All Articles Tagged "black news"

No More #Headstones: Celebrities, Protestors and Congress Meet

April 24th, 2015 - By Rich
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On a Tuesday drive into Washington D.C. I am welcomed into the capitol by passing a cemetery upon entrance. A list of names silently run across my lips Rekia Boyd, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Jones, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Eric Harris. I could not run out of names for all the headstones I saw. And this is essentially why the citizens of Baltimore protested throughout the streets on Thursday night, why the Justice League NYC marched a historic 250 miles from New York to Washington D.C. to ask for the headstones to stop, to be a voice for those gone to an unjust grave, to remind the nation Black and Brown bodies are alive and here to stay.

Wednesday afternoon the Justice League NYC met with Congress to deliver a “Justice Package” in hopes that changes in legislation will enforce changes in our communities. The organization has prepared a three-piece package demanding new federal legislation: the End Racial Profiling Act, Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), and the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.

The league’s desires take the passion of the everyday protestor and puts it into legislation that can directly impact communities suffering from police brutality and racial injustice.

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And the league was not alone in its endeavors, on Tuesday the organization marched to the capitol with countless other activists and entertainers including Danny Glover, Gina Belafonte, Empire star Jussie Smollett, Congressman John Lewis who also marched in the historic crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama and more who flew in from all across the country. While many expressed their frustrations one thing that resonated throughout the crowd was hope.

 

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Congressman John Lewis speaks to crowd  with Justice League leaders ( L to R) Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez

 

“I think one of the important things that we wanted to make sure was that the voices of the people, the spirits of the people who have lost their lives are remembered and so when we walked into Baltimore and we were able to meet with Freddie Gray’s family and hear that the six officers involved are being suspended I think that’s huge… we are shedding a national spotlight into what’s happening in every city that we walked through,” said Justice League NYC cofounder Carmen Perez who has spent the past 10 years working with mentor and activist Harry Belafonte.

Perez and her team met with Congress  explaining the details of the legislation they seek to get put into law.

Justice League NYC Cofounder Carmen Perez and her team in one of many meetings with Congress.

Justice League NYC Cofounder Carmen Perez and her team in one of many meetings with Congress.

 

Perez has come into contact with many of the families whose loved ones have become victims and on Tuesday she brought their voices to the forefront. The brother of Rekia Boyd, Martinez Sutton, was one of the many who addressed the crowd shedding tears as  his mother stood behind him unable to compose herself.

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Martinez Sutton, brother of Rekia Boyd

Martinez recalled the moments before he received the decision in a  Chicago courtroom that freed his sister’s murderer on Monday, ” I hadn’t even walked in the courtroom yet, I’m walking around by myself and people are on their radios watching me, looking at me like I’m the criminal. I don’t have a wrap sheet, that’s what they want me to have,” he paused shedding tears as the crowd yelled “We got you!” and he continued.

“This is the first time ever in my life that I ever felt broken. I been through a lot and it’s the first time I ever felt broken like I could not protect my mother and my sister,” said Sutton.

And he is not the only one feeling that way. One father of five, Denzel Mitchell, decided to pull his four sons and one daughter out of school to attend the day’s march and rally.

” I told them we weren’t going to school today, that we were going to take an educational field trip. I wanted them to see what it was like for a group of people to organize and communicate to the state and government what’s happening to us as Black people and people of color is wrong,” said Mitchell.

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“I’m really scared for myself. At no other point in my life greater than now have I truly been scared of interactions with the police. As a father I don’t want to tell them that I’m scared for them,”  Mitchell said holding his youngest son as we passed the same cemetery that welcomed my arrival.

The feelings of fear, anger, rage and fight to press on resonated with many from all walks of life. Smollett could be seen at the front of the march on Tuesday and right in front of Congress on Wednesday.

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“I had to come out here, there was no question, there was no other option. I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. I feel triumphant but I also feel really really sad because of the reason why we are here and it pisses me off.” said Smollett who has been working with Gina Belafonte, since the the age of 15 and organizes a member of Sankofah.

“Posting on social media is fine, but there is something that happens where we become a repost, we become a hashtag fad and I don’t want that. There is something about putting your body on the line to speak up for the people who cannot do so,” said Smollett addressing the crowd.

Smollett definitely put his body on the line as he stayed with the group of protestors as leaders warned participants that their involvement with the die-in that took place at steps of the Supreme Court could result in arrest. As I and everyone one else prepared to lay our backs to the concrete, so did he.

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But there were a few  in attendance whose fight has gone back even longer, whose story is told in history books. The cousin of Emmett Till and founding director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation, Airickca Gordon-Taylor, spoke on what keeps her going after all of these years.

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Airickca Gordon-Taylor cousin of Emmett Till

 

 

” I don’t want any family to have to endure such a horrific injustice as our family has – on August 28th  it’ll be the 60th anniversary of Emmett Till’s murder – that’s the motivation, that’s the push.  I don’t want another family to continue to cry tears of pain, I rather them cry tears of missing their loved one but knowing they were able to get justice,” said Gordon-Taylor.

Even though tears were shed throughout the day and night, the emergence of hope was near.

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“There is major storm that happens before you get to see the sun rays coming and thats just where we are today. In the valley of the deep, but we have the ability to turn it around. We are in charge of the things that we are seeing happen in our community and we can make a difference but we cannot allow people to believe that we are not as angry as we say we are, that we are not as charged up as we should be,” said Justice League leader Tamika Mallory who also completed the 250 mile march alongside the women she calls sisters above.

I can hear my brother crying I cant breathe. Now I’m in the struggle and I can’t leave, calling out the violence of the racist police. We ain’t gonna stop to the people are free.” A young Khaleel Anderson could be heard singing and leading protestors in a southern baptist drawl.  I watched as he recruited others off the sidewalks and into the streets to freely express just how charged they really are.

Anderson, 18, the same age as Michael Brown when murdered in Ferguson marched 60 miles through the streets of Baltimore to Washington D.C. his resilience and knowledge was a bitter sweet reminder of what we are losing every 28 hours a cop kills. The powerful teen is a part of the Rockakway Youth Task Force which prides themselves in getting youth civically engaged.

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“I feel a sense of anger and at the same time motivated. In order to fight this fight without misdirected anger you have to understand the power structure and the powers that be. You have to understand how to work around them and fight against the system. We are here in D.C. and not at the White House complaining about what Obama is doing because we understand the political structure, we understand where the power lies right here in this legislature,” Anderson spoke with determination in his cadence.

This week young, old, white, black, christian, muslim, everyday citizen, congressman and celebrity loved like family and found solace and renewed energy in one another.

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What rings true now as Baltimore protestors continue to hit the streets is a song heard through the final moments at the capitol:

Ain’t nobody free, till everybody free.”

Images: Instagram

A Year Later, the World is Still Demanding #BringBackOurGirls

April 14th, 2015 - By Rich
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Last year, nearly 300 girls were abducted by militant terrorist group Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, sparking an international call to #BringBackOurGirls. The hashtag, first started by Ibrahim M. Abdullahi in Nigeria, quickly spread across the globe as celebrities, politicians, and regular citizens took to the tweets and streets to demand the Chibok girls be returned to their families.

A year later, more than 200 of the young women are still missing.

The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag was one of the most popular social media movements in 2014, racking up more than 5 million tweets. First Lady Michelle Obama lent her voice to the cause, telling supporters the president would assist the Nigerian government in finding the abducted girls.

“What happened in Nigeria was not an isolated incident. It’s a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions,” Mrs. Obama said last May.

“I want you to know that Barack has directed our government to do everything possible to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to find these girls and bring them home. In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams, and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”

Despite the global uproar over the kidnapping, Nigeria’s then-president Goodluck Jonathan initially refused international help to locate the girls. He later came around and the U.S. sent security advisers to Nigeria to aid in the search, but most of the young women are still missing, and little is known about how or where they are.

Many Nigerians blamed Jonathan for the lackadaisical response to the abductions and the rise of Boko Haram, who have continued to carry out terrorist attacks throughout Northern Nigeria. Jonathan’s inability to find and rescue the missing girls was one reason he lost his re-election bid earlier this month. Nigeria’s incoming president Muhammadu Buhari has promised to “do everything in its power to bring them home” but cautioned he “cannot promise that we can find them.”

The one year anniversary the Chibok girls’ abduction has once again inspired people to demand Nigerian officials #BringBackOurGirls.

Although the abducted Chibok girls have garnered the most media attention, Amnesty International reports Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 2,000 women and girls since the beginning of 2014. Nigeria’s president-elect Buhari has promised to “stop” Boko Haram, but it remains to be seen if his government will succeed in ousting the militant group.

A Year’s End: #BlackLivesMatter, Cultural Appropriation, and Iggy Azalea

December 26th, 2014 - By Rich
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The greatest form of flattery is to be imitated…but what if said appreciation feels more like being exploited? Within the last 16 months mainstream media caught onto what twerking is and credited Hannah Montana; meanwhile the term and action has existed for over 20 years. The Grammys awarded the best rap album to Macklemore when it was the worst album nominated in the category. This year was dubbed “The Year of the Booty” after a plurality of White America saw entertainers and celebrities that they have deemed beautiful while people of color have all but worshiped a large posterior forever. Robin Thicke made a song that jacked paid homage to Marvin Gaye as if it wasn’t obvious. We have seen a handful of music videos that seem to have made caricatures of styles and overall black culture which felt more like we were being made fun of instead of appreciated.

Iggy Azalea embodies everything just mentioned: a blonde white rapper from Australia with a buxom backside that Forbes called the “Queen of Hip Hop.” She recently received a slew of Grammy nominations based on a song where she sounds like a black woman (rapper Charlie Baltimore) and the beat jacked the sound of the ubiquitous DJ Mustard all while starting the song off saying “First thing’s first: I’m the realest.” Hol’ up…

The backlash and storm has been brewing for a while now; but it all came to head about a week ago *hits Shmoney Dance in my head*. Ebro Darden held an interview with Washington Heights’ own Azealia Banks who has had some choice words for fellow female emcee. She tearfully talked about how she feels with another black culture-hip hop-is being taken away from us. Iggy responded via twitter by opining on Banks’ statement saying that she is where she is for having a “piss poor attitude” and making things racial to get attention. For the rest of those who had tried to continuously give her a chance, that was the final straw for someone who has come off insensitive time and time again. There was the collection of tweets perpetuating stereotypes of different races, she called Perez Hilton the other f word, and that line where she refers to herself as a runaway slave master while making a whip motion (you can’t tell me someone black didn’t write that).

Fellow artists such as Tyler, the Creator, Solange Knowles showed support of Banks’ lament while Mr. Bonita Applebum himself broke down the history of hip hop for Iggy and others who may need to know a thing or two.  Iggy Azalea responded defensively saying that this was patronizing; which all but proved that she doesn’t quite get the point. T.I. responded giving support to his artist by saying that Q-Tip was right (I’ll get there in a moment) but the past has led to many having an “Incoherent overly defensive, paranoid sense of “All White People Wanna Steal Our Sh*t” mentality.” Yes and no.

Let’s be real: black people are the ambassadors of cool. The way we talk, walk, the music we listen to/create, sports, and everything else you can think of. The only cultural thing that was born in American since Europeans settled here is jazz. Blacks in America feel like we are no different than the reasons Europeans crossed the Atlantic in the first place: we are just a natural resource that gets dug up, the valuable parts are plucked out/sold, and the rest is just discarded. Hell, we were brought here to do just that.

Hip hop is what we have left. It was born out of the political struggle that had been facilitated since 1619 or so when the first record of slaves of African descent were brought to America. Jacking electrical power from the street lights and using record players as instruments while using our rich history or oration and rhythm is no different than slaves being fed scraps and calling it soul food. Eventually, it evolved and became universally accepted to the point where a white girl from New South Wales, Australia liked it so much she started doing it and made a career out of it. So okay, rap like a black woman, use our catch phrases like “realest,” and poke your a** out because all of that is hip hop…just don’t make those who have let you in feel like the butt of their own joke.

I feel like the reason that all of this has come to a tipping point is because blacks in America are getting fed up. We have literally seen with our own two eyes black men be killed by police and not get indicted. We have protested and even this week another black person was shot and killed by police two miles away from Ferguson, MO.

As 2014 comes to a close it feels like the only reason why black lives matter is for soccer moms to take classes on “getting low” for fitness because it’s the new thing, the way we like a** is now acceptable, and not only our music-our culture-is considered artistically avant garde if some white person is doing it.

I’m a hip hop head and my three-year-old daughter daughter is becoming one as well. Being 29 years old hip hop is the predominant culture of my generation. It gave me my voice so it is something that I too am protective of. The reason that it will be prominent in my child’s life isn’t just because I love the music; it is because looking at it from a contextual stance it’ll show her how and what her voice can possibly do to influence others. And by the time someone comes along to exploit it and make it corny, we’ve already come up with something new that they won’t catch up on until some time after.

That in itself explains why black lives matter: we’re the lifeblood of America’s biggest export which is our culture.

Black Girls Rock: First Black Woman Wins World Swimming Championship

December 8th, 2014 - By Rich
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Alia Atkinson’s face says it all, this history-making woman dominated the 100m-breaststroke at the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships held in Doha, Qatar this past Saturday. The 25-year-old Jamaican swimmer took home a win not just for herself as she became the first Black woman to ever take a world title. In water-slapping speed, Atkinson finished the short course race in only one minute and 2.36 seconds.

After realizing her win and shaking off a bit of the shock, Atkinson shared the moment with the press. See what she had to say as the international Business Times reports:

“I couldn’t believe it. It came down to the same thing as the 50 and on the 50 I got out-touched so in my mind I went straight back to that,” Atkinson told Agence France-Presse after the race. “I just thought, ‘Oh, OK’ and looked up at the board and it didn’t really click yet and then it really started to click. It took a while.”

Atkinson’s time of 1 minute, 2.36 seconds tied Meilutyte’s world record in the event. By governing body FINA’s rules, Atkinson now possess the world record. Her achievement marked the 17th record broken at this year’s world championships

After the race, Atkinson expressed hope her performance would inspire more women from the Caribbean to take up swimming. “Hopefully my face will come out, there will be more popularity especially in Jamaica and the Caribbean and we’ll see more of a rise and hopefully in the future we will see a push,” she said, the Telegraph reported.

Atkinson’s victory also gave Jamaica its first-ever world short course title, Swimming World Magazinereported. She earned a silver medal in the same event in 2012.

Maintaining a positive outlook was crucial in bouncing back from a disappointing turn in the 50m, Atkinson said. “Considering the 50 and how it went, I had to keep my head in check, ‘You can still turn it around. You’re better in the 100.’ So I had to keep a positive outlook, and for the most part I did it pretty well, so I’m excited about that.”

 

Watch Atkinson take the win here.

Congrats Alia! You certainly rock!

Student Refused African American title, Gets the N-word Instead

November 3rd, 2014 - By Rich
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We have all heard the debate around being called African American vs. Black. What about people who are from other places yet appear to be African American? This blanket term is said to be “politically correct” for anyone with a dark skin tone.  Students in Illinois refused to be called African American and instead were allegedly called the N-word by a teacher. One student is actually of Jamaican decent and when she protested to the term the teacher reminded her repeatedly that she would be called the N-word. There are plenty of educators out there whose point of view may be skewing how they teach our children.

Read more about how these children handled this biased opinion from Huffington Post:

Last week, an Illinois substitute teacher reportedly called a group of four middle school girls the N-word after they asked not to be called African-American.

The incident occurred at Jay Stream Middle School in the town of Carol Stream during an eighth-grade social studies class. When interviewed by local news outlet WMAQ, student Mea Thompson, who is of Jamaican descent, said they asked the teacher not to call them African-American since none of them are from Africa.

“She said, ‘It’s the politically correct term.’ Then she said, ‘Well, back then you guys would be considered the N-word,'” Thompson said, recalling the exchange. “We were so shocked and we were like, ‘What? Excuse me? That’s not correct to call us that.’ She was like, ‘Well, back then that’s what African-Americans were called.’”

The teacher allegedly used the N-word several times over the 80-minute class period.

“After the shock and hurt, I’m angry,” Thompson’s mother, Shayna, said. “It’s a new world, and the people of the past that still hang onto hatred and bigotry don’t belong in this world anymore.”

When reached for comment, the District Superintendent William Shields said the events in the classroom are still unclear, but said the teacher would not be returning to the school.

“We’re finding that an awful lot of the accounts on the specific words and actions are extremely inconsistent, so it’s very hard to judge this situation,” Shields told The Huffington Post. “We’re proud of the kids. We want them to be able to come to administrators and teachers to speak about issues of not feeling safe or secure. That being said … we’re not having the substitute back because the substitute attempted to teach a lesson outside the curriculum, which we didn’t authorize.”

WMAQ readers took to the comments section to weigh in on the story.

“What justifies the use of the N-word in a classroom, regardless what takes place on TV or on the radio?” wrote one.

“What does the history of the N-word have to do with a child requesting to not be categorized in a certain way?” asked another. “She is Jamaican, not African-American.”

If these were your children how would you respond? Do you believe that the teacher should be charged?

Police the Police?: Stop and Frisk Causes an Increase in Anxiety for Black Men

October 22nd, 2014 - By Rich
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A study released in New York City points the finger at law enforcement for an increase in stress and anxiety among young black men.  The study shows over 1,200 men between the ages of 18 and 25 over a 6 month period. High trauma is linked to an increased level of stress as more that five percent of men surveyed reported being stopped more than 25 times. With no incarceration or arrests being made by most officers, stop and frisk is once again cited as a harmful policing technique.

Huffington Post Reports:

A new study suggests that aggressive policing likely has an adverse effect on the mental health of young men in New York City — particularly young men who are black.

The study, released Thursday by the American Journal of Public Health, appears to show higher rates of feelings of stress, anxiety and trauma in young men who experienced multiple or intrusive stop and frisk encounters with police than among young men who had fewer or no such encounters.

“Our findings suggest that proactive policing tactics have the potential to negatively impact the relationship between the community and police, as well as the mental health and well-being of community members,” Amanda Geller, a professor at New York University and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

The study surveyed more than 1,200 men between the ages of 18 and 26 in New York during a six-month period straddling 2012 and 2013. “Respondents reported high rates of police contact,” the study says. “Although 80% of respondents reported being stopped 10 times or fewer, more than 5% of respondents reported being stopped more than 25 times, and 1% of respondents reported more than 100 stops.”

Those who experienced the harshest and most intrusive police stops self-reported higher levels of trauma and stress, the study says, although even those who faced less intense encounters with police also reported symptoms.

“Most of the police encounters our respondents described didn’t include an arrest or incarceration, yet they still reported associated mental health symptoms,” Geller said in the statement. “This tells us that even the low levels of interaction that many urban residents experience may have consequences.”

Geller told MSNBC that feelings of trauma and and anxiety could be related to other factors besides police stops, such as poverty, but that the correlation between intrusive stops and high levels of anxiety should raise serious questions about how communities are policed.

The results of the study also suggested a higher prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms among black respondents who’d had encounters with the police.

From 2004 to 2013, NYPD officers stopped New Yorkers nearly 4 million times. About 87 percent of the people stopped were either black or Latino, and roughly the same percentage were totally innocent of any crime.

Last year, a federal judge ruled the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk unconstitutional, saying the practice amounted to racial profiling. The judge ordered a federal monitor to oversee the police department, along with the implementation of other remedies. That decision, however, has been tied up in the courts, in part due to objections from the city’s police unions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was elected in a landslide last year, spoke often as a candidate of reforming the NYPD and overhauling its use of stop and frisk in particular. There have been only 27,527 stops so far this year, a dramatic drop from the nearly 700,000 stops recorded in 2011.

This isn’t the first time research has indicated a heavy psychological toll associated with simply being black in America. Previous studies have suggested a link between everyday racial discrimination and a host of both mental and physical health problems.

NYPD is not the only police department in the United States to use stop and frisk to try and reduce crime. Do you think it is needed? How long do you think it will take before it is eliminated?

#ShawShooting: St. Louis Erupts As Another Man Is Fatally Shot by Police

October 9th, 2014 - By Rich
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Tensions erupted Wednesday night after an off duty police officer shot and killed a teenager in south St. Louis. Police claimed Vonderrit Myers Jr. was armed and fired at an officer before he was struck multiple times; however, witnesses at the scene say the young man was not carrying a gun.

“He was unarmed,” Teyonna Myers, the victim’s cousin, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It’s like Michael Brown all over again.”

Police say the off-duty officer was working as a private security guard and conducted a “pedestrian check” of four young men when they fled. St. Louis Police Lt. Col. Alfred Adkins told reporters the officer was chasing Myers when the young man jumped him. The unnamed officer claimed the teen drew a gun and fired at the officer before he was killed. However, witnesses tell a different story.

“My nephew was coming out of a store from purchasing a sandwich. Security was supposedly searching for someone else. They Tased him,” Jackie Williams told reporters. “I don’t know how this happened, but they went off and shot him 16 times. That’s outright murder.”

After Myers was killed, a crowd of protestors flooded the area chanting, “Hands up don’t shoot,” and “16 shots,” in honor of the number of times the officer allegedly fired upon the teen.

St. Louis-based citizen journalist and activist @Nettaaaaaaaa, documented the tense scene on Twitter:

Many are already comparing Myers’ shooting to the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson. It’s been exactly two months since Brown was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, but the officer has yet to be charged for the unarmed teen’s death. Tensions remain high in and around St. Louis as protestors continue to push for Wilson’s arrest and an end to racially based policies that Black residents say disproportionally punish them.

Over on Twitter, folks shared information and outrage about this latest officer-involved killing with the hashtag #ShawShooting, a nod to the street where Myers died.

For many, Myers’ shooting is yet another reminder that Black folks are under attack by law enforcement, but this tweet from Al Jazeera English columnist Sarah Kendzior put things into stark perspective:

Black Twitter Talk Tuesdays: Ferguson Flash Mob, Ebola and the ‘New Black? ‘

October 7th, 2014 - By Rich
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As the kids say these days, Black Twitter has no chill. In addition to discussing the regular news of the day, the good people over on Twitter are also getting into nuanced conversations about Ebola, keeping the fight for justice going for #MikeBrown, and geeking out about Alfonso Ribeiro’s latest performance on Dancing With the Stars.

Don’t have time to keep up with all the tweets? We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what Twitters been talking about lately:

 

Thomas Eric Duncan’s Ebola Fight

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Last week, folks collectively freaked out about the first patient with Ebola in the U.S. being diagnosed in Dallas, Texas, but this week we’re wondering why Thomas Eric Duncan’s condition is worsening. Unlike the two American doctors who contracted the virus in Liberia and returned to the U.S. for successful treatment, doctors only recently began giving Duncan a new, “experimental” drug that has many wondering if he’s being treated less like a patient and more like a lab rat, or if there’s something more problematic at play: money.

Alfonso Ribeiro finally does “The Carlton”

 

Ever since he joined the cast of Dancing With the Stars, fans have been waiting for Alfonso Ribeiro to bust out his signature move from the ‘90s sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Last night, Ribeiro and his partner cued up Tom Jones and gave fans exactly what they’ve been clamoring for. http://youtu.be/txPAco9Th8I

Raven Simone is American, period

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On Sunday night, actress Raven Simone appeared on Oprah’s “Where Are they Now” to update Auntie O on how she’s managed to sidestep the perils of being a child star. Simone credited her parents for keeping her on the straight and narrow, but that’s not what got people talking. After Winfrey asked Simone if her relationship with her female partner meant she was a lesbian, the actress declared she doesn’t want to be labeled as gay. Instead, she wants to be known as “a human who loves other humans.” Raven then took the convo a step further—and shocked Oprah in the process—when she said she didn’t want to be called African-American, just American because Americans are “colorless.” Her little statement had many wondering if she was enlisting in Pharrell’s “new black” ranks.

Ferguson Flash Mob Disrupts St. Louis Symphony

 

While the mainstream media has all but stopped covering the protests in Ferguson, MO, demonstrators are still at it. Since the August, activists have continued to call for the arrest of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, as well seek to reform the system, which many say disproportionally and negatively affects the city’s minority residents. Over the weekend a group of demonstrators took the protest to a new venue: the symphony. As the symphony returned from intermission, several people stood in the audience and began singing “Justice For Mike Brown is justice for us all,” while others hung banners. And it was beautiful.

 

 

Are you on Twitter? What are you talking about?

If a Black Girl Dies and No One Hears, Does Her Death Make a Sound?

September 30th, 2014 - By Rich
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Does Anyone Really Care About Murdered Black Women?

A few weeks ago, the bodies of two female Black teenagers were found on the side of the road in North Jacksonville, Florida. According to the passersby who discovered them, the girls’ hands were bound, they were naked, and they were found in a pool of blood. Despite the gruesome discovery, and the girls’ ages, Angelia Mangum,19, and Tjhisha Ball, 18, murder has failed to make national news.

Unfortunately, the lack of media coverage for victims of color—and in particular Black women—is nothing new. According to the National Crime Information Center, 661,593 people were reported missing in 2012 and forty percent of those—some 265,000 people—were minorities (85 percent of whom were Black). Despite the large numbers, victims of color get a fraction of the media coverage of their white counterparts. The result? The stories of people like Angelia Mangum and Tjhisha Ball go unnoticed and their killers are rarely brought to justice.

The scene has played out time and time again. When Black women began going missing in South Los Angeles in the 1980s, community groups had to force police to take their murders seriously and acknowledge their disappearances may have been the work of a serial killer (turns out, it was). And in Cleveland, families had to force local authorities to investigate the disappearance of several women who they later learned were killed by convicted sexual predator Anthony Sowell. And while Black women have suited up and denounced and protested the deaths of Black men time and time again, little attention has been paid to the murder of Black women.

The few news outlets that have covered Mangum and Ball’s murders have mentioned their juvenile records and that the pair were allegedly working as exotic dancers, as if this excuses or explains their tragic ending. Unfortunately, this sort of victim blaming has gotten in the way of investigations in the past.

Ebony’s Jamilah Lemieux explains why focusing on the teens’ lifestyle is nothing more than a distraction.

“Someone(s) apparently murdered two women and left their bodies on the side of the road for the world to see,” she writes. “We shouldn’t need for them to have been “good girls”—or White girls, or, perhaps good White girls—for this to be cause for national concern. There is a killer, or killers, on the loose.”

It pains me to think how Mangum and Ball’s murder would be covered if they were blonde, blue-eyed, “all American” girls. Instead, they’re two Black girls who were tossed on the side of the road like trash and nobody but their families seem to care.

*A memorial fund has been set up to help the families pay for burial costs.

Accused Sex-Workers: Three Professional Black Women Walk Into a Bar…

September 17th, 2014 - By Rich
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If feels like a bad joke gone wrong… “What happens when three Black women walk into a bar?”

They get mistaken for prostitutes, at least at the New York Standard Hotel.

Last month, three professional Black women claimed that the security guard at the Standard Hotel accused the group of being hookers, while sitting and having drinks at the bar.  The girls were visiting the rooftop bar, Le Bain, and came down to the hotel lobby when multiple men approached the women asking to buy them drinks. As one Black man approached the ladies, the security guard proceeded to whisper in his ear and move him along.

“After the security guard ushers the brotha away, he comes over to me and my friends and says, ‘Come on, ladies. You can buy a drink but you can’t be soliciting,'” Kantaki Washington told AlterNet in an interview. “We were like, soliciting? He said, ‘Don’t act stupid with me, ladies. You know what you’re doing. Stop soliciting in here. We were like, ‘Soliciting what?'”

Washington is a lawyer and her accompanying friends, Cydney Madlock and J. Lyn Thomas are both educators. The three Black friends were the only African Americans at the exclusive hotel and believe they were being racially profiled.

When the group asked for the guard’s name he proceeded to give his first name only and direct the ladies to the receptionist. Upon speaking to a manger, they were told the guard was outsourced and not staffed.

Week’s later Washington received an email from the hotel inviting her and “three guests back to The Standard for a bottle of champagne in The Top of The Standard or Le Bain, followed by dinner for 4 (valued at $400) at The Standard Grill.” Because apparently racial profiling has a price that can be paid in food and alcohol.

Madlock is a teacher at a charter school in Brooklyn and had this to say regarding the hotel’s “gesture:”

“We should have some formal apology. And the $400 dinner, we all have careers. That’s nothing. We can afford that ourselves. If I want champagne…what is that? I felt like (the security guard) was talking to me like a dog in the street.”

The Standard Hotel made a statement to the Intelligencer: “Both the misinformation and comments made were provided by third parties, not employed by The Standard. The Standard has zero tolerance for any type of discrimination at any of our properties and profusely regrets the situation.”

When they were asked to follow up regarding the “misinformation,” no reply was given.

 

Photo: Alternet.org