Diversity Headlines

What Obama's Immigration Action Means for the Rio Grande Valley

Colorlines - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 13:35
What Obama's Immigration Action Means for the Rio Grande Valley

Shortly after President Obama announced a series of executive actions he would take on immigration last month, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a memo outlining what's called the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan. The plan includes the creation of three new task forces--two geographical and one largely investigative in nature--to increase security on the border between Mexico and the United States. But some residents who live in Texas's Rio Grande Valley say the measure is misguided and will only increase the militarization already present in their communities.

The DHS, which concedes that the total number of unauthorized crossings on the southern border "are at the lowest rate since the 1970s," had already scrambled to deal with the child migrant crisis over the summer. But Obama's administration is nevertheless adding Border Patrol agents and other initiatives, despite the decline in child migrants.

Many people have celebrated Obama's executive actions in November. But people like Marina Sáenz Luna, whose family has long-standing roots in south Texas, are disappointed with the focus on border security. "My heart totally sank," says Sáenz Luna, who's a staffer at Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio.

Like many people from the Rio Grande Valley, Sáenz Luna works outside of the valley, but keeps close ties to home and visits often. But, that crossing in and out of the valley is monitored through an internal checkpoint--one that mimics an international port of entry. The Texas Border Patrol first opened a small station in Falfurrias, 70 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border in 1940. Since then, the massive checkpoint has become a three- to five-lane inspection point. Three acres are home to various administrative buildings, a processing center and a detention center, all monitored by high-tech cameras and other security features. The wait to enter in or out of the Rio Grande Valley can be as little as just a few minutes--but can sometimes take more than an hour. No other road connects the valley to the rest of Texas, so most commuters have little choice but to have to pass through the checkpoint in a region largely surrounded by brush.

Aside from the wait, the process itself can be disheartening. Agents sometimes quiz people at the internal checkpoint for details about their trip. Sáenz Luna recalls how during college, an agent demanded to know what she'd had for lunch. Then she was interrogated about what kind of salsa she had with her tacos--once in English, once in Spanish, and then in English once more before she was allowed to go through."Ever since I was a child, just to even leave the valley felt like asking for permission to be a part of the rest of the United States," Sáenz Luna says. She adds that her family has never been fully accepted because some of them only speak Spanish, or because of their skin color. "I hesitate to say we're second-class citizens, because it's not the same as being African-American, but we've always felt a sense of being lesser than."

U.S. citizens and people who are otherwise authorized to live in the United States are able to cross at Falfurrias, despite the wait and the sometimes-humiliating exchanges with authorities. But for those people who live in the Rio Grande Valley who are undocumented, the stakes are a lot higher.

"If you're undocumented, you can never get out of here," says Efren Olivares, a staff attorney with the South Texas Civil Rights Project. "You're trapped in these 70 miles between the border and the checkpoint." Undocumented immigrants, many of whom are drawn to agricultural work opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, do earn slightly higher wages than they would in Mexico. Therefore they often stay in the valley because they know they'll find it hard to cross at the internal checkpoint in Falfurrias.

But being stuck in that valley means being subject to precarious living. Although the federal minimum wage is $7.25, for example, it's not uncommon for undocumented workers to earn much less. "It fosters labor exploitation beyond what's usually imaginable--it's normal for domestic workers here to be paid less than $2 per hour," points out Hector Guzman Lopez, who works with Fuerza Del Valle Workers Center. Workers' fear of police and border patrol, says Guzman Lopez, allows employers to drive down wages for undocumented workers.

The valley trap also means that when residents are being evacuated during hurricane advisories, undocumented immigrants hide in the valley--risking death rather than face the Falfurrias station.

Sáenz Luna, who visits from San Antonio, describes a scene in the valley as one that's under constant surveillance. "It feels like a war zone, with local police, state troopers, sheriffs and Border Patrol are in jeeps and helicopters, while drones fly over us with billboards recruiting even more people to join the Border Patrol." That presence will only grow under Obama's executive action.

For undocumented people already living in the Rio Grande Valley who want to head north, that increase in law enforcement means that crossing within the United States becomes even more dangerous--and includes the risk of death. According to the Associated Press, 307 people died at or near the U.S.-Mexico border for fiscal year 2014. That's a 15-year low. But the bulk of those deaths happened in the Rio Grande Valley. (Representatives from DHS were unavailable for comment by press time.)

Immigrant advocates, meanwhile, aren't surprised that the president is focusing more resources on border security--although they're disappointed in what the result means for the Rio Grande Valley immigrant community. "Obama's executive orders appeals to right-wing elements in his own party and to the Republicans," says Guzman Lopez, who describes the region he lives in as one that's hyper-militarized. "But none of this is necessary if you prioritize human rights." 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Exodus From 'The Jungle'

New America Media - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 13:17
Ed. Note: For decades, a creekbed in East San Jose served as a homeless encampment for hundreds of San Jose residents who've lost homes, jobs, families and have no place else to go. Last week "The Jungle" -- as... Various Authors http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Complaints of NYPD Misconduct Hit All-Time High

Colorlines - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 13:07
Complaints of NYPD Misconduct Hit All-Time High

Between 2006 and 2012, complaints of New York Police Department misconduct jumped 150 percent to an all-time high of 5,601 in 2012, Al Jazeera America reported. Those complaints are expensive, too. The city pays roughly $45 million every year to settle claims or pay plaintiffs who win in trial. 

While it's not the most expensive line item among all the kinds of settlements the city must pay out (medical malpractice tops the list), alleged police misconduct is the top claim type filed against New York City.

The information comes amidst the aftermath of a New York City grand jury's decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who choked Eric Garner. In October, Garner's family announced plans to file a $75 million suit against New York City over his death. 

Read the rest at Al Jazeera America.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Korean Air VP Delays Flight Over Macadamia Nuts

New America Media - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 12:12
 The vice president of Korean Air Lines Co. is under investigation after she reportedly forced a plane to return to the gate over “nut rage,” according to Bloomberg.Heather Cho, 40, who is also the eldest daughter of the airline’s chairman,... Koream Journal http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

[Video] ICYMI: President Obama's BET Interview on Race, Policing and National Protests

Colorlines - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:11
 President Obama's BET Interview on Race, Policing and National Protests

In response to sustained national uproar over high-profile police killings of unarmed black men, President Obama sat with BET's Jeff Johnson for a 25-minute interview that aired last night. "Absolutely," Obama agreed that the vast majority of protesters have been peaceful. On the question of whether he's been aggressive enough in talking about the number of African-American men shot versus white men, Obama says (11:51):

Well, sometimes people's concerns are not based on fact. If you look at after what [happened] with [Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner] I'm being pretty explicit about my concern. And being explicit about the fact that this is a systemic problem... I think sometimes what people are frustrated by is me not saying, "This is what the outcome should have been." And that I can not do institutionally. It is my Justice Department that is investigating these cases. And part of the rule of law is that I'm not putting my fingers, my thumb on the scale of justice. It could compromise investigations if it appeared that I was trying to steer to a particular outcome. So I'm sure there're some folks who just want me to say, "In such-and-such-a case this is what I think shoulda happened," and "If I'd been on a grand jury this is what I woulda said."...I'll leave it to people to speculate on what I'm saying to myself or Michelle when we're alone at night. 

Watch the rest of Obama's interview on BET.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Critics Are Already Swooning Over Ava DuVernay's 'Selma'

Colorlines - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:05
Critics Are Already Swooning Over Ava DuVernay's 'Selma'

It doesn't hit theaters until Christmas Day, but critics are already in love with "Selma," the civil rights drama directed by Ava DuVernay. On Monday, the American Film Institute released its best-of-the-year list of filmslist and included "Selma" among its 11 choices.

The African-American Film Critics Association also lauded the film, placing it atop their list of the year's best films. It also named DuVernay for its best director prize, while the best actor prize went to David Oyelowo (who plays King) and John Legend's and Common's song "Glory" won the their pick for best song.

"Our members found the output of cinema released this year to be a truly insightful mix of titles that reflect the world we live in. The members of AAFCA were especially pleased with this range of storytelling supported by the studios that gave voice to the many sides of the experience of black people in America and around the world," AAFCA president Gil Robertson said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "We had a lot to pick from this year from BelleDear White PeopleTop FiveTimbuktu and Selma and hope the industry will continue to provide a platform for diversity on the big screen."    

(h/t The Hollywood Reporter)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Watch: A Quick Ferguson Make-Up Tutorial

Colorlines - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 08:50
 A Quick Ferguson Make-Up Tutorial

Duke University comedian Lawrence Nemeh is showing audiences that beauty, like justice, is skin deep. Watch.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Rabble Rouser Transforming Politics in Little Saigon

New America Media - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 08:30
This week, Bao Nguyen takes office as mayor of Garden Grove. He is the city’s first Vietnamese American mayor and its youngest ever to hold that office, having beat out his opponent and six-time incumbent Bruce Broadwater by just 15... Andrew Lam http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=8
Categories: Diversity Headlines

LeBron James, Brooklyn Nets Wear 'I Can't Breathe' Shirts in Front of Royals

Colorlines - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 08:12
LeBron James, Brooklyn Nets Wear 'I Can't Breathe' Shirts in Front of Royals

Prince William and Catherine, Dutchess of Cambridge visited Barclay's on Monday night to watch LeBron James's Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Brooklyn Nets. And they were treated to a lot more than just a basketball game.

James and several members of the Nets wore T-shirts that read "I Can't Breathe" in support of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who was choked to death by the NYPD in July. A grand jury's decision not to criminally charge the officer involved in Garner's death has sparked days of protests in cities across the country.

LeBron James joins Kyrie Irving in wearing "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt before game in Brooklyn. pic.twitter.com/lLU6TRvSLB

-- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 9, 2014

Kyrie Irving & Lebron James spotted wearing "I Can't Breathe" in honor of #EricGarner at tonights Cavs vs Nets Game pic.twitter.com/p6eWn7rCLO

-- Kar?n Ci?il (@KarenCivil) December 9, 2014

Why Jay Z not wearing one!? "@OnlyHipHopFacts: Jay Z Brooklyn Nets "I can't breathe" shirt to support Eric Garner. pic.twitter.com/If5v1vk47G"

-- The Middle Child ® (@OfficiallyELO) December 9, 2014

Black athletes have been taking their protests to the playing fields in the weeks since grand juries declined to bring charges against officers in both Mike Brown and Eric Garner's deaths.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Torture Report, #ShutItDown Continues, 'Selma' Makes AFI's Top 2014 Films List

Colorlines - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 06:43
Torture Report, #ShutItDown Continues, 'Selma' Makes AFI's Top 2014 Films List

Here's some of what I'm reading up on this morning (don't skip Curiosity right at the end!): 

  • An executive summary of what is sometimes called "enhanced interrogation techniques," which is a nicer way of saying "torture" post 9/11, could be released as early as Tuesday. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Delhi Bans Uber After Alleged Rape by Driver

New America Media - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 15:50
The Delhi government on Monday banned "all activities" by Uber and blacklisted the international cab booking company from providing any transport service in the national capital in future, following the alleged rape by one of its drivers of a passenger... India-West http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Sure, Let’s Pardon Mark Wahlberg for His Violent, Racist Past

New America Media - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 14:48
 Remember that time actor Mark Wahlberg punched a man in the eye so hard he partially blinded him forever?What about the time when he chased black schoolchildren shouting racial slurs while throwing rocks?If you don’t, better read up on it... The Root http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

"Black Lives Matter’: Demonstrators March in Solidarity Through International District

New America Media - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 14:04
 Seattle, WA  -- Chants of “Black lives matter! Black lives matter!” echoed through the streets Saturday afternoon, December 6, as demonstrators marched down Jackson Street through the Chinatown/International District. Organizers had rallied to show resistance to the national epidemic of... International Examiner http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Watch the SNL Ferguson Skit That Never Aired

Colorlines - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 13:35
Watch the SNL Ferguson Skit That Never Aired

"Saturday Night Live" tried to tackle Ferguson in this skit, which didn't air because of time. Check it out.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

December Lit: "Gate" by Lau Wai Shing

Hyphen Blog - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 12:58
For December, we bring to you a translated poem from Hong Kong, addressing the ongoing "Umbrella Movement" protests in Hong Kong.

read more

Categories: Diversity Headlines

No One Keeps Count of the Number of People Who Die in Police Custody: Report

New America Media - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 12:44
 The recent deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers have sparked debate and protests across the nation. According to an Associated Press report, there are "no firm statistics" to determine if this is a new... The Root http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Umbrellas Unfolding in Hearts of Rain, or: Everyone Here is a Collapsible Umbrella

Hyphen Blog - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 12:41

For December, we bring to you an essay from Hong Kong, addressing the ongoing "Umbrella Movement" protests in Hong Kong.

read more

Categories: Diversity Headlines

There's a New Nina Simone Film Coming to Netflix

Colorlines - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 11:58
There's a New Nina Simone Film Coming to Netflix

Academy Award nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus is at the helm of a new look at Nina Simone called, "What Happened, Miss Simone?" RadicalMedia, the company that's producing the film, is teaming up with Netflix to make the film available for streaming in 2015, according to Shadow and Act.

"I'm thrilled that Netflix has embraced the incredible story of Nina Simone and partnered with RadicalMedia on this film," said director Garbus. "For each of her millions of fans, Nina feels like a treasured secret. With 'What Happened, Miss Simone?,' I'm excited to help bring her passion, her music and her story to the world."

The film appears to be a documentary that, in addition to looking at Simone's singing career and social activism, will also feature never-before-heard recordings. It will also include interviews with Simone's close friends and musical collaborators, in addition to her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, who's gone public about her sometimes-tumultuous relationship with her late mother, who died in 2003.

Remembering Nina Simone on film has been a continuously difficult endeavor. Zoe Saldana, who's noticeably lighter skinned than Simone, was cast to play a lead in a narrative film whose director later sued the studio that was due to release it. Simone's daughter later criticized the film for relying on a love story that never happened.

Lisa Simone Kelly is listed as an executive producer of this latest project, so it's unlikely to have those same problems. 


Categories: Diversity Headlines

Justice Department Updates Racial Profiling Rules--With Big Exceptions

Colorlines - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 11:55
Justice Department Updates Racial Profiling Rules--With Big Exceptions

Attorney General Eric Holder is set to announce new anti-racial profiling regulations today which will expand characteristics that federal law enforcement are barred from profiling to include gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. The guidance applies to federal law enforcement and state and local police engaged in federal law-enforcement duties, but includes broad exceptions. Under the pretext of national security concerns, the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), will still be allowed to engage in profiling in the course of airport screening work and while engaged in activities "in the vicinity of the border and ICE enforcement ports of entry," according to the regulations, CBS reported.

The guidance is an update from the original, released in 2003 under then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, which only prohibited profiling by race and ethnicity. The updated guidance preserves exceptions for the Department of Homeland Security included in the 2003 policy.

Holder heralded the new regulations last week in a speech in Atlanta, saying that they would "help end racial profiling."

"Profiling by law enforcement is not only wrong, it is profoundly misguided and ineffective, because it wastes precious resources and undermines the public trust," Holder said ahead of the release of the regulations, MSNBC reported.

"Particularly in light of certain recent incidents we've seen at the local level--and the widespread concern about trust in the criminal justice process which so many have raised throughout the nation--it's imperative that we take every possible action to institute strong and sound policing practices," Holder said.

Such wide exceptions for the Department of Homeland Security do "little to nothing to protect some minority populations that have to endure unfair targeting by law enforcement every day," Laura Murphy, legislative office director at ACLU Washington, said in a statement. The ACLU praised the gains but criticized the loopholes, such that altogether, "this Guidance is not an adequate response to the crisis of racial profiling in America."

"It's baffling that even as the government recognizes that bias-based policing is patently unacceptable, it gives a green light for the FBI, TSA, and CBP to profile racial, religious and other minorities at or in the vicinity of the border and in certain national security contexts, and does not apply the Guidance to most state and local law enforcement," Murphy said.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

John Legend Hires Food Truck to Feed NYC Protesters

Colorlines - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 11:42
John Legend Hires Food Truck to Feed NYC Protesters

Looks like John Legend has thrown himself into the political moment. Last week, he released a protest song with Common called "Glory." And now, there's news that he and wife Chrissy Teigen hired a food truck over the weekend to feed New York City protesters rallying around the non-indictment of an NYPD officer is Eric Garner's videotaped death:

BREAKING: #johnlegend pays for a food truck in Lincoln sq to feed #EricGarner supporters before the #NYC protest. pic.twitter.com/CpYoQ7aY8d

-- Bipartisan Report (@Bipartisanism) December 7, 2014

From Okayplayer via Vanity Fair:

Employing the power of social media to get the word out, John Legend tweeted the locations of the trucks and the link for fans to listen to his new collaborative song "Glory" featuring Common for the upcoming film Selma - a picture from director Ava DuVernay that brings the movement behind the 1965 Voting Rights Act to the silver screen.

Read more.

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