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San Francisco Takes a Stand Against Abortion Restrictions Targeting Asian Women

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 11:38
San Francisco Takes a Stand Against Abortion Restrictions Targeting Asian Women

If you don't know the ins and outs of reproductive justice, you may be surprised to find out that the second most proposed ban on abortion has racist undertones and questionable legal enforceability. Often called "sex-selective abortion bans," these prohibitions have passed in eight states, and 21 have been introduced in states and Congress since 2009. 

Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution opposing sex-selective abortion bans on the basis that they promote discrimination against and stereotypes of Asian and Pacific Islander women. California State Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R) had attempted to get a ban on sex-selective abortions passed in May but the measure failed.

Shivana Jorawar, reproductive justice program director for the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), says that sex-selective abortions are an international issue. "There's a very real problem of son preference in [countries including] India and China [that] can result in sex selection," she explains. "In those countries opportunities for education or economic security are very limited, and property is passed down through male children. All of these things create a very strong preference for sons."

Evidence that similar practices exist in the United States is shaky. A  report released by NAPAWF in June spells it out:

"The main empirical support for the view that [Asian-Americans] are obtaining sex-selective abortions based on son preference in the United States is from a study by economists Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund published in 2008. That study, using United States census data from 2000, found that when foreign-born Chinese, Indians and Koreans have two girls, the sex ratios at the third birth in those families is skewed towards boys. However, in analyzing more recent data from the 2007 to 2011 American Community Survey (ACS), we found that the sex ratios at birth of foreign-born Chinese, Indians and Koreans are not male-biased when all their births are taken into account. In fact, foreign-born Chinese, Indians and Koreans have proportionally more girls than white Americans."

Along with the scant proof that sex-selective abortion is occurring in the U.S. is the question of enforcement. While each of the bans vary, most threaten to penalize providers who know that their patients are sex-selecting and perform the procedure anyway. So, theoretically, one would have to prove that a) a woman wanted an abortion because of the sex of the fetus, b) that the doctor knew of this intent, and c) that the doctor performed the procedure anyway. That's a lot of difficult-to-ascertain elements in one scenario. "It should come as no surprise [that] we've never seen a prosecution under these laws," says Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

While both Kolbi-Molinas and Jorawar say they haven't heard of anyone who has been denied an abortion based on these laws, Jorawar says she's heard a handful of racially charged anecdotes from API women in Pennsylvania, one of the eight states with a ban in place. "We have been hearing anecdotal stories of women being denied the ability to see their ultrasounds," says Jorawar. "[The women are told], 'We're not able to let you know if you're having a girl or a boy,' accompanied by a lecture about how in this country we value girls and boys equally."

David Chiu (D), the board supervisor who authored the San Francisco resolution, learned about the issue from NAPAWF. Jorawar says that the group approached Chiu earlier this year because they wanted to take a more proactive stand against sex-selective abortion measures. While the city's resolution does not prevent such a ban from being passed in the state of California, Chiu says he hopes it will raise awareness. "I believed that San Francisco ought to take a stand against the latest anti-choice policies [that are] based on racial stereotypes," he says of why he pushed the resolution. "I'm proud that, with a unanimous vote by our Board of Supervisors, San Francisco became the first jurisdiction in the country to oppose these bans. We hope that other governments follow suit before [a] ban comes to your town."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Out Today, Carmen Segarra's Secret Recordings of the Fed and Goldman Sachs

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 08:33
Out Today, Carmen Segarra's Secret Recordings of the Fed and Goldman Sachs

Bank examiner Carmen Segarra's 46 hours of secret recordings of meetings between Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are being called "the Ray Rice video for the financial sector"--and by no less than financial journalist and Liar's Poker author, Michael Lewis. Segarra's recordings, released this morning by ProPublica and This American Life (TAL), go some ways towards explaining how regulators overlooked events leading up to the 2008 financial disaster. The subprime mortgage crisis, according to one 2008 report, was responsible for the greatest loss of wealth among people of color in modern U.S. history. 

Segarra, who is Puerto Rican, was among a new group of staffers hired by the Fed in 2012 to better regulate the banks. Her assignment: Goldman Sachs. Says Lewis of listening to the story unfold on TAL: 

1. You sort of knew that the regulators were more or less controlled by the banks. Now you know.

2. The only reason you know is that one woman, Carmen Segarra, has been brave enough to fight the system. She has paid a great price to inform us all of the obvious. She has lost her job, undermined her career, and will no doubt also endure a lifetime of lawsuits and slander.

So what are you going to do about it?

Listen to Segarra on This American Life and learn more about her wrongful termination lawsuit against the Fed.

(h/t BloombergView)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

People Magazine Marks Shondaland's Big Night With Racist Tweets

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 08:32
People Magazine Marks Shondaland's Big Night With Racist Tweets

Like many publications, People Magazine livetweeted last night's series premiere of "How to Get Away With Murder" and the season premieres of "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy." It was a big night for ABC producer Shonda Rhimes, one of the creative minds behind all three shows. But instead of celebrating Rhimes' skill or having feelings about Cyrus' hair, People posted a series of racially offensive tweets

From Jezebel's Rebecca Rose:


For those who don't know, the quote references Davis' Oscar-nominated role as Aibileen Clark, a maid in The Help. The reaction on Twitter was immediate, as many followers expressed not their outrage--because I don't think it's fair to portray this as just blind outrage--but their disappointment that this what a media company chooses to highlight.

And that was after this happened:


Rose points out that the problem goes beyond Twitter. People Magazine was recently sued for racial discrimination by a former editor, Tatsha Robertson, who was reportedly told, "You need to talk like everyone else here. You're not at Essence anymore." Read more at the Huffington Post

Categories: Diversity Headlines

New York City Activists: 'Anti-Muslim Ads Could Threaten Lives'

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 08:30
 'Anti-Muslim Ads Could Threaten Lives'

In an op-ed for the New York Daily News, Rajdeep Singh, the director of law and policy at the Sikh Coalition, writes that Pamela Geller's latest round of anti-Muslim subway ads aren't just in bad taste. They're could become deadly:

The First Amendment protects Geller's right to be obnoxious, but she should be shamed for trying to combat anti-American extremists by publicly stereotyping entire groups of people and creating a climate of fear that could endanger the lives of innocent people.

There are fringe extremist groups in many religious communities throughout the world. ISIS, Al Qaeda and others are real threats to Americans. But they constitute a tiny fraction of the total population -- which, in the case of Muslims, totals up to 1 million in New York City and more than 1 billion globally.

It's also a point that educator and co-founder of MuslimARC Margari Hill drove home in an interview with Colorlines recently:

There's also this kind of urgency as we're dealing with Islamophobia. In New York, you have those [racist subway] ads [that imply] that Boko Haram is Al Qaeda, Hamas is Al Qaeda and CAIR is Al Qaeda. I know people who work for CAIR, and to be vilified as Al Qaeda is really horrible. You have elected officials calling for us to be interned. Our identities and status as Muslims in America is still precarious. I feel that being a vulnerable minority, it's very important that Muslim-Americans build solidarity and alliances with other communities. In order to do that we have to tackle  racism in our own faith community, including racism against Latinos, blacks and Asians."

As Singh writes at the Daily News, "By pandering to the lowest common denominator, Geller is failing to acknowledge the devout Muslims who are working full-time to combat extremism and promote secular, pluralistic democracies in Muslim-majority countries." Read more.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

The Daily Show Airs 'Tense' Segment on Washington Team Name [VIDEO]

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 08:25

"The Daily Show" aired its long-awaited segment on the Washington, D.C., NFL team name, in which fans were confronted by Natives on the set.

Before it even aired, the segment proved controversial. The satirical cable television news program had recruited team fans for the segment via Twitter; four were ultimately chosen to participate. But those participants told the Washington Post they felt like they were attacked.

Kelli O'Dell, who says it was unfair for "The Daily Show" to have her debate Amanda Blackhorse--the lead plaintiff in Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc., which resulted in cancelling six of the team's trademarks--says she felt like she was placed "in danger." O'Dell later called authorities to pull "The Daily Show" tapes she had consented to appear on:

Two days later, O'Dell said she called D.C. police and tried to submit a police report, but authorities told her no crime had been committed.

Over at Native Appropriations, Adrienne Keene outlined her rejection of the Washington Post's article. While Keene sympathized with O'Dell, she also highlighted the bias that may have informed O'dell's stance:

Ok, pause. I do feel bad for Kelli, that she was put in a position without her consent where she was forced to defend a position that she deeply feels is right, only to be told over and over again that it is wrong. Welcome to every time that Native people open their mouth about mascot issues. Though, (this is me being genuine now) confronting your own privilege is hard and scary, and it's not easy to have to do it on national TV.

But to say you "felt in danger?" of what? That one of the Native artists, comedians, journalists, educators, or lawyers sitting in front of you was going to physically attack you? Wow. Just, wow. No savage Indian stereotypes here...

"The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart addressed the fans' complaints--and added that his program would never intentionally misrepresent someone's comments. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

More Arrests in Ferguson, You had me at Ello, #HTGAWM Premiere

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 06:54
More Arrests in Ferguson, You had me at Ello, #HTGAWM Premiere

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

  • For the second day, U.S.-led forces strike oilfields held by Islamic State in Syria. 
  • The U.S. is reportedly considering softening its stance on Iran's uranium enriching centrifuges. 
  • Stacey Dean Rambold, the Montana teacher who served just one month in prison for raping a 14-year-old who later committed suicide, will be re-sentenced
  • Following a tough winter at the start of this year, the economy grew 4.6 percent in the second quarter. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Ongoing Deportations Inspire Revival of Sanctuary Movement

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 14:35
Ongoing Deportations Inspire Revival of Sanctuary Movement

After the summer's child migrant crisis, President Obama's postponement of his promised sweeping executive action on immigration, and amidst ongoing deportations, churches are taking a stand. Two dozen churches, inspired by the sanctuary movement of the 1980s, have pledged to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants facing deportation, the Arizona Republic reported. 

"In light of this crisis, we are calling for a national response from communities of faith to declare sanctuaries for those facing final orders of deportation," Tucson, Arizona's Southside Presbyterian Church pastor Alison Harrington said, the Arizona Republic reported. Harrington, who the paper credits with pioneering the original sanctuary movement in the 1980s, called it a move of "last resort" for people who are facing deportation and the communities who support them. Back then, NPR reported, eight church leaders were convicted of smuggling for allowing those immigrants, many who were fleeing war in Central America, to take refuge inside their churches.

This past June, Daniel Neyoy Ruiz was offered a one-year stay on his deporation, NPR reported, after being taken in by the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

[VIDEO] Ferguson Police Chief Apologizes to Michael Brown's Family

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 14:10

Ferguson's police chief this morning issued a public video apology to Michael Brown's family that touches on the length of time that 18-year-old Michael Brown's body lay in the street. Watch above. The two-minute video of Thomas Jackson in plain clothes and occasionally reading from paper notes, was issued through a marketing and communications firm, the Devin James Group. Does Jackson's apology help the town's long process of healing?

Categories: Diversity Headlines

New Report Details Barriers to Black Girls' Success

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 13:07
New Report Details Barriers to Black Girls' Success

A collection of statistics: 34 percent of African-American girls did not graduate high school on time in 2010, compared to 22 percent of all female students.

Twelve percent of African-American pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade female students received an out-of-school suspension during the 2011-2012 school year. Black girls' suspension rate is six times higher than their white female counterparts. In the state of Wisconsin that school year, more than one in five of every black girl received an out-of-school suspension. Researchers have found that racial disparities in student rates of misbehavior do not account for this gulf.

In 2013, 43 percent of black women without a high school degree were living in poverty, compared to 28 percent of white women with the same levels of educational attainment. Black women with full-time jobs working year-round still make just 64 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and 82 cents for every dollar that their white female counterparts make.

At the root of each of these inequities are longstanding structural barriers to black women's educational and economic success, argues a new report (PDF) put out this week by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (NAACP LDF) and the National Women's Law Center. "Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls" offers historical context for black girls' and women's educational and economic experiences, as well as policy recommendations to address these racial gaps.

The report is also a response to the excitement and concern inspired by My Brother's Keeper, the Obama administration initiative to support boys of color. The $200 million, five-year initiative was launched in February with the involvement from federal agencies and private corporations. Critics of My Brother's Keeper have argued that racial inequity is not felt more deeply by boys than girls, and that excluding girls sidelines their experiences.

In August, the African American Policy Forum and UCLA School of Law's Critical Race Studies Program hosted a hearing in Los Angeles, the third of its kind, to raise awareness about the experiences of girls of color who, as co-host and law professor Kimberle Crenshaw said, "experience some of the same things boys experience and somethings boys never dream of."

Read the NAACP LDF and National Women's Law Center report in full (PDF).

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Eric Holder to Resign From Attorney General Post

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 12:32
Eric Holder to Resign From Attorney General Post

After serving six years as U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder is planning to resign. From NPR:

Two sources familiar with the decision tell NPR that Holder, 63, intends to leave the Justice Department as soon as his successor is confirmed, a process that could run through 2014 and even into next year. A former U.S. government official says Holder has been increasingly "adamant" about his desire to leave soon for fear that he otherwise could be locked in to stay for much of the rest of President Obama's second term.

Holder's Justice Department is currently investigating Officer Darren Wilson's fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Amid civil unrest, Holder, who often speaks candidly about racial injustice, visited Brown's family in August.*

*Post updated to reflect that Holder visited Ferguson in August, not early September.







President Obama is scheduled to make the announcement about his resignation at 4:30 ET.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

An American Muslim and Micro-Aggressions

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 10:27
An American Muslim and Micro-Aggressions

This week marks the one-year anniversary of a potent Twitter campaign started by Michigan preacher Dawud Walid to get his fellow Muslims to stop using the Arabic word "abeed." In its plural form, "abeed" means "slaves," and Walid publicly challenged Arab-Americans for using it to describe African-Americans. Inspired by Walid's activism, California-based educator Margari Hill decided to address racism anew within American Muslim communities. This past February, she co-founded MuslimARC (Anti-Racism Collaborative), a multiracial virtual education and training organization. After this past summer's killing of Gaza civilians and the fatal police shooting of Ferguson's Michael Brown, the group is grabbing attention for bringing fresh energy to what Hill calls an old conversation within Islam. Colorlines spoke on the phone twice and about how American Muslims tackle racism and build solidarity with other communities. 

Dawud Walid's twitter campaign inspired you to help start MuslimARC. What happened last year?

Last September there was an incident [in Detroit] where an African-American woman verbally insulted an Arab-American merchant. Dawud Walid, a preacher and the  executive director of Michigan's Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) saw that while discussing the story, some online commenters kept using the racial slur, "abeed." He wrote an article saying it was unacceptable, and he got a lot of negative responses to it. So then Dawud started tweeting about why we shouldn't use the word and I followed his campaign. Some people apologized, others ignored him, and some people cussed him out. I thought, "Wow, he shouldn't be doing this alone."

Like roughly one-third of Muslims in the U.S., you're African-American. Had you ever experienced something similar?

I've been Muslim for 20 years and I've dealt with micro-aggressions. But I grew up in a multiracial environment in Northern California. This was first time outright hostility and name-calling was so blatant. "Abeed" is very derogatory.

What kind of response have you been getting from Muslim-Americans about MuslimARC?

I haven't really heard any negative responses. For the most part, most people say it's needed, but online may be a little bit different. [There,] people may feel bolder and say things like, "Aren't there other issues that're more important, like, Gaza?" But, overwhelmingly, people see it as a positive development. What's actually been surprising is that we've had a lot of support from traditionally trained Muslims, too. Those are people who've studied overseas in traditional Islamic institutions and within the classical Islamic sciences. You'd think they'd be really conservative and wouldn't welcome critical race theory, but they're actually very responsive! For instance, Abdul Nasir Jangda, who is very traditional, was one of the early re-tweeters of our Twitter campaign where we asked people to do a khutbah (Friday sermon) based on Malcolm X. It's not like this is a new conversation.

It's not?

No. A lot of people have condemned overt nationalism and ethnic chauvinism in the Muslim community--even going back to Muhammad's time 1,400 years ago. But it usually comes out in altruistic statements and recitations of certain [Quranic] verses. It's like, "OK that's it," and nothing changes. So people will tweet back, "We know racism is haram (forbidden), that's clear. Why not move on from there?"

Well, why not move on from there?

You still see a lot of excuses for discriminatory behavior and practices. Take inter-marriage: It is very common to have parents disown their children for marrying outside their ethnicity. Or, some parents are like, "You can marry anybody but a black person!" [Laughs.] It's so ridiculous. And [some of us] point out, as Muslims, as brown people, you're subject to so much discrimination in America and yet you do it too?

Intra-community conversations around race are really tough. Why do you feel called to help lead them?

As an educator I felt like I had a special skill set I could bring to the table, and no one was having the conversation in a way that I felt would produce change. Also, when we first started the hashtag #BeingBlackAndMuslim, we got comments from Omar Suleiman, an increasingly popular teacher. It felt like, "This is our time to make an impact and bridge divides." We found threads within our faith tradition that were being overlooked. This [anti-racism conversation] is soul work.

There's also this kind of urgency as we're dealing with Islamophobia. In New York, you have those [racist subway] ads [that imply] that Boko Haram is Al Qaeda, Hamas is Al Qaeda and CAIR is Al Qaeda. I know people who work for CAIR, and to be vilified as Al Qaeda is really horrible. You have elected officials calling for us to be interned. Our identities and status as Muslims in America is still precarious. I feel that being a vulnerable minority, it's very important that Muslim-Americans build solidarity and alliances with other communities. In order to do that we have to tackle  racism in our own faith community, including racism against Latinos, blacks and Asians.

What inhibits solidarity between Muslim-Americans and other oppressed communities in the U.S.?

It's a lack of vision and also a lack of [cultural sensitivity and anti-racist] training within our national and local organizations. We look outward towards transnational solidarity, but there's a missing piece: solidarity within America. So we thought, "Hey, here's this void we can fill." Our approach isn't just within the Muslim community, but it's for Muslims immigrating to America [and] benefiting off of civil rights and yet some of them reinforce their privilege in a society that discriminates against African-Americans. Our hope and aim is to make these [domestic] issues very important. That's what we've struggled with, really talking about domestic as opposed to international issues as the driving force of MuslimARC.

Muslim-American perspectives on race in the U.S. isn't a conversation many people are privileged to hear. Who are some of your influences?

There're some very powerful thinkers. Dr. Sherman Abdul Hakim Jackson's "Islam and the Blackamerican" made this conversation about race OK. Aminah Beverly McCloud and Carolyn Rouse are also in that first generation of my elders whom I look up to. There are more contemporary folks like Suad Abdul-Khabeer [and] Zaheer Ali. There's also Donna Auston* and Kameelah Rashad, [who] very much understand the dynamics of micro-aggressions, and people on the ground like Rami Nashashibi.

Tell us a bit about how you came to Islam--or, how Islam found you.

I was interested in this idea that I could transform myself into an ethical person. It was the 1990s and I didn't like how I was living my life. I grew up with N.W.A and DJ Quick, music where it was like, "We don't love these hoes." There was no space for someone like me where the idea of family life and love was important. And the first Muslim family I knew had sons, both of whom were married to black women. At the time you didn't see black men in their early 20s getting engaged and married. I grew up in a single parent-household. My grandmother was a single mom, my aunts were single parents, and Islam showed me a different model of an intact family structure. It was conservative but revolutionary. 

How did your family react to your conversion?

They were [mostly] OK. My brother would always buy these bacon cheeseburgers from Wendy's and be like, "Are you gonna eat it?" He'd crack jokes every now and then, but for the most part everyone was accepting.

What's next for MuslimARC?

In the next few months we're having a membership drive. We're looking for volunteers and to we're looking to partner with organizations for workshops and training, especially for Mulsim youth. We have a needs assessment, which will be the first ever study of race relations among Muslims, that we're launching in November. And of course, people can follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

*Post misspelled surname, Austin

Categories: Diversity Headlines

$1.5M Settlement for Woman Punched on Video by California Highway Patrol

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 08:50

Marlene Pinnock, the woman whose beating on the side of the road by a California Highway Patrolman was caught on video this July, has reached a $1.5 million settlement. As part of the deal, reported to have been mediated over nine hours in Los Angeles, officer Daniel Andrew will resign.

The video of the highway patrolman straddling and punching 51-year-old Pinnock on July 1 spread widely over the Internet. Pinnock had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been off her medication for two to three weeks when motorists called police to complain of a woman walking barefoot along the highway.

Pinnock told her story on August 11 to CBS News. Watch video above.

(h/t Fox News)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Meet the 8-Year-Old Who Speaks 8 Languages

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 08:00

Mabou Loiseau already speaks English, Kreyol, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin and American Sign Language--and is now learning Japanese. At only 8 years of age, she also plays eight instruments.

Watch Loiseau, who says she wants to learn chemistry and biology soon, in this interview with Katie Couric that aired over the summer. Spoiler: she wants to be a lawyer, a brain surgeon and a singer when she grows up.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Troubled U.S. War Jets Strike Syria, iPhone Bendgate, Water Vapor on Exoplanet

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 06:57
Troubled U.S. War Jets Strike Syria, iPhone Bendgate, Water Vapor on Exoplanet

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

  • A white South Carolina trooper is charged for shooting a black unarmed motorist. 
  • The California Highway Patrol and Marlene Pinnock, who was senselessly beaten by officer Daniel Andrew, have come to a $1.5 million settlement; Andrew is also resigning as part of the settlement.
  • ESPN's Bill Simmons is suspended after going in on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. 
  • Researchers find a correlation between people who work 55 or more hours in "low socioeconomic status jobs" and Type 2 diabetes. 
Categories: Diversity Headlines