Updated: 2 hours 31 min ago
Tue, 01/06/2015 - 12:38
There's no doubt that 2014 was an intense year.
As we approach the new year, we'd like to thank you for reading, tweeting, commenting and generally engaging with Colorlines this year. With your help, our tiny staff has provided context for breaking news, continued our coverage of ongoing stories, and kept you up on culture. We've also brought you Life Cycles of Inequity, a special multimedia series that explores how systemic racism impacts black men's lives, from birth to death.
You know you won't find coverage like this--by and of people of color--anywhere else. And your readership means the world.
The fact is good writing and real reporting costs money. With your donations, we can continue to bring you this daily news site where race matters. (I know everyone says this, but we truly do welcome one-time and monthly gifts of any size!)
To quote the late, great poet Gwendolyn Brooks, "We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond." Around here we take those words seriously.
Peace, power and time,
Akiba Solomon, Editorial Director
PS: You may notice that we've been publishing fewer pieces. That's because we're taking some time off. But no worries. We'll be back at full speed in January 2015.
Tue, 01/06/2015 - 09:54
New York City police officers again turned their backs on mayor Bill De Blasio this Sunday at the funeral for Officer Wenjian Liu, 32. The action disregards a memo issued by the police commissioner asking officers not to repeat the silent protest shown during the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos, 40. Both Ramos and Liu were killed in a surprise attack by lone gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley this December. Its aftermath has revealed extraordinary tension between the nation's largest municipal police union, department leadership, City Hall and residents just as civilian protesters were escalating calls for police reform.
As with Ramos, hundreds of officers turned their backs just as the mayor began Liu's eulogy. According to the Washington Post, even out-of-town officers joined in. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke tells the Post, "We might be reaching a tipping point with the mind-set of officers, who are beginning to wonder if the risks they take to keep communities safe are even worth it anymore. In New York and other places, we're seeing a natural recoil from law enforcement officers who don't feel like certain people who need to have their backs have their backs."
There appears to be disagreement within the rank-and-file however. "It's two different police departments inside those walls," one retired officer tells the Post. "There are officers who really feel that the mayor has turned his back on the police department and that they are in increased danger. And then there are the officers who go home and tell their sons the same things that the mayor said he told his -- if you're black, be careful around police."
This Sunday's funeral marks the third time in less than a month that officers have publicly turned their backs on the mayor. The first incident occurred in the hallways of the Brooklyn hospital where officers Ramos and Liu died.
Tue, 01/06/2015 - 08:48
Ava DuVernay's latest film "Selma" has earned plenty of praise for its portrayal of a seminal moment in the Civil Rights Movement, but it's also earned its share of criticism. That criticism has mostly centered on the film's depiction of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who former cabinet member Joseph A. Califano, Jr. wrote in the Washington Post was falsely protrayed in the film "as being at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and even using the FBI to discredit him, as only reluctantly behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and as opposed to the Selma march itself."
In fact, Selma was LBJ's idea," Califano, Jr. continued. "He considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, [and] he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted.
DuVernay responded to the criticism this week in an interview with Rolling Stone:
Every filmmaker imbues a movie with their own point of view. The script was the LBJ/King thing, but originally, it was much more slanted to Johnson. I wasn't interested in making a white-savior movie; I was interested in making a movie centered on the people of Selma. You have to bring in some context for what it was like to live in the racial terrorism that was going on in the deep south at that time. The four little girls have to be there, and then you have to bring in the women. So I started adding women.
This is a dramatization of the events. But what's important for me as a student of this time in history is to not deify what the president did. Johnson has been hailed as a hero of that time, and he was, but we're talking about a reluctant hero. He was cajoled and pushed, he was protective of a legacy -- he was not doing things out of the goodness of his heart. Does it make it any worse or any better? I don't think so. History is history and he did do it eventually. But there was some process to it that was important to show.
Read more at Rolling Stone.
Tue, 01/06/2015 - 07:26
Some of the morning's headlines:
- A manhunt is underway for two suspects in the non-fatal shooting of two NYPD officers in the Bronx last night. Both are expected to recover.
- Congress convenes today and Republicans will be in control for the first time since 2007. Oh, and it's still 80 percent white, 80 percent male, and pretty pissed off at House Speaker John Boehner.
- The Palestinian push for statehood is gaining momentum.
- The launch of a SpaceX rocket was pushed back because of a technical problem and may be rescheduled for Friday.
- Florida's same-sex marriage ban was lifted at the stroke of midnight. Now that the unions are legal in the sunshine state, 70 percent of Americans live in the 36 states where gay marriage is now legal.
- Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell faces sentencing today on 11 counts of public corruption. He could get 10 years in prison.
- Take a look at the new Mercedes-Benz self-driving car.
- Los Angeles football fans are hopeful, but not certain, that the St. Louis Rams are moving back home.
- Everybody's moving to Oregon.
Tue, 01/06/2015 - 07:20
Laverne Cox is starting off the New Year with plenty of momentum. The actress will return as a guest co-host of ABC's "The View" this Thursday after a successful first appearance last November. She made the announcement this morning on Instagram:
A photo posted by laverne cox (@lavernecox) on Jan 1, 2015 at 6:47am PST
Tue, 12/30/2014 - 09:11
Tired of searching and searching for more queer women of color representation on Neflix? Well, stop looking there. There's a new indie effort called Sistah Sinema underway that will offer a wide selection of films by and about queer women of color.
Sistah Sinema decided to team up with IndieFlix after exploring other platforms. IndieFlix - like Sistah Sinema - focused on indie filmmakers and creating a conversation about cinema. According to Scilla Andreen - IndieFlix's CEO and one of the few women CEOs in tech - niche marketing and community-brand marketing is key to IndieFlix's future growth. Partnering with Sistah Sinema is part of a larger effort to showcase cinema that highlights global diversity.
The films include selections like Cheryl Dunye's important 1997 film "The Watermelon Woman" and Kourtney Ryan Ziegler's look at black transmen, "Still Black." Take a look at the films and learn more here. Memberships are only $5 a month.
Tue, 12/30/2014 - 08:53
As part of the Afropunk-led rollout of D'Angelo's surprise album "Black Messiah,"* folks are testifying on Instagram about what the project means to them. Using the hashtag #BLACKMESSIAH, notables like longtime D'Angelo collaborator Questlove and writer Michaela Angela Davis have added their voices to the chorus praising the album's execution and message.
Here's Spike Lee, who said the 14 year wait was well-worth it for fans:
A video posted by AFROPUNK (@afropunk) on Dec 12, 2014 at 3:15pm PST
Music critic Nelson George, who did a live onstage interview with the singer earlier this year in Brooklyn, said:
A video posted by AFROPUNK (@afropunk) on Dec 12, 2014 at 2:10pm PST
And Questlove, who worked with the singer through some of his toughest private moments and produced parts of the new album:
A video posted by AFROPUNK (@afropunk) on Dec 12, 2014 at 2:01pm PST
Tue, 12/30/2014 - 08:51
Black LGBT people in the U.S. are more likely to live in states that don't prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, according to a new report (PDF) from the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law. That difference puts some 890,000 black LGBT people at risk of being discriminated against with no legal protection, researchers found.
Those findings come from a new report that examines the disparities in life experiences for LGBT people who live in states that don't prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation. The Williams Institute compared Washington, D.C, and the 21 states that have laws on their books prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation with the 29 states--primarily Midwestern, Southern, and Mountain States--that don't. They found that states that offer employment protections are more likely to have an LGBT-friendly social climate than states that don't. That line translates to differences in income, health outcomes and access, and food insecurity.
Unsurprisingly, LGBT people in the U.S. have widely different experiences depending on their race and geographic location. By one estimate, more than one in six LGBT people who live in those 29 states without state anti-discrimination laws is black, even though black people are estimated to be roughly 15 percent of the LGBT population in the U.S.
Check out the rest of the report at the Williams Institute.
Tue, 12/30/2014 - 08:47
As 2014 comes to an end, I wanted to look back at the accomplishments of women of color who've been doing amazing work in the face of this really challenging and turbulent year. There would be no way to create a truly exhaustive list, so apologies in advance for all of the folks not included below. If you're interested in perusing a much longer list, a post looking for suggestions on my Facebook page generated more than 50 possible women to recognize. Without further ado, 14 women of color who rocked 2014, in no particular order:
1. Civil rights attorney Vanita Gupta is having a big year. As deputy political director with the ACLU, she spearheaded the group's efforts in Ferguson. In October, she was selected to join the Obama administration as the acting assistant attorney general of the new Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. (She'll face congressional approval before she can take the position on permanently.) Both roles are just the most recent steps in a career dedicated to eliminating excessive use of force by police departments, as well as prejudicial policing in communities of color.
2. You're probably not surprised to see Janet Mock on a list like this--she is one of the most high-profile black trans women the U.S. This year started with the publication of her New York Times bestselling book, "Redefining Realness." She's continued her work in journalism as a contributing editor for Marie Clare, and she'll start hosting her own weekly pop culture television show on MSNBC's Shift network. Mock continues to elevate the issues facing the trans community with her hashtag #girlslikeus, and is bringing these issues to wider audiences all the time.
3, 4 & 5: Even if you don't recognize the names of Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, you've no doubt experienced the hashtag-turned-movement these three women* created: #BlackLivesMatter. While they came up with the hashtag in response to George Zimmerman's acquittal, it gained worldwide momentum this year after the police killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. Thousands have used #BlackLivesMatter on- and off-line, the result of Garza's, Cullors' and Tometi's organizing. (Garza lays out the origins of the movement over at Feminist Wire.) Outside of #BlackLivesMatter work, Garza is special projects director for National Domestic Workers Alliance; Tometi is the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration; and Cullors is an artist, organizer and the founder of Dignity and Power Now, a group "dedicated to protecting incarcerated people and their families" in Los Angeles.
Paulina Helm-Hernandez (Southernersonnewground.org)
6. As co-director of Southerners On New Ground (SONG), an LGBT organization at the forefront of queer organizing in the South, Paulina Helm-Hernandez has led incredible work this year. The group has organized to stop deportations through the Not1More campaign, worked to hold police and government accountable for discriminatory profiling in small Southern cities, and continued their annual "Gaycation" event which attracts many folks from across the region looking to build community.
7. Ai-jen Poo recieved lots of media attention this year because she received a so-called "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation. But Poo also made incredible strides in her work as executive director of the National Domestic Worker's Alliance and co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign: Poo has been part of a successful push to get the Department of Labor to extend basic protections for home-care workers, including minimum wage and overtime pay.
8. There's no question that 13-year-old Mo'Ne Davis has had a great year. She pitched the first shut-out by a female player at the Little League World Series this past summer, and she boasts a 70-mph fastball. She even landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Her memoir is set to be published by HarperCollins in March of 2015. You can also join the 34,000 people following her on Twitter.
9. Bamby Salcedo is the founder and president of the Los Angeles-based TransLatin@ Coalition. As the high murder rate of trans women of color receives more media attention, Salcedo has played an important role in organizing and advocating for the community. This year the trans Latina activist was also recognized in a new film, "TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo's Story."
10. Cherisse A. Scott has been part of the reproductive justice movement for more than a decade. As the founder and CEO of SisterReach, the only reproductive justice organization in Tennessee, Scott recieved national attention this year for her work to defeat Amendment 1, a statewide anti-choice measure. SisterReach conducted phone banking and canvassing on two Memphis zip codes with high rates of poverty, sexually transmitted infections, low birth weight and maternal mortality. It also reached out to voters at historically black universities. The amendment passed, but Scott's continues to argue for a political strategy that engages black communities.
11. Lucy Flores: While Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis received much attention for telling her abortion story on the floor of the state legislature, she wasn't the only politician to do so this year. As a Nevada state assemblywoman, Lucy Flores took a risk by telling the public she'd had an abortion becuase she wasn't ready for a child. While she lost her bid for lieutenant governor of Nevada this fall, we'll being seeing more of Flores, who many think has a bright future in the Democratic Party.
12. Veronica Arreola: A long-time Latina feminist writer and activist, Arreola started a year-long feminist selfie project with one hashtag: #365feministselfie. What began as a Flickr group formed in response to a Jezebel article calling selfies a "call for help," the project has collected more than 1,700 photos and you can find the hashtag across social media. As the first year of radical self-love and representation comes to an end, the project is moving offline and organizing two feminist conferences next year.
13. An attorney, activist and advocate, Gina Clayton received three prestigious fellowships this year that have allowed her to start the Essie Justice Group, an organization centered on women with incarcerated loved ones. Essie brings these women together, providing them with healing, financial advice and advocacy. The first group is being piloted in the San Francisco Bay Area.
14. Wagatwe Sara Wanjuki became a prominent voice on campus sexual assault after starting the #survivorprivilege hashtag. A sexual assault survivor from Tufts University, Wanjuki created her hashtag in June in response to a Washington Post column that minimized campus rape. Since then, she has continued to speak out--in writing and during media appearances--on the national conversation about campus sexual assault. An example: her recent piece about the Rolling Stone/UVA controversy.
*Article updated to reflect the fact that only two of the women (Garza and Cullors) identify as queer, not all three as originally stated.
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