New America Media - Sat, 03/01/2014 - 11:05
In the wilds of Butte County's foothills, where I live on an off-grid ridge, there used to be semi-abundant wildlife: skunks, raccoons, coyotes, bear. It was impossible to raise chickens on this ridge; the predators could break through any security... Allan Stellar http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Colorlines - Sat, 03/01/2014 - 00:14
Cesar Chavez (not to be confused with, um, Hugo Chávez!) is probably best remembered as an incredible labor and civil rights leader. Along with the United Farm Workers—the union he helped found—he organized in innovative ways to lead a farmworker strike and grape boycott that brought California’s agriculture kings to their knees. Chavez is also credited with popularizing the Spanish language phrase, “Sí, se puede,” which can be translated to mean, “Yes, [we] can.”
During a massive farmworker strike that first started in 1965, farmers sought to bring in undocumented laborers from Mexico. Those laborers, who were strikebreakers, were often called “illegals” and “wetbacks” by strike supporters—including by Cesar Chavez himself. Chavez himself was not an immigrant; his mother was brought to the United States as a newborn, and his father was born in Arizona. Most striking farmworkers were also Mexican-American, and the slurs could easily have offended those workers as well.
A copy of video of Chavez making these remarks on San Francisco public television station KQED in 1972 is now resurfacing, just a few weeks before the release of a major Chavez biopic staring Diego Luna and Rosario Dawson.
Colorlines - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 21:17
Over on The South Lawn, the excellent group blog about all things Southern and progressive, black labor organizer Doug Williams begins: "suffice it to say that when a city councilman named Chokwe Lumumba announced that he was running to be the mayor of Mississippi's capital city, I was skeptical."
Williams, a third generation organizer recounts not only how Lumumba won him over during the 2013 mayoral race but also the change he portended for communities of color throughout the South:
Jackson was a majority-white city as late as the 1980s. But when the last vestiges of Mississippi's particularly virulent strain of Jim Crow were dismantled in education, housing, and employment, white residents began fleeing to [the surrounding] suburbs. ... As the city emptied out...the economic and political power shifted along with it [and the] new suburbanites managed to maintain a measure of control over their former neighbors through their ownership of local businesses. ... But while Jackson had seen sixteen years of unbroken Black leadership, there was little to show for it in the way of concrete policy change for its Black citizens. Nearly 50 years after we first gained free access to the franchise, it is no longer enough that we simply seek descriptive representation; we must seek substantive representation of our interests and aspirations.
Enter Chokwe Lumumba. Williams drum rolls Lumumba's early and game-changing policy initiatives, saying:
Seeing Chokwe's initial successes in Jackson gave me hope that I would live to see a day that Southern progressives would not be faced with the same meaningless choices that we are constantly confronted with when we close that drape behind us and participate in our democracy. ...
I will never understand why God chose to take Chokwe at a time when his voice is so crucial to everything that I hold dear as a Southerner, a leftist, and as a Black man; none of us will. But it is at times like this where my faith is a crucial component for my ability to move on. And not my faith in God; but rather my faith in movements and communities.
Be sure to read Williams's excellent remembrance of Chokwe Lumumba, 1947-2014.
(h/t The South Lawn)
Colorlines - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 19:44
Pharrell's new album "G I R L" isn't even out yet and it's already drumming up controversy. The album's cover was released this week after it became available for streaming on iTunes, and many people quickly pointed out its lack of color. Pharrell responded, noting that one of the women in the photograph is indeed a light-skinned black woman from Wisconsin.
Here's his interview with the Breakfast Club:
He told the Young, Black and Fabulous:
I'm standing by a black woman. My business is run by a black woman. My mom partially looks after my business and she's a black woman. I'm married to a black woman. I'm confused. I guess once you get the album you will look inside and see she's a black woman. I'm sorry that from that vantage point you can't look at her hair and tell that she's black.
My intentions are...this album is an ode to woman. It's not necessarily an ode to a shade, it's an ode to women. And to people who are confused by that, you have got to know me better than that. Look at the "Frontin" video.
And here I am trying to put ordinary, beautiful girls on the cover...not no models. I didn't go to 29 agencies looking for runway models. I wanted ordinary people because I don't think celebrities or models are the stars anymore. I think pedestrians are the stars. And I think beautiful pedestrians will run the world and that's what I consider myself, like a pedestrian.
I understand it. Hopefully when they see, they'll see.
But, as Jamilah Lemeiux writes, colorism is still real.
And I am SO disgusted at the almost excitement on the part of some of the Black men who want to throw P's statement (especially the fact that he mentions his Black wife and Black female business partner) in our faces. Because the fact that one of those women is Black changes WHAT? Colorism is real. Light skinned preference is real and I have encountered far too many people who have been HURT by it. And I have read too many statistics that speak to how it impacts employment, education and dating to sit here and act like it doesn't matter because we have a Black president or whatever fallacy you want to throw in the air to protect yourselves from the truth: if it doesn't hurt you, you can't be bothered.
Pharrell's new album will be released on March 3.
Colorlines - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 18:36
San Francisco's Mission District is home to many things: a still-surviving Latino community, Google buses and plenty of Ellis Act evictions. But, sadly, it soon won't be home to the area's iconic gay Latino bar Esta Noche, which announced this week that it's shutting its doors after an inspired Indiegogo campaign failed to drum up the necessary support to help keep them open.
Emmanuel Hapsis wrote at KQED about what the closing means:
Something about this news feels personal. A bar dedicated to the gay Latino community in what used to be a predominantly Latino neighborhood is wiped away for a vaguely pornographic-sounding cocktail lounge for fancy straight people who like house music. It's a slap in the face, like when they replaced Cafe Gratitude, the beloved meeting place for vegans, with the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. More and more, it's starting to feel like whoever is holding the San Francisco marionette strings is trolling us all.
Why is the closing of Esta Noche so personal? I grew up as a first-generation closeted gay kid stuck in an all-white Catholic school. When I first discovered Selena, I became obsessed with herjoie de vivre and her dedication to being exactly who she was. She was proud of her heritage, a feeling I hadn't come to yet. I kept all of this secret from the kids at school; their mocking me for not taking the same communion was enough. The idea that there was a place where you could be exactly who you are and jam out to Selena was inconceivable to me.
Hapsis also posted this video of the bar's popular Selena drag night:
Colorlines - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 18:27
Hollywood darling Lupita Nyong'o is in Beverly Hills this week gearing up for this weekend's Academy Awards, where's she's one of the favorites to win best supporting actress for her role in "12 Years a Slave." But at Essence Magazine's 7th annual Women in Hollywood Luncheon this week, the actress opened up about some of the obstacles she had to overcome while growing up as a dark-skinned girl in Kenya's middle class suburbs around Nairobi.
"I got teased and taunted about my skin," Nyong'o began, on stage in a ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel. "My one prayer to God was that I would wake up lighter skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of the mirror because I wanted to see my face first. Every day I would feel the disappointment of being just as dark as the day before."
Nyong'o said she tried to bargain with God by vowing to stop eating sugar cubes and to never lose her school sweater again, if she could only see a change in her skin tone. It wasn't until she discovered Sudanese British supermodel Alek Wek that she began to believe in her own beauty.
"She was dark as night and was in all the magazines and on runways," Nyong'o said. "My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome. I couldn't believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn't help but bloom inside of me."
Colorlines - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 18:10
Move over, Beyoncé. Bay Area-based artists Reggie White and Adrian Anchondo are here to show that there are few things more important than a person's relationship with their food.
(h/t KQED Pop)
New America Media - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 17:56
Ed. Note: Thanks to the adoption of Common Core, the push for more tech-centered classrooms is now getting a boost. Many states are already using Common Core curriculum. Now many districts are preparing to begin the related computer-based assessments—and for that... Irene Florez http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Hyphen Blog - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 10:12
The Things We Learn about Life Susan Choi's My Education is about relationships. But it is far from being just another tale of a young twentysomething who endures a slew of sexual awakenings. This novel transcends those tired storylines and, instead, achieves an unusual level of emotional complexity. The protagonist, Regina Gottlieb, is entering her first year as a graduate student in literature. The object of her affections is Professor Nicholas Brodeur, a man of many dualities: brilliant yet offbeat, sexy, desired, attractive, and the subject of a sexual harassment rumor mill. Regina, and many of her peers, are quickly drawn to his looks and his aura. She changes outfits for an appointment she has with Nicholas and falls victim to his intelligence by telling him she's not suited to be his teaching assistant. In this early part of the novel, Regina has little confidence in herself as a student--or as a person.It seems inevitable that Regina is preparing herself for an affair with Nicholas. In the meantime, she has several sexual encounters with her roommate, Dutra, who fulfills the many roles of friend-with-benefits, ally in troubled times, and the kick-in-the-butt when Regina needs it. Dutra is an intellectual too intelligent for his own good. Generally, the men we meet in Regina's life are quite compelling, but often adhere to the archetype of the quirky, cerebral academic. And then we meet Martha, Nicholas' wife. Regina first notices Martha from a distance. Regina is immediately curious, primarily because Martha adds to the mystery and enticement of Nicholas and his private life. The first real conversation between Regina and Martha is a bit awkward. Martha is under the assumption that Regina is another TA that must be sleeping with Nicholas. Regina is awestruck and fumbles her chat with Martha. Their first conversation involves Martha’s speculations about the racial and ethnic backgrounds of Regina’s parents: “I'll guess [your father was the] shy, quiet type. Germanic, obviously. Military? He must be, but I can't guess which branch. He meets Miss X while he's posted in Fill-in-the-Blank. For the hell of it I'll say Jakarta. Miss X is vivacious – she's going to spend her later years running around Palestine – and of course she must be beautiful. I'll guess Mr. Gottlieb is adequately handsome – perhaps he's not a heartthrob, but he has the kind of face that people like. An odd couple, they wed, and find enviable happiness, if it doesn't last quite long enough. Their – two? – children are very fond of them. So how did I do?” Martha’s quick reaction and assumptions regarding the mixed race experience is a major turnoff (this exchange is notably, one of the only passages in the novel about race). However, Regina confirms that Martha, in fact, got it right. Regina swaps Jakarta for Manila and is impressed with Martha's read of her. The scene sets the dynamic for the rest of their relationship. Regina's character is unable to break loose from Martha’s control and willingly–perhaps uncontrollably–surrenders herself to the physical and emotional need of Martha, the source of her education and painful longing. Thus begins an incredibly tempestuous, steamy, and confusing affair. Regina falls hard for Martha and their relationship is the heart of this novel. Regina is very young when her affair with Martha begins, only in her early twenties, and Martha is fourteen years older. Regina expresses her love for Martha physically and in often very needy gestures. Martha reciprocates, but continually reminds Regina that she knows nothing about love: “You 'love' me, you want to come set up house? You 'love' me…You want to pay half my mortgage? You want to bake little pies every day? What is this bullshit? What more do you want? You have me. Quit the 'gimme’.” For Regina, love should be straightforward, exclusive, and fully consuming--Martha can accommodate some of that, but not all of the time. Despite all of the friction, you still want to root for them even though there is a sense that the relationship was doomed from the start.While reading My Education, I felt anxiety, self-loathing, nauseated (more like indirectly hungover, a lot of alcohol is consumed by the characters), inspired, infuriated, hopeful, and exhausted. Susan Choi’s style projects emotion and embattled inner dialogue that helps the reader connect with Regina in an in-depth and complicated way. The strong emotional reactions can be much attributed to Choi's fearless voice as a writer. In one scene, Choi’s voice is especially potent. Regina is trying to navigate her day normally, but her mind races with a sense that Martha is omnipresent, watching her: “[Martha] saw me at home, grimly watching my printer saw out the accordion pages of three end-of-term papers that were each, in distinctive ways, brilliant and overly long and excessively weighted with footnotes and for good measure handed in early, and destined to be skimmed and rewarded the cursory A.” Throughout the story there are long sentences such as this one, all which potently drive home Regina's anxiety, trepidation, and, most acutely, a wisdom that comes from such heightened self-awareness. It’s certainly not news that relationships are complicated. Choi’s My Education asks: When relationships end, what can be learned from them? Do the lessons make us better people, or worse? Choi reminds us of what it means to be young, inexperienced and uneducated. What she teaches us is the importance of a kind of self-awareness, an honesty that does not evade uncomfortable truths. Andrea Kim Taylor lives in Seattle and works in the city's Chinatown-International District.
Susan Choi's My Education is far from being just another tale of a young twentysomething who endures a slew of sexual awakenings.
Colorlines - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 02:03
Here's what we know about the Oscars: they're Hollywood's penultimate celebration of achievement in film. And the people who will decide them are generally old, white men.
That last point has increasingly become a problem as America's movie-going demographics have changed dramatically over the past several decades. The country is growing more racially diverse, but our films -- particularly the ones that reach Oscar consideration -- don't often reflect those changes. It's a structural problem, of course. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts the Sciences, the group that votes for the Oscars, is nearly 94 percent white and 77 percent male. Oscars voters have a median age of 62 and people younger than 50 constitute just 14 percent of the Academy's membership. Black voters make up just 2 percent of the academy, and Latinos make up an even smaller percentage. Check out this infographic from Lee and Low Books:
So even though hits like "12 Years a Slave" and "Lee Daniels' The Butler" have led some to describe this as the "year of the black film," it's still yet another year of the white male voter who will decide its significance.
(h/t Lee and Low)
Colorlines - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 02:02
Update February 27, 2014 at 3:50pm EST: Looks like this project was taken down, which sucks. But you can still check out one of the tracks in the video that's above.
This week a new mixtape called "Yasiin Gaye" has set the Internet sorta on fire. It's a 13-track mashup of Marvin Gaye and Yassin Bey (formerly Mos Def) songs that's a triumph of mood and production. But it's also worth taking a look at Amerigo Gazaway, the guy who's behind the project and has sorta made a habit out of these things.
A Nashville-based producer, Gazaway, 26, first caught the attention of Questlove back in 2011 when he handed the Roots drummer a copy of his De La Soul/Fela Kuti mashup called "Fela Soul." Questlove called the project "brilliant" on Okayplayer and then it picked up play on sites like BoingBoing, the Source and NPR. A previously remixed project, "Bizarre Tribe; A Quest To The Pharcyde" also got lots of play before it was taken down due to copyright concerns.
On this latest project, the producer had this to say on his website:
"As a producer and fan, there is something truly powerful and humbling about listening to the original [Marvin Gaye] multitracks. It's almost as if you can feel the rawness and vulnerability in his voice. If you listen carefully on certain takes, you can sometimes even hear him harmonizing faintly in the background with the female backup singers. It honestly gives me chills every time I hear it."
Colorlines - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 00:26
Rosie Perez's memoir, "Handbook for an Unpredictable Life," hits bookshelves this week and it touches on a lot, including her growing up with a mentally ill mother who later contracted AIDS, being raised in a group home, and then becoming one of the most recognizable Latinas in hip-hop and film. But, of course, that didn't get too much attention in the run-up to the book's release. Instead, everyone wanted to know why Perez would "bash" fellow former Fly Girl Jennifer Lopez.
Perez maintains that the whole thing has been exaggerated. Here's what she said in an interview with CNN:
"I don't hate Jennifer Lopez. I have great respect for her. When I first saw her, I knew she was going to be a star. Yes, we had a tiff and it was 20 years ago," reveals the woman who starred alongside street ball hustlers Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson in the iconic film "White Men Can't Jump." "It's unfortunate that the tabloids try to portray it as something that is current."
Five years older than Lopez, Perez suggests that were the two women Caucasian, the press would have quickly passed over the overblown feud, rather than plastering it across front and back pages.
"I've moved on, and I'm sure she has also. We're grown women. And it's really disgusting to me that the media tried to pit two Latinas against each other. It's just so difficult, and so hard, to make it in this industry, especially if you're a person of color. And for them to do that was really shameful."
Colorlines - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 00:05
February 28, 2014 is an especially heavy day for Catherine Walker Jones. It is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 racial murder of her father, Clifton Walker, outside Woodville, Miss.
Walker was an African-American man who at 37 was ambushed and shot multiple times in the face by a gang of whites on his way home from a late shift at the International Paper plant in Natchez, Miss. Walker's body was discovered in his car the next morning, on February 29, 1964. Catherine can remember running under crime scene tape at age 14 and looking into her father's 1961 Impala after his body had already been removed, the floor still soaked with his blood and littered with broken glass from the car's broken windows.
The Mississippi Highway and Safety Patrol and the FBI investigated the murder from February 29 through November 1964. At least 10 different suspects were considered, but motive was never clearly established and the district attorney would not arrest two suspects put forward by the highway patrol.
The long neglected murder case was reopened in 2009, pursuant to a groundbreaking bill sponsored by civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007 directed the FBI to conduct a "timely and thorough" investigation of this and 109 other unsolved civil rights cold cases. Since the legislation was passed, all but 12 cases have been closed. None have been prosecuted.
"At last somebody was going to talk to surviving old folks that could be witnesses," Jones at first had hoped, "and they could find the names of people who actually pulled the trigger. If they're dead or alive, maybe we'll know who did this."
Since then, however, there has been a series disappointments from the Justice Department, culminating this past November. One week before Thanksgiving and on the birthday of Catherine's late mother, Ruby Walker, an FBI agent appeared unannounced at Catherine's New Orleans home to hand deliver a letter from the Justice Department, informing her that the case was closed.
"[A]fter determining that many of the individuals mentioned in the 1964 reports, including all the individuals alleged to have had any motive to harm your father, are now deceased," the Department of Justice wrote to Jones, "it became apparent that continued investigation would not lead to a viable prosecution of a living suspect. Accordingly, we have no choice but to close this investigation."
"They only repeated things already written, things that came from the files," in the letter's summary of investigative results, Jones says. "They did no work themselves at all. They never met with any of the family members. Their interest was not there."
As a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting's Civil Rights Cold Case Project, I've been investigating and writing about the Clifton Walker murder since 2007. I first met and interviewed Catherine, her sister Shirley and their brother Clifton Walker Jr. in Louisiana, in March 2008. Catherine Walker Jones heard from the FBI for the first time in 2010, in response to my reporting.
On August 14, 2010, I received a phone call from FBI Special Agent Kevin Rust. "I took over the Clifton Walker case a few months ago from the guy who had it originally," he explained. "Until I saw your article, I thought that he had contacted next of kin, but turns out he located some but never contacted them."
The Department of Justice had recently reported to Congress that "The FBI has devoted considerable resources to locating the next of kin for the victims, successfully locating family members for 93 of the 122 victims." Rust was referring to my blog post six days earlier, in which I reported that Clifton Walker's family were not among those contacted.
It was "a terrible oversight on our part," Rust acknowledged, apologetically, "and one that I'm wiling to try to rectify."
Rust also said he wanted to sit down with me and go over what I'd found. "I can't actually give you documents but we can sure discuss them. I can fill in some of the blanks."
When I told the sisters that Rust was asking to meet with them and was also offering to meet with me, they requested that there be a joint meeting instead, involving themselves, me and Rust.
For a couple of months we attempted to work out the details of the meeting--whether it would occur in Mississippi, Louisiana or Boston where I am based, what parts of the meeting, if any, the Civil Rights Cold Case Project could film, and whether the Bureau could pay for the Walkers' travel to the meeting.
As of October 19, 2010 we'd established that the gathering would occur in Mississippi or Louisiana, within driving distance of the Walkers, and what part of the meeting the Cold Case Project would be allowed to film. And then Special Agent Rust stopped returning my calls and emails.
Eight months later, on June 16, 2011, I received an email from a new special agent, Bradley Hentschel, inquiring about "additional information and witnesses." Kevin Rust was "no longer working on the Walker matter," Hentschel said, "due to Agent transfers." Hentschel had been working on the Walker case for six to eight weeks, he said.
Hentschel was 25 years old and about nine months into his first year as an FBI Special Agent. Rust, on the other hand, was a veteran agent, 25 years older, with previous experience working southwest Mississippi civil rights cold cases. Rust was a case agent on the 1966 Ben Chester White murder case--for which Earnest Henry Avants was convicted in 2003 on federal charges of aiding and abetting in the murder of an individual on federal land--and on the double murders of Henry Dee and Charles Moore in 1964--for which James Ford Seale was convicted on federal kidnapping charges in 2007. Both crimes took place within 30 miles of the Walker murder and involved Klansmen associated with suspects in the Walker murder and allegedly involved in other related incidents of racial violence.
Two years into the re-opening of the Walker case, Hentshchel was at least the third agent on the case, and he was just getting up to speed. Rather than ask if we could compare notes, as Rust did, Hentschel simply wanted me to provide the unpublished draft of the article I was writing about the case and give him access to my sources. "You have one of two options," Hentschel said. "You can either provide information that'll be helpful, or you can withhold that information."
Hentschel was equivocal about meeting with the Walkers. "If there's new information that can push on the investigation, that's one thing," he said. "If the family is looking to meet up with the Bureau to basically get a case brief on what's going on that's a very difficult prospect. We have those meetings when we can provide answers to a family, namely when an investigation is closed or there is a substantive prosecution that can happen."
The Clifton Walker case has been closed since November, but still no meeting has occurred or even been offered.
"I'm just totally disappointed in the manner in which promises are made by the Justice Department to families that have not gotten closure for the death of their loved ones," Jones says. "You make it sound real good with the Cold Case Initiative, but there was no substance to it, none whatsoever."
Department of Justice and FBI spokespersons refused to comment on why the more experienced agent was taken off the case and no meeting was ever offered to the Walker family.
Colorlines - Thu, 02/27/2014 - 23:32
How does it feel to be a black student at UCLA Law School today? A black student named Alexis Gardner received a note in her mailbox telling her, "Stop being a sensitive nigger," just two weeks after a handful of black UCLA Law students released a video about the emotional toll of being in the extreme minority at the school.
UCLA police are investigating the incident after Gardner reported the hate mail she received on Monday. Students have also been reporting that Black Law Student Association posters have been getting ripped down, according to Above the Law.
(photo via Huffington Post)
"We recognize that racial issues exist across the campus, not just in the law school," UCLA Law School Dean Rachel Moran told the blog Above the Law. "At the Law School, my staff and I are taking concrete steps -- such as workshops, vigorous outreach and curricular reform -- to advance diversity and racial tolerance so that we can enjoy civil dialogue about these very sensitive issues."
Racial issues, indeed.
It's been quite a month for racial violence and anti-black antagonism on college campuses. University of Mississippi indefinitely suspended the campus' chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon after members of the fraternity hung a noose and a former Georgia state flag which includes the Confederate battle emblem in its design around a statue of James Meredith. Meredith was the first black student to attend and desegregate Ole Miss. In a separate incident this month Asian-American student groups and student service offices at UCLA and USC started receiving racist, sexist fliers. "Asian women R honkie white boy worshiping whores!!!!" the fliers read.
Colorlines - Thu, 02/27/2014 - 23:15
Today President Obama will kick off "My Brother's Keeper," a new White House initiative to change the terrible odds for boys and young men of color who are trying to make it to adulthood.
"The data proves it," says the My Brother's Keeper landing page. "Boys and young men of color--regardless of where they come from--are disproportionately at risk from their youngest years through college and the early stages of their professional lives." At risk for what? The White House doesn't say it in so many words but the answer is plain: at risk for growing up in a deeply racially stratified society which criminalizes black and brown boys and men. Black and Latino boys lag behind their non-black and non-Latino peers in reading proficiency but are overrepresented among homicide victims.
The initiative has two parts. It'll include a task force which will examine the impact that federal policies and programs have on boys and young men of color, "so as to develop proposals that will enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones." The task force will put together recommendations for national, state and local agencies to support boys and young men of color. The Department of Education will also manage a public website which will assess important factors contributing to the life outcomes of boys and young men of color.
Separately, a group of philanthropic foundations is today announcing a $200 million investment over the next five years to support programs aimed at nurturing and supporting black and Latino boys and young men, and President Obama plans to meet with Adam Silver of the NBA, Joe Echevarria, CEO of Deloitte, and Magic Johnson and other businesspeople to involve the private sector in the initiative.
"The effort launched today is focused on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color - something that will not only benefit them, but all Americans," the White House said in a statement.
New America Media - Thu, 02/27/2014 - 22:46
The 2014 Academy Awards will be broadcast Sunday, and one of the world's most-watched television shows also will feature a strong black British presence in American films."12 Years a Slave" was directed by Steven McQueen, a black British director. Black... Frederick Lowe http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Thu, 02/27/2014 - 22:35
State lawmakers in South Dakota voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill banning sex-selective abortions, saying rising numbers of Asian immigrants could lead to greater abortions based on gender, according to Mother Jones.Last week, the South Dakota House of Representatives... Koream Journal http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
New America Media - Thu, 02/27/2014 - 22:10
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Colorlines - Thu, 02/27/2014 - 22:01
The specter of white supremacy looms throughout the new season of the Netflix political fiction "House of Cards." The show is supposed to serve as a window into how power is gained, stolen and exploited in the highest levels of government. But all you need is to read Politico or ProPublica on any given day to know that, and the reality is much creepier. A deeper view of "House of Cards" reveals how racism has worked and continues to work for the preservation of power in America that people of color can't seem to penetrate. If you want to know why our real-life African-American POTUS appears too often constrained by forces beyond his control, this show and this season in particular provides glimpses into the mechanics that make those constraints possible.
It also shows the roots of those constraints. About a third into this season, Frank Underwood, the U.S. vice president and the show's lead character, is "visited" by his ancestor Augustus Elijah Underwood, a Confederate soldier. Frank is at a battleground in Spotsylvania, Va., where a Civil War reenactment is taking place, and where one of the battlefield actors is revealed as the veep's great-great-great grandfather (get how great he is?) Augustus, who was killed during battle.
At first, Underwood takes a hallowed interest in his ancestor's character, mostly because he didn't know that he, himself, is a Son of a Confederate veteran. But he soon discards all interest saying, "I personally take no pride in the Confederacy. Avoid wars you can't win, and never raise your flag for an asinine cause like slavery."
Underwood is a South Carolina Democrat so you'd think that he's taking a noble position on the most ignoble of causes. But that's not it. It's just that slavery isn't worth fighting for -- or rather the enslaved African-Americans weren't worth it.
Episodes later, when controversy engulfs Underwood's one black friend, Freddy Hayes, threatening to undermine the vice president in the process, Underwood decides Hayes isn't worth fighting for either, and disposes of him.
The main thing that "House of Cards" wants you to know is that power, for some, must be preserved and expanded at all costs. Power in this tale, in this White House, is white privilege and supremacy. It's something that cannot be bought, though many characters of color in this political saga try the best they can. This power rests snuggly in the federal executive office, lording over America. The Confederates failed; white supremacy still won.
This is what resonates most deeply during the second season of this Netflix drama based on a British show about corruption in Parliament. The American version is also about corruption, but not neatly as a critique of it. Instead, in the American card house, we find that corruption is an exclusive province in the federal government that no non-white person can access, even with wealth and Cabinet-level security clearances.
Almost every person of color in the show thinks they have some measure of power, until white power wielders -- namely Underwood and his nemesis, the Koch Brother-ish Raymond Tusk -- show them what power really is. Running down the list (Spoiler alert!):
- Remy Danton, an African-American lobbyist and political influence dealer who thinks Tusk has his back. Well, he doesn't.
- Linda Vasquez, the Latina White House Chief of Staff, who believes she controls the POTUS's schedule and agenda until Underwood disabuses her of that notion.
- Freddy Hayes, Underwood's black friend and BBQ pit owner who is cut loose by the Veep when a media report exposes Hayes' criminal history.
- Daniel Lanagin, a Native American casino owner who's helping Tusk buy political influence in ways that undermine Underwood.
- Xander Feng, a Chinese billionaire diplomat who Underwood uses to create political turmoil between the United States and China.
All of these characters are chopped down, in one way or another by Underwood or Tusk. In one key scene, Underwood slides away from the aforementioned Civil War reenactment to secretly meet with Feng. He wants Feng to finance a bridge project in Long Island and is seeking a deal over a lawsuit the U.S. has against China about currency manipulation. Underwood demands a lot of the Chinese representative here, but he offers little in return. The insult of this causes Feng to spit on Underwood's great-to-the-third-power-grandfather's Civil War grave.
"There is no sacred ground for the conquered," Feng tells him.
In another scene, Underwood visits the Native American billionaire Lanagin at his home to confront him about his financing of Underwood's political opponents. When Lanagin tells him to get out his face, Underwood reminds him of the power of the White House. Lanagin responds by reminding Underwood that his executive power means nothing on sovereign tribal grounds, and also that he has enough money to ignore the vice president.
But in the end, both Feng and Lanagin are subdued. Despite their wealth and connections, neither has direct influence; both have to purchase it by using another white man -- Raymond Tusk -- as their proxy. No other person of color in the political saga even comes close to touching Underwood's power.
Political and social issues including feminism, rape culture and energy policy are all entertained by Underwood, and his equally cold-blooded wife Claire, but only in their quest to attain more power. They make no serious attempts to resolve any of those problems, instead using them to leverage more political capital. It's a tangled web indeed, but it's only a web of intrigue for viewers of color if you care about how white supremacy and privilege is maintained in America. Since we all live mostly as the victims of that maintenance, there is very little illumination here.
The only thing that matters at the end of this season is that the Underwoods have manifested their destiny. The Civil War ghost shows that for some white people, power and privilege is inherited, and those at the top have no interest of letting go of it -- definitely not to honor or defend the causes of people of other races and nations.
"Choosing money over power is a mistake that almost everyone makes," Underwood says in the first season of "House of Cards." The second season, though, shows that many choose money because they have conceded that they can't access power that has been passed down by birthright. This is white supremacy's legacy, and "House of Cards" shows how it manages to live on.
Colorlines - Thu, 02/27/2014 - 21:04
Spike Lee is tired of people making excuses about gentrification. So when someone asked about "looking at it from the other side," or, in other words, trying to find the positives of gentrification at an event at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute last night in his native Fort Greene, Lee gave an impassioned defense of his views. Put simply: Gentrification destroys the character of black neighborhoods, and he's seen it firsthand. Listen.
Read the transcript after the jump.
Feb 13, 2014 - Mar 08, 2014
Feb 13, 2014 - Mar 08, 2014
May 18, 2014 - May 21, 2014
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@JamilSmith The distorted #media depiction of African American men & boys has real life consequences, again. #mediadiversity #Tremaine