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Report: South Asian Americans Still Under Attack 13 Years After 9/11

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 13:50
 South Asian Americans Still Under Attack 13 Years After 9/11

It's been 13 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but South Asian-Americans are still under suspicion and under attack, according to a report released this week by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

The report argues that xenophobic political rhetoric and hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities has continued since the harrowing days following the attacks. Researchers collecting almost 160 examples and pointed to previous data that showed:

  • More than 80 percent of the instances of hate violence researchers uncovered were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. 
  • In 2012, half of Americans reported discomfort with women in burqas, mosques in their neighborhoods, or Muslims praying in airports.
  • More than 90 percent of xenophobic political comments were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 1.05.16 PM.png

But there's hope. The report juxtaposes these facts with the reality that populations of people of color generally, and South Asian-Americans specifically, are growing. That's become a crucial component in building an infrastructure to help deal with critical moments like the Oak Creek tragedy and the Boston Marathon bombing. "There are also numerous examples of "better practices" from government and community leaders, organizations, and media who played an essential role to shift the narrative in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing to allow for an effective investigation and reduce backlash," researchers wrote.

Read the full report here

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Obama Turned Away from Three Elite Golf Clubs

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:54

Following fundraisers in New York and Rhode Island the Friday before Labor Day, President Obama had planned an overnight stay in Westchester County, New York, to attend a wedding Saturday. With a little free time on his hands, the president hoped to swing by a local golf club on Saturday morning, but he was turned down by three of them. 

Trump National, Willow Ridge and Winged Foot—all in New York—turned the president away. Sources tell WNBC that club managers didn’t want to inconvenience their members, who pay more than $100,000 to join some of the clubs.

Trump National is owned by Donald Trump, who poked fun about rejecting Obama on Wednesday on Twitter: 

If Obama resigns from office NOW, thereby doing a great service to the country—I will give him free lifetime golf at any one of my courses!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2014

Over Labor Day weekend, Obama returned to Washington on Friday evening and then headed all the way back to Westchester on Saturday. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Puerto Rican Artist Ricardo Mulero Leads 9/11 Memorial Exhibit Team

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:46
Puerto Rican Artist Ricardo Mulero Leads 9/11 Memorial Exhibit Team

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum has become one of New York City's most sought-after tourist spots since it opened last May. At the center of it is an exhibit that was spearheaded by Puerto Rican artist and New Yorker Ricardo Mulero, who led a team of artists, architects and engineers in arranging the artifacts of that fateful day in history.

Mulero previously worked at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and at Freedom Park in Pretoria, South Africa, but this project was unique. "Unlike any other history project that I have worked on, it was something that I had been part of," Mulero told NBC News. "That became kind of interesting."

You can see images of the exhibit over at NBC News

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Watch Janelle Monáe Perform 'The Power of Yet' on Sesame Street [VIDEO]

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 09:55

Janelle Monáe paid a visit to Sesame Street this week and performed "The Power of Yet." It's all about the power of perserverance. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Actor Terry Crews Speaks Out About Ray Rice, Domestic Violence

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 09:52
Actor Terry Crews Speaks Out About Ray Rice, Domestic Violence

There have been plenty of celebrities who've said cringeworthy things about domestic violence in light of the Ray Rice video that surfaced this week, but actor Terry Crews isn't one of them. The start of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" opened up to "Entertainment Tonight" about growing up in a household where his father regularly beat his mother:

When I saw the video, I was immediately taken back to my childhood," he said. "This is the way I grew up. I used to watch this happen over and over again. It was a post-traumatic-stress experience for me. I used to watch my father hit my mother in the face and watch her go down and there was some things that just affected me more than I don't think anyone could realize.

Crews also called out the NFL's culture of violence.

I mean it's weird because you think of how this cult pact works and there are always ways to get back in--especially in the NFL. I've seen major transgressions done and people still play. The NFL culture, the sports culture, has decided that they are more valuable than women.

He continued:

I've heard people laugh about keeping their pimp-hand strong and keeping her in control so that she knows her place. But think about how evil that is for one man to think that he's actually more valuable than a woman, because as a human being your worth is immeasurable.

Read more at The Root.


Categories: Diversity Headlines

Stevie Wonder Blasts Ferguson's Mayor and Announces New Tour

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 09:47
Stevie Wonder Blasts Ferguson's Mayor and Announces New Tour

Stevie Wonder is angry, and he's taking his passion out on the road. The singer and songwriter announced a new fall North American tour that will highlight his Grammy-winning 1976 album "Songs in the Key of Life" and a new album, "Through the Eyes of Wonder." But during the announcement, he also blasted the political leadership in Ferguson, Missouri:

"I don't know if the mayor has blinders on," Wonder said in an interview Wednesday. "But to say that he didn't know that there was a racial or cultural problem in the city is unfortunate."

As Zo points out at Okayplayer, Wonder's words are significant given the five decades he's spent composing a soundtrack to life in black America. "Whether it be in Ferguson or [Vietnam], on police brutality or environmental crimes, Mr. Wonderlove has always managed to spread the implicit virtues of his name (wonder and love, of course) through his brilliant display of musicianship and a voice that should be cryogenically frozen so that future generations can bear witness to its clarity and tenderness."

The new tour is set to kick off November 6 in New York and continue in 10 more cities before ending in Oakland in December. 

(h/t Billboard)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Following Ferguson: Residents Head to State Capitol as Street Protests Continue

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 09:40

Ferguson residents continue to voice frustration on more than one front, and new video of Michael Brown's fatal shooting surfaces. While street protests continued with an attempt to block Interstate-70 during rush hour yesterday, another 60-plus residents traveled to the state capitol in Jefferson City to tell their stories to state lawmakers. They hope, according to local station KSDK, to get laws to change--although the report does not specify which laws. Pharmacy technician Kayla Reed never expected to become an activist explains why she got on the bus. "If they see us and they hear us, and I'm speaking eloquently to them, and I'm not in their face saying, 'Hands up, don't shoot,' if I'm not that because you couldn't come to me when I needed you, so I'll come to you," she tells KSDK.

Of the nearly 150 people attempting to block I-70 yesterday, the LA Times reports that police arrested at least 10. One organizer, Eric Vickers, according to the Post-Dispatch, did not rule out future acts of civil disobedience. Protesters are calling for Governor Jay Nixon to replace St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch with a special prosecutor. McCulloch's father, a police officer, was killed nearly 50 years ago by an African-American suspect. 

Meanwhile, video and new eyewitnesses corroborating previous testimony has surfaced. Two construction workers who asked to remain unidentified were on scene at the time of Wilson's fatal shooting of Brown. Read more on Fox 2 Now St. Louis and USA Today.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Viola Davis: 'After a While You Get Tired of Being the Third Girl From the Left'

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 08:02
 'After a While You Get Tired of Being the Third Girl From the Left'

Academy Award winner Viola Davis is preparing for the series premiere of her new ABC show "How to Get Away With Murder" and spoke to BuzzFeed about making the transition from film to television. In the new show by network darling Shonda Rimes, Davis stars as criminal law professor Annalise Keating, and it's exactly the type of role the actress was looking to play. "After a while you get tired of being the third girl from the left," she told BuzzFeed:

You feel like you want a role that's going to be worthy of your talent," she said. "And that's why, when [How to Get Away With Murder] came along, I'm like, 'OK, I want those types of roles. I want the flashy roles. I want to be No. 1 on the call sheet.' I feel that I've worked long enough and hard enough that I deserve that. Yes, in film, you do get a lot of supporting roles, as an actor of color. You do. And I feel like, now, I want the flash!"

The new show premieres on September 25th.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

New War in Iraq, Facebook Tests Momentary Posts, Ebola Death Toll Continues to Rise

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 07:06
New War in Iraq, Facebook Tests Momentary Posts, Ebola Death Toll Continues to Rise

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

  • The Syrian opposition is thrilled with Obama's plans. 
  • In a sign that Snapchat really is on to something, Facebook is testing momentary posts. 
  • Taraji P. Henson tells Ebony that she's treated like a D-list actor. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

The Hip-Hop Hustle, Then and Now [VIDEO]

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 04:51

In the Fall of 1996, a small group of young black men made history on 8th St. and 6th Ave. in New York City. It's a history unknown to most, even though its effects are seen every day around the city. That season was when a loose-knit collective of artists pioneered the trade of hustling self-published rap albums on the streets of New York.

Nowadays the hip-hop CD hawker is a ubiquitous sight, generally seen as a nuisance, if not a menace. But in '96, when underground veteran Percee P and a young Brooklyn pair named Duo Live began posting up everyday outside the Fat Beats record store, they saw themselves as carrying on the oldest hip-hop traditions--of using art to make your own path in a world where so many doors are closed to you.

In the video above, filmmaker André Robert Lee and I spend a day with one of the artists that are following the path Percee P and Duo Live blazed. Ryan Riggs, aka Rise Young, moved to New York from Florida hoping to jump-start his career as a rapper and producer, and now leads a collective of artists that gather everyday in his Canarsie, Brookyn, basement studio.

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But as fame and fortune prove elusive, and they find both society and the music industry's doors closed to them as young black men, Ryan and his crew have joined the ranks selling their own CDs on the streets. It's a rare look at the human story behind the "CD hustlers" New Yorkers brush past every day.

I also spoke to Sid V and Fre of Duo Live, with additional insight from Percee P, about how they built this novelty into lifelong careers and helped spawn a generation of copycats, and about their pride and misgivings about the cottage industry they helped inspire.

Jay Smooth: How did you each get started in the street hustle?

Percee P: I began recording in 1988, and by the mid-90s I had enough notoriety to be a regular on the hottest radio show at the time, the Stretch and Bobbito Show. So in '96 when Fat Beats opened and it became the biggest indie record store, they were promoting it every week on the show saying "everyone go to Fat Beats to pick up these records." So I started going down to the store to connect with fans firsthand. Up until then I would sell tapes at shows and stuff like that, but nobody had ever really just posted full-time in one spot to sell, it was a pretty new thing. But when I started going down there to connect with the fans, it clicked so well that I started doing it every day, and I kind of became a landmark there.

Fre: We also started in 1996, and except for us and a couple of others like Percee P and Third Message, to our knowledge nobody was really doing it in New York yet, on that full-time level. We were taking inspiration from people like E-40 and Too Short out West.

Sid V: Nobody here was literally taking it right to the streets. So we actually first started in Brooklyn on the corner of Linden and Pennsylvania. We used to take our cassettes with one song and an instrumental on the other side, and we were selling them at the stoplight. Like how you see dudes selling waters and oranges at the stoplight, we were selling music.

Fre: And let me tell you we were taking it to the 'hood, like really in the streets, and even we thought there was no way cats would stop for us. But people proved us wrong, we found they would take time to pull over and listen to the music, and it was incredible. In that first summer we sold maybe 300 copies of that first single. And once we came to Manhattan and started doing it there, it just kept growing every year, starting with Fat Beats because that was where hip-hop fans came from all over the world.

Sid and Fre, you're considered the most successful of all the early street sellers. How did that evolve?

Fre: From 1996 to 2003, we sold maybe 20,000 or 30,000 units on the street, first in vinyl, then cassettes and CDs. Then in 2003, we left New York and started a full-time operation in Miami, because we saw that in South Beach even more than places like Fat Beats, it was just a tourist hub where you could reach people from around the world every day. And literally, from 2003 to 2008 we sold about 350,000 CDs. So we were definitely leaders of the pack, built a really efficient team that eventually spread out to multiple locations, and we grinded seven days a week, and really set a standard for the game, for what was possible.

And you taught yourself how to move from street corner hustle to a full-fledged business?

Fre: Yeah! We were getting permits from the city to sell legally, we had 12 people on staff, we had an office on Lincoln Road, and were getting as much as 50,000 CDs on consignment from California. Cats fronting you because they knew you would bring that work back. So we reached a point where we were similar to any distribution company. Everything is documented and accounted for, there were sales quotes and bonuses for sales. So we were blessed, and it taught me everything about business acumen, and work ethic. Because this all came from the streets, and we learned that if we can stand out here all day like you said, and take all these no's and all this criticism, then what can we not accomplish? And over time younger heads seeing us, and others like Percee, really sustain with it, made it become what we see now all over town.

How were you able to make it grow and sustain, where most people seem to struggle?

Fre: The first thing was, and this is the difference from what we did and some of the guys now, we were always committed to the music and our appreciation for the art grew along with the sales.

Sid: And you had to really care about the music back then because it was a bigger investment. This home digital recording era hadn't fully kicked in yet, so you had to really care enough to invest in studio time, purchase two-inch reels to record on.

Fre: Then you had to cut a dub plate. Then you had to find a manufacturing plant to press the records or cassette tapes. It was just so much more of a process and more of a financial load, and it made you appreciate the value of the music more. You couldn't invest that much into the music and then put out some BS.

Sid: Those early years were the formative years, because it taught us that if you don't have good music above all, none of this matters. The hustle doesn't matter without the music, and as the quality of the music gets better, the sales will get better.

Do you think this new generation you helped inspire applies the same ethos, or are they different from what you did?

Fre:  We walk all around New York City, and now everywhere cats are selling their CDs. And it's so incredible for us to see it, it's literally like a father watching their children grow up. We support every chance we get. But I'll tell you the honest truth, I usually don't listen anymore. I don't listen when I get home because odds are I can tell from the approach, the packaging, I can tell the level they're on. There's a lot of amateurs out there right now. We started making music in 1989 and didn't release our first single until 1996. We invested time and energy into perfecting our art before we ever thought of letting the world hear what we had to offer. And right now I see these cats and I can tell, this is the first time he ever went in the studio. He went in the studio for one day at his man's house and now he's trying to sell me his record. And unfortunately that changes the dynamic, of what people think the hustle is about, what it's rooted in.

And that's why you transitioned into your current focus, on music education?

Fre: We took a break in 2008, we stepped back once the digital revolution kicked in and the CD basically became extinct, and eventually started a music education program called Label X Music. Something based in and rooted in what we learned in that independent hustle. And right now currently we've been working in high schools and junior high schools throughout the New York City area, and it's really doing well. What we do is we go into a classroom, and literally turn a class of 25 or 30 students into an independent record label. We teach them the entire business from soup to nuts, break them into different groups and have songwriters, producers and engineers, an art department, a legal department and it all comes together for them to make a final product and put it out for the world. So we're teaching what we learned and putting it out their for the kids, so the next generation has some foundation, and when they look for a path in the music industry they can know what they're getting into.

Sid: And we still sit back and say,"This all came from the streets."

Fre: Doing all that work in the street, and learning these principles, has let us be in a comfortable position now where we can do this school program with the children. We can help bring up the next generation of educated artists, educated producers, educated executives, because if we're ever gonna save our music and save our communities, we're gonna need these children. Over the years we've seen hip-hop culture really help our people economically, but that's also brought a generation who mostly only care about making money, who don't care about the culture, and only care about the economics. We're trying to take what we learned out there, and help our next generation restore that balance.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Black, Queer and in Vogue [PHOTOS]

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 04:48
Black, Queer and in Vogue [PHOTOS]

Jay Smooth introduced us this week to hip-hop artists, both pioneers and newcomers, who are hustling to make their own living inside the massive industry that uniquely black art form spawned. But hip-hop is not the only place where young black artists deeply influence mainstream culture and entertainment--and do so without recognition or pay. Pop artists have for decades appropriated the style, dance and sound generated inside the black and Latino LGBTQ community's house ballroom scene. From Madonna's 1990 "Vogue" to the Scissor Sisters' 2012 "Let's Have a Kiki," the creative teams of Top 40 performers have consistently mined the scene for inspiration.

Photographer Gerard Gaskin's 2013 book, "Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene," chronicles the New York City ballroom scene itself with intimate portraits he began recording in 1994, not long after the balls first poked into broader view through the 1990 documentary "Paris Is Burning." Filmmaker Jennie Livingston's documentary itself frustrated many within the scene, Gaskin included. "I've always kind of battled with the idea of whites coming in to do a documentary and their point of view being the strongest," Gaskin says.

Like many others, Gaskin was drawn to the balls as a teenager living in New York City. He began by making portraints of his friends, and just kept going for decades. "I try not to have discussions around, 'Oh, it's an important study and all that,'" he says, rejecting the detachment that too often comes with studying things. Rather, Gaskin kept the project going because he loved being at balls. It's the opening moments that get him. "The toughness and the rawness that the outside world has put on these young people--parents who threw them out, the word faggot, all those ills, all of that stuff--just peels away and they're mini-celebrities in their own space. That energy is amazing."

It's also catching. Pop performers aren't the only ones drawing from the ball scene, often even unwittingly. Ball styles, dances and lingo have become hip cultural signifiers among young, white gay men both in the U.S. and Europe. Gaskin notes the emergence of massive balls in Europe to which party promoters sell thousands of tickets, often with no connection to or recognition of the events' roots.

Gaskin shared some of his images with Colorlines for our Life Cycles of Inequity series, which this month focuses on the cultural economy.  

--Kai Wright, series editor



"I'm originally from the islands, so Carinval is a huge thing," says Gaskin in ticking off things that drew him to balls. "I loved the theater." Here, he profiles Ski at the 30th anniversary ball for House of Xtravaganza, in 2012. Balls center on runway competitions that are themed for both style presentations and gender expressions. Ski is walking in the category "Butch Queen Big Boys."  




Gender is a multifaceted thing at balls, encompassing far more than the male-female binary we're asked to accept elsewhere, and thus the balls have their own gender language, too. "Butch queens" are gay-identified men, for instance, while "femme queens" are transgender women. "Pre-1990, the femme queens ran the balls," Gaskin notes of the change he witnessed. As the decade wore on, he saw more butch queens in leading roles. Here, Tez prepares to walk the category "Butch Queen Tall Boys Bizarre," wearing an outfit made by his twin brother Marquise (right), at a House of Evisu ball in 2010.



gaskin_3_lifecycles.jpgGaskin says expressions of tough masculinity also became more prominent throughout the 1990s--mirroring, or perhaps working dynamically with, trends in hip-hop. "Realness" categories, in which runway walkers emphasize a given masculine style, became popular. Sean, a legendary figure in the balls' butch scene and a transgender man, walks the "Butch Realness" category at a 2007 ball led by the now-defunct community group People of Color in Crisis.



gaskin_6_lifecycles.jpgVoguing battles, like this one at a 1998 ball in Harlem, are often the high-energy moments of a ball. The dance style is also the most pointed example of ball culture seeping into pop culture, without recognition. In the late 1980s, vogue dancers began practicing and battling with one another at the large gay clubs of lower Manhattan. As recounted by music historian Tim Lawrence, the DJs and music producers who led the club scene quickly took notice and began incorporating ball celebrities and styles into their own music. Madonna and her creative team noticed, too, and her smash hit "Vogue," in 1990, featured but did not credit both the styles and the sounds of those earlier tracks. Madonna recruited members of the House of Xtravaganza to vogue with her in the song's video and on tour, but many in the scene--including the DJs who introduced Madonna to ball culture--felt exploited. Similarly, some of those who participated in Livingston's "Paris Is Burning," which debuted the same year, felt misled about how they'd be portrayed and what they'd get in return. 


gaskin_4_lifecycles.jpgGaskin and others argue the pop appropriation of ball culture that began in the early 1990s is now commonplace. But he also notes that there remain players in the ballroom scene who are deeply invested in its undeground status--because of organized crime that exits there, too. "People want to be recognized," he observes, "but it's so hard because at the same time, they do get into trouble." Since at least the early 2000s, however, LGBTQ community organizers have also begun tapping into the scene as a base for connecting with young people around both sexual health and poltical action. Gay Men's Health Crisis now hosts the popular Latex Ball, depicted here in 2002. 




The New York City fashion and clothing design world has always been as core a part of ball culture as has dance, as seen in categories like this one at a 1998 ball, where two walkers show off their house's designs. But today, the most vibrant ball scenes are no longer in New York City. They've branched out to southern and midwestern cities where black LGBTQ communities have grown and developed dramatically in recent years. 



gaskin_7_lifecycles.jpg"Face" categories, like this one at a 1998 ball, are among those that developed as butch queens rose in prominence in the scene. In contrast to the "butch realness" categories, "face" competitions are often built around performing the classic idea of a male fashion model.



gaskin_8_lifecycles.jpgA universal observation of the ball scene is the profoundly broad range of creative talent--and work--that participants generate. The dance alone ranges from voguing to ballet, as seen in this "Butch Queen, Vogue Femme" category at a 2007 ball. It's often noted that many house leaders work or have worked in the cultural economy--as designers, choreographers, producers and the like. But a disturbingly large share of those at the balls are LGBTQ youth whose creative skills are subsumed by the abuse and poverty that continue to shape the lives of queer youth of color around the country. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

This is the T-Shirt Company Making Money Off of Ferguson

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 16:08
This is the T-Shirt Company Making Money Off of Ferguson

So.... Our little New York office feels some kind of way about a new video making rounds today. Titled, "Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America by #Ferguson Kids," the video's making lots of rounds on social media. Which will probably equal lots of money for the company behind it, called Synergy Media

The video features a group of unnamed black kids, purportedly from Ferguson, reciting parts of a script that's clearly been written by adults. A script that will make you think race is solely a black and white issue, by the way. Even if the children are from Ferguson, it's unclear if or how they've been compensated. Either way, the idea that these kids are from Ferguson is paraded for consumption.

Towards the end, a white adult and a black adult make nice and encourage viewers to buy a T-shirt. Five dollars from each shirt will supposedly go to unidentified "charities working in communities to fight racism." Which charities? Who knows! What communities? Can't tell you.*

The video concludes with a dedication, "For Mike," and a quiet scene from the Ferguson street on which Michael Brown was killed by officer Darren Wilson more than a month ago:

The company behind the video,, has made a name for itself selling what it calls "LGBT Equality Gear" (which sort of covers some LGB themes, but sort of leaves the T part out). It's now trying to do the same with its "Anti-Racism Gear." According to its website, "recently became owned and managed by Synergy Media," a corporate branding firm whose clients include Magnum bodybuilding vitamin supplements and pretty offensive "Buckeye Boob T's" (the latter despite the fact that says it's anti-sexist).

There's an entire economy around black death--and this ad campaign illustrates it all too well. Ironically, this economy's profit margins depend on upholding the very racism this video claims to want to eliminate.

So there you have it, folks. Everything, it seems, can distilled, packaged, bought and sold--including racism. 

Update, September 10, 2014, 4:55 p.m.: issued a press release Tuesday indicating that Race Forward, which is Colorlines' publisher, along with a few other organizations, would be receiving funds garnered through T-shirt sales. Race Forward has publicly responded

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Before Aziz Ansari Became a Comedian, He Was a College DJ

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 10:41

Long before Aziz Ansari earned acclaim as a comedian, he was just another college student who admired the likes of DJ Q-Bert, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. He even tried his hand at DJing. He recently chatted with Nardwuar about his short-lived career.

(h/t Okayplayer)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

NBA's Luol Deng: 'I'm Proud to Have A Lot of African in Me'

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 08:43
 'I'm Proud to Have A Lot of African in Me'

Thanks to some good reporting by Yahoo! News's Adrian Wojnaroski, we now know that Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson's black-fans-are-bad-for-business e-mail surfaced as part of an internal investigation into racist comments made by several members of the team's front office. The more upsetting comments came from Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, who said that NBA All-Star and South Sudanese player Luol Deng had "a little African in him" in reference to his not being perfect

"Not in a bad way, but he's like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out the back," Ferry said.

Deng issued a public statement on Tuesday to say that he doesn't just have "a little African in him." He has a lot, and he's damn proud of it:


These words were recently used to describe me.  It would ordinarily make any African parent proud to hear their child recognized for their heritage.

I'm proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just "a little". For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength. Among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation.

Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete. Every person should have the right to be treated with respect and evaluated as an individual, rather than be reduced to a stereotype. I am saddened and disappointed that this way of thinking still exists today. I am even more disturbed that it was shared so freely in a business setting.

However, there is comfort in knowing that there are people who aren't comfortable with it and have the courage to speak up. In the same way a generalization should not define a group of people, the attitude of a few should not define a whole organization or league.

Ultimately, I'm thankful to be with an organization that appreciates me for who I am and has gone out of its way to make me feel welcome.


Categories: Diversity Headlines

Following Ferguson: Outrage at Last Night's City Council Meeting

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 07:56
 Outrage at Last Night's City Council Meeting

More than 600 people attended the first meeting held by Ferguson's majority white city council since a police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown in early August. Shouting erupted during the Pledge of Allegiance, according to a Post-Dispatch account, at the phrase, "and justice for all." Comments reflect the community's ongoing frustration, which had erupted over the past few weeks into street protests before a highly militarized police force that captured global media attention. Council members did not take any questions during the "constant barrage," the Post-Dispatch reports, and had arrived an hour before the meeting with police escorts. From The New York Times:

"You are now on notice," [Shelly] Gradford said. "It is evident that residents of Ferguson have for a long time been harassed. This must end."

John Chasnoff of nearby University City told the officials that they had become the "face of structural racism."

"You've lost your authority to govern this community," Mr. Chasnoff said. "You're going to have to step aside gracefully if this community is going to heal."

Reforms announced this week were read into the record without debate. They will be voted on at a later date. But the impending changes did little to quell the audience's anger last night, or relieve residents' sadness.

Held at a local church, the meeting ended around 10 p.m. after nearly two hours of public comment with words of counsel to council members from Bishop L.O. Jones: "You didn't answer any questions tonight. Let's be honest. It's time for change."

Protesters according to the Post-Dispatch are planning to shut down I-70 on Wednesday afternoon in reaction to Gov. Jay Nixon's refusal to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the police killing of Brown.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Etsy Bans Use of Washington NFL Team Name and Logo

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 07:54
Etsy Bans Use of Washington NFL Team Name and Logo

Homemade and vintage crafts site Etsy has implemented a new policy that bans sellers from using the Washington, D.C. NFL Team name and logo on any item sold on its site.

Etsy's policy update, posted Tuesday, explains:

Today we seek to balance two principles that are critically important to us: freedom of speech and protection from discrimination. Freedom of speech and expression is important to us because we are a community of artists, artisans, and curators of all backgrounds, aesthetics, and viewpoints. If you search our site, you will see a wide variety of items testifying to our diversity and our seemingly limitless creativity.

This freedom, however, is not without limits. In the past, we have taken actions to protect our community and to preserve our integrity as both a creative and an ethical space. We want Etsy to be safe, welcoming, and respectful for everyone, including artists, women, and minorities. For this reason, it has long been against our policies to allow content on our site that demeans people based upon race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation.

You may have been following the struggle of one ethnic group that has made a lot of headlines lately: Native Americans and their fight against the Washington, D.C. professional football team name and mascot, which they have long considered offensive, disparaging, and racist. This very poignant ad was followed by a decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the team's trademarks. Following this decision, an increasing number of public figures, politicians, schools, news publications, and private companies have spoken out in protest of the name and mascot.

Like the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, we at Etsy find the opinion of the minority group itself to carry most weight in determining whether the mascot is disparaging. In no uncertain terms, Native American groups have consistently advocated and litigated that the term "redskin(s)" is disparaging and damaging to Native Americans. Therefore, it will no longer be permitted in our marketplace.

Sellers will be allowed to sell items that use the team's color, and specify location--but items featuring the team's name and logo will soon be gone. The policy change takes place immediately.

Who knows? Maybe Golliwog dolls will go next. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Obama IS Strategy, Dollar Rises, Anti-Anxiety Drugs Linked to Alzheimer's

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 06:54
Obama IS Strategy, Dollar Rises, Anti-Anxiety Drugs Linked to Alzheimer's

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

  • An Alabama man who allegedly killed the five children he took from his ex-wife is arrested in Mississippi. 
  • French music steaming company Deezer hopes to knock out Spotify. Who knows? Maybe they'll actually have De La Soul and Pharcyde tracks that Spotify doesn't. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Following Ferguson: City Council Announces Reforms

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 06:45
 City Council Announces Reforms

Following weeks of unrest and last week's announcement that the Department of Justice is investigating its police force, Ferguson's City Council yesterday announced a raft of reforms. Their intent according to the AP is to repair residents' relationship with their local government. Some of the planned reforms include establishing a review board "to guide the police department" and reducing revenues from court fines. It has been widely reported that criminal and court fines levied on Ferguson's residents are the city's second largest source of revenue.

Read more about the planned reforms on the AP. *This Tuesday evening is the first meeting of the city council since weeks of unrest and global media coverage following the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson.

* Post has been updated

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Livestream: American Policing of Black Bodies With Jelani Cobb

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 14:56

Ferguson is still on the minds and hearts of activists across the country. While that municipality's city council meets for the first time to discuss the prospect of a police oversight board, black activists, writers and academics are still organizing around the national implications of Michael Brown's murder.

This evening the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is hosting a livestreamed discussion on how American policing impacts black bodies. Contributing to the discussion are Khalil G. Muhammad (director of the Schomburg Center); Jelani Cobb (historian and journalist); Claudia De La Cruz (founder of Da Urban Butterflies); Darnell L. Moore (activist and co-organizer of Black Lives Matter); and moderator Joel Diaz (education associate at the Schomburg). There will also be a special reading by writer Akeema Zane.

The discussion starts on Tuesday, September 9 at 6:30pm EST. You can watch above. 

(h/t New York Public Library)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Beats Celebrates Serena Williams' U.S. Open Win With Moving New Ad

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 10:24

Just before Serena Williams won her 18th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open last weekend, Beats celebrated her athletic prowess with a new commercial that's pretty great. It features a track called "Black Unicorn" by 2 Chainz f. Chrisette Michele and Sunni Patterson.

Categories: Diversity Headlines