Colorlines - 2 hours 28 min ago
Colorlines - 2 hours 36 min ago
Writer Mia McKenzie is blowing up my newsfeed. And for good reason: this non-comprehensive list of eight ways not to be an ally is hilariously on point. Check out the snippet below:
1. Assume one act of solidarity makes you an ally forever.
Remember that time your uncle said that fucked-up stuff about "illegal" Mexican immigrants and you were all, "Actually, Uncle, California isMexico, so you need to read your history cuz that's hella racist!" That shit rocked, bruh. And it totally means that you are an Ally with a capital A for, like, ever! Done and done. Let's go get a celebratory slurpee. But you know what else? Nope. Being an ally takes waaaay more practice than that. It is a constantly active and evolving thing. I mean, imagine labeling yourself a great lover after you ate pussy once. That would be cray, wouldn't it?
2. Make everything about your feelings.
The hurt feelings that resulted when you were called out on racism/transphobia/ableism/etc. are totally more important than the impact of the actions you are being called out for in the first place. Really. I'm not even being facetious. Psych! I mean, I know it feels like your feelings are Consideration #1, but they're not. I have been guilty of this ridiculousness myself in the past. I think everybody is guilty of it sometimes. But that still doesn't make it okay. Try to remember that people who have been impacted by your racist/transphobic/ableist/etc. words or actions are the ones whose feelings need attention right then. Not yours.
3. Date 'em all.
Some folks seem to think that the quickest way to lifelong allyship status is to just date all the people who resemble those that one claims to exist in solidarity with. Anti-racist? Date all the POC! And be sure to do so exclusively and with no analysis whatsoever about fetishism, exotification, or the ways your white body might be interrupting POC space! Cuz, hey, you're an ally and stuff. Right? Ew.
4. Don't see race/gender/disability/etc.
You know what I love? When people don't see my race. There is nothing more affirming for me as a person than to have essential parts of myself and my experience completely disregarded. I mean, inside we're all the same. And there's only one race: the HUMAN race! Amirite??? Ugh. Listen. If your ability to respect someone's right to exist requires pretending that they are just like you, that's a problem. We are not all the same. And things like race, gender, disability, etc. are exactly the kinds of things that shape our lives and our experiences and make us different from one another. Being different is not the problem. The idea that being the same as you is what gives us the right to exist is the problem.
Read more at Black Girl Dangerous.
Colorlines - 2 hours 44 min ago
Well, at least Paula Deen is an honest racist. The cooking show host is currently embroiled in a million dollar lawsuit over racist behavior at her Savannah restaurant. Deen and her brother Bubba allegedly threw around the N-word and told racist and sexist jokes that, so far, she doesn't deny. But then she said something about wanting to hire black cater waiters to act as slaves at a Southern wedding, and she replied:
"The whole entire waiter staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie. I mean, it was really impressive. That restaurant represented a certain era in America... after the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War... It was not only black men, it was black women... I would say they were slaves."
Totally honest. Completely crazy. White privilege, y'all.
Colorlines - 2 hours 47 min ago
Update: June 19, 2013 at 10:26pm EST: Serena Williams has apologized.
"What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved - that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl's family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written - what I supposedly said - is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.
I have fought all of my career for women's equality, women's equal rights, respect in their fields - anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child."
Serena Williams got herself in trouble with a recent Rolling Stone interview. The story ostensibly had nothing to do with the high-profile case in which two small-town Ohio high school football players were accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. But that didn't stop the star tennis player from questioning why the victim decided to drink so much that night and then speak up afterward. From Deadspin:
We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV--two high school football players raped a 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. "Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don't know. I'm not blaming the girl, but if you're a 16-year-old and you're drunk like that, your parents should teach you--don't take drinks from other people. She's 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn't remember? It could have been much worse. She's lucky. Obviously I don't know, maybe she wasn't a virgin, but she shouldn't have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that's different."
No doubt Williams will apologize, but it's hard to believe she could be so careless in a national interview. To be fair, seems like Serena was wrestling with complex emotions and lost her way in her explanation of them. To read more related to this, read Akiba Solomon's take from earlier this year.
Colorlines - 2 hours 47 min ago
Brazil is hosting the World Cup next year, as well as the Olympics in 2016--which means that the state is invested in evicting residents to make room for tourists, and divesting from education, transportation, and healthcare. And that means social activists, and students especially, are taking to the streets to demonstrate in the biggest protests the nation has seen in two decades.
The protests originally coincided with anticipated bus fare hikes. But although nearly a dozen cities have lowered their fares, up to a quarter-of-a-million people still took the streets last night. The protests, which have been met with a sometimes-violent response from police, pose a serious image problem for socialist president Dilma Rousseff, who's said she's proud of the protests.
Natalia Viana directs the Agencia Pública investigative journalism center, based in São Paulo, and has been digging into eviction and social safety net stories for years. In this Spanish language interview, Viana explains that Brazil has dropped nearly one billion dollars in Rio de Janeiro's privately owned Maracaná Stadium alone. She adds that nearly 200,000 people stand to lose their homes because of new roads and structures being erected for the twin grand scale sports events. Those who are taking to the streets are also limited by new regulations. They maintain a one-and-a-mile protest exclusion zone--which is unconstitutional in a nation that supposedly values expression.
A popular slogan (among many) for protestors has become, "Call me [the World] Cup, and Invest in Me," and some politicians are already listening. Porto Alegre's mayor just announced that he will no longer push to complete construction on any World Cup-related projects in his city. It's likely that other officials may soon follow--but no word yet on what that means for accommodating first world visitors who are used first world accommodations.
For lots of people in the US, Brazil remains a racial paradise, where people seem to get along despite a violent history of colonization and enslavement--and many World Cup fans are eager to visit next year. Do Brazil's protests make you think about your role as a spectator in South America? Let us know in the comments!
Colorlines - 3 hours 3 min ago
The Detroit police officer who killed 7-year-old Aiyana Jones in a home raid in 2010 has escaped conviction, for now. This morning Wayne County Judge Cynthia Hathaway set a new date--July 25--for all parties to reconvene for a potential retrial after declaring a mistrial on Tuesday afternoon, MLive.com reported. The jury deciding Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley's fate could not come to a unanimous decision regarding the involuntary manslaughter charge against Weekley.
Weekley was part of a team that raided Jones' home during filming of the A&E reality show "The First 48" on May 16, 2010. Seconds after entering the home, Weekley shot Jones, who was asleep on her grandmother's couch. During the trial Weekley testified that he shot Jones after her grandmother hit his gun from the couch, and he hadn't realized he'd fired his weapon until after he returned to the room, MLive.com reported.
If the Wayne County Prosecutor's office so chooses, it could move to stage the entire trial again for a brand new jury.
Colorlines - 3 hours 8 min ago
Ron Burgundy and the gang are back. The new trailer is out, featuring a few black actors including Meagan Good. The film hits theaters on December 20.
Colorlines - 4 hours 41 min ago
FYI, from Angry Asian Man:
The N and the G are silent and combine to form a W sound. As for the U, it sounds more like an E. Also, ignore the Y and the E. "Nguyen." What's the issue?"
And just in case you want to put a fine point on that, there are t-shirts, mugs, water bottles, and more.
Colorlines - 4 hours 46 min ago
I stumbled across the documentary 'Detropia" on Netflix a few weeks ago. In short, it was really disappointing and tough to get through. Why? Andre Seewood nails it at Shadow & Act:
The film, DETROPIA, while trying to put Detroit's decline in a larger nationwide context of the erosion of manufacturing plants and outsourcing fails to mention or put into perspective the racial tensions that have long defined Detroit, segregated the mostly Black populated city from the mostly White populated surrounding suburbs and severely undermined the Black political power base that used to govern the city.
Seewood gives a pretty exhaustive critique, which you can read in full over at Shadow & Act.
Colorlines - 4 hours 56 min ago
Olivia Roffle has worked at Papa John's Pizza in St. Louis, Mo., for three years and she hates it. "It's just not an enjoyable place to work," she says. The 23 year old, who is enrolled in classes to become a social worker, doesn't make enough to pay rent at her own place so she alternates nights at her mother's, uncle's and sister's homes. That was a lousy situation, and then it got worse when her car broke and she didn't have the money to fix it. So she ends up taking two busses and a train to make it to her shifts. But here's the thing: Roffle does work enough hours to afford to fix her car. That's to say, if she were paid for all the hours she works, she'd have a ride. She's not, she says, because her employer thieves her wages.
If that sounds dramatic, it should. Roffle is one of hundreds of fast food workers in six U.S. cities who in recent months have gone on strike to demand higher wages--$15 an hour, more than twice what she makes now-- and the right to unionize. But as much as she and other workers want a living wage, they also want to get paid a legal wage.
"Its kind of like understood, it's a thing there, it's an unspoken thing," Roffle told me about illegal employment practices that shirk workers of wages to which they're legally and contractually entitled. Roffle is among those now trying to organizer fast food workers in Missouri. "There would be a ton of people making overtime if we got paid for all the hours we work, but we don't."
The U.S. Department of Labor found a couple years ago that 40 percent of fast food outposts in the country fail to consistently pay their employees a minimum wage or overtime. And a recent study from New York City found that 84 percent of fast food workers complained that their employers regularly force them to work off the books, work overtime without overtime pay or pony up for their own gas for deliveries. In the case of fast food, the whole structure of franchising is set up to throw workers like Roffle under the bus while insulating corporations like Papa John's from the messy exigencies of their labor.
Ways to Steal Your Wages
Here's how Papa John's gets away with taking Roffle's pay. She says she's regularly expected to start her shift before she clocks in, or stay late to clean after she's already clocked out. She talked me through a recent week, recalling the hours she started and stopped and then which hours she actually worked. All together, she says in an average week she works two to four hours without pay. And so Roffle, who makes $7.35 an hour, loses out on nearly $90 a month. In a year, that's more than $1,000, which she says would've been more than enough to get her car fixed.
"The thing is, you know that you should be paid," Roffle said, "but to show that you want to keep your job, that you are a good worker, that you are a team player, you do it."
Across the state, Wilma Brown, a former Kansas City Burger King worker in her mid-30's, tells a similar tale. Brown says her hours would get changed by her managers on payroll documents after she'd already worked them. She worked several hours more each week than she was paid for, which pushed her earnings below the minimum wage. She also says she was denied overtime pay because whenever she worked more than 40 hours, her manager just erased the hours from the payroll documents.
I asked Brown to prove it, so she emailed me a pile of documents. She printed them out from the franchise's computer system before she quit about a year ago. Brown first sent me a form called a "Time Clock Detail." It's the shift document that her particular Kansas City Burger King sends to the franchise owner, a company called Genesh, Inc., which runs over 50 Burger Kings in Missouri and Kansas. That form shows the hours for which Brown was paid. On one week, the one leading up to Mother's Day 2012, Brown's shown to have worked exactly 40 hours in nine shifts.
But Brown says that's not the number of hours she worked that week. She says she actually worked nearly 44 hours. To prove it, she sent me two other documents. The first is titled a "Shift Edit History." That, according to a Genesh, Inc. spokesperson, is a database that the franchise stores use to fix any wrong entries before the shift histories are sent to the central office for payroll. The Shift Edit History shows that in five of the nine shifts that week, edits were made to shorten the number of hours Wilma Brown worked. Those five edits shaved off three hours and 54 minutes from her schedule. That's to say, a manager went into the computer system and changed her hours. Roffle says the change was made in order to bring her below 40 hours for the week, so she wouldn't be paid overtime.
I asked Brown how she could prove that she actually worked 44 hours and not 40 hours. She didn't pause: "I have my time cards showing when I clocked in and when I clocked out." She scanned a few and sent them to me. On Mothers' Day, May 13, 2012, one of the edited schedule days, Roffle's "Employee Clock Out" document says she worked five hours and one minute. That's one hour and one minute less than the payroll document.
On an average week, Brown says, she lost two or three hours of pay, often for overtime. That comes out to about $1,300 a year, just under a tenth of her annual income when she was working at Burger King.
Across the board, wage theft has a major impact on workers' lives. One study of low-wage workers in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, found that the average employee loses 15 percent of their earnings to wage theft.
When asked about Brown's charges, Genesh, Inc. was quick to say that any wage and hour violations in their stores should be immediately brought to the attention of human resources or to the Missouri Department of Labor. "No one should be editing anyone's time for any reason. We want to pay people for what they work," Anthony Robinson, Genesh's COO, told me.
Brown hasn't yet brought her complaint to the company or to the state. She thinks that if she did complain, she might indeed be paid the hours she lost. But for Brown, who has a new job now, that's not good enough, because she says she thinks every one of her co-workers faced a similar kind of wage theft. In five months of shift documents that Brown sent me, store managers made about 85 shift edits. Brown says that while a few of the changes may've been actual corrections, the majority involve the erasure of wages due. She wants a broader investigation and says she has been talking with other workers about how to move ahead.
The 'It Wasn't Me' Business Model
Genesh would have it that the problems in the restaurant, if there are any--a big if, Anthony Robinson says--are a matter of rogue franchise managers. But Brown says that the structure of the franchise leads to the wage practices.
Like any business, Genesh builds a budget with a line item for labor. The company tells the stores how much to spend on wages and instructs their managers to shoot for those goals. Robinson says Genesh tries to make sure the labor cost goals match actual labor needs for each store. But Brown contends that in the day-to-day workings of Genesh's Burger King franchises, managers end up changing workers' hours to keep store labor costs at the levels designated by Genesh. Robinson says there's no pressure on managers to do this. "Never would anybody ask anybody to somehow manipulate somebody's hours so that they would not get paid what they are owed," he repeated.
But the pressure to save on hours starts even higher up than Genesh in the Burger King model. Labor may be one of the few sites where the franchise group actually has power to increase its own profits. That's because fast food restaurants are highly controlled entities with corporate owners, in this case the Burger King Corporation, imposing mandates on franchisees like Genesh for everything down to the napkins and the computer systems they use for payroll. Everything, that is, except hiring, wages and hours.
Take this line from a Burger King franchisee's contract, which is pretty much like all the other major fast food company's agreements:
"You must construct, improve and operate your Restaurant in accordance with BKC's standards and specifications. You must use fixtures, signage, improvements, décor, supplies, other products and equipment, including computer and point of sale hardware and software that meet BKC's specifications."
Along with these requirements, franchisees pay a host of fees and costs for things such as supplies and training, and in some cases, when corporations own the buildings, high rents are tied to revenues. These costs are fixed, and that puts a strain on the franchise owners. One McDonald's franchisee recently told an analyst from the firm Janney Capital Markets that the company is "couponing like there is no tomorrow," which leaves little room to adjust prices for profit. And news reports suggest that Burger King is following a similar model.
For companies like Burger King, franchising has been a winning proposition. Burger King's first-quarter earnings this year more than doubled, the Associated Press reports, even though revenue fell, to $327.7 million for the quarter. How? In part, by selling some of its company-owned outlets to franchisees, thus knocking off direct overhead for the stores. Instead of relying on unpredictable sales, the corporation collects fixed franchise fees.
None of this is to say that franchise owners are victims. Though fast food companies like to talk about all the former line workers who now own franchises, many if not most fast food franchises are owned by big companies like Genesh, Inc. that end up making huge profits off of dozens or hundreds of stores. But ultimately, as the franchise contracts show, the corporate offices hold the reins. And despite their intense control of operations and costs, the corporations uniformly insist that they don't get involved with anything that has to do with hiring, training or setting wages for employees.
Here's Burger King's franchisee agreement again:"Franchisee shall be the sole and exclusive employer of its employees with the sole right to hire, discipline, discharge, and establish wages, hours, benefits, employment policies, and other terms and conditions of employment for its employees."
Burger King didn't respond to questions from Colorlines. But Robinson, Genesh's COO, said that it's not on the corporate parent's responsibility to deal with his company's labor issues. "I don't think our franchisor is in the position to hold us accountable for the law."
Holding Companies Responsible
Burger King didn't get back to me when I emailed to ask about wage and hour violations in franchises. But Domino's, which is currently being sued by workers in New York for paying well below the minimum wage, did respond. A spokesperson sounded a lot like Ganesh's Robinson on the corporation's responsibility for wage and hour abuses. "As a franchisor, we legally cannot and do not tell independent franchisees how they should recruit, hire, manage or compensate their employees, other than to tell them that they should pay competitively and obey all federal, state and local employment laws," wrote Tom McIntyre, Domino's vice president for communications.
Of course in this context, competitive pay is the minimum wage. And though McIntyre noted that the company retains the power to cancel a contract if franchisees "violate any of our standards outlined in our standard franchise agreement," he said in an email that Domino's has never once cancelled a contract for wage theft. "There have been no instances [of punishing a franchise] that I could find related to compensation," McIntyre wrote.
Like Robinson, McIntyre said that it was the government's responsibility to enforce wage and hour issues, not the parent company. It's a fortuitous time to hold that view. The U.S. Department of Labor, which is tasked with enforcing labor law compliance for all U.S. workers, is historically understaffed. The department now has just 1,000 enforcement agents, about one for every 141,000 workers, McClatchy papers reports. In 1941, the department had an investigator for every 11,000 workers.
That said, where investigations do occur, it appears that the protections corporations enjoy in their franchise contracts may be coming under attack. In the New York class action against Domino's, a magistrate judge in New York's Southern District Court has allowed a group of delivery workers to list Domino's Corporation as a defendant in the case, rather than targeting only the franchisees. Domino's appeared so heavily involved in the day-to-day workings of the franchises, the magistrate wrote, that at least for now, the parent company will remain a defendant in the case.
Ultimately though, taking on franchisors in the courts may be not be the clearest way to victory. "I am guessing that it will be tough to make [franchisor responsibility] stick as a legal matter," says Cynthia Estlund, an employment law professor at New York University.
That's why workers, labor advocates and unions are not relying on courts. The day-long walk outs of fast food workers in six cities thus far have been largely symbolic. And that's the point. "Can they make the corporations socially liable in the public mind so as to force them to take responsibility?" Estlund asks.
That's exactly what Roffle hopes she's doing now. "I would like to tell the other service workers who have already come out and protested, thank you for your support," she said. "I also want to show those who are afraid--we are a people united."
Colorlines - 7 hours 17 min ago
George Zimmerman's pretrial just inched closer to an actual hearing today when attorneys agreed on 40 jurors who made it through the publicity stage of questions. That means those 40--who attorneys believe have not been tainted by media accounts of Trayvon Martin's death and the protests that followed--can now move on to the regular line of questioning to determine a final jury pool.
The original pool was racially mixed--and some responses might surprise readers. The Orlando Sentinel reports, for example, that at least one African-American potential juror thought Zimmerman was prosecuted by network news before having his day in court.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin in February 2012. His case will be decided by six Seminole County, Florida jurors--with four alternates as back-ups.
New American Media - 11 hours 1 min ago
WASHINGTON D.C. – Revelations of a massive cyber-surveillance program targeting American citizens holds particularly chilling consequences for immigrants and communities of color. Given the history of such programs, going back to the pre-digital age, these groups have reason to fear.Who... Seeta Pena Gangadharan http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New American Media - 11 hours 6 min ago
I recently asked a group of school kids in Richmond, California to tell me what they knew about Juneteenth and the Fourth of July. They all knew the basics of the Fourth of July – that it marks the nation’s... Asani Shakur http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - 20 hours 58 min ago
Republicans have wasted no time striking back against yesterday's US Supreme Court ruling invalidating Arizona's "proof of citizenship" voter registration ID law. Under the ruling, Arizona cannot reject federal voter registration forms from people who do not provide documented proof of their citizenship -- like a driver's license, passport or birth certificate -- along with it. Arizona created its own state voter registration form that did require citizenship documents, but that form can't replace the federal form, which is authorized by the National Voter Registration Act ("Motor Voter Act").
Other states have passed similar proof-of-citizenship laws, including Alabama, Georgia and Kansas, and other states have proposed the same. The SCOTUS ruling has established the NVRA-authorized federal voter registration form as the valid "back stop" for people to register with if they don't want to use state-created registration forms.
Wrote Justice Antonin Scalia for the majority opinion:
"States retain the flexibility to design and use their own registration forms, but the Federal Form provides a backstop: No matter what procedural hurdles a State's own form imposes, the Federal Form guarantees that a simple means of registering to vote in federal elections will be available."
But not so fast. Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Louisiana U.S. Senator David Vitter filed an amendment yesterday, tucked into the immigration reform bill, that would amend the Motor Voter Act so that state voter registration forms -- including those requesting proof of citizenship documents -- would trump the federal form.
Their amendment states: "Nothing in [the Motor Voter Act] shall be construed to preempt any State law requiring evidence of citizenship in order to complete any requirement to register to vote in elections for Federal office."
The amendment "sounds like sour grapes and hot air," said Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), to Colorlines. "The amendment will likely fail. Congress considered and rejected a similar amendment when it enacted the NVRA in 1993, concluding that state laws that layer additional documentation requirements onto the federal form would defeat the purpose of the NVRA and uniform postcard registration."
But perhaps an amendment isn't needed. In Justice Scalia's opinion, he agreed that Arizona's law should be struck, but he also basically gave Arizona -- and any other state -- a roadmap for passing a proof of citizenship voter ID law despite his ruling. Scalia said that since the federal Election Assistance Commission is the only Motor Voter-authorized body that can request additional information for the federal voter registration form, that Arizona ought to appeal to it to add the requirement.
Arizona did do that in 2005 but EAC executive director Thomas R. Wilkey rejected their request. Wrote Wilkey: "While Arizona may apply Proposition 200 requirements to the use of its state registration form in Federal elections (if the form meets the minimum requirements of the NVRA), the state may not apply the scheme to registrants using the Federal Registration Form. ... Arizona may not refuse to register individuals to vote in a Federal election for failing to provide supplemental proof of citizenship, if they have properly completed and timely submitted the Federal Registration Form."
That wasn't good enough, so Arizona requested a second opinion from the EAC commissioners board. The board ended up with a 2-2 vote split (due to vacant board seats, the EAC commission has not had enough members for a full quorum vote), which meant the director's decision stood. But Scalia reminded the public in his opinion yesterday that "Arizona did not challenge that agency action ... by seeking an [Administrative Procedure Act] review in federal court." Scalia believes a federal court may compel the EAC to grant Arizona's request since the EAC commission can't give a full vote.
Perales said this would be "very difficult" for Arizona, though, because the EAC director already told them "No," and for the same reasons SCOTUS said "No" yesterday. But also, Arizona "would have to prove that they need to [include proof of citizenship] and that's where the facts really foil Arizona's efforts because they can not point to a single non-resident trying to vote or even registering to vote."
Colorlines - 21 hours 12 min ago
Love him or loathe him, you can't knock Jay-Z's hustle.
The rapper turned mogul has stepped up his business game considerably over the past several years, first by owning (and then selling) his stake in his hometown Brooklyn Nets, then starting his own sports agency, and finally this week announcing a new deal with Android that could permanently alter the mobile music market.
Jay-Z is teaming up with Samsung to release his new album, "Magna Carta Holy Grail", on July 4. The new release will be free for the first one million Android users who download an app for the album. It's a unique partnership and the first of its kind. TechHive points out that for Samsung, "it's a chance to be associated with one of the coolest cats in pop culture and to showcase the company's ability to compete with iTunes radio."
But there's obviously a big upside for Jay-Z, too. Mostly, the new Android deal shows what makes him a really savvy businessman: he knows his market. And that market just so happens to be the millions of young people of color who are adopting smartphones at astonishingly high rates. It's a market in which Google has long reigned supreme, and the fruits are finally showing.
More than half of Americans -- 56 percent -- are now smartphone owners. And while Android is on its way to taking over the lion's share of the U.S. smartphone market, smartphone ownership has long been colored by race. Back in 2010, the Pew Internet & American Life Project did a comprehensive study of exactly who owns which kinds of cell phones. Three years later those numbers may seem a bit dated considering how quickly the industry changes, but the overall takeaways are still the same. Here's more from Pew's more recent data from this year:
Android and iPhone owners are equally common within the cell owner population as a whole, although this ratio differs across various demographic groups. Cell phone owners from a wide range of educational and household income groupings have similar levels of Android adoption, but those from the upper end of the income and education spectrum are much more likely than those with lower income and educational levels to say they own an iPhone. Indeed, fully half--49%--of cell owners with a household income of $150,000 or more say their phone is an iPhone. And African-American cell owners are more likely than whites or Latinos to say that their phone is an Android device as opposed to an iPhone.
But while people are adopting smartphones at faster rates than ever, the market for them is, like Jay-Z pointed out, the Wild, Wild West: unregulated and often predatory. Here's a snippet of reporting I did on this a couple of years ago:
mobile wireless is quickly taking shape as a second Internet, one in which people of color and users with little income are entirely dependent upon cell phone companies for access. That Internet is unregulated. Companies are free to do as they please with customers--they can control what users see, do and say online. And as the country grows more dependent on high speed Internet, the handful of companies who own its mobile version are steadily working to consolidate their power. Whether and how policy makers allow that to happen may determine who gets a voice in our 21st century economy, and who's left as its prey.
Colorlines - 21 hours 17 min ago
Asad Dandia found out last year that a man he considered a friend was actually an NYPD informant hired to spy on Dandia because he's Muslim. Today, Dandia joined with other Muslim New Yorkers and civil liberties groups at One Police Plaza in Manhattan to announce a lawsuit against New York City and the NYPD. They allege that the NYPD engaged in unconstitutional practices that singled out Muslims for profiling and surveillance. The plaintiffs say that the program has lasting and damaging effects on the day-to-day lives of Muslims in New York who fear they're spied on for no reason but their faith.
Dandia, who is 20 and a social work student at Kingsborough Community College, explained at the press conference that he was the co-founder of a charitable group called Muslims Giving Back, and that in March of last year, a man named Shamiur Rahman approached him to say that he'd like to help. Dandia became close to Rahman, inviting him at times to eat meals with his parents and sister at their home in Brooklyn. Then, in October, Rahman went public about his work as an informant. In an Associated Press story, Rahman said he now believes his work for the NYPD was "detrimental to the Constitution." The AP, which revealed the surveillance program in 2011, reported last year that:
Informants like Rahman are a central component of the NYPD's wide-ranging programs to monitor life in Muslim neighborhoods since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Police officers have eavesdropped inside Muslim businesses, trained video cameras on mosques and collected license plates of worshippers. Informants who trawl the mosques - known informally as "mosque crawlers" - tell police what the imam says at sermons and provide police lists of attendees, even when there's no evidence they committed a crime.
Today, Dandia struggled to hold back tears as he described the impact of that revelation. "I was afraid for my parents because this guy slept over at my home," he said, adding that since the informant made his identify public, Muslims Giving Back has struggled to raise money, and the group was asked not to hold meetings or fundraise at a Brooklyn mosque where it had been based.
The suit, filed by the ACLU, New York Civil Liberties Union, and the CLEAR Project, a City University of New York-based legal advocacy group, alleges that the NYPD's vast program to spy on Muslims in New York and surrounding areas violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause by targeting communities solely on the basis of religion. The groups also claim the program violates the plaintiffs' freedom of religion. They're asking the court to enjoin the practices outright and impose an independent, court appointed monitor to enforce the injunction. Other plaintiffs in the case include New York imams and mosques.
The NYPD and City of New York have claimed that the spying program, once called the Demographic Unit, only followed legitimate leads. But a high-ranking NYPD official said in court proceedings in a separate lawsuit that the unit has uncovered no actual plots of violence. Instead, the plaintiffs say, it has struck fear into Muslim communities.
Colorlines - 21 hours 20 min ago
It's never looked better to live on the boundaries of gender.
While high fashion has long had its fair share of openly gay designers (think Jason Wu or Michael Kors), it's arguably been much more difficult for ordinary queer folks to easily find clothes that embody gender variance. Western beauty standards, with their petite female-bodied models and chiseled cismale spokespeople, haven't changed all that much. But in recent years, a new trend has emerged: gender-bending designers and consumers are making their pressence known on the screen and in the streets.
The burgeoning world of gender queer fashion comes thanks in no small part to a few prominent queer folks like Isis King, whose claim to fame was being the first transgender model and fashion designer on America's Next Top Model; and Brittney Griner, the WNBA's star rookie who's contracted by Nike to promote the company's menswear. Websites like the popular Dapper Q, Genderqueer Fashionista, and The Boi's Department have become one of the most popular spaces online for queer women who want to transgress the world of men's fashion. We're now in an era where the queer cuties of the world can legitimately say that they're here, they're queer, and they look damn good.
It's an important endeavor, and it's often an expensive one, too. "Our fabric is the highest quality that we can get," Ivette González-Alé, co-founder of Marimacho, told Colorlines. "We work with a no-sweat, women-owned factory in the garment district. When you're not paying the true value of a piece, someone else is paying for it."
Here's a look at how a handful of indie fashion designers are challenging gender norms and keeping the queer community cute in the process.
Ever walk into a store, spot the cutest jacket/dress/pants in the section that doesn't match your state-assigned gender, and realize that it's two (or three) sizes too big (or small)? That's just one of the problems that Brooklyn-based designers Crystal González-Alé and Ivette González-Alé are trying to fix with Marimacho. "I thought of the idea in college because that's the time that I started to think critically about my gender presentation," Crystal told Colorlines. "Clothing plays such an important part of it. We want to be able to give that to our community: something that fits well and looks great." In addition to offering their own line of classic clothing for gender non-conforming cuties, they also do custom tailoring.
Photos by Bex Wade
Photo by DeAngela Cooks
Chrysalis launched in early 2013 with a mission based both in ideology and practicality. Its very existence counters the misrepresentation of trans women as merely sexualized objects. But it's also working to fill the basic need of finding attractive underwear to fit a physical body that finally matches its owner. The line's bras are made to fit custom full-cup inserts and its panties can "tuck, hold, and smooth out for the perfect seamless look," according to its co-founder Cy Lauz.
Trans folks aren't the only ones in the queer community living with constant underwear anxieties. Earlier this year the good folks at lady-friendly Autostraddle surveyed their lesbian, butch-identified, and gender queer readers to see if they're able to find underpants that affirm their gender. More often than not, the answer was "no." Find a good pair of form-fitting drawers in the women's department of your local Target and you're likely to see that they're filled with lace and flowers. Treck over to the men's section and you'll find boxer briefs with crotch pouches that are way too big. An answer? Play Out, whose gender neutral undies are cute and shapely.
Photos by Lisa Iancin, aLIas Photography
Get up. Suit up. Show up. Those six little words embody Saint Harridan's ambitious mission to make high-quality tailored suits for masculine-identified women. Buoyed by the support of over a thousand supporters on Kickstarter, the Oakland-based company makes one-of-a-kind shirts, jackets, trousers and vests.
This eco-friendly company was started by 30-year-old Kristen Poe and 27-year-old Petra Dean in Ithaca, N.Y. "We started the Cotton Bow Tie Company because we felt that there was a place in the world for fresh, extra-fashion-forward ties that were well made, priced affordably, and designed with gorgeous queer ladies in mind," they told Dapper Q back in April.
Colorlines - 21 hours 47 min ago
J. Cole's new album release is being overshadowed by Kanye's new "Yeezus", but that doesn't mean that the younger rapper's latest release is without its own controversy. "Born Sinner" is Cole's second solo album, and its lead single, "Villuminati", is causing a big stir because of its provocatively homophobic lyrics. The bars in question:
My verbal AK slay faggots/ And I don't mean no disrespect whenever I say faggot, okay faggot/ Don't be so sensitive/ If you want to get fucked in the ass/ That's between you and whoever else's dick it is/ Pause, maybe that line was too far/ Just a little joke to show how homophobic you are/ And who can blame ya
In an interview last week with the Huffington Post, Cole explained what he was trying to do:
"There will soon come a day when people in general, and rap artists specifically, are going to have to answer for their past usage of the word 'faggot,' much like the Grandfathers who are ashamed that they used the word 'nigger' as kids. At a time when public acceptance of gay rights is soaring (rightfully), hip-hop culture and general are still battling with homophobia (not excluding myself). Rather than run from it I chose to attack it playfully. Those lyrics are meant to make everyone uncomfortable for the sake of this very conversation."
But Buzzfeed's Saeed Jones isn't buying it. Jones writes that Cole's song features "perhaps the most homophobic lyrics I've heard from a major artist in the last few years."
Did J. Cole completely miss the mark? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.
Colorlines - Tue, 06/18/2013 - 22:42
This morning the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship from residents as they register to vote is invalid because it violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Through the NVRA, a standardized federal form is provided to all states to keep voter registration uniform across the nation. But Arizona passed a state law in 2004, Proposition 200, that requested additional information such as hard-copy documents proving one's citizenship, in order to register. This created burdens and barriers to the ballot for many Native and Latino Americans in Arizona. Today's decision lifts the proof of citizenship law from Arizona's law books.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion:
"We hold that [federal election law] precludes Arizona from requiring a Federal Form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself. Arizona may, however, request anew that the [Election Assistance Commission] include such a requirement among the Federal Form's state-specific instructions, and may seek judicial review of the EAC's decision under the Administrative Procedure Act."
This was an important victory for voting rights, especially given that a favorable opinion came from Justice Scalia, whose comments on voting rights lately have been discouraging. In March, after oral arguments concerning the case, Justice Scalia said he saw nothing wrong with requesting a birth certificate to register to vote. As noted in his conclusion above, he is encouraging Arizona to appeal to the federal Election Assistance Commission board to have them require additional information -- like proof of citizenship -- for federal registration forms. If the EAC did adopt such measures, then people across the nation would have to show forms like birth certificates to register, which would chiefly burden people of color.
"Today's decision sends a strong message that states cannot block their citizens from registering to vote by superimposing burdensome paperwork requirements on top of federal law," stated Nina Perales, Mexican American Legal Defense Education Fund's Vice President of Litigation and lead counsel for the voters who challenged the Arizona law. "The Supreme Court has affirmed that all U.S. citizens have the right to register to vote using the national postcard, regardless of the state in which they live."
MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, stated, "Arizona, and those states that choose to follow its irresponsible legislating, received a strong message today. The federal government has, through the NVRA, made clear that states may not place unnecessary and unreasonable obstacles to voter participation."
Read Aura Bogado's story "From Arizona to Montana, Native Voters Struggle for Democracy" here for further background.
UPDATE: 11:38 A.M. EST
The Constitutional Accountability Center, a D.C.-based think tank and law firm that focuses on defending the U.S. Constitution and democracy, found the ruling favorable. Said CAC's civil rights director David Gans: "The Court affirmed Congress' decision to use a single federal form to help streamline the voter registration process, and prevent states like Arizona from denying the right of citizens to register to vote in federal elections. At a time when states are engaged in voter suppression efforts, today's opinion is an important reaffirmation that the text and history of the Elections Clause give the federal government broad power to preempt state law in order to protect the right to vote in federal elections."
Civil rights law organization Advancement Project also found the ruling acceptable:
"The Supreme Court's decision on Arizona's Proposition 200 is an important victory for voting rights," said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. "By rejecting the federal mail-in voter registration form and requiring additional proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers, the statute not only violated federal law but was also misguided. Between the time of the law's implementation in 2005 and the first time it went to trial in 2008, more than 30,000 prospective voters in Arizona had their registration rejected because they did not include the additional documentation required. Nationally, more than 11 million American citizens lack access to these documents - which can be costly and difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. With the tremendous success of the National Voter Registration Act in boosting participation though the mail-in voter registration form, as well as safeguarding the process against fraud, there is simply no need for laws like Prop 200 that only restrict access to the ballot."
Colorlines - Tue, 06/18/2013 - 22:39
Think your senior quote in the yearbook was awesome? It wasn't. Because Jessica Lee's is the best thing ever. Angry Asian Man explains it:
Drawing on her knowledge of the periodic table, the graduating high school senior's parting words of wisdom -- published under her photo in the Garfield High School yearbook -- appear to be a nerdy recitation of elements. But wait. Look a little closer, and you'll see a coded message inspired by the lyrical stylings of none other than the Notorious B.I.G.:
Which, in case you were wondering, is Biggie-speak for:
(F) flourine (U) uranium (C) carbon (K) potassium (Bi) bismuth (Tc) technetium (He) helium (S) sulfur (Ge) germanium (Tm) thulium (O) oxygen (Ne) neon (Y) yttrium.
See it? Got it? Good. Check out the actual photo after the jump.
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