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Measles and Politics, $150K Raised for Detroit Walker, Tackling Herbal Supplements

Tue, 02/03/2015 - 06:48
Measles and Politics, $150K Raised for Detroit Walker, Tackling Herbal Supplements

Here are some the stories I'm reading up on this morning:

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Jessie Hernández's Family Calls for Federal Investigation Into Police Shooting

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 11:43
Jessie Hernández's Family Calls for Federal Investigation Into Police Shooting

It's been one week since Jessica "Jessie" Hernández, 17, was shot and killed by Denver police. The teenager was driving a car that was reported stolen with at least two friends when she was confronted by officers. She allegedly drove the car toward one of them. Officers responded by firing several shots into the driver's side of the vehicle, killing Hernández.

The shooting marked the fourth time in seven months that Denver police have fired into a moving vehicle perceived as a threat, even though department policy encourages officers to move out of the way instead of using a firearm in such situations. Hernández's death also comes amid national outcry over police shootings of unarmed people of color. In Denver, protesters gathered last week to voice their outrage over Hernandez's death and call for a special prosecutor to look into the case. 

Over the weekend, Hernández's family took that call one step further, saying that they "believe that a federal investigation is the only way to uncover the truth because we have little confidence in the Denver Police Department's ability to conduct a fair and timely investigation."

In a statement the teen's parents, José Hernández and Laura Sonia Rosales, wrote the following:

We are aware of the DPD's history of conducting lengthy and fruitless investigations that serve only to exonerate its officers. We are dismayed that the DPD has already defended the actions of the officers and blamed our daughter for her own death, even while admitting they have very little information. In recent months, police killings have torn apart communities across this nation, and the unjustified shooting of our daughter is only the latest sign of an issue that requires federal oversight.

We applaud the Denver Independent Monitor's decision to investigate DPD policies and training, as Jessie is not the only recent victim of a deadly vehicle-related shooting. We urge the DPD to cooperate fully with the Independent Monitor's investigation as well as any federal investigation that may occur.

We have been overwhelmed by the support of the community as we grieve the loss of our Jessie. Jessie was a beautiful girl who brought love and joy to her family and friends. We want to make sure that Jessie's death is not in vain and that we can do our part to stop these senseless police killings. We continue to ask for the support of our local and national communities as we pursue justice for our devastating loss.

Read the full statement at Latino Rebels.

The family also wants an independent autopsy conducted. "I want another autopsy on my daughter so we can know how much damage they did," Laura Sonya Rosales Hernandez, speaking in Spanish to CBS News, said inside the home where her daughter lived with five siblings. "I want to know, how did this happen? I want to know everything."

The circumstances surrounding the shooting have been called into question. 

Denver Police Chief Robert White said as much, telling reporters: "As it related to shooting and vehicles, our officers are directed that we do not shoot into moving vehicles unless their life or someone else's life is in immediate danger," White said. "And I will tell you that even if they are in harm's way for that particular time, if there's any particular way that they can remove themselves from that dangerous situation they have a responsibility to do that."

The officers responsible for the shooting have been identified as Gabriel Jordan and Daniel Greene. Witnesses to the shooting later told reporters that neither officer yelled commands before they shot Hernández. "They didn't have no reason to shoot her. They didn't even give her a warning, like say, 'Get out or we're going to shoot you.' They just shot her," one of the girls said. "We didn't know why we were being harassed by the police, they came for no reason. They didn't even have their lights up when they pulled up. And she tried to leave and they shot her. That's when we wrecked and went unconscious, and that's when supposedly a cop... got hurt."

Officer Jordan was later taken the hospital with a broken leg, but those same witnesses also dispute whether he was actually injured during the altercation. "That cop wasn't hurt because when I was on the floor, lying there, I saw that cop standing there and he wasn't injured," a witness told CBS News


Categories: Diversity Headlines

Tamir Rice's Family Files Updated Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:59
Tamir Rice's Family Files Updated Wrongful Death Lawsuit

On Friday, Tamir Rice's family filed an amended federal wrongful death lawsuit which expanded its complaint over how police handled their short, deadly interaction with the 12-year-old, Ohio's WKBN reported. 

The updated complaint is more expansive than the first, which was filed in December just weeks after Cleveland police killed Rice on November 22. Police, responding to a 911 call of a person wielding what was likely a fake gun, shot and killed Rice within seconds of arriving on the scene at the Cuddell Recreation Center. It turned out that Rice was holding a pellet gun. 

The Rice family's updated 72-page complaint includes 27 claims, including wrongful death, excessive force, and battery of Tajai Rice, Tamir's 14-year-old sister who arrived at the scene just after police shot her brother, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported. 

Since December, Rice's family replaced their original attorneys with Walter Madison and Benjamin Crump. Crump also represents Trayvon Martin's family, as well as the family of Michael Brown. 

Cleveland police practices have cost people's lives, and for the city, potential millions of dollars paid out in lawsuit settlements, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported today. In an analysis of nearly 70 lawsuits and settlements, Northeast Ohio Media Group's Ryllie Danylko reported that Cleveland police often "draw their guns too early, use force when none is needed and draw innocent bystanders into violent confrontations." The article is part of NEOMG's series on Cleveland police called "Forcing Change."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

There's a Marshawn Lynch Super Bowl Conspiracy Floating Around

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:34
There's a Marshawn Lynch Super Bowl Conspiracy Floating Around

After a week's worth of unforgettable non-interviews and hilarious memes, the Seattle Seahawks lost last night's Super Bowl to the New England Patriots in epic fashion. New England's late-game comeback is being overshadowed by Seattle's final possession of the game, one yard away from the end zone, when coaches opted for a pass attempt from Russell Wilson instead of a run by Lynch. The pass was picked off, sealing the Patriots' victory.

But was Seattle trying hard not to make Lynch the hero because of the rebelliousness he'd showed on the run-up to the big game? According to rumors that The Nation's Dave Zirin is hearing from inside the Seahawks' locker room, the answer is "yes."

The theory goes something like this. Russell Wilson is your young clean-cut God-fearing media-perfect quarterback. If one was creating a superstar face to market for the twenty-first century, chances are they would look, sound and basically be Russell Wilson. He's Derek Jeter with a Bible, your "biracial angel" of our times. Marshawn Lynch is... Marshawn Lynch, and if you haven't figured out what that means after the past two weeks, then you haven't been paying attention.

The theory goes that there were major financial, public relations and football reasons for Russell Wilson and not Lynch to be the one who ends the game in glory. If he throws that touchdown for the victory, Wilson is almost certainly the Super Bowl MVP. He gets the commercial. He gets to stand with the commissioner. And oh, by the way, he also gets his new contract, one that will fasten his prime, at only 26 years old, to the Seattle franchise. Marshawn Lynch is also due a new contract. Marshawn Lynch, had he punched that ball over the goal line, would get to be the one handed the MVP trophy. Marshawn Lynch maybe gets on the mic to say Lord knows what.

None of this takes away from the fact that the game was one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. But it does play into the underlying narrative centered on race and class that made Lynch's pre-Super Bowl antics so fascinating to watch. As Jenée Desmond-Harris wrote for Vox last week, Lynch's "selective silence is a power move for black athletes." Here's more:

Lynch is not simply trolling the media or his employer, the NFL (which has said it will fine him if he doesn't speak to the press). He's arguably redefining the traditional confines of a black player's role. As Peter Odell Campbell, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh and an expert on public arguments about race and sexuality in the media, put it, this athlete's selective silence has put him in control of his labor and freed him from the "racist double bind" that is black NFL players' relationship with the press.

Read more at Vox

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Activists Challenge Santa Barbara Newspaper's Use of the I-Word

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:24
Activists Challenge Santa Barbara Newspaper's Use of the I-Word

Ana López* was out running errands on January 4 when she saw a newspaper with a headline that read "Illegals line up for driver's licenses" and a photo of about a dozen people at a California Department of Motor Vehicles office in Santa Barbara. Her husband was one of the people the paper, the Santa Barbara News-Press, had photographed standing in line.

A friend had phoned her the previous day to tell López that her husband was on the front page of the paper, but she didn't tell her about the headline that accompanied it. López says that as soon as she saw the article, her heart sank.

"It made me sad that they used that headline, because we're human beings and 'illegals' is a dehumanizing word," says López, who asked that her first and last name--as well as those of her family members--be changed for this story. That's because although Ana López is a U.S. citizen, her husband, who we'll call José, is not. Like others pictured in the News-Press' front-page story, José López had gone to his local DMV on January 2 to take advantage of AB60, a new California law that allows undocumented residents to obtain drivers' licenses. López was among the first to take the written exam, and, after more than 25 years of living and working in the United States, he now has a learners' permit.

But José López didn't bargain for having his image on a newspaper's front page. In fact, because of his immigration status, he doesn't want attention.

José is a supervisor at one of Santa Barbara's most upscale restaurants. Ana says that soon after the story was published, José came home from work telling her how several patrons had asked him if he had been on the front page of the News-Press. He flatly denied it. He told others who knew it was him without asking that he was there, but as a U.S. citizen helping an undocumented friend. Luckily José's bosses never asked him if he was in the photo.

It has been a month since the paper came out and José has said he wants nothing to do with it: He declined an interview with Colorlines and Ana says he didn't want her to speak either. She did so, on condition of anonymity, because she thinks what the News-Press did was deeply unjust.

"He doesn't know I'm granting you this interview [because] he's terrified that if this gets out any more than it already has, he's going to get fired," says Ana. "This has affected us in a big way."

By "us," López is referring not only to her and her husband, but also to their 11-year-old son, "Diego," a U.S.-born citizen who has Asperger's syndrome. Ana says that she and José had to go out of their way to keep him from seeing the paper. "It would be really hard for him to understand what's happened," she says, explaining that if Diego saw an image of his father next to the word "illegal" it would bewilder him.

Although the News-Press ran the headline and photo on January 3 when local students and many others were still away on winter vacation, some students, activists and media-makers took note of it--including Filiberto Nolasco Gomez, who runs a Latino lifestyle site called

One of the site's contributors sent Gomez an image of the headline and he posted it on Chipsterlife's Facebook page. Users began sharing the post and, says Gomez, "the next step was to try to capture some of that energy and anger." He started a petition demanding that the paper retract and apologize for its headline. The petition, which gathered 6,000 signatures, also demanded that the News-Press adhere to the Associated Press' (A.P) policy against the use of "illegal immigrant" as well as other disparaging terms like "aliens" and "illegals." (The A.P. changed its policy in 2013 while Colorlines' publisher, then called The Applied Research Center, staged its multi-year "Drop the I-word" campaign to compel the media to stop calling immigrants "illegal.")

The News-Press didn't respond to the petition so local activists from a group called People Organizing for the Defense and Equal Rights of Santa Barbara Youth (PODER) held a January 8 march in downtown Santa Barbara that attracted hundreds. "We decided that a protest in front of the News-Press office, which is right outside out city hall, was the best way to bring attention to this issue," says PODER member Nyara Pacheco.

Santa Barbara, which is best known for its resorts, spas and its University of California campus, is also 40 percent Latino. "Because Santa Barbara is a tourist, picturesque town, it requires a strong labor force to support the construction, landscaping and service work--and it's mostly Latinos that do that work," says Pacheco, a native of the area and a former UC Santa Barbara student. For the News-Press to reduce those workers to an offensive term is unacceptable, she says.

Santa Barbara News-Press co-publishers Wendy McCaw and Arthur von Wiesenberger, did not respond to Colorlines' repeated requests for comment via e-mail and telephone. Von Wiesenberger did write a letter to the Minutemen Project thanking the anti-immigrant group for supporting the paper. In a January 10 commentary published on the group's website, Minute Men president Jim Gilchrist had issued a call to "anyone who is in favor of free speech" to "converge on the Santa Barbara News-Press to provide 24/7 watch over its property and personnel to defend them from physical attack by fascist Left Wing fanatics." The Minutemen also described demonstrators as "thugs" and accused them of defacing the News-Press office with graffiti--a claim PODER members and other activists vehemently deny. 

On January 16 the News-Press ran a front-page story with the headline, "Driving legal opens door to illegals' past." Activists coordinated another demonstration on January 19--Martin Luther King, Jr., Day--that was met with a counter-protest by members of the Minutemen Project, the local tea party and of We the People, another anti-immigrant group based in Claremont, Calif.

PODER is now encouraging readers to cancel their News-Press subscriptions and they're calling on local companies to stop advertising in the paper. "We think that's when [the News-Press] will start listening," says PODER's Pacheco, "when they see the entire community is in solidarity and in support of each other."  

This is not the first time the Santa Barbara News-Press--which is one of California's oldest papers and once earned a Pulitzer Prize--has run into controversy. In 2006, about six years after McCaw, the millionaire ex-wife of telecom magnate, bought the paper from The New York Times Company, it lost nearly half of its staffers who were either fired or quit in a span of about six months. They, too, encouraged a boycott. Nearly a decade later, the News-Press lives on, with a daily print circulation of about 20,000. 

*"Ana López" is a pseudonym.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

David Oyelowo Says Academy Favors 'Subservient' Black Roles

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 09:53
David Oyelowo Says Academy Favors 'Subservient' Black Roles

"Selma" star David Oyelowo didn't hold back during a recent ceremony at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival where he was honored as one of the year's best actors. When asked about his Oscar snub and this year's overwhelmingly white list of nominees, Oyelowo responded, in part, by saying, "This is truly my feeling; I felt this before the situation we're talking about and I feel it now -- generally speaking, we, as black people, have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings or being at the center of our own narrative."

Watch his comments below.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

ICYMI: D'Angelo Sang 'Black Messiah' Hits on Saturday Night Live

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 08:54
 D'Angelo Sang 'Black Messiah' Hits on Saturday Night Live

D'Angelo paid a visit to "Saturday Night Live" this weekend to perform two of his most popular tracks from his latest album, "Black Messiah."



Categories: Diversity Headlines

Missy Elliot Explains Why She Cried After Super Bowl Show

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 08:51
Missy Elliot Explains Why She Cried After Super Bowl Show

Missy Elliot rocked this year's Super Bowl show as a special guest to headlining performer Katy Perry, with a little help from Lenny Kravitz. Elliot sang and danced her way through classics "Get Your Freak On," "Lose Control," and "Work It."

After the performance, Elliot cried on stage, later tweeting about the emotions of the moment:

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 10.17.16 AM.png

Elliot's singles were among the most popular downloads on iTunes in the hours after the performance. 

(h/t ABC News)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Patriots Surprise Win, Groundhog Day, Measles Continue to Spread

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 06:59
Patriots Surprise Win, Groundhog Day, Measles Continue to Spread

Here’s what I’m reading up on (and watching!) this morning: 

  • Verizon says it will allow its customers to opt out of so-called supercookies that do things like track you even when you’ve set a private browser on your device; AT&T already abandoned the practice completely. 
  • On the Jimmy Fallon Show, The Roots back up Christina Aguilera, Usher, Ariana Grande and others for “We Are the Champions:”
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Saved by the bell hooks Tumblr as Great as It Sounds

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 14:01
Saved by the bell hooks Tumblr as Great as It Sounds

It's a match made in Tumblr heaven. The intersectional feminist theory of bell hooks, combined with the early 1990s teen sitcom "Saved by the Bell," to become savedbythebellhooks. You heard right.





There's more at

Categories: Diversity Headlines

'Black Lives Matter' Goes International

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:35
'Black Lives Matter' Goes International

A movement that heated up in Ferguson, Mo., is traveling around the world. Its latest stop: the United Kingdom. 

Patrisse Cullors, a Los Angeles-based organizer and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, is in the U.K. this week sharing the movement's message in what's been dubbed the Ferguson Solidarity Tour. Her visit comes on the heels of a 10-day trip to Palestine that activists from Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, BYP 100 and the Dream Defenders took in early January. 

"It's really important to build international solidarity, specifically around the global consequences of anti-black racism," Cullors told Colorlines over the phone from Manchester. "Being inside the U.K. has been very revealing about the role law enforcement plays in terrorizing black communities in particular."

The U.K. has been a hotbed of protest against racially charged police violence. In 2011, the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man, set off days of demonstrations, looting and arson across the country. 

Cullors met with London families who've lost loved ones to police violence earlier this week, including the mother and brother of Julian Cole, a 21-year-old British black man whose neck was broken while police attempted to detain him in May 2013. He was left in a vegetative state.

Cullors also spent time with the sisters of Sean Rigg, a 40-year-old black man who had schizophrenia and died in police custody in 2008, and Christopher Alder, another black man who died while being detained by police, in 1998. "It was devastating," Cullors said. "It reminded me a lot of the stories here in the U.S."

In November, Michael Brown's family was the first to take the Ferguson-centered demand for police accountability outside the U.S. "We need the world to know what's going on and we need justice," Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, told CNN in November, when Brown's family and Ferguson activist Tef Poe traveled to Geneva to testify before a United Nations Committee Against Torture.

And Black Lives Matter cofounder Alicia Garza has noted that chapters of the group have sprung up in Canada and Ghana.

"At the best and brightest moments of the freedom struggle, our people have looked internationally to forge solidarity and seek justice," Marc Lamont Hill, a Morehouse College professor of African American Studies, told Colorlines via text message. Hill was with the delegation that went to Palestine in January. While there, U.S. activists met with black Palestinians, refugees, and those who'd been displaced from their homes. "We found common ground with organizers, activists, and everyday citizens who are dealing with white supremacy, state violence and other forms of social injustice," said Hill. "By the end of the trip blacks from the States were chanting 'Filistine hurra, hurra!' and Palestinians were chanting 'Black lives matter!'"

Cullors, who will visit Glasgow, Brighton and NorthernIreland in the coming days, said she was struck by how aware people outside of the United States are about police brutality and vigilante violence here. "The way the U.S. operates do I put it? Very insular." she said. "I've been having all these conversations with people here, and they know about Trayvon Martin, about Rekia Boyd. But I'm here and I don't know about any of these stories."

Cullors continued, "There's an opportunity because the U.S. is such a visible force. People here are inspired by the history of struggle from black people and Black Lives Matter. There's an opportunity to connect these struggles."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Weekend Reads: From Native Youth to The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:27
 From Native Youth to The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland

It's fair to say, it's not often that institutions self-reflect and run a kind of "racism audit"--and then release some of that assessment to the general public. But that's what The New Republic, the elite, liberal ideas shop once described as "the in-flight magazine of Air Force One," has done with journalist Jeet Heer's, "The New Republic's Legacy on Race." History nerds will love that Heer's lit review, beginning in 1914, cites original thinkers from the time. But it's the modern-day prejudices and bigotry promoted under Marty Peretz's 30-year editorial leadership that come in for special focus (think, "Bell Curve," black cultural pathologies, etc). Says Heer:

Whatever the problems had been with the early twentieth-century The New Republic, it published a spectrum of black voices, so readers (both black and white) had a sense of how black America thought about things. It published the conservative Washington, the centrist White, the militant Du Bois, and voices more radical than Du Bois himself, such as Du Bois's Marxist critic Abram L. Harris. Under Peretz, with very few exceptions, the magazine printed only the more conservative end of black political discourse....

Moving on from Heer's appraisal, recall, "The Fire on the 57 Bus in Oakland," in this weekend's New York Times Magazine. On a November afternoon in 2013, one boy in a small group of teens set fire to the skirt of sleeping 18-year-old high school senior, Sasha Fleischman. What follows is a thoughtful look at that fateful day and the lives of the two teens involved: Sasha, a white youth* who identifies as agender (neither male nor female) and perpetrator, 16-year-old Richard Thomas, who is African-American. The piece asks whether children ought to be punished as adults and introduces the concept of restorative justice in both sentencing juvenile offenders and satisfying victims and their families.

In a five-part series in Al Jazeera America, journalist Tristan Ahtone looks at Native American gangs, a relatively new phenomenon dating back to the 1980s. Part one begins by asking why young people in Indian Country, subject to some of the nation's highest rates of victimization by violent crime, are joining gangs in the first place. 

And because I'm a big fan of her music and I love the warmth between women in this interview, listen to Maria Hinojosa's chat with Afro-Spanish singer Buika on LatinoUSA

*Post has been updated since publication to correctly identify Fleischman.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Commission Urges California State Parks to Welcome More People of Color

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:03
Commission Urges California State Parks to Welcome More People of Color

California state parks cover some 1.3 million acres of land, including 339 miles of the state's famed coastline. But those parks are often left in disrepair, and visitors who do make pilgrimages to them don't reflect the state's demographics. The commission Parks Forward is filing a report today which urges the state to fix both of those fundamental problems, the Los Angeles Times reports.

California's population is 40 percent Latino, though that might not be so apparent from a visit to a state park. "The visitors don't look like California," Parks Forward commissioner and USC professor of American Studies Manuel Pastor told the LA Times. The state ought to improve transportation to state parks for those who live in cities, and make the parks more accessible to short-term visitors, the commission recommended. 

Part of the urgency is about self-preservation. Without the political support of California's fastest-growing demographic, its state parks could languish further, commissioners note.

The Golden State's not the only one thinking hard about why its visitor demographics don't reflect the larger population's. The National Park Service is confronting the very same issues, Colorlines fam Brentin Mock wrote over at Grist.

Mock wrote:

Shelton Johnson, an African American ranger at Yosemite National Park in California, talked about the challenge of getting black youth into the great outdoors in Ken Burns' 2009 PBS documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea. "How do I get them here?" Johnson asked. "How do I let them know about the buffalo soldier history, to let them know that we, too, have a place here? How do I make that bridge, and make it shorter and stronger? Every time I go to work and put the uniform on, I think about them."

Read Mock's ideas for how to fix this over at Grist.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Eddie Huang Responds to 'Fresh Off the Boat's' Racist Tweet

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 11:17
Eddie Huang Responds to 'Fresh Off the Boat's' Racist Tweet

ABC's new show "Fresh Off the Boat" keeps stirring up trouble. First, Eddie Huang, author of the book that the show's based on, sounded off on how he felt producers had made the show worse. Then, Huang published his own firsthand account in New York Magazine, calling the production process problematic. And now, less than a week before the show's set to premiere on ABC, someone on the inside felt it would be good to run this ad to promote the show:


Huang later we tweeted, "maybe people are just fucking morons. you have to be a mouth breathing psycho to make that graphic."

(h/t BuzzFeed)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

One Tweet Explains the Racial Wealth Gap

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 08:07
One Tweet Explains the Racial Wealth Gap

Here's a thought exercise: How long could you maintain your current standard of living without a paycheck? A week? Six months? The next 20 years? That length of time is a measure of your personal wealth--which is quite different from hourly wages or annual income.

Wealth, in the form of home ownership for most Americans, is real security. It's what enables families to bounce back from life-changing emergencies and survive into the next generation. (Or the next 20, if you're related to John D. Rockefeller) With that in mind, consider the racial wealth gap chart below. Perhaps it's time to talk more about wealth, and not just about wages and income.

The racial wealth gap; white households have significantly more wealth than households of color @CFED #CFEDScorecard

-- Asset Building (@AssetsNAF) January 29, 2015

Note that "households of color," according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development's Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, includes Black or African-American; American Indian and Native Alaskan; Asian; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander; Hispanic or Latino; some other race; two or more races.

(h/t AssetsNAF)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

The Breakout Film at Sundance About Trans Sex Workers Was Shot on an iPhone

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 08:04
The Breakout Film at Sundance About Trans Sex Workers Was Shot on an iPhone

"Tangerine" is the movie that everyone's talking about at this year's Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Some of it has to do with its storyline: It's a narrative film that looks at the decidedly unglamorous life of transgender sex workers in Hollywood. But much of the intrigue surrounding the film also has to do with the recent revelation that writer and director Sean Baker shot it entirely on an iPhone5S. "It was surprisingly easy," Baker told reporters. "We never lost any footage."

Here's more from The Verge:

At first, the cast wasn't convinced shooting with the iPhone would work. "I had some hesitancy about it, more out of pride," says James Ransone, who plays Chester, the pimp at the center of Tangerine's love triangle. "I'm like, Jesus Christ, man, I was on The Wire. I've ended up in iPhone movies!" But Ransone came to appreciate the flexibility of the device. "There's a lot that can be done with an iPhone."

Read more

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Senate Approves Keystone XL, Suge Knight Held on Murder Charge, GMO Mosquitos

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 08:01
Senate Approves Keystone XL, Suge Knight Held on Murder Charge, GMO Mosquitos

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

  • Suge Knight is arrested on suspicion of murder after running his friends over with with a car he was driving, leaving one dead and one injured. 
  • Russia's Central Bank surprises economists and cuts interest rates from 17 percent to 15 percent. 
  • The FCC changes the rules on broadband ahead of its net neutrality decision on February 26. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Embattled NFL Player Josh Gordon Tells Critics They Can't Take His Pride

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 07:59
Embattled NFL Player Josh Gordon Tells Critics They Can't Take His Pride

Here's what you need to know about the Cleveland Browns' Josh Gordon: He's one of the most talented wide receivers in football, but he has dealt with multiple suspensions in recent years for violating the league's substance abuse policy. It wasn't clear exactly how he'd failed the tests, but he's been a constant topic on sports TV where media have cast him as a classic case of a tragically flawed black athlete. So he responded to critics in a beautifully written open letter published on Medium to commentators Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith and Cris Carter:

I failed myself when started using marijuana regularly as a young teenager. I failed myself when I ruined a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be Robert Griffin III's running mate during his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Baylor. I failed myself when I didn't check with the league office to ensure that my doctor-prescribed, codeine-based medicine was allowed under NFL guidelines. I failed myself when I was arrested for driving a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit. I failed myself when I missed a team walkthrough late in the season and was suspended for the final game of the year.

But you know what, Charles, Stephen A., Cris and everyone else? I also have succeeded.

I succeeded by escaping a youth riddled with poverty, gang violence and very little in the way of guidance or support. I succeeded by narrowly avoiding a life of crime that managed to sink its clutches into almost all of my childhood friends. I succeeded by working tremendously hard on my craft and my body to even have a chance to play professional football for a living. And, contrary to popular belief, I succeeded by overcoming my longstanding relationship with weed?--?because I knew I was risking my future over it.

This is probably the first time when a player of his magnitude has written a response like this in the middle of high-profile drama. It's also important because of the way he, like many allegedly troubled black athletes, have been caricatured in the media for their use of banned substances. Read the letter in full


Categories: Diversity Headlines

Marshawn Lynch: 'You All Shove Cameras and Microphones Down My Throat'

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 14:54
 'You All Shove Cameras and Microphones Down My Throat'

For The Win is reporting that Seattle Seahawk running back Marshawn Lynch addressed the media in a press conference Thursday, just three days ahead of this year's Super Bowl. Lynch essentially turned his gaze on the media itself, stating, "I'll just be looking at y'all the way you looking at me."

Lynch, who, as my colleague Jamilah King has point out, has made the mistake of "being unapologetically black and rebellious in a league business that depends on military-like obedience," scolded reporters for their obsession with him:

So you all can go and make up whatever you want to make up, cause I don't say enough for you all to go put anything out on me. But I'll come to y'all event and y'all shove cameras and microphones down my throat. When I'm at home in my environment, I don't see y'all. But y'all mad at me. If y'all ain't mad at me, then what are you all here for?

You can read more from Lynch's statement--as well as his many shout-outs--today over at For The Win

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Oakland, Stand Up! Love to Marshawn Lynch

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 14:46
Oakland, Stand Up! Love to Marshawn Lynch

I'm OD'ing on Marshawn Lynch right now. Blame it on the Bay in me. But in the runup to this weekend's Super Bowl, he's put his blackness -- and, by extension's, Oakland's -- on full display. He sees right through the NFL's media spectacle, and he's making it his own. It's a strategy that's helped him win over plenty of NFL fans like myself, who are fed up with the league's hypocrisy.

As Andrew Sharp pointed out at Grantland, "None of this is proof that Lynch is some kind of saint, but he's never pretended he is. That alone makes him more honest than dozens of professional athletes... What we know about Marshawn Lynch already makes him more three-dimensional than almost anyone else we'll hear from over the next few days." Here's a collection of my favorite moments:

"Shout out to my real Africans out there!"


"Shout out Oakland, California" "Shout out Westbrook" "Shout out my teammates" "Shout out to my real Africans out there" - Marshawn Lynch

-- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 29, 2015   "I'm just here so I won't get fined."


The next day: "You know why I'm here."

  Today: "I care about my family, not you."


Stay true to your roots, Mr. Lynch.

Categories: Diversity Headlines