Colorlines - 47 min 30 sec ago
In Chicago on Monday a man dressed as the Grinch, together with other protestors, dropped off bags of symbolic coal for city leaders as part of the National Day of Action to Reclaim Promise the of Public Education coordinated by teacher unions and education activist groups to protest mass school closures throughout the city.
The Chicago coal delivery was one action of over 60 held Monday, including a protest led by the Newark Student Union and hundreds of supporters in New Jersey to wrest back control of the state's public school districts from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Actions were planned for Detroit, Cincinnati, Jackson, Miss., and New Orleans, among other cities.
The Dec. 9 events were part of a $1.2 million advertising campaign by the American Federation of Teachers to fight back against the market-driven education reform movement which has targeted teachers and low-income communities and communities of color for disruptive, destabilizing reforms.
Colorlines - 1 hour 28 min ago
Thrasher Magazine has just named its first black Skater of the Year for the first time in the 23 year history of the award. The honor went to Ishod Wair, who talked about his childhood and what led him to skating in the magazine's cover story interview.
Colorlines - 2 hours 24 min ago
Lorde, the 17-year-old singer from New Zealand whose song "Royals" was just nominated for a Grammy, just revealed that might have an Asian boyfriend in 24-year-old James Lowe (that age difference doesn't look too good). They do cute things that cute couples do, like take selfies of brushing their teeth together (See above photo? Cute, right?). But racist meanies on the internet don't think so. Jezebel captured some of the racist vitriol thrown toward the couple, including comments that her Lowe "looks like Mao Tse Tung" and "captain of a chess club." Yeah, it's ugly.
New America Media - 8 hours 43 min ago
Today, on the 65th anniversary of the day that the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it’s timely to remember one proclamation in particular: that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for... Linda Leu http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - 9 hours 18 min ago
LGBT leaders across the nation abstained from food during the “National Days to Act, Fast and Pray” on December 1-3, in an act of solidarity with immigration reform activists who had been on hunger strike for 22 days, ingesting nothing... Sharita Gruberg http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - 20 hours 18 min ago
Tensions are flaring over San Francisco's tech-driven gentrification. This morning, protestors calling for an end to the increasing number of evictions blocked a Google bus from leaving the city and shuttling its workers to the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. One Google worker inside the bus named Alejandor Villarreal, captured the scene and shared it on Instagram (pictured above).
The privately-owned Google buses (and their counterparts at companies like Facebook and Apple) have long been symbols of the city's gentrification (a hidden map of their routes was published last January). Earlier this year, San Francisco native Rebecca Solnit published a piece in the London Review of Books on the impact of the buses. Solnit wrote:
The Google Bus means so many things. It means that the minions of the non-petroleum company most bent on world domination can live in San Francisco but work in Silicon Valley without going through a hair-raising commute by car - I overheard someone note recently that the buses shortened her daily commute to 3.5 hours from 4.5. It means that unlike gigantic employers in other times and places, the corporations of Silicon Valley aren't much interested in improving public transport, and in fact the many corporations providing private transport are undermining the financial basis for the commuter train. It means that San Francisco, capital of the west from the Gold Rush to some point in the 20th century when Los Angeles overshadowed it, is now a bedroom community for the tech capital of the world at the other end of the peninsula.
Read Solnit's essay in full over at the London Review of Books. As well-paid tech workers have moved into the city, many working class residents have been forced out as both rents and evictions have increased in recent years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The protest was organized in part by a group called Heart of the City, which wrote on its website that "the city needs to declare a state of emergency, stop all no-fault evictions, and prevent tech companies from running buses in residential neighborhoods, which is driving up rents (up to 20% along their route).."
(h/t Business Insider)
Colorlines - 20 hours 46 min ago
More than a dozen current and former deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department were arrested today on civil rights violations and public corruption charges. The indictment comes after a two-year FBI investigation and is the latest in a series of county jail abuses documented by the LA Times since 2010.
Using undercover informants, the FBI has been investigating allegations of excessive force against inmates in LA county jails. It is unclear however, whether the arrested deputies face those specific charges.
(h/t LA Times)
Colorlines - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 23:51
More than a quarter of the District of Columbia's City Council members are said to support a newly resurfaced bill to grant voting rights to legal immigrants who are not citizens. Nationwide, at least seven municipalities--six of which are in neighboring Maryland--have already enacted similar laws.
In order to vote in local elections, residents must be federally-recognized legal permanent residents and live in DC at least 30 days prior to the most recent election.
Bill co-sponsor David Grosso feels confident the bill will pass this time around, owing to a more favorable climate on immigration. A similar measure co-sponsored by then council member and former mayor Adrian Fenty was defeated in 2004.
New America Media - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 23:50
(FinalCall.com) - Nelson Mandela is one of the towering figures of our time: A leader in South Africa’s freedom struggle who was banned for his activity, jailed for 27 years for his politics and a man who gained worldwide acclaim.When... Final Call http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 23:39
It's because of the Internet that we know about Childish Gambino, the rap persona of musician/writer/actor Donald Glover. His new album, "Because The Internet," pokes fun at the absurdity of this fact, of lives, habits and careers transformed by click bait and the instant gratification that goes along with it. But the album is also a package that showcases Glover's ambivalence with succeeding on a medium that he distrusts. He's acknowledging the democratizing power of the Internet but, as someone who's "made it," he's asking himself and his audience: Now what?
"At this point with the Internet," he recently told Vice, "it feels like we're just giving a handgun to an infant and going, 'Don't shoot yourself."
But, metaphorically at least, Glover is shooting himself. There's pain and loneliness on this album that it's easy to relate to because it's what we feel whenever we're overwhelmed by our inboxes or make little deals with ourselves to avoid logging onto Facebook. "Because the Internet mistakes are forever/but if we fuck up on this journey, at least we're together," Gambino raps on the track "Life: The Biggest Troll."
Like many of us, Gambino seems to have a love-hate relationship with the Internet. That hate is on display in the beginning of the album. On "Crawl," its second track, Gambino pokes fun at the tiresome memes of black folks made famous by their videotaped moments in distress--be they Charles Ramsey or Antoine Dodson--with the line "What's the rationale/they wanna smoke niggas when they black n' mild/ so we act it out." That sentiment that grows only more pointed in the next track, "Worldstar," a reference to World Star Hip-Hop, home to ratechtry and senseless violence, often starring black folks, like the Sharkeisha fight video that recently went viral. The song is punctuated by audio clips of fights that have appeared on the site, but is also a stinging indictment of the people who profit off of their moments in the spotlight, including Gambino himself, who raps, "So record this/Ain't nobody can ignore this/I'm more-or-less a moral-less individual makin' movies with criminals trying to get them residuals."
And one can only assume that his residuals have been great. Outside of just making rap, Gambino has busied himself with creating his own artistically driven media empire. The Stone Mountain, Ga., native first gained prominence in 2005 when, as an undergrad studying dramatic writing at NYU, he was discovered by Tina Fey. He went to work writing for NBC's "30 Rock." Along the way he kept at making music, a hobby he picked up during his sophomore year in college. (His stage name comes from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator.) Eventually he left NBC with Tina Fey's blessing, hopped in a car and drove cross country to try his luck in Los Angeles. There, he quickly nabbed the role of popular jock Troy Barnes on NBC's "Community." In recent months, Glover announced his departure from "Community," put out an experimental film, and started work on a new television project with FX on his hometown of Atlanta. Throughout all of this, he was earning fans by tweeting a lot and doing live stand-up comedy shows, things that have given him an unprecedented degree of artistic freedom.
"Because of Twitter, people don't go to my shows expecting Troy to rap," Glover told the Village Voice in 2011, a reference to problems other performers have faced when trying out different mediums.
But it's his rapping that has been most controversial. While his fun-loving, hipster-friendly persona got him enough attention for fans to campaign on his behalf to become the next Spider Man, his 2011 album "Camp" showed that he was far from a superhero. The album was filled with crude references to his fetishization of Asian women, references that seemed beneath someone of Gambino's artistic caliber (After all, this is the same guy who would go on to post a series refreshingly honest private fears on Instagram). "This Asian dude/I stole his girl/And now he got that Kogi beef," Gambino bragged on "Bonfire." "I got a girl on my arm, dude, show respect./Something crazy and Asian: Virginia Tech," he rapped four tracks later on "Backpackers." In the ensuing Internet chatter, disappointed fans--mostly those of color--reminded Glover that black artists are perfectly capable of practicing white supremacy and that people who talk about race don't necessarily have a lot that's useful to say on the matter. Glover never publicly addressed the controversy, but in an ironic twist, addressed his critics on the same album when he rapped on "Backpackers," "Fuck the cool kids/Not Chuck English/But people who think that hatin' on me makes them distinguished/... 'I wrote on rape culture my junior year at Brown/So I'm allowed to say what all his raps are about/You better shut your mouth/Before I fuck it/You really hate my lyrics?/Or Kid Cudi's."
"Because the Internet" is a much more evolved piece of work than Gambino's previous effort, precisely because it's much darker. This is the rapper who isn't bragging about his conquests so much as brooding over his conscience and it's an apt and relatable state of being for most of us.
Glover has also been much more to the point about his pursuit of power, telling the Village Voice in 2011 that it's "what allows you to do whatever you want" as an artist. "If Will Smith wanted to play Hitler, they'd make that movie. That's power," Glover said. "I want to do a Nazi movie. I want Jay Z and Eminem to rap on the same track with me. I'm in it for the power."
Two years later, the meaning of that power seems to have changed from one based purely on artistic freedom to one based on becoming comfortable with internal struggle. The road to power is riddled with potholes and Gambino has ridden through his fair share, as his "Camp" controversy makes clear. It's an admirable enough goal for a black artist to want enough of it to maintain their artistic freedom. But content matters more than the medium on which is appears, a lesson that Gambino has shown that he's slowly learning and more than willing to share.
Black Community Raises Issue of Racial Profiling as University of Minnesota Deals With Increased Crime Alerts
New America Media - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 23:13
With the recent string of crime alerts emailed to the University of Minnesota student body, the black community has an additional safety concern: racial profiling.Six groups sent a letter to President Eric Kaler and University Services Vice President Pamela Wheelock... TC Daily Planet http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 23:10
“I hate the practice of racial discrimination, and in my hatred, I am sustained by the fact that the overwhelming majority of mankind hate it equally…. Nothing that this Court can do to me will change in any way that... Colorlines http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 23:07
LOS ANGELES – Filipino Migrant Center (FMC), Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA) joined forces outside the United States Federal Building in Los Angeles on Wednesday, December 4, to appeal for the... Asian Journal http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 22:57
Just in case you were wondering, Mipsters (Muslim hipsters) are in the house.They're fly, and they also self-identify as "hipsters." Check them out on Facebook.
*This post has been updated since publication.
Colorlines - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 22:14
San Francsico 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is rarely seen in public without a pair of Beats by Dre headphones, the omnipotent, multimillion dollar company that was cofounded by hip-hop mogul Dr. Dre. He's now the star of a new ad from the company that features a track from Aloe Blacc's 2013 EP "Wake Me Up" called "The Man." Earlier this year, ESPN had an interesting feature on how the company has slyly manuevered itself to sit alongside some of the most recognizable names in sports. It's worth a read, if you haven't done so already.
Colorlines - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 22:10
It was a cold February night nearly 24 years ago. We were on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, over a hundred of us huddled together. We sang, chanted, cried and danced the Toyi toyi (a South African dance of protest or celebration). It felt like the triumphant culmination of a mighty battle against a daunting evil. The scene was repeated in hundreds of parks and plazas, street corners and college campuses from Los Angeles to London, Kingston to Harare. Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, political prisoner for some 27 years, had finally been freed and the racist system of apartheid was crumbling. Many of us had rallied, petitioned, organized and engaged in civil disobedience as gestures of solidarity. "Mandela" was so much a part of our lives - there were buttons, posters, T-shirts, stories and songs. My young son was convinced that 'Uncle Mandela' would come and visit us as soon as he was released. In other words, the ANC informed our politics, and Mandela touched our hearts.
Mandela was a powerful symbol of a powerful movement. The anti-apartheid protests which matured into the international Free South Africa movement was one of the defining social movements of the late 20th century. The apartheid (apartness in Afrikaans) system was put in place in 1948 when the all-white Afikaaners' National Party came to power. The exploitation and repression of South Africa's black majority was a longstanding practice, but the establishment of apartheid laws represented an even more ruthless regime of forced segregation and brutal suppression. Blacks were wholly disenfranchised and exiled to remote "homelands," forced to carry passes in order to move about, the equivalent of passports in their own country. There was resistance in various forms from the beginning. Nelson Mandela, born in 1918 and later trained as a lawyer, became a part of that resistance. As protest campaigns escalated so did efforts by the white minority regime to crush those uprisings. In 1961, one year after the bloody Sharpeville massacre that marked the killing of unarmed black demonstrators, the ANC turned to armed struggle and formed Uhkhonto We Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). The following year Mandela was arrested, convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison.
South African apartheid was a racial system but it rested upon an unjust economic system. A country rich in gold and diamonds, "migrant" black laborers worked under slave-like conditions in its factories and mines. It was a particularly heinous form of racial capitalism and Mandela and his comrades in the ANC spoke out and actively fought against it, along with the young activists in Steve Biko's Black Consciousness Movement. While Mandela languished in prison the resistance movement, fueled by his example of defiance, continued to grow.
The Soweto uprising of black schoolchildren in 1976 was a turning point. Nearly 20,000 youth took the streets to protest. Hundreds were jailed, killed and exiled. Their actions became the inspiration for an escalating international solidarity movement. The central demands of that movement were that institutions and governments divest from the South African economy, that the United Nations and other international bodies impose sanctions, that individuals engage in boycotts, and that the South African government free Nelson Mandela and all political prisoners. "Free Mandela" and "Divest Now" were chants heard round the world. Finally, isolated and afraid of growing rage and impatience, the apartheid leaders surrendered power, at least partly. In 1990 Mandela was released from prison. Apartheid laws were dismantled, a new constitution was written, and Mandela became the nation's first democratically elected president.
But the story did not end there. Mandela's administration oversaw sweeping reforms in South Africa. Still, reforms did not fully transform the society. In recent years the struggles of impoverished "shack dwellers," the struggle for rights and resources for people living with AIDS, the shooting down of striking miners by government troops and the persistent poverty and inequality that still plague the nation all point to need for a continued freedom struggle in post-apartheid South Africa.
So, then how should we remember the great Nelson Mandela? What did he symbolize for my generation of activists? What does his story and legacy teach us about myth-making and historical memory, commitment and perseverance, individual courage and collective action? Three answers come to mind.
First of all, for much of his life Mandela was labeled a terrorist by some of those who later praised him. That term is thrown about loosely today to discredit and dehumanize many activists who operate in Mandela's tradition of militant resistance to injustice. This is a lesson and a caution.
Secondly, Mandela did not only belong to the South African freedom movement, he was an internationalist and spoke out against injustices around the world. He was unafraid to take on controversial issues. In 2001 he wrote these words to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman: "Palestinians are not struggling for a 'state' but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa."
Finally, Mandela was a remarkably generous and humble man who actively rejected the narrative of being a singular great hero, a savior of a people. Rather he rightly credited the courageous actions of literally tens of thousands of people who rose up to say no to apartheid, who forced the South African regime to free Nelson Mandela, and who continue to this day to struggle to build a truly free South Africa: a South Africa still unrealized, but one to which Mandela passionately aspired.
Barbara Ransby is a professor at University of Illinois (UIC) at Chicago and author most recently of of "Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson." Ransby was very active in the student Free South Africa Movement and Divestment campaigns in the 1980s, and continues to be active in progressive struggles today.
Colorlines - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 22:04
Childish Gambino (a.k.a. Donald Glover) has a new album "Because The Internet" dropping tomorrow (though it leaked about a week ago). On Twitter, the rapper's mentioned wanting to have what he calls one of the more imaginative album releases for the project. We've already seen bits and pieces of that -- last summer's experimental film and a recently released screenplay -- but here's the album's first official video.
(h/t Miss Info)
Colorlines - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 21:00
This year's Grammy nominations are out and are filled with the same names that have dominated music. Okayplayer noted that Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and Jay Z lead the pack with a combined 23 nominations. Meanwhile, the New York times pointed out that male performers dominated this year's nominees, noting that Drake and Pharrell Williams are up for four awards each. One notable exception is 17-year-old New Zeleander Lorde, who got a nod for album of the year.
Here's a full list of the nominees:
56th Annual Grammy Awards Nominations:
Record of the Year
Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams - "Get Lucky"
Imagine Dragons - "Radioactive"
Lorde - "Royals"
Bruno Mars - "Locked Out of Heaven"
Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams - "Blurred Lines"
Album of the Year
Sara Bareilles - The Blessed Unrest
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist
Taylor Swift - Red
Song of the Year
Pink feat. Nate Ruess - "Just Give Me a Reason"
Bruno Mars - "Locked Out of Heaven"
Katy Perry - "Roar"
Lorde - "Royals"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - "Same Love"
Best New Artist
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Best Pop Solo Performance
Sara Bareilles - "Brave"
Lorde - "Royals"
Bruno Mars - "When I Was Your Man"
Katy Perry - "Roar"
Justin Timberlake - "Mirrors"
Best Pop Vocal Album
Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience
Lorde - Pure Heroine
Lana Del Rey - Paradise
Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines
Bruno Mars - Unorthodox Jukebox
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams - "Get Lucky"
Pink Featuring Nate Ruess - "Just Give Me A Reason"
Rihanna Featuring Mikky Ekko - "Stay"
Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams - "Blurred Lines"
Justin Timberlake & Jay Z - "Suit & Tie"
Best Dance/Electronica Album
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Disclosure - Settle
Calvin Harris - 18 Months
Kaskade - Atmosphere
Pretty Lights - A Color Map Of The Sun
Best Rock Performance
Alabama Shakes - "Always Alright"
David Bowie - "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)"
Imagine Dragons - "Radioactive"
Led Zeppelin - "Kashmir" (Live)
Queens Of The Stone Age - "My God Is The Sun"
Jack White - "I'm Shakin'"
Best Rock Album:
Black Sabbath - 13
David Bowie - The Next Day
Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bull
Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day
Queens Of The Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
Neil Young With Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill
Best Rock Song
Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear - "Cut Me Some Slack"
Gary Clark Jr. - "Messin' Around"
The Rolling Stones - "Doom and Gloom"
Muse - "Panic Station"
Black Sabbath "God Is Dead?"
Best Alternative Music Album:
Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
The National - Trouble Will Find Me
Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
Tame Impala - Lonerism
Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City
Best R&B Performance
Tamar Braxton - "Love And War"
Anthony Hamilton - "Best Of Me"
Hiatus Kaiyote Featuring Q-Tip - "Nakamarra"
Miguel Featuring Kendrick Lamar - "How Many Drinks?"
Snarky Puppy With Lalah Hathaway - "Something"
Best Urban Contemporary Album
Tamar Braxton - Love And War
Fantasia - Side Effects Of You
Salaam Remi - One: In The Chamber
Rihanna - Unapologetic
Mack Wilds - New York: A Love Story
Best R&B Album
Faith Evans - R&B Divas
Alicia Keys - Girl On Fire
John Legend - Love In The Future
Chrisette Michele - Better
TGT - Three Kings
Best Rap Performance
Drake - "Started From The Bottom"
Eminem - "Berzerk"
Jay Z - "Tom Ford"
Kendrick Lamar - "Swimming Pools (Drank)"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz - "Thrift Shop"
Best Rap Song
ASAP Rocky Featuring Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar - "Fuckin' Problem"
Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake - "Holy Grail"
Kanye West - "New Slaves"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - "Thrift Shop"
Drake - "Started From the Bottom"
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
J.Cole Featuring Miguel - "Power Trip"
Jay Z Featuring Beyoncé - "Part II (On The Run)"
Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake - "Holy Grail"
Kendrick Lamar Featuring Mary J. Blige - "Now Or Never"
Wiz Khalifa Featuring The Weeknd - "Remember You"
Best Rap Album
Drake - Nothing Was The Same
Jay Z - Magna Carta...Holy Grail
Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist
Kanye West - Yeezus
Best Country Album
Jason Aldean - Night Train
Tim McGraw - Two Lanes Of Freedom
Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park
Blake Shelton - Based On A True Story
Taylor Swift - Red
Best Song Written For Visual Media
Coldplay - "Atlas" (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
Jessie J - "Silver Lining" (The Silver Linings Playbook) Adele - "Skyfall" (Skyfall)
Colbie Caillat Featuring Gavin DeGraw - "We Both Know" (Safe Haven)
Lana Del Rey - "Young and Beautiful" (The Great Gatsby)
Regina Spektor - "You've Got Time" (Orange Is the New Black)
Producer of the Year
Colorlines - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 20:21
Of the 6.8 million uninsured African-Americans who are eligible for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, 60 percent meet the income thresholds for financial assistance to help pay for it, according to a report released this morning by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That's about 4.2 million African-Americans who qualify for benefits either by way of Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or a tax break. Under the Care Act, the limit for how much you can make at work to qualify for Medicaid was raised to expand the pool of people who can receive those benefits. But states can opt out of that Medicaid expansion, and right now roughly half of the states have indicated they will. If all the states cooperated with the Medicaid expansion, then 95 percent of uninsured African-Americans would qualify for assistance. Right now, 20 percent of African-Americans are uninsured compared to 16 percent of the U.S. population in general (who aren't Medicare-elderly-beneficiaries).
Of uninsured African-Americans, 39 percent live in just five states: Florida, Georgia, Texas, North York and New Carolina. Interestingly North Carolina, with its population of 9.7 million people -- about 2.1 million African American -- have more uninsured than New York (population 19.5 million, 3.3 million of whom are black), and California (38 million people, 2.5 million of whom are black).
One in five uninsured African-Americans live in six cities: Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Detroit. Atlanta has the most uninsured African-Americans with 332,000, but is in a state that doesn't plan to expand Medicaid. Georgia has the second highest number of uninsured African Americans (631,000) of all states, with only Florida above it. The federal government pays for the Medicaid expansion, but Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is refusing the federal subsidies.
Gov. Deal's decision will cost the state about $4.9 billion in 2022 according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund. Since the Medicaid expansion is funded through our taxes, Georgia taxpayers -- and those from all 24 other states that plan to refuse the federal funding -- will essentially be paying the Medicaid costs for people in the states that are willing to take the federal subsidies to expand the pool without receiving the same benefits themselves.
"The health care law is working to address long standing disparities in health care coverage and improve the health of the African-American community," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in a press statement. "Through the Health Insurance Marketplace, 6.8 million uninsured African Americans have new options for affordable health coverage that covers a range of benefits, including important preventive services with no out of pocket costs."
Colorlines - Mon, 12/09/2013 - 20:17
Gyasi Ross is a member of the Blackfeet Nation and his family also comes from the Suquamish Nation of the Port Madison Indian Reservation where he resides. Aside from being a father, lawyer and a filmmaker, the ever-busy Ross has found time to write two books. His latest, "How to Say I Love You in Indian" (Cut Bank Creek Press) comes out today. Here, he talks about real love, feminism via bell hooks and fatherhood.
The title of your book, "How to Say I Love You in Indian," might confuse people. What do you mean by it?
Well, there are a lot of fluent speakers of the Blackfoot language in my family, and my grandparents or really most people in my family will say they're speaking in Indian. That's just the way old folks speak, and that's who I was raised by, by grandparents and great aunties and uncles.
What about the love part of the title?
Poor people have different ways of communication, different kinds of love that are not part of materialistic culture. Expressing love isn't about a Hallmark card. ... It's not about convenience. It's not always about being vocal and poetic about love, it's about taking care of each other--like cooking. One of the stories in the book is about stew and how it's representative of love for a lot of poor people, and Indian people specifically. We always had the worst cuts of meat and the worst ingredients, but through those ingredients, time, love and secret sauce, it turned into a beautiful stew. That's what the title of the book is all about: physical manifestations of love and the symbols of our love within Native culture.
So it sounds like it's less about saying "I love you," and more about how you express it.
Right, it's about the action. A lot of the work that I do and the writing that I do is about fatherhood and mentorship. And because I'm a dad, I remind myself that I can say "I love you" all I want, but if my actions aren't commiserate with that, then it doesn't matter.
I noticed that you thanked bell hooks and you also have quote from her in the book. She's written a lot about love, and I'm curious about how she's influenced your work.
I think that bell hooks made feminism approachable to me. I was raised by a single mom and two older sisters, and by my grandmas, who are both amazing women. Just today, I was speaking with my auntie Wilma Faye and she's also provided a lot of structure for me. I tend to put women on a pedestal, and Native women especially because they were the ones who ensured that I was safe and always doted on me--to a fault, maybe. It was bell hooks who helped me to look more critically at the relationships that women have with men, and with young boys and sons specifically. And that was important for my intellectual development and my emotional honesty.
You're a father, a lawyer and a lot more. When did you find the time to write this book?
I don't sleep much, and that's tongue-in-cheek, but it's also true. I come from a home with a single mother, and so I take fatherhood and being an uncle very seriously. I try to work on that first and foremost, before any other those other titles--lawyer, writer, anything else--I'm a dad. And I'm also an uncle; I've been one since I was 12 years old. For me, what that means is that I have to figure out a way to negotiate everything else around those two things. I work entirely for myself, and when my son's at school, that's game time and I can work. But when he's home from 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock, that's his time. He can't just see me on my computer working. He needs to see me hanging out with him and being active as a way to teach him a healthy lifestyle. No paid work is getting done at that time. Whether it's writing, lawyering or consulting, that happens from 9 o'clock in the evening until it gets done.
You write in the book that the last 500 years don't define us as indigenous peoples--that the future will. What does that future look like for you?
There's a lot of controversy about how long Natives in both North and South America have been here, somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 years. Five hundred years is absolutely nothing compared to how long we've been here. The United States empire is already showing incredible signs of decay, it's already falling apart. And most Natives can understand that this has been an experiment gone terribly wrong and that we shouldn't buy into it. Some Native people are trying to dis-enroll other tribal members over casino money--and that's the culpability that bell hooks writes about--and some of us are buying into this failed experiment. That's a subset of Native people don't understand that this is just a drop in the bucket.
What about the long-term future?
One of my mentors, Darrell Kipp passed [very recently]. He's a member of the Blackfoot Tribe who started immersion school on our reservation. He was someone who dedicated his life to the survival of a way of life: speaking our languages, keeping our customs alive, and understanding that those ways of being are going to have relevance and pertinence again. It's worth sustaining, it's worth helping those things to survive. Right now, there are enough Natives who get it, that this is a very temporary, illusory American way of life, and we can't get caught up in the glamour and glitz of it.
And what about the short-term future?
In the short term, it's about letting go of the exclusivity--we've always been about inclusiveness. Tribal enrollment is a legalistic mechanism that isn't even based in traditional notion because we had communities that you were either a part of or you weren't. If you came to our communities in good faith, you were put to work. The more we buy into that exclusivity model that somehow being an Indian, being a Native, or being a tribal member has more value than simply being responsible, that worse off we are. But if we recognize that being a Native person is all about responsibility and continuing a way of life, then I think our outlook is good.
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