Diversity Headlines

Is the Police Shooting of VonDerrit Myers Another Mike Brown?

Colorlines - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 14:10
Is the Police Shooting of VonDerrit Myers Another Mike Brown?

What's known for sure about last night's deadly shooting in south St. Louis is that an off-duty white police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old black man, discharging his weapon 17 times. Nearly every other major detail is unknown or in dispute. They include: why the young man, identified by the Post-Dispatch as VonDerrit Myers Jr. provoked the officer's suspicion in the first place and whether as police say, Myers was armed with a gun--or a sandwich from the corner store, as some residents say. The wall between police and St. Louis' black communities appears to be hardening.

Separately, out on the streets with the region's young people until about 3 o'clock in the morning were two of St. Louis' community leaders, Derek Laney of Missourians Organizing for Reform & Empowerment (MORE) and Rev. Starsky Wilson, pastor of Saint John's Church. Both men shared their immediate impressions with Colorlines this morning. They were understandably weary. It's been two long months of respectively organizing and pastoring to youth who are hurt, angry and mobilized in the wake of Michael Brown's murder this August.

"No, this is not another Mike Brown," Rev. Wilson tells me on the phone. "There's not another John Crawford. There's not another Kajieme Powell. These are all individual lives that matter, with unique lives and circumstance. So I want to push back on that [notion] a bit."

"What I will say," Wilson continues, "is that these lives add up. These young black lives are adding up in ways that're stirring consternation and remarkable anger in the hearts of young people who see their own lives in jeopardy.

"What I saw last night, I think there's more pain and more passion now than there was on Aug 10, the day after Mike Brown. And I think there is more fear and willingness to fight now than there was then, even for people who were [in Shaw] last night who also saw Mike Brown laying on ground [in Ferguson]."

Laney, one of the principal organizers behind this coming weekend's Ferguson October, is admittedly tired, sad and angry this morning. He begins by acknowledging that not all the facts are in and notes in particular the deep conflict between official police accounts and what residents told him last night. What worries him after last night is that some people may become violent.

"People are already on edge, angry and fed up with this absolute disrespect and disregard for black life. Some of those people, I fear, may consider using violent means to express [themselves]. And as a result of that choice, it's just going to be more black lives lost--because they're not going to outgun the police."

"My prayer and hope is that cooler heads will prevail and justice will prevail in the case of Brown, Powell and this young man. The police must take responsibility for the use of lethal force and not just close ranks when they're having such disproportionate impact on one community. They're killing our children. 

Both Wilson and Laney say that St. Louis police showed remarkable restraint with last night's crowd. "They didn't take that militaristic, antagonizing stance that they did in Ferguson," Laney says. "That can be called progress. When you start to treat people who're protesting like human beings, that's not kudos. That's the very basic thing that we should expect from them."

Read the Post-Dispatch for the latest developments in this quickly moving story. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

How A Jim Crow Era Holdover Hurts Domestic Workers Today

Colorlines - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 13:53
How A Jim Crow Era Holdover Hurts Domestic Workers Today

Many domestic workers in the United States are fighting to be paid for time worked. That's about as basic as it gets for any employee. This Tuesday, according to The New York Times, the labor department delayed a rule change that would have allowed domestic workers to report employers who do not pay a minimum wage or overtime. Although this particular exclusion dates to the early 70s, rules specifically excluding domestic workers--mainly Latinas and immigrants--from minimum labor protections date back to Jim Crow. In The Case For Reparations, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates earlier this year chronicled a century of theft from black workers while federal programs expanded the white middle class. That included black women domestics:

The omnibus [New Deal] programs passed under the Social Security Act in 1935 were crafted in such a way as to protect the southern way of life. Old-age insurance (Social Security proper) and unemployment insurance excluded farmworkers and domestics--jobs heavily occupied by blacks. When President Roosevelt signed Social Security into law in 1935, 65 percent of African Americans nationally and between 70 and 80 percent in the South were ineligible. The NAACP protested, calling the new American safety net "a sieve with holes just big enough for the majority of Negroes to fall through." 

Read more about this latest setback for domestic workers as well as how many of these women are organizing, here.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

'What Was America's First Music?'

Colorlines - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 12:50
'What Was America's First Music?'

In his first feature-length documentary, Sterlin Harjo explores early American songs in what's now the United States. The film, titled "This May be the Last Time," premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will be available on VOD and DVD. November 11.

Harjo's grandfather disappeared in Oklahoma in 1962, and Harjo set out to find out what happened to him. Seminoles supported him in his search along the way, singing songs that turned out to be from Scottish missionaries, enslaved black people and Natives. The resulting documentary casts new light on what we think about early American music. 

Indiewire posted a trailer:

(h/t Indiewire

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Cornel West Explains Why He Won't Stop Criticism of Obama

Colorlines - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 10:42
Cornel West Explains Why He Won't Stop Criticism of Obama

In the latest public discussion as part of her scholar-in-residence series at The New School, bell hooks talked with Cornel West about what it means to be what she called a "dissident intellectual." At about the 46:11 mark, West says, "When I called [Obama] a black puppet of Wall Street oligarchs, they didn't accent 'Wall Street oligarchs,' they just talked about the puppetry."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Turmoil in St. Louis After Police Kill Vonderrit Meyers Jr. 18

Colorlines - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 10:31
Turmoil in St. Louis After Police Kill Vonderrit Meyers Jr. 18

Once again, people took to the streets of St. Louis to protest the killing of a black teenager by a white police officer. This time, the boy's name was Vonderrit Meyers Jr.

From New York Magazine:

Angry and hurt protesters took to the streets in St. Louis on Wednesday night after a police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old in the Shaw neighborhood, near where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot in August. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, police and protesters have wildly different versions of how the shooting occurred. Police say four pedestrians fled after they were stopped by an off-duty officer on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The officer chased one of the men, later identified as Vonderrick Myers Jr., and claims the teenager jumped out of some bushes, struggled with him, then pulled out a gun and shot at him. The officer says he returned fire, killing Myers.

NBC News is reporting that the officer fired his gun 17 times after at least three shots were fired at him, but eyewitnesses have a vastly different perspective and say the teen was holding a sandwhich, not a gun. The shooting came nearly two months to the day that Mike Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson. St. Louis Post-Dispatch staff photographer David Carson captured some of the scene on Twitter:

Fatal police officer involved shooting scene on 4100 block of Shaw in #stl, growing crowd upset pic.twitter.com/5eNkWj4Frq

-- David Carson (@PDPJ) October 9, 2014

Crowd of more than 100 gathered on Shaw at scene of fatal police shooting, people murmuring, calmer than earlier pic.twitter.com/iKtdzTKMBm

-- David Carson (@PDPJ) October 9, 2014

Crowd of more than 100 gathered on Shaw at scene of fatal police shooting, people murmuring, calmer than earlier pic.twitter.com/iKtdzTKMBm

-- David Carson (@PDPJ) October 9, 2014

Grand between Russell and 44 is shut down, tact team truck just showed up order people out of street pic.twitter.com/cGKbWlFqmL

-- David Carson (@PDPJ) October 9, 2014
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Ebola Updates, St. Louis Police Shoot and Kill Another Black Teen, Nobel in Literature

Colorlines - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 07:10
Ebola Updates, St. Louis Police Shoot and Kill Another Black Teen, Nobel in Literature

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

  • Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., dies in a Dallas hospital. A sheriff's deputy named Michael Monnig, who entered the apartment Duncan was staying in without protective gear, is hospitalized with Ebola-like symptoms. Ashoka Mukpo continues treatment
  • According to a new CDC report, life expectancy in the U.S. reaches an all time high. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

San Jose Youth Respond to County Plan to Use Pepper Spray in Juvenile Hall

New America Media - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 01:00
photo:  Graphic by A.D. AvilaEditor's note: Starting this month, Santa Clara Juvenile Hall staff will be allowed to use pepper spray on youth. The policy was not vetted through public discussion, but rather was negotiated in by the Probation Peace... De-Bug High staff http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Early Voting Key to Increasing Latino Voter Turnout

New America Media - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 01:00
Voting groups across the country have tried just about everything to increase Latino voter turnout. Now, a strategy used in Arizona is believed to be one of the best ways to accomplishing that.That strategy: early voting.For years, a coalition of... Griselda Nevarez http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

More Chinese American Elders Stating Their End-of-Life Wishes

New America Media - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 00:30
  Photo: Bradley T. Rosen, MD, who directs the Cedars-Sinai Supportive Care program in Los Angeles is show explaining end-of-life care. LOS ANGELES--According to the California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF), a majority of people in a 2010 multiethnic survey CHCF conducted... Stephanie Wu http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Boston Has a Stop-And-Frisk Problem, New ACLU Report Says

Colorlines - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 14:43
Boston Has a Stop-And-Frisk Problem, New ACLU Report Says

Boston police disproportionately stop black residents as compared to whites--even after controlling for crime. In a report released today from the ACLU Massachusetts chapter, a preliminary analysis of four years of stop data finds that neither neighborhood crime rate, alleged gang affiliation, nor arrest records explain the racial disparities in BPD's recorded stops. The report highlights the disproportionately high number of stops of black residents (63.3 percent) relative to their percentage of the population (24.4 percent). But more consequential findings in the ACLU's report may be:

  • BPD's 2.5 percent hit rate out of 204,000 recorded stops, i.e. the rate at which weapons, drugs or other contraband were seized during stops;
  • unlike in New York City, Boston officers do not file reports when stops lead to arrest;
  • the final report on which this preliminary analysis is based was supposed to have been completed in 2012, then June 2014;
  • as of today, the final report is still pending so more information may be forthcoming; and
  • unlike in New York City, whose city council in 2001 mandated that NYPD release quarterly stop-and-frisk reports, the BPD's data-sharing is by agreement with the ACLU chapter.

Read the ACLU chapter's full report, "Black, Brown and Targeted." "Preliminary findings," it says, "make clear that now is the time for a meaningful public conversation about reforming stop-and-frisk practices in Boston."

(h/t The Washington Post)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Watch Laverne Cox and bell hooks Talk About Feminism and Pop Culture

Colorlines - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 14:28
Watch Laverne Cox and bell hooks Talk About Feminism and Pop Culture

Feminist theorist bell hooks is back at The New School for another week-long residency that includes public discussions with high-profile folks of color. On Tuesday, she sat down with actress Laverne Cox for a wide-ranging conversation about feminism, pop culture and Cox's hit series, "Orange is the New Black."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Study: For Black Students, Skin Color and Suspensions Linked

Colorlines - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:14
 For Black Students, Skin Color and Suspensions Linked

Black students, as a group, are more than three times as likely as white students to get suspended (PDF). Racial disparities in school discipline are well-established. But what about differences in rates of discipline among black students? 

Sociologists at Villanova University and the University of Iowa have found a striking pattern: the darker a black student's skin tone, the higher the likelihood they'll be suspended, particularly for girls. More specifically, an African-American girl with "the darkest skin tone" had triple the odds of being suspended "compared to those with the lighest skin tone," wrote Villanova University professors Robert DeFina, Lance Hannon and University of Iowa professor Sarah Bruch (PDF). The pattern was weaker, but still present for black males. Black boys with the darkest skin tone were 2.5 times more likely than their lightest black male counterparts of being suspended.

The findings, drawn from data in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent health, held even when controlling for a host of other factors, including the socioeconomic status of parents, the students' own behavior, and their academic achievement. The National Longitudinal Study of Youth, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, documents skin tone across a 10-point spectrum.

In other words, researchers say, this is evidence of colorism at work. "It is important to remember that colorism is not simply "black-on-black" discrimination," researchers wrote. "Colorism is a broad phenomenon where, for example, continuous variation in skin tone affects the actions of privileged authorities, who tend to be white. Colorism is intrinsically tied to racism in that white privilege is central to both."

(h/t Diverse Education)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

‘Youth of Color’ Voting Still Critical in Competitive Political Races

New America Media - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:20
Youth voter turnout in North Carolina, including a sizeable segment of ethnic voters, will play a critical role in determining whether Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan retains her seat against Republican challenger, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, according to data... Khalil Abdullah http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=69
Categories: Diversity Headlines

USA Swimming Suspends Michael Phelps for 6 Months

New America Media - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:00
 USA Swimming has suspended Michael Phelps for six months, forced him to withdraw from next year’s world championships and taken away his funding from the sport’s national governing body as a result of the Olympic champion’s second DUI arrest. The... Afro.com http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

New Video Captures NYPD Beating Unarmed 16-Year-Old

Colorlines - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 10:29

Yet another example surfaced yesterday of police violence captured on video. Street-camera footage obtained by DNAinfo shows two New York City police officers alternately punching a young black man, Kahreem Tribble, with their fists and a gun on the night of August 29. The 16-year-old, who had been running, had already stopped and raised his hands in apparent surrender. He was arrested for marijuana possession. 

The two officers--Tyrane Isaac and David Afanador--have been disciplined, according to the New York Daily News, and a grand jury hearing into whether they should be criminally charged could begin as early as next week.

On October 2--and coming after Eric Garner's death this July--police commissioner William Bratton vowed, according to The New York Times, to "aggressively seek to get those out of the department who should not be here."

Read more about the Tribble incident on DNAinfo and at the NY Daily News.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Walmart Cutting Health Care For Part-Timers

Colorlines - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 10:20
Walmart Cutting Health Care For Part-Timers

Things are going to get a bit tougher at home for some of your local Walmart associates. Citing rising costs, the nation's largest private employer recently announced plans to cut health insurance for 30,000 domestic part-time employees, or those working less than 30-hours-a week. Wal-Mart employs 1.4 million people in the U.S. Its decision to cut healthcare for part-timers puts it "among the last of its peers," Business Insider reports, following in the footsteps of Target, Home Depot and others.

Read more at Business Insider, including plans to increase premiums for employees who will remain insured.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

1st Person Diagnosed With Ebola in America Has Died, Hospital Reports

New America Media - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 09:42
 Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, who was exposed to the disease before leaving his home in Liberia, has died, according to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, which posted a note about his death on its Facebook page."It... The Root http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Kobane Protests, Ebola Updates, Nobel in Chemistry

Colorlines - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 07:10
Kobane Protests, Ebola Updates, Nobel in Chemistry

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

  • At least 14 people are dead following Kurdish protests in Turkey urging the nation to fight against Islamic State's hold on the nearby city of Kobane, Syria.
  • The Supreme Court will hear a case today about whether Amazon's warehouse workers should be paid for the approximately two-and-a-half weeks they spend waiting in a security line each week. 
  • Wal-Mart is ending healthcare coverage for the fraction of part-time employees that currently have it; it's also raising its premiums in 2015 across the board. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Low Filipino Turnout at Undocumented License Forums

New America Media - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 01:00
LOS ANGELES – Advocacy groups and community leaders came together on the steps of City Hall on Friday, Oct. 3, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the signing of AB 60, a new law that would essentially provide a driver’s... Mico Letargo http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Are Africans in the U.S. Stigmatized Over Ebola?

New America Media - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 01:00
photo: Sagal Radio host Hussein Mohamed. Courtesy of Hussein Mohamed Ed's note: This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.Hussein Mohamed was born in Ethiopia and moved to the US as a child in the... produced by Shirin Jaafari http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines
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