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Updated: 2 weeks 4 days ago

White Conservative Ben Ferguson: Rappers Profit Off of the N-Word

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 07:38
 Rappers Profit Off of the N-Word

Following fallout from last week's video of University of Oklahoma members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon chanting anti-black slurs, our favorite black anchor Don Lemon hosted an already-discussed-this-a-million-times panel called "The N-Word in America. Who Can Say It? Who Decides?"

Guests included black rapper Trinidad James, black CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill and white conservative talk radio host Ben Ferguson, who claimed that rappers profit off of the n-word. During the program, the radio host and the "All Gold Everything" rapper squared off:

Ferguson: "I'll be honest with you, I think you know that we should probably get rid of the n-word, but in reality, I think many rappers are afraid they will lose out on money and sales and street cred if they stop using the word."

James: "I'm making money off of doing music and being creative, sir. I'm not making money just because I use the n-word. Nobody goes to buy an album because it's full of the n-word."

Ferguson: "Trinidad, you wouldn't be on this show tonight if it wasn't for using the n-word in your rap music. Let's be honest."

Read and watch more.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Shonda Rhimes Says Writing Saved Her Life

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 07:38
Shonda Rhimes Says Writing Saved Her Life Shonda Rhimes was honored with the Ally for Equality Award this past weekend in Los Angeles by the giant Human Rights Campaign. Below, highlights from her powerful speech.

On starting at 11: 

"You see, Shondaland, the imaginary land of Shonda, has existed since I was 11 years old. I built it in my mind as a place to hold my stories. A safe place. A space for my characters to exist, a space for me to exist. Until I could get the hell out of being a teenager and could run out into the world and be myself. Less isolated, less marginalized, less invisible in the eyes of my peers. Until I could find my people in the real world."

On how writing saved her life:

"There were times in my youth when writing those stories in Shondaland quite literally saved my life," Rhimes said. "And now I get kids telling me it quite literally saves theirs. That is beyond humbling. And every single time it comes down to one thing. You are not alone. Nobody should be alone. So. I write."

On diversity on TV:

"I'm normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world looks," she said. "Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal way more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain't out of the ordinary."

Read more.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

[Video] More Parents Share Their 'Talk' With Their Black Sons

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 07:35

"Race talk" is having a mainstream moment. First Starbucks wants customers to talk race over morning coffee. Now, The New York Times is launching a new video series "about the state of race relations in America." 

First up: a five-minute video on 'The Conversation,' or, the talk that parents have with their black sons about what their race and gender mean for them in America. "The Talk" first went mainstream during the protests that followed George Zimmerman's 2012 slaying of Trayvon Martin. This NYT version centers on encounters with police.


Categories: Diversity Headlines

Likud Wins, Steel Shards in Kraft Mac & Cheese, K-Dot Sets Spotify Record

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 07:16
Likud Wins, Steel Shards in Kraft Mac & Cheese, K-Dot Sets Spotify Record

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

What Racial Diversity Looks Like at Starbucks

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 14:31
What Racial Diversity Looks Like at Starbucks

As you've probably read on Morning Rush or seen on Black Twitter, Starbucks has launched a race initiative. The chain is asking its baristas across its 12,000 United States stores to spark dicussions about the thorny topic of race with customers by writing the words "Race together" on their cups.

According to the corporation's "newsroom," CEO Howard Schultz sowed the seeds for the initiative in December by distributing a letter to all U.S. employees about how he was watching "with a heavy heart" the "tragic events and unrest" connected to white police killings of black victims including Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

At an all-staff meeting that month at its Seattle headquarters, employees "representing various ages, races and ethnicities passed a microphone and shared personal stories" with Schultz, who has said, "We at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America. Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are."

Starbucks says it held subsequent "open race dialogues" in Chicago, L.A., New York City, Oakland and St. Louis. The company claims that baristas in some of those cities took it upon themselves to write "Race Together" on their customers' cups. Corporate picked up the tactic, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times, and partnered wtih USA Today to create special supplements about race. 

Talking about race is what we're all about at Colorlines. While we can appreciate individual conversations, we believe that systemic change is crucial. So we decided to take a quick look at how Starbucks does the very basic concept of racial diversity.

At press time Starbucks' media relations team has not responded to e-mail and phone messages. So we gathered outside information about what Starbucks' executive team looks like, what CEO Schultz is paid, what its workers look like and how much baristas reportedly make. If Starbucks wants to talk about race, its diversity--or lack thereof in the case of executives--may be a good place to start. 


Categories: Diversity Headlines

David Oyelowo Will Play a Villain in Upcoming Thriller

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 11:46
David Oyelowo Will Play a Villain in Upcoming Thriller

David Oyelowo, who delivered a moving performance as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Ava DuVernay's "Selma," will star in a new film as a serious bad guy.

"Captive," which was recently acquired by Paramount, is an adaptation of the book "Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero" by Ashley Smith and Stacy Mattingly.

The book and film are based on actual events that took place in Atlanta on March 11, 2005 during which Brian Nichols, played by Oyelowo, broke out of a courthouse jail, fatally shot the judge assigned to his case, a court reporter, a sheriff's deputy and an FBI officer, and took a hostage while a manhunt for him ensued. The thriller is slated for September 18, 2015. Read more.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

St. Patrick's Day, Ethics and The Jinx, New Asteroid App

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 07:06
St. Patrick's Day, Ethics and The Jinx, New Asteroid App

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

  • Starbucks, a place where a barista recently told me, "You look like a MARIA!" and wrote that name on my cup when I ordered something, wants to talk about race
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Five Problems With The Economist's Special Report on Latinos

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 21:52
Five Problems With The Economist's Special Report on Latinos

The Economist magazine set out to cover Latinos this week with a special package. Although the package seems well intentioned, there are some unfortunate drawbacks within most sections which cover media, faith, education and a lot more. (Many are locked behind a paywall). Here are some of the problems you’ll find on the pages of The Economist’s special report:

1) Latinos or Hispanics?

Both terms are fraught because Latin America is essentially made up of territories colonized by Europeans, mostly from Spain and Portugal.

In “Identity: A Suitable Box to tick,” which focuses on Grace Flores-Hughes, The Economist writes that federal administrator Flores-Hughes “successfully argued that ‘Latino’ could include Brazilians or even Italians.” But in practice, that’s rarely how it’s understood and that’s often how we get to ”Hispanic.”

“Hispanic” is objectionable because it emphasizes only Spanish-speaking people from (or whose ancestors are from) Latin America. That means you’re leaving out millions of people who speak indigenous languages as well as other European languages in Latin America (think about Portuguese in gigantic Brazil, for example).”Hispanic” is also usually understood to include people from Spain. So: no. 

I prefer “Latino” but it has its problems, too. Citing the “Latin” part, critics correctly point out that it defines people by their European colonizers. Additionally, because Spanish is a language that emphasizes gender (and men over women), you can have a group of 999 women and just one man and the whole group is labeled in the masculine form, Latino. Still, I choose it as the lesser of the two ethnonymic evils. 

The Economist would do well to choose one. Instead, it uses the terms interchangeably throughout the package. 

2) That Gawd Awful Cover

Illustrator Jon Berkeley designed this cover image for The Economist… with chili peppers (which is also currently the banner on The Economist’s Twitter page):


Let’s get something straight: Calling a Latino a “chili” is a slur. Reducing Latinos to chili peppers for a package that’s supposed to explain why they’re keeping the country young and vibrant is offensive. Including a subsection called “Chilies in the mix”, about how Latinos are blending into the U.S. is unbelievable.

3) Most Latinos Aren’t Immigrants

A lot of The Economist’s storytelling focuses on Latino immigrants and the illogical, racist backlash against them. This emphasis could easily lead readers who wouldn’t otherwise know any better to think that most Latinos are immigrants. They’re not: Out of the 54 million or so Latinos in the U.S. currently, only about 35 percent are immigrants, both documented and undocumented. The Economist mentions this fact in just two times in its 12-part package.

4) Obama Isn’t Offering Anyone Amnesty

In a video on The Economist, an unnamed narrator (who is also hard-pressed to pronounce Spanish language words) calls Obama’s executive order on immigration “amnesty.” The reporter might be confusing Obama’s executive order—a temporary solution that does not confer any kind of legal status or path to citizenship—with actual amnesty, like what Ronald Reagan did in 1986 when he allowed some 3 million immigrants to become citizens.

5) That “Melting Pot” Stuff

The last section of The Economist’s package, an essay called “A multi-hued future: Have faith in the melting-pot,”  concludes:

America’s white majority is turning into a minority, and tens of millions of American-born Hispanics will play a big part in that. The hope is that Latinos will enter, enrich and rejuvenate the American mainstream. Whatever happens, the mainstream itself will look very different. Americans must make this experiment succeed. There are many grounds for optimism.

This framing suggests that the publication’s target audience is made up of that declining white population.  

The melting pot metaphor soothes white paranoia about people of color on the premise that those people of color will assimilate into whiteness. But The Economist’s package doesn’t account for the fact that there are white, indigenous, black, Asian and mixed Latinos. Some will be able to melt into white assimilation, but it’s important to recognize that some won’t.

As sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva points out, the melting pot works for some people, but not for others: “that melting pot never included people of color. Blacks, Chinese, Puerto Ricans, etcetera, could not melt into the pot. They could be used as wood to produce the fire for the pot, but they could not be used as material to be melted into the pot.”

The Economist would do well to consider that. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Benjamin Booker's Time Traveling New Video

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 13:52
Benjamin Booker's Time Traveling New Video

Benjamin Booker’s new music video combines two songs: “Slow Coming” and “Wicked Waters.” If you have eight-and-a-half minutes to spare, watch and try to soak it all in: 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Guess Who's Editing the Wiki Pages of Police Brutality Victims. The NYPD

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 08:35
Guess Who's Editing the Wiki Pages of Police Brutality Victims. The NYPD

Computer IP addresses traced to police headquarters in New York City have been used to make edits to the Wikipedia pages of NYPD brutality victims Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and others. Wikipedia is the sixth largest Web site in the world. Anyone can edit and revise entries, which is both the draw and detraction of all so-called "citizen media" like it. "Anyone" includes the state or in this case, the New York City Police Department. It's unclear whether these edits are part of a directive, performed by individuals or even, how many people are involved. But, over the past decade, "a significant number [of edits] have been to entries that challenge NYPD conduct," online political news site, Capital New York reports.

Last December for example, hours after a grand jury did not indict officer Daniel Pantaleo, edits to the "Death of Eric Garner" entry included:

  • "Use of the chokehold has been prohibited" was changed to "Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited."
  • The sentence, "Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them," was added to the description of the incident.
  • Instances of the word "chokehold" were replaced twice, once to "chokehold or headlock," and once to "respiratory distress."

The legality of the "chokehold" or whether Pantaleo's action could even be described as a chokehold were key pushback points in the early debate over how Garner died. The medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide last August due to "compression of the neck" and to the chest. Chokeholds are banned under NYPD policy.

Regarding Sean Bell, the 23-year-old man whose death hours before his November 2006 wedding day sparked citywide protests, a user on the NYPD network edited the "Sean Bell shooting incident," on December 2009 to read: "one Latino and two African-American men were shot at a total of fifty times" instead of "one Latino and two African-American men were shot a total of fifty times." [emphasis Colorlines]

Undercover police officers had fired 50 times at Bell and two friends, all unarmed, after his bachelor party. Bell was hit four times. Joseph Guzman, survived 16 bullet wounds. Trent Benefield reportedly survived three.

Read Capital New York to learn more about their investigation and edits made to other flashpoint topics like, "Stop-and-frisk."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

5 Things We Know About Kendrick Lamar's New Album

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 08:34

Kendrick Lamar released the cover art and album title for his new project, due out March 24. Here's what we know about it so far:

1. It's called "To Pimp a Butterfly. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he stopped short of explaining the meaning, but did say this: "That will be taught in college courses someday."

2. It's "unapologetically black," according to Pharrell, who listened to the track "King Kunta."

3. He's angry. In the interview with Rolling Stone (due out on newstands this Friday), the rapper opened up about grappling with depression and self-doubt after the success of 2012's smash hit "good kid, m.A.A.d city." Those emotions are a driving force behind the new album. "It's just him expressing how he's feeling at the moment," producer Mark "Sounwave" Spears told Rolling Stone. "And right now, he's mad."

4. He gave his sound engineers really emotive directions. "He would say, 'I want it to sound eerie,' or 'I want it to sound like you're driving past something.' Or he talks in colors: 'Make it sound purple. Make it sound light green,'" Derek "MixedByAli" Ali told the magazine.

5. The song "u" was the hardest one to write. Lamar describes the track as a counterpoint to the self-love anthem "i," and details how the song tackles his struggle with depression.

Read more.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

San Francisco Police Officers Investigated for Sending Racist Texts

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 08:21
San Francisco Police Officers Investigated for Sending Racist Texts

Four veteran San Francisco Police Department officers are being investigated for having sent racist and homophobic text messages. The messages, exchanged during 2011 and 2012 the San Francisco Chronicle reports, surfaced in connection to a fifth officer, Sgt. Ian Furminger, 48, who was recently convicted in federal court on corruption charges. With more attention being paid to police misconduct and racial bias over the past year, that means in addition to their street interactions, officers' activity online (i.e., Facebook, Wikipedia) and via text are garnering more scrutiny, too. 

In a May 2012 text message exchange between Furminger and an unnamed officer:

...[he] asked whether he should be worried that the black husband of one of his then-wife's friends had come over to his home.

The officer responded, "Get ur pocket gun. Keep it available in case the monkey returns to his roots. Its (sic) not against the law to put an animal down."

"Well said!" Furminger replied, according to the prosecutors' court filing. "You may have to kill the half-breeds too,'' the unnamed officer replied, adding: "Don't worry. Their (sic) an abomination of nature anyway."

Messages with other officers include the phrases, "White power," and "All n-- must f-- hang."

The four officers, all of whom have at least 10 years on the force, have not been identified according to state law. While they have been reassigned to other duties, one public defender raises the prospect of re-investigating their cases from the past few years.

(h/t San Francisco Chronicle)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Durst: 'Killed Them All,' Free Ice Cream Today, Kendrick Lamar's New Album

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 08:20
 'Killed Them All,' Free Ice Cream Today, Kendrick Lamar's New Album

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

  • Multimillionaire Robert Durst, the subject of HBO's "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst" documentary, says he "killed them all," after an interview ends but he's still on mic. Durst, who has long been suspected of murdering his first wife and a close friend, was arrested in New Orleans for the friend's murder on Saturday. Durst already admitted to killing a neighbor, but he got away with it. 
  • After leaking "King Kunta" Friday (which you'll have a harder time finding today due to copyright infringement), Kendrick Lamar's album is released one week early on iTunes and Spotify
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Facebook Disabled Juliana Brown Eyes-Clifford's Account. Again

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 12:12
Facebook Disabled Juliana Brown Eyes-Clifford's Account. Again

Juliana Brown Eyes-Clifford was one of the people I wrote about in a feature story this week that outlines the many ways in which Facebook's "authentic names" policy penalizes people with Native American names. The social network has suspended Natives' accounts because it deemed their legitimate names as fake. Facebook has also arbitrarily changed Native users' names. In one case I found that white supremacists triggered the suspension of a high-profile author's account by reporting her name as fake. They called it "ghost activism."

The bass guitarist for the rock group Scatter Their Own says she had her name challenged by Facebook about two years ago. To submit her government-issued ID to the social media network for reinstatement Brown Eyes-Clifford had to leave the Pine Ridge Reservation and purchase a printer/scanner. Facebook accepted her ID, but changed her last name. She's listed as "BrownEyes-Clifford," not Brown Eyes-Clifford.

On Thursday, just a day after Colorlines published the story that includes Brown Eyes-Clifford, her Facebook account was once again disabled. Here's a screenshot she provided Thursday from her cell phone:


Brown Eyes-Clifford contacted me, saying, "I feel as if I am being deliberately targeted again because I spoke out against Facebook." Brown Eyes-Clifford lost access to two pages she administers on Facebook, including the Scatter Their Own fan page. Her husband, Scotti Clifford, is technically an administrator on the page, but he also lost access to it since it was his wife who first created the page. Scatter Their Own is currently touring and is headed to SXSW. Losing access to its Facebook page meant losing access to contacts, dates and confirmations. "Our SXSW tour is about to begin and I handle all our marketing and social media promotion for our band Scatter Their Own," Brown Eyes-Clifford said on Thursday. "I just don't know what to do."

All the communication I'd had with Brown Eyes-Clifford on Facebook was also deleted from my personal message box. 


On Thursday Brown Eyes-Clifford stopped what she was doing in the middle of her tour to re-submit her government-issued ID to Facebook. Today at about 11:30 a.m. ET, Brown Eyes-Clifford received a notice that her Facebook account had been reinstated. Her name remains misspelled.

When asked why Brown Eyes-Clifford's account was suspended, a Facebook spokesperson who had previously talked to me on grounds that we not use their name emailed me today that the company doesn't comment on individual accounts.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

The Silencing of a Radio Legend

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 11:50
The Silencing of a Radio Legend

"The Art Laboe Connection" is the nightly fireside chat with Latinos that neither FDR -- nor any American president -- have had with us.

For 23 years, six nights a week from 7 p.m. to midnight, and 6 to 12 on Sundays, Art Laboe, 89, has taken requests from his predominately Latino listenership spread across Arizona, Nevada and California. The broadcast legend who trademarked the term "oldies but goodies" and created the country's first compilation album has not only played the hits. By reading and playing his listeners' messages on the air he has given them a voice.  

I was raised on Laboe's voice wafting from a boxed transistor G&E radio beneath the wall-mounted phone in our kitchen. I listened to the underbelly of struggle present in its dedications. Like other loyal listeners, I have been able to decipher the numerous requests made to or from California cities like Corcoran, Madera, Wasco, Salinas and Chino as those from the state's overcrowded prison system. I grew up hearing callers--particularly those who were imprisoned--say inspirational things like, "Keep your head up;" "Don't let nobody get you down" and "Stay strong." They'd use popular nicknames such as Smiley, Shy Eyes and Clown Face.

Laboe has also served as a fixer. For example, if I was locked up and need to reconcile with my other half on the outside, Laboe would announce, "From José in Corcoran [Prison] to Guadalupe in Fresno: I'm sorry for last week and hope this song reaches you well." And here is when Art would interject with as pragmatic a cosign as possible, something like, "OK José, well I hope you're listening Lupe, here's your song 'Daddy's Home.'"

Just as the oldies Art plays represent the longing for better days, so do the people who call into his show with hopes of repairing fragmented ties with loves lost. "The Art Laboe Connection" is one of the few remaining request-line shows where oral narrative is at the root to its success, function and production. There's arguably nothing on the airwaves as original as "The Art Laboe Connection."

Yet "The Art Laboe Connection" was silenced last month. The New York-based conglomerate iHeartMedia changed the oldies format of Hot 92.3 FM, the show's Los Angeles home. That station, now called Real 92.3, is dedicated to hip-hop and R&B. Meanwhile Laboe's show was moved to Fresno's KOKO 94.3 FM, a significantly smaller station.

IHeartMedia's Vice President of Marketing Eileen Woodbury told the L.A. Times, "We believe this new format will resonate well with the audience in Los Angeles." But the response from Laboe's fans has been a resounding "no." At press time close to 9,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the station go back to oldies and put "The Art Laboe Connection" back on the air. 

As for Laboe, he exited 92.3 with class and respect, but not without a body shot to the new ownership. "We wish the best of luck to the new format," he told the LA Times. "And to all those who were let go to make way for the Real 92.3."

I believe that if you really love radio, you will do everything in your power to keep DJs such as Art Laboe on the airwaves until they are physically incapable of doing soor when they decide to quit. And before that day comes, they should have their programs archived. 

Indeed, the oral and aural histories documented in Laboe's request-line radio show are Library of Congress worthy. Laboe represents the Latino/Chicano voice and experience from the 1940s to the present. He is that important to Latino and Los Angeles history. 

As a small token of my appreciation for his years of service, I have three songs I want to personally dedicate to Mr. Art Laboe. From José in Oakland by way of Pomona, to Art in Los Angeles: Keep your head up.

"Don't Let Nobody Get You Down," War 

Of the many War songs requested on Laboe's show, this is an anthem of Chicano struggle. For everyday Angelinos and state inmates alike, this is the song you send someone when they've been laid off, denied bail or they're trying to graduate from college. Between the subtle güiro and the mourning horns, this is the song that should've been playing at the end of the Zoot Suit Riots.

"Suavecito," Malo 

The album cover of the debut Chicano album says it all--brown pride through indigenous imagery. Malo,* a band created by Carlos Santana's cousin, found success with this low-rider gem that picks up where "Angel Baby" and Brenton Wood's "Me & You" left off. "Suavecito" conjures up an image of a pair of lovers at an L.A. drive-thru leaning together against the side of a '50s-era Chevy.

"You Are Everything," The Stylistics 

There are few things better to hear after Art Laboe's dedication than the opening notes of this classic from the Stylistics. This is the kind of song that can't be faded into or faded out of--you must hear it in its entirety. It describes how I feel about the impact Art had on my motherand her friends from the '50s onward. 

*Post has been updated to reflect the proper name of the band Malo.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Obama on Kimmel, Shooting Fireballs From Your Hand, Star Wars Roundup

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 06:53
Obama on Kimmel, Shooting Fireballs From Your Hand, Star Wars Roundup

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

  • President Obama tells Jimmy Kimmel that the shooting of two police officers is criminal, and that the perpetrators should be arrested. 
  • Obama also reads mean tweets about him.
  • You can now "shoot fireballs at will", right from your hand. No, seriously
  • Star Wars VIII is coming May 2017--not to be confused with a standalone Star Wars films that will be released next year titled "Rogue One."
  • There may be water--and life--on some of our neighboring planet's moons. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Palestinian Activist Rasmea Odeh Sentenced in Immigration Fraud Case

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:25
Palestinian Activist Rasmea Odeh Sentenced in Immigration Fraud Case

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain sentenced Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh to 18 months in prison after the 67-year-old Odeh was convicted of falsifying information about her past to gain citizenship in the U.S. The sentence was issued to a packed courtroom, with dozens of Odeh's supporters present. She was released on bond and plans to appeal her conviction, according to the Rasmea Defense Committee.

A Detroit jury convicted Odeh in November of failing to notify U.S. immigration authorities that an Israeli military court had found her guilty of participating in a 1969 bombing in which Israeli civilians died. As part of her sentence Thursday Odeh's citizenship will be revoked, and after serving her sentence she'll be automatically deported to Jordan.

Prosecutors had called for a 5- to 7-year prison term for Odeh in the highly politicized case, which garnered national and international attention. During his sentencing, Judge Drain said that while Odeh may have been a "terrorist," he believed she was reformed. He said he was abiding by sentencing guidelines, and sentenced her firmly in the middle of the recommended 15 to 21 months, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Her attorneys have maintained that her 1969 conviction was obtained after torture and sexual assault while in custody in an Israeli military court system with a 99 percent conviction rate for Palestinians. Odeh maintains that she wasn't involved in the attack.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

ICE Raid Apprehends Hundreds of Immigrants With Misdemeanors

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:24
ICE Raid Apprehends Hundreds of Immigrants With Misdemeanors

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted a five-day raid called Cross Check that resulted in the apprehension of 2,059 immigrants. Over at CNN, Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is quoted as saying that Cross Check aimed to round up "the worst of the worst criminals." But almost half of those people taken in the operation have never been convicted of a felony.

Obama's executive action on immigration hinges, he's said, on "felons, not families." That executive action is on hold, caught up in the courts after a Texas-based U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen judge ruled in favor of a 26 state lawsuit challenging Obama's authority. The Department of Justice, meanwhile, filed an appeal to the 5th Circuit today, in hopes of blocking Judge Hanen's order.

The "felons not family" rhetoric is fraught with trouble: felons, like non-felons, also belong to families. Nevertheless, Obama's messaging suggests that his administration is only targeting people with violent criminal records for deportation. But if ICE-ERO's latest raid is any indication, it's not just felons that get caught in the administration's hunt--it's also people who have been convicted of misdemeanors, especially those with DUIs. "This shows that the Executive Action isn't being used to curb deportations," says #NotOneMore campaign member Angelica Chazaro. "It's being used to redirect them against criminalized immigrant communities."

Over at Think Progress, Esther Yu-Hsi Lee provides some damning examples of some of the people caught up in ICE-ERO's recent raid:

Among those immigrants is a 42-year-old immigrant from the Middle East who faces possible persecution or death if he's deported because of his religious belief. The immigrant, whom his wife referred to only by the pseudonym Rick, reportedly became undocumented in 1981 at the age of nine when U.S. immigration officials lost his citizenship application that his father filed for him. His siblings are all U.S. citizens.

Two ICE agents arrested Rick last Thursday morning as he was getting into his truck in his driveway. Rick's wife told ThinkProgress that ICE agents "made it sound like he would get out that day or the next day. They said, 'you have a job. You have a child. You'll probably be able to talk to the supervisor when you get out the next day.'" Rick's wife said that ICE agents stated that he received a "failure to report" violation stemming from a drug-related possession charge that Rick got in the late 1990s. At the time, he served 18 months in immigration detention, and according to various family members, Rick checked in with ICE officials for five years under supervisory visits and a judge in a "drug court program" as a part of his rehabilitation after he was released from detention.

Around 2006, Rick's family members said that ICE stopped his check-in visits because "he has no birth certificate, no records that tied him to [the Middle Eastern country he's from]. ... he was 'not deportable' so they released him," his sister said. Rick went on to receive a degree from culinary school and up until his detention, was working for 13 years in the food industry.

"I'm hurt by this," Rick's sister said, "My 14-year-old son is livid. We're just a basket case. For a person to be picked up from his driveway, he's going to lose his job. He's been working hard and he's married. He pays taxes! We're all humans, we make mistakes. ... Not everyone deserves to be sent back, or held, or detained."

You can read more about the people caught up in the immigration raid at Think Progress

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Univision Fires Host For Racist Michelle Obama Commentary

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:21
Univision Fires Host For Racist Michelle Obama Commentary

A popular, award-winning Spanish language television host, Rodner Figueroa, has been fired by Univision after making racist comments about Michelle Obama.

On Wednesday's "El Gordo y la Flaca," Figueroa was talking about Paolo Ballesteros, who applies makeup to look like different celebrities--including sometimes donning blackface to look like Michelle Obama. Here's a short clip in Spanish:

"You know Michelle Obama looks like she's from the cast of 'Planet of the Apes,'" said Figueroa, to some laughter from either the show's hosts and/or audience. "I find her very attractive," responded host Raúl de Molina--who didn't address Figueroa's racist comment on the air.

This morning, @univision tweeted a statement in Spanish, writing that Figueroa's comments about "First Lady Michelle Obama were completely reprehensible and in no way reflect the values ??or opinions of Univision," confirming that Figueroa has split from Univision.

(h/t Latino Rebels)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

New Las Cafeteras Video 'Mujer Soy' Celebrates Everyday Struggles

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 12:16
New Las Cafeteras Video 'Mujer Soy' Celebrates Everyday Struggles

East LA band Las Cafeteras just released a new video for the song "Mujer Soy" and it's a pretty incredible homage to the everyday work and worth of women:

Here's more from Remezcla

The video made by Elefante Collective features the dance remix collaboration with Yukicito, member of Los Angeles DJ Crew La Junta Sound System. The song carries consistent melodic hymns combined with the traditional folk sounds of flute and jarana. We asked the female members of the group, Leah Rose Gallegos, Annette Torres, and Denise Carlos about how the song came about. Denise said, "I introduced the words and stories to Leah and Annette during a "mujeres music" session we had at my home a few years back. They loved the idea of singing for and about womyn and the three of us created the melodies of the song, which we then presented to the other members of Las Cafeteras." The end result of "Mujer Soy" is an homage to their fellow sisters and each other.

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Categories: Diversity Headlines