Diversity Headlines

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

Colorlines - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 16:42
 Watch Queer and Trans Activists of Color Shut Down San Francisco's Historic Castro

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

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

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

Here's video from last weekend's action:

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Doctor With Parkinson’s Fights Latino Culture’s Silence, Denial and Isolation

New America Media - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 00:05
 Photo: Epigmenio Quintanilla Jr., 81, above, was diagnosed with Parkinson's six years ago. Read more about him in Part 1 of this series. (Yolanda González Gómez/HuffPost Voces) Also, read the complete article in Spanish. Neurologist María de León, MD, is not... Yolanda González Gómez http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

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

Colorlines - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 14:23
Black Workers With Advanced Degrees, White Workers With B.A.'s Make Roughly the Same

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

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

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

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

(h/t Catherine Rampell)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Former US Sailor Rocks Boat with Federal Lawsuit

New America Media - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 13:11
Being a US sailor allowed Jonathan Berts a chance to travel around the world and study Arabic and Islam, but he says his commitment to faith resulted in mistreatment and an unfair dismissal.The nine-year veteran filed a federal lawsuit last... Aatif Ali Bokhari http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Mal de Parkinson, hispanos lo ignoran o aplazan tratamiento

New America Media - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 11:45
 Foto: Félix Saldaña EnglishDALLAS, Texas.- Desde que emigró a Estados Unidos en 1975, el mundo de Félix Saldaña giró alrededor de subir y bajar altas tarimas, estructuras de madera y operar maquinaria, debido a su trabajo en el ramo de la... Yolanda González Gómez http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

The Race Case Before the Roberts' Supreme Court

Colorlines - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 09:30
The Race Case Before the Roberts' Supreme Court

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

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

(h/t ProPublica)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Jay Z on NY Policing: 'Every Single Human Being Matters'

Colorlines - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 09:26
 'Every Single Human Being Matters'

In a rare public statement on a political issue, Jay Z came out in support of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to improve relations between police and civilians in the Big Apple. Cuomo made his comments on Wednesday, and in support of them, Jay Z said:

"The criminal justice reform package proposed by Governor Cuomo today is a huge step forward in restoring fairness, protection, sensitivity and accountability for all under our justice system," Jay Z said in a statement, via Capitol Confidential.

"I commend Governor Cuomo for his bold leadership in taking this issue head on at this critical time. This package presents comprehensive steps to protect and improve relations amongst all citizens. We cannot be divided, as every single human being matters. Together, we can move forward as a community, with mutual respect for each other and continue to make this great state stronger than ever before."

Interestingly, the rapper's statement played off of the "black lives matter" refrain that's become a ralling cry for protestors in the wake of the police killings of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Mike Brown in Ferguson. The fact that Jay Z -- one of the most recognizable black cultural figures in the world whose discography is filled with tales of beating the law -- stopped short of centering black poeple in a conversation on policing is important, given the history of the phrase. Here's Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, on why it's important to put black folks at the forefront:

When we say Black Lives Matter, we are talking about the ways in which Black people are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. It is an acknowledgement Black poverty and genocide is state violence.  It is an acknowledgment that 1 million Black people are locked in cages in this country-one half of all people in prisons or jails-is an act of state violence.  It is an acknowledgment that Black women continue to bear the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families and that assault is an act of state violence... And the fact is that the lives of Black people--not ALL people--exist within these conditions is consequence of state violence.

Read more

As Rolling Stone points out, Jay Z, Russell Simmons and Common all met with Cuomo recently to ask him to reform the state's criminal justice system. Jay Z also distributed "I Can't Breathe" t-shirts in support of Garner's case to NBA players late last year. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Native Film Stars John Reddy and Jashaun St. John Named Breakout Sundance Stars

Colorlines - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 07:20
Native Film Stars John Reddy and Jashaun St. John Named Breakout Sundance Stars

The Sundance Film Festival is only in its second day, but already there's a lot of buzz about "Songs My Brothers Taught Me," a film directed by Chinese-American filmmaker Chloé Zhao about life between a brother and sister on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The two stars of the film, John Reddy and Jashaun St. John, were named among 10 breakout stars at this year's Sundance by The Wrap:

Reddy and St. John may be non-professional actors but Chloe Zhao's feature debut isn't a one-off for either of them. The duo play half-siblings who embark on separate paths when the unexpected death of his father complicates his plans to leave the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Like "Beasts of the Southern Wild," this drama could surprise audiences who go in with an open mind regarding a community rarely seen on the big screen.

The film's trailer hasn't been released, but you can keep up with it on Facebook


Categories: Diversity Headlines

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

Colorlines - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 07:12
Saudi Arabia's Changes at the Throne, Rubio 2016, East Coast Prepares for Winter Storm

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Following Ferguson: Change Is Slow

Colorlines - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 05:49
 Change Is Slow

After a St. Louis grand jury declined to indict white former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, many looked to Eric Holder's Justice Department for redress. But, as The New York Times reported on Wednesday, it's unlikely that the Department of Justice will recommend federal civil rights charges against the man who killed unarmed black 18-year-old Mike Brown. Until the decision is official, Brown's family attorney is withholding comment. But civil rights charges were just one avenue for justice in Ferguson. Almost immediately following the first confrontations on West Florissant, many pointed to underlying conditions fueling residents' anger. Below, a status update on issues that could bring tangible change in Ferguson and the rest of St. Louis.

Black Town, White Leaders

Ferguson is nearly 70 percent black. Its police department is mostly white as are five of its six city council members. One corrective: voting. As of this week's filing deadline, eight candidates have stepped forward for three city council seats up for election this April. Several are black including Adrienne Hawkins, a member of a new community group One Ferguson who told KSDK News that the Mike Brown protests inspired her to step up. The Associated Press noted that of the eight, three declared their candidacies just hours before this week's deadline.

Predatory Courts

"To understand some of the distrust of police," NPR reported in late August that "in 2013 the municipal court in Ferguson--a city of 21,135 people--issued 32,975 arrest warrants for nonviolent offenses, mostly driving violations." Court fines and fees were the city's second largest source of revenue. That predatory vise grip over the lives of largely low-income residents was the norm for most municipal courts a public defender report found, and it was not peculiar to Ferguson. Since then, local courts have implemented an amnesty program to give residents an extension on their court appearances and fees. St. Louis Municipal Court has adopted a new rule taking into account people's ability to pay when handing out fines. And a Missouri Senate committee is discussing legislation that would lower the cap on city revenue coming from traffic violations to 10 percent. Missouri's attorney general is suing 11 municipalities for collecting above the current 30-percent cap.

Reforming the Ferguson Police Department

The justice department is continuing its "pattern or practice" investigation of the Ferguson police department over allegations of excessive force and discriminatory traffic stops. In the Missouri legislature's current session a number of bills concern policing. Some proposed reforms: requiring the use of body cameras; tightening the state's deadly force law and appointing a special prosecutor in police-involved deaths.

Ferguson Commission

The 16-member Commission established by Gov. Jay Nixon in the wake of Brown protests has been meeting with community members. It recommendations are due in September. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

‘The Happiest Day of My Life’ - Undocumented APIs Urged to Apply for Driver’s Licenses

New America Media - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 01:00
Above: California State Assemblyman David Chiu speaking at a press conference promoting new immigration programs for APIs.SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Under a new law, thousands of undocumented Californians are applying for driver’s licenses for the first time. But advocates worry few... Summer Chiang http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=418
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Study: Women, Minorities Pay Higher Effective Social Security Rate

New America Media - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 16:39
Improving retirement security was among the many proposals in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union message on Tuesday. But advocates for older Americans say Obama should ask Congress to strengthen the nation’s principal middle-class retirement support – Social Security... Paul Kleyman http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=104
Categories: Diversity Headlines

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

Colorlines - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 12:32
Black McDonald's Workers Fired 'To Get the Ghetto Out,' Lawsuit Alleges

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Indian Country Vote Key in South Dakota, Alaska and Wisconsin Races

New America Media - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 12:06
I am hoping that my ballot is in the mail today. I am ready to vote. What I really like about voting early is that it’s an inoculation against all the TV and Internet ads. Once I have voted, I... Mark Trahant http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Watch the Trailer for Stanley Nelson's New Documentary on the Black Panthers

Colorlines - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:50
Watch the Trailer for Stanley Nelson's New Documentary on the Black Panthers

The Sundance Film Festival kicks off today and one of the many films to look for is Stanley Nelson's documentary, "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution." Nelson's look at the rise and fall of the party is particularly timely given the resurgence of black protest in America since officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last August.

The film will premiere at Sundance on Friday, January 23, and will be followed by encore screenings next week at the festival.

Tambay A. Obenson wrote at Shadow and Act:

The documentary will not only look at the rise and fall of the Party, but also its influence on how African Americans consider themselves today, especially in consideration of recent (and ongoing) collective action within communities nationwide, in response to multiple incidents of police brutality that led to fatalities. A key Panther practice was its monitoring of police officers, and challenges of police brutality.  

Here's the film's official synopsis:

Change was coming to America and the fault lines were no longer ignorable--cities were burning, Vietnam was exploding, and disputes raged over equality and civil rights. A new revolutionary culture was emerging and it sought to drastically transform the system. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense would, for a short time, put itself at the vanguard of that change. 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution' is the first feature length documentary to showcase the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. An essential history, 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,' is a vibrant chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America."

Take a look at the trailer below:


Categories: Diversity Headlines

Laverne Cox, Big Freedia, Angel Haze Among This Year's GLAAD Media Award Nominees

Colorlines - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:49
Laverne Cox, Big Freedia, Angel Haze Among This Year's GLAAD Media Award Nominees

The nominees for the 26th annual GLAAD Media Awards were announced on Wednesday and they're filled with the people and stories that made 2014 such an important year for LGBT communities. ABC's "How to Get Away With Murder" was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, while "Modern Family," "Orange is the New Black" and "Transparent" were among the nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Big Freedia's reality TV show on Logo, "Queen of Bounce," was nominated for Outstanding Reality Series while "Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word" was among this year's nominees for Outstanding Documentary.

Rapper Angel Haze earned a nomination for her debut LP "Dirty Gold," and Time Magazine's Katy Steinmetz's cover article on Laverne Cox titled "The Transgender Tipping Point" was nominated for Outstanding Magazine Article.

The awards ceremonies will be held in Los Angeles on March 21 at the Beverly Hilton and in New York City on May 9 at the Waldorf Astoria New York.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

A Tale of Two Movements

Colorlines - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:08
A Tale of Two Movements

Update: 1-22-14 at 10:40 a.m. ET: The House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on a 20-week abortion ban today but Republicans withdrew the bill last night because they didn't have enough votes to pass it.


Today is the 42nd anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that opened the door for legal access to abortion in the United States. In the decades since, particularly in the last five years since the 2010 midterm elections, we've seen a steady rise in laws designed to limit or even eliminate that access. On the first day of the new Congress early this month, five bills alone were introduced that focused on restricting abortion access. Today the House of Representatives are set to vote on a proposed 20-week abortion ban.

While Roe v. Wade was a historic turning point for the reproductive rights movement, a new movement has blossomed in the decades since: reproductive justice (RJ). This 21-year-old movement seeks to change how we fight for abortion access by pairing it with the broader struggle to create, support and nurture the kinds of families we want. For RJ leaders and activists this idea is second nature, but the movement hasn't yet reached critical mass. For the uninitiated, here are six key differences between the reproductive justice and reproductive rights movements.

1. Race Matters

Race is a major dividing line between the two movements, both in terms of leadership as well as approach. RJ architects such as Loretta Ross developed a frame that focuses on the experiences of those marginalized by racism and discrimination because they felt that communities of color and the issues most important to them were not being represented in the traditional reproductive rights movement. Monica Raye Simpson, executive director of the Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective lays this out: "Women of color are concerned about feeding their children, they are concerned about making sure their child gets the medication they need, they are worried about their job security, they are worried about whether or not their child or partner will become the next Mike Brown or Eric Garner. All of these issues are RJ issues."

2. Poverty Does Too

Race is implicitly tied up with class in the U.S., so RJ analyzes how class--particularly poverty--shapes people's ability to choose when they parent. On the policy level, the movement has tackled the Hyde Amendment, a law passed in 1976 that severely restricts the use of federal funds for abortion services by people on Medicaid and Medicare and federal employees.

Some states have stepped in and funded these services, but most don't. That means that unless you have private insurance you must pay for abortion procedures out of pocket. This is just one example of how legal access to abortion means little to those who can't jump other hurdles such as cost. Procedures can cost anywhere from $300-$3000. Maria Elena Perez, director of policy and strategic partnerships at the National Institute for Reproductive Health, explains this further: "The right to reproductive health care is insufficient if low-income women can't afford those services or don't have transportation to the clinic or lack workplace policies that allow them to take time off for appointments." In response to financial hardship, grassroots groups have raised money to help people pay for their procedures through local abortion funds. Many of these groups utilize a reproductive justice analysis in their work.

3. The Most Marginalized Are at the Center

"Reproductive justice recognizes that legal rights do not always translate to meaningful access. It centers the experiences of the marginalized--immigrants, people of color, queer and trans folks, youth, and low-income communities," explains Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. This ideology is a marked departure from reproductive rights--where focusing solely on legal access effectively puts those whose other needs are already being met at its center.

4. RJ Takes a Holistic Approach

Verónica Bayettí Flores, a queer immigrant writer and activist, explains: "A reproductive justice framework takes into account whether a person can afford an abortion; whether a gender non-conforming person can feel safe from the threat of discrimination or violence while accessing such gendered care; whether a person has a clinic nearby or whether they have to travel a significant distance; whether there's an immigration checkpoint along the way; what access to transportation looks like; the economic impact for a person who does not have paid sick leave of taking several days off due to long-distance travel and waiting periods; whether the clinic is wheelchair accessible, and on and on."

Tannia Esparza, executive director of Young Women United, says that this frame includes people other than the woman seeking an abortion: "While the reproductive rights movement has advocated for much-needed abortion and contraception rights, the reproductive justice movement acknowledges the realities of whole people, whole families, and whole communities and asks us to challenge the systems that impact us the most."

5. A Focus on the Right to Parent

In addition to securing women's abortion rights, RJ emphasizes the right to parent. This is another place where race--and the experience of racism--shapes women's experience. Women of color have faced major barriers to parenting through policies like coercive sterilization in public hospitals and prisons and racist stigma about who is fit to parent. "Reproductive justice works to ensure that we can express our sexuality without judgment, plan and prevent pregnancy and also have healthy pregnancies," says Cristina Aguilar, executive director of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). This emphasis on parenting, and the challenges facing women of color who want to parent, has been a cornerstone of the RJ movement.

6. Building Connections Across Movements

Policy change using the RJ approach means combining efforts with other movements. "We think about our policy change work from a perspective that is multi-issue," says Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum. "We actively try to link organizations and leaders across silos." This type of cross-sector alliance-building has been a strategy of reproductive justice groups. "If we want to see these anti-choice policies disappear," says Sistersong's Simpson, "We have to be willing to show up for our other movements so that we can build our collective power."

Yeung points to the San Francisco-based opposition to sex-selective abortion bans as an example of the potential of cross-issue organizing. "We've been highlighting the racial injustice aspects of sex-selective abortion bans that target our community, and it gives us potentially a whole new set of allies to engage with us." COLOR, the Latina RJ group in Colorado, has also successfully rejected a "personhood" ballot measure three times now, in part thanks to their successful organizing in Latino communities which resulted in "record-high turnout," according to Aguilar.

Tamika Middleton, interim executive director of SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW based in Atlanta, says that RJ activists must be on the offensive: "Offering a policy agenda that is rooted in reproductive justice principles gives us the power to force conservatives to engage in a debate that is framed by us rather than them," she says. "By offering a policy agenda that seeks to address issues like poor sexual health outcomes, a living wage and police accountability--while being steadfast in our opposition to anti-choice policy--we can ensure that we are having a conversation about what we are for rather than what we are against."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Duo Creates Maternity Line Especially for Butches

Colorlines - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 08:01
Duo Creates Maternity Line Especially for Butches

Over the last few years, more and more attention has been turning toward trans and masculine folks getting pregnant. Starting with Thomas Beatie, who became known as the "pregnant man" after sharing his story with Oprah in 2007, we've seen increased visibility for the community of masculine-presenting folks having babies. Now two young, queer entrepreneurs of color are launching Butchbaby & Co., an "alternity" line for pregnant masculine, transgender and queer individuals. I interviewed the founders, Vanessa Newman and Michelle Janayea, about their clothes which they plan to release in fall 2015.

bbbw.jpgButchbaby & Co. founders, Michelle Janayea (top) and Vanessa Newman  (courtesy of Vanessa Newman)

What inspired two 20-somethings to start an androgynous maternity line?

Newman: I was initially inspired by my desire to one day carry a child. Two years ago, during my freshman year of college, I was just getting into discovering my personal style and I had also befriended another student who is a QWOC and identified as butch/boi. We talked a lot about our futures and being pregnant at the same time so our kids could be friends. But because of how we dress and present ourselves, we always joked about what we would wear as pregnant bois. It was a personal need that inspired the line, but seeing other people's need for it motivated me to actually make it happen.

Janayea: I first got the idea in high school. In my senior year my mother got pregnant. Over those long months, I thought about the clothes she wore, if she was comfortable, and why they all had floral prints and ruffles. I remember her wearing a lot of sweatpants and nursing tops, and I realized that making maternity clothes isn't that hard if you know how to keep the person wearing them as comfortable as possible. That's when I started thinking about what my future partner and I would wear when the time comes for us to start a family.

Has being people of color influenced your approach to this business?

Newman: As a [masculine-identified] consumer it's hard to find clothing and then, on top of that, it's hard to find clothing that fits my body. It's also hard to find style role models and fashion icons who aren't white. So, we're definitely a lot more deliberate about having our clothes appeal to all identities, races, sizes ... and classes. And being black, I'd say I have a much deeper understanding of how cycles of oppression play into our everyday lives than my competitors.

Can you give me an example?

Newman: For instance, did you know that same-sex POC couples are more likely than [their white counterparts] to have kids? Well, take a female same-sex couple of color. Because they're women, they both probably face a pay gap compared to men. So the family that is statistically more likely to [have] a kid may not be able to afford the medical procedures some LGBTQ couples need to have kids, let alone high-priced maternity wear.

Michelle, how has being a woman of color impacted your approach?

Janayea:I would say that [being a person of color] has influenced [me] in the best way. ...History has shown us how people of color have created our own niche in the fashion world, and it has lead to the creation of many beautiful things. And for me, being a queer person of color is a big part of how I act, dress and work, so designing for Butchbaby & Co. is what I was meant to do. 

Seems like there is a major trend in boutique fashion labels--whether bespoke tailors or small production shops--catering to masculine queer and trans folks. How do you see Butchbaby & Co. relating to these existing businesses? Are you following any of their models?

Newman: I think we relate to these businesses in the sense that we're contributing to the movement that is more gender-inclusive, consciously made clothing. Whether we all know it or not, with so many queer-oriented clothing lines, tailors, and shops coming out within this same time span, we're creating a much larger presence, than if there was only one of us in town. I definitely see us wanting to support these other businesses as we expand. Like, for instance, getting married? Buy your suit from Saint Harridan or Bindle & Keep. Having a baby? Shop Butchbaby & Co. You know? Stringing together all of our different lines into clothing for a lifetime. On the more business end of things, we haven't so much found a business model we fully want to follow or duplicate. We are really into what a couple of the bespoke tailors I mentioned earlier are doing, which is going to the customer. I'd love to do a pop-up shop tour after we launch and bring our clothes to major cities. To create that experience of being able to go with your partner and try on clothes and know they fit, know they make you feel comfortable and like yourself and not be judged but embraced by salespeople that look like you... it almost feels like a necessary thing we one day have to do.

Are you connected to gender non-conforming, butch or trans pregnant and parenting people?

Newman: I've been able to connect with some members of the community on an individual level, usually by being introduced by a mutual [acquaintance]. I also follow some great blogs and Twitter accounts that are specifically for lesbian moms or pregnant butch women. One thing we really hope to incorporate into our company, outside of the clothes, is a strong online community of butch/trans/gender non-binary/queer pregnant individuals that is easy to find and that shows that we're here, we're queer, and we're having babies our way and wearing what we want while we do it. Pregnant butches aren't unicorns, you know? The community deserves much more representation. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Clergy Stage a Die-in at Congressional Cafeteria for Black Lives Matter

Colorlines - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 07:36
Clergy Stage a Die-in at Congressional Cafeteria for Black Lives Matter

Christian, Muslim and Jewish clergy and people of faith staged a die-in at the congressional cafeteria in Washington, D.C. to protest the killings of unarmed black people. Over at WaPo, Wesley Lowery explains how the die-in kicked off:

The Longworth Building cafeteria, a heavily trafficked lunch spot on Capitol Hill, was bustling around 12:30 p.m. when two to three dozen clergy members let out a cry of “Black Lives Matter” and lay down on the floor in front of the cash registers.

In a statement issued by Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice and Auburn Seminary, which organized the action, Jewish, Christian and Muslims came together to call attention to Black Lives Matter’s demands.

Middle Collegiate Church’s Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, who participated in the die-in, made clear that black women matter, too: “As we mourn the deaths of unarmed Black men killed at the hands of law enforcement, let us speak the names of Aura Rosser, killed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, when police responded to a domestic quarrel in her home, and Sharon Mosley killed in front of her 3-year-old child at a Walmart in Georgia while being apprehended by police for alleged shoplifting.”

Participants laid down for four-and-a-half minutes to represent the four-and-a-half hours Michael Brown’s body was left on the ground after he was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August.

This isn’t Bend the Arc’s first action around Black Lives Matter—the group worked with others* to organize rallies in 15 cities on the first night of Chanukah in December. 

*This post has been updated to reflect that Bend the Arc worked with other groups to organize the Chanukah protests. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Margaret Cho Thinks It's Radical For Women to Joke About Sex

Colorlines - Thu, 01/22/2015 - 07:35
Margaret Cho Thinks It's Radical For Women to Joke About Sex

Margaret Cho spoke with BuzzFeed's Ariane Lange about her new show on TLC, "All About Sex." A few interesting tidbits:

On the AIDS crisis of the 1980s:

You said you learned a lot about sex as a young person from gay men, whom you grew up around in San Francisco. Can you speak about that?

MC: When AIDS came in, there was a lot of fear around sexuality, so you had a whole generation of people learning to have sex without bodily fluids. This is when BDSM [really took hold], where you had sexuality that did not have the same look or trappings of genital sex, which, at the time, after AIDS, was a very scary thing to do. I witnessed a variety of different kinds of sexuality through growing up within the gay community, and then surviving the AIDS crisis.

On the importance of women talking about sex:

Is there a radicalism to joking about enjoying sex as a woman? I was thinking about Joan Rivers, who I love, and I know you love, but one of her recurring jokes throughout her career -- two of her recurring jokes -- was that she was ugly and also that she didn't like sex. That's a joke that you don't really make, and not something that you put out there.

MC: Yeah, that's almost like a different generation. Joan's joke about avoiding sex, or just doing it because you have to, to please your husband... she always had that joke about how she'd be reading a magazine at the same time or something. It was her way of trying to get control over the situation by ignoring the man trying to have sex with her. I always thought what she did was funny, but that's a definite generational joke. I wouldn't make the same joke. I think you should really enjoy the sex you have. If you have sex, it should be for you, not for the other person. That joke is assuming that sex is always in service to men, which I think I wanna flip that, and make it all about the woman. Or me.

Read more at BuzzFeed

Categories: Diversity Headlines
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