Colorlines - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 06:17
Randall Park knows well that reflexive anticipatory cringe many Asian-Americans have developed any time they confront Asian-American representation in pop culture. So tired are the constrained depictions of them--the geeks, the Chinatown gangsters, the buck-toothed cafe proprietors--that John Cho hailed his own short-lived turn this fall as the romantic lead in the now-canceled "Selfie" as "revolutionary." Park, who stars in ABC's "Fresh Off the Boat," a half-hour sitcom based on the identically named memoir by restauranteur-raconteur Eddie Huang, says he understands why folks might be bracing themselves for his new show.
"Believe me, if I myself weren't in it, I'd feel exactly the same way," Park told Colorlines after the premiere of the pilot at the San Diego Asian Film Festival this past weekend. The show is set for mid-season release but doesn't yet have an air date, according to Nahnatchka Khan, an executive producer and writer of the show.
"Fresh Off the Boat" is different though, Park promises. "To my surprise, almost to my disbelief, the network and the studio are very conscious of not offending [Asian-Americans] and not going there, to those easy places that they often go to, especially for this project."
The show is based on Huang's childhood as a Nas- and Biggie-obsessed son of Taiwanese immigrants growing up in stifling mid-'90s suburban Orlando. The Huang family's first local venture is a hokey Western-themed steakhouse that's a ripoff of another chain in town. They're the lone Asians around, and their foreignness to their neighbors presents its own challenges to everyone in the family, especially young, trouble-prone Eddie, played by Hudson Yang.
Park plays Eddie's father, Louis Huang, as an independent immigrant man who's also a classic cheesy dad. Eddie's father relocates his family from Washington, D.C. to Orlando to create a new life for his family, but he's not above singing along, eyes closed, to Ace of Base on the radio either.
I was prepared to loathe it, but reader, I liked it. The writers succeeded in introducing an Asian family whose Asianness is neither the punchline to every joke, nor merely incidental. The writers used their 22 minutes to tell a clean story, filled out with funny asides on whiteness and jokes about Asians (my favorite being Asian people's love of free stuff) that didn't feel like they were made at the characters' expense.
That doesn't mean the show is without its problems. Park and Constance Wu, who plays Eddie's mother, Jessica, struggle with their Taiwanese-inflected English accents. It's never as painful as listening to Julianne Moore's attempt at a Boston brogue on "30-Rock," but it's a considerable distraction. At a post-screening panel with executive producers Khan and Melvin Mar, Park addressed it head-on: "One thing I hear is the accents, that they're not authentic," Park said. "And I'm with you. I'm working on it and it's important to me to get it right. I don't want [the Taiwanese community] watching to to look at me and be like, 'It's fake.' I want them to look at me and be into the story."
As for the sharpest criticisms that the show's title is offensive, Khan said producers made a decision not to go with a "safer" name for the show. "I hear people say that white racist people are going to [feel like they have license to] use the phrase now," Park said. "My whole thing is, white racist people are going to use anything to be racist. Do you know how many times I was called Harold during "Harold and Kumar"? Racists are going to be racist no matter what."
"Fresh Off the Boat" also happens to be what Eddie Huang named his memoir, which provides its own cover for the producers of the television version of Huang's story.
"Fresh Off the Boat" will be the first sitcom about an Asian-American family since Margaret Cho's "All-American Girl" broke that barrier 20 years ago. Whatever may or may not have changed in the intervening decades, including the glorious success of the Shonda Rhimes empire, "Fresh Off the Boat" benefits from its ties to Huang, a real person with an outsized personality. The show is about a specific family and therefore can partially sidestep the unreasonable pressure to be a defining representation of Asian-America.
That doesn't mean viewers don't still have very high expectations for the show. During the Q&A portion of the screening, an audience member asked the producers about their decision to allow Park and Constance Wu's characters to share a short kiss. "That's atypical," a woman in the darkened hall said. "I looked at that and that was really unrealistic."
"I understand why the show means so much to people and why people are putting so much on it," Park told Colorlines. Asian-Americans in particular may tune in expecting to see their own parents on screen, but the actor says you can't please everybody. "Some other people might be like, 'Why don't Asian people ever kiss each other?' So you can't please those people and also please the people who say that Asians are [depicted as being] asexual."
"I'm super proud of this show, and also aware of my community's desires, in terms of representation," Park said. "I don't begrudge the criticism because you have such a lack of representation. People want it to be perfect for them because there's nothing else like it."
Colorlines - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 06:13
Edward Blum, the one-man shop behind attacks on voting rights and affirmative action, is back with his latest lawsuit. Under a newly formed non-profit called Students for Fair Admissions, Blum's Project on Fair Representation has filed suit against the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Harvard University over their use of race in their admissions policies.
Both universities, the suits allege, discriminate against Asian applicants in favor of lesser-qualified African-American and Latino students. According to the complaint, Harvard violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by intentionally discriminating against applicants on the basis of race, and by engaging in a practice the suit refers to as "racial balancing." Year after year, Harvard's racial composition between whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians stays roughly the same, "even though the application rates and qualifications for each racial group have undergone significant changes over time," the complaint reads (PDF). The suit argues that this is "the deliberate result of systemwide intentional racial discrimination."
According to the complaint (PDF), UNC fails to comply with standards set forth by the latest affirmative action case to come before the Supreme Court--Fisher v. Texas. Incidentally, Blum's Project on Fair Representation is the group that located Abigail Fisher, the white plaintiff who sued the University of Texas when she was denied admission. Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided against re-hearing Fisher's case. The Supreme Court's 2013 ruling in Fisher v. Texas compels UNC to end its current race-conscious admissions process, the lawsuit filed today argues.
This spring, Blum put out a call for plaintiffs who'd been denied admission to UNC-Chapel Hill, Harvard and the University of Wisconsin. His websites prominently featured Asian faces, though in an interview with Colorlines, Blum denied that he was targeting Asians or using them as a wedge to divide different groups of color in a thorny race issue.
Colorlines - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 06:07
This article accompanies a yearlong series that has aired on WNYC News, in which Colorlines Editor-at-Large Kai Wright followed the Affordable Care Act's first year in Newark, N.J. His reporting was supported by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.
Zahir Sowell embodies both the promise and the peril of the Affordable Care Act.
He's a 30-year-old, lifelong resident of Newark, New Jersey's South Ward. That's the black core of one of America's most famously black cities. Not coincidentally, it's also among the nation's most well-established pockets of endemic poverty, and with concentrated poverty comes concentrated illness. Newark consistently ranks among the least healthy places in New Jersey, with some of the highest rates of premature death; one in four residents lacked health coverage last year. Sowell was among them.
"In March 2013, I was sick and I had went to the hospital," he told me late this summer. He was unemployed at the time he got sick. "I had to be in there like eight days. That's when they started my charity care."
Eight days is a substantial hospital bill, and "charity care" is the way millions of poor and uninsured people have traditionally paid that kind of bill. Under charity care, hospitals and community health centers eat some or all of the costs and public funds partially reimburse them. Nobody likes this system. It's unpredictable for patients, burdensome for providers, costly for tax payers and counterproductive for everyone, since it discourages the sort of preventive and ongoing care that could keep poor people healthy in the first place. In the Affordable Care Act's first year, it appears to have removed millions of people like Sowell from this charity care limbo.
The law is best understood as the country's most ambitious anti-poverty effort since the Earned Income Tax Credit launched in the 1970s, and arguably since Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. The existing data doesn't tell us how many people who are newly insured via Obamacare were previously uninsured, but Medicaid has grown by more than 8 million people in the past year. And among the 7.3 million people who bought plans through Obamacare's insurance exchanges, eight out of 10 qualified for tax credits to bring down the price.
So there's no debating the law's success at its first goal--lowering the cost of insurance and getting more people into coverage. It will take years to learn if that success brings about the longer range goal of lowering the cost of care, not to mention making people more healthy. But Sowell's experience illustrates the real distance between these two markers in the long, slow walk of health reform. He newly qualified for Medicaid this year, thanks to Obamacare. When I spoke with him in September, however, he'd been waiting six months to get a Medicaid card--so he could actually go get the care he'd been promised.
Here's the problem: While Obamacare may be the most ambitious anti-poverty initiative we've seen in generations, its success depends upon an anti-poverty infrastructure that's in collapse. After generations of divestment from and political hostility toward public programs that help poor people, it's not at all clear that state and local governments can actually deliver on the Affordable Care Act's potential. Newark's Division of Welfare is a sadly apt example.
"They won't answer the phone," Sowell complains. "They won't return your messages. Half the people, if you call, they messages is full, so you can't leave a message." He's among more than a quarter million New Jerseyans who had signed up for Medicaid as of this summer--a whopping 20 percent growth. At one point, more than 70,000 of them were stuck in a backlog, waiting for final approval to actually go see a doctor. "It's ridiculous! I can't say it no other way."
As a rule, case managers in Newark tell clients they should show up at the Division of Welfare in person; nobody's phone call gets answered. That means lining up as early as 7 a.m. in order to be done by late afternoon. One afternoon late this summer, I polled roughly a dozen people leaving the welfare office in downtown Newark. Most of them had been there since early morning, none had resolved the question they'd come to answer. For his part, Sowell has been forced back into charity care for the ongoing treatment he needs after last year's hospitalization.
This situation should come as no surprise. Statewide, New Jersey's caseload for public benefits--including Medicaid, food stamps and cash assistance--shot up roughly 80 percent between 2007 and 2012. The recession pressured the system to a degree not seen in generations. Yet staffing for county welfare offices remained flat. By 2012, according to a study commissioned by the union that represents workers at New Jersey's county welfare offices, all but three of the state's 21 counties failed to meet minimum staffing requirements set by the state itself. As a consequence, the state's backlog of food stamp applications has grown so long and so persistent that the federal government is now poised to withhold funding for the program.
"Right now is the absolute worst it's ever been," says David Weiner, who's led the county welfare workers' union since 1980. "And I've seen some bad stuff over all those years, but this is the worst."
Medicaid expansion unfolded over the top of this mess. The federal government is paying the full cost of the coverage itself until 2020, and 90 percent of it thereafter. But neither the state nor the counties have come to the table with resources to manage the program's growth.
This is a cautionary tale for jurisdictions far beyond Newark.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the rare Republican executive who embraced Medicaid's expansion on the front end. But an increasing crop of GOP leaders are looking for ways to copy his approach--namely, vehemently rejecting Obamacare overall, but taking the federal money for their Medicaid programs. Few are expected to shore up the broader infrastructure of their states' economic opportunity initiatives. Rather, the leading voices among them are seeking approval to shift the program's costs onto the poor people it's supposed to help--like Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's plan to charge Medicaid enrollees premiums and penalize them if they fail to pay.
All of which suggests that Obamacare's success will depend upon a fight it was crafted to avoid. Congress scrapped the popular idea of a so-called public option in the insurance market, and ignored altogether the idea of a single-payer system, because a direct battle over publicly run or financed health care seemed un-winnable. Instead, reform-minded legislators tried to bring it about by degree, nudging up the ceiling for Medicaid eligibility and parceling out tax credits to buy private insurance. But the legality of the tax credits is now before the Supreme Court, and Medicaid's growth will work only if local communities can force state and county officials to reinvest in public programs broadly. We're still battling over public health care, we're just doing it in the margins.
New America Media - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 01:00
Past experiences of childhood trauma are common among California adults, and those experiences correlate with harmful behaviors and chronic disease at a level that constitutes a “public health crisis,” according to a new study. The report by the Center for... Anna Challet http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 00:10
Photo: Todd Shurn and his mother, Alice Shurn, at her Delta Sigma Theta Sorority convention in 2013. (Courtesy of Todd Shurn) WASHINGTON, D.C.--Todd Shurn braced his mother from behind, allowing her arms to rest on his as they shuffled... Yanick Rice Lamb http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 15:02
As Mexicans and supporters around the world have ignited a social media movement for justice under the hashtags #YaMeCanse (I had enough) and #AyotzinapaSomosTodos (We are all Ayotzinapa), Mexican social media users are urging the country to go on a... Ana Gamboa http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 14:18
Missouri governor Jay Nixon this afternoon issued a 30-day state of emergency ahead of a St. Louis grand jury's decision on whether to indict Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson. Read the full text of the order, here, which charges the St. Louis County Police Department with Ferguson's security. The executive order is fueling speculation that the grand jury will not indict. According to reports, representatives of Ferguson police did not attend today's press conference.
New America Media - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 14:17
Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order Monday activating the Missouri National Guard to support law enforcement during any period of unrest that might occur following the grand jury’s decision concerning the investigation into the death of Michael Brown. The... Washington Informer http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 13:08
On any given day, some 75 transgender immigrants are locked up in immigration detention, Fusion found. For some of those individuals, their experiences while in detention--including rampant sexual abuse, solitary confinement and a lack of access to medication--make life so intolerable that some choose expedited deportation over fighting to stay in the U.S., despite the fact that many immigrated to the U.S. to flee violence and discrimination in their home countries.
Transgender detainees account for 20 percent of confirmed cases of sexual abuse in immigration detention facilities, Fusion found in its six-month investigation. Fusion reporters Cristina Constantini, Jorge Rivas and Kristoffer Ríos told the story of Bamby Salcedo:
When immigration authorities took Bamby Salcedo to the San Pedro Detention Center in Southern California, she worried about staying safe and healthy. Salcedo was taking T20, an HIV antiretroviral drug that she injected twice a day. It was critical she didn't miss a dose because she would build resistance to the drug, she says doctors told her.
As soon as she arrived at the facility, she alerted the center's medical staff to her needs. The drugs were a matter of life and death, she says. It took the the medical staff two weeks to get Salcedo the antiretroviral treatment she needed.
According to police and medical reports obtained by Fusion, Salcedo experienced abuse and harassment like many other transgender women experience in detention. When a male detainee forced himself on her in a bathroom stall, Salcedo defended herself. He punched her and fractured her nose.
But when Salcedo speaks about her nightmare in detention, she considers herself lucky and says it could have been worse. She remembers her friend Victoria Arellano who was held at the same San Pedro facility and died after she was allegedly denied AIDS medication during her time in detention.
Read the rest at Fusion.
New America Media - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 10:30
The video is unsettling: A Vietnamese tourist on his knees begging a Chinese storeowner in Singapore for his money back after trying to purchase an iPhone 6. Within minutes the video goes viral, capturing headlines across Asia. Rarely does a... Andrew Lam http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=8
New America Media - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 10:27
With all the postelection buzz about historic firsts and trailblazing black Republicans crashing Congress, you’d think this was the first time conservatives of color would be stepping foot on the floor of the House of Representatives.As a matter of fact,... The Root http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 10:23
Zahir Sowell embodies both the promise and the peril of the Affordable Care Act.He’s a 30-year-old, lifelong resident of Newark, New Jersey’s South Ward. That’s the black core of one of America’s most famously black cities. Not coincidentally, it’s also... Colorlines http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 10:12
Mississippi's longest serving corrections commissioner, Chris Epps, has been indicted on 49 counts of bribery, money laundering and more over at least a seven-year period. The indictment, details of which were publicly disclosed in early November, threatens to cast wider scrutiny on the state's prison system and private prisons in particular. In 2012 according to The New York Times, a federal judge called the conditions at one privately run facility "a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions."
Mississippi has the second highest incarceration rate in the country.
hThe Epps story is developing. Read the latest in The New York Times.
Colorlines - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 09:57
Solange Knowles broke the Internet over the weekend when she got married to video producer Allen Ferguson. The wedding photos are absolutely incredible, but so were the details: there was her afro, and that pantsuit, the second line parade and the bikes! But this video of Solange dancing with her 10-year-old son, Julez, to the song "No Flex Zone" trumps all.
Colorlines - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 09:20
In a video posted on YouTube Friday, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is heard refusing to divulge his name on camera—while telling the man who’s recording him, “If you wanna take a picture of me one more time, I’m gonna lock your ass up.”
The video was shot in 2013 and posted by Mike Arman. It ends abruptly, after which Arman was, indeed, arrested. The Guardian reports that Ferguson Police Department’s spokesman issued an e-mail stating that he didn’t think the officer in the video was Wilson. The accompanying police report, however, lists Darren Wilson as the reporting officer—and illustrates several discrepancies. In a separate case, a St. Louis jury is deciding whether to indict Wilson in connection with killing Mike Brown in August.
Photographing or filming police officers in the line of duty is a constitutional right.
Colorlines - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 09:14
Kendrick Lamar made his second appearance ever on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend. This time around, he sported all black contact lenses and showed off some dance moves to his latest hit single "i." It was a soulful performance, backed by a full live band and very reminiscent of James Brown. Watch below.
The performance did plenty to build up even more anticipation for his forthcoming album. According to Rolling Stone:
In a recent interview, Lamar gave some insight into what listeners can expect from the forthcoming new album, promising "aggression and emotion." "If I can say anything about this record," he said, "it's that it will connect again." He also noted at the time that he hadn't yet called in any guest MCs for tracks. "I have so much to say!" he says, laughing. "It's somewhat selfish of me." But he was happy to share the stage last night.
Colorlines - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 07:10
Here's what I'm reading up on:
- The Sierra Leonean doctor, Martin Salia, who was being treated for Ebola in Nebraska dies.
- Abdul-Rahman Kassig is beheaded by ISIS.
- The Pope will be coming to Philly next fall; he's currently attending a conference on "traditional" families.
- Halliburton is set to acquire Baker Hughes, one of the biggest international oilfield services corporations, for $35 billion.
- Unclassified e-mails from the State Department are hacked.
- Speaking of hacking, Anonymous launches #OpKKK and takes over the Ku Klux Klan's Twitter account.
- Spoilers (and plot holes!) for last night's episode of "The Walking Dead."
- Oh, and the really bad Aaliyah movie.
- One hundred seventy two travelers aboard a Princess cruise ship are infected with norovirus aboard the exact same ship where 129 people were infected just seven months ago.
- What are you doing tonight? Might I suggest watching the Leonids (if you're not on the East Coast).
Colorlines - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 06:48
The Supreme Court and John Boehner not withstanding, open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchange resumes this weekend. And if outreach workers around the country recreate last year's enrollment success, the rates of uinsured among blacks and Latinos in particular will have been dramatically reduced.
More than a fifth of African Americans and nearly 42 percent of Latinos lacked coverage in 2013, according to one survey the federal government cited in a recent progress report on the Affordable Care Act. The two communities account for nearly half of the nation's uninsured.
African Americans have seen the most dramatic change since the health law launched. As of June 2014, the uninsured rate among African Americans had dropped by nearly a third. More than 1.7 million people got covered, either through Medicaid or through the exchange.
Progress among Latinos is also impressive, if a bit more complicated. More than 2.6 million Latinos gained coverage, which cut the community's uninsured rate by 18 percent. Latinos, however, continue to represent a far disproportionate share of the uinsured. The health law bars undocumented immigrants from participating in the exchange, but the real challenge has been for mixed-status families. People who qualify for coverage but have undocumented workers in their families have both been confused about eligibility and, frankly, terrified of engaging a government that has deported more than 2 million people under President Obama's watch.
The survey did not break out data for other non-white communities due to the small sample size.
Open enrollment begins on Nov. 15 and continues until Feb. 15. For more information on buying new coverage or renewing existing coverage for 2015, check out HealthCare.gov or your state's own insurance portal.
Colorlines - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 06:47
Your browser does not support iframes.
Facing Race, the biennial conference of Race Forward, our publisher, is in full gear. We'll be livestreaming the plenary sessions! At 3:30 - 5 p.m. CT, tune into "The Next Fifty"!
This year and next we will celebrate the anniversaries of major racial justice victories like the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. In this plenary, big thinkers will reflect on trends and strategies for the next half century. Get your long term on with:
-Ian Haney López, author of "Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class."
-Van Jones, president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream
-Rinku Sen, president of Race Forward and publisher of Colorlines.com
Colorlines - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 06:38
Are ICE agents getting a big raise? Is there about to be a massive executive amnesty? And will the government shut down again?
News is running wild with rumors about how President Obama might move on executive action on immigration as early as next week. Here's a quick roundup that covers some of what you need to know:
- The New York Times is reporting that Obama's executive action "will protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits." That would largely be done by extending deferred action to the parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents and expanding the criteria for those people currently eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
- Fox News, meanwhile, is reporting that it's obtained what it calls a 10-point plan--although it's unclear what all ten points are. According to Fox, it would provide a path to citizenship for 4.5 million undocumented immigrants, but also provide raises to immigration agents in order to "increase morale."
- These estimates all fall short, however, of the Congressional Progressive Caucus's call to the president made Wednesday. Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Arizona) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Illinois) have proposed a plan that would benefit seven million undocumented immigrants. It just doesn't seem likely to happen at this point.
- As the Chicago Tribune is reporting, whatever takes place, the rumors alone are enough to make Republicans pretty livid--and they might use a tactic that shut down the government last year in protest. But, as CNN reports, the G.O.P. wants to avoid another shutdown this round. Still, CNN says "it's clear that conservatives are bracing for a major confrontation with the president."
- The Department of Homeland Security is now a defendant in a lawsuit to end deportations--because it hasn't responded in a timely manner to a petition to change the rules around deferred action.
Work We <3 | FDP
Instead of spending all our time calling out journalism that doesn't work, we want to find work we like. We'd like to encourage our readers to submit links to content that is moving or challenging and that goes beyond the standard narrative either at the level of form or content. In other words, we want to see journalism that works.
We're particularly interested in work at the nexus of the following categories:
- Please include a comment explaining why the content you're sharing works.
- Comments can be as short or long as desired.
Find us on Facebook
Dori Maynard tweets on Diversity, Media & More
@JamilSmith The distorted #media depiction of African American men & boys has real life consequences, again. #mediadiversity #Tremaine