All Articles Tagged "protest"
Since February, the family of slain civil rights icon Emmett Till has been speaking out against YMCMB rapper Lil Wayne over song lyrics that compared their deceased relative’s brutal murder to sexual acts performed on a woman. The Till family even penned an open letter to the rapper, letting him know that hearing about his insensitive lyrics was like reopening Emmett’s casket. Still, there was no formal acknowledgement of the controversy made by the rapper. Earlier this week, we told you that the Till family would be seeking further action against Wayne, promising to turn up the heat on companies that sponsor the rapper to drop their deals with him. I suppose those were the magic words because this morning Wayne issued a written apology to the Till family. His letter in its entirety reads:
“Dear Till Family:
As a recording artist, I have always been interested in word play. My lyrics often reference people, places and events in my music, as well as the music that I create for or alongside other artists.
It has come to my attention that lyrics from my contribution to a fellow artist’s song has deeply offended your family. As a father myself, I cannot imagine the pain that your family has had to endure. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge your hurt, as well as the letter you sent to me via your attorneys.
Moving forward, I will not use or reference Emmett Till or the Till family in my music, especially in an inappropriate manner. I fully support Epic Record’s decision to take down the unauthorized version of the song and to not include the reference in the version that went to retail. I will not be performing the lyrics that contain that reference live and have removed them from my catalogue.
I have tremendous respect for those who paved the way for the liberty and opportunities that African-Americans currently enjoy. As a business owner who employs several African-American employees and gives philanthropically to organizations that help youth to pursue their dreams my ultimate intention is to uplift rather than degrade our community.
Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.
What do you think of Wayne’s apology?
Actress Rosie Perez is fired up and recently kicked off a rally against Time Warner Cable, Inc., accusing the company of discriminatory programming practices. The rally was organized by minority and arts communities.
The protesters claim that Time Warner Cable, Inc.’s is unwilling to offer customers diversified programming “as evidenced by their decision to drop the Ovation channel,” according to a press release.
The Ovation Channel was a cable network dedicated to arts and artistic expression. The dropping of Ovation has caused outrage among various organizations including Citizens’ for Access to the Arts, a nonprofit coalition of organizations and individuals, and the Urban Arts, of which Rosie Perez is Artistic Board Chair.
The arts organizations point to a new survey as evidence that minority community desire to enjoy the arts. The survey found that over two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) and nearly three-quarters of Hispanics (74 percent) said that it’s important to have the arts available to them in their communities. The survey polled Hispanic and African-American Time Warner Cable subscribers in both New York and Los Angeles. Ovation, the protesters argue, was the only access to the arts many minority communities had.
“I am deeply saddened by Time Warner Cable’s refusal to provide minority communities with quality programming,” stated Bertha Lewis, president and founder of The Black Institute in a press statement. ”It is disturbing to witness the yearly destruction of creative expression on the part of cable networks. Our young generations rely on the subsistence of art to not only better themselves, but to better the future of our communities. It is unfathomable to think that Time Warner Cable would willingly substitute this necessity to satisfy demands for mindless reality television.”
Time Warner Cable responded to Madame Noire via email will the following statement:
“We agree the arts are important, and we are committed to providing our customers with a diverse lineup of programming they want to watch. As for Ovation, the majority of their programming is old movies, reruns and infomercials, not arts. Our customers seem to agree that Ovation’s programming can easily be replaced with similar or identical programming on other networks such as PBS and others, as we have had very little customer response to the removal of Ovation from our channel lineup. We don’t agree with any of the claims made from this supposed study; through the video and Internet services we provide to our customers, we allow them to gain much greater access to the arts, regardless of their race, income or geography.”
Time Warner Cable customers: Do you miss Ovation?
Damn, Damn, Damn!
After filing for Chapter 11 in January and dealing with a huge strike by two of the bakers’ union, Hostess finally made the decision on Thursday evening to shut its doors. The CEO of the company, Greg Rayburn said in a statement that while he regrets the outcome, they could not afford an even more extended strike. This move will no doubt some hurt pockets as 18,500 people are expected to lose their jobs. All stores will close within the next week. This also signals the end of Twinkies, the chocolate and lemon cupcakes, Ding Dongs and Wonder bread. This is just tragic.
This isn’t the first time Hostess had to file Chapter 11. They had some troubles in 2004 that resulted in the filing; after restructuring in 2009, they were back in action. But since January, the new owners – a group of investment firms, – and two of the company’s biggest unions have been in a huge dispute over various points in the contract. The new contract, in which the Teamsters Union actually agreed to in September, cut salaries across the board by 8 percent and slowing come back up to four percent over the years following. However, The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union shot it down. Their representative, Frank Hurt said that union members decided they’d had enough of the back and forth “negotiating” that was going nowhere and that those in charge at the top were the reason for the company’s financial problems. They knew they would face the company being shut down by last Thursday at 5pm if they didn’t agree. Apparently, what they thought was right was more important.
So what does that mean for all their baked goods? Well, it is likely that once the company sells its assets to the highest bidder, some of the more popular goods will be saved. I guess for those of us not involved with the company, that is an upside. But no, none of the Hostess employees would be getting their jobs back.
Here’s my question: Would you have crossed the picket line to save your job? Did the bakers’ union go too far knowing they would lose their jobs if they didn’t agree to the new contract?
If it’s not one thing, it’s another. This time, protesters are calling for a boycott of chicken chain Chick-fil-A after the company’s president, Dan Cathy, made a very telling statement against same sex marriages. While speaking to Christian website Baptist Press earlier this week, Cathy was clear on his stance:
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
As you may have very well guessed, his comment traveled rather quickly and almost immediately, Facebook posts and tweets were popping up at a rapid pace denouncing his comments. Long time supporters of Chick-Fil-A, which first opened in 1946 in Atlanta, who are also supporters of gay unions have signed a petition which states, “…we can no longer stomach your intolerance and disrespect for countless LGBT citizens. Until your company’s values reflect the freedoms and dignities that all American citizens are due, we will no longer eat at Chick-fil-A!” The Mayor of Boston even said that he would seek to block Chick-fil-A from opening there if they continued to take that stance.
By Thursday, it appeared the kitchen had gotten a little hot for the powers-that-be. Chick-fil-A reps finally released a statement via Facebook regarding Cathy’s comments by saying, “…The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
Now on the one hand, most people who’ve been to Chick-fil-A know how staunchly conservative the company is and has always been. They’re closed on Sundays for worship and family time, for goodness sakes. If that doesn’t automatically tell you what side of the fence they’re on then you’re too blinded by their chicken biscuits and lemonade to see it. And yes, the rest of the country seems to be moving – at least at face value – towards progression but it doesn’t mean that any company must move with it if those aren’t their beliefs.
On the other hand…grow up, Dan Cathy! First, not all views need to be expressed, particularly when you run the second largest quick service chicken chain restaurant. I mean, Sir, gay, lesbian and transgendered people have likely eaten from one of the 1,600 restaurants scattered across the country. If nothing else, show some respect for that. Second, remember that just because you do an interview with and for one group of people, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t pick it up.
Where do you stand? If you support same sex marriages but you also patronize Chick-fil-A, can you see yourself letting it go for the bigger cause? Is it just not that serious to you? Have you ever boycotted a company because of their views or rules?
Only one episode of a likely 10 of “Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta” has aired on VH1 and already some viewers have had enough. Following in the footsteps of the viral anti-”Basketball Wives” petition, Erin Harper of Atlanta, GA, has launched a petition on Change.org to boycott LHHATL.
The petition reads:
Stop Dealing Crack and Tell True Stories
After we made a ruckus about Basketball Wives, sponsors began to pull ads. Well, it’s that time again, folks!
While we should respect the perceptions and experiences of the men and women featured on “reality” television shows, networks are airing stories that could be very helpful for people to hear, but in EXTREMELY dangerous ways.
We all know premium digital crack rock is ‘slanged’ in more digital hoods than VH1. We also know the problem is not just TV–it’s is a big, mean, social monster that we’ve gotta shoot down one non-violent bullet at a time. Nevertheless, somebody’s gotta be the face of this lovely movement. And since VH1 has chosen to give us yet another beautifully-blinged jewel of commercial exploitation (Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta), they might as well be the face of change. By the way, shout out to all African Americans who received Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta as their Juneteenth gift! You won and lost at the same time!
As we work toward national- and local-level change, let’s tell VH1 and their sponsors (again) why people from a broad range of backgrounds will NOT stand for the exploitation of the lived experiences of people who may not even know they’re being exploited. This isn’t a “Black or White” thing, this is a HUMAN thing…and we should all understand.
P.S. That “turn of the TV/your kids’ TV if you don’t want to watch” argument doesn’t work here, VH1. A good number of the kids who are most at risk don’t have the luxury of living with parents who can just “turn off the TV”. Why? Because their parents are out working multiple jobs (thanks to this lovely thing called poverty), both parents are dead or in jail, or they’re raised by ill grandparents, relatives who aren’t that interested in their future, or foster parents who abuse them and only foster to collect a check.
So far, 377 signers are e-standing with Erin to eliminate this “digital crack” as she calls it. Some of the comments on the petition include:
Just tired of the media taking advantage of our people…we do have strong role model in our community and this level of rachet-ness isn’t the norm for a lot of us…Another prime example of the cycle of breaking down our relationships and the constant struggle to maintain them…There is no Glory in exploitation…VH1, Jive record and Mona Scott need a lashing!
It seems that the only time a network is interested in backing a television show about Black men and women is when we behave the way we’re “expected” to instead of how the overwhelming majority of us actually do. Shows like this make the climb a little steeper and more slippery for those of us women trying to be seen for who we really are instead of how that Black woman behaved on television last night…..
Negative images create negative perceptions and sends a poisonous message to the masses about black identity.
I’m signing because I’m tired of “reality” television exploiting people – especially people of color. Shows like this demean all of us. I do my best to support businesses that demonstrate an interest in social responsibility, and for those that don’t, I hold them accountable! Straighten up VH1!
Only time will tell if this effort gains the same national attention from public figures and advertisers as the BBW petition. Will you sign it?
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The poor status of American public schools is the dirty little secret school officials like to sweep under the rug, but students at Frederick Douglass Academy in Detroit are saying “no more.” On Thursday, about 50 students from the all-boys school were suspended for walking out of class in protest and simply demanding a better education from the school.
“We’ve been wronged and disrespected and lied to and cheated,” senior Tevin Hill told the Detroit Free Press. “They didn’t listen to us when we complained to the administration. They didn’t listen to the parents when they complained to the administration, so I guess this is the only way to get things solved.”
The boys walked out in frustration over several complaints, including a lack of consistent teachers, the reassignment of the school principal, educators who abuse sick time, and a shortage of textbooks. One of the boys’ parents, Sharise Smith, said a math teacher has been absent for more than 68 days and her son was given an A in geometry without taking a final exam.
“It was by default, just for showing up. It wasn’t because he earned an A,” she said.
Seniors at the academy are worried they won’t be prepared for college much less their future. Seventeen-year-old Hill told The Detroit News that so many teachers have been simultaneously absent from school that dozens of students had been forced to simply gather in the gym or other common areas. They’ve also gone for long periods without homework, the results of which were seen on Hill’s placement exam at Bowling Green State University where he plans to attend next year.
“I literally couldn’t answer a question on there,” Hill said. “Right now, I’m not going to be as successful as I should be because I haven’t been properly taught.”
“They’re pushing smoke up parents’ butts,” she said, “and the parents better get the hell up and do something different.”
I’m with her. It’s amazing officials had time to suspend these boys for their protest but couldn’t manage to call substitute teachers in to educate them.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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By now you’ve probably noticed that there’s no Wikipedia today, and that Google has blacked out its logo, or that some of your favorite blog sites have faded to black. The effort is part of a protest of two bills before Congress, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, which would censor the Web and impose some stiff regulations on online businesses.
The purpose of the bill, which is backed by many in the music and film industries, is to stop online piracy which has been running rampant for several years now and some say is costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and millions, possibly even billions, of dollars in lost revenue. But opponents of the legislation who have turned their sites dark in a move of solidarity say the legislation infringes on freedom of speech and could even “break the Internet.”
According to the Washington Post, the bill would “enable copyright holders and the Justice Department to get court orders against sites that ‘engage in, enable, or facilitate’ copyright infringement. That could include, say, sites that host illegal mp3s or sites that link to such sites. Courts could bar advertisers and payment companies such as PayPal from doing business with the offending sites in question, order search engines to stop listing the accused infringers, or even require Internet service providers to block access entirely. The bills contain other provisions, too, like making it a felony to stream unauthorized content online.”
Although the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in 1998, requiring any site hosting or linking to pirated material to take it down once notified, sites aren’t required to actively police their sites, which copyright holders say isn’t enough. So, with this new law, “Rather than receiving a notification for copyright violations, sites now face immediate action — up to and including being taken down before they have a chance to respond.” As the Washington Post points out:
“Intermediary sites like YouTube and Flickr could lose their ‘safe harbor’ protections. Nonprofit or low-budget sites might not have the resources to defend themselves against costly lawsuits. And, meanwhile, larger companies like Google and Facebook could be forced to spend considerable time and money policing their millions of offerings each day for offending material.”
As far as the idea of breaking the Internet, sites in violation of the bill could be de-listed from the Domain Name System, meaning U.S. service providers would have to act as though the site didn’t exist at all. Users might then seek out foreign servers to host their material which brings a whole other issue of security into question.
Obviously, the entertainment industry has a right to want to protect its revenue streams, but do their rights come before those of all Americans? The way in which the bills seek to eliminate piracy could very well eliminate the business models Google and Reddit have built entire companies around, or even your everyday blogger who has created a business for herself by killing the very thing we admire most about the internet: information that is readily accessible and can be easily shared. It may be necessary for Congress to approach this issue from another angle.
The Senate is expected to vote on the issue Jan. 24, meanwhile Google is asking Americans to sign a petition to end piracy, not liberty.
What do you think about the PIPA and SOPA bills? Do you oppose or support the legislation? What do you think would be a better way for Congress to address Internet piracy?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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The Occupy Wall Street movement has swept the nation, with new factions popping up in new cities as we speak. Though specific agendas vary, there is one very clear purpose behind this leaderless coalition: spread the wealth. And, while some have found refuge in the movement, others have been inspired by their exclusion from the one-percent club. However, it is not the sort of inspiration that marches through the streets or chants in the cold rain. It is the reality-check that comes with self-made economic success stories, such as GOP presidential nominee Herman Cain, telling them, “If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, it’s your fault;” it is the inspiration that cultivates ideas, creates and innovates.
Rich is a subjective term, but perhaps, there is some truth to the aforementioned. Economic success rarely comes to the faint of heart and those resistant to sacrifice. Although many of us would like to be wealthy, few are willing to do what it takes to get there; and, for reasons such as those listed below, we are not part of the $350,000 (roughly the amount of income it takes to be among the nation’s wealthiest) and up crowd:
I’m sure you’ve had many career advisers tell you time and time again to watch the pictures you post on Facebook. Why? Because employers often use Facebook to check up on you in the hiring process. We all know ratchetness on Facebook could possibly keep you from getting a job, but it sucks to know that the opinions you share–and display on the site–could possibly cost you your job as well.
A teacher in New Jersey named Viki Knox is in the center of the debate on free speech on through social media, as many are calling for her job after she posted anti-gay comments on her Facebook page. Knox has been put on paid administrative leave while the matter is investigated (and has been since the beginning of the month), but during a school board meeting yesterday, protesters were in full force for both sides of the matter. On one side, individuals were holding up posters that said, “No Hate in Our State,” while on the other side, a large group of people standing by the teacher held up smaller signs that said, “Don’t Bully Viki.” Many argue that a woman who teaches around young people of all different backgrounds and orientations, and is open about her disapproval of the gay lifestyle, shouldn’t get to keep working in the school. However, others are saying that firing a person because of what they believe in based on their religious teachings would be a violation of their free speech and religious freedoms.
I know what you’re thinking: if she was just speaking her mind on her Facebook page on her own time, what’s the issue? Well, according to the Los Angeles Times, Knox, 49, was commenting on the school’s recognition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender History Month. The special education teacher wrote that being of the LGBT community was a “sin” a sin that in her mind, “breeds like cancer.” She made it clear that celebrating the month in the school is like parading “unnatural, immoral behavior before the rest of us.”
Many gay advocates say that her opinions could cause her to not keep an eye out for those bullying students of the LGBT community, and that she may not fully enforce new anti-bullying legislation passed in New Jersey last spring. Not really sure how I feel about this one, because I think it’s sad that people’s religious opinions, which are expressed outside of school halls, can still get them axed. However, some people commenting on this story did bring up a really good point: remember the story we posted about the white supremacist principal in the Bronx who was fired after it came out that he wrote a string of books about minority inferiority? Well…this is somewhat similar. Not fully though, because racism isn’t something commonly taught (at least not out in the open), while Knox’s beliefs are a common view held by some Christians due to their personal interpretations of the Bible. But still, her known beliefs could possibly play a part in how she treats her students, or even worse, how they feel about being around her. As if there wasn’t enough as an adolescent teen to be uncomfortable about in school…But what do you think?
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In the book Confronting Authority, the late, great-Law Scholar Derrick Bell wrote about the events, which led him to forfeit his professorship at Harvard Law School in a protest over the university’s refusal to tenure a female professor of color. At the time, the Law school had only tenured three blacks and five women in total – and none of them were black women. The much criticized and condemned protest not only highlighted the deep problems of merit, sexism and racism within academia but also stressed the importance of taking a stand in the name of racial and gender justice – even if it means standing alone.
For the past few weeks, the entire nation has been focused on the “Occupy” protest, which has not only happening at Wall Street but in almost 300 cities around the country as well. While the ideas behind this impromptu revolution seems vague to some, the spirit of confronting the authority over the direction in which this country is taking has resonated with the general population, who has seen their standard of living negatively impacted over the last decade. Yet some folks of color are rightfully wondering where they actually stand in this movement, which seeks to speak in their names.
In the first few days of protest, I remember watching the live streaming video of Occupy Wall Street, zeroing in on anyone who looks like me and wondering why in a city, which is heavily populated by black, brown and various other ethnicities, were “we” largely absent from the protest? And then I began to think about the overall unspoken nuances over the term “occupy” on the same grounds, which was once Algonquin native land and, upon conquest, acted as a major trading post for black slaves.
For communities of color, the message of “we are the 99 percent” takes on dual meaning when you consider that sizable percentage of the 99 had long been dealing with sub-standard living conditions, occupation through the criminal justice system, political marginalization and economic disenfrashment. Even in the best of times, the black and brown community specifically dealt with higher levels of unemployment than their white counterparts. Both communities were also subjected to the unfair and racist 100:1 sentencing guidelines, which sought to make possession of crack more sentencable than just regular cocaine. Likewise, any and all attempts in the past to protest, march and even speak freely about how racism has created paradox of inequality were met with accusation of playing the proverbial race card.
With this “Occupy” movement, which has largely been seen as a movement of solidarity, it appears that some of the same oppressive social constructs of the past remain. Despite emphasis of being a leaderless movement where anyone with a gripe about the 1 percent can come, plan and get involved, there have been countless reports about people from historically marginalized communities not feeling the welcome mat from all and having their voices silenced through the individual movement’s general assembly as well as in facilitator’s positions, which basically act as the de facto leadership of the movement. Sure we can come, wave signs and join in on the chanting. However, when attempts have been made to discuss substantial and tangible ways in which race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity intertwine with capitalistic oppression in this country, some folks have been accused of trying to divide the movement.
This is in no way to discredit what is happening around the country but if the ultimate goal is to create a movement, which is representative of all people, than shouldn’t the movement be putting in the work to not fall into the usual traps of mimicking certain kinds of oppression in the same system they seek to upset?
Fortunately people of color, and other historically disenfranchised communities, are not waiting around for the rest of the 99 percent to “get it.” In New York, where the original “occupy” protest began, a group of people came together to form a People of Color Occupy Wall Street committee, which seeks to “build a racially conscious and inclusive movement.” Likewise, there is also an Occupy the Hood movement, which has seeks to attract minority voices to the “occupy” movement.
In Philadelphia, Ive spoken to some in the black, brown and other marginalized communities. They have struggled with feelings of isolation and marginalization within the larger context of the movement, and have also decided to approach the movement with both open-mindedness and cautious skepticism. While they have taken up the task of creating a people of color working group to speak to the overall power structure both inside of the movement and the larger society as well, they have also rallied and protested inside of the occupation site, which doubles as Philadelphia City Hall, to challenge the unbridled concentration of power and demand that folks of all color be heard .
A true revolution, or any version of change, cannot and should not be carried out by those who were once comfortable with the power structures when it was in their favor. Nor should we, as people of color, feel the need to place “our” issues to the back of the bus. No, we should be questioning and confronting authority, whether it comes in the guise of conservative, liberal and even progressive movements.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.