Diversity Headlines

Weekend Read: Misty Copeland, An Unlikely Ballerina

Colorlines - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 14:36

Settle in this weekend and meet artist, athlete and ballerina Misty Copeland in this gorgeous New Yorker profile by Rivka Galchen. 

Copeland's artistic and commercial successes make us all feel good--about ballet, about America--and yet that feeling is somewhat tendentious. It is impossible to distill the current role of race in ballet (or in any field) from one woman's career. Copeland's race makes her immediately distinctive in the ballet world, and this has undoubtedly helped her commercial career, but murmurings, on some online dance-discussion threads, that she has been excessively promoted within A.B.T. because of her race overlook not just her virtuosity but also the many years in which she wasn't a soloist, or even a lead dancer.

(h/t The New Yorker)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Silicon Valley Region Leads in Groundwater Sustainability

New America Media - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 10:46
photo: A percolation pond inside the Santa Clara Valley Water District. (James Wang/World Journal)SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As new laws to regulate groundwater for the first time in California are set to take effect next year, Santa Clara County could... James Wang http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Border Patrol to Police Its Own Deadly Shootings

Colorlines - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 09:25
Border Patrol to Police Its Own Deadly Shootings

In response to heated criticism over its officer-involved deadly shootings, Border Patrol will begin criminally investigating its own officers accused of excessive force, Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske announced Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported. The agency will also begin trial-testing body-mounted cameras on officers. Both moves are efforts to quell demands for accountability for the nation's largest uniformed federal law enforcement agency.

Since 2010, Border Patrol officers have killed at least 29 people in use-of-force incidents, Reuters reported. The agency has faced public pressure to share information about its use-of-force and accountability policies. Allowing the agency to investigate its own officers will expedite accountability efforts, Kerlikowske said. The Department of Homeland Security granted the agency the authority to do so. 

In the last decade, the Border Patrol has not disciplined a single agent involved in a deadly force investigation, acknowledged Mark Morgan, an FBI special agent assigned to run the Border Patrol's internal affairs unit, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Octavia Spencer's 'Scary Bitch' Ads Taken Off L.A. Buses

Colorlines - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 08:48
Octavia Spencer's 'Scary Bitch' Ads Taken Off L.A. Buses

One way you probably shouldn't advertise a new show starring one of Hollywood's most accomplished black actresses is by pasting her picture up on an ad next to the phrase "scary bitch." But that's just what happened with Octavia Spencer*, who's starring in a new show on FOX called "Red Band Society," which follows a group of teenagers set in the pediatric wing of a hospital. 

The ads have been up for five weeks and will be removed from 190 Metro buses as soon as possible, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson Mark Littman, who told the Los Angeles Times that the ads "denigrate women."

A few dozen protesters filed into a recent Metro committee meeting where the announcement was made. Jasmyne Cannick, a 36-year-old social media commentator, told the Times: "I don't know if I find it more offensive because I'm black, or more offensive because I'm a woman." She added, "I sometimes think our city forgets that there are black people that still live here and call Los Angeles home."

A Fox spokesperson told the Times, "We sincerely apologize if the copy was offensive to viewers."

See the add below:


(h/t Los Angeles Times)

* Post incorrectly referred to Octavia Butler. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

State Rep: Muslims Are 'Cancer That Must Be Cut From American Society'

Colorlines - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 08:41
 Muslims Are 'Cancer That Must Be Cut From American Society'

Oklahoma state Rep. John Bennett made headlines this week for making some of the vilest anti-Muslim comments on record from an elected American official. Dean Obeidallah recounts what happened:

On Monday, Bennett held a public forum with more than 100 constituents in a Western Sizzlin' steakhouse in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. There, Bennett provided his supporters with something other than steak -- a big helping of hate.

According to the Sequoyah County Times, Bennett told the audiencethat Muslims are a "cancer that must be cut out of the American society." He added that the goal of Muslims is "the destruction of Western civilization from within."

But here's where Bennett's comments truly become bone chilling. Bennett, a military veteran, issued what some could interpret as a call to arms: "I'm not advocating violence against anyone ... but I am not going to stand back and allow them to let Islam take over this nation."

The worst part? Bennett's audience responded with a standing ovation. Obeidallah rightly notes that it's this type of sentiment that will undoubtedly lead to reactionary violence against Muslims in the United States. Read more at CNN.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Group Buys Millions of Student Loan Debt--To Cancel It

Colorlines - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 08:37
Group Buys Millions of Student Loan Debt--To Cancel It

Imagine getting a letter in the mail one day, announcing that a portion of your student loans has been cancelled forever. If you don't toss that letter in the junk mail pile, you might find out it's true. That's what happened in Michigan this year to a 32-year-old mother of four and a 24-year-old dental student. On the third anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, one offshoot of the Zuccotti Park encampment is making good on its mission to buy debt--only to cancel it. A group of activists called Rolling Jubilee is going after student loans, which at more than $1 trillion now account for 10 percent of all US debt, second only to mortgages.

Rolling Jubilee initially began by canceling nearly $15 million of personal debt from medical bills. This Wednesday, it moved on to $4 million of student loan debt incurred by more than 2,000 students of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges system. (As reported by the Huffington Post this week, federal regulators are suing Corinthian for allegedly swindling students and engaging in illegal debt collection practices.)

Rolling Jubilee, according to The New Yorker, knows its approach isn't a sustainable solution to the debt crisis among young people. What they want is for "debtors [to] organize themselves into a group powerful enough to seek policy changes on their own, as unions did in the early twentieth century, and as civil-rights activists did in the nineteen-sixties."

(h/t The New Yorker; NPR)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Scotland Stays, Lockdown in Sierra Leone

Colorlines - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 07:00
Scotland Stays, Lockdown in Sierra Leone

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Pushing for Cities to Take Lead on Climate Change

New America Media - Fri, 09/19/2014 - 01:00
 PARIS - If former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg had used the Vélib’ – Paris’ public bicycle sharing system – to arrive at the headquarters of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development here Wednesday, he might have sent a... A. D. McKenzie http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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New America Media - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 13:54
English???????????????????????????????“?????????California’s Middle Class Scholarship?”? ??????????????????????2?4??????????????????????15??????????????????????????????????????????????“???????Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan?”????????????????????????????????Christopher Carter???“?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????” ????????????????????????????2017????????????????????????????????Kerry Franzetta???“???????????????1,700????????????????????????????????????????” ??????????????????????????????10%?40%??????????????5000???????????????????????????????????????????????????????Cal Grants?Pell Grants?UC grants?Cal Vet fee waivers?????????????????“???????”??????????????????????????????????????“???????”??????????????????“???????????Free Application for Student Aid?”?????????????“?????????California Dream Act application?” ???????????????????????????????????????????? ? ?????????????????“?????????????????????????????????” 2015??2016?????????1?1??3?2???????????????????????????????“???????”???? ???????????????????The California Student Aid Commission????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????2014-15???????????1?7??????????????????????????????????????????????????????... Nicole Freeling http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Nueva ayuda para las familias de clase media

New America Media - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 13:36
EnglishMiles de estudiantes de la UC pronto podrían recibir un cheque para compensar parte de los gastos relacionados con la universidad a través de un nuevo programa estatal destinado a ayudar a las familias de clase media. Funcionarios de la... Nicole Freeling http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

'Queer People Don't Have the Luxury to Stop Telling Our Stories'

Colorlines - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 13:11
'Queer People Don't Have the Luxury to Stop Telling Our Stories'

Laverne Cox made arguably one of the biggest political statements of the year when she was featured on the cover of Time magazine. The accompanying cover story--which proclaimed that America has reached a "transgender tipping point"--covered Cox's journey through acting before landing a role on the cast of Netflix's hit series "Orange is the New Black."

Cox was lifted up as a reflection of mainstream progress; finally, queer and transgender people had been accepted in American culture. But if Cox is a reflection of mainstream progress in LGBT communities, she's also a reflection of those left stranded in America's economic and cultural margins. When she served as Grand Marshall at this year's New York City Pride Parade, she rode in a car alongside Dolores Nettles, mother of Islan, a 21-year-old transgender woman who was beaten to death in Harlem last year. The investigation into Nettles' death has stalled and her killer remain at large, a frighteningly common scenerio for many transgender women of color who find themselves victims of hate crimes. The odds are still stacked markedly against queer and trans people of color: sky-high unemployment rates, harassment, disease and murder are still stubborn facts of life. So while there are many examples of LGBT visibility in America -- think sports stars like Brittney Griner and Michael Sam, musicians like Angel Haze and Frank Ocean -- visibility alone has not often led to the chance to live safe, equitable lives.

For Christopher Soto, who goes by Loma, the new poetry journal "Nepantla" is a manifesto that says "visibility isn't enough." He recently launched the new journal, which is exclusively for and by queer people of color, with help from the Lambda Literary Foundation and an Indiegogo campaign that netted more than $3,000. "There is so much more work to be done; we can't stop telling our stories now -- we don't have that luxury yet," he told me in an e-mail interview about the centrality of poetry in the queer community and what he hopes to accomplish with the new journal.

How did you come to poetry and publishing?

I came to the written word through hip-hop and R&B. I started journaling when I saw artists like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Saul Williams on HBO's "Def Poetry Jam." Eventually, I built up enough courage to visit A Mic in Dim Lights in Pomona, California, where a bunch of slam poets [and] would hang out. That space was so vital to my youth and development.How did "Nepantla" come into being?

When I first moved to New York last year, I started e-mailing all of the queer poets of color that I knew, looking for community. A lot of folks welcomed me into their lives and offered me mentorship. It was cute... I wanted to help create a space [that] supported and celebrated that community.

Tell me about your contributors.

Our contributors include Danez Smith, Pamela Sneed, Metta Sáma, Lara Weibgen, Amber Atiya, and many other talented poets. Also, highly recommended, look into everything that Myriam Gurba produces. She is a goddess.

Where did you publicize the journal?

Largely within the literary community. The journal was launched on the Lambda Literary Foundation website and supported by various poets and literary organizations thereafter. But we are still working on getting the word out, so this interview is much appreciated.

Poetry has played a really central role in queer communities for decades; I'm thinking of Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga and Audre Lorde. Where do you think this journal fits into that history?

I think that the production of this journal is largely owed to that history, to the work of our revolutionary foremothers. This includes poets in the struggle whose names we don't mention nearly enough such as Akilah Oliver and Tatiana De La Tierra. They were some of the first poets that I started reading and writing under.

We're arguably at a point where queer people of color are more visible than they've ever been before. Why is this journal important to have now?

We are still not visible enough! As a community, queer people of color face disproportionally higher rates of unemployment, youth homelessness and physical assault.  We are still being unjustly incarcerated and deported. There is so much more work to be done; we can't stop telling our stories now -- we don't have that luxury yet.

 Bonus: Read  the inaugural issue of Nepantla.

*This post has been updated to correct the following: "Nepantla" was supported by the Lambda Literary Foundation, not the Lambda Literary Fund. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Brother of Prominent DREAMer Activist Detained by ICE

New America Media - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 11:35
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Luis Bravo, the older brother of prominent DREAMer activist Jessica Bravo, was detained Thursday by ICE agents at his family’s home. He is currently being held at the Santa Ana ICE office.Jessica Bravo, Luis’s sister, released... CHIRLA http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Queer and Trans Latinos Reclaim Their History for Hispanic Heritage Month

Colorlines - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 09:38

Sixty eight years before New York City's Stonewall riots incited America's gay liberation movement, police in Mexico City made a declaration of their own. On November 17, 1901 they raided a secret gay dance party at a private home and arrested 41 men who they identified as gay, half of whom were reportedly dressed in women's clothes. To humiliate the partygoers, they paraded the 41 captured people in public, a show of force that helped spark a period of sexual and political repression. 

Since then, the number "41" has been used to shame members of the queer and trans communities in Mexico. But a new projected called Honor 41 is trying to change that.

In its second annual video series launched to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S., Honor 41 has released a series of profiles of queer and transgender Latinos who are proud to continue the legacy of those 41 people who were arrested more than a century ago.

In the video below, we meet Camilo Juilián, a transgender immigrant from Mexico who shares his coming-out story. "I know my coming-out story is unique and not representative of all the struggles of our communities, but my hope is to encourage everybody to aspire to a life of authenticity, mutual respect and unity," Juilián told me by e-mail, "one story at a time."

For more, visit Honor 41's website. And watch more profiles on YouTube

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Homeboy Industries Has One of L.A.'s Newest Gourmet Food Trucks

Colorlines - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 09:34
Homeboy Industries Has One of L.A.'s Newest Gourmet Food Trucks

Homeboy Industries, the Los Angeles-based organization that helps formerly gang-involved and incarcerated Angelenos start new lives, has one of the area's newest food gourmet trucks. The truck offers food such as salsa and granola that are produced by Homeboy Industries' entrepreneurial arm, but their focus is chilaquiles.


"We didn't want to be just another taco truck, so, we thought, since our chilaquiles are what Homegirl Cafe is well known for, we'd do a twist on it," truck manager and head chef Stephen Barkulis told Los Angeles magazine.

The truck offers new including Tingaquiles with shredded skirt steak slow cooked in chipotle chile, Molequiles with red mole chicken and habeñero pickled onions. For the vegetarians there's no-meat Veggiequiles. Check out the menu.

Chef Barkulis and his three-woman crew are all graduates of the Homegirl Industries' 18-month training program. He sums up the truck's purpose this way: "We really want to get out there and further our cause," Barkulis told Los Angeles magazine."Because at the heart of all that we're doing is that we want to change lives."

Homeboy Industries began as a youth program started in 1992 by Father Greg Boyle. In addition to offering formerly incarcerated folks legal assistance, counseling, tattoo removal and work-readiness training, the program has since grown to businesses that include a bakery, cafe, merchandise and a farmer's market. 

(h/t Los Angeles Magazine)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

NYPD Officer Suspended After Video Shows Him Kicking Street Vendor

Colorlines - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 09:03

NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that an unnamed officer has been suspended and stripped of his badge after being caught on video kicking a street vendor who was in police custody.

The scene unfolded after a street fair in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, last Sunday when several vendors reportedly failed to leave the area. The vendors can be seen on the video resisting arrest before one, Jonathan Daza, 22, is ultimately tackled to the ground and kicked by the officer. The police department has not released the officer's name.

"I was very concerned with a video that was taken and the actions of one of our officers who was seen kicking an individual," Bratton said Wednesday. "As best I could tell looking at that video it seemed to be totally unprovoked. That officer has been suspended and in terms of suspension in this department that means he's been relieved of his gun, his badge and his police duties."

Five people were arrested during the melee. Internal Affairs is investigating the incident. 

(h/t Gothamist)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Watch Imara Jones on 'Caffeine TV' Debut

Colorlines - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 08:39

Our economic justice columnist, Imara Jones, just launched "Caffeine TV," a daily video news brief on YouTube where he offers his take on everything from politics to pop culture.  Jones will continue covering race and economic justice for Colorlines. With "Caffeine TV," you'll get him every morning!

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Scotland Votes, Texas Executes and Apple Does Something Good

Colorlines - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 07:25
Scotland Votes, Texas Executes and Apple Does Something Good

Here's what I'm reading up on today:

  • Scotland votes on its referendum for independence today. 
  • The University of California has proposed a system-wide plan to combat campus sexual assault, calling for mandatory training for students, staff and faculty, improved support for victims and more thorough investigations. 
  • Texas executed 38-year-old Lisa Ann Coleman on Wednesday. Coleman was on death row for starving and beating her girlfriend's son to death. 
  • Yet another NFL player has been arrested on charges of domestic violence. 
  • Adrian Peterson's mom stood up for him and defended corporal punishment.
  • San Francisco is really bad at prosecuting rape cases...
  • ...but great, it seems, at allowing single-room occupancy hotels to hawk rooms to tourists in low-income neighborhoods. 
  • Occupy Wall Street activists are suing one another. 
  • Apple finally decides to protect its users

Categories: Diversity Headlines

How an East Harlem Bookstore is Getting 1,500 Books to Migrant Kids

Colorlines - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 07:23
How an East Harlem Bookstore is Getting 1,500 Books to Migrant Kids

By the time 2014 comes to an end, some 90,000 unaccompanied child migrants--mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras--are expected to make their way into the United States. If they're detained at the border, they'll be placed in temporary detention facilities. Then those who aren't deported will be scattered into detention facilities or into homes with family members or foster parents.

A lot of attention around these children has largely focused on federal immigration and refugee policy, but there have also been efforts to provide them with basic necessities, many of which are rooted near the U.S.-Mexico border. For instance, groups such as Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, based in Texas, have been collecting direct donations and gifts in kind, such as shoes, clothing and blankets. Other faith groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention are also focusing relief efforts on what they call the Border Crisis. And, for those people who have the time and other resources to make a more dedicated commitment, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service organization provides people with information on how to foster migrant children.

But beyond basic needs such as shelter and clothing, some groups are contending with what else children might need--and not just near the U.S.-Mexico border.

La Casa Azul Bookstore, which opened in East Harlem in 2012, is a community hub, hosting readings, film nights and art exhibits. In June, after hearing news of the child migrant crisis, owner Aurora Anaya-Cerda started thinking about how La Casa Azul could help, especially in a city so far from the border. She connected with Isabel Martínez, a professor in the Latino studies department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who has studied child migrants living in New York City since 2006.The two longtime friends decided to hold a book drive to provide migrant children with age- and language-appropriate books. It would be a joint project between LaCasa Azul and the Unaccompanied Latin American Minor Project (ULAMP) at John Jay. 

Martínez combined her connection to migrant child migrants and advocates with Anaya-Cerda's previous experience organizing a book drive for a local school to make this project happen. It was a massive undertaking for an independent bookstore owner and a busy professor and researcher, but the two women are humble about it. "That's what you do. It's really part of what you do," explains Anaya-Cerda, about why she felt compelled to take action. "Our resources, collectively, is what made it happen."

The two women planned out the drive in three phases. The first phase was soliciting books, from July to August. The store provided a suggested book list online making it clear that they wanted new or barely used books on specific topics. A young adult book on immigration might seem suitable, for example, but both Martínez and Anaya-Cerda had heard that some children wanted books that allowed them to escape from their reality as migrants. 

The very first books to arrive came from authors Sandra Cisneros, Rodolfo Anaya and Julia Alvarez--their publicist had sent them the call and the writers responded. The first phase also included related programming. The bookstore hosted the screening of two films, "Which Way Home" and "Sin Nombre." And it held two card-making days so that children who receive the books also get a personal, handwritten note. This allowed people who couldn't afford to donate a book, including local college students, to donate their time. By the end of phase one, La Casa Azul had received about 600 books.

Martínez and Anaya-Cerda began phase two in early August. They sorted books by age and reading level; solicited titles that were requested but not donated; and researched how to ship the books to migrant children being held in a Dobbs Ferry, New York, detention center. To raise money for shipping, Martínez and Anaya-Cerda created an online fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $2,500. They raised $2,930 in 17 days, and the number of books donated to the project more than doubled, to 1,531. Each one of those books now includes a project nameplate to remind children that the books are theirs--not books to leave behind in a courtroom or a detention center. A book to really call their own.

The La Casa Azul-ULAMP book drive is now in phase three, which includes distributing the books to the children. This requires a commitment until at least December. That commitment is clearly a personal one for Martínez. "My grandmother was a 15-year-old pregnant teenager when she crossed in 1918, and if she hadn't crossed, I wouldn't be here," she says. "This is part of the story of the United States."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Latino Workers Dying at Higher Rates in Job Accidents, Report Shows

New America Media - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 01:00
As Latino workers take on more and more of the nation’s toughest and dirtiest jobs, they increasingly are paying for it with their lives.Preliminary federal figures released last week showed that of the 4,405 U.S. workers killed on the job... Stuart Silverstein http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Election: Will Scotland Go Independent?

New America Media - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 01:00
What about Scotland? Will it vote to remain a part of the United Kingdom or go its own way? And, could this be a future for tribal nations?Thursday’s vote — a simple “yes” or “no” — is the ultimate... Mark Trahant http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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