All Articles Tagged "race"

“I’m From Every Continent In Africa” Raven-Symone Continues To Put Her Foot In Her Mouth

March 27th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Raven-Symone Continues To Put Her Foot In Her Mouth

Source: E!

I don’t have to tell you that Raven-Symone has been all over the news ever since she told Oprah that she wasn’t African American. Instead, she preferred to drop the African part. And then later, during her appearance on “The View” Raven wondered if the Univision reporter likened Michelle Obama to an ape in, like a racist way.

Right. Side-eyes all around.

Anyway, during a recent interview with E!, that just recently started gaining traction on social media, Raven sought to clarify her comments. Take a look at what she said and tell us if she made it better or worse.

About “defending” the Univision host for his Michelle Obama comments

I don’t know if I was defending. I don’t think I was defending. I think that he got fired for a reason. It was very distasteful what he said. It was very distasteful. I don’t believe she looks like one at all. I don’t believe she should have been casted. But I do know that a lot of people I know have animal traits…I think Michelle Obama looks like a little cat.

I think that every time there’s something dealing with race, that is still an open wound and you try to look at it from a different standpoint, people are going to get mad. Especially when it’s socially out–blasted– and people don’t read the whole story. Just like a lot of my comments, people don’t read into the whole story and so they say that I said this and that I’m trying to be a different race. I’m not. I’m not trying to be.

On her not being African American 

I never said I wasn’t Black. I said I wasn’t African American. To me, that’s a difference. Thank you to, actually, for sending me my DNA test. I am from every continent in Africa, except for one. And I am from every continent in Europe, except for one. And for the last 400 years, my family has been living in Virginia. How long do you have to be in one country before you’re that?

We’re a melting pot of beauty. We have to embrace the different cultures we have. And if we don’t we’re still going to have these problems that are blasting up everywhere…And you can come for me if you want to; I’m sorry, but you’re an American too. Don’t hide your American-ism.

Well…that was a lot to handle right there. With Michelle Obama, there seems to not only be a little bit of backtracking from her original stance (It’s distasteful now.); but what’s more disheartening, is the general lack of ignorance when it comes to the very hateful language and comparisons that have been made against Black people. One of them comparing us to monkeys. Raven just doesn’t seem to know.  How could she know and not even fathom that he was saying it “racist-like”? Is she pretending these things don’t exist anymore in an attempt to live in a better world or does she really have no idea? I can’t tell.

Then there was the comment about her ancestors having lived in Virginia for the last 400 years. Possible…but they would have had to come over around the Jamestown/Pocahontas days way back in the early 1600’s. Possible…

And we’re not going to even talk about Raven saying that she’s from every continent in both Africa and Europe. First, it’s country. And secondly, having taken this same test, she might have interpreted these results the wrong way. They highlight the regions…not necessarily every country in that region. But whatevs. We’ll let Raven carry on.  What do you think about her comments?

You can watch her full interview in the video below.

Louis Gossett, Jr On Anthony Mackie’s Claim People Are Tired Of Talking Race: “They’re Not In Charge”

February 18th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Academy and Emmy Award-winning actor Louis Gossett, Jr has seen a lot during his five-decade career which includes such accomplishments as being the first African American male to win an Oscar in a supporting role, the second Black male to win for acting, and the third African American actor to win as Oscar overall. To say he knows a little something about race in Hollywood would be putting it mildly, which is why when we had a chance to speak with him during press runs for the BET miniseries, "The Book of Negroes," we had to ask him his thoughts on Anthony Mackie's reaction to the "Selma" Oscar snub and his assumption that people are tired of talking about race.

Gossett, Jr assured us this discussion is nothing new, noting people had the same reaction when "Roots" first debuted, and then in no uncertain terms, the 78-year-old activist reminded us that "they" (those people who are tired of talking about race) are "not in charge."

"We cannot rely our happiness or our success on outside issues, including the Oscars, the Emmys, or the Golden Globes... Lesson: even if we get rejected by the Oscars, we're not rejected by the world. Maybe we have something valuable to add to mankind, bigger and better, and more valuable than the Oscar."

Check out Louis Gossett, Jr's full response to Anthony Mackie's comments in the video above. What do you think?

Where’s Your Black Card? Celebs Accused Of Not Being Black Enough

October 29th, 2014 - By Iva Anthony
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Charles Barkley set a few folks off Sunday when he alleged “unintelligent” Blacks hold successful ones back in his defense of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson who’s been accused of not being “Black enough.” Despite the feathers ruffled by that comment, we’re pretty sure theses individuals would agree with Barkley because they’re just a few on the long list of celebs accused of not being Black enough.

"Don lemon pf"


Don Lemon

Don Lemon holds court in broadcast news as the weekend anchor for “CNN Newsroom” as well as the co-host of “CNN Tonight.” He has always been very vocal about the issues that plague the Black community and some of his solutions have been met with controversy. Most recently the award-winning journalist came under fire for agreeing with Fox News talking head Bill O’Reilly when he commented about the Black on Black crime statistics following the death of Trayvon Martin. “He’s got a point,” Lemon said. “In fact, he’s got more than a point. In my estimation, he doesn’t go far enough.”

Ways Black Women Judge Each Other (And Why We Should Stop)

October 22nd, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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ways that black women judge each other

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No matter where you come from, women are hard on other women. But these ways that black women judge each other should really come to a stop.

Raven-Symone Says She Never Said She Wasn’t Black

October 8th, 2014 - By Brande Victorian
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Raven-Symone Says She's Not Gay Or African AmericanIt’s been a few days since Raven-Symone sparked a nation-wide debate on race labels and what the preference of being called Black or African American really says about descendants of the motherland, and now the actress is offering up a bit of clarification for her polarizing statements made on Oprah’s Where Are They Now? special Sunday night.

The controversy began when Oprah asked Raven about her love life and the former child star let it be known that she was in a relationship with a woman, but wasn’t keen on being labeled gay. The idea of labeling then led into a discussion about Raven not wanting to be called African American either. She said:

Raven: I don’t’ want to be labeled gay. I want to be labeled, a human who loves humans. I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American, I’m not an African American. I’m an American.

Oprah: Oh girl, don’t set up the Twitter on fire. What?! Oh, my Lord! What did you say? 

Raven: I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go. I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from. But I do know my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American and that’s a colorless person. 

Oprah: I mean, you’re going to get a lot of flack for saying you’re not African American. You know that right?

Raven: I have darker skin, I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian, I connect with Asian, I connect with Black, I connect with Indian. I connect with each culture.

Since those remarks, all sorts of thought pieces about racial identity in America have arisen, not to mention criticism for the beloved Cosby star which I can only assume is what prompted Raven to release a statement to The Grio to clarify her comments just a bit. She told the site:

“I never said I wasn’t black… I want to make that very clear.  I said, I am not African-American.  I never expected my personal beliefs and comments to spark such emotion in people.  I think it is only positive when we can openly discuss race and being labeled in America.”

While the sentiment of Black people not wanting to be labeled African American certainly isn’t a new one, it still begs the question of whether in making such a strong statement against one’s undeniable African heritage, are you somehow running from that lineage? What do you think? Does Raven-Symone’s statement change your opinion on her original comment?


Somebody Done Told You Wrong: Black Celebrities Who Say They’re Not African American

October 6th, 2014 - By Meg Butler
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Raven-Symone just ruffled a lot of feathers after revealing to Oprah that she doesn’t consider herself gay or Black. But Raven isn’t the only celebrity who doesn’t want to be labeled as African-American. Prepare to be surprised by the celebrities who don’t think they belong on the Black list.

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Devyn Abdullah

When The Face model Devyn Adbullah told Wendy Williams, “I don’t really consider myself as a black girl model. I know what my ethnicity is, but I’m fair-skinned and I feel like I have an international look” she not only took the audience by surprise but her mentor Naomi Campbell was shocked as well. She famously quipped, “What the f*ck does she mean? That’s a disgrace! She’s a Black girl.”

“I’m Tired Of Labels” Raven Symone Says She’s Not Gay Or African American

October 6th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Raven Symone Says She's Not Gay Or African American

Source: OWN

Who knew that Raven-Symoné’s “Where Are They Now” episode would open up such a large can of worms? But her’s did, indeed.

As we mentioned before, Oprah asked her about the now famous tweet about gay marriage, which many took to mean that she, herself, was gay.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 10.04.39 AM

And while she did confirm that she was in a relationship with a woman, Raven-Symoné says she doesn’t want to be labeled as gay. In fact, she doesn’t want to be labeled as African American either.

First, the tweet:

“That was my way of saying I’m proud of the country. But, I will say that I’m in an amazing, happy relationship with my partner. A woman. And on the other side, my mother and people in my family, they’ve taught me to keep my personal life to myself as much as possible. So I try my best to hold the fence where I can but I am proud to be who I am and what I am?”

Oprah: So when did you know who you were and what you were?

Raven: In that topic of dating and in love, I knew when I was like twelve. I was looking at everything.

Oprah: Boys and girls? Did you have a word for it? 

Raven: I don’t need language. I don’t need a categorizing statement for it. 

Oprah: So you don’t want to be labeled gay?

Raven: I don’t’ want to be labeled gay. I want to be labeled, a human who loves humans. I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American, I’m not an African American. I’m an American.

Oprah: Oh girl, don’t set up the Twitter on fire. What?! Oh, my Lord! What did you say? 

Raven: I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go. I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from. But I do know my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American and that’s a colorless person. 

Oprah: I mean, you’re going to get a lot of flack for saying you’re not African American. You know that right?

Raven: I have darker skin, I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian, I connect with Asian, I connect with Black, I connect with Indian. I connect with each culture. 

Oprah: You are a melting pot in one body. 

Raven: Aren’t we all? Isn’t that what America’s supposed to be?

Oprah: That’s what it’s supposed to be, for sure.

Whew, child! She said a mouthful. And Oprah was right. She set Twitter on fire. The show aired yesterday and as I type this, “Raven Symone” is still trending.

We all have the right to define ourselves for ourselves and I certainly understand not wanting to label yourself as gay when you’re attracted to both sexes and believe love is love but the “not African American” part, is troubling to me. I understand that in this country, where you’re judged firstly and primarily by your color, the label can become heavy and problematic, even dangerous. But doesn’t the choice not to acknowledge it mean, that on some level, you’ve internalized the messages that it’s somehow inferior, or less American? Furthermore, “American” is a label too. (You need only leave this country to see the implications, positive and negative, that it carries.) So, it seems odd to only tell half of the story. You’re American but unless you’re Native American, there’s more to it.  And I can’t help but notice that many other races and ethnicities take the time to celebrate those differences. Have you ever heard an Italian American, Mexican American or Chinese American deny their heritage, even if their ancestors have been in this country for centuries?

It just seems that Black people, across the diaspora, keep trying to run away from Africa. And that’s what I don’t understand. A lot of us aren’t able to point to a specific country, but there are tests that could answer that question if you really wanted to know. Honestly though, do you have to know a specific country to know there’s some Africa in you? There’s a reason why Raven, as a “colorless American,” noticed her darker skin and interesting grade of hair. One, because our country has conditioned us to notice and even demonize it, but also because it points to that undeniably African part of her ancestry, whether she wants to label it or not.

I’m not suggesting that Raven is ashamed of her African ancestry; she said she connects with Black culture, but I do wonder why she’s decided to omit it from her story.

What do you think about Raven-Symoné’s comments? Watch this portion of her “Where Are They Now?” interview with Oprah in the video below.

St. Louis County’s Racial Profiling Issue Is Bigger Than Mike Brown

August 27th, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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Does St. Louis County Have A Race Problem?

Jermell Hasson was one of the first people I interviewed in Ferguson. Before he would answer my first question, he schooled me on the matrix that is St. Louis County.

“You see, I live in Ferguson, but I’m originally from St. Louis city,” he said. “Ferguson is just a municipality. I mean we have our own police and mayor, but it is all part of St. Louis. There is the city and then there is Ferguson and all the other little counties. But it is all part of St. Louis; it’s just the county. North County to be exact. You understand?”

I didn’t. “Kind of like the boroughs in New York City,” he added, hoping to clear up my confusion.

While I didn’t quite have the geography down, what was universally understood were his accounts of horrendous and demeaning encounters he had with local police. I asked which county was he referring to?

He replied, “All of them.”

Hasson recalled being by police on numerous occasions. The most memorable incident, he alleged, involved police arresting him and taking him back to the station, where they placed soaking wet phone books on his head and hit his head with nightsticks. He speculated that the phone books were meant to keep bruises from forming.

I asked if he filed a complaint?  “Come on now? What is a complaint going to do?,” he asked, shaking his head. “There’s no evidence; and it’s my word against theirs. Law enforcement gets away with lots of things all of the time. They get away with crime all the time. In [the case of Michael Brown] I felt that this is one they did not deserve to get away with.”

Hasson’s story wasn’t unusual. In fact, most of the young men I spoke with could easily recall negative encounters they had with police. Some of the stories were as equally horrifying as the one Hasson told. And like him, none of the men bothered to file an official complaint. The consensus was “What For?

As I walked around the apartment complex and passed the impromptu memorials which had been set up along the spot where Michael Brown’s murder happened, I met Julian Johnson, pastor of Bethesda Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith in Normandy, Missouri, who was in the neighborhood passing out flyers for the church’s upcoming Know Your Rights clinic. He told me the one-day workshop will bring together young men and women with representatives from law enforcement agencies who will instruct them on their rights, what to do when pulled over by police, and identify common stereotypes young people might want to avoid.

“We have to be aware at all times how some of the law enforcement officers see us,” Johnson said. “I’m not saying it’s right but we need to know that they don’t understand. I think that we can diffuse some of the situations which are happening if we respond to them the right way. Knowing how to respond is important.”

Getting a handle on the antagonistic relationship between police and joe-citizen is going to take a lot more than young people changing their attitudes argued Derek Laney, organizing member of M.O.R.E, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, a local advocacy organization that’s been championing a campaign to transform the way in which St. Louis County deals with minor non-violent offenses before the police shooting of Michael Brown.

“Addressing racial profiling is key here,” he said.

In fact, according to a report by the Missouri Attorney General’s office, African Americans only make up 10.9 percent of the state’s population, yet were searched and arrested by police at a rate almost double that of whites – even as whites had a higher contraband hit rate — in 2013. More local to Ferguson, a new report by non-profit law group ArchCity Defenders has revealed local courts processed 12,108 cases and 24,532 warrants from Ferguson residents in 2013. According to the The Daily Beast, which reported on this matter, this averages to about 1.5 cases and three warrants per Ferguson household. It has also brought in a total of $2,635,400 in fines and fees to city in just that one year alone.

Laney added that in St. Louis alone, there are nearly 300,000 outstanding bench warrants, which he said rivals the entire population. Those bench warrants, he said, many of which are from traffic violations, have become the entry point into the criminal justice system for low income individuals and people of color, especially African Americans,.

“What we are seeing here is people who have no history of violence or criminal activity are being stopped for minor traffic and petty crime offenses and get a court date, which they might miss, and/or a fine which they can’t pay and then they end up with a bench warrant. It turns into a whole saga for them. And that’s why we are working to reform the entire system.”

There are other troubles locally for the department as well. While Ferguson’s population is 67 percent black, only 7 percent of its police force represents this demographic. Furthermore, the department is one of the 23 law enforcement agencies in the state to have its crime statistics rejected for “major errors in data” by Missouri’s Uniform Crime Reporting system, according to the International Business Times.

And if that’s not disturbing enough, a recent Washington Post article revealed Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Brown, once worked with another department in Missouri which was so corrupt, the city disbanded the entire department and fired all of the officers including Wilson.

“When you start to pull back the layers, you see that [Brown] was stopped because he was a young black man walking down the street,” Laney said. “It was racial profiling and it escalated like so many encounters between the police and young black men do with little to no provocation. We’re connecting that process of criminalizing blackness from the profiling to the locking up for minor offenses to targeting my community for drug enforcement We’re connecting all of that together. [Brown] was profiles and that led to him being murdered. People are profiled and that leads to them getting bench warrants and their lives being destabilized. It’s all interconnected.”

Among its many efforts, Laney said M.O.R.E, has sent letters to local municipal court judges in Ferguson and beyond, requesting meetings in hopes of coming up with a plan to make a fair and more equitable system. He also said the group is in the process of organizing community members for more direct actions, including making more forceful demands regarding a change to the system. M.O.R.E also supports a demonstration project by local artists called #ChalkedUnarmed, which draws chalk outlines of people on public spaces along with the names of unarmed people, who have been murdered by the police.

“To sustain this, there needs to be a coordinated effort for long-term transformative justice in St. Louis that’s linked to national causes,” Laney said. “We need distributive action. We need to take it out of just that front line because it’s a proactive struggle for justice. Justice for Mike Brown is huge and something that we are committed to. But it is connected to a larger social injustice that we also want to address.”

Laverne Cox Becomes First Trans Woman To Cover TIME Magazine

May 29th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Laverne Cox TIME Magazine

TIME Magazine

Last year we fell in love with the cast of Orange Is The New Black! One character, Sophia Burset, moved us with her story line of credit card fraud where she steals money in order to become a woman and transgender actress Laverne Cox, who plays Sophia, has become an overnight sensation due to her acting skills and spirited activism for LGBTQ people. This week, TIME Magazine placed Cox on its cover, making her the first transgender woman to accomplish this feat, and published a riveting interview with her on race, gender and bullying. Here are the highlights from Cox’s interview and below, a behind the scenes video of Cox as she prepares for her historic cover.

Are there any particular instances of bullying that stand out in your memory?

There was this one instance in junior high when I had gotten off the bus and I was chased by a group of kids, which was, you know, pretty normal. They couldn’t really bully me on the bus because the bus driver could see in the rearview mirror, and that wasn’t allowed. But the second we got off the bus, they would try to beat me up. So I’d have to start running, immediately. So that day I was running for my life, basically, and four or five kids caught me. They were in the band. And I remember being held down and hit with drumsticks by these kids. And a parent saw it, the parent of some other student, and called the principal and the principal called my mother and my mother found out about it.

Is there a moment or time you remember first feeling like you might be transgender?

I tell this story about third grade. My third grade teacher called my mom and said ‘Your son is going to end up in New Orleans wearing a dress.’ Up until that point I just thought that I was a girl and that there was no difference between girls and boys. I think in my imagination I thought that I would hit puberty and I would start turning into a girl.

How did things change as you got older?

I started trying to find a compromise in terms of gender in high school. I started embracing androgyny. I was just really scared and in a lot of denial. And I wanted to make everybody proud and happy and find a place for myself in the world. The funny thing is being in this androgynous space really wasn’t any better, in terms of perception or reception from people. It was part of my journey that got me to where I am now.

How do you think life might be different for trans kids who are in middle school or high school right now?

There’s a way to connect through the Internet that I didn’t have. So you can connect with people who are like you, who may be in another part of the country. That didn’t exist when I was a kid. I think there are more media representations that young trans people can look to and say, that’s me, in an affirming way. There’s just so many resources out there now that it makes you feel like you’re less alone and gives some sort of sense of, okay, this is who I am and this is what I’m going through, as opposed to being ‘What the f*** is wrong with me?’ That was what I grew up with.

The people out there in America who have no idea what being transgender means, what do they need to understand?

There’s not just one trans story. There’s not just one trans experience. And I think what they need to understand is that not everybody who is born feels that their gender identity is in alignment with what they’re assigned at birth, based on their genitalia. If someone needs to express their gender in a way that is different, that is okay, and they should not be denied healthcare. They should not be bullied. They don’t deserve to be victims of violence. … That’s what people need to understand, that it’s okay and that if you are uncomfortable with it, then you need to look at yourself.


Can The Inequality Gap Be A Color-Blind Issue? Politicans Act Like It Is

March 20th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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One of the latest political/social issues to grab a lot of attention is the inequality gap. But the discussions often dance around the notion of how race affects the gap. In 1967, in throes of the Civil Rights movement the median household income was 43 percent higher for white, non-Hispanic households than for black households. Things have changed, but for the worse! In 2011, median white household income was 72 percent higher than median black household income, according to a Census report from that year.

The gap is even more glaring when you look at the median household wealth instead of yearly income, reports MSN. The Pew Research Center found that in 1984, the white-to-black wealth ratio was 12-to-1. It narrowed by 1995 when the median white income was 5-to-1 to black income. But incredibly, by 2009 the ratio shot up to a whopping 19-to-1.

Despite this, politicians are avoiding discussing race and the inequality gap. A new 204-page analysis of the federal War on Poverty, led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), barely mentions racial disparity. And remember Ryan recently said poverty is due in part to the fact that “inner cities” have a culture of “men not working,” a comment he ultimately called “inarticulate.”

While President Obama did note that “the painful legacy of discrimination means that African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans are far more likely to suffer from a lack of opportunity—higher unemployment, higher poverty rates” during a December 2013 address, it was just one line.

So why the deliberate avoidance of race? “I think it doesn’t make for good politics,” Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson says. “It’s messy and requires us to be deep and think about much bigger and more long-term solutions than Washington’s oftentimes willing to deal with.” But when taking about employment and home ownership it is hard to keep out the issue of race.

A recently study from Brandeis University found that the disparities in homeownership are a major driver of the racial wealth gap especially due to “redlining, discriminatory mortgage-lending practices and lack of access to credit.

And for those black families who finally owned homes, the Great Recession reversed the advancements, many losing their homes in foreclosure.

And when it comes to employment, black unemployment is still twice as high as white unemployment—a ratio that has been solid since the mid-1950s.

“The underlying narrative that many people share is that whatever inequities still exist, they’re due to the misbehavior or dysfunctional behavior of black folks themselves,” said William Darity Jr., the director of Duke University’s Consortium on Social Equity. “So there’s no reason to pay attention to racial disparities because one doesn’t believe they’re still significant, or there’s no need for public policy action by the government because it’s just a question of black folks changing their own behaviors.”

Even Obama often likes to stress personal responsibility when addressing the black community. His new “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative emphasizes it in its effort to help young men of color.

Darity argues that self-perpetuating inequality will only be broken through wealth transfers.

“People’s behaviors are largely shaped by the resources they possess, and if their resources altered, than they might change their behaviors,” he said.