All Articles Tagged "protest"

Let Your Voice Be Heard: How To (Legally) Protest A Business

August 14th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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Angry coworker employees, protesting, yelling on bullhorns, Aaron Amat/Shutterstock

Aaron Amat/Shutterstock

Companies aren’t immune to doing things that are tasteless, insensitive or downright wrong. Barneys coughed up $525,000 to settle racial profiling situations in their stores. While we certainly don’t have the answers on what to do in every situation, we can make our voices heard when it comes to where we spend our money. Here are some tips on how to legally protest a business.

Not On Their Watch: Ohio Festival Removes R Kelly From Lineup After Public Backlash

July 29th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Image Source:

Image Source:

R. Kelly is an exceptionally talented musician. But sadly now that all of his dysfunction is out there for the world to see, his illness speaks louder than his talent. While there are still plenty of people who still ride for Kellz and his hypersexual music, other Columbus, Ohio residents weren’t having it. And their complaints resulted in Kelly being removed from the Fashion Meets Music Festival on Labor Day weekend.

R. Kelly was scheduled to perform on August 29, kicking off the three day festival in Columbus’ Arena district.

When news broke that he would not be performing, Kelly’s publicist released a statement: “R. Kelly is sorry to disappoint his fans but looks forward to seeing them in the near future during one of his upcoming tours.” 

As soon as the festival announced that Kelly would be the headliner for the festival, complaints started pouring in from angry social media users. As you might assume, they cited the rape accusations and the indictment on his 21 counts of child pornography.

Here’s a sampling of what they had to say, according to the USA Today. 

  • “It’s actually very common for sexual predators to put on a good show. That is how they lure their victims.”
  • (Rape victims responded to the Kelly booking with) “sheer horror. That’s why we are upset. Support victims of sexual abuse and don’t ignore them.”
  • “Accepting R Kelly as an artist is to ignore the fundamental basics of human dignity. It’s not like he’s just a player and folks don’t dig it. A very real line was very clearly crossed and this is how we choose to express our disdain for the deeds and support for the victims.”
  • “Vote with your wallets.”

Kelly was found not guilty of those charges in 2008 when jurors stated that while they believed that it was indeed R. Kelly in the tapes, they couldn’t be sure of the age of female participants.

Before Kelly was ever brought to trial, the Chicago Sun Times started publishing an investigative series which detailed Kelly’s history with underaged girls as young as 15.

Initially, the festival organization stood by the choice of R. Kelly but after the noticed the backlash the decided to ask Kelly to step down. Other performers for the weekend include Michelle Williams, Paper Diamond and Destructo, Future Islands and more.

Personally, I think Columbus made the right decision and I wish other individuals, organizations and venues would keep sending this same message until people realize this man has a very real problem and he should seek help.

Remember The Florida Boycott? Social Injustices And Drama We Went Hard For, And Then Forgot About

March 25th, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Are we just letting all of this go?

Social Injustices

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Remember When We Were Going to Shut Barneys Down?

Barney’s literally had a dude arrested for shopping while black and the black community was mad as hell…until Jay-Z refused to get on board with the boycott…then we all just sort of let it go.

Fast-Food Workers In 100 Cities Are Protesting Tomorrow

December 4th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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The protest that took place in July. Spencer Platt Getty Images News

The protest that took place in July. Spencer Platt
Getty Images News

If you’re thinking about heading to the nearest McD’s for lunch tomorrow, you might want to think again. Fast-food workers, in their continuing efforts to see a rise in their wages, are walking off the job in 100 cities. As they have before, workers and their supporters are seeking a $15-per-hour pay raise. According to the AP, previous walkouts during the summer had varying amounts of participation, with some restaurants unable to serve customers and others going on with business as usual.

The National Restaurant Association blames labor unions for the unrest. Though progress has been slow (protests began last year), there are changes afoot, with some companies, states, and cities enacting pay raises in the hopes of moving these workers closer to a living wage. The federal minimum wage right now is $7.25, which adds up to $15,000 per year. Even while working, many fast-food workers must seek public assistance and live below the poverty line. Many of these positions are held by adults, much different from the more common teenage fast-food workers of the past.

“SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said she thinks the protests have helped encourage more states and localities to raise their minimum wage this year. She expects the number of cities and participants in the protests to grow next year as the union tries to keep pressure on fast food companies,” reports the AP. A coordinator with the SEIU says the group would also like to see fast-food workers unionize so they can engage in collective bargaining. There are 3.9 million of these workers in the US today.

However, BusinessWeek points out, previous effort to form labor groups among these workers has failed, which makes the publicity surrounding these sorts of protests all the more important for drumming up widespread support. Many fast-food restaurants are franchises with wages set at the particular restaurants, which throws a monkey wrench in the works. “To start a union, organizers must get at least 30 percent of a proposed ‘bargaining unit’ to sign a petition asking for an NLRB-supervised union election, and the board then investigates whether a union would qualify and holds an election,” the magazine says.

MoveOn has an online petition in support of the workers, and plans to protest in five cities today — Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago — to help with the effort. Do you stand with the fast-food workers?

Lil Wayne Finally Apologizes To Emmett Till’s Family For Despicable Rap Lyrics

May 1st, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

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.

Lil Wayne”

What do you think of Wayne’s apology?

Rosie Perez and Other Minority Arts Activists Lead Protest Against Time Warner Cable

January 15th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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lev radin /

lev radin /

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?

Not The Twinkies! Legendary Baked Goods Brand Is Shutting Down

November 17th, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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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?


Boycotting the Bird? Petition Calls for a Protest of Chick-fil-A

July 21st, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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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?


Should’ve Seen It Coming: Petition To Boycott Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta Launched

June 22nd, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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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 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?

Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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Detroit High School Students Suspended for Demanding a Better Education

April 2nd, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: Detroit Free Press

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.”

 School officials seem to be approaching the issue very casually. Detroit Public Schools spokesperson Steve Wasko said the Frederick Douglass teachers who abuse sick time “will be reprimanded,” and the district aims to keep the school open while adding new courses like debate and engineering. Smith’s not buying it.
“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.

Seniors at Detroit’s Frederick Douglass Academy Walk Out in Protest:

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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