras selectively. As ThinkProgress previously reported, officers in Los Angeles disabled antennas on multiple vehicles before patrolling low-income neighborhoods.

    Still, the technological deficiencies won’t be solved by walling off public access to body camera recordings, opponents of the Missouri bill contest.

    Oscars in history: Oscar’s First Black Winner Accepted Her Honor in a Segregated ‘No Blacks’ Hotel in L.A.

    The 12th Academy Awards were held at the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub in The Ambassador Hotel. McDaniel arrived in a rhinestone-studded turquoise gown with white gardenias in her hair. (Seventy years later in 2010, a blue-gown– and white-gardenia–clad Mo’Nique, one of 11 black actors to win Academy Awards since, was the only one to pay homage to McDaniel while accepting her best supporting actress Oscar for Lee Daniels’ Precious.) McDaniel then was escorted, not to the Gone With the Wind table — where Selznick sat with de Havilland and his two Oscar-nominated leads, Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable — but to a small table set against a far wall, where she took a seat with her escort, F.P. Yober, and her white agent, William Meiklejohn. With the hotel’s strict no-blacks policy, Selznick had to call in a special favor just to have McDaniel allowed into the building (it was officially integrated by 1959, when the Unruh Civil Rights Act outlawed racial discrimination in California). […]

    “Every picture and every line, it belonged to Hattie. She knew she was supposed to be subservient, but she never delivered a subservient line,” says MaBel Collins (center), 77, partner of Edgar Goff, McDaniel’s grandnephew. McDaniel’s descendants were photographed Feb. 13 at The Culver Studios in Culver City, a few yards from Gone With the Wind producer David O. Selznick’s former offices and where most of the movie was filmed.

    A list of winners had leaked before the show, so McDaniel’s win came as no shock. Even so, when she was presented with the embossed plaque given to supporting winners at the time, the room was rife with emotion, wrote syndicated gossip columnist Louella Parsons: “You would have had the choke in your voice that all of us had.” The daughter of two former slaves gave a gracious speech about her win: “I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything I may be able to do in the future. I sincerely hope that I shall always be a credit to my race and the motion picture industry.”

    But Hollywood’s highest honor couldn’t stave off the indignities that greeted McDaniel at every turn. White Hollywood pigeonholed her as the sassy Mammy archetype, with 74 confirmable domestic roles out of the IMDb list of 94 (“I’d rather play a maid than be a maid,” was her go-to response). The NAACP disowned her for perpetuating negative stereotypes. Even after death, her Oscar, which she left to Howard University, was deemed valueless by appraisers and later went missing from the school — and has remained so for more than 40 years. Her final wish — to be buried in Hollywood Cemetery — was denied because of the color of her skin.

    McDaniel’s career was defined by contradictions, from performing in “whiteface” early on to accounts that her refusal to utter the N-word meant it never made it onscreen in Gone With the Wind. “We all grew up with this image of her, the Mammy character, kind of cringing,” says Jill Watts, author of Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood. “But she saw herself in the old-fashioned sense as a ‘race woman’ — someone advancing the race.” Adds Mo’Nique: “That woman had to endure questions from the white community and the black community. But she said, ‘I’m an actress — and when you say, “Cut,” I’m no longer that.’ If anybody knew who this woman really was, they would say, ‘Let me shut my mouth.’” […]

    Said McDaniel in 1944 about her disappointing prospects following her Oscar win, “It was as if I had done something wrong.” Selznick’s first move had been to dispatch her on a live, movie-palace tour as Mammy, which played to half-filled houses. But he saw less and less use for his typecast star, and Warner Bros. eventually bought out her contract.

    Even after World War II, she continued to play underwritten maid parts in such films as 1946’sSong of the South, Walt Disney’s adaptation of the Uncle Remus stories, now considered a rare racist blot on the studio’s legacy. In her final years, McDaniel found success on the radio, taking over in 1947 from Bob Corley — a white voice actor who mimicked an African-American woman — as the title character in Beulah, a hit comedy series about a live-in maid. It was the first time an African-American woman starred in a radio show, earning McDaniel $1,000 a week. She was cast in the TV version of Beulah in 1951 but shot only six episodes before falling ill. She died Oct. 26, 1952, of breast cancer. She was 57. […]

    In her last days, McDaniel threw a deathbed party, coincidentally attended by her grandnephew’s future life partner MaBel Collins, then 15, who recalls “people milling around, drinking, laughing. Guests would go in one or two at a time and visit with her. I had no idea who that dying movie star was until a couple years later, I saw Gone With the Wind> — and realized that was Hattie in the bed.”

    In her last will and testament, McDaniel left detailed instructions for her funeral. “I desire a white casket and a white shroud; white gardenias in my hair and in my hands, together with a white gard­enia blanket and a pillow of red roses,” she wrote. “I also wish to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery,” today known as Hollywood Forever Cemetery. But the resting place of numerous showbiz types — including GWTW director Victor Fleming — had a whites-only policy. Hattie was buried at Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery, the first L.A. cemetery open to all races. In 1999, Edgar successfully lobbied to get a marble memorial to McDaniel placed at Hollywood Forever.

    McDaniel also specified what was to become of her Oscar, which an appraiser dismissed as having “no value” in an accounting of her estate. Despite working steadily until her death, McDaniel left the world in debt: Her belongings were valued at $10,336.47 (about $95,000 today), $1,000 less than what she was deemed to owe the IRS. The Oscar, she wrote, was to be left to Howard University, but the award went missing from the Washington, D.C., school during the early 1970s.

    In 2011, inspired in part by Mo’Nique’s Oscar-night tribute, W. Burlette Carter, a professor at George Washington Law School, undertook a yearlong investigation of the missing Oscar. Though the school was eventually cooperative, it never gave her permission to search its stacks. Carter, who says the Oscar would today be worth half a million dollars, dismisses one theory that it was tossed into the Potomac River by “angry protesting students” after Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 assassination. She discovered that the Oscar never came to the school from McDaniel’s estate, but was gifted in the early 1960s by actor Leigh Whipper, a friend of Hattie’s from when she ran the Hollywood Victory Committee division that entertained black troops during World War II. The last time anyone remembers seeing the Oscar was 1972, when it was removed from a glass case in the school’s drama department, which has since been gutted. (Howard declined comment.) “It’s a sad story,” says Carter, “but this Oscar represents a triumph for blacks — because we can look back and see that things really are so much better now than they were at that time.”

    More of the actress’ history at the link, truly an astounding, astounding woman!

    ‘Selma’s Missing Epilogue: The Recent Dissolution Of The Voting Rights Act

    The final scenes of the 2014 film Selma, which depicts Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggle for federal voting rights legislation to protect African Americans in the South, leave viewers applauding, content with our nation’s civil rights progress after witnessing a concrete example of how a protest effected meaningful national change. But what the movie doesn’t provide is an update — a scene that flashes forward almost 50 years to show how the exact rights granted to blacks who marched across Alabama in demonstration have recently been eroded by our highest court and then by states across the country.

    The Golden Globe-nominated film stars the powerful David Oyelowo as King and depicts the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches which eventually led President Lyndon Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. While the film has been scrutinized for its depiction of Johnson as an obstructionist who had to be repeatedly persuaded by King to pass the landmark legislation, the overall takeaway from the film is the historic voting rights success caused by the activism of African Americans and other civil rights champions in Alabama.

    Though the entire film portrays just a few months of the mid 1960s, it’s a strong representation of how far the country has come from when Jim Crow laws including poll taxes and literacy tests prevented voting to the passage of the legislation which regulates elections and prohibits racial discrimination in voting. The radical Jim Crow laws are depicted early in the movie when Oprah Winfrey’s character is forbidden from registering to vote because she cannot name all of the regional judges in Alabama.

    The release of African American director Ava DuVernay’s film at the end of a year filled with racial tensions — from the shooting and subsequent protests in Ferguson to Eric Garner’s death in New York — makes the film especially poignant. But even more striking is how the very rights championed by King have been eroded since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 which effectively struck down the heart of Johnson’s Voting Rights Act.

    The high court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder opened the doors for nine Southern states to change their election laws without federal approval. In the year and a half since the decision, courts have heard a number of cases about the constitutionality of newly passed voter ID legislation and other methods of voter suppression, while voters across the country have faced increased barriers to casting their ballots. […]

    In addition to voter ID laws, states have found other ways to restrict voting following the dismemberment of the VRA. In 2013, Florida officials attempted to purge thousands of people from the rolls — disproportionately Latinos — because of suspicions that they were not citizens. The state ultimately suspended the effort, but a similar initiative in Virginia was more successful.

    A number of states have also made efforts to shorten early voting periods and to eliminate same day registration — both actions that would have been illegal if the entire VRA was still in effect. Laws that disenfranchise felons also play a large roll in suppressing voters who are disproportionately African American.

    Even without restrictive legislation blocking them from the polls, African Americans in the South still turnout to vote in lower numbers than their white counterparts. The New York Times reported this week that based on voter registration data, the legacy of Jim Crow endures for older voters in the South who grew up under segregation. “The direct effects of Jim Crow may endure as long as the generation that grew up under its influence remains,” the Times said.

    In one impactful scene in Selma, a court ruling allows protesters to move forward with their third march after the first two had been blocked by state troopers instructed to act by Governor George Wallace. While the decision is given little screen time, its clear during the film that the court literally and figuratively cleared the road for the final successful march to take place.

    But with a current government where the highest court can invalidate the VRA, it’s hard to imagine a modern court that would take the same kind of action as the federal circuit did in 1965. As Brody said in the New Yorker, “Were such a case to arise in a Southern circuit of the federal court today, I wonder whether there’s a judge who’d see to the rights of mainly black protesters rather than to those of the authorities.”

    And quick preview from the Oscars: John Legend: “There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.” Best Oscar speech ever! Patricia Arquette went with the ‘more equality for women’ line, but more on that later.

  63. rq says

    A closer look at the pay gap, in charts. It really is mostly charts. Also, it mostly looks at male-female comparisons, but also splits by race, so it’s interesting to see how that works out.

    FACT: @Oprah is the first black woman to be nominated as a producer. #Oscars2015

    #OscarsSoWhite a Mexican filmmaker wins for Best Picture and Sean Penn make a racist joke about it. Ridiculous.
    Yes, Sean Penn made a greencard joke on the grand stage. Uh-huh.

    Chris Pine Cries Through ‘Glory’ on Behalf of Us All. They show David Oyelowo (yes? they didn’t caption the picture, but it looks like him!) too. Here’s the performance itself: Watch John Legend and Common’s heartbreaking Oscar performance of Selma’s “Glory” – going to watch it later, but at least that link doesn’t show the tears of Chris Pine (incidentally and off-topic, MRA tears probably look something like that, too).

    It wasn’t easy to stand out on Oscar night — a night that featured technicolor cowboys, storm troopers, and Neil Patrick Harris singing and dancing. But Common and John Legend’s soaring and ultimately heartbreaking performance of “Glory” from the movie Selma did it.

    The song itself is a soaring marvel, flying on the wings of John Legends’s vocals. But there’s also a brutal, brilliant strength to it with Common’s rapping.

    There’s an added level of emotion to this performance. Selma, the movie in which “Glory” appears, was left out of the Best Director and Best Actor categories — a reminder that the Oscars still perpetually struggle with diversity.

    “Glory” ended up winning the Oscar for best original song on Sunday night.

    Okay, this is a long scroll-through, but here’s more on the song: The Oscar for best original song goes to “Glory” from “Selma,” as performed by John Legend and Common.

    John Legend and Common reduced the audience to complete silence (and some tears) as they delivered a joint acceptance speech for “Glory,” which won best original song.

    “ ‘Selma’ is now because the struggle for justice is now,” Legend said. “We know that the voting rights that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised in this country today.”

    He went on to say the U.S. is the most incarcerated country in the world, as “there are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”

    “People are marching with our song — we see you, we love you,” he said. “March on.”

    Backstage Common said: “I feel like to whom much is given much is required. The fact we have an opportunity to get to a stage like the Oscars. How could you not say anything. Beyond what we have done on this song, John has always made music about love, he’s been doing things about education for a long time. I feel it’s our duty to do it.”

    John Legend discussed process: “Common called me. He describe what they were looking for and gave me ideas for the title of the song. ‘Glory.’ That word really inspired me. My thoughts were that the song should sound triumphant but realize there is more work to do.”

    John Legend and Common’s performance of “Glory” from “Selma” earned a rousing standing ovation of the crowd, while stars Carmen Ejogo and David Oyelowo cried in the audience. (A few camera pans to other sections of the crowd showed it was difficult to find a dry eye in the house, as Chris Pine was seen with a tear rolling down.)

    If you feel like you’ve seen them sing “Glory” pretty recently…well, you probably saw the Grammys a couple weeks ago. (Of course, then they had an intro by Beyoncé.) Regardless of what happens tonight, the song is already a winner this award season, as it picked up the best original song trophy at the Golden Globes.
    So that mentions Legend and the acceptance speech, more on that in a moment.

  64. rq says

    I borked something there, but the necessary link works, so no reposts.

    Oh, that last link also had this:

    “Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” tied for most wins, with four Academy Awards apiece during the Oscars ceremony Sunday night. “Birdman” took home awards for best picture, director, for Alejandro González Iñárritu, cinematography and original screenplay. “Budapest” won Oscars for production design, costume design, original score and hair and makeup. That left “Boyhood,” a potential front runner, with just one award, for best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette. She gave an impassioned speech advocating for gender equality, which got plenty of applause, including some whooping from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez.

    But she also had some backstage comments that wren’t as groundbreaking or positive.
    Patricia Arquette *invited* POC & LGBTQ folks into feminism as if we haven’t already been doing the work. Chile.
    Oh! And I found them, same Washington Post link:

    “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” she announced. “It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America!” […]

    She continued the conversation backstage, reports The Post’s Geoff Edgers:

    “It is time for us … We don’t have equal rights for Americans. The truth is even though we sort of feel like there is, there are huge issues that are at play and really do affect women.

    It’s time for all the women in America, and the men who love women and all the gay people and people of color we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

    So, I have two questions: 1) do women who haven’t given birth, or who can’t give birth, do they still count? and 2) so should people of colour and gay people (who are obviously none of them women too) just drop all their other issues and help push white, straight women up? Because that’s kind of what it sounds like…

    Moving on to someone who said things right.
    John Legend is right: more black men are in correctional control now than enslaved in 1850

    It’s become a widely cited statistic, after the publication of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow in 2011 — which helped made mass incarceration a hot topic of discussion. But is it true? Yes, the basic numbers check out — although the stat is a little misleading.

    The key to this is the term “correctional control” — which doesn’t just refer to prisons, but to jails (for people who haven’t been convicted yet, or are serving short local sentences); parole (for people who’ve been released from prison but are still being supervised); and probation (supervision as an alternative to a prison sentence). In all, as of a 2009 report from the Pew Public Safety Performance Project, one in every 31 Americans is under one of these four types of “control.”

    So while there are fewer black men physically in prison today than there were in slavery in 1850, the addition of probation and parole brings it over the top.

    Here are the numbers:

    In 1850, there were 872,924 black men (16 or older) who were enslaved in the US, according to the Census.
    As of December 31, 2013, there were about 526,000 black men in state and federal prisons in the US.
    In 2013, there were about 877,000 black men on probation, and 280,000 black men on parole (according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics source cited by Politifact).
    The Bureau of Justice Statistics doesn’t break down jail populations by both race and gender, but 86 percent of all 730,000 jail residents in 2013 were male, and 36 percent were black. So it seems plausible that at least a couple hundred thousand black men are in jail.

    The totals: 1.68 million black men are under correctional control in the US, not counting jails. That’s over three times as many black men as were enslaved in 1850.

    Here’s why this is a bit misleading: there are more black men (and more people, generally) in the US now than there were a century and a half ago. In 1850, there were 3.6 million African Americans in the US (men and women), according to the Census; in 2010, there were 42 million. So a much larger share of the black male population was enslaved in 1850 than is under correctional control today.

    That doesn’t keep the statistic Legend offered from being true, or alarming. What’s even more alarming is the number of other statistics he could have offered to show the impact that mass incarceration has had on black men over the past few decades.

    And this, John Legend’s Oscar Speech About Rates of Black Correctional Control is Factually Correct

    There were a lot of topical acceptance speeches tonight. Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette spoke for wage equality for women, and Best Adapted Screenplay winner Graham Moore talked about when he attempted suicide at 16, and asked for anyone who’s ever thought about suicide and gone on living, to talk to a younger person in need. But it was Common’s plea for acceptance, and unity in fight’s for change, and Legend’s comparison of voting rights being taken away from people of color again—via incarceration—that will hopefully make it the speech that everyone remembers and marinates on tomorrow. […]

    Getting back to Legend’s statement—making sure access to the right to vote is kept—which is what the Selma march was for: 7% of the entire African American community is disenfranchised due to felon voting laws. In comparison, only 1.8% of all other races combined are disenfranchised in America due to felon voting laws.

    That extra 5.2% discrepancy is what makes it harder to breathe. And why Legend and Common’s performance and speech were the most important use of airtime in the Oscar telecast.

    Oh, someone looked at Patricia Arquette’s speech betttern I did. Oscars: Patricia Arquette follows call for wage equality with tone-deaf comment on race

    So far, so good. And in fact, Arquette does have a point about wage equality — according to the Institute for Women, the current wage gap won’t close until 2058.

    But about right here is where we have to stop cheerleading for Arquette — because, she appears to have veered into an unfortunate bit of feminist whitesplaining backstage in the press room. As PopSugar reported it, here’s what she said:

    It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

    Oy. The problem is that for “gay people” and “people of color” that whites have “fought for” to in turn fight for wage equality, they cannnot treat all women as a monolithic block. Wage equality still affects women of color disproportionately.

    The exact numbers may vary by analysis, but here’s some data from the 2012 census that backs up the gap. According to the American Association of University Women, in 2012, white, non-Hispanic women made just 78 cents on a white man’s dollar. For other groups, though, the picture was more grim: black women earned just 64 cents on a white man’s dollar, and Latinas clocked in the lowest, making 53 cents on the dollar.

    So yes, Arquette is right in that it’s time to talk about women earning less, and, as a corollary, winding up in careers that pay less. But to ask people of color to fight for white women — when they disproportionately shoulder even more of a wage gap — shows an unfortunate type of feminist myopia at best.

  65. rq says

    9 groundbreaking black poets who revolutionized the written word

    Numerous black poets have made waves in the literary world, from Gwendolyn Brooks, who in 1950 became the first black writer to win a Pulitzer Prize, to Maya Angelou, one of the foremost poets of the 20th century. Writers like Gil Scott-Heron and Amiri Baraka electrified the written word with their sociopolitical statements, while Audre Lorde and Nikki Giovanni wrote radical lines that addressed sexism and racism.

    These are just a few of the pioneering black poets who forged ahead, paving the way for writers that came after them. While this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, these are nine poets you shouldn’t go any longer without reading.

    This Black History Month, take time to appreciate their work with these selections from classic poems.

    The list: Gil Scott-Heron, Audre Lorde, Robert Hayden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Rita Dove and Langston Hughes. With short excerpts in the photos at the link.

    Here’s some privilege. With humour. Natural Hair For White Girls

    While being white does have certain advantages in our society, it also has a lot of downfalls. Chief among them being the fact that the natural hair movement callously excludes us. We can’t simply refuse to shampoo and condition and get that look in the way that women of color can. This is the face and scalp of black privilege, and if we want a more cohesive society, we need to peel that black scalp back and take a look at the systems that oppress us. We need to acknowledge the fact that natural hair is a slap in the face to white women.

    The two black women I know – Acura and Delicious, coworkers of mine – come into the teachers’ lounge every day with a sense of confidence that I could only hope to one day fake. Where does that proud sista-girl disposition come from? It comes from their exotic manes. It comes from their springy locks of coiled defiance, shooting up towards the sky like the fists of black panthers. Their rejection of the patriarchy is perfectly expressed through those gravity defying strands of identity and culture – almost punctuating their visage like a million little exclamation points. Their style asserts their presence, and it’s brilliantly radiant, like a black moon eclipsing the sun, or a cartoon that smoked an exploding cigar. I always want to reach out and touch their hair, and I often do, feigning disgust and contempt as I hide my jealousy and admiration.

    But, how can I have it? How can I get that ethnic flavor? How can we, as white women, cast off the shackles of the patriarchy and achieve true beauty and agency through the power of natural hair? How can we join in and have a part of that look – the part that is naturally owed to us as women?

    Recipe follows, with directions, and the article ends with this paragraph:

    Take that black ladies, now it’s our turn to be Nubian queens! You’ll need to apply the home-made hair dye every week or so, and make sure you maintain a diet high in heavy metals to help offset the amount of ionizing radiation your hair is giving off. But rest assured, you’re now as liberated as women of color. You’ll never have to spend another dollar on cosmetics, and now you can join your sisters of color, hand in hand, lock in lock, in the never ending quest to smash the patriarchy. You go girl.

    Information website on Sharod Kindell with pictures, links, funding links, etc. That’s the man still not receiving adequate health care after being shot by cops and put in jail.

  66. rq says

    Edmund Winston Pettus—Confederate General, Ku Klux Klan leader, U.S. Senator, proud American.

    Revealed: Chelsea ‘racist chant suspect’ named as former Northern Ireland police officer who is now a director of HUMAN RIGHTS charity

    A former police officer and human rights activist has been named as one of the men involved in an allegedly racist incident on the Paris Metro last week involving Chelsea supporters.

    Richard Barklie, 50, from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland was identified after the Metropolitan Police released stills of men they want to speak to in connection with the incident.

    Mr Barklie now works with human rights charity in Northern Ireland which helps people affected by the troubles. […]

    Tonight, Mr Barklie issued a statement through his lawyer in which he admitted involvement in an ‘incident’ that resulted in Souleymane Sylla being ‘unable to enter part of the train’.

    He said he had an account he wanted to provide to police that would explain the ‘context and circumstances’.

    Mr Barklie denied singing any racist songs; said he travelled to the game alone; insisted he did not know any of the other individuals captured on video footage of the incident; and said he has never been part of any ‘group or faction’ of Chelsea fans.

    The statement was issued by Belfast solicitor Kevin Winters.

    ‘We act on behalf of Mr Barklie identified as one of the people sought by authorities investigating an incident on the Paris Metro on 16/2/15 ,’ it said.

    ‘We contacted London Metropolitan Police today to advise that our client is happy to assist with inquiries.

    ‘Pending formal engagement with police, our client is anxious to put on record his total abhorrence for racism and any activity associated with it.

    ‘As someone who has spent years working with disadvantaged communities in Africa and India he can point to a cv in human rights work which undermines any suggestion he is racist.

    ‘Today a senior official in the World Human Rights Forum confirmed their support for him.

    ‘Mr Barklie is a Chelsea season ticket holder and has travelled to matches for over 20 years now without incident.

    ‘He travelled alone to the Paris St Germain match and has no knowledge whatsoever of the identities of the other people depicted in recent YouTube video releases. He wants to stress that he was not and never has been part of any group or faction of Chelsea supporters.
    As someone who has spent years working with disadvantaged communities in Africa and India he can point to a cv in human rights work which undermines any suggestion he is racist
    Solicitor Kevin Winters

    ‘He did not participate in racist chanting and singing and condemns any behaviour supporting that.

    ‘He accepts he was involved in an incident when a person now known to him as Souleymane S was unable to enter a part of the train.

    ‘He has an account to give to police which will explain the context and circumstances as they prevailed at that particular time.

    ‘In the meantime pending that, he wants to put on record his sincerest apologies for the trauma and stress suffered by Mr Souleymane.

    ‘He readily acknowledges that any judgement on the integrity of his apology will be kept in abeyance pending the outworkings of the investigation.

    ‘Given the extremely sensitive nature of the issues engaged we urge upon all media outlets to exercise as much restraint as possible when commenting on the case.

    ‘We accept on behalf of our client that public interest demands nothing but total indignation and condemnation from all media reporting but such reporting ought not to persist at the expense of undermining Mr Barklie’s right to a fair trial

    ‘Tonight London Met confirmed with us that arrangements were in hand to take the investigation to the next stage.’ […]

    Five people have so far been suspended from Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground following investigations into the incident.

    The club has reiterated its promise to ban for life anyone proved to have been involved in the altercation and is helping police in the UK and Paris.

    Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said the club are ‘appalled’ by the racial abuse, adding that owner Roman Abramovich is also ‘disgusted’.

    Meanwhile, police are seeking a gang of men, believed to be Chelsea fans, who were heard shouting racist chants at London St Pancras station on Wednesday evening.

    A member of the public reported the men, who had travelled by train from Paris Gare du Nord, British Transport Police (BTP) said.

    It is believed they were returning home after attending Chelsea’s match with PSG.

    Well, if he says he isn’t racist, then he isn’t racist. Isn’t that how it works for white men? Also, he apologized, so everything is A-OK now!!!

    Teaching Ferguson: How colleges are incorporating race cases in the classroom

    As the play opened, a young black man lay motionless beneath a tarp. He symbolized unarmed black men who’ve died because someone — a twitchy neighbor, an inexperienced police officer — perceived him as a threat. Specifically, Vaughn Midder was portraying Trayvon Martin, shot to death by a neighborhood watch captain in 2012, when Midder was a college sophomore. As they rehearsed at the University of Maryland, the cast members waited to hear whether the Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot Michael Brown would be indicted.

    Midder noticed students taking selfies next to the tarp. It upset him and he demanded that the photos be deleted. To them, it was just a play; to Midder — who has been pulled over by police — what happened to Martin could have happened to him.

    “I’m already aware of the fact that by being a young black man, I could be harassed by police,” he said. “I don’t want that feeling intensified, knowing that people have pictures of me pretending to be dead.”

    Martin, Ferguson and their galvanizing ripple effects have inspired universities across the country to incorporate racially charged tragedies into their curricula, sometimes in novel ways.

    An assistant professor of English and film studies at Hampton University in Virginia has told her students to produce documentaries exploring their points of view about Brown, Martin and other young black men, connecting their deaths to the civil rights movement. […]

    A postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis is teaching a new class called “The Politics of Black Criminality and Popular Protest,” in which he discusses the transition from slavery to the formal and informal systems of criminal justice that have affected blacks throughout history. (The university’s library is partnering with other St. Louis-area universities and organizations to archive the outpouring of community- and media-generated content after Ferguson.)

    “There is a long history of segregation and control and policies that are meant to maintain racial and class boundaries,” said Douglas Flowe, the postdoc.

    Flowe, the son of a New York police officer, has heard the stories of the threats his father faced. But he said he also has been wrongly accused of transporting drugs when he was a college student.

    “I don’t want to talk about Ferguson as some isolated event, but that it is part of a continuum,” he said. “If you’re under the impression that the forces that created issues of criminality aren’t as deep as they really are, it’s easy to have the perception that having a black president, and the advances of the civil rights movement, would simply be enough to right all the wrongs.” […]

    Some law professors are struggling with how to talk to their students about Ferguson and Staten Island, said Georgetown Law professor Paul Butler. Butler, a former prosecutor, said he and many of his peers became attorneys because they were inspired by Thurgood Marshall and others who fought the battle for civil rights in the courts. Now, he said, many professors are less optimistic about the legal system’s potential to eliminate racial injustice.

    Last month, at a workshop of the Society of American Law Teachers, Butler started thinking about how law professors in 1965 might have taught the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. “Would a law professor say, ‘On one hand, demonstrators are being beat up by police; on the other hand, they really should’ve gotten a permit’? To me, that even-handedness would miss the point,” he said. “In Selma, the teachable moment wasn’t about a permit; the moment was the courage of the marchers and how they changed the law. I don’t want this to be a Selma that I look back on and regret that I didn’t step up.” […]

    At Baltimore’s Morgan State University, another historically black college, journalism professor Karen Houppert knew she couldn’t send her students to Missouri to cover the protests over Brown’s death, so she had them investigate Baltimore’s new curfew law, which went into effect the day before Brown was killed , aimed at making at-risk kids safer. Children younger than 14 are required to be indoors after 9 p.m., ages 14 to 16 by 10 or 11.

    “What I hoped they’d take away from this is that Ferguson is not so far away from Baltimore and we have many of the same issues going on in our city,” said Houppert, who has written pieces for The Washington Post. “They can feel empowered to investigate and dig into and share with the public.”

    Houppert’s students examined the controversial law from the perspective of kids, their parents, city council members, police and employees of the curfew centers where violators are taken. The students created a Web site that includes videos, photos and infographics, and their stories and video were picked up by Baltimore City Paper. Among the students’ findings: The curfew centers seemed to function largely as a babysitting service, and more black youths than whites were detained.

    Houppert, who is the only white faculty member in her department, said the racial disparity startled her. Also startling, she said, was that the student journalists were afraid of being stopped for curfew violations, though they all were older than 17.

    The students said that while the law’s intent to keep kids safe seemed genuine, “intention probably doesn’t matter that much because lawmakers aren’t in charge of enforcing it,” said Asha Glover, who analyzed the detention data. “Blacks were still getting the effects. It may not be racially motivated, but I’m not sure that always comes through.” […]

    Maria Varela, who worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Selma in 1963 and 1964 and lectures at colleges, said students’ role in the civil rights movement is de-emphasized in textbooks. She tells undergrads that Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Johnson weren’t the only ones who changed history. Young people did, too. Confronting inequality should be about more than marching, wearing T-shirts and creating hashtags, she said: It’s about knocking on doors, finding out people’s concerns and discovering potential leaders in the community who can address those concerns.

    “There was anger and disappointment in Ferguson way before Michael Brown was shot,” Varela said. “People have been misled into believing that social change happens with big events and ‘great man’ leaders. It’s only a movement if people start going door-to-door and finding out what people in Staten Island and Ferguson and all communities need to deal with the oppression in their life.”

    The U-Md. play, “Collidescope: Adventures in Pre- and Post-Racial America,” ran in November. In addition to Trayvon Martin, Vaughn Midder played several roles in the gender- and race-bending play. He was a slave, a Southern belle who owned slaves, a 7-year-old in a low-income family and Paul Robeson. The last scene, which included the entire multiracial cast, was of a memorial for Brown. Actors carried candles, flowers, stuffed animals and signs saying “RIP.” One actress, a black woman, was so overwhelmed she began sobbing after she left the stage.

    Midder told the cast that if anyone wanted to discuss the issues raised in the play, he’d be glad to get together. Last month, a white student texted him. She said she’d been thinking about the show and the media coverage of the police shootings. She said she wanted to talk about the Brown case and how people feel when they’re perceived by others through the lens of ethnicity. He said he’d be happy to meet.

    Note the Intent is not magic effect of the Baltimore curfew.

    Two parter via the Grauniad, an examination of Selma vs two other big movies in the Best Picture category, Boyhood and American Sniper, and their depictions of black vs. white childhood and masculinity. Both parts are excellent reading, though a bit long, so here they are:
    Boyhood, Selma and American Sniper: race meets masculinity on film – part one

    As film-makers walk down the red carpet this awards season, I keep wondering: what makes a man, or a boy, in the American imagination? How is he constructed, in relation to patriarchy and race? Consider the portrayal of manhood and masculinity in three male-centered American biopics, each up for awards this season: Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Ava DuVernay’s Selma, and Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper.

    There are overarching themes and, to be sure, significant differences. Ellar Coltrane’s portrayal of Mason, constructed over 12 years, is ostensibly about a fictional character, while David Oyelowo’s MLK and Bradley Cooper’s Kyle are fictional representations of actual Americans (both legends, although for extraordinarily different reasons). Boyhood and American Sniper were directed by white men (Linklater was nominated for a directing Oscar; Eastwood was not), while Selma was directed by a black woman (also snubbed by the academy).

    Mason and MLK’s stories meditate on the intimate ways violence shapes the life of the American man, while Kyle’s mortal infliction of violence as the sniper with the most confirmed kills in US history is mostly praised without critique. Mason’s and MLK’s stories both took years to be told, before receiving critical praise and modest commercial success, while American Sniper was on screens just two years after the book it was based on was published, before becoming the highest grossing war movie ever released in American theaters.

    But considering them together – and, even more so, considering America’s very different popular and critical receptions to the filmed portrayals of these three males – can give us some insight into how the United States thinks about boyhood and manhood (and also into patriotism, violence, patriarchy and race) in 2015.[…]

    I happened to be in Europe the first time I watched it, and was amazed at how a three-hour parade of specifically American banality held almost everyone in the audience with rapt attention. Abroad, I felt as though Boyhood was transmitting some universally digestible message, but it was also saying something profound about what it has meant to be an American male post-9/11. Mason’s boyhood incubates at the same time as Kyle’s manhood does in American Sniper. Both elevate, almost obsessively, a 21st century American propensity for looking inwardly towards the family, and how it takes care of developing men. Sniper’s focus is on a war zone, and Boyhood’s in suburban Texas, but both of their worlds – like much of post-9/11 America – are really only concerned with developing the egos and wellbeing of white males, turning blinders on to just about everything and everyone around them. Boyhood is at least incredibly sensitive and touching in considering all the violent forces – particularly those which come at the hands of abusive men – which make a man out of a boy.

    And yet, it annoyed the hell out of me on two fronts: its racism of omission, and the precious way it placed white American boyhood on a pedestal to be worshipped, both of which bolster the idea that all lives do not matter equally.

    It felt absurd to watch a movie filmed in Texas, over the past dozen years, almost exclusively about white people. Texas is, after all, about 40% Hispanic, but you’d never know it from Mason’s friends or family. Particularly when viewing Boyhood overseas, making sense of Linklater’s choice to set his magnum opus in an all-white Lone Star State (on the Mexican border) was hard to understand. It felt all the more ridiculous when Mason’s dad (Ethan Hawke) campaigns for Barack Obama, a scene in which the topic of prejudice is briefly broached but without any actual people of color. […]

    It is in this world that Mason becomes a man: a world where people of color largely do not exist, and when they most significantly (if briefly) do, they appear mostly just as foils for a white savior. This brings me to my second problem with Boyhood, which took me some time to clarify in my mind: how precious it treated Mason’s journey, and how late into life white males are allowed to hold on to their innocent boyhood compared to men of color.

    Mason makes a lot of mistakes. Some he pays for, but most he does not. And yet, we see him as an angel in ways we are unlikely to ever see a black or Hispanic boy.

    When he is unfairly persecuted by the violence of his stepfathers, your heart as a viewer is rooting for him. Being a queer person myself, when Mason wears nail polish to openly challenge the concepts of masculinity around him, I was totally cheering for him. But I was annoyed, in retrospect, to find myself so emotionally invested in the success of an average white boy as he headed off towards his manhood by the end of the film. […]

    When Mason and his friend aren’t punished for drinking and driving – indeed, when we are left longing so clearly for Mason’s success despite his being a rather mediocre shit – it reinforces a supremacist mindset about the value of darling white boyhood, while black and Hispanic boyhood, not to mention girlhood of any race, is not considered even worthy of mention. Linklater’s film is somewhat awkwardly titled, when you consider he cast his own daughter Lorelei as one of the leads, then directed her for 12 years only to title the film Boyhood. A film called Girlhood, about young women of color, wouldn’t come from the United States at all, but from France.

    There is a killjoy quality, admittedly, in reading a movie one really likes in such a way and not just accepting it as mere entertainment. As I’ve written before, I wish this weren’t so; but, I’d wish even more strongly to not live in a world where patriarchy and white supremacy weren’t so rampant that their subtle reinforcement in films wasn’t so insidious.

    Shortly after I first saw Boyhood, I flew to Missouri and spent time where Michael Brown had been killed. It is inconceivable, based on my years of reporting, that a white boy acting similarly would have been mowed down in his boyhood by Darren Wilson as brown Brown was in his. I also talked to five brothers (ages three to 16) about their fears of the police, and I couldn’t help question why their brown boyhood is considered expendable while a character like Mason’s is so beloved. As artist Oasa DuVerney said of Renisha McBride (a young black woman who was shot dead after crashing her car and knocking on a house for help), “Our kids are not allowed to make mistakes. We can’t do it, because they will show us no mercy.”

    Indeed. Should we consider, then, the repeatedly constructed innocence we cheer for of the semi-fictional Mason’s boyhood in comparison to the presumed guilt (with mortal consequences) of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, or Trayvon Martin’s boyhood? Or Renisha McBride’s girlhood? Or young John Crawford’s manhood? Can one accept Boyhood’s message unquestioningly and still believe black lives matter? To quote hooks again: “I don’t think we will get much further in terms of decolonizing our minds” unless people like me who liked Boyhood can also critically examine that accepting Mason’s white privilege is indissoluble from his transition from boyhood to manhood.

    That’s part one, here’s part two: Selma and American Sniper: men depicted in black and white – part two

    When it came to people of color making better lives for themselves, Ava Duvernay, the director of Selma, was not “interested in making a white-savior movie”. [note this quote, and let it sink in next time someone wants to argue Johnson got an unfair portrayal]

    DuVernay did start her film, which centers on Martin Luther King’s role in the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, by focusing on girlhood, opening with the death of four black girls who were blown up at 16th Street Baptist Church. The scene is a lyrically haunting nightmare of the disregard for the worth of black lives. Yet while it sets in motion the urgency that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lewis and others feel as they fight for black lives over the next two hours, it is never a revenge film. (American Sniper is similarly set in motion by acts of terrorism, but quickly devolves into a orgiastically pornographic revenge fantasy, waged against the wrong enemy to boot.)

    Disappointingly, given it is one of the few feature films to be directed by a woman in any given year, Selma moves away from those girls and on to the men for the bulk of the film. Manhood – as it also is in American Sniper – is constructed in Selma largely in the absence of women, save for the frozen-out wife. Except for a supporting role from Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, and an even smaller role for Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper, Selma takes us to the civil rights domain of straight men. Coretta doesn’t get the credit she deserves, and Bayard Rustin – the openly gay co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, played by Ruben Santiago-Hudson – is kept well on the sidelines, as he often was in real life.

    With these caveats, DuVernay’s portrayal of black manhood – usually given short shrift by Hollywood – is still rich and deep. David Oyelowo’s Martin Luther King is not an American man or even an African American man, but a black man. Much of Selma’s criticism, I’m convinced, flows from the film’s unabashed blackness: we in America are used to seeing the sanitized King, the neutered King, the palatable King marketed to white consumers who can be trotted out once a year without defending or even recognizing blackness.

    Even conservatives embrace the “color-blind” King in 2015, who is allegedly proof that racial oppression is over. A powerful, challenging King is at odds with a Hollywood tradition of rewarding black actors to play “subservient” roles, as Oyelowo (who was snubbed for an Oscar nomination) recently pointed out, noting how long it has taken for MLK to be filmed as “the center of his own narrative”.

    The King who has familiarly resided in the American imagination has done so in a way which renders him so powerless, he is mostly a boy. [….]

    Selma presents such an assertive black manhood, which is the very opposite, in many ways, of Linklater’s white boyhood and Eastwood’s obsessively defensive innocent white manhood. Counter to common black tropes typically recycled in Hollywood (as identified in Donald Bogle’s excellent book Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies and Bucks), Oyelowo’s King is a black man in full. He is sexual and not a neutered saint, his marital affairs acknowledged with a refreshing frankness. Personally, he has many doubts (including of white politicians). Professionally, he is assertive and pragmatic, utilizing radical non-violent resistance as an offensive strategy and not, as oft portrayed a half century later, out of passivity and defensiveness. He butts heads figuratively and literally with white men.

    Selma’s MLK is black as hell, viewed in a segregated black world through a black lens. Bradford Young, Selma’s black cinematographer who also shot 2011’s Pariah, was educated at Howard University. There, like director (and one time Spike Lee cinematographer) Ernest Dickerson, his “training was geared toward exposing my community”. This training comes through in Selma’s rich hues and deep browns – so much so that the film could almost be watched with the sound off. […]

    Selma’s international cast and crew placed MLK’s manhood within this type of world blackness and not in relation to American whiteness. This, I am convinced, is largely behind the brouhaha over Selma’s “historical inaccuracies”, which is so hysterically out of proportion, rightwing websites are actually defending the honor of President Lyndon Johnson. As a historian myself, I hardly dismiss LBJ’s role in civil rights history out of hand. I have been oddly fascinated by LBJ since I was a teenager, and I’ve read more books on him than on any other president. (Indeed, this is a stack of Johnson biographies next to my bed, topped by a vase of LBJ’s face.) I’m well aware of discrepancies between certain historical accounts of LBJ and the Selma script, and may have some made different choices myself than DuVerney and British screenwriter Paul Webb.

    But as a trained film-maker, I know Hollywood is not the go to place for factual history. Films are fantasies which must be read. Even still, for all of Maureen Dowd’s angst, DuVernay gets the spirit of LBJ as a simultaneous force for and against civil rights progress pretty much spot on.

    In Selma, both MLK and LBJ must be read as characters who elucidate certain truths about their eras and audiences in 1965 and 2015. As a character in Selma, LBJ performs the role of obdurate-cum-helpful ally, a function most white ally politicians in the 1960s (including LBJ himself much of the time) performed. There is nothing false in Selma about the essence of that. True, LBJ strong-armed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through Congress. He was also deeply invested in maintaining his own power, and would refer to civil rights legislation as “the n*gg*r bill”, and said, before sending Thurgood Marshall to the US supreme court: “When I appoint a n*gg*r to the court, I want everyone to know he’s a n*gg*r.”

    DuVernay felt no need to portray LBJ as the American negro’s savior; instead, she made a film about a black man’s battle against white supremacy. LBJ’s defense merely meant that Selma was being held to a higher standard for “historical accuracy” than, say, the film Exodus was, with its all-white cast set in ancient Egypt. Since the poll tax, black American citizens have become somewhat used to being held to different and more rigorous standard, even when they are presenting something essentially honest. Fantasies which reinforce white supremacy – ie that all important people in history must have been white, whether they obtained the vote in the American south or ruled over ancient Egypt or are worthy of a three-hour film about their childhood – rarely face any such scrutiny. […]

    Morbidly, it says a great deal about the US that American Sniper opened its assault on moviegoers on Martin Luther King weekend – who was himself murdered by a sniper – by shattering records with the highest grossing opening weekend ever in the month of January (and the highest opening weekend of octogenarian Eastwood’s entire career).

    In American Sniper, Kyle completes four tours of duty in Iraq to allegedly become the most “successful” sniper in American history. Cooper’s eyes are pretty to look at, and if you don’t mind children being hunted in a rifle’s sights, it’s a rather entertaining movie. I did not hate it as much as liberal friends of mine who haven’t seen it (and who assumed I would detest it), nor did I find it to be “almost too dumb to criticize” or even entirely simplistic. It is not a stupid movie as much as it is a manipulative movie which needs to be read very carefully in order to subvert its slick and well constructed messages.

    Of course the historical accuracy of Eastwood’s Kyle hasn’t been challenged as vociferously as DuVernay’s LBJ’s was. Kyle’s estate may have had to settle for character defamation, but his story is so familiar in the American canon that it needn’t be questioned: he is the prototypical protective white man who saves American innocents from savagery. Kyle – who called any Iraqi in his path overseas a “savage” much more often in real life than in Cooper’s rendition – portrays a type of American manhood that is instantly recognizable in the United States. American history, fictional and imagined, is rife with such white men ostensibly protecting women and children (not to mention enlightenment and freedom) from “savages”.

    Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan (the actor and the president), the Lone Ranger, Pa from Little House on the Prairie, Buffalo Bill, Joe the Plumber: Americans immediately know, and rarely challenge the authority of, heroes like Kyle – our rugged white men whose manifest destiny is to stand as the last line of defense between civilization and barbarism. […]

    American Sniper does not pin the shitshow of violence upon the central lie it perpetuates, which led to the deaths of more than a hundred thousand people, only a small fraction of which were Kyle’s comrades in arms. The film is more of an opportunity for Cooper, with his seductive eyes and recently spornosexual body, to prove his manhood as Kyle shoots “savages” and protects the woman on his cellphone some 7,000 miles away. Mind you, these Iraqi “savages” are at home in a country Kyle’s government invaded under false pretenses. Kyle and his buddies break into home after home in ways Floridians (or citizens of the 20-odd American states with stand-your-ground laws) would never tolerate from a domestic intruder, let alone a foreign invader.

    But Iraq is a colony ripe for perfectly innocent exploitation in American Sniper. Kyle, inexplicably, is supposed to remain an innocent in this equation, reifying a phenomena Fred Moten and Stefano Harney describe in their book The Undercommons which is meant to elicit our ire at the natives and sympathy for the invaders:

    In Michael Parenti’s classic anti-imperial analysis of Hollywood movies, he points to the “upside-down” way that the “make-believe media” portrays colonial settlement. In films like Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) or Shaka Zulu (1987), the settler is portrayed as surrounded by “natives”, inverting, in Parenti’s view, the role of aggressor so that colonialism is made to look like self-defense. Indeed, aggression and self-defense are reversed in these movies.

    What Eastwood is doing here; quite simply, is remaking the American western in Iraq; it’s an inverted, but familiar, world where white men aggressively steal from brown folk, then rush to “defend” their own women and children. American Sniper flirts with examining violence and how it transforms Kyle the boy into a man who earns his living by blowing off strangers’ heads in a strange land. Eastwood initially connects the violence of hunting and bullying as formative to a sniper’s development. He even dangles the possibility of book ending his film this way, showing a shell-shocked Kyle teaching his son to hunt in the movie’s final moments. But then Eastwood chickens out and doesn’t dramatize the most interesting irony of Kyle’s life: that he was shot dead in a shooting range by another Iraq war vet. Unable to bear showing our hero killed (at the hands of another vet who also never had any business going to Iraq), after we’ve watched him kill for two hours, Eastwood reduces Kyle’s death to a title card, ending the movie with video footage of jingoistic crowds praising Kyle’s corpse.

    The only philosophical questions and moral dilemmas American Sniper ultimately seems interested in concern how the innocence of white manhood can be protected, and how it can be harmed by violence done to (but not by) it. Kyle does reflect upon the morality of what he’s doing, but it’s a worry couched in how his sense of his own honor and innocence may be impacted; it is not invested in the cost to those he is killing. For Iraqis I imagine watching American Sniper would be like black Americans watching a film about Darren Wilson which focused on his anguish and showed nothing more of Michael Brown than a Hollywood rendition of cops indiscriminately killing anonymous black youth. […]

    Considering these films together, and how they’ve been received by the American people, can give us a sense about why American manhood is constructed so often while denying the influences of feminism and queerness (or even acknowledging the presence of women at all). We can also glean clues as to why America continues to be a nation where black and brown boys and men are so feared that we are disproportionately killed, arrested, convicted and unemployed.

    Does American Sniper explain why Craig Stephen Hicks killed three Muslim students in North Carolina? No. But does the nation’s reaction to American Sniper help understand why news outlets downplay the triple murders of Deah Barakat, Yuso Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha as “just” over a parking dispute, and not as a mass murder? Or to explain why Hicks’ mortal violence will never cast suspicion of terrorism upon white men, while media tycoons and legislators expect all Muslims to accept blame for foreign terrorists? You betcha.

    For even in their precious boyhood, white American males have access to the innocence of habeas corpus that their young black and brown brothers simply do not. So it’s really no surprise that American Sniper, a tale of a white American man celebrated for using his gun to kill scores of people of color, was a commercial American hit while Selma was a relative dud. Nothing can temper Americans’ appetite for armed white men: not threats on the life of Anita Sarkeesian, not pleas for peace by MLK after four girls were blown up, not 168 people exploding in Oklahoma.

    Much more so than Selma’s dream of pacifist, transnational blackness, American Sniper is a perfect fantasy for our current conception of manhood in the United States, a nation where violence against women is too often dismissed; where violence by individuals in ethnic groups swiftly casts aspersions on all its members; and yet, where no number of mass shootings by white men – waged in movie theaters, elementary schools, neighborhood congressional meet-ups, or sovereign countries – will ever allow white manhood to be seen as anything but as innocent and pure as young Mason heading off to college at the end of Boyhood.

    Yah, that’s a lot of text, but it was a good analysis.

    There was morning action in STL, protestors went to say ‘good morning’ to Stenger, with this list of demands (see attached photo): Steve Stenger, Good Mourning. STL. Protest. Basically, 1) justice; 2) a moratorium on bench warrants; 3) diversity and 4) resignations of those who are not letting the city of Ferguson move forward.

  67. says

    Should point out, Chelsea have a long history of racist incidents from fans and players. They, along with West Ham supporters, have regularly made gas noises at the supporters of Tottenham, a club particularly associated with Jewish fans, for instance; more Chelsea supporters than any other top English team have been banned for racist chants and songs (, and their main “firm” of football hooligans is a hotbed of white supremacists ( (Note: I support Tottenham, so I can’t be said to be neutral in this, but I stand by my words).

    So they’ve got long form for this most recent racist act. That the man mentioned did development work in Africa hardly insulates from the possibility of his being racist, either (not that you’d think it would, rq). White British men have been going to Africa for centuries, hasn’t stopped most of them from being hideously racist.

  68. rq says

    I would even think that it makes them even more racist, since they can revel in their first-world saviour complex and look down on those less fortunate. Again, perhaps not consciously, but… reinforcing white privilege probably has its effects.
    And thanks for the background on Chelsea. How horrid!!!

  69. rq says

    And this morning @Kristi_Capel of Fox 8 in Ohio referred to the “Jigaboo music” re: the Oscars. She did not know it was a racist slur (I did not even know it was a word). She has apologized on twitter, saying if I offended you.

    White women earn 82¢ for every $ a white man earns. We know that. Black men earn 75¢ for every $ a white man earns. You never hear about it. More such tidbits in the twitter stream there.

    MSNBC shake-up: Al Sharpton to lose nightly show

    The recent suspension of Brian Williams and spotlight on news personalities has caused a shake-up at MSNBC. The Daily Beast is reporting that the Rev. Al Sharpton may lose his nightly time slot. His show, “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton,” has been on the air since 2011 and has had a successful run. At issue is a steady slide in viewership that will cause news correspondent Chris Hayes to be replaced by the “Rachel Maddow Show.” Maddow’s show will move from its current 9 p.m. slot to 8 p.m., while a search is underway for a new host for the 9 p.m. time slot left by Maddow.

    It is rumored that Sharpton’s show will move from its nightly 6 p.m. time slot to a weekend only show. Sharpton attracts a solid 35 percent Black audience and is considered a lightning rod of controversy because of his activism on behalf of the oppressed. The source at MSNBC stated it was also part of a change in the political mindset of the programming stating, “Going left was a brilliant strategy while it lasted, and made hundreds of millions of dollars for Comcast, but now it doesn’t work anymore…The goal is to move away from left-wing TV.”

    There has been no word from the Sharpton camp on the rumored changes at MSNBC.

    Ah, rumoured. Well, I’ll wait for some confirmation – while Sharpton takes issue with many of the younger activists and protestors out there, I still think it would be a shame for him to lose the platform he has.

    In New York, Indictment of an Officer Divides Chinese-Americans

    For Chinese immigrants in New York City and elsewhere, recent events have provided an opportunity for a rare public reckoning with one of their adopted country’s most volatile fault lines. Though Officer Liang and one of the two New York officers killed in an anti-police ambush in December shared a Chinese heritage, Chinese-Americans have so far figured little in the debates over police misconduct and racial injustice that have roiled the country.

    Now Chinese-Americans, too, find themselves divided.

    Some have hesitated, reluctant to find politics or racial discrimination in the indictment of Officer Liang. Others have hailed the charges against him as a means of improving relations between the police and all minorities. But for some, the indictment is nothing less than the scapegoating of a young officer whose parents may have to live without their only son — and a call to arms for a minority group that has never been as politically active as blacks or Hispanics.

    “We don’t want to be pushed around anymore, or picked on anymore,” Mr. Gim said. “We’re going to fight back.” [..]

    “Peter Liang being Asian only means that all cops need to be held accountable, regardless of skin color,” said Cathy Dang, the executive director of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, an advocacy group in New York that works with Asian immigrants from several countries. “We should use this indictment as fuel for us to organize even harder to hold the white officers who’ve killed accountable.”

    Councilwoman Margaret Chin, a Democrat who represents the Chinatown neighborhood, also called for Officer Liang to be indicted, saying the filing of charges would be a step toward reforming a police force that she said has unfairly targeted Asians as well as blacks and Latinos.

    Officers have not had nearly as many fatal encounters with Chinese, she and other Chinatown leaders acknowledged. The last one to attract attention in New York was the fatal shooting in 1995 of a 16-year-old boy, Yong Xin Huang, who was playing with a pellet gun in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Two decades before that, Chinatown residents marched on City Hall to protest the alleged police beating of Peter Yew, an engineer who had been a bystander at the scene of a traffic dispute.

    “Let the judicial system take its course,” Ms. Chin said in an interview. “We can reform the whole system so everyone can get equal treatment.”

    In some ways, Officer Liang’s case seems all too easy to slice along racial lines. Like Mr. Gurley, the shooting victim, the Brooklyn district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson, is black; the judge who oversaw the officer’s arraignment, Justice Danny K. Chun of State Supreme Court, is Korean-American. After Justice Chun granted the prosecutors’ request to release the officer on his own recognizance, Mr. Gurley’s aunt spat out: “Asian judge!”

    Even so, Ms. Dang said she hoped to encourage Asian-Americans to find common cause with blacks. Her group had previously called for the indictments of the officers involved in the deaths of Mr. Garner and other unarmed black men.

    “When the Peter Liang case happened, it did make it a little more complicated to navigate between our different communities,” she said, adding, “I actually think there’s a growing investment in the organizing, especially by young Asian-Americans.”

    The community leaders rallying around Officer Liang say they sympathize with Mr. Gurley’s family. But Officer Liang’s parents — who work in a restaurant and a garment factory and speak almost no English — are vulnerable as well, they said.

    To them, second-degree manslaughter is too harsh a charge for what they say was a mistake. They accuse Mr. Thompson, a Democrat who has criticized law enforcement practices that affect minorities disproportionately, of bowing to political pressure after the officer linked to Mr. Garner’s death was not indicted.[…]

    Bona Sun, one of those who is backing Officer Liang, said the news of his indictment had almost immediately prompted “heated debates” in her social circle about whether Chinese parents should continue to support their children in becoming officers. Of the more than 2,100 Asian-Americans within the department’s uniformed ranks — about 6 percent of the total — roughly half are Chinese-American, police statistics show.

    That figure has grown tenfold in the last 25 years. That it is not bigger, she said, is both a cause and a symptom of how little mainstream political power her community can claim.

    “We are very vulnerable,” she said. “We don’t speak up.”

  70. rq says

    Here’s another on the Chelsea fan’s apology: Richard Barklie, Chelsea fan involved in Paris train incident, apologizes through lawyer

    Barklie, a season ticket holder at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, does not know any of them other people shown in the Paris video, solicitor Kevin Winters said.

    “He did not participate in racist chanting and singing and condemns any behaviour supporting that,” Winters said. “He accepts he was involved in an incident when a person now known to him as Souleymane S was unable to enter a part of the train.

    “He has an account to give to police which will explain the context and circumstances as they prevailed at that particular time. In the meantime pending that, he wants to put on record his sincerest apologies for the trauma and stress suffered by Mr. Souleymane.”

    Barklie is a director with the World Human Rights Forum, a global organization with offices in Northern Ireland.

    “Pending formal engagement with police, our client is anxious to put on record his total abhorrence for racism and any activity associated with it,” Winters said. “As someone who has spent years working with disadvantaged communities in Africa and India he can point to a CV in human rights work which undermines any suggestion he is racist.”

    Yes, of course, of course. That’s what he says. But the beginning of the article says this:

    Richard Barklie — a former Northern Ireland police officer — denied taking part in any racist chanting but admitted to being involved in the incident where a black man was pushed off a Paris metro train. The incident was captured on video before Chelsea’s Champions League match at Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

    What was that about actions, and louder than words?

    Oscars 2015: Thousands boycott Academy Awards over lack of diversity

    Of everything published in the run up to this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, diversity — or rather, a lack thereof among nominees — undeniably dominated the conversation, both online and off.

    One need look no further than the opening line of tonight’s show for proof of just how much friction 2015’s crop of 100 per cent white acting nominees has caused.

    “Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest — I mean brightest,” joked first-time Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris in reference to the controversy, which he had also addressed with a tongue-in-cheek tweet earlier this month.

    While many on Twitter have been praising Harris for addressing the diversity issue head-on during his opening monologue, the feeds of those who have been loudest in criticizing the Academy for failing to recognize artists of colour haven’t mentioned it at all.

    That’s because they’re not watching the 2015 Oscars.

    As D.C.-based lawyer and creator of the viral #OscarsSoWhite hashtag April Reign writes, “I’m not going to complain about not seeing faces like mine in movies, then turn around & give the #Oscars 3 hours of ratings.”

    On Friday, Reuters reported that several activism groups, including Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, were planning to protest this year’s televised Oscars ceremony while stars arrived on the red carpet.

    “The goal of the protest is to send a message to the Academy, send a message to Hollywood, send a message to the film industry,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, head of the L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable group to AFP last week. “And the message is very simple: you don’t reflect America; your industry doesn’t reflect America. Women, Hispanics, African-Americans, people of colour (are) invisible in Hollywood.”

    The protest was called off, however, just hours before it was set to take place.

    “Upon the request of SELMA director Ava DuVernay, the Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network has agreed to forgo our planned protests of the Oscars today and pursue instead a direct dialogue with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences via Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Dawn Hudson,” wrote Najee Ali, political director of the National Action Network’s Los Angeles chapter in a statement.

    “We continue to be fervent in our mission for expansion and inclusion within the Academy and the motion picture industry as a whole,” Ali’s statement continued. “We salute all the artists being celebrated today at the Oscars while demanding an examination of the sidelining and underrepresentation of artists of color and women artists. Art can change the world and the world is more diverse than this year’s honorees.”

    Oh, and a note on Sean Penn’s green card joke: it was a joke. Sean Penn’s green card comment offends many but not Inarritu

    “I found it hilarious,” Inarritu said after the ceremony. “Sean and I have that kind of brutal (relationship) where only true friendship can survive.”

    Inarritu directed Penn in his 2003 film “21 Grams,” and the pair remain friends. Penn posed for pictures with Inarritu after the ceremony.

    The director, who won three Oscars on Sunday night, said he has told many similarly brutal jokes at Penn’s expense. “I make on him a lot of very tough jokes that I will not tell you,” Inarritu said.

    Joke or not, the remark struck many online as problematic for an awards ceremony that had been criticized for not having more nominees of colour.

    So does Inarritu make fun of Sean Penn for being a wifebeater?
    And jokes between friends should stay exactly that: jokes between friends. Bringing them to the public stage puts them in a whole new context. And I still think it was an awfully insensitive ‘joke’ from Penn. Ha. Ha. Bloody ha.

    I seem to have lost another link re: the Oscars, but then again, there’s probably enough about the Oscars already.

  71. says

    Some right-wingers from southern states have decided to say and do more stupid stuff, and that includes celebrating the anniversary of the assassination of Lincoln:

    […] The League of the South recently announced it will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assasination this coming April, in case there were any lingering doubts about where their sentiments lie.

    […] Institute on the Constitution, proudly hosted a speaker who argued that “President Obama is not eligible to be president of the United States because he is not a ‘natural born citizen’ as defined by Article II of the Constitution, which was based on Deuteronomy 17,” […]

    In 2004, the far-right Constitution Party tried to recruit Moore [Judge Roy Moore of “no gay marriage” infamy] to run for president on its ticket. […]

    Salon link.
    Religion Dispatches link.

    Cross posted from the Lounge.

  72. Saad says

    Zimmerman won’t face civil rights violation charges for killing Trayvon Martin>

    The U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday it will not file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012.

    The department said it had not found sufficient evidence that Zimmerman intentionally violated the civil rights of Martin, 17.

    The announcement comes as the Justice Department also investigates Darren Wilson, a police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August.

    Both incidents sparked nationwide outcry from civil rights advocates who have pressured the Obama administration to press charges against the two men for acting on racial bias.

    Thursday will be the third anniversary of Martin’s shooting.

  73. rq says

    And Saad posts it before I can, if I find any more on that I will post it up, but yes, there you have it, no civil rights violations in Zimmerman’s murder of Martin. Nice, that.
    Anyway, bunch of mish-mash to get through.

    Feb 23 2015
    Crowd-funding Campaign Wants to Pay Back Amen Break Creator

    It’s the best-known sample of all time. It might be the most-heard six seconds of sound in modern recording.

    But before it became the “Amen break,” the signature riff was part of The Winstons’ song “Amen, Brother.”

    And so, how much did the artists who actually produced the original sound earn from their “success”? Well, that’ll be … nothing, apart from the original revenues from the 1969 release. Nothing in royalties from its use … well, seemingly everywhere. (N.W.A.? Oasis? Futurama? Check.)

    Zip. Zero. The drummer, Gregory Coleman, died homeless in 2006. Richard L. Spencer, the vocalist and sax player you hear on the classic cut, owned the copyright but never got a cent from its reuse. Forget Searching for Sugarman. BBC tracking down Richard L. Spencer (picture, top) may be the even bigger story of a lost and unsung musical hero, all but disappearing after 1971.

    So now, one crowd funding project wants to right the wrong, doing through donations what the international intellectual property system couldn’t do for an independent musician.

    The project is the brainchild of Martyn Webster, a 42-year old DJ from the UK. Webster fits the MO of the whole Amen break-sampling scene, making electro, hiphop, and rap in the 80s and 90s. So, he’s just a DJ who loved this musical gesture and wanted to give back. The plan: raise money, then give it to Richard L. Spencer to make up for years and years of success given to other artists.

    Mr. Webster writes, simply:

    If you have ever written or sold any music with the amen break, or even just enjoyed one of the countless hundreds and hundreds of tunes that contain it over various genres and styles of music, please donate towards the good cause of the worldwide music community giving something back to the man behind the legendary breakbeat.

    That message seems to have resonated. In just five days, the project has blasted past its original £1,000 target to net a whopping £10,529 in funds – not bad for what amounts to little more than “passing the hat.” It’s a perfect case in which small funds add up: 940 people contributed to that big number. And it’s getting attention; I saw it via Facebook on a German blog, but the mighty Rolling Stone has also taken notice. […]

    Postlog: As several people have pointed out to me, there is a fairly essential flaw in the goals of this project which none of the coverage so far seems to have addressed. The essence of the “Amen break” isn’t the song – it’s the drum solo. You can’t hear Richard L. Spencer (sax and vocals) in the actual sample. Yes, technically speaking, Richard L. Spencer owns the copyright – but copyright law here has utterly failed to be meaningful in the usage of the sample, let alone enforceable. I wonder why, for instance, the crowd-funding project doesn’t at least split the money between Mr. Spencer and Gregory Coleman’s heirs. Under copyright law, the publishing rights to a sample would absolutely belong to Mr. Spencer; Mr. Coleman’s role as a drummer was work-for-hire and he would never get royalties unless he had a writing credit. But we’re not talking about copyright laws or royalties; this is just a donation project. I’ve asked the project for their take on this, even though I think that it’s still admirable to give money to the surviving member of The Winstons.

    Answer: for now, it all goes to Richard. One issue is, he’s the one they can find. Martyn explains:

    As above, all money raised will go to Richard.
    Some people have said some should go to the daughter and step-daughter of Gregory Coleman (the drummer).
    If we are able to get in contact with them then it is definitely something that could also happen.

    That conversation for now remains between Martyn and Richard.

    This is already gone and done, but still: Here at the US Commission on Civil Rights discussion at UMSL. Livestream should be available.

    Sheriff that Laughed about Flash Banging a Toddler, Was Just Shot By Murderous Rogue Cop. If I believed in karma…

    Terrell has been the subject of a number of reports at The Free Thought Project, because he is the law enforcement official who authorized the “no knock raid” that maimed and nearly killed a young toddler. Terrell then later broke a promise to pay the family’s medical bills when he left them to take care of it on their own.

    On Sunday, Sheriff Terrell and Deputy William Zigan were dispatched to a domestic disturbance that involved former Gainesville city police officer Anthony Giaquinta. Giaquinta was recently fired from his job at the Gainesville Police Department, but as of now the reason for his termination is unknown.

    When police arrived on the scene, they found Giaquinta’s ex-wife dead in the garage of the home.

    The suspect then shot both Terrell and Zigan, then fled the scene and began a search that ended just before midnight, when police found the bodies of two men, including Anthony Giaquinta.

    Missouri elementary schools have largest disparity btwn black and white suspension rates, says a report from the Civil Rights Project.

    After Ferguson, Missouri Legislator Wants To Keep Police Videos Private

    State Sen. Doug Libla (R) introduced a bill that would exempt any videos taken by police, including everything from body cameras to dashboard cameras, from public release.

    Currently, any member of the public can request such material through the state’s open records law, with a few narrow exemptions including cases involving juveniles or open investigations. If it becomes law, Libla’s bill would ban the public from viewing any videos.

    “Any recording captured by a camera” used by or attached to a police officer “shall not be a public record for purposes of the state’s open records law… and shall not be disclosed by a law enforcement agency except upon order of a court in the course of a criminal investigation or prosecution or civil litigation,” the bill reads. The text also adds that “no law enforcement agency shall be required by the state to provide cameras… to officers employed by the agency, not shall the state require any peace officer to wear such cameras.”

    The Missouri Press Association and American Civil Liberties Union have both testified against the bill, citing a need for transparency.

    “We should not be in a state where secret police records are the norm,” said Sheldon Lineback, the executive director of the Missouri Press Association. “Refusing to release records can only lead to mistrust.”

    Others, including Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D), have expressed concerns about providing more access to police videos.

    “Currently, Missouri’s Sunshine Law provides news media and entertainment producers nearly unfettered access to videos from body-worn cameras. Adoption of body-worn cameras must not lead to a new era of voyeurism and entertainment television at the expense of Missourians’ privacy,” Koster recently wrote. “Therefore, I urge [state lawmakers] to consider amendments…to protect such video footage from those who would monetize it or use it to exploit the people it depicts.”

    #Ferguson becomes election issue. @MayorSlay-backed candidate attacks @MeganEllyia for supporting #BlackLivesMatter. See the pictures, but in short, he accuses the competition of welcoming outside agitators to Ferguson and blasts her for participation in protests.

  74. rq says

    We Are Our Heroes: On Activism In The Age Of Celebrity Worship

    Ever since Mike Brown was murdered, I’ve seen people ask for the Kanyes and the LeBrons to speak out. And while their voices are welcome, the movement doesn’t live and die by their involvement. That’s why they’re called “movements.” They’re moving. And not moving only means you get left behind. For every Kanye West or Jay Z we’re begging to speak up in some profound way, there’s a Killer Mike or Jesse Williams whose comments are as impassioned, necessary and important as anyone else’s. I’d much rather embrace Killer Mike or Tef Poe’s messages than a celebrity who may only be speaking because he or she feels obligated by the fans to do so.

    While we clamored for LeBron to say something or wanted NBA players to stand up for Garner over All-Star weekend in New York, we didn’t praise the St. Louis Rams nearly enough for coming out of their tunnels with #HandsUpDontShoot gestures. None of those Rams players were stars, but their actions revealed a deeply racist community of businesses in St. Louis appalled by their cries for equality. The move was powerful, important and didn’t need an all-star to pull off.

    Activism is as mainstream as its ever been in my lifetime and we as an audience have the ability to build up our activists instead of waiting for a Beyonce “For Mike Brown” single to go live on iTunes. Case in point: J. Cole. Cole released an album with little notice and received praise leading up to its release solely on the strength of how much his fans respect him. And a large part of that respect comes from his willingness to go to Ferguson without any press. Or to march for Eric Garner. Or to perform a song about police brutality on Letterman even though it wasn’t a song from his album that he was supposed to be promoting. These moves have earned him a fan base that supports him enough to get him 350,000 albums sold in his first week. By contrast, an artist like Nicki Minaj did a fraction of those numbers despite her massive PR push and being everywhere for a solid three months.

    Hopefully the J. Cole example is a sign that we’re ready to have celebrities who are famous for being beloved instead of being beloved because they are famous. This is an integral distinction to have because I truly believe that it’s impossible to have an effective movement in an era of celebrity worship. […]

    The struggle for understanding in America is centuries old and proving the worth of a Black life takes all the help it can get. So for that, any celebrity who wants to lend any assistance is welcome. If Beyonce and Pharrell want to take a few beats to put their hands up at the Grammys, good for them. If Jay Z wants to funnel money to the movement in secret, it’s definitely welcome. And if Charles Barkley wants to deride the people trying to affect change, then that’s his prerogative. But we are long past the time when we need any celebrity for a movement’s survival. In fact, it’s probably the celebrity who needs the movement. Because it’s a lonely, sad place to be when everyone has moved and you’re left standing still.

    Maya Angelou Honored with Forever Stamp

    Though Angelou died last year at the age of 86, she remains an icon and inspiration because of her life of advocacy and her countless contributions to society. Her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is one of her most acclaimed works. It tells the story of her life in the Jim Crow South.

    The Postal Service plans to preview the stamp and provide details on the date and location of the first day of issue ceremony at a later time. Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan stated, “Maya Angelou inspired our nation through a life of advocacy and through her many contributions to the written and spoken word. Her wide-ranging achievements as a playwright, poet, memoirist, educator, and advocate for justice and equality enhanced our culture.”

    Yay Maya! A lovely lasting tribute, as long as the postal service doesn’t go out of service. The link also has a link to 10 of her best works. I recommend!!!

    Interlude: Music! Listen to Big Sean’s “Me, Myself, and I”

    With Dark Sky Paradise out tomorrow, Big Sean drops a new song titled “Me, Myself, and I,” which samples Beyoncé’s 2003 song of the same name, and a track that Sean says is one of his favorites. Sean continues his recent lyrical assault on this release, as he vibes in and out of rhyme schemes while claiming his stake in hip-hop as one of the best artists out right now. This obviously won’t be on the album, but as Sean wrote on Twitter, it’s more of a thank you to the fans for the continued support.

    Sean’s bars are at a high level throughout this freestyle, but one particular sequence at the 1:48 mark has people speculating that Sean may have taken a shot at Kendrick Lamar. During the line in question, Sean raps, “Can he really spit, or do he just hide behind his skits like half of these rappers do, and then y’all go and praise him in this bitch like they’re the savior of this shit.” Whether or not Sean was taking shots at Kendrick will remain to be seen, but it is clear that he was sending shade in someone’s direction.

    Interlude: Sports (Boxing)
    Trailer: Doc on 17-Year-Old Gold Medalist Claressa ‘T-Rex’ Shields, Youngest Woman to Box in Olympics

    The 2012 Summer Olympics years behind us (the next installment is in 2016), a documentary feature film about 19 year-old Claressa “T-Rex” Shields, the youngest woman – and one of the first – to ever box in the Olympics, will be making its world premiere at the upcoming SXSW Film Festival in Austin. TX.

    The tri-continental effort (North America, Europe and Asia) comes from directors Drea Cooper & Zackary Canepari, who begun work on the film in 2012 (when Shields was 17 years old), en route to a successful $64,000 crowdfunding campaign – funds that were used to complete the film.

    Here’s a long description of the project: “T-Rex isn’t her real name. Her real name is Claressa. Friends and family just call her Ressa. She’s from Flint, Michigan. She’s in high school. Next year she’ll be a senior. The first day we met, it was her 17th birthday. She had a water balloon fight and a big, yellow cake. She carries her money around in a plastic bottle. She wears her hair in braids (sometimes). She takes the bus to school. She likes twitter. She likes boys. She writes in her journal. Pretty everyday for a teenager. But this is hardly an everyday story. Six years ago her dad took her to a local boxing gym. She said she wanted to box. He said, “Hell no. Boxing is a man’s sport.” She ignored him. She dreams of being the first woman in history to win the gold medal in Olympic boxing. But in order for her to succeed, she’ll need to stand her ground both inside and outside the ring.”

    At the 2012 summer Olympics in London, women’s boxing was a first-time-ever sport, with Claressa being the youngest of all the competitors. She would eventually claim her sport in history as the youngest, and the first woman boxer to win a Gold Medal in her weight class.

    She returned home, to Flint after the Olympics, as a new chapter in her life began…

    Her current record stands at Wins 43, 18 of them by knockout, and just 1 loss! Her last big win was last year, when she took home the Gold at the 2014 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.

    The documentary that tells her story, titled “T-Rex,” will make its world premiere at SXSW next month.

    Trailer at the link.

    Here’s some Patricia Arquette – The Road to Structural Erasure Is Paved With Well-Intentioned White Ladies

    With those words—whether intentional or not (and personally, I believe it was unintentional)—Patricia Arquette gave voice to a system of structural erasure that has been the gold standard in the feminist movement since well before Sojourner Truth stood up and declared “Ain’t I A Woman?”

    That erasure assumes that all men are white men and all people of color are men. And that erasure leaves women of color wondering where they fit into all of this. […]

    Andrea concludes her piece by saying, “Let’s not go all ‘Je Suis Patricia Arquette’ on this shit.”

    Unfortunately, that’s been happening. White women, by and large, have loudly applauded Arquette’s words—lumping together her acceptance speech and her backstage interview, quoted above—leaving primarily women of color and LGBTQ women of color scratching their heads wondering whether to divest themselves of their gender, their race, their sexual orientation, or their gender identity in order to be included in the “us” Arquette implored everyone to start fighting for.

    And, frankly, that’s what concerns me a whole hell of a lot more than Arquette’s comments: The reaction from the left—liberals, progressives, whatever we’re calling ourselves these days—has been, by and large, an abomination.

    Sadly, however, such disgraceful reactions to the structural erasure and silencing of women of color are typical.

    On the one hand, Patricia Arquette is “just an actress” and we should be happy that she spoke out about pay equity, even if the way in which she spoke out about it left something to be desired.

    On the other hand, Patricia Arquette is an ally and by criticizing her we are eating our own and letting the misogynists win.

    On the other-other hand, Patricia Arquette isn’t the enemy and by talking about her problematic framing of the people she thinks should be fighting for wage equality for “us” (along with her framing of who “us” is), we are shifting our focus from the real enemy—the GOP and those who would deny us pay equity.

    And on the fourth hand, Patricia Arquette meant well. So really, guys, stop vilifying her.

    All of these reactions are as tired as they are facile.

    First of all, Patricia Arquette is not “just an actress.” She’s a talented, well-spoken award-winning actress who has done a good deal of charity work throughout her career. She clearly cares about social issues—see her work with Give Love and The Creative Coalition—and actually seems to give a damn when she could easily be rolling around in her piles of money like Scrooge McDuck.

    Any claim that she’s “just an actress” is actually rather anti-feminist. It implies that she is incapable of critical thought and incapable of growth in her feminist praxis.[…]

    Second, I’m not here for kumbaya feminism. Kumbaya feminism demands that Black women take a backseat to whatever interest of the day white women deem most important. Kumbaya feminism castigates as “divisive” any Black woman who dares speak out against the White Feminist Industrial Complex. Kumbaya feminism is little more than trickle-down feminism. It posits that rising tides lift all boats and ignores the fact that the boats of most Black women (and, indeed, other women of color) are rigged with anchors. Besides, if my speaking out against centuries-old erasure of Black women in the struggle for women’s equality constitutes “eating our own,” then pass me a knife and fork and some hot sauce because I’m hungry.

    Third, the notion that we cannot criticize public figures with large platforms because doing so distracts from the real enemy—those in power who would deny us equal pay—is a silencing technique. I am quite capable of criticizing Arquette’s comments while also pointing out that the GOP comprises a bunch of do-nothing anti-women ass clowns. In fact, I would argue that criticizing Arquette is of more value than railing on Twitter about Republicans or writing another blog post titled “Republicans Are The Worst!” At least Arquette seems to be capable of growth and critical thought.

    And fourth, the notion that Arquette “meant well” is entirely besides the point. Sure, her intentions may have been noble. Maybe she misspoke. I believe her words came from a good place. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And when someone who has a platform as large as Arquette engages in the same kind of erasure that has plagued the feminist movement since Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton first became homies, then you’re goddamn right that I’m going to criticize it.

    And finally, there are white folks who have never even thought about the intersection of gender and race (or sexual orientation or gender identity) in their approach to feminism. And you know what? That’s fine. It was only a few years ago, thanks to extensive reading and researching, that I was able to put the term “intersectionality” to my life experience. Not knowing all the feminist terminology is nothing to be embarrassed about. But that lack of knowledge certainly does present an opportunity. And if when presented with that opportunity, White Feminists™ choose to ignore it, then that says something about how invested they are in equality for “all women” as opposed to equality for white women.

    Furthermore, I need to disabuse everyone of the notion that white women have spent centuries fighting for the rights of everyone. That’s simply not the case. The truth is far more complicated than that. Yes, there are white women who were staunch abolitionists. And then those same white women turned and found common cause with white supremacists in order to advance their own interests. […]

    The point is simply this: When Black women and non-Black women of color raise concerns about problems within White Feminism™, if you are inclined to argue with them, maybe take a step back and just listen instead of rushing to shut them up, or demanding that they be grateful for whatever crumbs slide off the White Feminist™ dining room table. Because we’re not shutting up anytime soon, and we are not going to be relegated to the back of the feminist bus.

    “@NASA_Marshall: Leland reads 2 @HSVk12 Morris El 2nd graders about #BlackHistory & #STEM ”those kids were amazing Thx

  75. rq says

    We Are Our Heroes: On Activism In The Age Of Celebrity Worship

    Ever since Mike Brown was murdered, I’ve seen people ask for the Kanyes and the LeBrons to speak out. And while their voices are welcome, the movement doesn’t live and die by their involvement. That’s why they’re called “movements.” They’re moving. And not moving only means you get left behind. For every Kanye West or Jay Z we’re begging to speak up in some profound way, there’s a Killer Mike or Jesse Williams whose comments are as impassioned, necessary and important as anyone else’s. I’d much rather embrace Killer Mike or Tef Poe’s messages than a celebrity who may only be speaking because he or she feels obligated by the fans to do so.

    While we clamored for LeBron to say something or wanted NBA players to stand up for Garner over All-Star weekend in New York, we didn’t praise the St. Louis Rams nearly enough for coming out of their tunnels with #HandsUpDontShoot gestures. None of those Rams players were stars, but their actions revealed a deeply racist community of businesses in St. Louis appalled by their cries for equality. The move was powerful, important and didn’t need an all-star to pull off.

    Activism is as mainstream as its ever been in my lifetime and we as an audience have the ability to build up our activists instead of waiting for a Beyonce “For Mike Brown” single to go live on iTunes. Case in point: J. Cole. Cole released an album with little notice and received praise leading up to its release solely on the strength of how much his fans respect him. And a large part of that respect comes from his willingness to go to Ferguson without any press. Or to march for Eric Garner. Or to perform a song about police brutality on Letterman even though it wasn’t a song from his album that he was supposed to be promoting. These moves have earned him a fan base that supports him enough to get him 350,000 albums sold in his first week. By contrast, an artist like Nicki Minaj did a fraction of those numbers despite her massive PR push and being everywhere for a solid three months.

    Hopefully the J. Cole example is a sign that we’re ready to have celebrities who are famous for being beloved instead of being beloved because they are famous. This is an integral distinction to have because I truly believe that it’s impossible to have an effective movement in an era of celebrity worship. […]

    The struggle for understanding in America is centuries old and proving the worth of a Black life takes all the help it can get. So for that, any celebrity who wants to lend any assistance is welcome. If Beyonce and Pharrell want to take a few beats to put their hands up at the Grammys, good for them. If Jay Z wants to funnel money to the movement in secret, it’s definitely welcome. And if Charles Barkley wants to deride the people trying to affect change, then that’s his prerogative. But we are long past the time when we need any celebrity for a movement’s survival. In fact, it’s probably the celebrity who needs the movement. Because it’s a lonely, sad place to be when everyone has moved and you’re left standing still.

    Maya Angelou Honored with Forever Stamp

    Though Angelou died last year at the age of 86, she remains an icon and inspiration because of her life of advocacy and her countless contributions to society. Her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is one of her most acclaimed works. It tells the story of her life in the Jim Crow South.

    The Postal Service plans to preview the stamp and provide details on the date and location of the first day of issue ceremony at a later time. Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan stated, “Maya Angelou inspired our nation through a life of advocacy and through her many contributions to the written and spoken word. Her wide-ranging achievements as a playwright, poet, memoirist, educator, and advocate for justice and equality enhanced our culture.”

    Yay Maya! A lovely lasting tribute, as long as the postal service doesn’t go out of service. The link also has a link to 10 of her best works. I recommend!!!

    Interlude: Music! Listen to Big Sean’s “Me, Myself, and I”

    With Dark Sky Paradise out tomorrow, Big Sean drops a new song titled “Me, Myself, and I,” which samples Beyoncé’s 2003 song of the same name, and a track that Sean says is one of his favorites. Sean continues his recent lyrical assault on this release, as he vibes in and out of rhyme schemes while claiming his stake in hip-hop as one of the best artists out right now. This obviously won’t be on the album, but as Sean wrote on Twitter, it’s more of a thank you to the fans for the continued support.

    Sean’s bars are at a high level throughout this freestyle, but one particular sequence at the 1:48 mark has people speculating that Sean may have taken a shot at Kendrick Lamar. During the line in question, Sean raps, “Can he really spit, or do he just hide behind his skits like half of these rappers do, and then y’all go and praise him in this b*tch like they’re the savior of this shit.” Whether or not Sean was taking shots at Kendrick will remain to be seen, but it is clear that he was sending shade in someone’s direction.

    Interlude: Sports (Boxing)
    Trailer: Doc on 17-Year-Old Gold Medalist Claressa ‘T-Rex’ Shields, Youngest Woman to Box in Olympics

    The 2012 Summer Olympics years behind us (the next installment is in 2016), a documentary feature film about 19 year-old Claressa “T-Rex” Shields, the youngest woman – and one of the first – to ever box in the Olympics, will be making its world premiere at the upcoming SXSW Film Festival in Austin. TX.

    The tri-continental effort (North America, Europe and Asia) comes from directors Drea Cooper & Zackary Canepari, who begun work on the film in 2012 (when Shields was 17 years old), en route to a successful $64,000 crowdfunding campaign – funds that were used to complete the film.

    Here’s a long description of the project: “T-Rex isn’t her real name. Her real name is Claressa. Friends and family just call her Ressa. She’s from Flint, Michigan. She’s in high school. Next year she’ll be a senior. The first day we met, it was her 17th birthday. She had a water balloon fight and a big, yellow cake. She carries her money around in a plastic bottle. She wears her hair in braids (sometimes). She takes the bus to school. She likes twitter. She likes boys. She writes in her journal. Pretty everyday for a teenager. But this is hardly an everyday story. Six years ago her dad took her to a local boxing gym. She said she wanted to box. He said, “Hell no. Boxing is a man’s sport.” She ignored him. She dreams of being the first woman in history to win the gold medal in Olympic boxing. But in order for her to succeed, she’ll need to stand her ground both inside and outside the ring.”

    At the 2012 summer Olympics in London, women’s boxing was a first-time-ever sport, with Claressa being the youngest of all the competitors. She would eventually claim her sport in history as the youngest, and the first woman boxer to win a Gold Medal in her weight class.

    She returned home, to Flint after the Olympics, as a new chapter in her life began…

    Her current record stands at Wins 43, 18 of them by knockout, and just 1 loss! Her last big win was last year, when she took home the Gold at the 2014 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.

    The documentary that tells her story, titled “T-Rex,” will make its world premiere at SXSW next month.

    Trailer at the link.

    Here’s some Patricia Arquette – The Road to Structural Erasure Is Paved With Well-Intentioned White Ladies

    With those words—whether intentional or not (and personally, I believe it was unintentional)—Patricia Arquette gave voice to a system of structural erasure that has been the gold standard in the feminist movement since well before Sojourner Truth stood up and declared “Ain’t I A Woman?”

    That erasure assumes that all men are white men and all people of color are men. And that erasure leaves women of color wondering where they fit into all of this. […]

    Andrea concludes her piece by saying, “Let’s not go all ‘Je Suis Patricia Arquette’ on this shit.”

    Unfortunately, that’s been happening. White women, by and large, have loudly applauded Arquette’s words—lumping together her acceptance speech and her backstage interview, quoted above—leaving primarily women of color and LGBTQ women of color scratching their heads wondering whether to divest themselves of their gender, their race, their sexual orientation, or their gender identity in order to be included in the “us” Arquette implored everyone to start fighting for.

    And, frankly, that’s what concerns me a whole hell of a lot more than Arquette’s comments: The reaction from the left—liberals, progressives, whatever we’re calling ourselves these days—has been, by and large, an abomination.

    Sadly, however, such disgraceful reactions to the structural erasure and silencing of women of color are typical.

    On the one hand, Patricia Arquette is “just an actress” and we should be happy that she spoke out about pay equity, even if the way in which she spoke out about it left something to be desired.

    On the other hand, Patricia Arquette is an ally and by criticizing her we are eating our own and letting the misogynists win.

    On the other-other hand, Patricia Arquette isn’t the enemy and by talking about her problematic framing of the people she thinks should be fighting for wage equality for “us” (along with her framing of who “us” is), we are shifting our focus from the real enemy—the GOP and those who would deny us pay equity.

    And on the fourth hand, Patricia Arquette meant well. So really, guys, stop vilifying her.

    All of these reactions are as tired as they are facile.

    First of all, Patricia Arquette is not “just an actress.” She’s a talented, well-spoken award-winning actress who has done a good deal of charity work throughout her career. She clearly cares about social issues—see her work with Give Love and The Creative Coalition—and actually seems to give a damn when she could easily be rolling around in her piles of money like Scrooge McDuck.

    Any claim that she’s “just an actress” is actually rather anti-feminist. It implies that she is incapable of critical thought and incapable of growth in her feminist praxis.[…]

    Second, I’m not here for kumbaya feminism. Kumbaya feminism demands that Black women take a backseat to whatever interest of the day white women deem most important. Kumbaya feminism castigates as “divisive” any Black woman who dares speak out against the White Feminist Industrial Complex. Kumbaya feminism is little more than trickle-down feminism. It posits that rising tides lift all boats and ignores the fact that the boats of most Black women (and, indeed, other women of color) are rigged with anchors. Besides, if my speaking out against centuries-old erasure of Black women in the struggle for women’s equality constitutes “eating our own,” then pass me a knife and fork and some hot sauce because I’m hungry.

    Third, the notion that we cannot criticize public figures with large platforms because doing so distracts from the real enemy—those in power who would deny us equal pay—is a silencing technique. I am quite capable of criticizing Arquette’s comments while also pointing out that the GOP comprises a bunch of do-nothing anti-women ass clowns. In fact, I would argue that criticizing Arquette is of more value than railing on Twitter about Republicans or writing another blog post titled “Republicans Are The Worst!” At least Arquette seems to be capable of growth and critical thought.

    And fourth, the notion that Arquette “meant well” is entirely besides the point. Sure, her intentions may have been noble. Maybe she misspoke. I believe her words came from a good place. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And when someone who has a platform as large as Arquette engages in the same kind of erasure that has plagued the feminist movement since Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton first became homies, then you’re goddamn right that I’m going to criticize it.

    And finally, there are white folks who have never even thought about the intersection of gender and race (or sexual orientation or gender identity) in their approach to feminism. And you know what? That’s fine. It was only a few years ago, thanks to extensive reading and researching, that I was able to put the term “intersectionality” to my life experience. Not knowing all the feminist terminology is nothing to be embarrassed about. But that lack of knowledge certainly does present an opportunity. And if when presented with that opportunity, White Feminists™ choose to ignore it, then that says something about how invested they are in equality for “all women” as opposed to equality for white women.

    Furthermore, I need to disabuse everyone of the notion that white women have spent centuries fighting for the rights of everyone. That’s simply not the case. The truth is far more complicated than that. Yes, there are white women who were staunch abolitionists. And then those same white women turned and found common cause with white supremacists in order to advance their own interests. […]

    The point is simply this: When Black women and non-Black women of color raise concerns about problems within White Feminism™, if you are inclined to argue with them, maybe take a step back and just listen instead of rushing to shut them up, or demanding that they be grateful for whatever crumbs slide off the White Feminist™ dining room table. Because we’re not shutting up anytime soon, and we are not going to be relegated to the back of the feminist bus.

    “@NASA_Marshall: Leland reads 2 @HSVk12 Morris El 2nd graders about #BlackHistory & #STEM ”those kids were amazing Thx

  76. rq says

    Street Image Helps a Young Rapper, Until It Doesn’t. That whole bit about using black culture but not standing up for black people…

    But Mr. Pollard says that he hasn’t heard what he wants from his label, Epic Records — namely a firm reassurance of its backing and help making his $2 million bail: “When I got locked up, I thought they were going to come for me,” he said in an interview from the Manhattan Detention Complex, “but they never came.”

    Barely six months ago, Epic, a subsidiary of Sony, wooed Mr. Pollard, 20, with a seven-figure, multi-album deal, largely on the strength of one viral hit, known in its censored version as “Hot Boy.” With the label’s support, that song went on to reach No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

    But now, after Mr. Pollard’s electric performance on “The Tonight Show” and almost 1 million downloads sold — more than 800,000 for “Hot Boy” alone, according to Nielsen Music — Epic has distanced itself, declining, despite pleas from music industry figures like 50 Cent, to help the rapper get out. […]

    Older hip-hop stars remember when labels were full service: 50 Cent recalled getting rappers on his Interscope imprint, G Unit, out of jail in a matter of hours; Suge Knight of Death Row Records infamously paid Tupac Shakur’s bail in exchange for a recording contract.

    But as rap has become more corporate, that kind of aid is unusual. Matthew Middleton, Mr. Pollard’s entertainment lawyer, said that while Epic is not obligated to cover bail or legal fees for Mr. Pollard, the artist expected more support, financial and emotional, especially after the label’s spirited pursuit of the rapper made them business partners.

    “These companies for years have capitalized and made millions and millions of dollars from kids in the inner city portraying their plight to the rest of the world,” Mr. Middleton said. “To take advantage of that and exploit it from a business standpoint and then turn your back is disingenuous, to say the least.”

    Epic declined requests to comment on Mr. Pollard’s status. But industry sources say they understand the company’s reluctance to get involved, given the seriousness of the charges.

    Here’s the ever-recurring hot topic, grand juries!! Should Judges Oversee Grand Juries?

    Many state officials are calling for an overhaul of the criminal justice system. Now, New York’s top judge wants to put judges in grand jury rooms in cases of police-related killings of civilians. Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the State of New York, explains his proposal for a more hands-on role for judges.

    Audio at the link.

    MSNBC shake-up: Al Sharpton to lose nightly show. I think this is a re-post.

    Anyone in Houston? It may not be too late! Soledad O’Brien’s ‘Black in America’ Tour Comes to UH on Feb. 24

    The University of Houston (UH) will host broadcast journalist, executive producer and philanthropist Soledad O’Brien’s “Black in America 2015” tour at 7 p.m., Feb. 24 in Cullen Performance Hall.Black in America

    “’Black in America” is about Americans talking about the uncomfortable issue of race, about opening the floor to new perspectives, problems and the powerful experiences of regular people,” said O’Brien. “This is a forum for the conversation America is ready to have.”

    O’Brien will moderate the panel discussion at UH with economist, author and political commentator Julianne Malveaux; Antonio French, 21st Ward alderman in St. Louis, Mo.; a surprise guest via Skype; and Leonard M. Baynes, dean of the UH Law Center who has a national reputation as a communications law scholar with specializations in business, media and diversity issues.

    Sponsored by UH’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the event is free and open to the public as seating permits, but tickets are required. Tickets are available for pickup (while supplies last) through Feb. 20 in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, located in the Student Center South, Room B12.

    The Center for Diversity and Inclusion selected O’ Brien as a part of its inaugural Spring Speaker Series because she covers topics that are timely and that educate others on important social justice issues, said Niya Blair, director of the center.

    “We want to be a part of the national conversation that is occurring. Soledad and her tour align with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion’s mission,” Blair said.

    The award-winning journalist presents a detailed examination of the facts behind community policing, racial profiling, controversial crime reduction tactics and arrest quotas. Audiences – from Miami to Houston to Massachusetts – will see videos that show how a war between civil rights and crime reduction is unfurling on America’s streets.

    Baynes said he is honored to participate in the discussion. “Ms. O’Brien is a treasure in helping to raise the many social and economic issues still facing the African American community in America,” he said. “I am very grateful and honored to be part of the program.”

    Links to trailers and more info at the link.

    Stay Of Execution Issued For Texas Man Claiming New Evidence Of Innocence

    Reed’s lawyers at the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law, expressed relief that the court put the execution, which was scheduled for March 5, on hold.

    “We’re extremely relieved that the court has stayed Mr. Reed’s execution so there will be proper consideration of the powerful new evidence of his innocence,” Bryce Benjet, a staff attorney with the Innocence Project, said in a statement. In Reed’s petition to the court, his lawyers argued that new forensic evidence, with corroborating new witness accounts, justified the court granting Reed’s petition.

    Benjet added, “We are also optimistic that this will give us the opportunity to finally conduct DNA testing that could prove who actually committed the crime.”

    Reed was convicted of murder in 1998 for the 1996 killing of 19-year-old Stacey Stites. Reed’s lawyers, however, argue that he did not kill Stites. Noting that the court previously stated that there was a “healthy suspicion” that Reed had not killed Stites, the lawyers now are arguing that “the additional evidence presented in this application tips the scales and demonstrates Mr. Reed’s innocence by clear and convincing evidence.”

    I think back in autumn I had a lengthy article on this case, but I’ll have to look it up to be sure.

    The geography of inequality in #STL: If you live in some parts, you can expect to live 18 years less. – @jqjp1

  77. rq says

    Lawyer: Video of police shooting differs from official account

    The footage, recorded by four different cameras at nearby businesses, is imperfect – grainy images that are sometimes obstructed or washed out by the police cruiser’s flashing domelights.

    But what’s clear, Mildenberg said, is that Tate-Brown’s shooting didn’t mirror police accounts of the incident.

    The Police Department has repeatedly said Tate-Brown had knocked one officer to the ground after a violent struggle, and was fatally wounded by the other officer as he reached into the front passenger side of his 2014 Dodge Charger for a stolen, loaded handgun that was near the center console.

    Mildenberg confirmed that Tate-Brown is shown fighting with the officers, a battle that stretched from one side of Frankford Avenue to another.

    But the attorney said Tate-Brown’s final movements played out differently than many think.

    “From the video, the moment he was shot, he was running away from the officer, across Frankford Avenue,” Mildenberg said.

    “He was behind his vehicle, near the trunk of the vehicle – not near any doors – when he was shot and dropped down.”

    Mildenberg said he and Brown-Dickerson want the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case, which is still being reviewed locally by District Attorney Seth Williams.

    Mildenberg said he also wants the Police Department to release the surveillance footage to the public, along with witness statements, police radio chatter and any other records about the shooting.

    Woman shot, killed by CMPD officer during altercation

    “She was just a little thing,” said a woman who did not want to be identified outside her apartment just a few doors from where an officer shot and killed Janisha Fonville, 20. “He could have tased her or something.. pepper sprayed her.”

    Police say they received a call about domestic violence involving two women at an apartment.

    “When officers got there they saw one of the complainants outside in front of the house,” said Chief Rodney Monroe, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. “She told officers that they (the two women having a fight) were inside.”

    Officers entered the apartment to find Fonville and her girlfriend. Monroe said Fonville allegedly lunged at both officers with a kitchen knife after refusing to drop the weapon. “She got into a crouching position,” Monroe said.

    She was shot by officer Anthony Holzhauer, police said. Fonville was later pronounced dead at Carolinas Medical Center.

    Per CMPD protocol, Holzhauer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the shooting investigation.

    Holzhauer has been on the police force for five years. This is the third incident Holzhauer used his weapon while on duty, CMPD said.

    It’s the second time Holzhauer used deadly force while on duty.

    The positive numbers about young black men

    Earlier this month, an attention-grabbing 30-second video, released by the Mystic Valley Area Branch of the NAACP and featuring Medford High School students, debunked many stereotypes and myths about young black men. But why stop there? Some other numbers to consider:

    ■ 9 out of 10 black people 12 or older currently don’t use illicit drugs.

    ■ 93% don’t suffer from substance abuse issues.

    ■ 7 out of 10 black fathers ages 15 to 44 who live with their children bathe, dress, diaper, or help their child use the toilet daily — the highest ratio by race.

    All kinds of positive numbers at the link, but I especially loved this bit:

    Fathers who live with their children and took them to and from activities every day [Hispanic/Latino – 22.8; white – 19.5; black/African-American – 27.1]

    So maybe white people should look at that whole father issue affecting the white crime rate, esp. white-on-white crime.
    Here’s a link to the video mentioned at the beginning, Statistics open eyes to the debate on race

    Even the Medford High School teenagers had never heard the statistics they would be reciting in the public service announcement about young black men just like them.

    One out of three goes to college. Three out of four are drug free. Five out of nine have jobs. Seven out of eight are not teenage fathers. Eleven out of 12 finish high school.

    “It was a bit of an eye-opener,” said 17-year-old Martin Seck, who everyone, including his mother, calls Slim.

    “It really brought light to what really goes on in the African community,” interrupted his friend Abdi Jama, also 17.

    “The African-American community,” corrected Seck.

    The poignant 30-second video, released last week by the Mystic Valley Area Branch of the NAACP, opens with three young black men sitting on a stoop as one says, “I am a statistic.” The group grows with each statistic given until it concludes with each of them saying, “I have a purpose, and that’s a fact I’m proud of.”

    More at the link.

    Zendaya responds to media commenting that her locs smell of patchouli and weed. Apologies no time to transcribe, but it is wonderful.

    Apparently, “activist” on HRC panel blames #Ferguson protests 4 allegedly “emboldening” black ppl 2 confront police.

  78. rq says

    Cops getting off for bad behaviour: No charges filed in LAPD killing of driver in chase

    The decision came after LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s finding last year that the officers violated department policy for using deadly force when they shot Brian Beaird, a 51-year-old National Guard veteran, on the night of Dec. 13, 2013.

    Before the department’s investigation was complete, the city agreed to pay Beaird’s family $5 million to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit — the largest payout Los Angeles has made in a fatal police shooting case in at least a decade.

    But in a Jan. 29 letter outlining the decision not to file charges, prosecutors cited a “tense and chaotic” situation in which officers thought Beaird was reaching for a weapon.

    Prosecutors ultimately determined that there was “insufficient evidence to provide beyond a reasonable doubt” that the three officers “did not act in self-defense and in defense of others.”

    “Officers had reason to believe Beaird might be a danger,” prosecutors wrote.

    The letter noted Beck’s opinion that the shooting was out of policy, but cited the lower burden of proof used in LAPD administrative proceedings versus criminal prosecutions. Beck had rejected claims by the officers that they fired because they feared their lives were in danger.

    Dale Galipo, an attorney representing Beaird’s family, said his clients were “disappointed, but not surprised.”

    “I think one of the reasons we have so many police shootings is that no one ever prosecutes the officer,” Galipo said. “One wonders whether or not without criminal prosecution, these shootings will actually be deterred.”

    An attorney representing the three officers — identified by the LAPD as Armando Corral, Leonardo Ortiz and Michael Ayala — could not be reached for comment Monday evening. An LAPD spokesman said the officers had been relieved of duty, without pay, pending disciplinary action.

    The newest conservative hero is a black middle schooler from Georgia

    His name is C.J. Pearson. He is 12. And he is very certain that Obama doesn’t love America. Here’s his video saying just that; it has been viewed almost 450,000 times on You Tube since it was posted Saturday.

    “President Obama, you don’t love America. If you really did love America, you would call ISIS what it really it is, an assault on Christianity, an assault on America and a downright hate for the American values our country holds,” he says. “… And when it takes a mayor, the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, to call you out on your downright hatred for America, then so be it. I applaud him for his comments and I definitely do hope that one day other people will get enough guts to speak out against your downright hatred for this nation.”

    (Probably won’t happen, kid, not from anyone who wants to maintain their credibility anyway. Even Giuliani has softened his tone).

    Pearson is the executive director of Young Georgians in Government and is passionate about getting young people involved in politics. We predict that he has a future in this business — on cable news or talk radio or on the Internet. Pearson clearly agrees. He announced his candidacy for state Superintendent of Education last week. (And, Pearson is fighting to lower the minimum age requirements in Georgia election law because of course he is.)

    There’s a 50th anniversary march in honour of the Selma march this weekend, I believe. Sign up for updates: 50th Anniversary Selma, March ’15

    Not just police officers, but correctional officers, too. 3 correctional officers placed on leave after inmate found inside cell full of steam

    Louis Leysath, 35, who was serving a 30-year sentence for murdering his girlfriend in 2008, was found unresponsive Friday inside his cell, which was full of steam. Leysath was housed alone, officials said, and that there was no fire in the cell.

    A spokesman for the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services did not say why or how the cell became full of steam, citing an ongoing investigation.

    The medical examiner has not yet completed its autopsy report, corrections officials said, but say foul play is not suspected, and it us unclear whether his death was accidental or a suicide.

    They said officers attempted CPR but Leysath was pronounced dead a short time later.

    In addition to a death investigation, corrections officials said an administrative review of the incident is being conducted.

    “This Department is committed to thorough investigations, and openness in sharing information once we are able to,” Secretary of Public Safety & Correctional Services Stephen Moyer said in a statement late Monday. “At this time, many questions remain unanswered, and until they are answered, we simply cannot jeopardize the investigation by discussing it.”

    Lawyer: Video shows Tate-Brown driving with lights on before cops killed him

    “You see clearly that he pulls up in his white car with the headlights on. He gets out, walks into the 7-Eleven, walks around, and then drives off with his lights on the entire time,” Mildenberg said.

    The Police Department has said that officers pulled over Tate-Brown’s 2014 Dodge Charger on Frankford Avenue near Magee because its lights were off. A violent struggle ensued, and Tate-Brown was fatally shot.

    The department said that Tate-Brown was shot as he reached into the passenger side of his car to retrieve a stolen, loaded handgun from near the center console.

    But Mildenberg told the Daily News last week that surveillance footage he and Brown-Dickerson viewed at the Internal Affairs Division’s headquarters showed that Tate-Brown was shot as he ran behind the trunk of the car, nowhere near the passenger-side door or the weapon. The car’s lights appeared to be on in that footage as well, he said.

    “We know from the video that his headlights were on, and we know that he wasn’t reaching for a gun when they shot him,” Mildenberg said. “Whether Brandon started the struggle or whether he had a gun is not clear, but we do know [that the Police Department]lied about two items.”

    Interesting 2 juxtapose these headlines & compare @KMOV’s & @stltodays coverage of the same event. #STL #Ferguson , one talks about the civil rights commission talking to cops about use of force, the other says the return of warm weather could bring more violence to the streets. Both articles purportedly are reporting on the same event.

  79. rq says

    African-Americans Disproportionately Affected by Hunger Despite Economic Upturn

    African-Americans continue to suffer disproportionately high rates of hunger and poverty despite the growing economy, according to a new analysis released today by Bread for the World. The shortage of good, stable jobs and the impact of mass incarceration on the community continues to worsen the situation.

    “As African-Americans, we still suffer from some of the highest rates of hunger and poverty in the country despite the growth of our country’s economy since 2008,” said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World. “The lack of jobs that pay fair wages is preventing people of color from moving out of poverty and the recession.”

    The median income for African-Americans in 2013 (latest available data) was $24,864, significantly lower than the median for all Americans. Poverty affected nearly three out of ten African-Americans or nearly twice the average rate for the general population. The same rates hold in terms of their ability to feed their families.

    The problem is worsened by the effects of mass incarceration; currently the United States holds the highest number of people in prison in the world. “Incarceration for non-violent criminal offenses aggravates the situation for black people in America since these laws, time and again, put people of color behind bars at a higher rate than white people for the same offense,” said Mitchell.

    African-Americans constitute nearly half of the total 2.3 million prison population in the country. Once a person has a criminal record, the act of providing for one’s self and family becomes exponentially harder. Many states deny returning citizens access to such programs as SNAP, even while they look for work. For those who are lucky to land a job, their yearly earnings are reduced by as much as 40 percent. “The best way to combat hunger and poverty in the African-American community is through jobs that pay fair wages, strong safety-net programs, and by ensuring laws are in place to protect people and not further marginalize them from society,” Mitchell added.

    And because the prison population is disproportionately black: States Predict Inmates’ Future Crimes With Secretive Surveys

    Thomas has been in and out of Arkansas prisons since 2008 for nonviolent crimes, including check fraud. After he got out in November 2013, the state predicted he was a low risk to commit another crime, Thomas said, and assigned him the least amount of supervision.

    His low-risk prediction would have been calculated based on answers to a lengthy questionnaire, the latest tool among the nation’s court systems to try to predict the likelihood that an offender will commit a crime again.

    Across the country, states have turned to a data-driven movement to drive down prison populations, reduce recidivism and save billions of dollars. One emerging practice is the use of risk-and-needs assessment tools, which are questionnaires that explore issues beyond criminal history. They are based on surveys of offenders making their way through the justice system.

    In a country with the highest incarceration numbers in the world, these questionnaires are a pillar of a new effort to get people out of prison. Repeat offenders are a major driver of bloated prison populations. But an Associated Press examination found significant problems with the surveys, which are used inconsistently across the United States, sometimes within the same jurisdiction.

    Supporters cite some research, such as a 1987 Rand Corp. study that said the surveys can be up to 70 percent accurate in predicting the likelihood of repeat offenses, if they are used correctly. Even the Rand study, one of the seminal pieces of research on the subject, was skeptical of the surveys’ effectiveness.

    It’s nearly impossible to measure the surveys’ impact on recidivism because they are only part of broader efforts.

    These assessment surveys, used for crimes ranging from petty thievery to serial murders, come with their own set of risks.

    Many rely on criminals to tell the truth, though jurisdictions do not always check to make sure the answers are accurate.

    The surveys are clouded in secrecy. Some states never release the evaluations, shielding government officials from being held accountable for decisions that affect public safety.

    Some have the potential to punish people for being poor or uneducated by attaching a lower risk to those with steady work and high levels of education.

    The surveys can include more than 100 questions and explore a defendant’s education, family, income, job status, history of moving, parents’ arrest history, or whether he or she has a phone. A score is affixed to each answer and the result helps shape how the defendant will be supervised in the system.

    “How easy would you say it is to acquire drugs in your neighborhood?” a convicted thief could be asked.

    “How many prior sex offense arrests (with force) as an adult?” a sex offender could be asked. A bubbled answer sheet lists options ranging from zero to more than three.

    The idea is to use data about past offenders to predict what current defendants with similar backgrounds might do when released from prison. A major push is to free up parole and probation officers to focus on those more likely to reoffend, instead of lower risk inmates.

    “It is a vast improvement over the decision-making process of 20, 30 years ago when parole boards and the courts didn’t have any statistical information to base their decisions on,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, which is working with the U.S. Justice Department on changes to the prison systems nationally.

    Of course, they use a failure of the survey to make a point.

    Pennsylvania Supreme Court Candidate Withdraws Nomination After Racist Email Surfaces

    County Judge Thomas Kistler (R) said Monday that he was taking himself out of the running because “several circumstances have developed here, at home, in Centre County, which have dramatically altered the legal system, and require my full attention.”

    “The current vacancy in the Court Administration position, in addition to several other urgent matters in our court, make this an inopportune time for me to reduce my commitment to the citizens of Centre County,” he added. “My primary concern has to remain the full and proper functioning of the Centre County court.”

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) nominated Kistler to fill a vacancy in the state Supreme Court two weeks ago. “Today, Judge Thomas Kistler voluntarily withdrew his nomination to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and I accepted,” Wolf said in a statement.

    Last week, the Centre Daily Times reported that on Dec. 16, 2013, an email from the account of Centre County President Judge Thomas King Kistler went out to 22 people with the subject line, “Touching and heart-warming. Merry Christmas to ALL!” and was signed “JK.”

    It was a holiday card with an image of a black woman visiting a black man in jail, with the caption, “Merry Christmas from the Johnsons.” Raging Chicken Press posted the image, which has been circulating online since at least 2011:

    Kistler did not reference the email at all in his letter withdrawing himself from consideration.

    Last week, he confirmed to the Centre Daily Times that he had forwarded the image in the email, but insisted he was not being racist.

    “There was absolutely no ill intent,” he said. “It was a comment about how lightly people take being incarcerated.”

    “I am proud of the reputation that this whole court has for complete fairness to everyone who comes to this building,” he added. “There is not one person in this building who has a racial tone to them. The last thing I would do would be to express some racial bias and send it to 20 friends.”


    Not just Giuliani and that 12-year-old. Bobby Jindal appears outside White House to proclaim Obama ‘unfit to be commander in chief’

    Gov. Bobby Jindal continued his attacks on President Barack Obama, proclaiming just outside the White House Monday (Februrary 23) that Obama is “unfit to be commander in chief” based on his refusal to commit resources needed to defeat and kill radical Islamic terrorists.

    “I take no joy in saying that,” Jindal said after he and other governors met with the president for nearly 90 minutes. “I don’t say so for partisan or ideological reasons.”

    But he said a president who cannot call the enemy “radical Islamic terrorists,” or is willing to rule out ground troops, except for very limited missions, isn’t leading the United States to victory over a brutal enemy that he says only can be stopped by killing them.

    Jindal,who is expected to seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, had expressed the same sentiments in a column that appeared Monday on

    Wrote Jindal: “Let’s review some of what these radical Islamic terrorists have done recently in broad daylight: beheaded American captives and filmed it; beheaded 21 Christians in Libya and filmed it; burned a Jordanian pilot alive in a cage and filmed it; and attacked a school in Pakistan, killing over a hundred children and teachers.”

    Obama shouldn’t rule out ground troops, not limit the operation against ISIL to three years, as Jindal says is done in the authorization for force the president submitted to Congress.

    The attack on the president was reminiscent of last year’s governors’ meeting with the president, when Jindal again appeared before the microphones to criticize the president. His attacks that year, accusing the president of not doing nearly enough to grow the economy with his focus on raising the minimum wage, drew an angry rebuke from Connecticut Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy who said the meeting was all about cooperation between governors and the White House and accused Jindal of trying to turn it into a partisan event.

    There was no such conflict this time, though some of the governors didn’t seem all that pleased to hear Jindal call the president unfit to be commander in chief.

    The news conference was well underway, when a reporter asked Jindal to comment again about former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s controversial statements last week that President Obama doesn’t really love America.

    Jindal responded that he’s “sure the president does love America.”

    But he said that his refusal to blame Islamic terrorists for the brutal killings in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan on Islamic terrorists reflects poorly on the president.

    Followed by islamophobia. Who knew?

    From history, What a Black Man’s Cool, Detached Gaze Says About Race in the Early Days of Italy

    Painted in a vivid but carefully controlled range of colors, the image of an anonymous black man took form in the studio of Wilhelm Trübner, a young itinerant artist exploring the wider world beyond his native Germany. At this time, only in his early 20s, Trübner had set out to travel and study independently after his tutelage with the influential painter Wilhelm Leibl. In 1872 he arrived in Rome, immersing himself in the works of the Italian Renaissance masters. His sojourn coincided with the nationalist movement known as the Risorgimento, which championed the recovery of a historically fragmented, cultural and political identity for the long-fractured Italian peninsula. Both the artist and his black subject lived within the quickened tempo of life in the recently established national capital.

    During his brief stay in Rome, Trübner seems to have engaged the services of casually encountered models. Among the most significant products of his brief stay is this remarkable painting and two others of the same subject and pictorial format. In one, the black man is posed in right profile. His form appears darkened against an expansive, cloudy landscape towering over a distant city, presumably Rome. In the immediate foreground appears a bouquet of flowers, dominated by the brilliant red of peony blossoms.

    The third work presents the subject in a more specific, interior environment, engaged in the focused activity of reading a newspaper. Set within a bourgeois milieu, the man sits on a comfortable sofa, his top hat, cane and gloves placed beside him. The masthead of the paper reads La Libertà, or “Liberty,” perhaps reflecting Trübner’s own progressive political views, here transferred by proxy to his sitter.

    These three quite varied responses to the same subject were made ostensibly as studies of form and color. Trübner depicts the black man from the three principal viewpoints of the portrait format: full-face, profile and three-quarter. The studies are dated 1872 and 1873, so his experience with the model must have lasted for as long as several months.

    As far as is known, the artist never again devoted such energy to the depiction of a black subject during his long career of over 40 years. In this case, however, Trübner may have been motivated in his choice of subject by the opportunity to study the effects of light and color on a dark-skinned person. Yet his engagement with his model already manifested a nascent attention to character typical of the realist tradition of German painting. A simple study is transformed into an insightful investigation of the sitter’s personality, along with a hint of narrative created by the inclusion of the cigar and purse.

    The memorable record of an anonymous black man at the dawn of modern Italy also raises the question of the reception of people of color in the peninsula during the modern period. Emerging evidence reveals the development of unique attitudes to race during dramatic episodes of social upheaval and the struggle for national identity. While Trübner worked in Rome, vast numbers of native-born Italians had begun to depart to seek better opportunities in the United States and elsewhere.

    The calm demeanor of the man with the cigar belongs to the brief period between the end of slavery in Italy and the beginning of the government’s imperialist ventures in Africa. At its southernmost extent only about 90 miles from the North African coast, Italy would soon embark on the same agenda of colonial expansion as other European nations. Many Italians left to settle in new zones of occupation in East Africa.

    Conversely, like Trübner’s model, black people found their way to Italy by various means. During previous several centuries, black people had worked throughout the peninsula as servants and even slaves. For young men, a common means of entry was through bustling seaports such as Civitavecchia, Rome’s major opening on the Mediterranean. This may have been the case with the man seen here, though he could also have been one of a significant number of long-time residents engaged in any number of occupations.

    And from FtB’s very own, Respect my authoritah!

    Such altercations are common. We had the ghastly story of an elderly Indian man who was visiting his son in Alabama who is now partially paralyzed because someone in the neighborhood reported a strange man of color was wandering around in their suburban street. Police arrived but when the man did not respond to their questions (he did not speak English) they threw him face down to the ground causing spinal injuries. The video is appalling.

    Then there is a Texas woman who had three ribs broken by the police because they say she showed disrespect to them and used profanities. Then we had another case of a woman being arrested for yelling expletives at a police officer while riding past on her bike. She won $100,000 in damages. And the man who was Tasered by the police when he asked them for identification.

    The problem is that there is no check on what goes into the police reports that have to be filed by officers after every incident. This article describes a website where police officers exchange tips and information. You find them saying how to write false reports and plant evidence such as cocaine and heroin residue on unsuspecting victims who refuse to ‘cooperate’ (i.e., grovel) before them, and how their superior officers support these practices. Hence they feel that they can get away with anything.

    As cartoonist Tom Tomorrow says, just because they have guns and Tasers and the presumption that they are acting lawfully, police seem to think that no one has the right to question them. They now also want to classify attacks on police as hate crimes. If that happens, citizens voicing contempt or anger at the police could have the charges against them enhanced.

    People should have the perfect right to voice their feelings to police officers without fear of physical retaliation. What I would like to see as part of police training is for them to be subjected to long periods of contempt, anger, and verbal abuse to see if they can remain calm and objective in the face of it. Those who cannot do not have the temperament to be trusted with the use of force. Another way to stop the abuse is if more and more lawsuits go against the police, requiring them to pay large damages to their victims, because money carries the most authority.

    Lots of links in the post.

  80. rq says

    Crap, there was a link in an article previous comment, a short stay in moderation required.

    Text Messages Show Officers Who Shot 137 Rounds Into Car Knew Suspects Were Unarmed

    Officer Michael Brelo is preparing to stand trial for a November 29, 2012 shooting in which him and 12 other officers fired 137 shots at multiple unarmed victims.

    Brelo stands accused of firing 46 shots, some while on the hood of the victims’ car. The shooting resulted in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, two unarmed victims who fled a traffic stop.

    Brelo claims that he is innocent, but prosecutors are accusing him, his attorney and the police union of a massive coverup.

    Brelo and one of the other officers involved in the murder that night, James Hummel, exchanged text messages just after leaving the scene of the crime. The officers openly discussed being aware that the victims were unarmed.

    According to

    In the hours following the shooting, Patrolman James Hummel sent texts in which he said “they all knew” neither of the victims had a gun – that the officers had mistaken a silver can of soda pop for a weapon, prosecutors said.

    The texts said that what some of the officers had suspected were gunshots were actually backfires from the fleeing car, that Brelo “was going to be in trouble,” and that “everyone knew Brelo did something wrong,” prosecutors said.

    Throughout the course of the investigation, the police union reportedly told the officers involved to deny any wrongdoing in the case and to remain silent in front of prosecutors.

    “Hummel asked they not be present, didn’t feel comfortable talking in front of them,” Assistant County Prosecutor Sherri Royster said in court.

    This week, the prosecution requested that defense attorney Pat D’Angelo be removed from the case because he was involved in the cover-up, and that would represent a conflict of interest.

    Brelo’s trial is scheduled to start in April, where he will face charges of voluntary manslaughter. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 22 years in prison.

    The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site’

    The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

    Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

    Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
    Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
    Shackling for prolonged periods.
    Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
    Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

    At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

    Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

    “Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

    The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.

    Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

    “It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

    Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.

    “This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.” […]

    But in detailing episodes involving their clients over the past several years, lawyers described mad scrambles that led to the closed doors of Homan Square, a place most had never heard of previously. The facility was even unknown to Rob Warden, the founder of Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, until the Guardian informed him of the allegations of clients who vanish into inherently coercive police custody.

    “They just disappear,” said Anthony Hill, a criminal defense attorney, “until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.”

    ABC news on the latest re: Trayvon and George. Trayvon Martin: DOJ Set to Announce No Charges Against George Zimmerman. I’m shocked at how young he (Trayvon) looks in the photo.

    ABC News has learned Martin’s family will soon be notified that the Justice Department will not be filing charges against George Zimmerman, who shot the 17-year-old after a confrontation in 2012. Thursday marks three years to the day since Martin was killed.

    Federal prosecutors concluded there is not sufficient evidence to prove Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla., intentionally violated Martin’s civil rights, sources told ABC News.

    The case sparked intense discussions over race in America because Martin was walking to his home with only Skittles and an iced tea in his hands.

    Florida prosecutors tried to convict Zimmerman of state-level murder and manslaughter charges, but in July 2013 a jury acquitted him, saying prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to prove their case.

    One juror -– the only minority on the all-female jury –- later told ABC News that “as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can’t say he’s guilty.”

    “You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty,” she said. “But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.”

    In Sanford, race-related tensions had been simmering for nearly a century, but Martin’s death “was the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back,’” bringing “those issues to the surface,” the new Sanford police chief, Cecil Smith, recently told federal officials.

    After Martin was killed, Holder sat down his own teenage son to explain that -– as unfair as it may be -– young black men must often interact with police in a different way than others, he told an NAACP convention in July 2013. It was “a conversation I hoped I’d never have to have,” Holder added.

    As media attention mounted over Martin’s death, protests grew across the country calling for justice. The city of Sanford now says a police department had not been scrutinized like that by the press, religious organizations, social activists and the broader public since Los Angeles police beat Rodney King in 1991.

    Zimmerman was not a police officer and the neighborhood watch program he was a part of was independent from local police.

    Many accused Zimmerman of discriminating against Martin –- essentially taking action against the teenager and ultimately killing him because Martin was black. Zimmerman is Hispanic.

    The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and FBI opened an investigation into the case, noting “experienced federal prosecutors” would determine “whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation” of federal law. In a statement, the department noted there are “limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction.”

    Privately and publicly, Justice Department officials have been telegraphing all along that they were unlikely to file charges against Zimmerman. And in November 2013, Holder said the case against Zimmerman “in substantial part was resolved” with his acquittal months earlier.

    Nevertheless, federal officials have insisted their civil-rights probe would be thorough and complete. Several months ago –- nearly two years into the Justice Department’s investigation –- Holder said federal investigators were still seeking to interview certain witnesses “as a result of some recent developments.”

    More recently, Holder has said he hoped to announce the findings of the Zimmerman and Ferguson-related probes before he leaves office, which could happen in a matter of weeks, depending on when the U.S. Senate confirms his successor.

    Holder has said then when a decision is announced in the Zimmerman case, it will be accompanied by “as much information” as possible detailing the Justice Department’s findings.

    In the Ferguson case, the department is currently conducting two probes into the matter.

    So don’t hold your breath for justice in Michael Brown’s case.
    If the federal gov’t and the Florida gov’t say that #GeorgeZimmerman broke no law when he killed #TrayvonMartin then we need a new law.

    And tonight this is the last link – Interlude: Literature. Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith, an excerpt:

    She left us at night. it had felt like night for a long time, the days at once short and ceaselessly long. November-dark. She’d been lifting her hand to signal for relief, a code we’d concocted once it became too much effort for her to speak and too difficult for us to understand her when she did. When it became clear that it was taking everything out of her just to lift the arm, we told her to blink, a movement that, when you’re watching for it, becomes impossibly hard to discern. “Was that a blink?” we’d ask when her eyelids just seemed to ripple or twitch. “Are you blinking, Mom? Was that a blink?” until finally, she’d heave the lids up and let them thud back down to say, Yes, the pain weighs that much, and I am lying here, pinned beneath it. Do something.
    Did we recognize the day when it arrived? A day with so much pain, a day when her patience had dissolved and she wanted noth-ing but to be outside of it. Pain. The word itself doesn’t hurt enough, doesn’t know how to tell us what it stands for. We gave her morphine. Each time she asked for it, we asked her if she was sure, and she found a way to tell us that she was, and so we were sure—weren’t we?—that this was the end, this was when and how she would go.
    I was grateful for my brother Conrad and his wife, both doc-tors. None of the rest of us would have known how to administer the drug in such a way as to say what we needed it to say— Take this dose, measured out, controlled, a proven means of temporary relief — rather than what we knew it actually meant. Grateful, and hopeful that the training might stand guard against the fact that the patient was our mother.
    The nurse who came by each day was a cheerful person who knew not to be cheery. Calm, available, knowing, pleasant. But she stopped short of chipper. She must have been instructed not to bring that kind of feeling into a home that was preparing for death. Not to bring hope. Instead, she brought mild comfort, a commendable gentleness that helped to rebuild something inside us. The nurse cared for our mother the way we sought to care for our mother: with no signs of struggle, no stifled rage at God and the unfair world, no tears. In changing our mother’s bandages and handling her flesh with such competence and ease, the nurse cared for us, too. Once a day for only an hour at a time, she came and eased our load just enough to get us to the next day when we knew she’d come again.
    I had sat and read the hospice literature one morning at the dining room table. A binder with information about how to care for the dying at home. It said that as death approaches, the body becomes cool to the touch. The limbs lose their warmth as the body concentrates its energy on the essential functions. Some-times when I was alone with my mother, I’d touch her feet and legs, checking to see how cool she had become. I was both fright-ened and reassured that the literature was correct, as if her body was saying goodbye to the world, preparing itself for a journey— though that’s not it, exactly, for the body goes nowhere, merely shuts down in preparation for being left. I could sense my mother leaving, getting ready for some elsewhere I couldn’t visit, and like the cool hands and feet I’d check for every day, it both crushed and heartened me. Every day, she spoke less, ate less, surrendered a little more of her presence in this world. Every day, she seemed to be more firmly aligned with a place or a state I believed in but couldn’t decipher.
    When the dark outside was real—not just the dark of approach-ing winter, and not just the dark of rain, which we’d had for days, too—her dying came on. We recognized it. We circled her bed, though we stopped short of holding hands, perhaps because that gesture would have meant we were holding on, and we were finally ready to let her go. Each of us took a turn saying “I love you” and “Goodbye.” We made our promises. Then we heard a sound that seemed to carve a tunnel between our world and some other. It was an otherworldly breath, a vivid presence that blew past us without stopping, leaving us, the living, clamped in place by the silence that followed. I would come back to the sound and the presence of that breath again and again, thinking how miracu-lous it was that she had ridden off on that last exhalation, her life instantly whisked away, carried over into a place none of us will ever understand until perhaps we are there ourselves.
    It’s the kind of miracle we never let ourselves consider, the miracle of death. She followed that last breath wherever it led and left her body behind in the old four-poster Queen Anne bed, where for the first time in all of our lives it was a body and nothing more.

  81. says

    How Crack vs Coke sentencing unfairly targets poor people

    Crack and cocaine may be nearly identical on a molecular level, but people who are charged with possession of just 1 gram of crack are given the same sentence as those found in possession of 18 grams of cocaine.

    This 18:1 sentencing disparity is actually an improvement from the previous sentencing gulf of 100:1, thanks to the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, but as new research shows, any disparity unfairly targets crack users, who are more likely to be black, low-income and less educated.

    The nation’s coke problem is much larger than its crack problem, with 12 percent of U.S. adults reporting coke use and 4 percent reporting crack use. Yet crack users are still at higher risk for an arrest, or multiple arrests, in their lifetime.

    “We wrote this paper to inform the public and Congress about the disparities in the sentencing laws between crack and powder cocaine, which continue to have profound legal and social consequences for users,” said study author Dr. Joseph J. Palamar, an assistant professor of population health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center. “The sentencing laws appear to unfairly target the poor, with blacks ultimately experiencing high incarceration rates as a result.”


    The bad cop database

    At a time when police departments around the country are being criticized for a lack of a transparency, the arrival of Legal Aid’s database represents a bold attempt to systematically track officers with a history of civil rights violations and other kinds of misbehavior, and thereby force judges, prosecutors, and juries to take the officers’ past actions into consideration when adjudicating cases. If a defense attorney can successfully call into question the credibility of an arresting officer, she might be able to convince a judge to let a defendant out of jail without bail, or maybe even to dismiss the case entirely. Information about an officer’s past misconduct can also serve as a bargaining chip during plea negotiations with prosecutors.

    Take someone like Detective Sekou Bourne, for instance, who is currently being prosecuted in the NYPD’s administrative court for allegedly frisking a woman improperly in East New York and unlawfully entering her home in April 2013 after concluding, mistakenly, that she had crack cocaine in her hand. According to Justine Luongo, the attorney-in-charge of the Legal Aid Society’s criminal practice, a search for Bourne’s name in the Legal Aid database brings up reports on this incident, along with records of seven civil rights lawsuits that have been filed against him. The fact that all of those cases ended in settlements, Luongo said, could be useful information for defense attorneys next time prosecutors try to build a case against someone based on Bourne’s testimony. (A call to Bourne’s attorney was not returned.)

    Cynthia Conti-Cook, a former civil rights lawyer, joined the Legal Aid Society last spring with the idea for the database, officially known as the Cop Accountability Program, already in mind. The reason she wanted to build it, she said, is that typically, when a criminal case begins, there’s a “big red arrow that says ‘criminal’ pointing to the defendant” and not much a defense lawyer can say other than “my client denies the charges.” With the database, a lawyer can quickly discover records of past misconduct by the accusing officer—if they exist—and with that information in hand, can “start shifting that red arrow toward the police officer, by showing that they’ve also been engaged in activity that deteriorates their credibility.”

    “It takes the judge’s attention away from what your client did wrong to get here, and puts more of a burden on the police officer to prove that your client actually did something,” Conti-Cook said. That matters, she added, because “more and more, in this broken-windows climate, the main and sometimes only witness in a case will be a police officer.”

    According to Luongo, lawyers at Legal Aid are encouraged to be comprehensive in uploading information to the system, which means including complaints that ended up being dismissed or that could not be substantiated, and making note of those outcomes. It’s up to the lawyers who use the database to determine whether and how to present the information they find in the database in court.

    The contents of the Legal Aid database have been harvested from a variety of sources, including documents known as Brady letters that are submitted by prosecutors before trial as part of their obligation to disclose exculpatory material to the defense. Prosecutors usually submit Brady letters at the “eleventh hour,” said Conti-Cook, meaning right before trial is set to start, and often defense attorneys put them in their file, maybe use them once during the proceedings, and then never think about them again. The database, Conti-Cook said, is about “taking that institutional knowledge and figuring out a systematic way of sharing it with everyone.”

    Other sources of information include civil lawsuits filed against the city, criminal trials in which a police witness was deemed not credible by a judge, and news reports about police wrongdoing. Information also comes from grievances that New Yorkers have filed against individual officers with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, a city agency that investigates and prosecutes police misconduct. Once a week, interns from the Legal Aid Society are dispatched to take notes on public hearings at the CCRB, then incorporate any valuable tidbits they hear into the database.

  82. says

    Texas state legislator Garnet Coleman proposes bill to place strong limits on ‘Stand Your Ground’ law

    Yesterday I filled House Bill 1627, a bill that would repeal the Texas “Stand Your Ground” law. In 2007, I was one of only 13 legislators to vote against the bill’s passage because I understood the danger it presents to everyday Texans.

    Today, if a person uses deadly force against someone they have reason to believe presents a threat to them, that deadly force is presumed to be reasonable. It’s presumed to be reasonable even if it later turns out they actually presented no threat at all.

    There’s nothing reasonable about this. In fact, it’s dangerous. We have codified “shooting first, and asking questions later”. It allows people to target others based on assumptions, normalizing otherwise criminal behavior. Trayvon Martin was just walking down the street; Jordan Davis was just listening to music in a car with his friends.

    When I hear stories like those, it makes me particularly concerned for young men of color. We already deal with the day-to-day, default criminalization that makes being black a dangerous prospect. The “Stand Your Ground” law compounds the problem by giving permission to those who would kill us on the basis of prejudice alone.

    As I told KVUE yesterday, “I’m more afraid now, personally, than I ever have been since the 70s that somehow somebody’s going to make a mistake and believe that I’m dangerous”.

    Before this law passed in 2007, if you had an opportunity to safely avoid or escape a dangerous situation, that was the right thing to do. Today, the law encourages armed individuals to seek out danger and use deadly force when they find it. In a 2012 Texas A&M University study on the effects of “Stand Your Ground” laws passed nationwide, researchers noted an 7-9% increase in homicides in states with the law. This uptick in violence is hard to ignore. That’s 600 additional homicides a year.

    We cannot allow people to use violence recklessly just because they are afraid. Who or what people find dangerous is in the “eye of the beholder”. That’s why this week’s song comes from Metallica. House Bill 1627 will return the use of deadly force to a common sense standard. It is our responsibility to return Texas law to a balance that values human life, avoids violence when possible and preserves the right to self-defense in clear situations of immediate life-threatening danger.

    You can read more about why passing House Bill 1627 is so important to me in the op-ed I wrote for today’s edition of the Houston Chronicle.

  83. rq says

    Baltimore Police Launch Investigation Into New Brutality Claim, autoplay video at the link.

    Police say so far, no one from the community has filed a formal complaint with internal affairs but the department says it is committed to transparency. Derek Valcourt reports.

    Can’t catch a break, huh, Baltimore?

    The Howard Zinn Freedom to Write Award

    The prize is awarded in memory of Howard Zinn, renowned historian, writer-activist, and champion of free speech, writers and independent publishers. Zinn was posthumously awarded the 2010 Freedom to Write “Thomas Paine Award” which was then renamed to memorialize his lifelong work and dedication. The “People Speak” award recognizes American writers.
    The 2015 Zinn Award

    Ferguson activists and bloggers Johnetta Elzie and DeRay McKesson will share the 2015 Howard Zinn Freedom to Write Award for their work as activists, organizers, and citizen journalists in the Ferguson protest movement. Their reporting and This Is the Movement newsletter engaged and unified disparate voices in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Their activism focused an enraged community, and has been instrumental in transforming a cycle of tragedies into a movement, assuring that the world would not forget the names of Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and too many others.

    Elzie and McKesson’s reporting demonstrate the dedication to justice and equality that Zinn made his life’s mission, and that he referred to specifically in this passage from A Power Governments Cannot Suppress:

    “A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress.”

    In awarding Johnetta Elzie and DeRay McKesson the 2015 Zinn Award, we are recognizing their work in speaking truth to power and providing a necessary counterpoint to the mainstream narrative.


    ‘Little Ballers’ Documentary Teaches Us That Black Boys Aren’t Monolithic

    “Little Ballers,” a 2013 documentary that premieres Wednesday on Nickelodeon, focuses on the New York-based AAU basketball team New Heights as they fight their way to the national championship. Four boys in particular, Judah, Tyriek, Cole and Kevin, pepper in their opinions on basketball and life in general, noting their personal goals of making it to the NBA.

    At 11 years old, these boys evoke the raw emotion of childhood innocence, which is counterbalanced by the adults of the movie — including their Coach Billy, current and former NBA players like Carmelo Anthony and Walt Frazier, and cultural pundits such as Travis King and Roland Martin — who stress the idea that dreams also have a layer of reality to them.

    In addition to its all-star cast, “Little Ballers” is directed by author Crystal McCrary, who happens to be one of the team moms, and executive produced by recording artist Lupe Fiasco and NBA player Amar’e Stoudemire. […]

    Throughout filming, McCrary encountered a slew of emotions, including on-court tantrums, locker room tears and, of course, the unabashed boys who tell it like it is. “Since the boys hadn’t had any real disappointments in their 11-year-old lives, they believed they could scale Mount Everest, they believed that they are going to make it to the NBA, despite the fact that the odds are overwhelmingly against them,” she said. “And that’s inspirational.”

    However, there are underlying themes within “Little Ballers” that bring up society’s ongoing interaction with black boys and men. The film illuminates the issue of street and gang violence, and how the AAU helps kids avoid dangerous situations, allowing them to make safer decisions. […]

    Further, McCrary touches on another overarching tone: the stereotypical notion that black people, especially men and boys, are monolithic characters in America — especially in the social and political climate following the killings of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and several others.

    New Heights wasn’t just a “black team,” as its members had different backgrounds, but the film mostly focuses on black players and coaches, which has more meaning than just race. “It’s about these four boys that come from diverse family and economic situations,” McCrary said. […]

    More importantly, McCrary felt like the boys’ different upbringings prove that in the face of diversity, there can be common ground. “So, we as people of color in this country come from all different backgrounds and all different family situations, so we’re not monolithic,” McCray said, but the team’s commitment to each other combats stereotype.

    “I also found inspiration in the bond that they developed as brothers,” she noted. “For these young men, race, class and culture really meant nothing, but what did mean something was the brotherhood they developed playing together as teammates and getting to know each other off the court.”

    Editorial: Closing police video records is wrong step for Missouri

    For all the division among black and white and Republican and Democrat in responding to the killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner, there is wide agreement that body cameras and dash cams serve both the public interest and that of police. Whether you tend to identify more with police or with protesters, you can find a reason to support body cameras. Transparency cuts both ways; it can increase trust between police and the communities they serve, and it can protect officers from unfair accusations of brutality.

    A December Washington Post-ABC News poll, for instance, found that 86 percent of Americans believe police should wear cameras while on duty. And while there was some split depending on political affiliation — 94 percent of liberal Democrats support the idea of body cameras compared to 79 percent of conservative Republicans — the overwhelming consensus is clear.

    But when it comes to developing state policies that govern the use of body cameras, the devil is in the details, and in Missouri, the current proposal under debate in the Legislature would actually be a giant step backward on the issue of transparency and government accountability.

    Senate Bill 331, sponsored by Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, seeks to change the state’s Sunshine Law so that neither dash cam video nor body camera video would be open records. Such a change to state law would reverse the status quo that, for instance, allowed the public access to the St. Louis Police Department dash cam video of the April 10 arrest of Cortez Bufford.

    In that video, police are shown surrounding Mr. Bufford — who was found to have a Kel-Tec 9mm semi-automatic pistol — kicking him and eventually jolting him twice with a Taser. Police Chief Sam Dotson says the video shows a proper escalation of various police techniques to get a resisting suspect to submit to arrest. But it also captured Officer Kelli Swinton telling her fellow officers to wait until she could turn off the dash cam: “Hold up, everybody, hold up. We’re red right now, so if you guys are worried about cameras, just wait,” she said.

    Officer Swinton has been suspended for five days. She is challenging the suspension.

    Were Senate Bill 331 to become law, it would take a court order for the video to be released to the public.

    Transparency and trust, and potentially the ability of a police officer to defend his or her actions, would vanish. That’s the wrong response to a policy that is being implemented across the country with the stated purpose of increasing trust between police and the communities they serve.

    Instead, Missouri lawmakers should pay close attention to the guidelines produced in a Justice Department report in conjunction with the Police Executive Research Forum, the same group currently studying best police practices in the St. Louis region. The report recognizes the difficulty of balancing public transparency with privacy concerns, but, it says, for body cameras to make a difference, there has to be some level of public accountability.

    “Once an agency travels down the road of deploying body-worn cameras, it will be difficult to reverse course because the public will come to expect the availability of video records,” the report cautions. Policies should balance “accountability, transparency and privacy rights.” […]

    Missouri Republicans, who control the Legislature with veto-proof majorities, are famous for their distrust of the federal government, proposing a variety of bills over the past few years that would seek to nullify federal laws and, in some cases, criminalize federal law enforcement activity.

    The bills, misguided as they have been, are based on the philosophy that state lawmakers don’t trust the government, particularly at the federal level. In their parlance, for the sake of individual liberty, they seek protection from government tyranny.

    At its core, that is what the push for body cameras is about, giving the public the tools to limit the power of government.

    On Monday, at a public meeting of the Missouri Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, St. Louis police Capt. Mary Edwards-Fears got to the heart of the issue surrounding the need for community trust in police.

    “People will not tolerate being kept out of the information loop, especially when it comes to policing and public safety,” Capt. Edwards-Fears said. “When it comes to critical incidents, we must explain ourselves fully and quickly.”

    Adding body cameras to police operations in Missouri but making the videos secret defeats their purpose. Lawmakers need to find a better balance that starts with this presumption: Police videos are public records.

    More at the link.

    James Baldwin Denounced Richard Wright’s ‘Native Son’ As a ‘Protest Novel.’ Was He Right?

    James Baldwin excoriated the protest novel as a pamphlet in literary disguise, tenanted by caricatures in service to a social or political agenda. Its failure, he wrote, lay in “its insistence that it is . . . categorization alone which is real and which cannot be transcended.” Bigger Thomas, the protagonist of Richard Wright’s “Native Son,” cannot transcend blackness, and his blackness, in Wright’s hands, is as ugly and debased a thing as ever was. Whether the book is a protest novel, or even whether it fails as a work of literature, are questions unworthy of a groundbreaking work that continues to inspire debate 75 years after its publication. More relevant is the matter of its resonance in our time, so distant from Wright’s own.

    “Native Son” sold an astonishing 215,000 copies within three weeks of publication. Thus, a great many people received a swift and unsparing education in the conditions in which blacks lived in ghettos all over America. Of course, black people already knew about all of that, so it is safe to conclude that Wright’s intended audience was white. And, in any case, I don’t imagine many black people would have embraced such a grotesque portrait of themselves. Bigger Thomas is a rapist and a murderer motivated only by fear, hate and a slew of animal impulses. He is the black ape gone berserk that reigned supreme in the white racial imagination. Other black characters in the novel don’t fare much better — they are petty criminals or mammies or have been so ground under the heel of oppression as to be without agency or even intelligence. Wright’s is a bleak and ungenerous depiction of black life.

    Wright knew this, of course — his characters were purposely exaggerated, in part to elicit a white audience’s sympathy and to shock it into racial awareness and political action. But where does that leave his black subjects? Let us consider some other works published in roughly the same era: Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Jean Toomer’s “Cane,” Ann Petry’s “The Street.” Like Bigger Thomas, the protagonists in these books are black, suffering under segregation and, for the most part, poor. Unlike Bigger Thomas, they are robust and nuanced characters — not caricatures endlessly acting out the pathologies of race. Much of the black literature of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, explicitly or implicitly, was concerned with race in America. How could it have been otherwise? For better or worse, many of the characters in the literature of that period were representational to some extent — black people in the real world were the correlative to black characters on the page. And this is significant, because when black writers affirmed their black subjects’ full humanity, the scope of their novels included the expectation that the real world would change radically so that it too could affirm and acknowledge that humanity. I am led to wonder, then, about a character like Bigger Thomas. What future, what vision is reflected in such a miserable and incompletely realized creature?
    Continue reading the main story

    It would be absurd to deny the accomplishments of “Native Son” or to protest its distinguished place in the literary canon. With Bigger Thomas, Wright courageously defied those who would have preferred a milder character, a less provocative commentary on the “problem of the color line” (as Du Bois called it), one that would reassure white readers rather than terrify them. And certainly, when Baldwin attacked “Native Son” he was, as he wrote in his essay “Alas, Poor Richard,” at a “carnivorous age,” sharpening his sword to kill his literary father so that he could take his place. Nonetheless, with regard to resonance, “Native Son” is limited by a circumscribed vision that fails to extend much beyond the novel’s moment in 1940. Certainly the racism that made Bigger Thomas still exists, but, thank God, Bigger Thomas himself does not — he never did.

    @deray From Canfield Drive to Bay Street in Staten Island, the movement connects us. #HandsUpDontShoot #ICantBreathe
    For the record, it’s been just over 200 days of protesting and activism. 200.

  84. rq says

    Here’s three on that secret torture house in Chicago. Sorry, the ‘interrogation compound’. With enhanced interrogation techniques? Maybe, maybe not – but it is alleged that people are brought there with none of the paperwork.
    Chicago Police deny report of secret interrogation compound at Homan Square site

    The Guardian newspaper published a story Tuesday saying the Chicago Police Department operates an “off-the-books interrogation compound” that some local defense lawyers called the domestic version of a secret CIA “black site,” but police officials responded that the facility isn’t used to violate suspects’ rights — and isn’t even secret.

    The massive Homan Square facility is a former Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse on the West Side. The building now houses the police department’s Organized Crime Bureau, the Evidence and Recovered Property Section, its ballistics lab and the SWAT unit.

    “The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago Police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the U.S. war on terrorism,” the Guardian reported.

    But the existence of the building isn’t being kept under wraps by the police: The public is able to recover inventoried property from the evidence unit and news conferences are regularly held at Homan Square when the department shows off seized drugs.

    And unlike other Chicago Police facilities over the years, no allegations of torture have been reported in the media in connection with Homan Square.

    Marty Maloney, a spokesman for the police department, said interviews are handled no differently at Homan Square than at other police facilities, such as the department’s 22 districts or its three detective headquarters.

    “If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them,” Maloney said. “There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square.”

    Arrest reports are completed at Homan Square, and suspects are taken to other facilities for booking, Maloney said.

    The Guardian quoted Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “NATO 3,” saying he was handcuffed for about 17 hours and was denied access to an attorney while police interrogated him. Church said he was later taken to the nearby Harrison police district, where he was booked.

    “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East,” Church was quoted as saying.

    The Guardian story didn’t allege that Church suffered from physical abuse at Homan Square other than his complaint that his left wrist was handcuffed to a bar behind a bench and his ankles were cuffed together. [… – so, the first report doesn’t mention torture as such, just general mistreatment (probably similar to what happens anyway) but the PD jumps to torture right away…]

    The Guardian spoke to several Chicago defense attorneys who said they’d never heard of Homan Square before their clients were taken there. Attorneys have attempted to gain access to the facility, but were “most often turned away even as their clients remain in custody inside,” the newspaper reported.

    The Guardian also ominously noted that John Hubbard, 44, was found unresponsive in an interview room at Homan Square and pronounced dead on Feb. 2, 2013. The Guardian said the Cook County medical examiner’s office couldn’t locate a record indicating his cause of death.

    But on Tuesday, the office told the Sun-Times that Hubbard died of an accidental heroin overdose. He was taken into custody after he allegedly bought drugs from an undercover officer, arrest records show.

    So he overdosed while in police custody? That also doesn’t sound quite right…

    Story two, Chicago police deny British paper’s claims about beatings, illegal detentions

    “CPD abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility,” department spokesman Martin Maloney said in a statement. “If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them. It also houses CPD’s Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property.”

    The British newspaper’s story, which describes the Homan Square facility as being akin to a CIA black site, quoted a few attorneys and Brian Church, who was part of the so-called NATO 3. That three men were convicted last year on explosives charges, not more serious state terrorism charges, on allegations that they made crude Molotov cocktails in the lead-up to the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.

    Church is quoted as saying he was handcuffed for 17 hours and interrogated by police at the Homan Square facility while being denied access to an attorney. Church and two others received sentences ranging from five to eight years.

    The story characterizes the facility as being “off the books,” but in his statement, Maloney said, “There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square.”

    “The allegation that physical violence is a part of interviews with suspects is unequivocally false,” Maloney said. “It is offensive, and it is not supported by any facts whatsoever.”

    And three, Chicago police are running a horrifying CIA-style black site out of a warehouse – from the headline, this one ran prior to the Chicago PD disclaimer.

    Unlike the CIA’s black sites, The Guardian reports that the Chicago facility targets people who aren’t suspected of terror-related activities; the site is reportedly shared by anti-gang and anti-drug police units.

    In one instance, The Guardian reports, 12 people who were protesting a Nato summit in 2012 were taken to the warehouse. One man, Jacob Church, says he was cuffed to a bench for around 17 hours and interrogated without receiving Miranda rights. “Essentially, I wasn’t allowed to make contact with anybody,” Church told The Guardian. “I had essentially figured, ‘all right, well, they disappeared us and so we’re probably never going to see the light of day again.'” An attorney who eventually gained access to the facility reportedly had to talk to Church through a “floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage.” But most attorneys, The Guardian notes, have been completely turned away from the site.

    One detainee, John Hubbard, died in the facility, The Guardian reports. At the time, The Chicago Tribune unceremoniously reported the event under the headline “man in custody found unresponsive, dies.”

    “”That scares the hell out of me.””


    As The Guardian’s report demonstrates, it’s not just weapons from the war on terror that are flowing to police departments across the country: it’s tactics and attitudes, too. “I’ve never known of any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours,” retired DC homicide detective James Trainum told The Guardian. “That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist.”

    Baltimore again. Should city school police be armed inside school walls? Board hears from both sides

    A bill, introduced in the General Assembly by Del. Curt Anderson and Sen. Joan Carter Conway, would allow members of the 141-member city school police force — the only sworn force in the state designated specifically for a school district — to carry service weapons in school buildings while classes are in session.

    The measure would allow a change advocated by the city school board, and officers say the matter is one of life and death.

    “I want to be on the right side of history,” Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, president of the city school police union, told board members.

    “We’re one heartbeat away from our town becoming the next Newtown,” he said, referring to the 2012 incident in which a gunman entered a Connecticut elementary school and fatally shot 20 children and 6 adults.

    Current law allows the city school officers, who are assigned primarily to middle and high schools, to be armed only while patrolling the exterior of school buildings and before and after school hours. They cannot be armed while stationed inside schools during the day.

    Despite the restrictions, city school police officials acknowledge that officers often carry weapons in school buildings anyway — essentially breaking the law — because they are constantly moving on and off school grounds.

    However, the measure is vehemently opposed by some parents, students and youth advocates who say the presence of weapons makes students feel like criminals and heightens fear of violence inside school walls.

    “Our kids face violence every day living in Baltimore City. … There has to be a place where they can go and not have to be exposed to firearms and deadly weapons,” said Aimee Harmon-Darrow, the parent of a first-grader at Creative City Public Charter School. She said she has already had to explain to her son how a schoolmate’s father was killed in gun violence.

    “I want this bill shot down,” said Darius Craig, a senior at Digital Harbor High School. “They need to be focused on other things, like the professionalism of the police force. I think that will make us feel safer.”

    Proponents include hundreds of educators throughout the city and students like Debra Hammond, a junior at Merganthaler Vocational-Technical Senior High School, who said they feel safer knowing school police are in their buildings. [wanna bet she’s white? …]

    “Where is the research, the data that suggests that this particular change is needed in order to keep our children safer?” said Del. Mary Washington, a Baltimore Democrat. Washington said she generally opposes guns in schools, and believes the district needs to better justify the change.

    “This is a real opportunity, when we’re looking at the role of law enforcement, to step back and assess the climate in our schools,” said Washington, calling the current proposal “a piecemeal approach.”

    Darrow and other parents said they have many unanswered questions about the legislation — in part because the district failed to inform residents that it was in the works. Darrow started an online petition, which had more than 300 signatures as of Tuesday, calling for officials to withdraw the bill, provide more information about why it’s needed and allow more parent input.

    School board officials acknowledge that when they voted in December on legislative initiatives, and later published goals for the assembly session, they did not mention the issue of allowing school officers to carry guns. Stone apologized for that Tuesday.

    State lawmakers required the school district to hold Tuesday’s hearing. Washington and other lawmakers joined residents in criticizing what she described as a lack of transparency on the issue. […]

    But Rais Akbar, juvenile justice policy director for Advocates for Children and Youth, said there is overwhelming research that guns haven’t prevented tragedies.

    And further research shows that over-policing in schools has a negative impact on students, including a rise in juvenile arrests, Akbar said, with barely any research showing guns improve school safety.

    “Given that imbalance, it suggests we should have less policing,” Akbar said. “There are a lot of nightmare scenarios that can happen, but they don’t, which means that argument amounts to nothing more than fear-mongering.”

    Three high school principals testified at the hearing Tuesday in favor of the legislation.

    “What message are we sending our kids when we say we don’t trust our police to be in your school with their weapon?” said Chris Battaglia, principal of Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove.

    City lawmakers are split on whether increasing violence in schools calls for increased access to weapons by officers.

    “If we have an incident like what’s been happening around the country, where people are going into the schools, killing teachers and killing everybody else, I think our school police should be able to carry guns,” said City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young. “We’ve got to be real about this.”

    But City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said more guns in schools — even those carried by police — could result in more children being shot.

    “I think it’s a very bad idea,” she said.

    “Do you really stop an attack because you have somebody with a gun? Or is that gun really adding to shots fired? When you take guns inside the school, you charge the atmosphere,” she said.

    I’m just flabbergasted that there’s a whole police force for policing just the school district. o.o
    From the meeting: Parent: Allowing school police to carry guns in school will ensure that there is a gun in every school. And we all know what a great idea that is! :P

    Posted before, but reposted because they keep updating – Black History Month: Faces From The New Civil Rights Movement. Protestors as people.

  85. rq says

    NYPD Commissioner Calls Out Police for ‘Many of the Worst Parts of Black History’

    Bratton made his remarks while addressing the crowd at a Black History Month event at the Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York in the Jamaica section of the city’s borough of Queens.

    “Slavery, our country’s original sin, sat on a foundation codified by laws and enforced by police, by slave catchers,” Bratton reportedly said, pointing out that “many of the worst parts of black history would have been impossible without police.”

    The commissioner used New York’s own history as an example, pointing to Dutch settler Peter Stuyvesant’s arrival in then-New Amsterdam. Stuyvesant’s first action, Bratton noted, was to build a police force before using enslaved people to build the colony, according to the news site.

    “Since then, the stories of police and black citizens have intertwined again and again,” Bratton added. “The unequal nature of that relationship cannot and must not be denied.”

    Waiting for the outcry.
    Bill Bratton’s Rhetorical Reparations

    Recognition of our forebears does matter, and it’s welcome when they are not used as a commercial for American racial progress. But Black History Month has become a platitudinous moment, representative of so much said and much less done.

    I was reminded of that today, when New York Police Department Commissioner William Bratton addressed an African Methodist Episcopal church in Jamaica, Queens. Bratton, whose already beleaguered reputation in communities of color took a major blow when one of his officers choked Eric Garner to death last July, made remarks that would be startling coming from any police commissioner. Business Insider reported that after Black History Month boilerplate name-drops of King and Parks, the commissioner uttered these words to the predominantly black audience:

    “The best parts of American history would have been impossible without the police. Many of the worst parts of black history would have been impossible without police, too.”

    Bratton followed that up with a history lesson about Peter Stuyvesant, one of New York’s earliest settlers and the founder of the city’s police force, who used slaves. He noted “deepening racial divide in this country—a divide we thought we had healed,” and that “the NYPD needs to face the hard truth: that in our most vulnerable neighborhoods, we have an issue with police satisfaction.”

    It isn’t the first time Bratton, in the midst of the city’s heated racial climate, has addressed these concerns; the day after the funeral of murdered officer Rafael Ramos, he told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd that he recognized the “reality” of African American concerns and fears about police. A recent New York Times report indicated that Mayor Bill de Blasio and a police union head are getting along again—some might argue too well—after a winter that saw citywide protests against cops and demonstrations by police at the funerals of two slain officers. Given that, it seems only decent and politically smart for the city’s top cop to offer an olive branch to a constituency that has been brutalized physically and emotionally by a number of the officers he leads.

    Still, Bratton was addressing the wrong audience. The commissioner’s remarks are not unlike those given nearly two weeks ago by FBI director James Comey to a collegiate crowd at Georgetown University in Washington. Both men spoke to people who may have been personally assuaged by the words, but who are virtually powerless to help those words become the action or reform that law enforcement agencies need. Both speeches amounted to little more than rhetorical reparations, mere recognition that wrong has been done in the absence of a plan to prevent future Eric Garners and Akai Gurleys. Both should have addressed the people who can actually change the culture of policing: the officers and agents under their command.

    It is also a fairly easy placation, particularly during the time of year our country sets aside for such confession, to state the obvious: Law enforcement has authored some of the most brutal and murderous chapters of African American history. That speech is more difficult to swallow when considering the 4,500 words Bratton spat forth in December fervently defending the ineffective “broken windows” tactic he champions, even as New York’s communities of color are disproportionately targeted. Even Bratton can contain multitudes, but which words are meant to signify his true intentions? Inherently, it seems impossible that he can denounce past police evils and while he praises a policy that increases the likelihood of future discrimination by police. For real progress, some of the NYPD’s (and FBI’s, for that matter) actual enforcement practices will have to be reformed and, in the case of “broken windows,” scrapped.

    Bratton may have intended no malice on Tuesday, but he only fed us a line—just in time for the end of Black History Month. Yes, at least it’s more than what we’re hearing out of Chicago, some may say, where The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman today reported that police have secret rendition sites, the kind of thing we hear about our government doing in overseas war zones. It’s certainly more than what we’ve heard out of my native Cleveland, where a police union head told columnist Connie Schultz that 12-year-old Tamir Rice, with only a pellet gun in his waistband, was “in the wrong” and “menacing” for those two or so seconds before he was gunned down by a rookie cop. But if Bratton’s words are exceptional only amid modern-day police horrors and other officials’ silence, I’m unsure how many black-allyship cookies Bratton really deserves.

    “We celebrate how far we’ve come, and we recognize how far we have to go,” Bratton said. That’s true. But black New Yorkers already get that. Do his officers? I don’t need Bratton’s repeated assurance that he understands the past trauma of black interactions with police. I’ll be more encouraged by practical, transparent steps taken to ensure his officers don’t interrupt black futures in this city.

    When Whites Get a Free Pass

    As they describe in two working papers, Redzo Mujcic and Paul Frijters, economists at the University of Queensland, trained and assigned 29 young adult testers (from both genders and different ethnic groups) to board public buses in Brisbane and insert an empty fare card into the bus scanner. After the scanner made a loud sound informing the driver that the card did not have enough value, the testers said, “I do not have any money, but I need to get to” a station about 1.2 miles away. (The station varied according to where the testers boarded.)

    With more than 1,500 observations, the study uncovered substantial, statistically significant race discrimination. Bus drivers were twice as willing to let white testers ride free as black testers (72 percent versus 36 percent of the time). Bus drivers showed some relative favoritism toward testers who shared their own race, but even black drivers still favored white testers over black testers (allowing free rides 83 percent versus 68 percent of the time).

    The study also found that racial disparities persisted when the testers wore business attire or dressed in army uniforms. For example, testers wearing army uniforms were allowed to ride free 97 percent of the time if they were white, but only 77 percent of the time if they were black.

    This elegant experiment follows in a tradition of audit testing, in which social scientists have sent testers of different races to, for example, bargain over the price of new cars or old baseball cards. But the Australian study is the first, to my knowledge, to focus on discretionary accommodations. It’s less likely these days to find people in positions of authority, even at lower levels of decision making, consciously denying minorities rights. But it is easier to imagine decision makers, like the bus drivers, granting extra privileges and accommodations to nonminorities. Discriminatory gifts are more likely than discriminatory denials. […]

    A police officer is an out-and-out bigot if she targets innocent blacks for speeding tickets. But an officer who is more likely to give a pass to white motorists who exceed the speed limit than to black ones is also discriminating, even if with little or no conscious awareness. This is one reason the Twitter hashtag #crimingwhilewhite is so powerful: It draws attention to the racially biased exercise of discretion by police officers, prosecutors and judges, which results in whites getting a pass for the kinds of offenses for which minorities are punished.

    Racial discrimination is more likely in settings in which both decision makers and bystanders cannot easily observe how comparable nonminorities are treated. A restaurant is unlikely to charge Hispanics higher prices for a hamburger, because the victim could compare her bill to the price listed on the menu. But one-off accommodations where the decision maker retains substantial discretion don’t offer any easy point of comparison. My kids, who are white, have never been turned down when I asked if they could use a bathroom designated for “employees only.” After reading the Australian bus study, I wonder whether the same is true for minority families.

    The bus study underscores this point. Drivers were more likely to let testers ride free when there were fewer people on the bus to observe the transaction. And the drivers themselves were probably not aware that they were treating minorities differently. When drivers, in a questionnaire conducted after the field test, were shown photographs of the testers and asked how they would respond, hypothetically, to a free-ride request, they indicated no statistically significant bias against minorities in the photos (86 percent said they would let the black individual ride free).

    Of course, unconscious bias might play out differently in the United States than in Australia. But research in America, too, suggests that decision makers use discretion to bestow benefits in a discriminatory fashion. For example, a recent study of 22 law firms by Arin N. Reeves, a lawyer and sociologist, found that partners were less critical of a junior lawyer’s draft memo if they were told the lawyer was white than if they were told the lawyer was black.

    What does white privilege mean today? In part, it means to live in the world while being given the benefit of the doubt. Have you ever been able to return a sweater without a receipt? Has an employee ever let you into a store after closing time? Did a car dealership take a little extra off the sticker price when you asked? When’s the last time you received service with a smile?

    White privilege doesn’t (usually) operate as brazenly and audaciously as in the Eddie Murphy joke, but it continues in the form of discretionary benefits, many of them unconscious ones. These privileges are hard to eradicate, but essential to understand.

  86. rq says

    It’s Not Zendaya’s Fault That Giuliana Doesn’t Know She Is a Goddess

    Zendaya inevitably looks bananas flawless at all times, as we generally note on this here website whenever she makes an appearance in public. But despite having a nigh-perfect red carpet look, Giuliana Rancic and Kelly Osborne took the Academy Awards as an opportunity to make some straight-up racist-ass comments about her hair, which is currently in locs and utterly gorgeous. Zendaya, being the excellent, intelligent young woman she is, fired back with some smart tweets and in doing so, dropped the mic.

    It all started on Fashion Police when Giuliana said that Zendaya’s hair looked like it “smells like patchouli oil.” Osbourne chimed in, “Or weed.” [Update: Osbourne has clarified that she did not make the weed comment.]

    Zendaya’s response still uncitable due to format. Will try and transcribe later, as it really is great.

    Not jsut in the States. SIU withholding identity of man shot by police, worrying transparency advocates – so there’s even less transparency? Wow.

    Due to a fairly recent policy change at the Special Investigations Unit, the public may never know the man’s identity — a troubling thought, say observers, who point out that the name is crucial to scrutinizing a shooting by police and ensuring transparency.

    The SIU, which investigates all police-related deaths, decided in 2012 to release names of people killed by officers only with the consent of the family.

    The new policy stands in contrast to police force practice, which is to routinely release the names of homicide victims regardless of the family’s wishes.

    In the case of last Wednesday’s police shooting near Dupont St. and Spadina Rd., “investigators are continuing to work diligently to locate next of kin,” SIU spokeswoman Jasbir Dhillon said. In other words, the man’s name is being kept secret while the SIU searches for his family. And if his family is located but doesn’t consent to releasing the name, it is likely to remain secret forever.

    “I would say there’s a greater need for society to understand every possible fact we can about a death when the person is shot by police, even more so than when we’re talking about a homicide not involving a police officer,” said Ryerson University journalism professor and former lawyer Lisa Taylor.

    “What other fact is more salient than the identity of the victim? The more we know, the more we can understand.”

    Taylor said it would be “reasonable” to expect families of those killed by police could experience some pressure in having to decide whether to release their relative’s name, a decision no other families of homicide victims must contemplate.

    “It may put pressure on them, but we don’t know what kind. Do they feel compelled to be quiet? Or compelled to speak up?” she said. “And what distinguishes these people who were killed from any others? No (other family) gets to make that choice.”

    Few details have been made public about last Wednesday night’s shooting. Police were called to the scene around 9:15 p.m., after getting reports of a man with a knife near 140 Spadina Rd., according to the SIU. An interaction between a police officer and the man followed, and he was shot. He was later pronounced dead in hospital. A man in his 60s was found at the scene with serious stab wounds to his neck and was also taken to hospital.

    Some other provinces name the victim of a police killing regardless of the family’s wishes. In British Columbia, the coroners’ service releases names on behalf of the police oversight body, the Independent Investigations Office, usually within 48 to 72 hours.

    Spokeswoman Barbara McLintock told the Star last year that families are notified and informed of what information will be disseminated. The coroners’ office explains the reasoning behind making names public: identities will come out in an automatically triggered coroner’s report or inquest and, often, they’re already circulating on social media anyway.

    Toronto lawyer Julian Falconer, who has represented families of those killed by police, said he is sympathetic to their situation, but supports naming the victim and the officer who used lethal force, once every effort has been made by the SIU to notify the family.

    George Zimmerman will not face federal charges in Trayvon Martin death. It made Canadian news.

    The decision resolves a case that focused public attention on self-defence gun laws and became a flashpoint in the national conversation about race two years before the Ferguson, Mo., police shooting of a black man.

    Zimmerman has maintained that he acted in self-defence when he shot the 17-year-old Martin during a confrontation inside a gated community in Sanford, Fla., just outside Orlando. Martin, who was black, was unarmed when he was killed. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

    Once Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder by a state jury in July 2013, Martin’s family turned to the federal investigation in final hopes that he would be held accountable for the shooting.

    That probe focused on whether the killing could be charged as a federal hate crime and on whether Zimmerman wilfully deprived Martin of his civil rights, a difficult legal standard to meet. But Justice Department officials said they ultimately determined there was insufficient evidence to prove Zimmerman killed the teenager on account of his race.

    “Our decision not to pursue federal charges does not condone the shooting that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin and is based solely on the high legal standard applicable to these cases,” Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s top civil rights official, said in a statement announcing the decision.

    Zimmerman’s attorney, Don West, was on a flight and couldn’t immediately comment on the decision. A call to Zimmerman’s cellphone went directly to voicemail.

    Martin’s parents were too distraught after their meeting in Miami with Justice Department officials to speak with reporters, said their attorney Ben Crump, who called the decision a “bitter pill to swallow” even though it was expected.

    “What they told his family and I was that because Trayvon wasn’t able to tell us his version of events, there was a lack of evidence to bring the charges. That’s the tragedy,” Crump said.

    They said it outright: Because Trayvon couldn’t testify, there is a lack of evidence. Like HOLY SHIT. Also, Toronto Star, seriously, this ‘resolves the case’? Like hell it does. Like hell.

  87. rq says

    Vice President Biden’s Black History Month celebration honoring those that gave their lives so we can live free. 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years since Selma. Those that walked in Selma, AL thank you for your courage and sacrifice to make a better place for our children to dream learn, and explore! #STEAM

    Baltimore officials kept in dark about detective’s brutality case

    While seeking approval this week for a $150,000 settlement in a lawsuit alleging brutality by a Baltimore detective, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration did not tell the city spending board that taxpayers had already paid $100,000 to settle another lawsuit against the officer.

    City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, concerned about the omission, called Tuesday for greater disclosure about police misconduct.

    “Going forward, that will become standard in this process,” Lester Davis, Young’s spokesman, said about information detailing previous payouts. Young “has made it clear to the Law Department that he would like to know about prior allegations. Everyone benefits in this process.”
    Behind the Baltimore Sun’s investigation into police lawsuit settlements
    Baltimore Sun reporter Mark Puente discusses The Baltimore Sun investigation into lawsuits paid by Baltimore police for police misconduct. (Baltimore Sun video)

    Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, who sits with Young on the five-member spending board, also said she wanted to know about “prior legal matters” when a proposed settlement involving a police officer comes before the board. “However, each settlement that comes to the board should stand on its facts,” she said in a statement.

    The administration vowed to provide more details about settlements after a Baltimore Sun investigation found that taxpayers had paid nearly $6 million since 2011 in lawsuits alleging misconduct by officers — including some who had been sued multiple times. The investigation also showed that city officials lacked a comprehensive system to track such misconduct.

    The new settlement — one of two police-related proposals scheduled for a Board of Estimates vote Wednesday — would provide $150,000 to Marque Marshall. The Baltimore man had to have two fingers reattached after Detective Calvin Moss shot him in the Belair-Edison neighborhood in 2013.

    In such settlements, the officer and city do not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

    Documents sent to Board of Estimates members didn’t mention that Moss has faced other lawsuits alleging misconduct. In 2012, for example, the city paid a $100,000 settlement to a cafeteria worker who alleged that Moss wrongfully arrested her while she was delivering church raffle tickets.

    Juries ruled in favor of Moss in two other lawsuits.

    City lawyers didn’t disclose the $100,000 settlement on Monday when they briefed Young and Pratt. The officials didn’t learn about the earlier payout until The Sun asked the administration about the omission.

    Amid the community anger sparked by The Sun investigation, administration officials said in October that the Law Department’s settlement committee of eight senior lawyers would get information on prior lawsuits and determine whether an officer would make a good witness in court. Officials also vowed to provide more detailed records to the Board of Estimates.

    Mayoral spokesman Kevin Harris said city lawyers do not want to prejudice board members, so they only provide information on a lawsuit under consideration. Older allegations or earlier payouts will be provided if board members request records, he added, noting that neither Young nor Pratt had asked for that.

    “If the council president and comptroller want that information, all they have to do is ask,” Harris said.

    Harris said the administration is not hiding information from the public. “There’s nothing to suggest that we’re not being transparent.”

    City Councilman Warren Branch, head of the public safety committee, said the administration should disclose information about earlier payouts to the Board of Estimates. “We should be transparent in everything since it’s the people’s money.”

    Last fall, some ministers and activists were skeptical of Rawlings-Blake’s transparency pledge. That’s still true.

    “That conduct does not surprise me,” said attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who frequently represents plaintiffs in lawsuits against police officers. “I don’t have much confidence in their disclosure system.”

    Here’s something new out of the fog of history, Black Statue of Liberty – Summary Report

    In early 1998, the Statue of Liberty National Monument staff began receiving inquiries about rumors that the Statue of Liberty was originally meant to be a monument to the end of slavery in America at the end of the Civil War. In response, the Monument’s Superintendent launched an intensive, two-year investigation of the rumors and the truth about the statue’s early history. The research reported here is based on investigations conducted on the internet, through personal interviews and in public and private library and archival collections in the U.S. and France.

    The rumors have been circulating on the Internet, through e-mail networks and in telephone calls. In their totality, the rumors constitute a counter-narrative about the origin and development of the statue that preserves and transmits valuable information about its early history (discussed in Part I of the report). Parts II and III of the report examine four specific claims that are made in the multiple and often overlapping versions of the rumors. Part III also includes a discussion of the roles of African Americans in the statue’s early history (1876-1886) and race relations as an enduring theme associated with the monument. A Chronology of American Race Relations for the Statue of Liberty is presented here. Following the Conclusions and Recommendations for Further Research, appendices present additional information about research methods, specific research findings concerning the rumors’ Proof of Documents, a chronology of internet and media dissemination of the rumors, and a list of further readings about the meanings and interpretations of the statue.

    The Rumors

    Claim 1. The Statue of Liberty was conceived at a dinner party in 1865 at the home of Edouard de Laboulaye, a prominent French abolitionist, following the death of President Lincoln.

    Finding: This story is a legend. All available evidence points to its conception in 1870 or 1871. The dinner party legend is traceable to a single source — an 1885 fund-raising pamphlet written by the statue’s sculptor, Auguste Bartholdi, after the death of Laboulaye.

    Claim 2. Edouard de Laboulaye and Auguste Bartholdi were well-known French abolitionists who proposed the monument to recognize the critical roles played by black soldiers in the Civil War.

    Finding: No evidence was found to support the claim that the Statue of Liberty was intended to memorialize black combatants in the Civil War. Edouard de Laboulaye was a prolific French abolitionist who believed that the end of slavery marked the realization of the American democratic ideal embodied in the Declaration of Independence. His use of references to the French role in the American Revolution to generate support for his efforts on behalf of American slaves and freedmen are critical to understanding his conception of the Statue of Liberty. Auguste Bartholdi was largely apolitical and adapted his self-presentation to advance his career as an artist. His frequent references to race-related subjects during his 1871 visit to the United States reflect the influences of his French patrons and American contacts.

    Claim 3: The original model for the Statue of Liberty was a black woman, but the design was changed to appease white Americans who would not accept an African-American Liberty.

    Finding: The statue’s design almost certainly evolved from an earlier concept Bartholdi proposed for a colossal monument in Egypt, for which the artist used his drawings of Egyptian women as models. Bartholdi’s preliminary design for the Statue of Liberty is consistent with contemporary depictions of Liberty, but differs markedly from sculptures representing freed American slaves and Civil War soldiers. Bartholdi changed a broken shackle and chain in the statue’s left hand to tablets inscribed “July IV, MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776) at Laboulaye’s request, to emphasize a broader vision of liberty for all mankind. There is no evidence that Bartholdi’s “original” design was perceived by white American supporters or the United States government as representing a black woman, or was changed on those grounds.

    Claim4: By the time of its dedication in 1886, European immigration to the United States had increased so substantially that earlier meanings associated with the statue were eclipsed, and this association has continued to be the predominant understanding of the statue’s meaning from then until now.

    Finding: The conventional interpretation of the statue as a monument to American immigrants is a twentieth-century phenomenon. In its early years (1871-1886), that view was only rarely and vaguely expressed, while references to the Civil War and abolition of slavery occur repeatedly from its first introduction to the United States in 1871 up to and including the dedication celebrations in 1886. Immigrants did not actually see the Statue of Liberty in large numbers until after its unveiling. In the early twentieth century, the statue became a popular symbol for nativists and white supremacists. Official use of the statue’s image to appeal to immigrants only began in earnest with public efforts to Americanize immigrant children and the government’s advertising campaign for World War I bonds. The “immigrant” interpretation gained momentum in the 1930s as Americans prepared for war with Hitler and by the 1950s, it had become the predominant understanding of the statue’s original purpose and meaning.

    The article addresses a few of the issues in greater detail, but very interesting, I thought.

    You’d think they’d realize it makes them part of the problem. NYPD cops call Eric Garner training ‘boring’ and ‘waste of time’

    The New York Police Department has reviewed half of the surveys filled out by the 4,000 police officers that have taken the three-day training program, according to the New York Post’s “high-ranking source,” and cops are reportedly calling the course a “waste of time.”

    The training includes two days of mostly lectures on policing tactics and one day of training officers how to use a “high-low takedown” to subdue suspects rather than a chokehold, the source said. The NYPD began offering the training last year following the incident in which Eric Garner, an unarmed black man accused of illegally selling cigarettes, died after being placed in a chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

    Many officers have fallen asleep during the sessions, the Post added, as 16,000 others wait for their turn at the training.

    Though maneuvers like the one used last July by Pantaleo on Garner are illegal for local police to use, a recent review found that officers were quick to employ the tactic and were rarely punished to a considerable extent for doing so.

    “Officers thought they were going to get some real hands-on, quality training on how to deal with a hostile prisoner or arrestee,” the Post source said. “They didn’t get that.”

    Eight-hour lectures at the NYPD’s $750 million academy in Queens – equipped with a mock bank, bodega, and police cars – have put some participants to sleep, he said.

    “It’s three days, it’s boring and there’s no real tactics,” the source stated. “They’re not putting them in scenarios. Cops felt they would get more tactical training in light of the Eric Garner case.”

    The first day of the training focuses on a workshop called ‘Blue Courage,’ which focuses on, according to the organization’s website, “self-improvement, increased engagement, stress-management, developing resilience, igniting culture change, combatting cynicism, while improving overall health and well-being.”

    “It’s more of a self-reflection kind of course,” the source said. “Reflecting on how they can improve as police officers.”

    It sounds like the right kind of training with the wrong kind of attitude. Seriously, more tactics? Hands-on? You’d think the case had shown they need less of the hands-on…

    Byron Allen Files $20 Billion Discrimination Lawsuit Against Comcast and Al Sharpton

    Bryon Allen’s company, National Association of African-American Owned Media, filed a $20 billion discrimination lawsuit against Comcast, Al Sharpton, Time Warner and various African-American advocacy groups. Allen states in the lawsuit that his company has been denied opportunities to secure distribution on cable systems owned by Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

    “100% African American–owned media has been shut out by Comcast,” the lawsuit alleges. “Of the approximately $11 billion in channel carriage fees that Comcast pays to license television channels each year, less than $3 million is paid to 100% African American–owned media.”

    Allen’s production and distribution company consists of digital channels as Justice Central, Cars.TV and Comedy.TV.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit states that Comcast paid Sharpton and his National Action Network more than $3.8 million “in donations and as salary for the on-screen television hosting position on MSNBC.” Sharpton is paid $750,000 a year by NBCUniversal, the lawsuit said.

    Sharpton was named as a defendant in his lawsuit as well as the NAACP and the Urban League, because they’ve all received contributions from Comcast.

    The lawsuit goes on to say that the black channels on Comcast are “fronts” and “white-owned businesses” that are actually ran by friends or family members of Comcast executives.

    In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Comcast basically scoffed at the lawsuit.

    “We do not generally comment on pending litigation, but this complaint represents nothing more than a string of inflammatory, inaccurate, and unsupported allegations,” Comcast stated.

    Sharpton’s National Action Network told The Hollywood Reporter that the lawsuit is frivolous. “If in fact we were to be served, we would gladly defend our relationship with any company as well as to state on the record why we found these discriminatory accusations made by said party to be less than credible and beneath the standards that we engage in.”

    NAN also stated that, “As for Rev. Sharpton’s TV show ratings the numbers are clear. Rev. Sharpton’s show has the highest ratings of any 6 p.m. show in the history of the network.”

    The school to prison pipeline, explained

    Juvenile crime rates are plummeting, and the number of Americans in juvenile detention has dropped. One report shows the juvenile incarceration rate dropped 41 percent between 1995 and 2010.

    But school discipline policies are moving in the opposite direction: out-of-school suspensions have increased about 10 percent since 2000. They have more than doubled since the 1970s. Black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students, according to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, and research in Texas found students who have been suspended are more likely to be held back a grade and drop out of school entirely. Those facts have led to concern among some people, including the Obama administration, that schools are suspending students too much and need to find other ways to discipline them.

    The reason the difference between juvenile detention and school discipline is so surprising — and the reason school discipline is seen as a growing concern — is that the two are connected, leading civil-rights advocates to talk about a “school-to-prison pipeline.” Especially for older students, trouble at school can lead to their first contact with the criminal justice system. And in many cases, schools themselves are the ones pushing students into the juvenile justice system — often by having students arrested at school.

    Here’s how the current state of school discipline developed and why some districts and federal officials are working to change the status quo.

    Items include zero tolerance policies, discipline outsourced to juvenile courts and officers in schools, racial disparity in discipline, and more.

    Brace yourselves for this one, especially where Tamir Rice is discussed. A City of Two Tales

    Cleveland is becoming a city defined by its collective impatience. Nearly three months have passed since a white Cleveland police officer shot and killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy wielding an air gun in a city park.

    We’re still waiting to see if the rookie officer who shot him, Timothy Loehmann, will be indicted.

    Less than two weeks after Tamir died, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder flew to Cleveland to publicly deliver the Department of Justice’s findings after a two-year investigation into police practices.

    The devastating 58-page report, written by U.S. attorney Steven Dettelbach and DOJ staff, chronicled a pattern of unreasonable and excessive force so extreme and systemic—and unconstitutional—that federal and city officials are now negotiating a consent decree, enforced by court supervision, to ensure reform.

    We’re waiting for that, too.

    I asked Dettelbach earlier this month when, if he were solely in charge, would he announce the consent decree. His response: “Yesterday.”

    He quickly added that, of course, it was appropriate to wait for community input, but there’s no denying his restlessness. “My constant push is, ‘Why isn’t it done yet?’”

    Police Chief Calvin Williams’ response to Dettelbach’s question is to raise his eyebrows and frown. “Easy for him to say,” he said in an interview last week. “They had two years to work on this report. We’ve only had a few weeks to digest it and respond.”

    Mayor Frank Jackson echoed the chief. “We asked for them to do it. We cooperated with them. Now, I am trying to bring calm and stability to the process to get this right.”

    Jackson made early headlines and drew considerable criticism by insisting problems outlined in the DOJ report were not systemic, despite its extraordinarily blunt conclusion that “the trust between the Cleveland Division of Police and many of the communities it serves is broken.” The report called for “a cultural shift at all levels to change an ‘us-against-them’ mentality we too often observed.” In an interview last week, Jackson said his critics were missing the point.

    “My biggest complaint [with the DOJ report] is that it didn’t go far enough,” he said. “Investigate the criminal justice system and the disparity in how police are held accountable. Investigate who gets arrested and who does not; who gets indicted and who does not. … If you aren’t addressing that, then the consent decree is an illusion, and a facade.” […]

    Neither race nor Tamir Rice were mentioned in the DOJ report, but his death and the police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson and New York have added a sense of urgency to the call for action in Cleveland.

    In the absence of visible and immediate progress, generalizations about what’s at stake in Cleveland continue to dominate discourse here and across the nation—in media coverage, on talk shows and on social media. The mix of opinions, in no particular order:

    Residents fear and hate the police, or they respect the police and want more of them in their neighborhoods.

    The mayor has been weakened by recent events, or he is emboldened by not-so-distant successes in downtown development and school reform.

    Consent decree negotiations between the DOJ and city officials are stalled or progressing, productive or hostile, concluding soon or God only knows when.

    Every accusation meets its counterpunch; every proposed solution seems daunting in its execution. One of the most enduring allegations, in the wake of recent police killings of a number of unarmed black residents, is that too many Cleveland cops are racist and unnecessarily aggressive.

    Too often in that regard, the rank and file who insist otherwise have not been served well by their spokesmen. […]

    For a few years, Loomis lost his union leadership to Jeff Follmer, who was even more intemperate. Last fall, Follmer insisted in an interview with MSNBC that Tamir Rice’s death was “justifiable.” For those Americans concerned about excessive use of force, he had a suggestion.

    “How about this: Listen to police officers’ commands. Listen to what we tell you, and just stop. I think that eliminates a lot of problems.”

    As of last month, Loomis is back at the union’s helm. He seems determined to help frame the ongoing conversation of what comes next. Three weeks ago, he showed up at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church for a packed rally convened by the Greater Cleveland Congregations.

    The GCC is a nonpartisan coalition of faith groups from the city and surrounding Cuyahoga County. It is arguably one of the most influential of the 13 groups to make consent decree recommendations in recent weeks to Jackson, Williams and Dettelbach.

    At the GCC event on Feb. 3, dozens of people, representing more than 1,100 in attendance, walked up to the microphone and announced their organizations and how many members they’d brought with them. Soon after, one of the speakers on stage introduced Steve Loomis, who was sitting in the audience at the front of the church. The same white guy who four years earlier had described Cleveland residents as the “dregs of society” stood and smiled.

    The crowd, two-thirds black and sitting in a church in one of Cleveland’s poorest neighborhoods, erupted into prolonged applause.

    “I was surprised,” Loomis told me in an interview two days later. “I was surprised at that amount of support for the police. It was a stark contrast to some of the other public meetings I’ve attended where I’ve been called a neo-Nazi and leader of the Klan.”

    Chief Williams smiled when I told him about the applause for Loomis. But unlike Loomis, he acknowledged that mistakes occur.

    “I’ve been saying that all along. There are a lot of things happening that don’t reflect well on us, but the majority support us. They understand we make mistakes. … I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a community meeting or run into someone and they say, ‘We support you.’”

    Mayor Jackson, who was also in attendance, said he also wasn’t surprised by the warm response to Loomis, and used it to illustrate what he thinks the DOJ got wrong. “I’ve said continually that we don’t have in Cleveland the kind of anti-police mentality they have in other places. As a general rule, they do well.”

    The Rev. Jawanza Colvin, who is head pastor at the storied and influential Olivet Church and co-chairs GCC with Rabbi Joshua Caruso and the Rev. Tracey Lind, says it’s important to understand the mood of the people.

    “It was not Loomis being applauded, it was the officers he represents,” he said in an interview. “Most don’t know Steve Loomis or what he’s said. Many of us have law enforcement in our families and in our congregations, not just in Cleveland, but also in the suburbs. We didn’t want to disparage the majority of police. There were about 20 officers present that night.”

    Colvin’s message: Do not mistake applause for complacency. […]

    Nothing gets Steve Loomis churning faster than questions about what happened on the day that Tamir Rice was shot.

    His constant refrain: The police are heroes misunderstood by a public being fed a steady, media-generated, activist-fueled diet of false information about how they do their jobs.

    “Tamir Rice is an absolute example of that,” Loomis said. “There’s this perception that police just slid up in the car and shot him. That’s not reality from the officers’ perception. They acted based on what they knew at the time.”[…]

    Loomis objects to much of the above depiction of events, shifting between past and present tense as he explains why.

    “Tamir Rice is in the wrong,” he said. “He’s menacing. He’s 5-feet-7, 191 pounds. He wasn’t that little kid you’re seeing in pictures. He’s a 12-year-old in an adult body. Tamir looks to his left and sees a police car. He puts his gun in his waistband. Those people—99 percent of the time those people run away from us. We don’t want him running into the rec center. That could be a whole other set of really bad events. They’re trying to flush him into the field. Frank [the driver] is expecting the kid to run. The circumstances are so fluid and unique. …

    “The guy with the gun is not running. He’s walking toward us. He’s squaring off with Cleveland police and he has a gun. Loehmann is thinking, ‘Oh my God, he’s pulling it out of his waistband.’”

    As for Loehmann, whose lawyer did not return a call for this story, Loomis is livid about media coverage of the young officer’s personnel file from his time in 2012 with the police force in Independence, Ohio. The file, which Cleveland police admit they never saw before hiring Loehmann in March 2014, outlines numerous concerns about his emotional maturity that led to his forced resignation. Much of the coverage focused on a description in the file of Loehmann breaking down in tears at a firing range.

    All rubbish, Loomis said.

    “This Timothy Loehmann thing, this is a sideshow,” he said. “Nothing in Timothy Loehmann’s history would have made him ineligible to be hired. The Select Committee recommended him unanimously. He was emotional at the firing range because his girlfriend of three years broke up with him in a text message.

    “And there’s something you need to understand about suburban police forces like Independence. It’s even more competitive. For some reason, Timothy had juice with the mayor, who told the chief, ‘Hire Tim.’ He had a political target on his back from Day One. For some reason, the sergeant didn’t like him … he didn’t fit the mold.”

    Independence Police Chief Michael Kilbane scoffed at Loomis’ version of Loehmann’s short tenure on the force there.

    “Absolutely, unqualifiedly, not true,” he said. “I wasn’t chief then, but I’ve had to familiarize myself with every aspect of this case.” No one, he said, makes the chief hire officers, and Loehmann was still on probation when they let him go.

    “He didn’t have time not to fit in here. He was here a matter of two to three days after he finished academy. There are no secrets here. His personnel file speaks for itself.” […]

    As chief, Williams is reserved and shows no discomfort with pregnant pauses. Union president Loomis, on the other hand, loves to talk. He’s capable of long stretches of thoughtful conversation but seems unable to resist the temptation to be bombastic, fueling depictions that cast him as a caricature, rather than an advocate.

    He opposes body cameras, which the chief insists all officers will soon wear. He complains that the union was never asked to weigh in on the consent decree, “but the NAACP did have a seat at the table,” a charge the chief denies. And he rejects the chief’s claim that every officer can be trained to do the kind of community policing that builds relationships with residents.

    “Look,” Loomis said, “I remember the days of community policing, before the cuts in 2004, when a helicopter landed in the backyard of a school and kids could walk up and touch it, talk to the pilot. We’d bring our motorcycles and horses—positive, positive, positive. But some are born to be community policemen, and others are not.”[so maybe sort them out before letting them on the force? or, you know, training…?]

    In fairness to Loomis, he believes in the value of community policy and credits one such officer for his career. […]

    Loomis and Williams find common ground when they insist the DOJ is wrong to describe the police relationship with the community as broken. Both men reject any suggestion of racism on the force, even after I told them about off-the-record conversations with officers of color who insist otherwise.

    “A lot of officers have my cell,” Williams said. “They know how to reach me. They don’t tell me someone’s racist.”

    Loomis scoffed. “Racial tensions?” he said. “No. I don’t see it at all.”

    Two Saturdays ago, Loomis inadvertently illustrated a version of the problem he denied existed.

    Before 9 that morning, Loomis sent to my cellphone a police officer’s photograph of an elementary-age student’s drawing hanging on a school wall. In it, a white police officer is arresting a black man wearing a suit and fedora and sitting at a counter. Large dark letters on the bottom read, “Civil Disobedience.”

    “Connie, this is what we are up against,” Loomis wrote in a text. “While the skill of the grammar school artist is apparent the content is troubling. If our schools and teachers are accepting and in fact celebrating this message (by hanging it on the wall) how is anything going to change. Someone is teaching this kid to that feeling and acting like that is acceptable when it is not. The kids should be taught to respect elders and authority not defy it.”

    I pointed out that February is Black History Month and suggested the drawing might depict the lunch counter sit-ins in the South in the 1960s.

    He did not acknowledge that. “It’s amazing to watch 5 or 6 year old kids interact with each other in playgrounds and school settings,” he responded. “They have NO care about race, economic status (the brand name of their sneakers) or religion. They are ALL innocent and pure…It is not until us grown ups, media, apparently our teachers, and special interest groups poison the hearts and minds of these innocent angelic kids. The teachers and principal should be ashamed.”

    A few days later I tracked down the elementary school and spoke to the principal, Alisha Evans. I hadn’t even finished describing the picture before she knew which one it was.

    “Oh, my gosh,” she said. “It says ‘civil disobedience’ on it? Yes, that’s ours.”

    She sighed. “The man in the suit? In that picture? That’s Martin Luther King Jr.”

    There seems to be this huge disconnect between all kinds of different groups of people in the city. Good luck sorting that out.

  88. rq says

    There will be a new comment 101 soon.

    Should city school police be armed inside school walls? Board hears from both sides – yes, I just posted it above, but the link is here for convenience, as I wanted to highlight the following two paragraphs:

    Boatwright said school police undergo the same training and meet the same standards and expectations as Baltimore police and other law enforcement agencies — and in fact have citywide jurisdiction. In addition to protecting Baltimore’s 85,000 students, the school police officers are regularly called upon to supplement city police by providing extra patrols and manning at large events.

    Boatwright said school officers should be afforded the same protections and purview as city police, and others who would be responsible for responding to a violent incidents such as school shootings. He said in the past three years, school police have responded to 78 school lockdowns, meaning there was a threat of an armed person or another serious incident.

    Doesn’t the phrase ‘same protections and purview as city police’ imply an equivalency between schoolchildren and the random mix of mostly adults one polices on the city street? Sure, they’ve had 78 lockdowns and threats of an armed person – they don’t mention how many of those were actually necessary or how many were false alarms. What worries me is the fact that children in school are more and more being viewed as adults, and adults in need of armed protection. Sounds a lot like prison, to me – and a lot of high-level background stress.
    Not everyone agrees with me.
    City Schools FOP in his own words. In short, disarming school police officers will leave blood on the hands of those passing such legislation, as in his many years of experience of policing schools, he has taken firearms from many students and adults. 105 school shootings since Sandy Hook (THAT MANY????), so if officers can’t carry guns in schools, children will die. Is there some missing logic?

    Trayvon’s family on the DOJ investigation concluding in no action – again, in short, they are disappointed with the findings, but are committed to the eradication of senseless violence in communities; they will never forget.

    Still waiting for the original video to make an appearance. Erica Garner’s response in a press release to the video suggesting that she is critical of the Rev. Al Sharpton, NAN. Once more, in short – she is not severing ties with Sharpton; she never said Sharpton tried to profit from her father’s death; never said NAN was trying to control her actions; she did say Sharpton was About the Money, in that he helps families take murder charges to civil court to get at least some semblance of justice. Also, she made some comments during an emotional moment, and it has been a learning experience. Basically, it’s a media hit job to cause rifts between her and Sharpton.

    Thursday, we shut it down. Start an action in your community on the anniversary of Trayvon’s death. #hoodiesup

  89. rq says

    Giuliana Rancic Makes Somber On-Air Apology to Zendaya Coleman For Dreadlocks Comment (Video)

    Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic dedicated time during Tuesday’s E! News to offer a public apology to Zendaya Coleman for a comment she made about the Disney star’s dreadlocked hair at the Oscars.

    The apology follows a comment Rancic made on Monday night’s Fashion Police about Zendaya’s hair: “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil and weed.”

    Zendaya took to Instagram to defend her hair choice, which drew support from fellow women in Hollywood, including Kelly Osbourne, Ava DuVernay, Kerry Washington, Niecey Nash, Khloe Kardashian and Chloe Grace Moretz.

    Rancic made the below statement at the wrap of Tuesday’s show.

    I’d really like to address something that is weighing very heavy on my heart. I want to apologize for a comment that I made on last night’s Fashion Police about Zendaya’s hair. Now, as you know, Fashion Police is a show that pokes fun at celebrities in good spirit, but I do understand that something I said last night did cross the line. I just want everyone to know, I didn’t intend to hurt anybody, but I’ve learned it is not my intent that matters — it’s the result, and the result is that people are offended, including Zendaya, and that is not OK. Therefore, I want to say to Zendaya, and anyone else out there that I have hurt, that I am so, so sincerely sorry. This really has been a learning experience for me — I’ve learned a lot today — and this incident has taught me to be a lot more aware of cliches and stereotypes, how much damage they can do. And that I am responsible, as we all are, to not perpetuate them further. Thank you for listening.

    Well. I’m rather happy and surprised, since she seems to have done it right.

  90. rq says

    Yah, she looks like somebody really, really, really gave her mind a jolt. I hope she takes the advice to heart, and moves ahead a better, smarter, more aware person.

  91. says

    64,000 women in America all have one important thing in common:

    On Dec. 18, 2011, she drove her 1998 Chevy Blazer out of her family driveway in St. Louis County, Mo., at 3 p.m. Three hours later, the vehicle was found at an intersection 25 minutes away in East St. Louis. The driver’s door was open, the car was empty and the engine was still running.

    Phoenix was 23 years old. She hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

    The Coldons commemorated their daughter’s 26th birthday on May 23, a bittersweet moment considering the circumstances. But her disappearance represents a much larger problem: As of today, more than 64,000 black women remain missing across the United States.

    Background: The Daily Mail explored this phenomenon in early 2012, and recently reposted their story to draw new attention to the issue. The statistics, in addition to others published by the FBI and the nonprofit Black and Missing Foundation, paint a grim picture of race and disappearance in America.

    The Coldons commemorated their daughter’s 26th birthday on May 23, a bittersweet moment considering the circumstances. But her disappearance represents a much larger problem: As of today, more than 64,000 black women remain missing across the United States.

    Background: The Daily Mail explored this phenomenon in early 2012, and recently reposted their story to draw new attention to the issue. The statistics, in addition to others published by the FBI and the nonprofit Black and Missing Foundation, paint a grim picture of race and disappearance in America.

    It gets worse: The reasons for these disappearances vary, and cannot all be attributed to foul play. But a telling pattern emerges in how they’re documented by the media, with critics citing a stark racial divide in news coverage of such incidents.

    Essence points to a 2010 report titled “Missing Children in National News Coverage,” which found that while black children accounted for 33.2% of missing children that year, the media exposure rate was an unimpressive 19.5%. While black men go missing at statistically higher rates, coverage of black female disappearances is particularly telling in light of the attention similar stories get when white women are involved.

    “If you Google ‘Natalee Holloway,’ how many impressions would you get?” Black and Missing cofounder Natalie Wilson told ABC News last year. “If you Google ‘Unique Harris,’ who’s missing from D.C., the story is not the same.”

  92. rq says

    This is a repost, but because the anniversary is coming up, here’s Letter from Selma.

    The tour continues, now in Florida: Soledad O’Brien todiscuss race, policing

    The award-winning journalist is bringing her Black in America tour to Florida International University and said she’s excited to hear from students and the community on changing the conversation about race and policing.

    A former CNN anchor who founded Starfish Media Group, which distributes content across such networks as CNN, Al Jazeera America and HBO, O’Brien said one of her goals is expanding the dialogue. Discussions of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York and police brutality must go beyond sound bites and debates between commentators, she said.

    “The biggest issue in the conversation that’s been happening so far is really that nobody’s listening,” she said.

    In the latest entry of the Black in America documentary series, Black and Blue, O’Brien looks at the numbers behind such police practices as stop and frisk. She looks for stories from people impacted by the policies and the officers and officials executing them.

    The FIU discussion will feature St. Louis alderman Antonio French, who was on the ground during the protests in Ferguson, and economist Julianne Malveaux as panelists.

    O’Brien said the panels have been rewarding because students are given a chance to address subjects like race and politics and discuss how those topics impact their daily lives.

    “People just want to be heard, and it’s a very emotional conversation,” O’Brien said.

    Miami will be the last stop in the tour. O’Brien has already started thinking of new topics. As the 2016 presidential election approaches, she hopes to lead discussions on voting rights for black and Hispanic voters. She hopes her next lecture and tour series can include historically black colleges and universities.

    “It’s up to students to run with the ball and hear the things that are being said and spun to them,” O’Brien said. “You have to have these conversations on multiple fronts.”

    Read more here:

    Trayvon Martin’s Mother Says Killer Got Away With Murder

    Speaking with The Associated Press on Wednesday before the third anniversary of her 17-year-old son’s death, Sybrina Fulton says she still believes George Zimmerman got away with murder.

    “He took a life, carelessly and recklessly, and he shouldn’t deserve to have his entire life walking around on the street free. I just believe that he should be held accountable for what he’s done,” Fulton said.

    The U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday that it found insufficient evidence to establish that Zimmerman willfully deprived Martin of his civil rights or killed him because of his race.

    “The Justice Department is the top of the line here,” Fulton said. “But what they found just wasn’t enough.”

    Zimmerman, for his part, is relieved the case is closed, according to his attorney, Don West.

    “This cloud he was under has been lifted,” West told the AP, adding that he finds it misleading to suggest that charges weren’t filed only because the legal standard for federal hate crime is so tough to meet.

    “There simply was never any compelling evidence that this was a federal hate crime. Race played no role in it whatsoever,” West said.

    See? He says he’s not racist. QED!
    I am, strangely enough, more inclined to side with Trayvon’s mother, however. He got away with cold-blooded murder.

    .@SenatorNasheed confirms Mo Dir of Public Safety Dan Isom resigning. More in next @kmoxnews., there’s an audio link but I don’t know if it’s working – as in, I don’t know if it directs to current radio or the bit mentioned.

    Report: Chicago Police shoot teen 16 times

    While national attention was focused on the Michael Brown police-involved shooting case in Ferguson, Mo., and the Eric Garner police chokehold death in New York, few people seemed to care about what happened to McDonald.

    McDonald allegedly had a knife and was slashing car tires when police encountered him on the night of Oct. 20, 2014.

    Pat Camden, a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, who routinely turns up at the scene to speak to reporters after police shootings, described McDonald as “having a strange gaze about him.” He told reporters police officers used a squad car to try to box McDonald in against a fence near 41st and Pulaski

    “An officer shot him in the chest when he refused to comply with orders to drop the knife and continued to approach the officers,” Camden told a Chicago Sun-Times reporter.

    But the autopsy report, which the “Invisible Institute” obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, appears to suggest McDonald wasn’t just shot in the chest. His body was riddled with bullets.

    According to the autopsy, McDonald had gunshot wounds to the left scalp, neck, left chest, right chest, left elbow, right upper arm, left forearm, right upper leg, left upper back, left elbow, posterior right upper arm, right arm, right forearm, right hand, right lower back, right upper leg.

    “How could an incident that began with the responding officers assessing the situation and deciding they needed a Taser end a few minutes later with 16 bullets ripping through Laquan McDonald’s body from different directions?” asked Kalven in a lengthy article posted on

    “Did more than one officer fire? Or did a single officer empty a full magazine?” he asked.

    As with all police-involved shootings, this incident is being reviewed by the Independent Police Review Authority.

    Some of the panels from our apartheid wall contributed by various campus organizations and artists. #FreePalestine Here because some reference Ferguson.

  93. rq says

    University walkouts still occurring: #UWWalkout happening NOW! #BlackLivesMatter #UW
    UW Tacoma Vice Chancellor comes up to speak about what he’ll do about our demands #UWwalkout #uwtwalkout
    This isn’t even half though #uwbwalkout #UWwalkout

    Poll: 54% of Republicans say that, “deep down,” Obama is a Muslim

    The idea that Obama is Muslim, a thread of the “birther” conspiracy theory that Obama is not actually American, goes back to the 2008 presidential campaign, when some Obama critics presented him as “other,” if not explicitly foreign.

    Still, this poll shows unusually high levels of belief in the idea that Obama is affiliated with Islam. Theodoridis links, for example, to an August 2010 Pew poll showing 31 percent of Republicans identifying Obama as Muslim. A June 2012 Gallup poll reported 18 percent.

    Theodoridis suggests that the way his question was phrased likely explains the disparity — and may in fact better portray Americans’ views:

    Previous survey questions about Obama’s religion tend to sound like a pop quiz – such as “do you happen to know the religious faith of Barack Obama?” But by asking “what Obama believes deep down?” I was intentionally granting respondents license to stray from the president’s self-reported Christian faith. This reveals a prevalent willingness to distrust this president or categorize him as “the other” in terms of religion.

    The uptick in American, and particularly Republican, views of Obama as Muslim may also in part be explained by the rise of ISIS, which political opponents have seized on to argue that Obama is soft on Islamist terror. While these opponents do not say that Obama is soft on Islamist terror because he is Muslim, they could easily feed into preexisting suspicion of Obama based on his race and background.

    In more recent months, Obama has also attempted to defray the tide of American Islamophobia that has coincided with ISIS’s rise, in part by correctly defending Islam and Muslims against bigotry. Increased belief that Obama “deep down” believes in Islam may be an unfortunate cost of this effort.

    Al-Jazeera is on it: Chicago police slammed for ‘hiding’ suspects at Homan Square
    The Guardian newspaper reported on allegations of abuses at Homan Square, including beatings and holding people without access to counsel for more than 12 hours, in an investigation published on Tuesday.

    The CPD denied the allegations raised by the Guardian story. “If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them,” the CPD said in a statement. “There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square.”

    Legal advocates contacted by Al Jazeera contradict that, saying that people taken to Homan Square do not go through a formal booking process, so there is no record of an arrest. That makes it difficult for lawyers to locate their clients, Siska said.

    It has become “policy” to check Homan Square when a client can’t be found at any of Chicago’s police districts, according to Eliza Solowiej, the executive director of Chicago’s First Defense Legal Aid. Chicago is divided into 22 police precincts, known as districts.

    “People taken there are disappeared from the system,” Solowiej told Al Jazeera. “Homan Square is where lawyers look when we can’t find someone taken into custody and when the Chicago Police Department says they have no record of the arrest. Our policy is to drive over to Homan Square and knock on the door.”

    Suspects are typically held incommunicado at the facility anywhere between 5 to 20 hours, according to Siska.

    CPD did not respond by time of publication to a request for comment about how long people are held at Homan Square.

    Cutting a suspect off from the outside world serves as an interrogation tool, according to Chicago-based attorney Sarah Gelsomino, who represented activist Brian Jacob Church after he was taken to the facility in 2012. The Guardian reported extensively on Church’s experience at Homan Square.

    “Our client felt like no one was going to find him,” said Gelsomino. “It’s a defeating way to feel, and that can really assist in breaking the suspect down.”

    2 men formally charged with defacing Denver Police Department’s Fallen Officer Memorial

    The two men accused of defacing the Denver Police Department’s Fallen Officer Memorial have been formally charged.

    Robert Guerrero, 25, and Matthew Goldberg, 23, are each charged with criminal mischief, defacing public property, desecration of a venerated object and resisting arrest, according to the Denver District Attorney’s office.

    Criminal mischief is a felony charge, the others are misdemeanors.

    A group of protesters said they marched Feb. 14 from the State Capitol to Denver Police headquarters in response to recent shootings involving Denver Police.

    Police said at some point, during the protest, red paint was put on the memorial, along with protest stickers.

    Guerrero and Goldberg were both arrested, then released on $5,000 bond. They are expected back in court on March 2 to be advised of the charges.

    Video at the link.

  94. rq says


    Zendaya Accepts Giuliana Rancic’s Apology – the good, second one, that is.

    Zendaya had posted another statement on Instagram following Giuliana Rancic’s public apology regarding remarks about Zendaya’s hair.

    Zendaya wrote, in part, “It is our job to spot these issues within others and ourselves and destroy them before they become hurtful. I have so many people looking up to me, that I couldn’t be scared, wait it out, nor could I just stand up for me; I had to do it for WE.”

    “Giuliana, I appreciate your apology and am glad it was a learning experience for you and for the network,” she continued. “I hope that others negatively affected by her words can find it in their hearts to accept her apology as well.”

    Full text at the link, and it is one amazing response.

    Former St. Louis police chief resigns as Nixon’s public safety chief after six months

    Dan Isom, who formerly was St. Louis police chief, said in a statement issued by Nixon’s office that he was eager to return to the University of Missouri-St. Louis teaching spot from which the governor recruited him six months before.

    State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, who was Senate sponsor of Isom’s nomination, said Wednesday that she believed there had been friction between Nixon’s office and Isom over how unrest in Ferguson was handled.

    “They should have known he wasn’t going to be a poster child,” Nasheed said. She said that Isom “wanted to see some reform and it just fell on deaf ears.”

    Isom declined to comment Wednesday night.

    He becomes the third high-ranking public safety official to leave Nixon’s administration in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by then-Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

    Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol, announced this month that he will retire May 1. Jerry Lee, Isom’s predecessor at the public safety department, left his post in late August.

    Isom is African-American, and his selection helped Nixon deflect criticism that the governor faced for having no blacks in his Cabinet. Since then, Nixon has added another: Nia Ray is director of the Department of Revenue.

    In a statement issued by Nixon’s office, Isom said he had discovered that teaching was his “true passion.”

    “It has been a great honor to serve as the Director of Public Safety during this important time, but after a long career in law enforcement I have found that my true passion is teaching and I’m eager to return to my students,” it says.

    The news release says Isom’s resignation is effective Monday and states that Nixon will name his deputy chief of staff, Peter Lyskowski, as acting director of the department until a permanent director is appointed. It also says that former Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Sokoloff, of Kennett, will join the department as a deputy director.

    “Over the last six months, Dan Isom has been a strong leader for the department and an invaluable member of my Cabinet,” Nixon said in the statement. “I am deeply grateful for his wise counsel and leadership, and wish him all the best as he resumes his work at UMSL.”

    Nixon’s staff, now with one less black person. I think he was the only one.
    Here’s a bit more: Public safety director chosen amid Ferguson unrest resigns

    On Wednesday, just six months into his job, Isom announced that he’s stepping down, effective on March 2. And the search begins for his successor.

    Isom confirmed in a statement issued by Nixon’s office that he plans to return to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he previously taught in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

    “It has been a great honor to serve as the director of public safety during this important time,” Isom said. “But after a long career in law enforcement I have found that my true passion is teaching, and I’m eager to return to my students at UMSL.”

    Isom was appointed in August after Darren Wilson, a white police officer in Ferguson, shot and killed Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old. The appointment came as Nixon, a Democrat, was facing criticism both for a lack of black leaders in his Cabinet and for the state’s response to protesters and looters after the Aug. 9 shooting.

    At the time, Nixon did not say whether the leadership change was related to the events in Ferguson. On Wednesday, Nixon called Isom “a strong leader for the department.”

    Isom started serving in the top public safety role on Sept. 1 but faced hurdles last month during his confirmation with the Senate. The primary concern was his role in a racial discrimination lawsuit during his time as police chief.

    Lawmakers eventually voted overwhelmingly in favor of him.

    A federal jury in 2013 awarded a white police sergeant $420,000 in punitive damages over his claim that he was unfairly denied a promotion because his superiors wanted a black female to help lead the city police academy. The jury levied $20,000 in damages against Isom for his responsibility as police chief over the actions of other department leaders.

    Isom and other defendants have appealed.

    Democratic Sen. Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis, who issued a statement earlier Wednesday about Isom’s resignation, backed him throughout the confirmation process, which she said “took a lot of heavy lifting to get him there, to say the least.”

    While praising Isom, she criticized Nixon.

    “I sponsored Dr. Isom’s nomination because I believe that he has the ability and experience to reform the justice system in the state of Missouri,” Nasheed said in her written statement. “The governor needs to start taking responsibility for these needed reforms. This state needs leadership, and the governor is not showing that right now.”

    Check out that discrimination suit. Just… check it out. Wow. I hope they win their appeal.

    Study: Killers are less likely to be executed if their victims are black. So it goes all ways.

    Black people are much more frequently executed for killing white people than white people are for killing black people, and capital punishment is rarely used at all victims when are black — especially when they’re male.

    That’s according to a paper that’s set to be published in the journal Politics, Groups, and Identities.

    The researchers — Frank Baumgartner, Amanda Grigg, and Alisa Mastro —compared homicide victim data with data on the victims of every inmate executed in the US from 1976 through 2013 (that’s 1,369 executions).

    Here’s some of what they say the data revealed:

    While 47 percent of all homicide victims were black, blacks made up 17 percent of the victims of inmates who were executed. […]

    The researchers found that it was exceptionally hard to find examples of killers of black male victims who were executed. “Black men, especially among the relatively young, have a statistical risk of homicide victimization many times higher than any other racial or gender group, ” they wrote, “but their killers rarely face the death penalty.”

    They titled the paper #BlackLivesDontMatter, altering the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag that’s been used in protests against police-involved deaths of African-American men, to reflect the sobering findings.

    6 facts about black Americans for Black History Month

    1 High school dropout rates have declined faster among blacks ages 18 to 24 than the national average. Among blacks, the rate dropped from 24% in 1976 to 8% in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. Among all Americans, the rate also decreased, from 16% to 7% over this time period. At the same time, the share of blacks who have graduated from college has increased faster than the national average. For blacks, the share 25 and older who have at least a bachelor’s degree has increased from 7% in 1976 to 22% in 2013. Among all Americans, the share has increased from 15% to 32% over the same time period.

    2 In the last presidential election, the black voter turnout rate exceeded that of whites in a presidential election for the first time, by 66.6% to 64.1%. It’s worth noting that in 2004, the last presidential election without Barack Obama on the ballot, the white voter turnout rate exceeded that of blacks by a substantial margin (67.2% of eligible white voters to 60.3% blacks). The gap in turnout rates between whites and blacks has been closing over time. In recent decades, the white-black gap in turnout rates was widest in 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected (70.2% to 59.2%).

    3 From 1910 to 1970, about 6 million blacks left the South to move to other parts of the country in what is called the Great Migration. Since then, this trend has reversed, in part because of the decline of industrial jobs in Northern cities that pushed blacks south starting in the 1970s, according to the Brookings Institution. From 1970 to 2010, the black population increased by about 10 million in the South and just 6 million in the rest of the country. Today most of the country’s black population (57%) lives in the South, up from 52% to 1970. Blacks are the largest nonwhite racial or ethnic group in 13 of 16 Southern states and in the District of Columbia. In these states, the black population is at least twice that of Hispanics.

    4 The poverty rate among blacks is the highest of any racial or ethnic group, but has declined slightly over time, from 31.3% in 1976 to 27.2% in 2014, according to census data. By comparison, the overall U.S. poverty rate has increased from 12.3% in 1976 to 14.9% in 2014. Blacks also fare worse than other groups in terms of wealth. In 2013, the median wealth of white households ($141,900) was 13 times the median wealth of black households ($11,000), the widest gap since 1989, according to a Pew Research analysis of Federal Reserve survey data.

    5 Barack Obama overshadows others as the nation’s most important black leader. A two-thirds majority of blacks in 2011 said Obama was the most important black leader in the U.S., according to a Washington Post poll. Some 7% named Martin Luther King Jr., and 16% offered no opinion. Various surveys show Jesse Jackson had been the top choice in previous decades. In 2006, 15% of blacks named Jackson the nation’s most important black leader (11% said Condoleezza Rice and 8% said Colin Powell). In 1994, 34% of blacks said Jackson, down from 51% in 1983.

    6 Looking to the future, blacks are more likely than whites to say a lot needs to be done to achieve racial equality in the U.S. In a 2013 Pew Research survey, 79% of blacks said so, compared with just 44% of whites. Only 8% of blacks said a little or nothing needed to be done, while 17% of whites said so.

  95. rq says

    The high costs of being poor in America: Stress, pain, and worry

    My father, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins, published an article in 1974 entitled “The High Cost of Being Poor,” showing that poor urban Peruvians paid more for water and electricity than the rich. The poor paid roughly 15 times more per unit cost, even though the services were of much lower quality. Unlike the affluent, who had water and electricity piped into their homes, they had to buy their water from trucks, and often had to substitute candles and kerosene for electricity. Small wonder the lower-income children had worse health and poorer nutrition.

    Today, those same urban slums where he (and later I) conducted research have water, electricity, paved streets, and a growing middle class population; infant malnutrition is virtually non-existent (if anything, obesity incidence is becoming a concern). But here in the United States, poverty is exacting a high cost—not in terms of water and power, but in terms of stress, unhappiness, and pain.
    The Cost of American Poverty

    Reported stress levels are higher on average in the U.S. than in Latin America. Importantly, the gap between the levels of the rich and poor is also much greater, with the U.S. poor reporting the highest levels of stress of all cohorts. Of course ‘stress’ is a complex phenomenon, however: “Good” stress is associated with the pursuit of goals, while “bad” stress is associated with struggling to cope. Bad stress, which is associated with an inability to plan ahead, lower life satisfaction levels, and worse health outcomes, is more common at the bottom of the distribution.

    Pain, worry, sadness, and anger (reported as experienced the day before or not) are also all significantly higher among low income cohorts than among wealthy ones, while reported satisfaction with life as a whole is significantly lower, according to our analysis of Gallup data […]

    Chronic Poverty, Chronic Pain

    There are also big differences in reports of chronic suffering across income groups, according to a recent study by Ronald Anderson. Those with incomes below the poverty line were twice as likely to report chronic pain and mental distress as those earning $75,000 or more, and three to five times more likely to have extreme pain or extreme distress.

    Experiencing discrimination is also associated with stress. Among other things, discrimination raises the transaction costs of simple things such as getting a loan or buying a home. Maternal stress related to discrimination is associated with lower birth weights—which are linked to worse outcomes on a number of progress indicators—thus passing disadvantage on to the next generation, according to a new study by Zaneta Thayer at the University of Colorado.
    The cost and pain of poverty in the U.S. less about basic goods like water and electricity than nonmaterial factors: insecurity, stress, lack of opportunity and discrimination. Many of our policies, such as decent quality education, health insurance or savings incentives can help individuals to move out of poverty; they can also help to reduce the costs of being poor.

    Cops behaving badly”Video Shows Florida Cop Dragging Shackled Woman Through Courthouse by Her Feet

    “I am concerned by the way the deputy handled this situation, because there were other courses of action he could have taken,” Israel said in a statement.

    Johnson, a 27-year veteran of the department, has been ordered to stay away from inmates until further notice.

    Rios had reportedly just left a mental competency hearing on misdemeanor trespassing and criminal mischief charges in which Broward Judge Kal Le Var Evans declared her mentally incompetent.

    Witnesses said Rios began arguing with a female deputy after the hearing and was escorted out of the courtroom by Johnson into the hallway, where she sat on a bench and began to cry.

    Johnson reportedly told Rios to “get up,” before physically grabbing the woman by her leg restraints and hauling her across the floor.

    Concerned. Watch the video. ‘Concerned’ should be an understatement and a half.

    Teach for America is looking to extend opportunities to black men in the classroom. I know we’ve discussed the program before, but I’m putting it here with the idea that, hopefully, they’re actually trying to improve themselves and the educational system.

    Tangentially related, on differing experiences growing up in a minority vs majority culture. It’s Time To Talk About Why Our Young People Turn Against Their Country.

    This via Tony, cross-posted from the Lounge: Straight Talk for White Men

    White men sometimes feel besieged and baffled by these suggestions of systematic advantage. When I wrote a series last year, “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” the reaction from white men was often indignant: It’s an equal playing field now! Get off our case!

    Yet the evidence is overwhelming that unconscious bias remains widespread in ways that systematically benefit both whites and men. So white men get a double dividend, a payoff from both racial and gender biases. […]

    It’s not that we white men are intentionally doing anything wrong, but we do have a penchant for obliviousness about the way we are beneficiaries of systematic unfairness. Maybe that’s because in a race, it’s easy not to notice a tailwind, and white men often go through life with a tailwind, while women and people of color must push against a headwind.

    While we don’t notice systematic unfairness, we do observe specific efforts to redress it — such as affirmative action, which often strikes white men as profoundly unjust. Thus a majority of white Americans surveyed in a 2011 study said that there is now more racism against whites than against blacks.

    None of these examples mean exactly that society is full of hard-core racists and misogynists. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a Duke University sociologist, aptly calls the present situation “racism without racists”; it could equally be called “misogyny without misogynists.” Of course, there are die-hard racists and misogynists out there, but the bigger problem seems to be well-meaning people who believe in equal rights yet make decisions that inadvertently transmit both racism and sexism.

    So, come on, white men! Let’s just acknowledge that we’re all flawed, biased and sometimes irrational, and that we can do more to resist unconscious bias. That means trying not to hire people just because they look like us, avoiding telling a young girl she’s “beautiful” while her brother is “smart.” It means acknowledging systematic bias as a step toward correcting it.

    Over time, white wealth increases while black wealth does not

  96. rq says

    Pasco shooting: Officers fired 17 shots at Mexican immigrant, police say

    The three officers involved in the death of an unarmed Mexican man in Washington state fired 17 shots, including several that struck the former orchard worker but none that hit him in the back, a task force spokesman said Wednesday.

    The regional law enforcement task force is investigating the Feb. 10 killing of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, which has led to weeks of protests and calls for a federal probe.

    Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin, a spokesman for the task force, said at a news conference that five or six bullets struck Zambrano-Montes. However, he said autopsy results were pending, and he couldn’t be more specific about where the 35-year-old was shot.

    “There were no shots in the back,” Lattin said.

    Well, with the autopsy pending, I don’t think he can be 100% on that statement, either.

    With the legendary Dr. Jim Gates standing in front of an image of the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma. Dr. Gates interviewed to be an astronaut in the 80’s after going to school at MIT with Astronaut Dr. Ron McNair. Very proud of this brother’s work in supersymmetry, supergravity and superspace. He is the first African American to hold an endowed chair at a major US research university. Proud of you my friend.

    Lawsuit aims to reveal disciplinary history of NYPD cop who used chokehold on Eric Garner

    The Legal Aid Society has filed suit to force the CCRB to turn over information it might have about Daniel Pantaleo, the officer whose takedown of Garner led to his death on Staten Island last year.

    “Our city needs to know if the systems of police oversight failed to prevent Garner’s death by failing to deter an officer with a history of excessive force,” the Manhattan Supeme Court suit says.

    The CCRB has denied the Legal Aid Society’s requests for the info, saying it’s prevented from doing so for legal and privacy reasons.

    “It’s very clear the law does not allow us to reveal any personnel information going into an officer’s file. It’s not even a close question,” CCRB chairman Richard Emery told the Daily News.

    Legal Aid lawyer Cynthia Conti-Cook said that law needs to be reformed — and she’s hoping the suit will help in “expanding the conversation.”

    “The existence of prior civilian complaints and prosecutions is a matter of public concern,” the suit says. “This court should not interpret civil right laws so broad as to prohibit the CCRB from essentially answering whether Mr. Pantaleo was previously the subject of civilian complaints or a prosecution.”

    The suit notes that Garner’s arrest history was made public soon after his death.

    Trayvon’s mother again – Trayvon Martin’s mother disappointed Zimmerman won’t be charged with hate crime

    Fulton now channels her grief into work with the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which reaches out to other families who have lost children to violence, awards scholarships and collects school supplies for poor students.

    She is also watching to see how the Justice Department handles other high-profile killings of unarmed black men. Decisions are pending on whether to charge police in New York and Ferguson, Missouri with depriving the victims of their civil rights by using excessive force in the course of duty.

    “What we want is accountability, we want somebody to be arrested, we want somebody to go to jail, of course,” Fulton said. “But … we have grand juries and special grand juries; they’re making a decision to not even arrest a person.”

    Seth Williams calls mother of Brandon Tate-Brown

    Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams on Tuesday called the mother of a 25-year-old Frankford motorist killed by police after a traffic stop last year to explain his office’s investigative process in the case.

    A spokesman for Williams said the district attorney also offered his condolences to Brandon Tate-Brown’s family. At the same time, however, Williams declined to release video showing the shooting because it is still considered evidence in an ongoing investigation.

    Tate-Brown’s mother, Tanya Dickerson-Brown, and her attorney, Brian Mildenberg, have called for authorities to release more evidence in the case, which has sparked protests.

    “The only way for us to understand the entire encounter is for the police to release the rest of the evidence and the police officers’ statements from that night,” Mildenberg said Monday night. […]

    Mildenberg said he has obtained video from a 7-Eleven store 11/2 miles from the site of the shooting that shows Tate-Brown was driving with his headlights on that night.

    The department Tuesday night challenged that assertion.

    “The department has thoroughly investigated this incident, therefore, this video isn’t some breaking development, nor is it the video of the particular incident,” police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said in an e-mail.

    “Perhaps if those so quick to point out irrelevant video would just allow the investigation and review to take its course, they could make an educated determination based on all evidence and not just what they want to see. We have been committed to the integrity of this investigation from the very beginning and that fact isn’t going to change.”

    This month, the department determined that the two officers involved in the shooting had not violated any departmental policy. Both were allowed to return to street duty.

    And just like that they’re back on duty.

    A City’s Tragedy

    Two Milwaukee police officers who were on foot talked to Dontre for about five minutes and told the Starbucks’ employees he wasn’t doing anything wrong. When Dontre didn’t leave, the barista called the non-emergency line a second time. The same officers returned and, after talking to Dontre again, told the Starbucks employees he wasn’t doing anything illegal by being in the park and they couldn’t make him leave.

    At 3:30 p.m., a third officer arrived, unaware that two officers had already spoken to Hamilton. Christopher Manney, a 13-year veteran of the police force, asked Hamilton to stand and began questioning him. Dontre stood and turned his back to Manney, who began a pat-down frisk, searching for a weapon.

    Hamilton didn’t have a weapon. And when he resisted, the search escalated into an altercation. Although eyewitness reports differ about how the exchange began and who struck the first blow, Manney later told the state Division of Criminal Investigation he used his wooden baton in self-defense to strike Hamilton, once in the rib area. Hamilton was able to trap the baton between his arms and his torso, and he spun away from Manney, who lost control of the baton.

    According to Manney, Hamilton advanced toward him and hit him on the side of his neck with the baton. Manney pushed away with his left arm, unholstered his Smith & Wesson .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol with his right hand, aimed and fired, striking Hamilton in the chest. Hamilton moved toward him, and Manney kept firing, until Dontre fell to the ground with gunshot wounds to the right side of his neck, the right side of his chest, his abdomen, and right and left forearms.

    Hamilton suffered a total of 21 gunshot wounds in his body within three to four seconds – 15 entry wounds and six exit wounds – including the partial amputation of his left thumb. […]

    The timing of Dontre Hamilton’s death coincided with the highly publicized killings months later of other black men at the hands of white police officers. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City unleashed nationwide protests and sparked impassioned debate on policing methods and race.

    Unlike the Brown and Garner cases, however, Hamilton’s story was less about race than it was about mental illness. At least, at the outset. As the completion of a state investigation of the Hamilton shooting wore on, and a decision of whether Manney would face criminal charges languished for weeks and then months, frustration took hold of those who questioned the police officer’s actions, and race was pushed to the forefront.

    But, also unlike the Brown and Garner cases, and others similar, the public protests over Hamilton’s shooting have been absent of violence.

    Still, the case has had vast repercussions: on the people directly involved – Hamilton’s family, Manney, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn and his department – and on the community at large, which looks for answers to a tragedy that has played out more and more frequently here and around the country. […]

    The desire to be rich prompted Dontre to start working at a gas station at age 13. He volunteered to work double shifts and played the lottery every day. When he wasn’t working, he spent his time listening to music and watching movies. Donnie Brasco and The Godfather trilogy were his favorites. He could recite the words to the scripts.

    When Dontre was in his late 20s, he told Nate that he was hearing voices. The older brother didn’t want to believe it. So Dontre confided in a family friend, who called Nate and told him about some of the strange things Dontre had been saying. Nate finally began to believe there might be something wrong with Dontre.

    In February 2013, Dontre stabbed himself, thinking someone was trying to kill his family. He was admitted to the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

    He was connected with services through Milwaukee County, which helped him find transitional housing and a peer support specialist. County staff also helped him apply for Medicaid so he could receive his medication.

    But because of mixups with his insurance coverage, Dontre wasn’t always able to receive the monthly injection needed to keep his mental health issues at bay. The last time he had his medication was Dec. 2, 2013. His next shot was scheduled for May 7, eight days after he was killed.

    “He was generally doing well, but still suffering from occasional episodes with some paranoia,” Nate says. “He had not been able to get his medications for a while, which is why we were working with Dontre, the Mental Health Complex and the county outreach program to try to get his medications restored.” […]

    “The purpose is not to demonize the victim but rather identify him and, through his death, draw attention to the extraordinary social health problem being played out on the streets of America today, including Milwaukee,” he said, standing in a conference room at police headquarters. “In the course of our investigation into his background, we have learned this is not his first experience with the Milwaukee Police Department. As recently as last year, police were summoned to a scene where he attempted to kill himself by stabbing both sides of his neck saying, ‘Voices told me to kill myself and you people, too.’”

    Flynn went on to say Dontre was homeless, had previously been arrested for armed robbery and disorderly conduct – things his family and attorney dispute. (There are records from the police department that show Hamilton was charged with disorderly conduct in 2011 after a disturbance at his mother’s house where he was breaking things and refused to leave. The case was later dismissed, according to court records.) The family, though, was convinced the altercation with Manney was directly related to his mental health issues, not because he was a violent criminal.

    It was that press conference that prompted the Hamilton family to contact the media and begin participating in demonstrations. They wanted to clear Dontre’s name.

    “There is so much put in the media that is a lie, that is misleading, that hurts us on a whole separate level,” Nate says. “We’re fighting for justice. No other family should have to go through that.”

    The Hamiltons hired Jonathan Safran, a high-profile civil rights attorney, to represent the family. The 57-year-old Safran is accustomed to TV cameras. He had gained attention in 2004, when he represented Frank Jude Jr. in the largest case against the Milwaukee Police Department in history. Jude was severely beaten by off-duty Milwaukee police officers at a house party in Bay View after being accused of stealing a police badge. Three officers were convicted in federal court for the beating and received 15-year prison terms.

    Safran also represented the family of Derek Williams, who died in police custody in the back of an MPD squad in 2011. The death was determined by the medical examiner to be a homicide; however, the three police officers involved were not charged. He also has represented plaintiffs in the strip-search case against Milwaukee Police. [..]

    Mental health calls to the Milwaukee Police Department have climbed steadily since 2004. In 2013, there were 8,127 calls for mental health service, up about 3.5 percent from 2012. That same year, 5,500 people were taken to emergency detention.

    These numbers should be the focus of the Hamilton case, says Flynn, but Ferguson has changed the narrative to an issue of racial injustice.

    Flynn rejects the notion that race was a factor in Hamilton’s shooting. “A number of people have wrapped themselves around this family with varying agendas,” he says. “Their influence is pernicious. No objective person could see this as a racial issue.”

    But race was top of mind last September outside a small boardroom on the third floor of City Hall, where Flynn addressed the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.
    No justice. No compromise.

    The chants were low at first, but built to a booming rumble outside the closed doors of the boardroom where the Coalition for Justice, formed in the wake of Hamilton’s shooting, had come to present the commission with a list of six demands.

    High on the list: the immediate suspension without pay of any police officer involved in any criminal investigation.

    The rally was one of many, as “No justice. No compromise” became the mantra for dozens of faithful supporters over the next year.

    The delay in the release of the state investigation, as well as delays in Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s decision on whether to bring charges against Manney, had frustrated members of the coalition. The protests got larger, and more disruptive, culminating with the arrest of 74 people on Dec. 19, 2014, during rush-hour demonstrations that blocked traffic on Interstate 43.

    “We are going to continue this campaign until we get answers, and we should not have to compromise,” said the founder of the Coalition for Justice, Curtis Sails, after one Downtown demonstration.

    But compared to disturbances in Ferguson and in New York, the protests in Milwaukee had been relatively peaceful. The Hamilton family repeatedly pleaded with protesters to remain nonviolent.
    Flynn – who more than once has called Dontre’s killing a “major tragic situation” – believes the city has remained calm because his officers have facilitated the protesters’ First Amendment rights in a way that respects them and recognizes their frustrations.

    But even more so, Flynn says what is shown on television – large groups of people storming Downtown in outrage over this case – is not reality. The actual protests most often include about 50-60 people, half of whom are white. Since coming to Milwaukee seven years ago, Flynn has focused his efforts on community-based policing and developing neighborhood-based leaders.

    He says it’s working, and the city’s reaction to this shooting, as opposed to the reaction in Ferguson and elsewhere, is based on the thousands of interactions with his department. He believes his department is one of the few governmental organizations helping the city’s impoverished neighborhoods.

    “There is a strong interest in national television journalism to keep this going,” says Flynn, who is serving the last year in his second term as chief of police. “They are trying to say that the disaster in Cleveland, the tragedy in Milwaukee, the problems in Ferguson and the issues in Los Angeles are all part of a unitary pattern… Every one of these cases has unique facts. But when you link them together, it only empowers fraudulent pseudo activists… Do they honestly think they are going to help Milwaukee get the assistance from state and federal authorities that it needs to truly help these disadvantaged neighborhoods by acting this way?” […]

    Barbara Beckert is the Milwaukee director of Disability Rights Wisconsin and the coordinator of the Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force. She believes if Manney had been trained properly, he would not have patted down Hamilton, which could have spared his life. One of the two officers who first approached Hamilton was certified in crisis intervention. Manney was not.

    The task force was formed in 2004 after a Hmong man with paranoid schizophrenia was shot and killed by Milwaukee police. Since then, at least seven others with documented, severe mental illness, including Hamilton, have reportedly died after confrontations with Milwaukee police.

    The Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force is asking that more police officers and Milwaukee County Sheriff’s deputies complete a 40-hour training program so they receive Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) certification. Currently, about one in five MPD officers have completed the training.

    “We are determined that Dontre’s death be seen as a critical turning point,” Beckert says, “as the moment in which our community awakened to the still-urgent need to change the way vulnerable people are treated in our streets and in our parks.”

    In December, Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett announced that all Milwaukee police officers would begin CIT training in 2015.

    Days later, on Dec. 22, nearly nine months after Dontre’s death, Chisholm announced he would not criminally charge Christopher Manney, calling the officer’s shooting justifiable self-defense. “I can be deeply aware of the very real historical reasons for concern,” Chisholm said at the time, “but I cannot be swayed by passion or prejudgment when making these decisions, regardless of how popular or how unpopular that decision is.”

    The day the Hamilton family finally learned of the DA’s decision, the city braced for riots. A staging area was quickly assembled under a freeway overpass west of the Downtown train station, with unmarked police cars, vans, buses, squads, mobile jails, rapid response vehicles and horse trailers at the ready. Downtown businesses told employees to move their cars off the street. And area hospitals went on high alert for patients in need of treatment for tear gas exposure.

    All of the preparations were for naught. The family held a news conference on the federal courthouse stairs. Nate Hamilton, who has emerged as the family spokesman, asked for calm and called on the people in power to create change. Dameion and Maria stood quietly, tears rolling down their faces as Nate spoke. In the end, the family peacefully walked the streets of the city with their devoted followers for nearly six hours.

    It was a cold and rainy evening, and at 5:45 p.m., the family sent out thank-yous via social media, saying they would reconvene the next morning. […]

    Attorney Jonathan Safran continues to work the Hamilton case. He has met with members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI agents, who are investigating possible civil rights violations by Manney. Once the criminal investigations are complete, the family will likely file a civil suit against the city. Meanwhile, the Fire and Police Commission has not yet ruled on Manney’s appeal to find out if he will get his job back with the Milwaukee Police Department.

    Since his brother’s death, Nate Hamilton continues to serve as the family spokesman, pushing people to create positive change. “They just need to be turned on, and injustice should turn on the switch,” Nate says. “Racial profiling, segregation, police brutality; this should all activate the intentions of people wanting a better society.”

    Maria Hamilton has founded Mothers for Justice United, which describes itself as a group for mothers whose unarmed children have been killed by police officers and white vigilantes. Maria hopes to eventually create a foundation in Dontre’s name as a way to give back to the people who have helped her heal.

    With the rest of his family, Dameion Perkins continues to grieve. “Every day is a challenge to not be angry,” he says. “If you’ve ever been hit unexpectedly and lost your breath, that is how this situation is. Every day, you have to continue with the loss of your brother.”

    Dontre Hamilton would have turned 32 on Jan. 20. He is buried in the far northwest corner of Graceland Cemetery on North 43rd Street in Milwaukee. A broken Christmas ornament and a tiny frozen Christmas tree lie on the ground near a raised pile of dirt that marks his grave. So far, there is no headstone.

    Much more at the link itself.

  97. rq says

    One State Is About to Turn Police Body Cameras Into Nothing More Than Empty Gestures

    Other states: Missouri isn’t the only place where privacy concerns are hampering the rollout of the cameras. In Minnesota, a bill sponsored by three former police officers turned state legislators would prevent videos from being seen by anyone but those recorded and require all footage not being used in an investigation to be destroyed.

    In Los Angeles, where the police department will soon roll out 7,000 body cams for monitoring everyday police activity, police Chief Charlie Beck raised similar concerns. The Los Angeles Times reported that Beck told a community meeting there should be a “moral prohibition” on sharing body camera footage, elaborating that “victims call us when they’ve had horrific things done to them by evil people. And to make those things public revictimizes them, doesn’t serve justice. And I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”

    How effective are body cameras? The cameras are intended to ensure police officers are held accountable for their actions and members of the public have records to back them up when things go wrong. In a much-vaunted trial in Rialto, California, use of force and complaints against officers plummeted in February 2012 when 70 of its police officers were ordered to begin using the cameras. In 2014, video footage led to the exposure of police brutality incidents in Baltimore and Columbia, South Carolina. […]

    “The ACLU has been working with legislators to try and craft body cam legislation that would allow for the use of cameras while also addressing privacy and confidentiality concerns. Investigations could greatly benefit from footage obtained by body cameras. There are policies that can coincide with use of cameras that limit the burden on law enforcement and records offices while also respecting the public’s right to know.”

    Charts and graphs at the link, too.

    Asking America’s Police Officers to Explain Abusive Cops. The article examines several cases of on-going police brutality and excessive force, and the lack of acknowledgement to these cases.

    What do police officers make of this story? How do they explain the fact that such abusive behavior continued for so long? What do they regard as an appropriate punishment? What would they suggest to guard against similar abuses elsewhere? What would they do if they encountered fellow officers treating a man this way? I don’t mean to suggest that police are of one mind about this or any other controversy, or that Miami Gardens reflects how police behave everywhere. But when the public reads or listens to stories that document egregious police abuses, it is rare to encounter any members of the police community who express alarm, or champion reforms, or denounce the bad apples, or articulate why they have a different view than the conventional wisdom.

    If you’re a police officer, maybe no one asked for your opinion on a case like this before. I invite any of your thoughts. Those willing to share should email conor[at]theatlantic[dot]com—I’ll publish responses without names unless otherwise requested.

    Illinois Cops Received Media Training on How Not to ‘Be the Next Ferguson’

    Local law enforcement union officials in suburban Illinois are conducting training sessions to teach officers how to avoid having their departments become the “next Ferguson” — the Missouri town that descended into chaos and became a flashpoint for international protests after a local police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teen in August.

    But the focus is not on curbing police brutality or improving community relations, but rather, how to handle bad press. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recently launched an event titled “Media Relations Training: Don’t Be the Next Ferguson, Missouri!” the Chicago Tribune reported.

    Around 70 suburban officers and officials showed up to the half-day event.

    The instruction was carried out in Orland Park, Illinois, less than 300 miles away from the neighborhood where Ferguson officer Darren Wilson fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9. The session was a “what not to do” — in terms of public relations — if a similar event occurred in Illinois.

    Intense media scrutiny following Brown’s death has struck a chord with law enforcement officials eager to avoid a public relations meltdown like the one at Ferguson’s police department as protesters gathered across the St. Louis suburb, and later cities across the country, to call for an end to police brutality. News of the shooting and protests later spread across the world as hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter and #JusticeForMikeBrown rapidly spread across the internet.

    “I think people saw Ferguson as an ‘Oh, my gosh’ and said, ‘I don’t want an “Oh, my gosh” in Orland Park,'” Rick Rosenthal, president of RAR Communications, who ran the training session, told the Tribune. “I think they see that if an officer has to use deadly force, that’s a matter for investigation, but in public relations, they can do a better job than Ferguson did.”

    Rosenthal said that the Ferguson police department’s lack of communication after Brown’s death and resulting “information vacuum” was filled by “speculation, rumor, and outright falsehoods” in the “Twitterverse.”

    Twitter was a major platform for anti-police brutality campaigners in the wake of Brown’s killing and other police shootings of unarmed black men in the US, including Eric Garner in New York and Tamir Rice in Cleveland. Social media was one of the topics addressed in the training seminar, which included recommendations for police to release information within the first two hours of an incident.

    Other subjects included “Feeding the Animals,” a lesson in giving the media something to work with instead of shutting them out. This phrase was criticized as having racial overtones when it was posted on a flyer for the course in St. Louis, but Rosenthal said there was no intentional reference to race or Ferguson.

    “I wouldn’t call it earth-shattering, but we’re making an effort to equip chiefs with tools they need to do a great job in the post-Ferguson era, and media relations is one of them,” IACP Executive Director Ed Wojcicki said.

    Isn’t that… the media-training program… that was going around end-of-summer 2014, in St Louis? Esp. the ‘feeding the animals’ bit? They’re actually using it? Wow.

    Racism affects black girls as much as boys. So why are girls being ignored?

    According to their research, black girls are suspended six times more than their white peers (while black boys are only suspended three times more than white males), and disproportionately suffer under excessive disciplinary measures in schools.

    One story detailed a teacher striking a diabetic and asthmatic student when she nodded off in class, and in Alabama, an 8-year-old girl was arrested for acting out in class. Another girl described school police officers writing tickets for tardiness that led to bench warrants for her arrest.

    And while black girls around the country are struggling in these kinds of conditions, they continue to be ignored or neglected at every level. President Obama himself made waves when he issued support for a nationwide initiative that targets black boys only, leaving their female peers by the wayside. […]

    The illogics of racism turned even excellence into a symptom of bad behavior. She made me show her the book to prove it was my writing. And, even then, she never apologized — just half-heartedly scratched out the D+ and replaced it with a higher grade. My shining moment, gone with the ease and indifference of her bigotry.

    But the horror of that moment stays with me, the realization that being smart and working hard might never be enough. I wasn’t sure how I could survive a world that would constantly question my abilities, give me more obstacles than my peers, and then downplay my achievements when I somehow managed to deliver.

    I was overwhelmed by the thought of having to be a black girl for the rest of my life.

    I was demoted in scholastic level across the board after that horrendous eighth-grade year. I was kept out of Advanced Placement classes in English and History throughout high school. And once I graduated high school, I never took another English class again.

    It had been my favorite subject. […]

    Racism is a national disaster in this country. It robs us of brilliance, ingenuity and progress. And in a country where policymakers at the highest levels neglect black girls in favor of offering support to their male peers, we continue to undermine the progress of the entire community.

    Mentoring black boys doesn’t help black girls raise children alone or try to attend school while pregnant. Focusing only on black boys doesn’t keep black women from being the group with the fastest-growing rates of imprisonment or highest HIV infections. It doesn’t stop the gender bias that disproportionately burdens girls with family and childcare responsibilities at home. “Trickle-down” community building that delivers support to only men and boys doesn’t help black women and girls any better than trickle-down economics helps the poor. And prioritizing black men and boy