Diversity Headlines

Black and Blue Dress, What's Next for Net Neutrality, House of Cards is Back

Colorlines - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 08:04
Black and Blue Dress, What's Next for Net Neutrality, House of Cards is Back

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

  • "House of Cards" is back, although I haven't watched a third season yet so, tbh, I only have a link for an article that I haven't read because I don't want to ruin it for myself. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Actions Planned Nationwide on Third Anniversary of Trayvon Martin's Death

Colorlines - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 08:17
Actions Planned Nationwide on Third Anniversary of Trayvon Martin's Death

Today marks the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin's death. One of the organizations that grew out of the outrage, after, is called Million Hoodies, and they're calling for supporters to shut protest at their local hall of justice.

Thursday, we shut it down. Start an action in your community on the anniversary of Trayvon's death. #hoodiesup pic.twitter.com/17pKWZdRNS

-- Million Hoodies (@MillionHoodies) February 25, 2015

The hashtag #HoodiesUp has also been used widely on Twitter to mark the anniversary. Overall, it's been a particularly difficult week to mark the ocassion. On Monday the Department of Justice announced that it would not bring federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, the man accused and then acquitted of killing Martin. That led Martin's father, Tracy, to tell BuzzFeed that he thought the bar for proving hate crimes was too high. "The state tried and failed. The Justice Department didn't feel there was enough evidence, there's nothing left to do but continue to fight for kids like Trayvon," Martin said.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

FCC Net Neutrality Vote, Jobless Claims Climb, Ceres's Bright Spot

Colorlines - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 06:59
FCC Net Neutrality Vote, Jobless Claims Climb, Ceres's Bright Spot

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

The Latest In The Fight For Our Internet

Colorlines - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 06:20
The Latest In The Fight For Our Internet

Some poor guy knocked on my Brooklyn apartment door the other day shilling for a competing cable-Internet-phone company. He was just an ordinary guy with a clipboard, a spiel and an off-the-boat accent like mine (when I use it). But when he said "deal," that set me off.

"Deal? What deal? Internet connections in the U.S. are slower and more expensive than in Asia or Europe. Why is that?!" He said, "package." I said "Package?! You mean like me paying extra for a home phone line I don't want or use and y'all acting like I'm getting a two-fer?"

By now, my fellow immigrant's clutching his clipboard to his chest and sidling away to my neighbor's door saying, "I don't get into the politics of it all." I felt bad when I closed my door; dude was just doing his job. But the price to communicate, like rent, is too damn high. Every month it's hard not to catch feelings.

That's why the FCC's big vote on net neutrality today matters. On one hand, it's one more skirmish in a decade-long war over whether to keep the Internet as is: open. (Watch John Oliver for players and stakes.) On the other hand, I'm slightly paranoid and thinking these corporate and government suits are fighting over how many extra lines they can someday add to my itemized bill. Here's an overview of where we are:

We may think of the Internet like a public utility but it isn't; that could begin to change today.

After a nudge from President Obama, FCC chair Tom Wheeler's expected to move the Internet a big step closer to regulating it like water or electricity. The big deal is ownership. The FCC could establish the premise that the Internet is an essential good and therefore, first and foremost belongs to the public rather than the free market. 

Technically, the whole thing's called Title II regulation, referring to a section of the 1934 Telecommunications Act. Specifically, its language forbids discrimination of the sort that a coalition of media activists and tech companies are warning against: the creation of pricey fast lanes for rich customers and slow lanes for the rest of us. "Pay-to-play prioritization would absolutely raise customer bills," says Malkia Cyril, founding director of the Center for Media Justice. "[Maintaining] net neutrality prevents that."

Title II regulation could keep the Internet open for the next breakout YouTube hit.

"Do you want a blog like Racialicious or a webisode series like "Black Folk Don't" to reach you under the same terms as news and video provided by your broadband company?" asks American University communications professor Patricia Aufderheide. (Comcast, for example, provides broadband and it owns content creator, NBC Universal.) "Do you want a black entrepreneur to have the same ability to start a web-based business as one the broadband company has equity in? Then you want the company providing broadband to have to offer it on the same terms to every end user and treat all the content coming to it with the same terms." Title II gives the FCC more control over behemoth companies that not only own content but the delivery system, too.

But Title II was written long before the Internet was a thought. Can it keep the Internet open?

"It's complicated," Lewis Friedland, founding director of the Center for Communication and Democracy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tells me by e-mail. "In an ideal world we'd construct a new way of regulating an open internet, taking the best from what is known as [Title II] and combining it with some new forms of regulation," he says. But he's a realist: "No new regulation is going to make it through Congress," he says. Title II appears to be the best shot of keeping the Internet open and accessible on equal terms.

But even if the FCC votes yes for Title II, Cyril is prepping for new battles. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the Washington Post reports, is pursuing a GOP net neutrality bill, described as an alternative to Chairman Wheeler's proposal. "[Broadband providers] are threatening to sue. And legacy civil rights groups may step back into the fray as opponents," says Cyril, a Panther baby who's been organizing around access and representation for people of color since she was 15. "Just as we fought for the vote [during Jim Crow], we fight for our voice now."

Can Title II lower any future bills?

No, not directly. What it can do, Aufderheide says, is, "make it more likely that competition of services provided over broadband can benefit startups and entrepreneurs who do not have the provider's blessing or input." 

Why not just trust broadband providers to maintain net neutrality without government regulation?

"We have a long history of seeing what happens when companies are not all forced to agree to the same rules of play; it puts the most disreputable of them in an advantaged position. And then it's a race to the bottom," Aufderheide says. "That's why we got common carriage [or, Title II] in the first place, and USDA meat inspection and requirements for standards in milk and so on."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

For a Few Lucky Seniors, Happy Endings in Living Situations

New America Media - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 02:05
  Photo: Danielle Jeffries, left, case manager for Virginia Supportive Housing, helps resident Ruby Howard at Cloverleaf Apartments in Virginia Beach. (Bill Tiernan/The Virginian-Pilot) Part 2. Read Part 1 here. VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.--Ruby Howard takes a while to warm up... Elizabeth Simpson http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

With Chicago Tired of “Mayor 1%,” Chuy García Could Actually Win His Runoff with Rahm Emanuel

New America Media - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 14:35
 “He’s like a helium balloon,” Marcos Muñoz told me last week, speaking about Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “He keeps rising and rising, and he doesn’t even know he’s popped.”Muñoz was with Cesar Chavez in the Central Valley in California in... Kari Lydersen http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Supreme Court Hears Muslim Woman's Challenge to Abercrombie & Fitch

Colorlines - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 13:46
Supreme Court Hears Muslim Woman's Challenge to Abercrombie & Fitch

Did Abercrombie & Fitch discriminate against a Muslim woman named Samantha Elauf when a manager denied her a job because of her headscarf? That's, broadly, the question the Supreme Court took up today when it heard Elauf's case against the declining preppy-cool retailer. 

Elauf, who was 17 when she applied for a job at a Tulsa, Okla. store in 2008, had a strong interview with a manager, but was denied a job because Elauf didn't fit in with the company's "Look Policy," which dictated that employees ought to conform to the company's preppy aesthetic. Abercrombie company policy actually had allowances for religious head coverings, but no one asked Elauf why she wore a headscarf, and neither did Elauf explicitly ask for an exemption. The question before the Supreme Court is whose responsibility it was to make sure that Elauf's rights weren't being violated.

While there's no way of knowing until the High Court's ruling comes out, questioning at today's oral arguments hints that the justices are sympathetic to Elauf's argument, the BBC reports. "Justice Samuel Alito ... said there was no reason not to hire her unless the firm assumed she would always wear a headscarf to work because of her religion," the BBC reported. "He added employers could avoid such situations by asking prospective employees if they are able to abide by work rules."

For more on the legal back and forth, read SCOTUSblog's preview of today's case.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Doc Film Wants Trans Women to Shout: 'I'm Still Here!'

Colorlines - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 13:00
 'I'm Still Here!'

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, who goes by "Miss Major," has spent her long life at the intersection of struggles around race, gender and sexuality in the U.S. Born in 1940 in Chicago, Griffin-Gracy came out as transgender during the nascent LGBT rights movement in the late 1960s. She was at Stonewall when New York City police raided the bar in 1969, setting off what became known as the Gay Liberation Movement. And she was incarcerated at Attica in 1971 when riots broke out and inmates demanded better living conditions. Those two seminal events inspireddecades of activism. These days Miss Major is executive director of the Gender Variant Intersex Project, which works with imprisoned transgender women.

Griffin-Gracy's life is now the subject of a new documentary film called, "Major!"--and filmmakers Annalise Ophelian and StormMiguel Florez are asking transgender women to participate. They're using one of Griffin-Gracy's favorite sayings -- "I'm still fucking here!" -- and putting out a call for video selfies in which trans women boldly repeat the line (Or, "I'm still here" if you don't curse). Those video selfies will then appear in the film. The deadline to submit is April 15, 2015. You can also read more about the call and the project. Here's a trailer of the film:

MAJOR! Trailer from StormMiguel Florez on Vimeo.

The impetus behind the project is clear. Trans women, particularly those of color, have been murdered in cases that have made headlines in recent years. There have already been six documented murders of transgender women in 2015 -- and it's not even March. Last year, the deaths of women like Aniya Parker in Los Angeles and Yaz'min Shancez in Florida led to a national discussion about an epidemic of violence against trans women

You can also check out an example of what the filmmakers are looking for over on the film's website.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Por qué defensores de los derechos de inmigrantes no están preocupados por la resolución del juez de Texas

New America Media - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:28
English TranslationLa semana pasada un juez federal bloqueó que entraran en vigor las acciones ejecutivas de Obama, una acción que defensores de la reforma migratoria están llamando sólo un "revés temporal".El juez federal del Distrito de Texas Andrew Hanen emitió... Elena Shore http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=7
Categories: Diversity Headlines

U.S. Believes Iraqi Offensive Will Retake Mosul in Three Months

New America Media - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 10:43
 BAGHDAD — An Iraqi and Kurdish military force of some 20,000 to 25,000 troops is being prepared to recapture the city of Mosul from "Islamic State" fighters, probably in the April-May time frame, an official at the U.S. Central Command... Arab American News http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

High Hopes for Chicago's New 25-Year-Old Openly Gay Alderman

Colorlines - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 10:30
High Hopes for Chicago's New 25-Year-Old Openly Gay Alderman

The big news out of Chicago politics today is, of course, the unexpected run-off between incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. Emanuel is former Chief of Staff in the Obama White House and one of the country's best fundraisers, while Garcia is a Cook County commissioner and progressive democrat who's lambasted the mayor for widely publicized school closures and downtown development plans. The run-off election will be held on April 7.

But there was other news out of Chicago politics that could have big implications: the election of 25-year-old Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, the city's first openly gay alderman.

Rosa is a 25-year-old activist who beat out incumbent Ald. Rey Colon to represent the city's 35th ward, which includes the city's Logan Square neighborhood, home to one of its biggest Latino populations.

Rosa, born and raised in Chicago, was a staffer for Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL). He earned an endorsement from the Chicago Tribune and is now the youngest alderman in the city. And -- as is smart to do these days, though expected -- has painted himself as a politician who's against Big Money influences. "There's money in this city," Rosa said at his campaign kick-off rally on Sept. 6. "If you look at the decisions City Hall is making, if you look at the way our aldermen vote, you would think that Chicago belongs to corporations buying our public institutions. You would think that Chicago belongs to politicians selling out our schools and developers evicting our families."


Categories: Diversity Headlines

Chicago 'Black Sites' Expose More on How the City Tortures Its Residents

Colorlines - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 10:17
Chicago 'Black Sites' Expose More on How the City Tortures Its Residents

First there was Spencer Ackerman's bombshell report in the Guardian connecting the dots between a longtime Chicago police officer's torturous reign against that city's black residents and the subsequent abuse experienced by U.S. detainees at Guantánamo. Now, there's more: news that the Chicago police department has long maintained an off-the-books compound called Homan Square used to torture city residents, one that's being called the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. The facility, which has allegedly been run for 40 years, held people as young as 15 years old.

From the Guardian:

"Homan Square is definitely an unusual place," Church told the Guardian on Friday. "It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It's a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what's happened to you."

The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square - said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage - trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.

Read more at the Guardian. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Dori Maynard, Advocate for Media Diversity, Dies at 56

Colorlines - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 10:09
Dori Maynard, Advocate for Media Diversity, Dies at 56

Dori Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and one of the nation's most effective advocates for representative media and excellent journalism, died on Tuesday at her California home. She was 56; the cause was lung cancer. Tributes are pouring in today from at least two generations of journalists (See #DoriMaynard to follow on Twitter). Many had been touched by Maynard in some way, if not by her personal kindness or hand in their careers then by the nearly 40-year-old Maynard Institute, an institutional beacon for black, Latino, Native, and Asian-American journalists in a predominantly white and "color-blind" media landscape.

"You can hardly put into words how important the work Dori and the Maynard Institute did to train young people of color for careers in journalism and how the Institute trained the media to write fair stories about communities of color," Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, wrote on the MIJE site. Maynard, he said, was a founding member of the Chauncey Bailey Project. Bailey, an Oakland journalist who edited several African-American newspapers covering the Bay Area, was gunned down in 2007 for seeking to expose crime and violence in the community. 

"We cannot stand for a reporter to be murdered while working on behalf of the public. Chauncey's death is a threat to democracy," Maynard is reported to have said. "We will not be bullied."

Maynard reportedly said that her middle initial, "J" stood for Journalism. She is the daughter of Robert C. Maynard, the African-American owner and publisher of The Oakland Tribune and co-founder of MIJE.

I met Maynard once. She was warm and welcoming to me, then, a cub journalist, and I'll remember that. But most of all, I will remember her for helping to create spaces in newsrooms throughout this country for journalists of color and for continually insisting that representative media is the foundation of excellent journalism. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Obama Vetoes Keystone XL, Torture in Chicago's 'Black Site,' Giuliana Apologizes

Colorlines - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 07:41
Obama Vetoes Keystone XL, Torture in Chicago's 'Black Site,' Giuliana Apologizes

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

  • Obama vetoes a bill that would have allowed the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. 
  • Chicago's police department has been running a 'black site,' where, for the last 40 years or so, adults and children as young as 15 years old are tortured without ever even being booked into custody. At least one person has died.
  • Speaking of Chicago, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, a Mexican-American politician with broad grassroots support, will face Rahm Emanuel in a runoff for mayor on April 7 after Emanuel failed to get 50 percent of the vote in yesterday's mayoral election. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Does PBS Still Care About Indie Films by and About People of Color?

Colorlines - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 07:13
Does PBS Still Care About Indie Films by and About People of Color?

"[Until] I went to a community screening of a [PBS] film called, "My American Girls: A Dominican Story" [in my early 20s], I had never seen myself on TV before," audience member Loira Limbal told public television VIPs at a filled-to-capacity New York City theater on Monday. "That was my first time seeing a film about people and stories and neighborhoods that looked like me."

Now, as director of Firelight Media's Producers' Lab, Limbal nurtures young filmmakers of color and her testimony was meant to help safeguard their future broadcast home. Whether PBS will continue to be that home is why filmmakers around the country are now protesting in addition to writing, directing and fundraising.

What follows are snapshots of the unfolding controversy and what it could mean for the communities that depend on filmmakers like Stanley Nelson ("The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution"), Byron Hurt ("Soul Food Junkies") and Julianna Brannum (" LaDonna Harris: Indian 101") to document their stories.

Why PBS is so important:

Because PBS regularly works with filmmakers of color. Indie films produced by and for public television are "markedly more diverse" than those produced for HBO, CNN or ESPN, according to a 2014 review of the year prior from the Center for Media & Social Impact at American University. Nearly one-third of "Independent Lens" directors were of color, for example, compared to none at CNN and ESPN and 13 percent at HBO.

The controversy, in a nutshell:

Traditional prime time hours are 8-11 p.m. WNET, the most-watched station in the PBS universe, decided last December to take "POV" and "Independent Lens"--the nation's premiere showcases for indie documentaries--out of their prime-time slots on Mondays.It would air them in prime-time on WLIW, a smaller station with a smaller audience. 

"POV" and "Independent Lens" would still run on the mammoth station, but on Sunday nights at 11, following it's high-rating "Masterpiece" programs (think "Downton Abbey"). The move, WNET says, would likely boost viewership for the documentaries. Filmmakers, however, aren't buying it. The move, they say, marginalizes their films by and about underrepresented communities because viewers won't stick around to watch a documentary at 11 p.m. on a Sunday. (Nielsen reports that the fewest number of viewers are watching TV from 10:45-11 p.m.) 

Why a single station, WNET, matters so much: 

WNET, as it covers the New York City metro area, "sets the trend across the system," filmmaker Dawn Porter ("Spies of Mississippi") says. "From a Native filmmaker perspective, PBS has been our only friend," says Julianna Brannum, adding that "nobody" sees Native content elsewhere. "It shocks me that a station with that market size would consider pulling "POV" and "Independent Lens" [from prime time]," she says. 

In other words, if the most-watched public television station in the most racially diverse metro area in the country pushes their indie documentaries to a secondary channel for prime time and Sunday at 11 for the mothership, filmmakers say that sends a powerful signal to other markets--that PBS, the home and developer of quality documentaries through "POV and "Independent Lens," no longer considers these films to be important.

But other markets don't necessarily follow the NYC flagship either:

Porter says she was shocked to discover earlier this year that no films about black history, including her "Spies of Mississippi," would air in prime time in Washington, D.C., in February. "If we can't be on during prime time in the nation's capital during Black History Month then I don't know when we can be on prime time," she says. The challenge however, as pointed out by PBS' chief programming executive, Beth Hoppe, is that PBS' roughly 350 member stations are largely autonomous. They air what they want, when they want. That explains why an award-winning indie film can air in prime time in one market, but during odd hours like 2 a.m., in another.

What the filmmakers want:

They say they want PBS to stay true to its public mission. And, more concretely, they want public television to mandate "common carriage," or that all stations accept a single prime-time programming schedule for "Independent Lens" and "POV." The current and constant time-slot switching makes it nearly impossible for filmmakers of color to promote their films and build an audience if viewers are forced to figure out when their documentaries will air. PBS, according to Hoppe, designates "only 500 programming hours for common carriage," annually.

Why the Internet isn't the answer:

"There are more opportunities on-line, but that's still a secondary option to broadcast," Brannum says. Broadcast reaches the largest viewing audience and PBS, according to Variety, has the fifth-largest English-language prime-time household rating behind CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox. And compared to the Internet, PBS' demographics track more closely with the nation's. What's more, PBS has an enviable reputation among all Americans. That prestige and burnish of legitimacy is a big part of why indie filmmakers dream of being showcased through "POV" or "Independent Lens."

What's next:

After the decision to move "POV" and "Independent Lens" drew such strong response, WNET decided to delay the schedule change. In the meantime, execs have started a four-month national listening tour to hear from creators. The tour has stopped in San Francisco and New York City; attention is now turning to Chicago's meeting, which will take place in March. Stay tuned.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Obama: My Administration Will Fight Texas Ruling

Colorlines - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 06:46
 My Administration Will Fight Texas Ruling

As the end-of-month deadline to fund the Department of Homeland Security looms and the Obama administration takes on a Texas judge's ruling to temporarily halt President Obama's historic executive action, the president himself is weighing in on the mess. "My administration will fight this ruling with every tool at our disposal," Obama wrote in an op-ed for The Hill, "and I have full confidence that these actions will ultimately be upheld."

On Monday, the Obama administration asked U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to lift his ruling temporarily halting the implementation of Obama's executive action program to offer an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants short-term protection from deportation. The Obama administration says it plans to appeal Hanen's ruling, arguing that the 26 states who challenged Obama's executive action have no right to interfere with the federal government's immigration enforcement plans. Hanen's ruling last week disrupted the planned February 18 rollout of the first phase of Obama's executive action, which would have allowed an expanded class of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for temporary work permits and deportation deferrals. 

"I am confident that all the steps I've taken on my own to fix our broken immigration system will eventually be implemented," Obama wrote, also taking time to chastise Republicans for what he called their "irresponsible threats" to withhold funding of the Department of Homeland Security so long as such funding also goes to the implementation of Obama's immigration policies. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Elder Abuse Rising in Care Facilities Mixing the Frail and the Disturbed

New America Media - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 00:25
  Photo: Georgie Williams appears in the above photo with her grandson. She lived in a Virginia nursing home another resident attacked her. She later died. (Bill Tiernan/Virginian-Pilot) Part 1. Read Part 2 here. NORFOLK, Va.--The nursing home Georgie Williams... Elizabeth Simpson http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Dori Maynard, Diversity Champion, Dies at 56

New America Media - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 22:03
 Dori J. Maynard, president of the Robert C. Maynard institute for Journalism Education and longtime champion of diversity in journalism and civic life, died Tuesday at her West Oakland, Calif., home, the Institute announced. She was 56.Maynard died of lung... David DeBolt http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

President Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Bill, Invoking Integrity of Review Process

New America Media - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 15:24
 As promised, President Barack Obama on February 24 vetoed legislation that would have forced the Keystone XL pipeline through by eliminating the need for State Department approval for the project, which crosses the international border with Canada.“I am returning herewith... Indian Country http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Muslims Concerned for Their Safety After Chapel Hill Shootings

New America Media - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 14:13
 DEARBORN — Floods of bigoted online comments, right-wing blogs and blatantly anti-Muslim remarks by politicians and national media figures have long been indicators of the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. But over the past two weeks, xenophobic speech... Ali Harb http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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