Diversity Headlines

AG Holder Tweaks F.B.I. Racial Profiling Rules

Colorlines - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 18:08
AG Holder Tweaks F.B.I. Racial Profiling Rules

After five years in revision status, anonymous sources tell The New York Times that the U.S. attorney general has finalized the F.B.I.'s racial profiling rules. The paper describes them as a compromise between Eric Holder's "desire to protect the rights of minorities,"--influenced in no small part by his experience as a younger man--and concerns from national security officials that they might be hampered in their front-line fight against terrorism.

"Decades ago, the reality of racial profiling drove my father to sit down and talk with me about how, as a young black man, I should interact with the police if I was ever stopped or confronted in a way I felt was unwarranted," Holder said this week before Al Sharpton's civil rights group, the National Action Network.

However, as the rules revision process appears to have repeatedly highlighted: "Making the F.B.I. entirely blind to nationality would fundamentally change the government's approach to national security."

Besides race, the new rules reportedly add religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation to the F.B.I.'s prohibited profiling list. They also increase "the standards that agents must meet before considering those factors" and establish a program to track profiling complaints.

The new rules do not change however, how the F.B.I. uses nationality to map neighborhoods, recruit informants, or look for foreign spies. They leave unchallenged, the fundamental question of whether the F.B.I. can collect information on a Muslim man without evidence of wrongdoing.

Civil rights groups welcome the expanded prohibitions but had also been looking to the new rules to rein in more of the authority granted to federal agents in the aftermath of 9/11.

At the White House's request, the Justice Department is reportedly delaying release of the new rules in order to coordinate a larger review of racial profiling to include the Department of Homeland Security. Under Bush-era regulations, racial profiling rules carried exemptions not only for national security investigations but border security and immigration investigations as well. 

(h/t The New York Times)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Derrick Gordon Becomes First Openly Gay Men's Big Time College Basketball Player

Colorlines - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 17:46
Derrick Gordon Becomes First Openly Gay Men's Big Time College Basketball Player

Derrick Gordon, a guard for the University of Massachusetts' basketball team, became the first openly gay Division I men's basketball player in NCAA history when he came out of the closet this week. 

Gordon made the announcement on Wednesday, just days after coming out to his family to mixed reactions, according to USA Today.

ESPN's Kate Fagan broke the story, in which Gordon said that it was an "indescribable feeling" to come out. "Honestly didn't feel like I was going to feel this way for three, four years." Gordon came out to his teammates before telling the media with the help of his coach Derek Kellog.

More from ESPN:

He had closely watched the news around NBA veteran Jason Collins and NFL prospect Michael Sam, both of whom are active players and have publicly acknowledged being gay. About a year ago, Gordon befriended former NFL player Wade Davis, who is now the executive director of You Can Play. Davis introduced Gordon to Anthony Nicodemo, the boys' basketball coach at Saunders High School in Yonkers, N.Y., who came out as gay last year. Davis and Nicodemo, along with several others, including Collins, mentored Gordon behind the scenes.

Gordon says that when the Minutemen returned home from their round-of-64 loss in the NCAA tournament, he began seriously considering coming forward publicly. He had accepted his sexuality during his freshman year in college, and in recent months had started checking OutSports to see who would be the first Division I men's basketball player to step forward.

"I was thinking about summer plans and just being around my teammates and how it was going to be," Gordon said. "I just thought, 'Why not now? Why not do it in the offseason when it's the perfect time to let my teammates know and everybody know my sexuality?' "

Gordon is one of several athletes to come out as gay over the past year, including the WNBA's Britney Griner, the NBA's Jason Collins, and NFL prospect Michael Sam. 

 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Resetting Passwords, Hercules Gifs and Derrick Gordon Comes Out

Colorlines - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 17:02
Resetting Passwords, Hercules Gifs and Derrick Gordon Comes Out

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

  • Facebook chat? There's an app for that (that you will be forced to download separately).
  • Is Hercules, the film, as good as Hercules, the gifs?

      Inline image 1 

  • University of Michigan's Derrick Gordon comes out
Categories: Diversity Headlines

CeCe McDonald: 'Prisons Don't Keep Us Safe'

Colorlines - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 16:31

CeCe McDonald, Reina Gossett, and Dean Spade: Police + Prisons Don't Keep Us Safe - We Keep Each Other Safe from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

CeCe McDonald, the transgender woman who spent 41 months in prison for defending herself against an attacker, recently sat down to talk about safety. She was in conversation with legal scholar Dean Spade and organizer Reina Gossett shortly after she was released from prison, and a clip of that conversation was just released on Vimeo. 

The three will continue the conversation on April 21 at the New School. You can register here

Categories: Diversity Headlines

ICYMI: Women (Still) on Losing Side of Equal Pay Gap

Colorlines - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 15:45
 Women (Still) on Losing Side of Equal Pay Gap

Even in women-dominated professions, men are paid more than their female counterparts. Women comprise 80 percent of the nation's elementary and middle school teaching force. Their median weekly pay is $937 compared to $1,025 for men. Secretaries and administrative assistants are nearly 95 percent women; their male counterparts receive $100 more in median weekly pay. The gender pay gap according to an informative if maddening Instititute for Women's Policy Research report, exists in all but three occupations, at every income level and widens within race and ethnic groups. And today the Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, intended to help close that gap. Happy belated National Equal Pay Day, by the way. (It was yesterday.)

It's likely the Paycheck Fairness Act never had a real shot at clearing the Senate. The New York Times describes the bill as part of a larger Democratic strategy to appeal to low- and middle income voters during an election year. Other pillars of that strategy--increasing the federal minimum wage, extending long-term unemployment benefits--aren't expected to pass the divided House.

(h/t ProPublica)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

How Children's Books Fuel Mascot Stereotypes

Colorlines - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 15:41
How Children's Books Fuel Mascot Stereotypes

Debbie Reese has been interested in children's literature for decades, and is especially focused on the ways in which Natives are depicted in young people's books. Her passion for books led Reese, who is a tribally enrolled Pueblo Indian from Nambe Pueblo, to review books for major journals but she says her reviews were edited down for being too extra-literary. So Reese started her own blog, titled American Indians in Children's Literature. It's a go-to site for anything and everything you ever wanted to know about Natives in young people's books. We recently talked about representation, what the term "people of color" obscures, and why Rush Limbaugh is up for a major children's book award.

Can you tell me how you became interested in Native representation in children's books?
For several years I taught kindergarten and first grade and, of course, I used story a lot. I became interested in studying what's called family literacy so in 1994 I went to grad school at the University of Illinois. [When] I got there [I] realized how much power the Chief Illniwek mascot had over what people seemed to believe they knew about American Indians. That took me by surprise; I grew up in northern New Mexico and lived in Oklahoma for awhile [so] there was never a question about who we were. Native people heavily populated the circles I traveled in so everybody knew what was the real thing and what was fake. At University of Illinois, which was very white, I wanted to understand why this mascot had so much power. I noticed that children's books had the very same image of a character in a headdress that is so popular in mainstream America. Clifford the Big Red Dog, for example, dressed as an Indian for Halloween wearing a big headdress. He embodied the stereotypes of the stoic and stern Indian. I saw similar images in [a] Berenstain Bears book [among] others. So I was sticking with my interest in children's literature, but looking at it in a more politicized way by focusing on what kinds of messages the books were passing along to children, to help me understand why people would be so attracted and attached to a mascot.

The Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) tracks diversity in children's books, and the New York Times recently highlighted that work. Can you talk about the quantity of Natives in children's books--but also about the quality of those books?
What I found in my analysis of that CCBC study is that all except one of the books that were published by mainstream publishers, sell the best, and get promoted the most are by white writers. And all of those have problematic stereotypes in them. Some are really bad--like Susan Cooper's "Ghost Hawk"-- and some are not so bad, but with pretty bad context. So the major publishers really mess it up. It's the small publishers such as Lee and Low and Cinco Puntos Press, that publish books by authors of color and American Indians, and those books are better. They don't stereotype and they are just better books. But those books don't get circulated in the same numbers because small presses don't have the economic power to distribute like the big publishers do.

This brings me to the issue of how we frame diversity. I want to ask you whether you think it's helpful to refer to Natives as people of color--or if this ultimately obscures political status. 
It absolutely works against our best interest to be placed in the framework of people of color. White children's authors, for example, write about American Indians and civil rights. And my response is that it's not about civil rights, it's about treaty rights. And that's an encapsulation of what goes wrong when you use a civil rights framework. To start with, people don't know that we're sovereign nations, that we have a political status in the United States, as opposed to a racial, cultural or ethnic one. So it's easy to see why people fall into that multicultural framework. But it's really not culture--it's really politics. When people in education start developing these frameworks and chart out the ways that people of color have a history in the United States, they'll slot us in there, too. But that collapses, erases and obscures our distinct political designation in the United States.

The Children's Book Council has nominated Rush Limbaugh for an author of the year award for his children's book title "Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims." It's got an imaginary Native character named Freedom, who's named that because she's born on the Fourth of July. How did this nomination happen?
Everybody was shocked to see his name on the shortlist a couple of weeks ago, because no one took his book seriously in the children's book community. And we learned that Author of the Year awards are determined by book sales. He had one of the highest selling children's books on the list--it's not about quality, it's about sales. People were skeptical that anyone had really purchased his book. I do know, by looking at his website, that he bought and donated more than 15,000 books himself and has been donating them to schools. He was nominated, and now children get to vote. But I don't have faith in online voting, so I'm not optimistic.

We've talked about some of the pitfalls, but what should people look for when they're seeking out children's books that fairly represent Natives?
The number one thing that I encourage people to do is to look first at the writer. I am committed to promoting Native writers. Generally speaking they bring a sensitivity to what can and cannot be included in children's books; there are things that tribal people protect from the public eye, and Native people know what those are. Native writers give you a measure of confidence that what you're going to get in that book is something that can be shared, and is accurate, and something that likely reflects that author's experience as a Native person. The second thing is that a teacher or a librarian who is going to teach that book can hold it up, and say, "This book is by Eric Gansworth, he is Onondaga*, his people are here, he is a professor." So all of the verbs that the teacher uses to introduce that book are in the present tense rather than in the past tense. So it provides a teaching opportunity so that children can learn about where that tribe is now, where that tribe was before, they can go to that tribe's website and see that tribal people do use the Internet! It pushes against all kinds of stereotypes when you use book written by a Native writer.

If you had to list three of your current favorites, which ones would they be? 
Cynthia Leitich Smith's "Jingle Dancer," Eric Gansworth's "If I Ever Get Out of Here," and Tim Tingle's "How I Became a Ghost."

 

*CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this interview, Eric Gansworth was identified as Tuscarora. He is Onondaga

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Six Books That Shaped 'Afro-Vegan' Author Bryant Terry

Colorlines - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 15:39
Six Books That Shaped 'Afro-Vegan' Author Bryant Terry

Cookbook author and food activist Bryant Terry is back with a new book, and this time he's leaning heavily on flavors from the African diaspora. "Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed," out today from Ten Speed Press, is Terry's third solo cookbook and a step away from the primarily Southern-focused vegan menus of his earlier offerings. But, says Terry, "It's all soul food to me."

"Celebrating food of the African diaspora is one of the most meaningful ways for me to improve the physical and spiritual health of people of African descent," Terry says. This time around Terry was inspired by African-American artist Romare Bearden, whose collage work incorporates print, magazine clippings, old paper and fabric to reflect the black American experience. What Bearden did with visual art, Terry aims to do with fresh ingredients and comforting African, Caribbean and Southern flavors. And like with all of Terry's books, his menus come with suggested soundtracks and autobiographical and political notes. It's hard to read a Bryant Terry cookbook and not want to get immediately eating, cooking, reading and partying--all at once.

Colorlines asked this prolific author to share the books that shaped him and his understanding of his place in the world. He spills the beans, as it were, about the books which influenced his worldview and writing style, and the books that give him continual inspiration and wisdom.

Here's what Terry had to say, in his own words:

autobiography of malcolm x.jpgthe_bluest_eye.jpgthetasteofcountrycooking.jpg


"The Autobiography of Malcolm X" by Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley 

I read "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" when I was a freshman in high school. I was attending a predominantly white private school, so I was like Michael Evans from "Good Times" after I read this book. It really shaped my racial and political consciousness, and made me much more aware of the impact of structural racism as well as the racist micro-aggressions that I dealt with on a daily basis. I try to reread it every few years.

"The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison

This was my introduction to Toni Morrison's work. I read it as a freshman in college--I couldn't talk for a day after reading that book. It was disturbing and depressing, and it helped me further understand the impact of white supremacy on black minds, bodies and spirits. In my opinion Toni Morrison is the most important American writer of the 20th century. 

"The Taste of Country Cooking" by Edna Lewis

This book by the black Southern cooking legend Edna Lewis was a major influence. Similar to all my books, her mission was to help people connect with the flavors of real food that she enjoyed growing up in the South.

After taking New York City by storm with her approach to Southern cuisine at Cafe Nicholson in the late 1940s and '50s, she wrote several cookbooks that focused on seasonality and freshness. This book had a major impact on my style of recipe writing--her book reads like a memoir infused with recipes and it inspired me to draw heavily on history and memory in my own cookbook writing.

art of worldly wisdom.jpgrace rebels cover.jpgsupernaturalcooking.jpg

"The Art of Worldly Wisdom" by Baltasar Gracian

I discovered this book when I was in college. I was living in New Orleans and got stuck in the city the day after finals. It rained two days straight and my car was flooded. I walked to the bookstore near my apartment and the book literally fell in front of me while I was browsing. I try to revisit it every year and I have given it as a gift to over a dozen people. 

"Race Rebels" by Robin D.G. Kelley

Reading UCLA history professor Robin D.G. Kelley's "Race Rebels" as an undergraduate made me want to study history with him--I read the book after hearing him speak and then applied and got into NYU's Ph.D. program in history. That book helped me understand the political nature of seemingly apolitical acts like growing one's own food, cooking meals from scratch at home, and building community around the table. I would argue that those things are crucial acts of rebellion and resistance in a runaway food system controlled by a handful of corporations.

"Super Natural Cooking" by Heidi Swanson

This was one of those cookbooks that changed the game for me. I remember seeing it on display at a bookstore and speeding across the room to grab it because the cover was so striking. I love Heidi's focus on whole, unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods. What really brings her recipes to life though are the gorgeous photography and the simple, clean, modern design of her books. Heidi has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since the publication of my second book, "Vegan Soul Kitchen." Without her, there would be no "Afro-Vegan." 

=====

For more information on "Afro-Vegan," and to order your own copy head to bryant-terry.com.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Young, New Blood to Cover Bay Area’s Chinese Community

New America Media - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 11:10
SAN FRANCISCO -- Everyday for the past three years, Ricky Chan has strolled into the offices of KTSF-TV news in San Francisco. At 30, Chan is the youngest member on the team, connecting a new generation of viewers to the... Chantel Genest http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

California County Could be State's First to Ban Fracking

New America Media - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 11:00
Image: Supervisor Steve Lambert, above, surpirsed activists by introducing a motion to ban fracking in Butte County. Photo credit: Karen LasloA majority on the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to draft an ordinance that would ban fracking, a step... Leslie Layton http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

LGBT Latino Seniors Face Housing Crunch, Isolation in San Francisco

New America Media - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 10:05
  Photo: Jorge Rodriguez served on San Francisco’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force. (Rick Gerharter/Bay Area Reporter) Part 2 of a series. Read Part 1 here. SAN FRANCISCO--Facing pronounced housing issues and isolation in San Francisco, the city's population of... Matthew S. Bajko http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

How Some Tax Preparers Feed on the Working Poor

Colorlines - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 02:16
How Some Tax Preparers Feed on the Working Poor

With the arrival of Tax Day next week away, an article in The New York Times this week details the latest way in which the working poor serve as a profit center for American business. By siphoning off hundreds of dollars in fees from some of the nation's neediest taxpayers, the $100 billion tax preparation industry--from small neighborhood storefronts to big time chains like H&R Block--can diminish the economic lifeline that tax refunds have come to be for millions of America's struggling families. Alongside payday loans and car title loans, questionable tax preparation fees for the poor underscore how corporations profit from poverty. Even as more people fall further behind economically year after year, the financial sector will find a way to make money off of it.

The challenge is that tax refunds are one of the important ways that America fights poverty. Close to 50 million Americans are in poverty. Close to one out of three blacks, and one out of four Latinos is poor. Most of those who are in poverty work and have children.

A Critical Tax Rebate for the Poor...

Starting under President Clinton and expanded under President Bush, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was instituted to transition millions of American families from welfare to work as Aid to Families with Dependent Children, welfare's official name, was wound down and eliminated. The point was to make low-wage work pay. That's because without the credit many families can't earn enough to live. Even with the credit, large numbers of the working poor, especially those without children, have jobs but remain officially in poverty. Regardless, the credit is crucial piece of anti-poverty policy.

Each year the Federal government returns $60 billion to 26 million struggling households in the form of the EITC. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a non-partisan think tank, the EITC keeps 10 million people out of poverty, half of them children. The average size of the benefit is $2,900 and makes a big difference in the life of recipients. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, the children of EITC beneficiaries "are likelier to do better in school, are likelier to attend college and earn more as adults." 

But like middle and upper income tax payers, working poor tax payers need help in getting their returns together. The problem is that low-wage can often be temporary meaning that a worker may have multiple employers during the course of the year. Moreover parents raising children have to document other income sources such as child support or financial assistance from another relative. The need to understand how to file correctly spurs low-wage workers to seek out tax prepares.

As the Times lays out, as if on cue, the tax preparation industry responds to the need. As early as December "they begin showing up in empty storefronts in neighborhoods where empty storefronts are easy to come by" the Times reports.

...And a Profit Center for Tax Preparers

Tax preparation businesses, which generate $10 billion in profits annually, can charge the working poor hundreds of dollars for what is to them routine work that can take a matter of minutes. Supermarket cashier Brittany Dixon told the Times that for a half an hour of work, the tax preparer charged $400. "That is a car note" Dixon says.

The fact that these fees can represent more than one out of seven dollars that the average EITC recipient gets, as in Dixon's case, shows how tax preparation can hurt a family's bottom line.

Arriving in the spring, the EITC refund helps keep poor families afloat for the rest of the year. It provides emergency funds for an unknown such as a broken tire, is used to pay for back-to-school needs or day care over the summer. Given how close these families are to the edge, the slightest financial change can push them right over. The hundreds of dollars that that an EITC recipients fees contribute to the multi-billion dollar tax preparation industry could easily cascade into financial disaster. Missed car payments, which could result in Dixon's case, and the inability to get to work can translate into lost jobs and worse.

Poverty and Big Business

But skimming money off of the working poor at tax time isn't the only way that the poor are big business. In fact they face an array of predatory financial practices that make poverty an even heavier financial burden and harder to escape. Given that 50 percent of Americans are either in poverty or one step away from being poor, who makes money off of the most vulnerable must come into sharper focus.

All of this is why Professor Thomas Edsall of Columbia University last year wrote in The New York Times, that there are "multiple pathways eager moneylenders have found to profit from the cash needs of the poor." 

A prime example is payday loans in which struggling lower-wage workers borrow small amounts of money as a bridge between paychecks. The multi-billion dollar payday loan industry generates massive profits by charging interest rates of up to 400 percent and tacking on additional fees on loans which average just $350.

As the Center for Responsible Lending points out, even moderate income households of $35,000 don't generate enough income to cover basic household expenses. This fact underscores the driving force behind the working poor turning to these loans: the basic desire to make ends meet. 

The difficulty is that these financial instruments are structured so that they can't actually ever be paid back. Taking-out even one loan spurs borrowers to take out a second to cover the expenses from the original debt and so on. This "treadmill," as the Center for Responsible Lending calls it, of repeat borrowing is where financial companies make their profit: it's why many offer the first-day loan for "free" in order to get borrowers in the door.

Though designed for the poor, America's wealthiest banks make money off of them. Bank of America, JP Morgan Wells Fargo and others finance them through different storefront names and are all profiting handsomely from these sky-high short-term loans.

Payday loans flow out of the historic redlining of poor districts where poor communities and communities of color were systematically denied traditional financial and banking services provided to other areas. Though redlining is now illegal, banks have little incentive to reverse their legacy of discrimination. That's because there's money to made off of payday loans rather than on traditional accounts. And it's why Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has suggested that post offices begin offering a broader range of financial products: doing so would be scale-back payday lending abuse. 

The same is true for auto title loans in which car owners use their automobile as collateral for short-term loans. Though the average loan is $951 for car title loans, with annual interest rates of up 300 percent a borrower could end up paying $3,093 (PDF) back to the financial institution which made the loan in the first place. 

Tax preparation, payday loans and car title loans show the multiple ways in which the poor serve as a profit center for America's biggest corporations often at their own expense. Individuals who take out payday loans, for example, are more likely to default than those who do not.

As the country examines ways to fight poverty and income inequality, surely one place to start is to ameliorate the financial hardship of the working poor which helps fuel the bottom lines of America's most storied companies.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Politics Meets Religion at Catholic Border Mass

New America Media - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 20:58
Image: People on the Mexican side of the border reach through the fence into Nogales, Arizona, to receive Holy Communion from the Bishop of Tucson, Gerald Kicanas.Last week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) conducted a mass along the... Shefali S. Kulkarni http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Eddie Murphy's Daughter May Play Aaliyah in Upcoming Biopic

Colorlines - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 20:15
Eddie Murphy's Daughter May Play Aaliyah in Upcoming Biopic

Casting for the long-anticipated film commemorating the late singer Aaliyah has reportedly begun, and Eddie Murphy's daughter Bria reportedly has a good shot at playing the '90s R&B star. From Vibe:

Casting director, Lamont Pete, also said in an interview with Sister2Sister magazine that producers prefer a new kid on the block. "There were so many rumors about Ciara or Solange Knowles [playing Aaliyah], but this is one of those situations where we are going to see someone who we have never seen before," Pete said.

Other names that've been thrown around include actress Drew Sidora, and 106 & Park co-host, Keshia Chante.

The 22-year-old singer died tragically in a plane crash back in 2001.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Venezuela Anti-Gov't Protestors Go Naked

New America Media - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 20:09
On April 4th masked militiamen stormed the Universidad Central de Venezuela’s campus hurling stones and fireworks at students who were demonstrating in anti-government rallies, battering some, and leaving a young male student naked. That student had to find his way... VOXXI http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

After Obamacare Enrollment, Three Critical Steps

Colorlines - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 19:43
After Obamacare Enrollment, Three Critical Steps

Editor's Note:

Rinku Sen made space on "Movement Notes" for Affordable Care Act expert LeeAnn Hall, the executive director for Alliance for a Just Society, and a board member of Race Forward, Colorlines' publisher. Here's LeeAnn's take on what we need to do now that Obamacare has enrolled millions.

+++

More than 7.1 million people have obtained health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, despite the early confusion and glitches with the computer system. In addition, 6.3 million are approved for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, and an estimated 3 million more young people gained health insurance by staying on their parent's plans.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to eliminate health disparities so people of color are no longer living sicker and dying younger. If we do our job, no mother will ever have to choose between paying the rent or taking her sick child to the doctor.

To meet this goal three critical steps need to be taken: first, Medicaid expansion needs to occur in all states; second, people with coverage now must actually receive care; and finally, we need appropriate data tracking and reporting to evaluate progress.

Medicaid Expansion

In the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, the court determined that the federal government could not require states to accept the Medicaid expansion; each state would choose independently to accept federal funding to expand--or not. Many of those who would benefit most from Medicaid expansion are people of color, with Latinos and African-Americans each representing nearly 20 percent of those eligible, according to the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Women also stand to gain: The uninsured rate for women between the ages of 19 to 64 could be cut by more than half--from 20 percent to 8 percent. 

Many community organizing groups and health advocates stood strong for health reform because of Medicaid expansion's potential to close the racial and gender gap and make our health care system more equitable.
This expansion of health coverage to the uninsured now faces serious threats. Nineteen states have refused to expand Medicaid and five others are still debating the matter. Many of those are states where people of color would gain the most. In Mississippi, 50 percent of the newly eligible would be black people; in Louisiana, it's 47 percent; in South Carolina, it's 43 percent. Texas and Florida, with two of the largest Latino populations, also rejected the expansion.

So first on our agenda is doubling down on the fight for Medicaid expansion--to fill in the gaping hole created by the Supreme Court's decision. I say hell no to the creation of another racialized structural barrier that denies coverage to communities needing health care most.

Access to Care

The second challenge is to ensure that the newly covered actually get quality care. Existing health care networks do not have enough providers to absorb the new influx of patients, potentially resulting in long lines and wait times.

In addition, many health plans sold in the exchanges have thin provider networks. This means that consumers need to be extra vigilant to make sure each provider they are seeing is covered by their exchange plan. These thin provider networks may eliminate major care facilities in a community. For example, where I live in Seattle, four major insurers do not cover the University of Washington Medical Center or Harborview Medical Center, the university's top rated trauma center.

Such barriers are unacceptable. If families have insurance, but can't get care, health disparities among people of color--higher rates of diabetes, prostate cancer, and death from cervical cancer-- will remain unchanged.

Care also means investing in doctors and health professionals who come from, and understand, the communities that they serve. We need to actively back President Obama's budget, calling on Congress to appropriate $14.6 billion to invest in our health care infrastructure by training the medical professionals needed in underserved communities.

At end of the day, to evaluate our success we need to know who is being served - specifically we need to have a breakdown by income, race, ethnicity and geography. The Affordable Care Act has great potential to shrink the racial gap in coverage. But we can't tell how it's doing without data on race and ethnicity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says they're collecting only some data and don't know when, or even if, it will be released.

Evaluation

For the law to work, we need to be able to track its results. The failure to collect full federal data suggests that HHS doesn't see closing the coverage gap as a high priority. We must demand the data for evaluation to improve our new health care system.
The health care train is rolling down the track, after years of years of political obstruction millions people have insurance.

But now it's time to get back to work. To fulfill the vision of affordable care for all, we need to meet the next set of challenges: expanding Medicaid, guaranteeing that coverage also means care, and building build a system available to everyone.

LeeAnn Hall is the executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society, a national research, organizing and policy network focused on health, economic and racial equity.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Here's the Official Video for That Yasiin Gaye 'Ms. Fat Booty' Mash-Up

Colorlines - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 19:34

Amerigo Gazaway delighted the Internet recently when he dropped a brilliant Yasiin Bey and Marvin Gaye mixtape. Sadly, the project was take down because of copyright concerns, but the Memphis-based producer just released the video for one of the project's standout tracks, "Ms. Fat Booty." Enjoy.

(h/t Okayplayer)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Twitter Mocks Air France's Racist Geisha Ads

Colorlines - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 19:25
Twitter Mocks Air France's Racist Geisha Ads

Remember when Katy Perry dressed up in a racist geisha costume at the American Music Awards? Apprently, Air France thought that was a good idea, because the airline's new ad campaign features a white model dressed up in yellowface. 

Criticism surrounding the ad lead to the #FixedItUAF hashtag on Twitter, kicked off by Wall Street Journal columnist Jeff Yang. The hashtag invites users to make their own mock ads, and some of them are brilliant. Take a look. 

mockgeisha1.jpg

mockgeisha2.jpg

mockgeisha3.jpg

(h/t Angry Asian Man via Reappropriate)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Pa. School Stabbings, Heartbleed Bug and Traveling Sneezes

Colorlines - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 17:02
Pa. School Stabbings, Heartbleed Bug and Traveling Sneezes

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

  • That Congressman who brought the Duck Dynasty guy to Obama’s State of the Union has been busy making out with a person who is not his wife. 
  • Futures are up after Alcoa shares gain, and ahead of the Fed meeting. 
  • Time to change all of your passwords or the Heartbleed bug will get you (if it hasn’t already). 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Re-Development Act for Lower 9th Ward Proposed

New America Media - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 11:30
NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Two proposed measures known collectively as the Lower Ninth Ward Re-Development Act that would allow current and former Lower Ninth Ward residents and other individuals to purchase abandoned property in the area is scheduled to go... Nayita Wilson http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Trauma of AIDS Epidemic Impacts Aging Survivors

New America Media - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 10:25
  Photo: Author and AIDS activist Sean Strub, left, with Let’s Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome) co-founder Tez Anderson. (Rick Gerharter/Bay Area Reporter) Part 1 of series. Read Part 2 here. SAN FRANCISCO--The nightmares terrorized San Francisco resident Tez Anderson... Matthew S. Bajko http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines
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