Diversity Headlines

Onondaga Nation Says the U.S. Violates Human Rights

Colorlines - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:44
Onondaga Nation Says the U.S. Violates Human Rights

Since 1788, the state of New York has taken 2.5 million acres of Onondaga land in violation of a historic treaty as well as in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Six months ago, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling that dismissed a land claim case first filed by the Onondaga Nation in 2005, which means U.S. courts are no longer an option. The Onondaga have long waited for Congress to move forward on a settlement act--but that hasn't happened, either. So an international venue is a logical next step.

The Onondaga Nation, whose home is what most know as Upstate New York, has filed a petition against the United States at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. If they're successful in this autonomous body of the Organization of American States, the commission will find that the United States is violating human rights of the Onondaga.

It's important to keep in mind that the commission broadly interprets human rights in the Americas; it can issue recommendations, but it isn't a court. There is an Inter-American Court of Human Rights, but the U.S. has never ratified its convention, and isn't party to the court.

"The U.S. government doesn't even live up to its own constitution," says Chief Virgil Thomas. "Their courts will never do justice for us."

Here are seven more things to keep in mind about why the Onondaga are taking their petition to an international human rights commission.

The Onondaga are part of an important confederacy of nations that governed well before the United States was even an idea.

The Onondaga, or People of the Hill, are one of six Native nations along with the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora that make up the Haudenosaunee Confederacy--sometimes referred to as the Iroquois or Six Nations. The confederacy's territory extends over a good part of upstate New York, and into Canada. The Onondaga claim includes land in Syracuse and Binghamton. 

The Haudenosaunee have had a government since well before Europeans arrived in the Americas. When Haudenosaunee entered into various treaties, they did so with sovereign counterparts. The Onondaga has always held sovereign authority over its nation, and as part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

The Onondaga birthed democracy in what we know as North America.

According to the Haudenosaunee, a messenger of peace met with warring nations to bring them together around 1,000 A.D. Soon after, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy was formed at the shores of Onondaga Lake. "That's the birth of true democracy," says Tadodaho Sid Hill, an Onondaga chief.

In 1744 and 1753 Benjamin Franklin visited the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and envisioned a settler confederacy influenced by what he saw there. That confederacy eventually became the United States of America. Today the Onondaga Lake is a massive Superfund site full of pollutants in the water and wildlife.

This petition has everything to do honoring treaties.

The Northwest Indian War--which took place for 10 years, largely over what we call the state of Ohio today--proved devastating for the United States just after it had gained independence from Britain. Although it's hardly recognized, the Battle of Wabash in 1791 resulted in the biggest Native defeat of the U.S. Army to date.

Anxious that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy would join the Western Confederacy that was proving victorious against the United States in Ohio, President George Washington sent wampum string to the Haudenosaunee chiefs, and asked Congress to appropriate funds to create a wampum belt to memorialize the treaty. The resulting 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua between the Haudenosaunee and the United States makes clear that the land in question belongs to the Haudenosaunee.

The Onondaga Nation was barred from filing a land claim in federal court, and was then told it waited too long. 

The Onondaga Nation--like all Native nations--was barred from even taking land claims to federal court until 1974. Nevertheless, the Onondaga attempted to negotiate an amicable agreement with the state New York to have a say in the Onondaga Lake cleanup effort, and hoped that Congress would pass a land claims settlement act as it prepared the resources and know-how necessary to file a claim. When the Onondaga did so on March 11, 2005, it was legally valid in U.S. courts, but just 18 days later, a Supreme Court ruling for a similar case made the Onondaga claim illegal. In that ruling, Sherrill v. Oneida, the high court essentially came up with a separate set of rules that only applies to Native nations and land rights.

The Onondaga aren't looking for money, evictions or casinos.

The Onondaga Nation has a clear legal claim to its land and waters, which is spelled out in treaties. As such, it's entitled to seek damages and evictions. But, according to chiefs and the attorney filing the petition at the commission, the nation is not doing so, nor does it want to open casinos in the area. Instead, the Onondaga Nation wants a clear say in how to protect the land and the water, especially the Onondaga Lake. The nation has long worked with environmental groups, helping to stop a coal plant in 2007, works against hydrofracking today, and has a legal team that helps locals end their gas leases. The nation isn't seeking anything other than what's already spelled out in treaties and guaranteed in federal law.

Native nations have been already been successful at the commission. 

In 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that the United States violated the human rights of the Western Shoshone--they body's first ruling against the United States. The case concerned violations to due process, property, and equality under the law. The U.S., however, has ignored that finding.

A moral victory would be important.

The Onondaga's petition accuses the United States of violating human rights by stealing land and devastating the environment. If nothing else, the commission's decision to accept the petition means that the Onondaga are being heard. That's an incredibly important step for the Onondaga, who have long been wronged on their own land. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Kanye West, Common Team Up With Chicago Urban League to Create Youth Jobs

Colorlines - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:21
Kanye West, Common Team Up With Chicago Urban League to Create Youth Jobs

Windy City natives Kanye West and Common are teaming up with the Chicago Urban League for an initiative that they say will create 20,000 jobs for young people in the city.

Chicago's gun violence epidemic has been national news in recent years. Nearly half of the city's 2,389 homicide victims between 2008 and 2012 were younger than 25, and more than 2,300 young people survived shootings last year, as my colleague Carla Murphy noted earlier this week when gun violence began in the city began to increase once again. Illinois also became the latest state to pass a law permitting registered gun owners to carry concealed firearms after a bitter fight that had victims of gun violence at its center. 

From the Chicago Defender:

Common recently announced during a press conference that his Common Ground Foundation will be working with Kanye West's Donda's House, Inc. and the Chicago Urban League in an initiative to bring employment opportunities through The Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative. 92 percent of the Black youth in Chicago are unemployed, which means that many of these kids are on the streets. And we've all read the gruesome headlines about Chicago's cruel streets. But what's worse is Chicago has become the center of the national gun debate, and the city's youth has taken the hardest hit from gun violence.

While the move has been celebrated by local and hip-hop news outlets, it's unclear what these jobs will actually look like and how much they'll pay. The Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative focuses on finding year-round employment for young people between the ages of 16 and 24, and also provides mentoring and support services. Read more at the Urban League.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

South Korea Ferry Update, Low Jobless Claims and the Problem with 'Liking' Cheerios

Colorlines - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:06
South Korea Ferry Update, Low Jobless Claims and the Problem with 'Liking' Cheerios Here's what I'm reading about while not eating Cheerios this morning:   
  • Guess who benefits from those free drug samples your doctor's hawking? Big pharma
Categories: Diversity Headlines

In Crowded Households, Stress is a Killer

New America Media - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 10:25
 LONG BEACH -- Every morning before Evangelina Ramirez leaves for work, she cleans the house in a meticulous manner so that everything is where it belongs. She does this, she says, so she can come home to a clean house... Rabiya Hussein http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Los Rakas Shows Horrors of U.S. Immigration Policy in New Video

Colorlines - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 23:48

Oakland-based hip-hop group Los Rakas released a new album this week called, "El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo." It's the fifth album for the bilingual duo, and perhaps their most political work yet. This video for the single "Sueño Americano" takes direct aim at America's broken immigration system. The lyrics are in Spanish, but you can read a translation after the jump.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Philly Mayor Ends Police-ICE Collaboration

New America Media - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 22:30
Today, Mayor Nutter signed an executive order that ended all collaboration between federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Philadelphia police.The order put an end to torn apart families and ICE holding individuals arrested by Philadelphia police for non-violent crimes.... Al Día http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Taking Care of Our Seniors

New America Media - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 22:01
 The largest generation in U.S. history is cruising into their golden years. Over the next twenty years, the number of folks in the U.S. aged 65 and older will double in size and climb to 20% of the population. These... Hyphen Magazine http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Is Obama Really the 'Deporter-in-Chief?' Depends on Whom You Ask

New America Media - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 19:42
For Prerna Lal, how deportation data is parsed and explained is personal. She was once an undocumented immigrant herself, and for her, the deportation statistics represent people’s lives.“There’s political motivations behind the numbers game,” says Lal. “We can cut the... Angilee Shah http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Watch British Muslims Dance to Pharrell's 'Happy'

Colorlines - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 19:30

Happiness has now gone viral thanks to Pharrell's hit song.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Cleveland Business Mag Admits Diversity Problem

Colorlines - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:25
Cleveland Business Mag Admits Diversity Problem

In a January story featuring 2014 predictions from 32 community leaders, Crain's Cleveland Business profiled no African-Americans or Asian-Americans. There was one Latino. And 30 of the 32 leaders whose views were published were men. How do those erasures happen in a city where more than half of the population is black and one third of its businesses are owned by women?

Crain's Cleveland with the help of concerned community members is apparently trying to figure that out.

Whites comprise about one third of Cleveland's population, Latinos are at 10 percent and Asian-Americans, just under 2 percent. Asian-American business owners account for 3 percent of the city's firms and African-Americans, roughly 25 percent.

(h/t Crain's Cleveland)

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Meet the Preacher Behind "Moral Mondays" in NC

Colorlines - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:23

It was Moral Mondays that inspired us to start organizing, an African-American teacher from North Carolina told me recently at a national labor conference. Bunking three to a room and skimping on hotel-priced breakfast that morning, she and her colleagues had trekked to Chicago in search of more inspiration and, strategy. I thought of her after reading this week's Mother Jones profile of Rev. William Barber II, the man behind Moral Mondays. What he began last year as a small protest against voting rights infringement blossomed this February into a rally of tens of thousands.

Barber, who suffers a painful arthritic condition and is also pastor of Greenleaf Church in Goldsboro,

...has channeled the pent-up frustration of North Carolinians who were shocked by how quickly their state had been transformed into a laboratory for conservative policies. [And] what may be most notable about Barber's new brand of civil rights activism is how he's taken a partisan fight and presented it as an issue that transcends party or race--creating a more sustained pushback against Republican overreach than anywhere else in the country.

Read more at Mother Jones.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

South Korean Ferry Sinks, Nas Documentary, NCAA Athletes Get Food

Colorlines - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:58
South Korean Ferry Sinks, Nas Documentary, NCAA Athletes Get Food

Here's what I'm reading about this morning:

  • A man is in custody after a bomb scare at the Boston Marathon yesterday. 
  • Obama will announce a $600 million jobs training and apprenticeship program. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

New School Standards Present Challenge for Refugee Students

New America Media - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 10:15
Photo courtesy of San Diego Refugee Tutoring CenterEditor’s Note: As California schools scramble to prepare for the new educational standards known as Common Core, teachers who work with refugee students have a different concern: the new computerized tests could make... Kimetha Hill http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Vijay Seshadri Becomes First South Asian to Win the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

Colorlines - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:11
Vijay Seshadri Becomes First South Asian to Win the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

This week, poet Vijay Seshadri became the first South Asian to win the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, winning the distinction with his collection "3 Sections." Born in Bangalore* in 1954, Seshadri said in an interview in 2004 that he began writing poetry at 16:

I was in college. I had become interested in poetry and that first January I heard Galway Kinnell read from The Book of Nightmares, which as yet was unpublished. I loved that reading. I remember it clearly; it made me want to go home and start writing. I was never one of those writers who knew from the age of six that they were writers, who lisped in numbers. In my early twenties I wrote, or tried to write, a novel that was much too ambitious for me. I'd been influenced by the French new novel, and by Pynchon, and John Hawkes. They were radical novelists and I felt I had to write a novel like theirs. I probably had a novel in me, but it was much more a conventional novel that a person in their early twenties would write, a coming-of-age story; but I had modernist and postmodernist models. Around the time I was also reading Beckett's trilogy and thought that's what novels had to be. An impossible model, really. In my mid-twenties I went back to poetry.

"3 Sections" is his third collection of poetry, all published by Graywolf Press, which congratulated Seshadri on its website and posted three of his poems, including this one:

Three Persons


That slow person you left behind when, finally,

you mastered the world, and scaled the heights you now command,

where is he while you

walk around the shaved lawn in your plus fours,

organizing with an electric clipboard

your big push to tomorrow?

Oh, I've come across him, yes I have, more than once,

coaxing his battered grocery cart down the freeway meridian.

Others see in you sundry mythic types distinguished

not just in themselves but by the stories

we put them in, with beginnings, ends, surprises:

the baby Oedipus on the hillside with his broken feet

or the dog whose barking saves the grandmother

flailing in the millpond beyond the weir,

dragged down by her woolen skirt.

He doesn't see you as a story, though.

He feels you as his atmosphere. When your sun shines,

he chortles. When your barometric pressure drops

and the thunderheads gather,

he huddles under the overpass and writes me long letters with

the stubby little pencils he steals from the public library.

He asks me to look out for you.

(h/t The Aerogram)

* Post has been updated.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Pharrell Is So Happy That You're Happy, He Cried Tears of Joy!

Colorlines - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 00:51

Pharrell (and his hat) sat down for an interview with Oprah to talk about the surprising success of his smash his, "Happy." The host then showed a video of people around the world singing the song, which brought Pharrell to tears.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

NYPD Disbands Muslim-Spying Unit

Colorlines - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 00:37
NYPD Disbands Muslim-Spying Unit

The NYPD announced today that it has disbanded a post-9/11 plainclothes unit used to spy on Muslims in their communities. The Demographics Unit, according to a pay-walled New York Times article, mapped entire neighborhoods and built detailed profiles of where people ate, shopped and prayed. The move is being interpreted as one indication that the NYPD is backing away from controversial post-9/11 surveillance tactics, which are the subject of at least two suits brought by area Muslims and civil rights groups.

For more on these cases and their impact, see today's frontpage article by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh on Colorlines.

(h/t The New York Times)

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How the Outcome of the Muslim Spying Case Impacts Everyone

New America Media - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 23:30
 In late February, U.S. District Judge William J. Martini found that the New York Police Department hadn’t violated the rights of the New Jersey-based plaintiffs in Hassan v. City of New York, a class action suit filed in response to... Colorlines http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Gun Violence Spikes in Chicago, Again

Colorlines - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 21:52
Gun Violence Spikes in Chicago, Again

Chicago's gun violence is back in the news again with yesterday's headline: 4 dead among at least 36 shot in 36 hours. "Chiraq's" gun violence and murder rate have been well covered by media over the last few years. A brief recap follows, in addition to the latest on solutions.

Most homicides occur on the city's predominantly black and Latino south and west sides. Much of the violence concentrates among youth. Almost half of Chicago's 2,389 homicide victims between 2008-2012 were killed before their 25th birthdays, according to a new Chicago-focused human rights report from Amnesty International. And that says nothing of the youth who survive shootings (more than 2,300 in 2013) or witness them. Again, from Amnesty: "Studies have shown that youth exposed to high levels of violence often become the victims and perpetrators of the violence, exhibiting the same psychological trauma as children growing up in urban war zones."

A fair question then: how is Chicago--from communities to schools to city hall to hospitals--intervening in the lives of all those young people with unaddressed psychological trauma?

New FBI director, James Comey in a visit yesterday to the city reportedly said: "You can't arrest your way to a healthy neighborhood"--even though cops and more cops appears to be the public's main demand. So if according to America's top cop, the punitive arm of the criminal justice system is only one part of the city's solution to gun violence and extreme rates of victimization among youth, what are others?

The new Amnesty report begins by recognizing that scattering public housing residents and recent school closings contribute, respectively, to fracturing previously hierarchal gangs and endangering Chicago's youth. It makes a few tangible recommendations as well. The first: properly investigating allegations of torture levied against Chicago police from the 1970s through the 1990s. One new investigation from watchdog group, BetterGov.org tracks increasing police misconduct claims over the past decade as well as skyrocketing costs ($84.6m in 2013, alone). Real reform won't come however, it says, until CPD addresses its own "no-snitch" culture and tolerance for abuse.

Other recommendations, including adequately funding anti-gang youth initiatives and beefing up protections for immigrants and LGBTQI individuals, make the Amnesty report a worthwhile read. Note too, how one Calif. group aims to help its crime victims of color living in high crime neighborhoods by first making them visible.

(h/t Chicago Tribune)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

NBA Players Get a Portlandia-Style Pep Talk

Colorlines - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 21:49

The Portland Trailblazers are finally back in the NBA playoffs. And since the team's now got some time on their hands, they accepted a visit from the stars of Portlandia. It wasn't their usual pep talk. 

(h/t Yahoo! Sports)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

'RuPaul's Drag Race' Drops Transphobic Segment

Colorlines - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 21:48
'RuPaul's Drag Race' Drops Transphobic Segment

Logo's hit series "RuPaul's Drag Race" recently found itself in hot water for its repeated use of transphobic slurs.

From the Huffington Post:

During a mini-challenge on the show titled "Female or She-male," contestants were asked to identify whether a photo showed a cisgender (non trans) woman or a former "Drag Race" contestant after viewing a cropped portion of the photo. Some transgender people claimed that the segment was transphobic, as "she-male" is considered by many to be a violent word used against trans bodies and lives.

The show released a statement on the matter:

We wanted to thank the community for sharing their concerns around a recent segment and the use of the term 'she-mail' on Drag Race. 

Logo has pulled the episode from all of our platforms and that challenge will not appear again. 

Furthermore, we are removing the 'You've got she-mail' intro from new episodes of the series.

We did not intend to cause any offense, but in retrospect we realize that it was insensitive. We sincerely apologize.

Trans model and former Drag Race contestant Carmen Carrera issued a statement on her Facebook page taking the show to task for misusing its potential. "Drag Race should be a little smarter about the terms they use and comprehend the fight for respect trans people are facing every minute of today. They should use their platform to educate their viewers truthfully on all facets of drag performance art." Another former contestant and trans woman told HuffPo that the show's use of the slurs was "not cute at all."

GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis reiterated the importance of the show's decision. "Logo has sent a powerful and affirming message to transgender women during a pivotal moment of visibility for the entire transgender community," she told The Advocate. "GLAAD is committed to continuing to shape the narrative about the lives of transgender people with fair and accurate media images."

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