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Obama on Iran, Kenya Bombs Somalia, Junk Food-Eating Ants

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 07:16
Obama on Iran, Kenya Bombs Somalia, Junk Food-Eating Ants

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

From Coon to Watermelon Jokes, Barriers Remain for Young Black Writers Today

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 13:43
From Coon to Watermelon Jokes, Barriers Remain for Young Black Writers Today

"The publishing industry on which my work depends is 89 [percent] white," writes poet and Buzzfeed LGBT editor Saeed Jones in a new essay about stumbling through that prickly terrain as a young, black writer. Jones, 29, was referencing a 2014 industry survey in which 3 percent of employee respondents described themselves as Asian and Hispanic, respectively, while 1 percent identified as African-American. And in looking for guidance from the experiences of past luminaries like Gwendolyn Brooks and James Baldwin, Jones ends up posing a question: well, how exactly has publishing improved since the 1950s?  (It's the same one raised late last year after a watermelon joke greeted African-American winner Jacqueline Woodson during the National Book Awards.) 

In his essay "Wallace Stevens After Lunch," poet Kevin Young notes that while having lunch with the other 1952 National Book Award judges, Stevens looked at the photograph of the poet Gwendolyn Brooks -- the first black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, in 1950 -- and said, "Who's the coon?" Noticing the other judges -- all white men -- shifting in their seats with discomfort, he added, "I know you don't like to hear people call a lady a coon but who is it?" Brooks had been on the NBA judging committee that had given the hallowed award to Stevens for poetry the previous year.

These moments in literary history are usually segregated to the footnotes section. Throughout my education, I never heard "Like Decorations In A Nigger Cemetery" discussed in a classroom, never talked about Wallace Stevens looking at a picture of Gwendolyn Brooks and asking, "Who's the lady coon?" -- as if racism vanishes the moment we set foot into the ivory towers and glittering soirees of the literati.

Read more of Jones' essay on Buzzfeed, as well as more about him and his new $12,000 emerging writers fellowship aimed at diversifying media:

When we expect young writers to get experience via unpaid internships, we're actually saying we want only wealthy people writing about American culture in an influential way. That's what we get, right? Or rather, that's what we've gotten used to accepting as normal when in fact, it's a kind of fiction. Diversity is reality. So, in order to do my part to support being in step with reality, I'm really excited about creating an opportunity for emerging writers to get experience and mentorship while also receiving financial support. You can't expect someone to do their best work if they're exhausted and broke. Well, maybe you can expect it but doing so strikes me as a bit cruel.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Death of 14-Year-Old Latino Killed by Chicago Police Kill Labeled 'Suicide'

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 13:40
Death of 14-Year-Old Latino Killed by Chicago Police Kill Labeled 'Suicide'

On the Fourth of July 2014, Chicago police shot and killed a 14-year-old child, Pedro Rios Jr. Although the Cook County medical examiner's autopsy revealed that Rios's death was caused by homicide, his official death record, certified by the same agency, reads "suicide" as the manner of death.

That--and many more disturbing details of Chicago police and the Independent Police Review Authority's (IPRA) practices around officer-involved killings--is what Sarah Macaraeg found in part one of her four-part investigation for Truthout.

According to its website, Chicago's IPRA was created in 2007 over criticism over the police department's misconduct. IPRA is lead "by a civilian Chief Administrator and staffed entirely with civilian investigators, IPRA is an independent agency of the City of Chicago, separate from the Chicago Police Department. IPRA replaced the former Office of Professional Standards." But, Macaraeg's reporting indicates IPRA is failing at holding police accountable: the agency failed to even count at least six officer-involved killings in three years alone--including Rios's death, which is ironically listed as "non-fatal."

Part one of Truthout's investigation yields damning conclusions about the Chicago PD as well as the very costly civilian-led IPRA, including institutionalized bias. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Catching Up on Chris Rock's 'Driving While Black' Posts

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 13:37
Catching Up on Chris Rock's 'Driving While Black' Posts

Chris Rock began chronicling the number of times he gets stopped by the police on his social media channels in February. The posts have since prompted a public conversation among performers on racial profiling.

Rock's first pulled-over pic appeared on Instagram with the caption, "Just got pulled over by the cops wish me luck," and was followed by another two weeks later on Feb 27 with the note, "I'm not even driving stop by the cops again." His latest, and third in two months, was a nighttime tweet, "Stopped by the cops again wish me luck," accompanied by a selfie from the driver's seat. His tweet got the attention of four-time Emmy winner Isaiah Washington, who replied to Rock's tweet, advising him to "adapt."

I sold my $90,000.00 Mercedes G500 and bought 3 Prius's, because I got tired of being pulled over by Police. #Adapt @chrisrock

Musician ?uestlove joined the Twitter chain with a response to Washington.

Prius won't save you from #DWB @IWashington i know. trust.

After coming under fire for his comment, Washington appeared on CNN to clarify his remarks. 

I know a lot of people take issue with the hashtag 'adapt,' thinking that I was implying that white supremacy and racial profiling will stop if you were in a different car. [...] From my experience, police are about the business of policing, night and day. I obviously have a slight advantage because I'm a celebrity during the day and hopefully they'll recognize me. But if they don't at night, I'm vulnerable like everyone else. But I will say this, since I got out of my [Mercedes G500] and been driving a Prius for the last four years, with windows that are tinted darker than the windows that were tinted in my $90,000 vehicle, I have not been pulled over one time.

Rock's choice to share his experience is bringing the issue of racial profiling back to the popuar topics discussed on Twitter. The Washington Post reports, citing the Department of Justice "Police Behavior During Traffic and Street Stops" data report for 2011:

Black drivers are about 23 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. Native Americans are stopped most frequently of all. The federal survey found that relatively speaking, far fewer blacks than whites were pulled over for speeding. Instead, the cops stopped them because of a "vehicle defect," to check a record, or for some other or unspecified reason. Black drivers were also about three times as likely as white drivers to be searched after they were stopped.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Frida Kahlo Love Letters to Be Auctioned Off

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 13:34
Frida Kahlo Love Letters to Be Auctioned Off

Twenty five love letters written by Frida Kahlo between August of 1946 and November of 1949 are headed to auction on April 15 at Doyle New York.

The collection includes over 100 pages of correspondence and were originally saved by Jose Bartoli, a Catalan artist and political refugee who moved to New York to escape the Spanish Civil War. He and Kahlo met while she was recovering from spinal surgery. 

When Kahlo returned to Mexico, she and Bartoli began a secret, long-distance romance, exchanging letters over three years. Bartoli preserved the letters until his death in 1995, after which they were passed down to his family.

In a letter written on August 29, 1946, Frida shares, "Bartoli -- last night I felt as if many wings caressed me all over, as if your finger tips had mouths that kissed my skin." In another she says, "Do not deny me other desires that form the whole of what I feel for you and that can only be called love." Kahlo also sent Bartoli thoughts about her paintings, health and relationship with Diego Rivera.

Rare Books Department Director Peter Costanzo, in a statement to HuffPost, noted:

The Frida Kahlo archive is remarkably important. Her letters to José Bartoli are entirely fresh and unpublished. They provide new information about one of the most important artists of the 20th century. It is an honor and a privilege to present this precious archive to the public. Its contents will surely further scholarship on Frida Kahlo and her works.

The letters are expected to sell for up to $120,000.

 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Trooper Reprimanded After Taking Photo With Snoop Dogg

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 07:36
Trooper Reprimanded After Taking Photo With Snoop Dogg

In laugh-to-keep-from-crying news, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Billy Spears was reprimanded by his superiors after taking a photo with Snoop Dogg at SXSW 2015 in Austin. 

The rapper/actor posted the shot, taken by his publicist, of him and the trooper with the caption, "Me n my deputy dogg," to his Instagram. According to the Dallas Morning News, when the DPS officials caught wind of it, Spears was cited for deficiencies that require counseling for posing with a criminal.

The counseling reprimand read: 

While working a secondary employment job, Trooper Spears took a photo with a public figure who has a well-known criminal background including numerous drug charges. The public figure posted the photo on social media and it reflects poorly on the Agency.

Snoop Dogg aka Calvin Broadus was acquitted of a 1993 murder charge, but apparently, according to the DPS, his convictions for drug possessions are enough to earn him the "known criminal" label. 

Ty Clevenger, Spears' attorney says that Spears had no knowledge of the drug convictions.

The citation will become a permanent smudge on Spears' personnel record and because the action taken against him was not a formal disciplinary action, an appeal is not an option. 

Read more

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Iran Nuke Deal, Noose at Duke, FLOTUS on Fallon

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 07:01
Iran Nuke Deal, Noose at Duke, FLOTUS on Fallon

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

  • Proof that we have the best First Lady. Ever. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Grace Jones Documentary Gets the Green Light

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 10:22
Grace Jones Documentary Gets the Green Light

BBC Films has greenlighted a documentary on Grace Jones titled, "Grace Jones: The Musical of My Life" to be directed by Sophie Fiennes.

The film has reportedly been in the works for seven years. It will be the first-ever documentary on model-turned-performer Jones, and, according to BBC, it will be a "multi-narrative journey through the private and public realms of the legendary singer and performer."

Jones who began gaining popularity in the 1980s with hits such as "Slave to the Rhythm" and "Pull Up to the Bumper," has served as a musical and fashion influence ever since. 

Read more.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

MCNY Unveils 'Hip-Hop Revolution' Photo Exhibition

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 09:46
MCNY Unveils 'Hip-Hop Revolution' Photo Exhibition

The Museum of the City of New York opened photo exhibition, "Hip-Hop Revolution: Photographs by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper," on Wednesday. 

More than 80 images captured by the three New York-based photographers, between 1977 and 1990 are on display. Beckman, Conzo and Cooper documented the evolution of hip-hop culture from its roots in the Bronx through its integration into mainstream pop culture.

The collection of photographs will be available to view until September 13.

Read more.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Backlash Over Indiana, California Water Cuts, Adobe's Slate

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 07:21
Backlash Over Indiana, California Water Cuts, Adobe's Slate

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

McDonald's Workers Win Pay Raise

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 07:18
McDonald's Workers Win Pay Raise

McDonald's will raise its hourly wage for 90,000 workers, The Wall Street Journal reports (paywalled). Beginning July 1, the global fast food company will pay at least a $1-per-hour more at the 1,500 U.S. restaurants that it directly owns, bringing the hourly rate to around $10 by the end of 2016. After a year of employment, workers will be able to annually accrue up to five days of paid time-off. The raise and paid time-off benefit will not apply to franchisee-owned operations, however, which comprise nearly 90 percent of the 14,350 McDonald's in the U.S.

Yesterday, fast-food workers from the Fight for $15 campaign announced that their next big wave of domestic and international protests will begin on April 15. The fast food worker strikes began in New York City in November 2012 when a couple hundred workers walked off their fast food jobs, not just McDonald's. Now, according to The New York Times, "organizers say more than 60,000 people will join strikes and protests in 200 cities nationwide."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Big Freedia Talks Gender Identity

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 07:17
Big Freedia Talks Gender Identity

New Orleans native and "Queen of Bounce," Big Freedia started off gracing stages in her hometown. Her album "Just Be Free," and its popular single "Explode," as well as her reality show "Queen of Bounce," have gained Freedia a considerable fan base. 

Freedia, who does not identify as transgender, spoke to the Advocate about her gender identity.

I always wanted to be what I wanted to be and be comfortable in my own skin. Act how I feel, dress however I feel. I'm a voice for a lot of people who really don't have a voice. I want people to be able to identify as whomever they choose to be and feel free to be whomever they want to be. That's why I called my last album "Just Be Free," meaning just be free in your own skin. Be whoever you want to be. Wear whatever you want to wear. Talk to whomever you want. Eat whatever you choose. Do everything you want in life because you have only one life.

Freedia on progress for the LGBTQ community:

Definitely! There's been progress. Things have been changing. Our voices are being heard. People want to see us more. We are there more in the TV world and the music world. Gay marriage -- now we are allowed that. People are definitely getting more open minded and laid back. It's not as hard as it used to be when we were younger. 

Read more of her interview here.

Her upcoming book "Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva," is set for a July release. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Racism at Core of Native Teen Suicides in Pine Ridge

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 07:11
Racism at Core of Native Teen Suicides in Pine Ridge

At least 11 children between the ages of 12 and 17 have committed suicide in my county since December. The heartbreaking details vary from child to child, but their families and this community--in the newly renamed Oglala Lakota County--feel the voids left by their absences just as deeply each and every time.

Between December 1 and March 23, Pine Ridge Hospital treated 241 patients under 19 who actively planned, attempted or committed suicide. These numbers don't account for unreported cases or for those who were treated in neighboring counties. At this rate, 37 young people in a county that only has 5,393 inhabitants under 18 will be gone by the end of 2015. Moreover, statistics from Pine Ridge Indian Health Services show teen suicide numbers have gradually increased over the last seven years. In the same four-month period last year, for example, there were no suicides in Pine Ridge. In 2012, only one.

If this were happening in any other county in America, politicians would be calling on their governor to intervene. But since Oglala Lakota County is part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, not many people outside this community seem to know or care about what's happening here.

In Pine Ridge, site of the massacre at Wounded Knee, commonplace teen angst is exacerbated by extreme poverty, historical trauma and racial discrimination. As a high school English teacher and newcomer, I understood early on that kids here come to know mortality much sooner than most. At 26, I've only been to one funeral: for my great-grandmother, who passed away peacefully at 97. Ask my students and they'll tell you that when it comes to funerals they've lost track.

When I ask non-Native South Dakotans to help me understand why suicide waves like these happen, their explanations too often invoke--either directly or through insinuations--the notion of the "Indian Problem," a twisted, blatantly racist policy the U.S. government first used in the 1880s to dissolve reservations and force Native Americans to assimilate to white culture.

Only now the "Indian Problem" is employed to blame Natives for the poverty, substance abuse and unemployment that's all too common throughout Indian Country. "They bring it on themselves," too many strangers tell me when they learn where I live and work.

But there is a conveniently ignored connection--a direct one, I would argue--between the hopelessness felt by some young people here and their experiences off (and the impositions made by outsiders onto) the reservation. These experiences are what make these suicides bigger than Pine Ridge.

In January, at a hockey game in nearby Rapid City, white adults sitting in a private box above 57 middle-school students from Pine Ridge sprayed the children with beer and told them to "Go back to the reservation." Instead of 57 charges of child abuse and assault in response, like some had suggested, only one man ended up with one charge of disorderly conduct.

In December, while the nation's eyes were on Ferguson, a Native man was killed by a white police officer a day after attending a #NativeLivesMatter anti-police brutality rally in Rapid City. The intoxicated man was shot for appearing threatening with a steak knife. His wife, the only other witness, denies any aggression on his part. The attorney general of South Dakota deemed the five fatal gunshots justified in the report he released.

In November a pack of feral dogs killed an 8-year-old girl here. She was sledding in her backyard. In response, the tribe ordered all stray dogs on the reservation euthanized. This enraged predominantly white animal rights activists from off the reservation, who called the killings inhumane and mobilized to save what dogs they could, oblivious to the poverty and lack of services here that allows the feral dog problem to exist.

Let's be clear. These events tell Native children one thing: "Your lives are not valued. You do not have a place in the world beyond the reservation."

We can all, regardless of race and socio-economic class, understand the desire to leave the place we've come from, to experience something beyond the lives we've known thus far. But for many children in Pine Ridge, however, leaving home to gain any economic advantage seems overwhelming because of the racism and even outright hostility that can be so commonplace in the outside world.

Davidica Young Man, 23, who grew up on Pine Ridge, says racism in all forms gets engrained in you early on as young person here. Just days after the events at the Rapid City hockey game controversy in January, Young Man and her friends also had beer poured on them--this time at a bull-riding event at the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo.

"I noticed, as I got older and started going off the rez more, that there are people who tend to follow us around or give us looks that make it seem like we're really suspicious," she told me as we sat in my car in the reservation hamlet of Oglala. "I still don't carry a purse into stores because they always used to ask me to open it before leaving."

Anpo Stars Come Out,* an 18-year-old high school senior from Pine Ridge, agrees. "It's normal for teens to deal with racism of some kind when they leave the reservation." About a month ago, police stopped Stars Come Out in downtown Rapid City for legally smoking a cigarette on a public sidewalk. The officer pulled over, lights flashing, got out of his patrol car and asked to see his ID.

What may seem like a harmless police stop to some can mean much more to those directly involved. A 2013 study lead by the University of Melbourne linked racism to youth depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety are, of course, foundational to suicidal thoughts. "The review showed there are strong and consistent relationships between racial discrimination and a range of detrimental health outcomes such as low self-esteem, reduced resilience, increased behavior problems and lower levels of wellbeing," wrote lead researcher Dr. Naomi Priest after concluding her review of 461 predominantly American cases.

Interestingly, teens' experiences of racism in the Melbourne study were most commonly interpersonal, not institutional or systemic. Racism experienced beyond the reservation is often intrapersonal as well, and quickly internalized. "It's normal for young people around here to get bullied with racism.

What's worse is that they slowly get used to it and start thinking--It's no big deal that someone just called me a prairie n-word or a dirty savage," observed Young Man. What's more, it is not uncommon for Young Man and her peers to hear horror stories from off the reservation that go well beyond racial slurs. "You'll hear things like, "Well, there was once a Native guy who was drugged by all these white dudes in a truck. He died and they ditched his body." Fact or fiction, the stories have their desired effect. "All that stuff scared the crap out of me as a teenager," said Young Man.

Many white South Dakotans are happy to have Native Americans dressed in traditional clothing on the state tourism website or spending money at their businesses. But when it comes to making space for contemporary Native voices, the barricades built around the reservation often don't allow free passage. This is the future Native children see in many parts of this country. Add high-profile examples of racism, the daily unreported microaggressions Native kids face and the structural obstacles that extreme poverty creates, and you start to understand why suicide waves persist. This narrative is not unique to Pine Ridge, though it is certainly exacerbated by American colonialism's legacy here. It can be found in other low-income communities of color in the United States too. In South Central Los Angeles, South Side Chicago or the South Bronx, the message kids get too often is: "You do not matter."

I recently visited a second grade classroom in Pine Ridge. The students were busy writing e-mails to their pen pals in Asheville, North Carolina. The messages were typical in every way: "I love playing soccer," wrote one student. "Ms. Chelsea is my teacher," wrote another. The kids took goofy selfies and sent those along as well. I couldn't help but think that these exchanges should be happening with kids in nearby Hot Springs, or any other town in South Dakota. It seems so simple, but students in grade schools throughout the state and the nine Indian reservations here should be better connected. Only by educating children early on to know and value the diversity of their neighbors will we have the opportunity to shape the future of a more inclusive and prosperous society. Establishing pen-pal relationships between kids makes it harder for them to grow up hating someone whose story they know.That's what it comes down to--knowing each other's stories.

One of suicide's latest victims in Pine Ridge, a teenage girl, had a story too. According to friends on Facebook she wanted to be a singer or an actress. Peers, however, told her that she would never be able to because she was a "dirty Native." She needed to have "more white in her" if she really wanted to be someone, they told her.

That was one of the stories that went around about why she was so upset before she died, because "people were saying she was too dark-skinned," said Young Man. Her story--like 10 others'--has ended far too early.

Dominique Alan Fenton is an 11th grade English teacher on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In addition to teaching, he does investigation work behalf of indigent defendants in federal and tribal court. He is a certified legal advocate in Oglala Sioux Tribal Court.

*Post has been updated to correct Anpo Stars Come Out's last name. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Cheo Hodari Coker Named Showrunner of "Luke Cage"

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 09:55

Cheo Hodari Coker will be the executive producer and showrunner on the upcoming series "Luke Cage" set to air in 2016, Netflix and Disney's Marvel Television has announced.

Coker is writing the first two episodes of the series, which will premiere and be available on Netflix. This will be a change of pace for Coker who started his career as a writer for publications such as Vice, Rolling Stone, Essence, and whose film credits include rap biopic "Notorious."

 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Fighting World Hunger Helps Viola Davis Heal

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 09:01
Fighting World Hunger Helps Viola Davis Heal

Viola Davis is leaning all the way into her fight to end hunger. The star of ABC's hit, "How to Get Away with Murder" has opened up before about her impoverished childhood in Rhode Island: living in a rat-infested home, chronic fatigue from hunger, living with no plumbing, dumpster-diving and stealing to eat. 

Now, the 49-year-old is speaking with ET about a life-changing moment and how her fight to end hunger serves as her therapy: 

I saw 'The Autobiography of Miss. Jane Pittman' with Cicely Tyson, so in the midst of all of that poverty, a dream was born. Your dreams have to be bigger than your circumstances.

It's my way of healing that little child that always follows me with a little ponytail, that was diving through dumpsters, it's my way of hushing her a little bit, putting a smile on her face. I think it's the least I can do as I'm walking down the red carpet.

Read more here.

 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Iran Deal, World's Oldest Person Dies, MRSA Home Remedy

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 06:53
Iran Deal, World's Oldest Person Dies, MRSA Home Remedy

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

  • Joni Mitchell is hospitalized after being found unconscious in her home. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Why Mothers Are on Strike at Karnes Immigrant Detention Center

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 14:25
Why Mothers Are on Strike at Karnes Immigrant Detention Center

Seventy eight mothers being held at Karnes County Residential Center have signed a letter demanding their release. The Spanish-language letter, which was obtained by Colorlines early Tuesday, suggests that the immigration detainees are staging a hunger and work strike. Located in Karnes County, Texas, and run by the private GEO Group, Karnes been the site of repeated allegations of sexual abuse.

Most of these mothers are asylum-seeking Central Americans picked up along U.S.-Mexico border. Most have brought their children from Guatemala and El Salvador--countries with some of the highest femicide rates on the planet.

The mothers who've signed the letter have all been interviewed by immigration officials and have established a credible fear of persecution or torture if they were to be deported. But they either haven't been given an opportunity to post bond for release, or the bond amount has been set too high. Their letter, in part, reads: 

03-31-15-karnes-2.jpg

"[D]uring this [time], no mother will work in the detention center, nor will we send our children to school, not will we use any services here, until we are heard and approved: we want our FREEDOM."

The strike began Monday with some 40 women and it has no definite end date. At a facility like Karnes, where detainees run a lot of the essential services, a strike can also impact people who aren't participating.

An immigration officer I spoke with at Karnes who repeatedly declined to give her name laughed when I called on Tuesday. I asked why she was laughing and she answered, "These attorneys convinced them all to do stuff," and shortly thereafter they hung up on me. Phone calls to GEO Group staff at Karnes have not been returned. Here's some more of what you need to know about Karnes and about why so many women are taking action there:

'A prison for children'

Polyane Soares de Oliveira has been in Karnes with her 11-year-old daughter for eight months. Both are from Brazil and although they've established credible fear, a major step in the asylum process, they remain locked up. I spoke with her Polyane's husband, who lives in Boston, late Monday, who described Karnes as a "prison for children." He says his 11-year-old stepdaughter has been questioned by immigration authorities without her mother or an attorney present. "They asked her questions like, 'Are you a member of any gang?' and pressured her to explain if she had ever killed anyone." His stepdaughter was only 10 when authorities questioned her.

Working for $3 a day

Although undocumented people are not authorized to work in the United States, undocumented detainees at Karnes help run the facility for just $3 a day. They clean and run the laundry facility--a big task for the 532-bed detention center.

Dirty frack water

Karnes City, Texas, is tiny: The population is roughly 3,500. But it's home to major fracking operations. Residents have complained of contaminated drinking water. That's why many detainees only drink bottled water. The cost per bottle, however, is $3--the exact amount of a day's pay.

Kicking paralegals out

In February, a paralegal named Victoria Rossi published a detailed account of what happens at Karnes for the Texas Observer. She's subsequently been barred from visiting Karnes as a result. Other legal aid workers have reported similar consequences at Karnes. 

Sexual abuse allegations

Most of the guards at Karnes are men and they have access to women and children's rooms at any hour. Since August 2014, when it reopened as a center to hold immigrant families, detainees have accused guards of sexually abusing them, including assaults in front of children. A federal investigation that ended last month found that there was no such abuse. But that conclusion is based on interviews with guards and current detainees, including those who fear deportation if they report abuse to authorities.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Remembering Selena 20 Years After Her Death

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 14:07
Remembering Selena 20 Years After Her Death

On March 31, 1995, the day she died, Selena had a crossover album, "Dreaming of You," a million-dollar record deal, a Grammy, a clothing line, brand endorsements and a fan base that grew exponentially with each appearance. Hispanic Business magazine had named her one of the most successful Latin entertainers in the world. The cumbia singer had come a long way from performing in her father's restaurant in Lake Jackson, Tex., with her family's band, Selena Y Los Dinos. 

At the time of her death -- the head of her fan club fatally shot her at a Corpus Christi motel--the 23-year-old was set to release her first English-language album. Her passing made international news, and more than 60,000 mourners attended her funeral. Now, 20 years from the day, the Latina icon is being remembered around the world with concerts, lookalike contests, marathons, a festival and more. Jennifer Lopez, who starred in the 1997 film "Selena," commemorated the slain singer in Us:

It has always bugged me that people would try to think that there's a 'next Selena.' It's like saying there's another James Dean or Marilyn Monroe. People like that don't come along every day. There is never going to be another Selena. It's a special thing that Selena had. That's why we're still talking about her 20 years later.

 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Wife And Brother Allowed to Visit Mumia Abu-Jamal In Critical Care Unit

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 11:31
Wife And Brother Allowed to Visit Mumia Abu-Jamal In Critical Care Unit

The wife and brother of Mumia Abu-Jamal have been allowed to visit him in the critical care unit of Schuylkill Medical Center in Pennsylvania, one of his attorneys today told Colorlines. The visits come a day after reports surfaced that state Department of Corrections officials, according to Prison Radio News, were blocking family visitation following Abu-Jamal's admittance Monday morning into the ICU. "He was admitted yesterday morning with a blood sugar level at 779," attorney Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center says by phone from the hospital. "He had passed out, came to and didn't know where he was or how he got there."

According to Grote, Abu-Jamal, 60, had been under care for a series of health issues over the past two months, which included stays in the prison infirmary. "Still," he says, "they didn't notice the onset of [symptoms] which almost led to him entering into a diabetic coma."

Reached for comment to the above, the state DOC's deputy press secretary Susan Bensinger says via e-mail, "We have no comment regarding the inmate's status/hospitalization. We never discuss an inmate's medical condition."

Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, is serving life without parole for the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer. The former journalist and activist's case and subsequent appeals have won him international support and calls for a new trial.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Olympic Champion Gabby Douglas Gets Her Own Show

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 10:12
Olympic Champion Gabby Douglas Gets Her Own Show

Gabrielle "Gabby" Douglas, who, in 2012 became the first black gymnast in history to win the individual all-around gold medal at the Summer Olympics, is getting her own reality show on Oxygen.

The show with the working title "Douglas Family Gold" will follow the Douglas family as they each juggle Gabrielle's training schedule and their personal lives. The 19-year-old is now training for the 2016 Olympics.

 

Categories: Diversity Headlines