Syndicate content
Updated: 1 hour 47 min ago

Azealia Banks' Debut LP 'Broke With Expensive Taste' Climbs U.S. iTunes Chart

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 07:15
Azealia Banks' Debut LP 'Broke With Expensive Taste' Climbs U.S. iTunes Chart

Azealia Banks didn't exactly surprise fans on Thursday when she dropped her debut LP "Broke With Expensive Taste." The album was originally slated for a 2012 release, but after many well-publicized setbacks, it was pushed back more than two years. Banks finally left her label earlier this year, and the last night released the album without any warning on iTunes and Spotify. Within hours of its release, the album hit the number three spot on the U.S. iTunes music chart.

Skip class and stay home from work!! Invite your friends over and celebrate!! #BROKEWITHEXPENSIVETASTE is finally here!!!

-- AZEALIA ?? BANKS (@AZEALIABANKS) November 6, 2014

If you've got a Spotify account, you can stream the whole album below. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Facing Race Spotlight: Labor Activist Cristina Tzintzún

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 05:54
 Labor Activist Cristina Tzintzún

Cristina Tzintzún is the executive director of the Austin-based Workers Defense Project (WDP), a statewide workers' rights organization. WDP works to improve working conditions for low-wage workers who are mostly Latino and undocumented. The group fights for small and broad victories at the municipal and state level in Texas--a place that isn't exactly friendly to workers and immigrants.

On November 15 in Dallas, Tzintzún will talk about the organizing in the South at Facing Race, the biennial conference held by Race Forward, Colorlines' publisher. Colorlines caught up with Tzintzún to get an idea of what it's like to fight--and win--in Texas.

How did the Workers Defense Project get started?

The organization got started 10 years ago because workers weren't being paid for their work--especially those working in construction. It began as a legal service project and has since grown to do community organizing and policy advocacy that addresses the real needs of workers in Texas. We're not a labor union, but we do work like unions in the sense that we're trying to raise standards for workers. We've [gotten policies passed] at the local and state level that better protect the rights of thousands of workers--from winning construction workers higher wages to making sure they have paid rest breaks. We also address the fact that Texas is the most deadly place to work in the country. Most of the folks who have been dying in the construction industry are immigrants and people of color and we're trying to change that.

Can you talk about why construction workers face so much peril in Texas?

Texas is the fastest growing state in the country, which means we have a huge need for construction workers. In other parts of the country construction jobs can be and are blue-collar jobs. But that isn't the case in Texas. Many workers work full time but still live below the poverty line. In Texas, the largest employer of undocumented labor is the construction industry. It's estimated that at least 50 percent of the workforce is undocumented; that's close to 1 million workers. [Being undocumented] means they're more likely to have their rights violated, to not be paid for their work, to earn below the minimum wage and to die on the job.

Can you explain how this kind of wage theft happens?

I think it's really hard for some people to imagine. If you go out to do a certain job, you expect to get paid at the end of the day. But for one in five construction workers in Texas experience wage theft. That means they're not getting paid minimum wage or overtime--or they're most frequently not paid anything at all. This is especially common for undocumented workers because employers think they can get away it even though workers have the same rights, regardless of immigration status.

Talk about the work that you're doing to protect workers from wage theft.

Our organization worked to pass a law that criminalizes wage theft--it makes it a crime. Employers can actually be arrested for not paying their workers. It's a statewide law that [that] has been implemented in major municipalities. Just this last year, for the first time, places like El Paso started to see employers being arrested for not paying their workers. I think that's important, especially for undocumented workers, to know they have the law on their side. Oftentimes, immigrant communities are afraid of the police and don't feel like the police service their needs. And this is an opportunity for the police to show that they're addressing the issues that low-wage workers face.

How did you go about this work?

Workers Defense Project helped draft the legislation and helped coordinate a statewide coalition of community groups, labor unions and faith partners to push and pass the legislation. Texas is a really hard place to organize for workers and immigrant rights. It requires you to be more creative, and it also means that you have to make unusual partnerships, whether [they're with] folks from the business community or conservative faith partners. We try to cross lines that are outside of our comfort zones and we're willing to work with anyone who's willing to work with us. We also use really good data and [make] sure [it's] also accompanied by people who are directly impacted telling their stories and are willing to stand up even in a really hostile political climate.

What is Workers Defense Project currently working on?

Progressives in Texas have often been on the defensive. We've passed very progressive legislation at the local level and we know that at the state level we'll see bills that will try to pre-empt or make it illegal for those other bills we've helped pass to exist. So we have a defensive strategy to make sure that that doesn't happen. But we [also] have an offensive strategy to push for broader legislation to protect workers--whether it's for rest breaks, more safety training or for more tools that that allow for workers who aren't getting paid to defend their rights.

There is no federal or state law in Texas that mandates that workers have rest breaks--including those who work outside. Texas can get incredibly hot. Facing Race is happening in Dallas, which is one of the hottest cities in Texas. It gets well past 100 degrees in the summer every single days and workers are outside, working 10-, 12- and 14-hour days without the legal right to a work. Right now, we're asking the city of Dallas to pass an ordinance that would give 225,000 construction workers the right to paid rest breaks. It's something that's very basic but is also very hard to pass because we work in a state where any regulation is seen as creating a non-friendly business climate. We're just two votes shy on the Dallas City Council to pass that. We're almost there to see this ordinance pass.

Why Texas? If it's such an incredibly difficult place to organize in, why is it that you focus your work there?

It's easier to see workers of color and undocumented workers as disposable. Texas is by far the most deadly place to work in the country. A couple of years ago, at its peak, there was a construction worker dying in the state every two-and-a-half days. California has many more construction workers than we do and they have about a third of the death rate, and they're number two as far as workers dying. In Texas [the deaths were] overlooked for a really long time. Sometimes there are comments from our legislators that we shouldn't be worried about the fact that these workers are dying because they're here "illegally," and therefore shouldn't have a right to work or to have legal protections. While we're fighting for worker rights, we're also fighting for immigrant rights and the rights of people of color.

It's not a coincidence that the people that we represent--people of color and immigrants--face some of the worst conditions among workers in our state. The South, as well as the United States, has long history and legacy of people fighting back. And we're building off of that tradition. Even for newly arrived immigrants, we remind folks that the work and organizing and advocacy that they're doing is something they're part of that came way before them and that they're helping carry that work forward. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Facing Race Spotlight: Southern Artist Carlton Turner

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 20:04
 Southern Artist Carlton Turner

Carlton Turner spends a lot of time on the road, but he calls the South--Utica, Mississippi--home. The musician and working artist has spent 10 years working with Alternate Roots, a Southern-focused network of artist/activists. It's work that's taken him from studios and churches all the way to the White House, where's he's discussed cultural policy with members of the Obama administration. On November 15 in Dallas, Turner will talk about confronting racism with art at Facing Race, the biennial conference held by Race Forward, Colorlines' publisher. Here, he discusses filling creative voids, the power of relationships and how we can better support young artists of color. 

First off, tell me about the different hats you wear.

The main hat [I wear] is the executive director of Alternate Roots, a 14-state network of artists who are doing work at the intersection of arts and activism in the South. Our network stretches beyond the South, but it focuses on the South. I've been on staff at the organization for over 10 years and I've been executive director for six years in February. 

I came to Alternate Roots' staff as an artist, and I continue to be an artist. [I've] worked with a group called M.U.G.A.B.E.E, which is Men Under Guidance Acting Before Early Extinction. I cofounded it with my brother, Maurice. We've been doing performing-arts and community-engagement work through long-term community residencies since 1996. That has been mostly based in music and theater but has also ventured to other paths. We take our cues from the local community. 

When you started M.U.G.A.B.E.E., what void were you and your brother trying to fill?

The name comes from the idea that when we were growing up, black men were considered an endangered species. It was a time of the drug wars and gang wars and all the things that were continuing to dismantle [the] progress of black men. Much like what we've seen with Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, [black men] have been seen as a threat to the community. What we wanted to do was to bring about some positive music and art that could project a different type of black male presence, especially coming out of a Southern culture. We were beginning to see the fading of voices like Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest and the emergence of artists like Goodie Mob and Outkast, so we thought that our work could help bring a different type of voice from a black male perspective in the South than what we were seeing. 

The South is sometimes ignored when we're talking about arts and contemporary activism on a national scale. For you, what makes arts and activism so unique in the region?

I think about all forms of African-centered cultural expression and popular forms of art in the United States -- music, theater, dance in the-- all originating in some from Southern culture. In many ways it comes out of plantation culture-- the fields, the hymns, the blues in soul and gospel music--and all those things that went on to create hip-hop, rock 'n' roll and R&B. If we're talking about cultural legacy and cultural production, it goes hand-in-hand with the forced labor of African-Americans in the South. Those things are very connected to one another. Anything that we're seeing today in pop culture originated in production you can trace back to black labor in the South. 

What about contemporary activism?

In the South, we know that there can't be any movement-shifting without building authentic relationships. The movement base in the South is about relationships. That's why the church was such a strong part of the Civil Rights Movement, because people had long-standing relationships that traced back generations. It was easy to create a safety net for the movement. Those relationships don't exist at the same level that they once did, so we're seeing our movement base have issues with trying to be grounded and actually have a safe space.

How is that relevant to what we're seeing now in black activism?

What's happened in Ferguson--you saw police raiding a church. Police would never do that in the South during Jim Crow. Now, the Klan would burn churches down, and maybe some of those members were police officers, but they had to do it under the guise of a vigilante because it would be desecrating a safe and spiritually grounding space. Now, that doesn't happen in the same way.

You travel often for your work and you've gone to the White House and spoken to the president's team on culture. How do you think we can support young artists [of color] across the country?

Consistency, to me, is the missing element to a lot of the cultural practices we're seeing across the country. We'd rather see a one-night performance than to see an artist engaged in a 10-year dialogue with the community because it's hard to see how that manifests over time. I think what young artists could really benefit from is an open invitation to really engage with the community on a long-term basis. We're stuck in this economic model of hustling for tour sites and trying to hustle [our] work in a marketplace that only values the transaction, but I think we really need to put more value in the actual relationships.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

In California, Trauma Experienced in Childhood a 'Public Health Crisis'

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 11:58
In California, Trauma Experienced in Childhood a 'Public Health Crisis'

In Californa, one in six people has confronted severe trauma as a child, according to a new study (PDF) released this week by Bay Area-based health research and advocacy groups Center for Youth Wellness and the Public Health Institute. What's more, those experiences, classified as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), can negatively impact the health of the adults children become.

The Center for Youth Wellness gathered four years of data on 27,745 Californians and found that 61.7 percent of people in the state had experienced one ACE, while 16 percent had experienced four more more. ACEs fall into three broad categories: abuse, neglect and "household dysfunction," which encompasses the incarceration of a family member, mental illness, divorce and substance abuse. 

The more ACEs an adult has confronted, the higher their likelihood for serious illnesses like diabetes, stroke and cancer. Those who've experienced four or more ACEs, for example, are 2.2 times more likely to experience coronary artery disease. 

In California the most common ACEs adults report experiencing are emotional and verbal abuse, followed by parental divorce or separation, and substance abuse by a family member. Asian-Americans are less likely to report having experienced ACEs, but by and large, childhood trauma is distributed roughly equally across people of all races. For instance, 16.4 percent of whites, 16.5 percent of blacks, 17.3 percent of Latinos and 11.1 percent of Asians report experiencing four or more ACEs. However, the percentage of those who experience high concentrations of ACEs is higher among those who are poorer and have less education. 

Public health researchers in this emerging field have found that the accummulation of these negative life events and struggles constitutes toxic stress which can seriously impact children who are in the midst of important brain and cognitive growth, affecting their physical and mental health years down the line. 

"It's a public health crisis," the Center for Youth Wellness's co-founder Dr. Nadine Burke Harris told KPCC. "This is not just a small percentage of the population - that it's happening in limited neighborhoods - but this is really all of us, and that's going to require system change."

h/t KPCC

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Democrats Have a White Women Problem

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 11:45
Democrats Have a White Women Problem

When you look at Tuesday's election results by gender, it seems that the Democrats and Republicans split the women's vote pretty evenly, with a few percentage points in favor of Dems. But when you examine that data by gender and race, you'll get a wholly different picture that highlights an Achilles' heel for Democrats: white women.

Exit polls released by CNN show that white women's votes went to the Republicans by a margin of 13 percent. Fifty-six percent of white women voted Republican while only 43 percent voted Democrat.

And if you look at the numbers for black and brown women, you see just how big the race gap really is. Ninety percent of black women and 67 precent of Latina women voted Democrat. (It's worth noting that Black and Latino men also voted for Democrats more than white women did--86 and 58 percent respectively.) Even when you break it down by age, the white vote went to Republicans. These numbers mean even more when you consider that white people make up two-thirds of the electorate, with the vote evenly split between white men and women.

While the long game may be to focus on the emerging majority-of-color electorate, Democrats may be sacrificing today's elections by overlooking the power of the white women's vote. Both times that Barack Obama was elected president, there has been a pretty consistent line among advocates in the progressive feminist movement: "Women won the election." But a small-but-important detail is often omitted: He actually lost with white women.

"When you actually look at the numbers, it's women of color who have won the elections in spite of white women," says Lindsey O'Pries, a white progressive activist living in Richmond, Va. "We're not able to be critical of white women because we're not acknowledging what's happening. The refrain is, 'Women won the election.' But the credit is not being given where it is deserved."

Progressives have put a lot of time, energy and resources into cultivating black and brown voters. This is a commonsense approach--the numbers clearly show that if you bring them to the polls, they'll vote Democratic. And voter turnout is something even non-partisan 501 (c)(3) groups can do without restriction. 

But O'Pries questions whether her get-out-the-vote (GOTV) tactics have their limits. "In Virginia, whenever I'm doing GOTV work, it's always in communities of color. But am I really the best ambassador of that? [Shouldn't] I be focusing more on my own people? And how do you do that in a comprehensive way?"

O'Pries says that with white voters, who already turn out at high numbers, the work has to be focused on changing minds and selling candidates. Republicans are clearly doing a better job than Democrats on that front.

This isn't the first election where the gap was so large between white women's and Latina and black women's Democratic vote. In the 2010 midterms, 58 percent of white women voted Republican while black and Latina women did so at 6 and 33 percent respectively.

People may finally be taking notice. Andrea Grimes, senior reporter for RH Reality Check, wrote passionately about the Democrat Wendy Davis' loss in the Texas gubernatorial race in an article appropriately titled "White Women: Let's Get Our Shit Together": "It was women like me--married white women, specifically--who failed Wendy Davis--and ourselves, and our families, and Texas families--on Tuesday night. According to exit polls, Black women, Black men, Latinas, and a near-majority of Latinos who voted turned out in solid numbers for Davis."

The major game-changer for the white-women's vote might be a presidential run for Hillary Clinton. She might resonate with white women voters in a way that Barack Obama--and his mostly white, male Democratic party--has not. But like the saying goes: The first step is admitting you have a problem. Democrats can't afford to wait for demographic shifts to change the game. They've got to get their own white majority on board. After all, as the recent past indicates, Republicans may use their power to keep communities of color from the polls, only further upping the ante for Democrats to figure out how to reach white women.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Forget Congress. Who's Running Your Statehouse?

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 11:38

So put aside the horrific examples John Oliver points out above of shenanigans happening in statehouses all across the country. (Truly. Horrific.) Fact is, Congress has a well-earned reputation for gridlock, whereas statehouses are where bills actually become laws--more than 24,000 this year alone, according to a Washington Post article cited by Oliver. That compares to Congress' 185 bills passed since January 2013. With that workhorse-meets-constipation disparity in mind then, consider that as of Tuesday, according to Facing South, the GOP further tightened its already dominant grip over the South, gaining 64 seats. (In Alabama, for example, the GOP controls every statewide elected office and all but one congressional seat.) Nationwide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, after final votes are tallied and recounted, "it appears that Republicans will have a net gain of between 350 and 375 seats and control over 4,100 of the nation's 7,383 legislative seats"--giving some indication of the thousands of laws to pass (or progressive legislation to stall) over the next few years on everything from abortion rights to low-wage labor organizing, paid sick leave, health care and more.

"Statehouses do a huge amount of work while no one is watching," Oliver says. He's right. Less than one-third of U.S. newspapers assign a reporter to the statehouse and nearly 90 percent of local TV news stations do not either, according to a Pew analysis released this July.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Asian Woman Acts Like Creepy Dude, Talks About White Fetish

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 11:37
Asian Woman Acts Like Creepy Dude, Talks About White Fetish

ICYMI, writer and actress Joy Regullano was tired of white men fetishizing Asian woman, so she flipped the script and turned in this hilarious video. Check it out.

(h/t Everyday Feminism)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Ryan Potter of 'Big Hero 6' Talks About Hapa Actors, Diversity in Casting

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 11:00
Ryan Potter of 'Big Hero 6' Talks About Hapa Actors, Diversity in Casting

"Big Hero 6" is Disney Pictures latest big film release and is set to hit theaters this weekend. Momo Chang at the Center for Asian American Media points out that the film itself is an homage to Japanese anime and also chatted with Ryan Potter, the 19-year-old voice actor for the film's main character, Hiro.

So the main character, Hiro, is hapa, Japanese and white, similar to your own background. Could you relate to the character?

I mean, I could relate to the character, simply from the fact that we look similar. But then when you dive in deeper, we're very similar, in the sense that when I set my mind to something, I get it done. Hiro's very much the same way. We both get tunnel vision. Hiro's much smarter than I am, but our intellect can get us into a little bit of trouble. Yeah, I mean, even when I walked into the audition the first time, I looked at the character design, and I thought, we kind of look similar!

The film also features a pretty diverse voiceover cast that includes Daniel Henney, Jamie Chung, Maya Rudolph, Damon Wayans, Jr. and Genesis Rodriguez. On that, Potter remarked:

When you hear the film, it sounds like we're in the same room at the same time but it's actually the opposite. We all record on our own, separately. And then the editors and sound engineers, they end up putting all the voiceover together. I mean, I worked with Maya Rudolph very briefly, maybe 20 minutes, max. But other than that, we all worked on our own.BIG HERO 6

Potter speaks to representation that's seriously lacking in Hollywood. According to a study from the University of Southern California, Asians made up just over four percent of speaking characters across last year's top 100 grossing movies.

Read more at the Center for Asian American Media

Categories: Diversity Headlines

MTV's 'Rebel Music' to Feature Indigenous Artists in North America

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 08:21
MTV's 'Rebel Music' to Feature Indigenous Artists in North America

MTV is marking November's Native American Heritage Month by premiering a 30-minute episode of its "Rebel Music" series on young indigenous artists in North America. The series looks at socially conscious artists across the globe. This episode, for which renowned street artist Shepard Fairey serves as an executive producer, features stories of Frank Waln, Inez Jasper, Nataanii Means and Mike Clifford. They're all activists who channel their messages through art in an effort to combat the devastating realities of issues ranging from suicide to sexual assault in their communities.

 Here's a sneak peek:

In a somewhat unconventional move, the episode will premiere on Rebel Music's Facebook page next Thursday, November 13 at 4pm EST/1pm PST. Stay tuned. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

G.O.P. Agenda, Carlesha Freeland-Gaither Found Alive, Colon Cancer Rising for Young Adults

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 07:24
G.O.P. Agenda, Carlesha Freeland-Gaither Found Alive, Colon Cancer Rising for Young Adults

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

Categories: Diversity Headlines

So How Much Did Obama's Immigration Delay Hurt Latino Turnout?

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 15:17
So How Much Did Obama's Immigration Delay Hurt Latino Turnout?

At long last, a first take at a concrete answer to what has, up until now, been a mostly speculative conversation. Would President Obama's decision to delay executive action on immigration reform put a dent in Latinos' turnout?

The answer: It likely did.

Today, Latino Decisions, in partnership with National Council of La Raza, the Eva Longoria-sponsored Latino Victory Project, and immigration reform advocacy group America's Voice, released the final installment of its bilingual, landline and cell-phone poll. Latino Decisions, in addition to polling those who intended to vote, talked to those who were registered but were not interested in participating in the 2014 elections. Among the reasons voters gave for not voting this year were a lack of time in their day (25 percent); a lack of knowledge about their polling place (24 percent); frustration with "bad candidates" (19 percent) and a lack of photo ID required to vote (14 percent). 

Twenty-three percent of non-voting Latinos who responded to the poll said that Obama's decision to delay executive action made them more enthusiastic about the president and the Democratic Party, while 60 percent of non-voting Latinos said the delay made them less enthusiastic. This is notable because Latinos have historically backed Democrats by wide margins. In every state that Latino Decisions polled save for Florida--Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Nevada and Texas--respondents said that immigration was the most important issue to them.

And, as what will widely be interpreted as a kick in the pants to Obama, 68 percent of non-voters said that they could be brought back to the polls in 2016 with executive action on immigration reform "before the end of this year," according to Latino Decisions. 

"In 2012 the thing that drove Latino turnout was [the deportation deferral program for young undocumented immigrants] DACA," said Latino Decisions' Matt Barreto. "It's extremely clear that what drove Latino voter turnout [in 2012] and the record share of the Latino vote Obama got was the enthusiasm he got from enacting DACA." Obama ought to take pointers from his past wins to help both Latinos and his party, Barreto said.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Facing Race Spotlight: Trans Latina Activist Isa Noyola

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 14:09
 Trans Latina Activist Isa Noyola

For Isa Noyola, intersectionality isn't an academic abstraction that she has the luxury to invoke and discard at will. A program manager at the Transgender Law Center and a national advocate with San Francisco-based El/La Para TransLatinas, Noyola works with trans women, women of color and monolingual immigrants. The political outlook is "a matter of life and death," she says. 

An intersectional approach has also been central to El/La Para Trans Latinas' success. Last year the grassroots leadership development organization won a $200,000 grant from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission for violence-prevention work. Noyola says it marked the first time that trans Latinas received funding to develop community leaders in this way.

On Friday, November 14, Noyola will return to her native Texas for Facing Race, a national biannual conference hosted by Colorlines' publisher Race Forward. She spoke with Colorlines about the urgent mandate for racial justice work that also puts gender at the center of the conversation.

Can you give a concrete example of what intersectionality looks like in action?

At El/La [Para TransLatinas], when we opened in 2006, we were primarily funded to do HIV-prevention work. So the city funded the program to pass out condoms in the streets, do outreach and present a handful of workshops about HIV prevention. But from the very beginning we have said that that's only a part of what the community needs. So even though we're being funded to do HIV prevention, we need to think about how we do this more holistically and really create an environment where our women and folks feel a sense of dignity and sisterhood.

What are some of the other aspects of your work?

We've had to go to City Hall, be part of the budgeting process, engage with partners at the Department on the Status of Women and the Domestic Violence consortium, and all these cis women's agencies and collective organizing bodies that have existed in San Francisco for many years. For us, it's been the first time that trans folks and trans Latinas in particular are at the table asking for resources. There's been a consciousness-raising component to it too ... to expand their definition to include more than cis women.

Can you explain how you approach violence-prevention work geared toward trans communities? It's easy to think that it ought to be directed toward the people who are antagonizing trans Latinas.

For us, violence prevention means community power. As opposed to working with the perpetrator or offender, we're asking, "How are we building the skills in our community so people who are facing harm can feel empowered to stand up for themselves?"

We understand that most of the violence goes unreported. Most is never unearthed because there's shame informing the process. Women may feel like they've just got to take it in their partnerships and from who they love and who they live next door to. They may feel like it's OK for people to make transphobic comments and add physical harm to that. 

Part of the program also involves training trans Latinas who will be known as luchadoras in the community and will empower other women. Can you say more about the sort of ambassadors they will be?

These luchadoras are going to go into the community and do healing and cultural work. They're going to facilitate conversations, think about different ways to do outreach, run a support group and think about how to speak at City Hall. All those pieces are behind-the-scenes work to build leadership. We all have to see ourselves as representatives of our community and that takes an incredible amount of capacity to do that.

Can you talk for about the overlapping struggles of those who are undocumented, those who are trans and those, like immigrant rights activist Zoraida Reyes who was murdered this year, who happened to be both?

It means that [undocumented trans people] are facing multiple barriers so that society invisibilizes and deems you unworthy. Trans folks already have high rates of unemployment and already can't access certain health services. To add another layer of documentation is a harsh reality.

Because people are facing these conditions they're having to make choices about how to survive in a world that sees them as unworthy. Undocumented youth have energized the immigrant rights movement and said: "We're not ashamed, and we're not afraid." And that's the same sentiment that trans folks [are expressing]. We deserve dignity.

This work seems urgent.

We have for many years waited for people to get it together and develop a language and consciousness around trans communities, and we no longer can wait. We no longer can wait for other people to get it together. We are demanding an acknowledgement. We want total liberation.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Alabama Bans Sharia Law and Other 2014 Ballot Measures

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 14:02
Alabama Bans Sharia Law and Other 2014 Ballot Measures

More than 140 ballot measures to amend state laws were in play yesterday. Here’s a sampling of the results that matter:

Sentencing reform passes in “three strikes” California.

Nearly 60 percent of California voters passed Prop. 47, which reduces sentences for simple drug possession and certain theft from a felony to a misdemeanor. It’s projected to reduce sentences for tens of thousands of men and women annually. Following California’s 2008 Marsy’s Law, Illinois voters approved an amendment giving crime victims more rights during criminal prosecutions. And bail reform, which the ACLU predicts will end imprisonment for those who can’t afford bail, passed in New Jersey.

Red state voters want higher minimum wage, too.

Four Republican-majority states—Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota-voted to increase their minimum wage. Nearly 70 percent of Illinois voters also approved a wage hike in a non-binding ballot. San Francisco joined Seattle in raising its minimum wage to $15-an-hour, the highest anywhere in the nation. In other news about the quality of life of low-wage-workers, Massachusetts becomes the third state to mandate paid sick leave, along with municipalities Montclair and Trenton in New Jersey and Oakland’s new law will expand on California’s.

Alabama bans Sharia law.

Seventy-two percent of voters approved the “American and Alabama Laws and Alabama Courts Amendment,” which prevents state courts and other legal authorities from applying foreign laws that violate the rights of Alabama citizens. The amendment has been described as an attack on Muslims. Defenders say it has wider application but that it will prevent Sharia from being argued in custody cases, for example. Six states have similar “foreign laws” bans. And according to Governing, a federal appeals court this year struck down Oklahoma’s, which explicitly mentioned Sharia, for being discriminatory.

Weed is legal in the nation’s capital.

Marijuana arrests are a major driver in the mass incarceration of black and brown people. Tuesday’s elections mean that weed is now legal in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C, joining Colorado and Washington state. Read the fine print on each state and district amendment before lighting up in public, however. 

Public funds for private preschool fails.  

Hawaii voters rejected the use of public funds for private preschool programs. About half of the state’s school children according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, enter kindergarten without a preschool education.

Abortion and reproductive health battles continue.

Amendments extending rights to the unborn fetus failed in Colorado and North Dakota. But, Tennessee voters passed an amendment explicitly stating that nothing in it, ”secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” 

Don’t drive while undocumented in Oregon.

Nearly 70 percent of Oregon voters defeated a measure that would have issued “driver’s cards” to people without proof of legal residence in the U.S.

Louisiana says no to 9th Ward redevelopment plan in New Orleans.

Nearly 60 percent of voters rejected a constitutional amendment allowing the governing body of New Orleans to sell Lower 9th Ward properties to private individuals at prices as low as $100 per abandoned parcel. Modeled after similar programs in Harlem, Baltimore and Detroit, according to The Times-Picayune, the defeated amendment aimed to jumpstart the redevelopment process in the Lower 9th Ward.

(h/t Ballotpedia)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Latino, Immigration Groups Demand Reform After GOP's Sweeping Wins

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 13:19
Latino, Immigration Groups Demand Reform After GOP's Sweeping Wins

After a triumphant midterm election for the Republican Party, national Latino and immigration reform advocates got back to the message they've been pushing for the last two years: calling on President Obama for immediate immigration reform. 

"For most immigrant families struggling to make ends meet, who are living in fear of having their family ripped apart...the elections won't change much," Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said in a statement. "It is time for President Obama to step up to the plate and lead boldly by using his authority to restore some sanity to our dysfunctional immigration system."

Latino voters polled by Latino Decisions (PDF) put immigration at the top of their personal policy agendas. According to a Pew Research Center poll, Latinos ranked the issue fourth--after education, the economy and healthcare. Latinos backed Democrats by wide but smaller margins than they did in prior elections. For example, according to Latino Decisions, in the closely watched Colorado Senate race, 71 percent of Latinos backed Democratic candidate Mark Udall yesterday. However, 87 percent of Colorado Latinos voted for President Obama in 2012.

"After last night, Democrats should re-learn the lesson that leaning into immigration is a winner - especially in the runup to the 2016 election where the changing American electorate is likely to show up in full force," Frank Sharry, executive director of immigration reform group America's Voice, said in a statement. Sharry has partnered with Latino Decisions to release its polling data. "Moreover, executive action is the right thing to do," Sharry added.

At a press conference in Chicago today, Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez was far more pointed when, with an eye toward 2016, he told his party: "They're going to be a fight for the heart and soul of the Latino community...and if you're not doing it don't expect the resounding support you've received in the past."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

G.O.P. Takes the Senate--and a Lot More

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 12:33
G.O.P. Takes the Senate--and a Lot More

Republicans only needed six seats to take control of the Senate, but they garnered many more in Tuesday's midterm election. This could signal major changes on Capitol Hill in the next two years.

In Senate races in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina, Democratic incumbents were vanquished. In other closely-watched Senate elections--those in Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and South Carolina--Republicans were also elected or re-elected. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat who assumed office nearly two decades ago, will now face a runoff against Republican Bill Cassidy. And it's too soon to tell who will take Virginia in the contest between Democrat Mark Warner, the sitting senator, and Republican Ed Gillespie. At press time, they are nearly tied at a 0.6 percent margin. Even if Landrieu and Warner hold on to their seats, Republicans will still control the Senate. The G.O.P. also maintains its majority in the House.

Republicans fared well in governor races, too--even in blue states like Obama's own Illinois, where Republican Bruce Rauner was elected, and in Massachusetts, where voters elected Charlie Baker, their first Republican governor since Mitt Romney declined to run for reelection in 2006. Obama held a press conference today about an Election Day that's being widely described as a referendum on his presidency.

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) won reelection with a handsome lead over Alison Grimes (D). McConnell will become the Senate majority leader. On Monday, he told TIME that he won't attempt to shut down the government, as Republicans have done in the recent past, and that he's not looking to repeal Obamacare--at least not fully. He does prioritize the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and his party now has filibuster-proof way to see it through. Obama--who's avoided making a clear statement on his position on the pipeline--could, of course, veto such legislation. But that doesn't mean Congress can't find a way to include it a bigger energy bill.

And what about immigration? As my colleague Julianne Hing writes, immigration reform advocates and national Latino groups are calling on Obama to use his executive power to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. The president delayed taking such action until after the election, betraying a promise he'd made earlier this year that he'd do so before the election.

During today's presser, he made a new promise that he'd take executive action before the end of the year. "There's a cost to waiting," said a conciliatory Obama today, citing losses to the economy as well as the separation of families. He added that he still hopes Congress will move forward on a comprehensive immigration bill. 

While undocumented immigrants can't vote themselves, some raised nearly $2,000 in a grassroots effort in North Carolina to buy billboards criticizing Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat. NC Dream Team placed Spanish-language billboards near popular intersections that read, "She started with licenses. Now she wants to take DACA. What will be next? Sen. Hagan is not a friend of immigrants." The billboard refers to Hagan's vote against undocumented immigrants receiving driver's licenses and her vote against the DREAM Act in 2010, a decision that killed the legislation. On Tuesday Hagan lost her Senate seat to Republican Thom Tillis. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Special Report: Where Asian-American and Latino Issues Meet

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 08:57

What are the "real clear moments of collaboration between Asian-Americans and Latinos" is the question driving journalist Maria Hinojosa's new hour-long podcast, "Hyphen-Americans." Abigail Licad, editor in chief of Asian-American life magazine, Hyphen says, "[Collaboration] is exactly what's being forgotten in all the negative media hype especially when it concerns issues like affirmative action and immigration." From school desegregation to early 20th century inter-marriage between Sikh men and Mexican women to the farm worker movement, Licad fills in the historical record. 

Next, Hinojosa introduces listeners to a University of California, Davis resource center that welcomes young Asian and Latino students who are undocumented (7:30); examines the effects of California's affirmative action fight on communities of color (15:00); talks food (like Filipino-Americans' leche flan) and where saki meets salsa (35:05) and ends with words of wisdom from a Japanese-American woman reflecting on the first years of her life in an internment camp (47:55). Listen, on Latino USA above.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Sandra Oh Goes from 'Grey's Anatomy' to New Animated Film

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 08:54
Sandra Oh Goes from 'Grey's Anatomy' to New Animated Film

Former "Grey's Anatomy" star Sandra Oh is trying to raise money for a new animated project called "Window Horses." It's about a young Chinese-Iranian-Canadian poet who goes off in search of her father at a poetry festival. 

From NBC Asian America:

The film stars Oh as Rosie and Nancy Kwan -- one of Hollywood's first major stars of Asian descent -- as Gloria, Rosie's overprotective grandmother. Much of the film's cast has yet to be officially announced, and in an interview with CBC Radio earlier this month, Oh, who also serves as executive producer, said she was searching for actors who would help keep the authenticity of the story.

"I would like to see...the people who are actually the central storytellers be people who are not white," Oh said. "Look at the call sheet and number one, two, three, four, five, and that's what I'd like to see change."

Check out the project's Indiegogo campaign to learn more. Watch Oh talk about the project in the video below:

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Kendrick Lamar Spreads Love in First Official Video From New Album

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 08:19
Kendrick Lamar Spreads Love in First Official Video From New Album

Kendrick Lamar dropped the first official video from his forthcoming, untitled album this week. The track, "i," has already been roundly praised by fans and was chosen as the theme song for the 2014-2015 NBA season. As Ambrosia for Heads points out, the video is just another extension of Lamar's mission to "save lives musically." It features Lamar leading a crowd of people dancing through everyday and sometimes heartbreaking scenes in Compton. Here's more:

Kendrick clearly understands the grasp his music has within the Hip-Hop realm and even more importantly, he understands that the people who listen to his music believein it and look to him for direction. In his interview with Peter Rosenberg and Hot 97, K. Dot reveals that fans have personally expressed that the Top Dawg member's music has prevented them from doing harm to themselves and even relieved them from the stranglehold of suicidal thoughts. With that knowledge at hand, Kendrick has taken it upon himself to continue that trend by delivering uplifting, lyrically driven content with his listeners in mind.

Read more. Still no word on a release date for Lamar's sophomore LP.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Eva Longoria: 'I Was Fortunate to Grow Up in a Family of Activists'

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 08:02
 'I Was Fortunate to Grow Up in a Family of Activists'

Actress Eva Longoria recently co-founded the Latino Victory PAC, which tossed its support behind a number of Latino Democrats who ran in the midterm elections. In this video from Fusion, Longoria talks about how her family inspired her activism. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

G.O.P. Takes Senate, Amnesty Accuses Israel of War Crimes, Skin Tone-Changing Emoji

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 07:31
G.O.P. Takes Senate, Amnesty Accuses Israel of War Crimes, Skin Tone-Changing Emoji

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

  • You know how you can browse the Web in private mode on your smartphone? It turns out it's actually not so private, thanks to Verizon and AT&T's "supercookies."
Categories: Diversity Headlines