Diversity Headlines

Brandy Norwood Set To Star In Broadway's Chicago

Colorlines - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 10:29
Brandy Norwood Set To Star In Broadway's Chicago

According to Broadwayblack.com, Brandy Norwood, the Grammy-winning singer turned actress, is set to join the cast of the Broadway musical "Chicago" in the role of the sultry Roxie Hart. The songstress has been posting tedious workouts on her Instagram and shared the announcement with her fans today. She will perform for an eight-week stint at the Ambassador Theatre from April 28th to June 21st. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Jay Smooth's Taking Some 'Racial Me Time'

Colorlines - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 09:31

After having to assert his racial identity to a black woman in front of a national TV audience last week--"I'm actually black, but you assumed otherwise."--hip-hop DJ and well-known vlogger, Jay Smooth is taking some much-deserved "racial me time." The 30 seconds of awkward happened during an "All in With Chris Hayes" segment about Starbucks' now slightly modified #RaceTogether campaign. After trending on Facebook, Smooth says, "I'm glad you all thought that was so hilarious but for me that was the longest 30 seconds of my life."

Check out his re-cap above. Smooth is also a video producer for Race Forward, which publishes Colorlines.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

'Ackee & Saltfish' Web Series Brings Fresh Look at Black Women

Colorlines - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 09:29

Issa Rae's web series "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl," which led to book and HBO deals, has opened the door a bit wider for online sitcoms by people of color.

British filmmaker Cecile Emeke provides a hilarious look at two best friends from England with her new web series "Ackee & Saltfish." The new show (named after a well-known Caribbean dish) follows the lives of main characters Rachel and Olivia. With plots built around everyday struggles such as scoring Lauryn Hill tickets and playing tennis with dignity, Emeke writes Rachel and Olivia in a way that allows them to be themselves, free of typecasting and stereotypes. The series stemmed from a short film by Emeke of the same name. 

Check out the show and film at ackeeandsaltfish.co.uk. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Milwaukee Panel Upholds Firing of Officer in Dontre Hamilton Shooting

Colorlines - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 08:43
Milwaukee Panel Upholds Firing of Officer in Dontre Hamilton Shooting

The police officer who last April shot and killed an unarmed and mentally ill African-American man--an incident that sparked months of protests--escaped criminal charges, but he will not regain his job. Last night, a three-member panel upheld the October decision amidst police union pushback and denied officer Christopher Manney's appeal after hearing five days of testimony. Manney is likely the first Milwaukee officer fired in 45 years as a result of a fatal on-duty shooting, the Journal-Sentinel has reported.

Reacting to Monday night's decision by Milwaukee Fire and Commission members, Hamilton's brother, Nate said:

Dontre has no voice no more, but today he spoke. Dontre spoke. He continues to speak through us, through the community, through change. The police officers, we're not saying that all of them are bad, but you have to remove those that are. You have to hold those accountable that aren't doing and following the procedures of the Milwaukee Police Department.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn had fired Manney in October for not following department rules of engagement and creating, he said, "circumstances that place [officers] at a situation where they have no choice." 

Hamilton, family members say, had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

(h/t Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Meet the Latina Owner of the First LGBTQ Gym in the U.S.

Colorlines - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 07:06
Meet the Latina Owner of the First LGBTQ Gym in the U.S.

At this point it's likely that someone in your world--maybe that high school classmate you haven't spoken to in 10 years who friended you on Facebook--is taking part in the latest fitness craze. You know the person I'm referring to: Their selfies suddenly take a turn for the sweaty and they begin making references to "the box," hashtagging the mysterious "WOD" all over their Instagram updates and describing the kind of "sweat angel" they leave on the floor after pushups.

Now, I haven't stepped inside a gym in years but I know a lot more than your average person thanks to a vocal crew of friends across the country. One of these friends led me to Nathalie Huerta, a queer Latina fitness expert and owner of The Perfect Sidekick, which is branded as the first and only LGBTQ gym in the country. 

Huerta's model has a lot of appeal, even to me, someone scared away from gyms after decades of self-hating, diet-driven exercise. It's a space that she says prioritizes relationships between its members, works to remove awkwardness and brings queerness to the front and center. Her mission statement: "To make happy, healthy homos!"

Huerta got into fitness as a young person playing basketball in her hometown of Anaheim, Calif. She found community on the court but also a lot of struggle with homophobia. Her high school basketball coach outed her when she was 16, after she began a relationship with a player from a neighboring team. She describes it as a "super 'Love and Basketball,' dykey coming-out story."

At the college level many of the players she encountered were also gay but she says there was often closetedness among them and resistance from coaches. And, as a Mexican-American, Huerta also had to address stereotypes about her athletic ability. "People, they [looked] at me, and the first assumption was always 'soccer.' I have some really defined legs--and because I'm Mexican it must be soccer."

Huerta became a personal trainer after a post-college summer of working out in a local gym. The Perfect Sidekick idea came out of her discomfort about her own gender presentation: "It wasn't until I started presenting more masculine [that] I realized what a shithole gym spaces were for people who present differently," she says. "If I feel this fucking awkward and I'm a trainer and I work in a gym, I can't be the only one."

That discomfort led her to Google "lesbian personal trainers." All she found was porn and Jillian Michaels, a clear indication that there was a niche that needed to be filled. Five years later and The Perfect Sidekick is a thriving gym that offers branded classes like "Hardcore Homo," asks about customers' preferred gender pronouns and queers the language used in workouts.

"We gender neutralize everything from the bathrooms and the showers to the exercises," says Huerta. "'Superman,' an exercise where you lie on the floor and raise your arms and legs like you are flying has become 'Superpeople.' The 'Indian run,' where a group of people jog in a straight line and the person at the back has to sprint to the front, has also been renamed because of its racism. Huerta calls it the 'Unicorn run.' "When in doubt--name it something gay," she says.

Rose Foronda, a queer person of color who is a member of Huerta's gym, e-mailed with me about what drew her to The Perfect Sidekick: "At TPS you don't have the weird gym culture where people are either sizing you up or uncomfortably checking you out," she explains. "Also, I tried Crossfit and I lasted about six workouts. Their gender politics were horrendous. The misogyny was on overdrive and microaggression-filled language was unbelievable. [During] every single workout I heard the words, 'Men, grab the heavier weight. Women, grab the lighter weight.'"

While The Perfect Sidekick is not explicitly for people of color, both Huerta and Foronda say its customers are multiracial. "We're in Oakland, which is diverse, and we're a queer gym. It's like diversity on crack here sometimes,"Huerta said.

"As a person of color," says Foronda, "I also feel the love in the TPS community. Although, by my estimation, the clientele is still predominantly white, people of color are definitely represented at the gym. I'm not the only one!"

At the end of the day, Huerta says she is interested in expanding her business to other cities "to give more queers throughout the country a safe and healthy space where they can work out." She's currently considering Long Beach, Calif., as well as Portland, Ore. She's also trying to change how health and fitness professionals serve the LGBT community. For example, at a conference this fall for the online scheduling system she uses, Mindbody Online, she responded to the owner's request for suggestions on how to improve the service. "I might be the only one in here that this matters to," she recounts saying, "but your system only allows me two gender options. I'm a queer gym, I need more options than that." This exchange happened in front of 3,000 attendees. At the end, the owner agreed to add a third gender option that owners can customize.

Even with the noise of the gym in the background, Huerta's vibrant personality shines through during our phone interview. The child of immigrants, she learned from her parents. "I was raised in a very business and [entrepreneurial] environment. I remember seeing my mom doing payroll, counting on her fingers with only a third grade education. [She ran] a business for 30 years." When I ask Huerta what her parents think about her current line of work, she laughs and shares, "The first time my mom came to the gym, [she said] 'All that money for college and you work out with lesbians for a living?!' [I responded] 'Yeah mom, only in America!'"

Categories: Diversity Headlines

German Plane Crash, Israel Spied on U.S., Facebook to Host News Site Content

Colorlines - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 07:05
German Plane Crash, Israel Spied on U.S., Facebook to Host News Site Content

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Zoe Saldana Calls LGBTQ Protest of Dolce & Gabbana 'Stupidest Thing Ever'

Colorlines - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 08:57
Zoe Saldana Calls LGBTQ Protest of Dolce & Gabbana 'Stupidest Thing Ever'

Actress Zoe Saldana, who was the center of controversy for playing Nina Simone in an upcoming biopic, may be in the hot seat again. This time with the LGBTQ community. 

Many celebrities have denounced the fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana following comments designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana made on why they oppose gay adoptions and IVF treatments. The original statement was shared in a Panorama interview earlier this month. Their words:

You are born to a mother and a father. Or at least that's how it should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented wombs, semen chosen from a catalog.

Singer Elton John called for a boycott of the brand via Instagram shortly after the interview was released:

How dare you refer to my beautiful children as 'synthetic'? And shame on you for wagging your judgmental little fingers at IVF - a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfill their dream of having children. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again.  #BoycottDolceGabbana

Saldana belittled the protest when asked about it during the 2015 GLAAD Media Awards. E! inquired if the new mother of twins would join Elton and others, to which she responded:

No! Not at all, that would be the stupidest thing if it affected my fashion choice. People are allowed to their own opinion, however, I wouldn't have chosen to be so public about something that's such a personal thing. Obviously it caused some sensitivity, but then again if you continue to follow the news, you see they all kinda hugged it out, so why are we making a big deal about it?

The response has been anything but welcoming. 

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Categories: Diversity Headlines

Snoop Dogg Developing Series About the Effects of Reaganomics

Colorlines - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 08:53
Snoop Dogg Developing Series About the Effects of Reaganomics

During SXSW this past Friday, Snoop Dogg aka Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr. announced that he will be working with filmmaker Allen Hughes to develop an HBO series.

Broadus says the intent behind the project is to tell the story of "what happens to one family living in inner-city Los Angeles as Reagan-era social policies and legislation begin to take effect."

The 43-year-old rapper expressed that the story is one very familiar to him. The series is yet untitled. 

Read more at Rawstory.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Mo'ne Davis Keeps Her Eyes on the Prize

Colorlines - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 08:04
Mo'ne Davis Keeps Her Eyes on the Prize

Mo'ne Davis has already made history.

Last summer, she became the first girl to pitch a shutout as a Philadelphia Taney Dragon. Then the Little League wonder nabbed the cover of Sports Illustrated. Last week, the Disney Channel announced that a biopic of the 13-year-old sensation is in the works -- a TV movie called "Throw Like Mo."  And she's making book-tour rounds for her writing debut, "Mo'ne Davis: Remember My Name: My Story From First Pitch To Game Changer." 

Davis is doing all of this amid negativity.

In one severe case, a Bloomsburg University baseball player named Joey Casselberry posted the following offensive tweet last week:


According to Associated Press, Bloomsburg has announced the dismissal of the junior first baseman on Twitter stating that the Pennsylvania university was "deeply saddened" by the player's tweet.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

TedCruz.com, Kerry Washington for the Win, Spring's Getting Shorter

Colorlines - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 07:16
TedCruz.com, Kerry Washington for the Win, Spring's Getting Shorter

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Latinos in the Big Apple: Racism Is a Norm in Families and Community

Colorlines - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 14:52

Well worth your time this weekend is this terrific Latino-led discussion about racism within Spanish-speaking communities that happened in New York City this Wednesday during a 30-minute call-in radio show. It's nuanced, family-oriented and infused with historical and cultural knowledge not just of the U.S. but the hemisphere. New York City is about one-third Latino and known for its many Spanish-speaking enclaves. Those of Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage predominate but Mexican immigrants (approximately 80 percent were born outside the U.S.) are the city's third-largest and fastest-growing Latino group.

Journalist Juan Manuel Benítez, guest-hosting on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show, welcomed author Sandra Guzmán and Marta Moreno Vega, founding president of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute. Listen above.

And ICYMI, check out Guzmán's personal essay, "A Univision Host's Comments, and My Own Painful Memories." An excerpt:

One summer day, I was 14 and on top of the world. I'd just been accepted to represent my high school in a youth political convention at Rider University in my home state of New Jersey. My best friend and I were walking home, laughing and eating ice cream, when we came across my friend's father, a black Ecuadorian immigrant. The dad sized me up and down and said that I would be a lot prettier if I didn't have that "African" nose.

...My shock and hurt were physically palpable; my buddy stood up to his father and chastised his ignorance. I cried myself to sleep that night. At 18, I had saved enough money and at 19, I got a nose job.

Read more on NBC News.


Categories: Diversity Headlines

Record Number of New York City Children Face Homelessness

Colorlines - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 13:41
Record Number of New York City Children Face Homelessness

In 2014 New York City broke troubling records with its homeless population. Last year, on a typical night some 25,459 children stayed in city homeless shelters, a 12 percent jump over the prior year, according to Coalition for the Homeless' State of the Homeless 2015 report.

The city broke records with its the broader homeless population, as well. In 2014, a record 116,459 people stayed a night in a city shelter, a five percent increase from the previous year. 

ChartA_Pg24.jpg(image via Coalition for the Homeless)

And while 2.3 percent (or 1 in 43) of the city's children had to spend a night in a city shelter, 6 percent (or 1 in 17) black children were forced to do so last year. Meanwhile 2.9 percent, or 1 in 34, Latino children spent a night in a shelter. Black families were more than twice as likely as New York City families broadly to have to take shelter in city facilities, while white families were much less likely than the city population as a whole to have to turn to shelters.

The coalition attributes these jumps to preexisting racial inequity that's been compounded by worsening economic inequity, alongside policy decisions made by the Bloomberg administration to slash programs that supported the homeless. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Fans Are "So Appalled" by Kanye Headlining Glastonbury Festival

Colorlines - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 09:46

A petition to get Kanye West's name removed from UK's Glastonbury festival has been circulating, according to AOL On. 

Following Glastonbury's announcement that it wouldl incluce West as one of the June 24-28 festival headliners, a fan started the petition... and approximately 60,000 people have signed it.  

The reason for the petition is said to be West's previous offensive and rude comments about other artists, most recently his latest Grammy outburst. An excerpt reads:

Kanye has been very outspoken on his views on music. He should listen to his own advice and pass his headline slot on to someone deserving. Kanye west is an insult to music fans all over the world.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Ruth Negga Snags Leading Role in Comic Book Drama

Colorlines - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 09:10
Ruth Negga Snags Leading Role in Comic Book Drama

Actress Ruth Negga, who stars in "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." as Raina, has landed a lead role in AMC's drama pilot, "Preacher," according to Deadline.com. Negga is the first actor cast in the Sony TV and AMC Studios project based on a '90s comic with a cult following, in which a small-town Texas preacher develops the power to influence everyone's decision-making. Negga will play the role of his ex-girlfriend Tulip. 

While the actress has cred in the comic book universe due to her recurring role on "S.H.I.E.L.D.," the casting decision has some comic lovers up in arms because the original character is white. A few are also claiming that the creators of the project are targeting a "certain demographic" with their decision to cast a black woman.

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This will be the second comic book-based Sony project to cast a woman of color for a part originally depicted by a white woman. The other is the studio's Playstation series "Powers" co-starring Susan Heyward.

Negga will also star in the upcoming flim "Warcraft" due out next year.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Tituss Burgess of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" Calls Racism Accusations Outrageous

Colorlines - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 09:06

Tituss Burgess, of Tina Fey's Netflix series "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," took to HuffPost Live Thursday to voice his disagreement with anyone who finds the show's depictions of certain ethinicities disrespectful

I just think that is so completely unbelievably ridiculous, and I think people are watching it and pulling it apart for all the wrong reasons. All of these storylines come back around and make a delicious point. I just find it hilarious that people are trying to arrest us for doing the opposite of what everyone thinks we're doing.

Watch the full interview above.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Google Backs Opps for Latino and Black Entrepreneurs in 3 Cities

Colorlines - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 08:17

Latino and black entrepreneurs in Chicago, Austin and Durham are getting an assist from Google. Through Code2040, which helps to diversify the tech pipeline, Google will provide a one-year stipend and free office space for start-ups. Entrepreneurs are also expected to "build bridges to technology for minorities in those communities," USA Today reports. The new program sends an important message: you don't have to be in Silicon Valley to do tech.

The SXSW announcement by Code2040's co-founder Laura Weidman Powers comes about a year after Google began releasing employment diversity data to the public. Silicon Valley had long had a reputation for employing low numbers of Latinos and African-Americans as tech workers (at Google, 2 percent are Hispanic, 1 percent African-American). And while Asian-Americans are well-represented, they appear to hit a ceiling when it comes to executive-level leadership.

Code2040 received $775,000 from Google this February, USA Today reports, to bring more Latinos and African-Americans into the sector.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Solar Eclipse, Amazon Drones, 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' Crank Call to C-SPAN

Colorlines - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 07:24
Solar Eclipse, Amazon Drones, 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' Crank Call to C-SPAN

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

  • The police commander that ran Chicago's Homan Square resigns
  • A C-SPAN caller recites the lyrics to the opening song of the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:"
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Kendrick's Only Competition is Himself

Colorlines - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 14:52
Kendrick's Only Competition is Himself

Dropping his second studio album a week early has proven to be a brilliant move for Kendrick Lamar.

Today Billboard announced that "To Pimp a Butterfly" is set to become No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week. "Industry sources are forecasting the set to move over 325,000 equivalent album units in the week ending March 22," the publication reports. 

"To Pimp a Butterfly" broke the Spotify record for the album most streamed on on Monday, the day of its release. The spot was previously held by Drake's equally surprising premiere of "If You're Reading This It's Too Late" with 6.8 million streams. Lamar's album far surpassed the precedent collecting 9.6 million streams in its first 24 hours, according to the company's statement.

According to a tweet from TDE President Punch, the album racked up an additional, record breaking 9.8 million streams on Tuesday. 


Categories: Diversity Headlines

Report: Growing Workforce of People of Color Shoulders Growing Inequity

Colorlines - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 14:44
 Growing Workforce of People of Color Shoulders Growing Inequity

The burdens of the working poor are increasingly borne by a growing class of people of color. That's the latest finding from a new report (PDF) from the Working Poor Families Project. 

This is the way it shakes out: in 2013, people of color made up 58 percent of the 10 million low-income working families in the U.S., even though people of color are just 40 percent of all working families across the country. The dynamic has only worsened since the start of the recession in 2007 and during a time when the nation's workforce has become more racially diverse. 

People of color are well on their way to constituting the majority of people in the U.S. As such, their share of the U.S. workforce is growing, even as white people's growth in the U.S. has stagnated. Between 2012 and 2022, the number of people of color in the U.S. workforce is expected to grow by 21 percent while the number of white people working in that same period is set to decline by 2 percent. The dropoff is due largely to white people's stagnating growth in the U.S. The year 2013 marked the first that white deaths in the country outnumbered white births, according to the Washington Post.

Given that people of color are the nation's fastest-growing groups, their economic well-being is of pressing concern to the nation's, the report argues. But while the country is celebrating signs of economic revival, low-income workers and people of color are being left behind. Between 2009 and 2013, the numbers of low-income families grew from 10.1 million to 10.6 million, with people of color making up a disproportionate amount of that growth. Today, the racial wealth gap between whites and blacks is at its highest level since 1989, and white households have a median net worth that's 13 times that of black families' net worth, and 10 times that of Latinos'. 

Different racial groups are also more likely to work in different kinds of low-wage jobs, report authors point out. Asians in the bottom rungs of the income scale are more likely to work in salons, or as retail workers. African-Americans are most likely to be concentrated among the ranks of health aides, cashiers, and as caregivers. Latinos, meanwhile, are more likely to work in cleaning and in restaurants.

"Racial/ethnic minorities are not disproportionately low-income because of a lack of work effort," according to the report, "but because they are more likely to be working in low-paying jobs." 

(h/t Los Angeles Times)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

T.I. is the Gaye Family's Next Target in 'Blurred Lines' Case

Colorlines - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 13:13
T.I. is the Gaye Family's Next Target in 'Blurred Lines' Case

Following their $7.4m legal win on March 10th against Pharrell and Robin Thicke for copyright damages and profits in relation to the 2013 hit "Blurred Lines," Marvin Gaye's family is now out for rapper T.I.

The family has filed an injunction to list T.I., as well as three record labels, as responsible parties, holding them accountable for the ruled copyright infringement. A jury exonerated T.I. in the original trial and Gaye's family is looking to change the verdict. Read more here

Categories: Diversity Headlines
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