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Updated: 10 hours 40 min ago

Los Rakas Pays Tribute to Families Torn Apart by Deportation

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:51

Los Rakas, an Oakland-based Panamanian-American hip-hop duo, is out with a new video that looks at America's broken immigration system. In "Chica de mi Corazon" directed by Nelson Navarrete, a boy makes the dangerous journey to the United States in search of his mother. The music is especially timely in light of the thousands of child migrants who've been thrust in the American media's spotlight. 

The duo write:

"We see what can happen when people are forced from their homelands because of poverty and the dangerous risks they must face. Through the hardship and struggle, the videos celebrate these stories and the mothers around the world who risk it all for their families. This is just one immigrant romance and tragedy, a soundtrack for the world we are currently living in."

The video is the second part of a cinematic series that focuses on the push-and-pull factors of immigration. The first one, "Sueño Americano", was directed by the Perez Brothers. 

Here's the English translation for "Chica de Mi Corazon":

(Chorus)
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
To my heart
To my heart
Come back soon to my heart
To my heart
To my heart
Come back soon to my heart
This happened a few years ago
When I was in the land of PanamaShe was a very special girl
For me that was the most beautiful girl
I was coming over here
You could see the happiness in my face
But I was sad at the same time
Mami I love you without you I'm not happy
Mami I'm not lying or making up stories
I love you, I like you and I respect you
I want you at my side to fill you kisses
You're the woman I always see in my dreams
(Chorus)
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
To my heart
To my heart
Come back soon to my heart
To my heart
To my heart
Come back soon to my heart
Remembering the past
And the moments when we were close
Girl I had you by my side when I was little
This distance has me exhausted
Looking at the moon
Girl if I could I'd leave
And only dedicate myself to your capture
You're my soul, my queen without a doubt
Mama, it's been 10 years that I can't see you
I can't kiss you
This distance is killing me
I miss you
(Chorus)
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
To my heartTo my heart
Come back soon to my heart
To my heart
To my heart
Come back soon to my heart

And for Sueño Americano:

Estos manes no conocen nada de mí
Ni saben lo que he tenido que hacer para vivir
La vida en América no es como creí
Ni menos como piensan
Los que no viven aquí
Es dura
Compa esto no es Panama
Que si no tienes algo
El vecino te lo da
Acá si quieres algo tú lo tienes que buscar
Y si no hay trabajo entonces tienes que pecar
Porque renta es cara la ley es mala
Sin papeles tú no eres nada
Ni como humano te tratan
Esto es un mensaje para toda mi raza
(coro)
Hey nada es como antes
Las cosas han cambiado
Pero hay que hechar para alante
Yo soy inmigrante y se me trata a mí
Como si soy maliante
(repeat)
Sueño americano
Es el sueño americano
Así es el sueño americano
Es el sueño americano
La circunstancia me limita
No puedo ir pa' college
Porque no tengo mi green card
Ando sin trabajo y la mente negativa
Tramando lo que sea para llegar hacia la cima
Tú me entiendes?
Ya no soy el mismo joven inocente
America me convirtió en delincuenteParkiando con los manes que roban y venden
Tomando, fumando, actuando indecente
Y mi mama 'ta cansada ayer me llamó
Dice que no puede más
Que a dios todo el día le resa
Para que me vaya bien
Y nunca me vaya mal
Y los ojos se me empiezan a aguar
Me necesita y ni la puedo ayudar
Perdoname mama
Pronto yo y Rico vamos a estar en la fama con lana
(coro)
Hey nada es como antes
Las cosas han cambiado
Pero hay que hechar para alante
Yo soy inmigrante y se me trata a mí
Como si soy maliante
(repeat)
Sueño americano
Es el sueño americano
Así es el sueño americano
Es el sueño americano

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Iggy Azalea's Theft of Southern Black Women's Culture

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:42
Iggy Azalea's Theft of Southern Black Women's Culture

What do you do with an artist like Iggy Azalea? She's a white Australian emcee who's currently got one of America's most popular rap songs in "Fancy," a swagger-packed ode to Southern crunk. But, as Brittney Cooper points out at Salon, white artists don't have to appropriate black culture to be good rappers. And Cooper calls out black male rappers like T.I. for promoting a white female artist like Iggy Azalea over black women:

Forty years ago, Black male race leaders told us that race was the only thing that mattered, feminism be damned. Now in this political moment of My Brother's Keeper, in the cultural arena, rap crews like Lil Wayne's Young Money Cash Money and T.I.'s Grand Hustle Entertainment throw their weight behind white women rappers without a second thought. From this, Black women are supposed to conclude two things: 1) race does not matter, except if you are a Black man and 2) if Black men do anything for any woman, it's the same as being hospitable and/or progressive to every woman.

By riding for white female rappers to the exclusion of Black women, Black men collude with the system against Black women, by demonstrating that our needs, aspirations and feelings do not matter and are not worthy of having a hearing.

Read more over at Salon

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Watch Onondaga Turtle Clan's Alfred Jacques Make Lacrosse Sticks

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:29

The Iroquois Nationals beat Australia 12-10 at the World Lacrosse Championship in Denver, Colo. Monday night; the team has won three of its four games in the tournament so far. After being barred from participating over a passport debacle in 2010, the team is back this year and scheduled to play against the United States tonight. 

Lacrosse remains a sacred game for the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois. In this short video, Onondaga stickmaker Alfred Jacques illustrates the importance of the craft he's been honing for 50 years. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

LeBron James' Reunion With Cleveland Touches on Midwest's 'Brain Drain'

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:27
LeBron James' Reunion With Cleveland Touches on Midwest's 'Brain Drain'

After weeks of holding the sports world hostage, LeBron James has finally announced that he's returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. In a touching letter published in Sports Illustrated, James listed the intensely personal reasons for wanting to return to the place that raised him and, in the process, managed to sound like most young folks of his generation who want to make an impact.

 I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I'm from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there's no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.

In this, James isn't exactly alone. Census data indicate that the state of Ohio may finally be reversing a decades-long brain drain as young people between the ages of 20 and 34 remain in the state. (James, who is 29, likened the four years he spent in Miami as "almost like college for other kids.")

Cleveland is known as a city that's suffered countless heartbreaks in sports, chief among them James' 2010 decision to take his talents to South Beach. But that heartache has often meant more in a city that's also been decimated by industrial decline. When the Republican National Committee announced that it had chosen to host its 2016 convention in Cleveland, a spurned Dallas Morning News' editorial board wrote, "Still, no matter how much fun you have, when you wake up, you'll still be in Cleveland."

But it looks like more and more, Cleveland is the place to be. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

The Iroquois Nationals Team Shines at the World Lacrosse Championship

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:24
The Iroquois Nationals Team Shines at the World Lacrosse Championship

The World Lacrosse Championship kicked off in 1967, and has been played every four years since 1974. But the game itself goes back much further, to time immemorial. According to the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, creation story, the game was first played in the spirit world. Lacrosse is more than just a game for the Haudenosaunee: because it was handed down by the Creator, playing lacrosse is like sacred medicine. 

The Iroquois Nationals team was first admitted to the federation that runs the championship tournament in 1990, and remains the only First Nations/Native American team that is recognized to compete in an international tournament. The team has consistently placed in the top five each year it participates.

07-14-14-haudenosaunee-1.jpgThe Haudenosaunee is a confederacy of six nations: the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora Nations are spread over what most people call Canada and the United States today. As a confederacy of sovereign tribal nations, the Haudenosaunee have their own passports. But when the team attempted to compete in Manchester in the 2010 World Lacrosse Championship, England declined the team entry because it refused to recognize the Haudenosaunee passport. The Iroquois Nationals fought the decision and are now back in this year's tournament, which is being held in Denver, Colo. 

As the Denver Post reports, the Iroquois Nationals team is packed with amazing players:

The Thompson family -- four brothers and a cousin on the Iroquois Nationals -- are fueling a team that is poised to dominate. With 3-foot braids swinging below their helmets, the Thompsons -- led by State University at Albany brothers Miles, 23, and Lyle, 21, and their 23-year-old cousin Ty -- are bringing an instinctual, honed-since-birth style of box-lacrosse play to the international stage, promising to elevate the game their ancestors created.

The trio arguably comprises the three best young players in all of lacrosse. Miles and Lyle co-won the 2014 Tewaaraton Award, the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse, marking the first time the award has gone to an American Indian.

Lacrosse became popular with Europeans who arrived in the eastern part of North America--called Turtle Island by the Haudenosaunee. Over time, the game has grown internationally, and is sometimes associated with elite universities in the United States. But no one knows the game better, or has played as long, as the Haudenosaunee.

This year, the Iroquois Nationals beat England and Japan by big margins--and barely lost to Canada by just one point in Sunday night's game. It faces off with Australia tonight, and against the United States on Tuesday evening. The tournament continues through Saturday. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Inside the Immigration 'Icebox'

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:19

The Obama administration has asked Congress for nearly $4 billion to deal with the influx of unaccompanied Central American children making their way into the United States. He aims to increase border enforcement, increase detention center capacity and hire immigration judges to expedite their removal. But before migrant children are placed in detention, they're processed in holding facilities. It is here that many complain of what they call hieleras, or iceboxes--rooms so cold, they feel like they're freezing. Customs and Border Protection denies the use of hieleras. But according to lawsuits, they're too often the norm. Colorlines spoke with one migrant from Honduras, Mayeli Hernández. Along with her 8-year-old sister, she crossed into the United States last year when she was just 11 years old. Here, she talks about what her experience in the hielera was like. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

NYT: Violent Abuse of the Mentally Ill Is Routine, Widespread at Rikers Island

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:17
 Violent Abuse of the Mentally Ill Is Routine, Widespread at Rikers Island

In a devastating investigation published on Monday, the New York Times details horrific abuses of mentally ill inmates taking place at the hands of guards behind the walls of New York City's Rikers Island jail. In an 11-month span last year, 129 inmates at Rikers Island were seriously injured in "altercations" with guards, and more than three-quarters of them had received a mental illness diagnosis. Inmates have been getting beat up so badly that they require stitches, emergency surgery or care for broken bones.

Here are just two of multiple incidents New York Times reporters Michael Winerip and Michael Schwirtz uncovered in their investigation:

In August, Carlos Gonzalez, who suffered from depression and schizophrenia, was holding hands with his fiancée in a visiting area when a guard told him to let go. The guard threw him against a wall and told him to apologize for continuing to hold on, according to a Legal Aid Society complaint. In Mr. Gonzalez's version of the events, he said he was sorry, but the guard told him to say it louder. When Mr. Gonzalez, who was arrested for violating an order of protection, refused, he said two guards punched him in the face. Mr. Gonzalez's eardrum was ruptured, and he was so bloodied the guards made him change into a clean jumpsuit before he was taken to a clinic and later to Elmhurst Hospital Center.

In Brian Mack's case, guards were allegedly settling a score. Mr. Mack, 57, who has been convicted of grand larceny, told investigators and health officials that he was assaulted in May 2013 by a captain and another officer after the captain challenged him over complaints he made about guards stealing inmates' food. The captain struck him in the eye with his radio and the officer punched him in his jaw, Mr. Mack told investigators from the correction board.

Medical workers later reported that he had sustained "serious head trauma," including a broken jaw and eye socket. Correction Department officials claimed Mr. Mack's injuries came from a fight with other inmates, but board investigators could find no record of such a fight in the department's log books.

It's a story of aggression and brutality carried out with impunity and against particularly vulnerable inmates. It's also a snapshot of New York City's jail as it, like so many around the country, absorbs those with mental illness who might have been housed in other institutions. "Rikers now has about as many people with mental illnesses -- roughly 4,000 of the 11,000 inmates -- as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined," Winerip and Schwirtz write. And the proportions are on the rise. Read the article in full at the New York Times.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Are Black Men Really 'Bigger?'

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:01

The team behind "Dear White People" is back with another PSA to help everyone tackle their stereotypes about black folks. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Deadly Derailment in Moscow, Big Tobacco Merger and 603 Dead from Ebola

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 07:00
Deadly Derailment in Moscow, Big Tobacco Merger and 603 Dead from Ebola

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

  • Tracy Morgan is still recovering from a deadly car crash in which he was critically injured, and speaks out to paparazzi for the first time since. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Junot Diaz on Success and Catastrophe

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 08:22
Junot Diaz on Success and Catastrophe

Junot Diaz is a widely popular writer, probably one of the most influential of our generation. So he should feel pretty settled, right? Wrong, according to a recent interview with the Financial Times in which the author sheds some light on the financial realities of the publishing world.

So has success liberated him? "I have that deep-seated fear of catastrophe that a lot of immigrants have," he replies. In the 11 years between Drown and Oscar Wao, his after-tax income from book sales was just $50,000 in total. Things have improved but he continues to teach at MIT. He likes the students, who he says are better for not wanting to be novelists, unlike those in other creative writing classes. "If you think learning salsa is your future, you're going to be pretty insufferable in salsa classes."

The author goes on to talk about his MacArthur Genius Grant, the Pulitzer and being a slow writer. Read more

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Bergdahl to Return to Active Duty, VW to Make SUV in Tenn., and Supermoon Photos

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 06:56
Bergdahl to Return to Active Duty, VW to Make SUV in Tenn., and Supermoon Photos

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Ana Tijoux Talks Music and Motherhood

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 06:31
Ana Tijoux Talks Music and Motherhood

Ana Tijoux needs coffee. The 36-year-old Chilean hip-hop star is in the middle of a whirlwind publicity tour to promote her fifth solo album, "Vengo," and on the Thursday morning that press surround her at the Latin Alternative Music Conference, she's tired. She took the stage the night before at Central Park's Summer Stage, commanding the attention of a rain-soaked audience with a live band and DJ that alternated seamlessly between hardcore hip-hop and funk-infused ballads.

But it's not just the music that's got Tijoux in need of a caffeine boost, it's motherhood. She's traveled to the U.S. with her two children in tow, including a toddler son and a newborn daughter.  She's spent nearly two decades spelling out her politics through music, most notably on her last album, "1977." The eponymous single featured on AMC's "Breaking Bad" refers to the year that she was born in France to parents who had escaped the murderous Pinochet dictatorship. But it's now, while waking up for 4 a.m. feedings, that the rapper feels that her political identity has most come into focus. "It's amazing because I think that motherhood is the place where you get to apply everything that you say," she says.

Despite the fatigue, Tijoux is gracious, funny and thankful to the woman who brought her a large cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Like so many women, she's a working mother who's trying to make the world a better place for her children. Along with Radio Valencia *I talked briefly with Tijoux about her activism, music and motherhood.

Colorlines: Do you see any parallels between activists in the U.S. and activists in Chile?

That's a good question. I think to have a really true answer, I should come here more. I've got a very superficial vision about it. I had the chance to deal with some activist singers, but I feel like I don't have a proper vision about it because I'm not here so many times to see the differences and similarities.

Colorlines: You recently released a track called "Somos Sur" with Palestinian emcee Shadia Mansour. What inspired you to speak out about Palestine?

The situation with Palestine is not something new. I remember when I was very young, two or three years old, we used to live in France and a bunch of friends of my parents were Palestinian. It was a topic at home. I had the chance to have an education where my parents always told me that a situation of the world is not an isolated situation. Your problem is my problem. With that point of view in this sense, I always had some sensibility with the Palestinian vision because I feel that some resistance is very similar to what's happened in Latin America.

Secondly, Chile is a very strange country. I don't know the reason, but it's a country with one of the biggest Palestinian populations outside of Palestine after Jordan. I think we've got some connections with Palestine. We can't pretend like what's happening invisible.  What's happening isn't new, it's been genocide after genocide in front of our eyes.

Colorlines: How has motherhood impacted your perspective as an artist?

 My face! [Laughs.] I don't have a face. I'm always tired, I'm always asking for coffee. I would love to say that I had an amazing night drinking, but no, I had to take ibuprofen. It's not trendy at all.  I would say that it's amazing because I think that motherhood is the place where you get to apply everything that you say. I always say this, but I think it's important to say. I think that as a human being and as an artist or whatever, we can say a lot of things in front of tape recorders and cameras in our music, but it's at home where we get to apply everything that we say. Education, solidarity, compassion. It's in that nest where you get to apply everything that you say in your music.

Radio Valencia: In terms of your lyrics, I know you wrote this album while you were pregnant. Has the experience of motherhood changed how you think about music, how you're touring?

Totally, because I'm not the same as what I used to be 10 years ago. We change continually. When we don't change, the fiber and the DNA of what we think changes. I have to learn much more about discipline. I wake up at 4 a.m. to give food to my girl and then I wrote, and in that sense it was amazing. At the same time, I was very into this album, but I understood it slowly, not immediately. I knew in my consciousness that I wanted to make an album that my kids could understand and not make it complicated in lyric senses. It's political, but in very simple language. Sometimes I feel that we come from the egocentric place of language and vocabulary where we try to make important words, we forget that we don't make music for musicians. And we don't make music for people who are already convinced. We make music for people to open their eyes and have a dialogue with some people who are in another vibe.

Radio Valencia: What about in terms of the actual music? Sometimes you do ballads, sometimes you rap. You have musical influences from a marching band sound or this song about Palestine. How do you make choices about which songs you're doing to sing as a ballad versus rapping?

 The choice is whatever I feel. I think sometimes we live in a world that's very strange where everything is compact and organized, everything is this so in order. Even in music. More and more, over time, I'm listening to all sorts of music. It's not that I don't like it. Sometimes I listen to music and it's too electronic for me, but I love electronic music.  It's just that I love what's organic. We can be so dehumanized to not listen to an amazing mix from everywhere, so I listen to Ryuicgi Sakamoto, Afrika Bambaataa, then Mos Def. I think that music should be free. In the same sense that you make it, in the same sense that you listen to it. Great music is great music and it doesn't matter where it comes from. If a song can be very emotional with you and open some fucking chakra or whatever, we shouldn't be closed to that. It's those kinds of songs that make you feel human again.

*Post has been modified since publication.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Aloe Blacc Uses Images of Detroit (And Lots of Product Placement) in New Video

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 06:26

If there's one thing that Aloe Blacc's team knows how to do exceptionally well, it's how wring corporate endorsements from his new album. The singer released the video for his song "Hello World (The World is Ours)", which also happens to be the FIFA World Cup anthem. In it, director Shane Drake draws heavily on images of downtrodden Detroit, mixed in with a prominent image of Beats headphones. (Beats Music helped build anticipation for Blacc's latest album when  his song "The Man" was featured in a commercial starring NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.) Take a look. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

R. Kelly's Ex-Wife Has the Most Wonderful Things to Say About Their Transgender Son

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 06:13
R. Kelly's Ex-Wife Has the Most Wonderful Things to Say About Their Transgender Son

You can't beat a mama's love. When word hit the interwebs that R. Kelly had a teenage transgender son, Jay, the news was reported scandalously in some parts of the black blogesphere. But both of Jay's parents have been hugely supportive, as this VH1 interview with Jay's mom, Drea, proves:

All I can say about Jay is he makes it so easy to be a proud mom. For parents, we need to realize, [our kids] have their own journey. Parents get it wrong when they don't support their children. They have to go out and fight every day and face this world. The first battle should not be at home. I think that a lot of children in the LGBT community don't succeed because the one thing they need the most is foundation. I just tell Jay all the time, baby you won the war. You're gonna have a lot of battles but you won the war. Mama accepts and loves you for who you are. Your family does. My dad is a retired military naval officer and all he said was, "I'm gonna mess up sometimes and [use the feminine pronoun] 'she' but I'm gonna eventually get the 'he' thing. Just give grandpa some time. I'm gonna get it dude." That was it.

Read more.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

New York's New Municipal ID Draws Criticism

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 14:05
New York's New Municipal ID Draws Criticism

Starting in January 2015, New York City residents will be eligible to apply for municipal identification cards. Similar measures have been met with success in New Haven, Conn., as well as several California cities. The New York City Identity Card is intended to provide a basic credential for some of the most marginalized people in the Big Apple. At a signing ceremony for the ID bill Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio touted the card's potential beneficiaries

I want to emphasize this card is important for all New Yorkers. It is important for all of us to have a better city. Even for those who already have ID, we're going to make sure that this card brings a lot to the equation, a lot of benefits that will go with it. But for those who don't have ID, it's going to be crucial. And that includes a lot of people - I mentioned almost half a million undocumented immigrants. That's the size of a lot of major American cities in terms of total population - half a million of our fellow New Yorkers. What about adults re-entering society after incarceration? They need extra opportunities this ID will help. Young people in foster care. Transgender people. For the very first time, transgender people will be able to choose their gender marker on their ID, and that's an important opportunity.

Opening a bank account or leasing an apartment is virtually impossible without ID and the city says it's working with banks and credit unions to accept the card. But there are also federal regulations that need to be met in order to open an account, and it's not yet clear whether the New York City Identity Card will be sufficient to meet those requirements.

Perhaps more troubling is the fact that the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) doesn't back the new ID card. While the organization supported a previous version of the bill, it cites major problems with the final version signed yesterday. NYCLU's advocacy director Johanna Miller released a statement outlining concerns:

Unfortunately, the bill that is before the mayor [Thursday] also provides for the city to copy and store people's most sensitive documentation, like pay stubs, social security numbers, and even their children's educational records. In this bill, the city has not done enough to protect those documents from being used by law enforcement. The NYPD, FBI, DHS and others can request these documents without having to show probable cause. And if they are requested, the city has no obligation to even notify the person so they might be able to defend their own privacy. For these reasons, the NYCLU regretfully cannot support this legislation.

The city ID will be available free of charge in its first year and can be obtained through enrollment centers in various municipal institutions starting in January. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Murrieta's Anti-Migrant Protests Cost City $50k in Police Overtime

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 14:02
Murrieta's Anti-Migrant Protests Cost City $50k in Police Overtime

Drawing out protestors has turned out to be a costly move for Murrieta, Calif., mayor Alan Long. Long projects that the city has doled out $50,000 in overtime for police officers who've had to work the protest lines in front of the city's border patrol station, the Los Angeles Times reports. In recent weeks demonstrators, who Long encouraged to come out, have repeatedly blocked the attempted drop-off of child migrants. 

Tens of thousands of child migrants, the majority from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years. To deal with the incoming flows, the federal government has started processing migrants at border patrol stations around the country. None have made it to Murrieta, though, as protestors have blocked streets. On July 4, raucous protests ended in six arrests, The Desert Sun reported.

Read more of Colorlines' coverage of the unaccompanied minors crisis. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Marlene Pinnock's Freeway Beating Revives Talk of Officers' Responsibilities

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 11:59
Marlene Pinnock's Freeway Beating Revives Talk of Officers' Responsibilities

Civil rights activists have met with California Highway Patrol representatives, but questions still swirl around CHP officer's violent beating of Marlene Pinnock, a black woman from Los Angeles.

Pinnock had a history of homelessness and interactions with law enforcement officers before July 1, when Pinnock was found walking barefoot on a busy Los Angeles freeway, the Los Angeles Times reports. A CHP officer, whose name has yet to be released, caught up with her and tried to subdue her before pulling her to the ground, straddling her and pummeling her with repeated punches to her face. The beating was caught on video by a passing motorist.

Pinnock's beating has revived a longstanding conversation about the expanded role of police officers in the face of the dwindling mental health and social services. Police and law enforcement officers aren't trained social workers, but they're often the first to respond to crisis calls. Law enforcement agencies have been slow to adapt to this reality, though, and all too quick to resort to violence when they encounter people in crisis. People like Pinnock have gotten caught up in that gap. 

The Los Angeles Times reports:

To some experts, the incident was tragically familiar. The incident, they say, speaks to the ever-evolving, uneven and imperfect encounters that take place daily between law enforcement officers and people in crisis.

"Law enforcement officers are now street corner psychologists," said Carla Jacobs, a prominent advocate for an effective mental health system. "Some are trained well. Some are not. But the reality is that they are cops. They are not psychologists."

Read the rest at the Los Angeles Times.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Don Cheadle Thanks Fans For Making His Miles Davis Project Happen

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 09:42

Don Cheadle thanked fans this week after raising more than $325,000 for his project on the life and work of Miles Davis. The film is called "Miles Ahead" and has been in the works for years, but it finally got the financial support it needed thanks to this successful round of crowdsourcing on Indiegogo. Cheadle will direct the project and also star in it as Davis.

In an interview with Shadow and Act last month, Cheadle described how he came up with the idea:

The project first had traction in 2008 when Miles was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his nephew told reporters that I was going to be playing him in the movie, which was the first I'd heard of it. People started calling to try and put the movie together because the family had given their blessing for me to be in it. I started working with writers and at that point it became clear that the take on the story that I wanted to do was going to have to be controlled by me. I couldn't really translate it to someone else and have it come off in the way that I wanted and needed it to.

So we had a script very early that we went out with, and a lot of people bid on it and several studios had optioned it. And then the world collapsed - the financial crisis hit and a lot of those mini-majors went out of business. We were kind of left without a home at that point, which turned out to be, for us, a good period of time because we pulled the movie back and restructured it and brought on Steven Baigelman ("Get On Up", "Feeling Minnesota") who I co-wrote the movie with, and created a different story.

At that point we went out again with it, and again had a lot of bites and a lot of places that were trying to put it together. And we just finally settled on making it with the financier that we have now, and are again in earnest targeting a start date and casting it, and now we're four weeks out.

Read more at Shadow and Act

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Gun Violence and the Zimmerman Verdict, One Year Later

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 09:04
Gun Violence and the Zimmerman Verdict, One Year Later

This Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of George Zimmerman's acquittal in connection to the killing of Trayvon Martin. The verdict gave rise to a national dialogue about race and racial profiling, as people took to the streets in protest. One year later, Zimmerman remains a household name--but violence against unarmed black people continues.

In a personal essay over at Next City, organizer Dante Barry, who works with the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, considers the ways in which black neighborhoods continue to be plagued by violence:

Although frustration still lingers from that tragic decision of injustice to acquit Zimmerman of all charges, over the last year, Million Hoodies has been busy bridging the gap between gun violence prevention and mass decriminalization. We recognize that the death of Trayvon Martin and even Jordan Davis, and many others like them, are deeply embedded in institutional injustice and structural violence. We must attack the core inequalities in our society if we are to put a stop to the senseless deaths and systemic violence inflicted on people of color every day.

Audre Lorde once said, "There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives." We cannot just talk about gun violence and continue to ignore the criminalization of communities of color. Responses to certain forms of gun violence have resulted in the increase of school metal detectors and policies like stop-and-frisk. Arguably, stop-and-frisk is motivated by a desire to address public safety and the safety of our children. However, it disproportionately impacts young men of color. Stop-and-frisk is an experience far too common if you walk around Bed-Stuy and identify as poor or black.

I live down the street from a police precinct. I see officers patrol my street at night and will occasionally stand in front of my apartment building to surveil the area. Am I safe? Is this what security feels like?

Read the whole essay over at Next City

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Azealia Banks Quotes 'The Color Purple' After Being Dropped From Label

Fri, 07/11/2014 - 09:02
Azealia Banks Quotes 'The Color Purple' After Being Dropped From Label

It's a tired but often used analogy that black artists are slaves to their record-label overseers. Nina Simone wrote in her memoir, "I Put a Spell On You," that she probably lost a million dollars in royalties because of the contract she signed as an impressionable young artist with Bethleham Records. Lupe Fiasco famously battled it out with Atlantic Records for years before the label finally released his third album "Lasers." And, of course, there's A Tribe Called Quest's infamous warning: "Industry rule number 4,080, record company people are shady."

Now, after years of delays and creative differences with her label Interscope/Polydor, rapper Azealia Banks has finally is free of her record label. Banks seems ecstatic about the news because now she'll be able to record and release music on her own, including her debut album "Broke With Expensive Taste," which has reportedly been finished for more than a year. 

To celebrate the occassion, and point out the power dynamics at play, Banks quoted "The Color Purple."

IM ABOUT TO GET OUT OF MY DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THATS THE BIG SURPRISE!!!!!

-- AZEALIA ?? BANKS (@AZEALIABANKS) July 10, 2014

I'S IS FREE!!!!!!

-- AZEALIA ?? BANKS (@AZEALIABANKS) July 10, 2014

I'm feeling like miss celie at the end of color purple.

-- AZEALIA ?? BANKS (@AZEALIABANKS) July 10, 2014

Not that Banks has done much to endear herself to fans in the years that she's been fighting with her label. She's gotten into several high-profile Twitter beefs with everyone from celebrity blogger Perez Hilton to fellow rappers Angel Haze and T.I.

Let's hope that she'll finally be able to let her music do the talking. 

(h/t Music Times)

Categories: Diversity Headlines