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NPR Explores ‘The Fear of Black Men in America’

NPR Explores 'The Fear of Black Men in America'

Following up on a two-day report, “The Fear of Black Men in America,” NPR’s Michel Martin (formerly of, “Tell Me More”) and Gene Demby will host a Twitter chat today at 12:30 p.m. EST. Listen above to Part 2 of Martin’s report, which today tackles how African-American men feel about themselves and each other. Part 1 looked at how fear of black men manifests in the criminal justice system and the labor market.

Indiana’s Discrimination Law, Iran Talks, Trevor Noah’s Tweets

Indiana's Discrimination Law, Iran Talks, Trevor Noah's Tweets

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

  • Indiana Governor Mike Pence explains that a law that allows discrimination based on sexual preference is not actually about discrimination. 

Amazon Testing Drones, Former Israeli PM Convicted, New Daily Show Host

Amazon Testing Drones, Former Israeli PM Convicted, New Daily Show Host

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

  • GNC and New York’s Attorney General’s office come to a deal about the company’s Herbal Plus products.
TAGS: Morning Rush

Where Did SAE Learn Their Racist Song? From Themselves

Where Did SAE Learn Their Racist Song? From Themselves

Members of University of Oklahoma’s now-shuttered chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon learned their slur-laced racist chant at a “national fraternity leadership cruise,” four years ago, Huffington Post reported.

The university kicked SAE off its campus shortly after video surfaced early this month showing members of the fraternity singing, “There will never be a n***** in SAE.” Now, the university’s learned that OU students brought the chant back to their campus and adopted it into the chapter’s frat culture after picking it up at a national fraternity event. Since the University of Oklahoma video was released, students at four other universities have admitted knowledge of the song. 

Jeremy Lin on the Loneliness of Asian-American NBA Trailblazing

Jeremy Lin on the Loneliness of Asian-American NBA Trailblazing

A tip for the next time you run in to Jeremy Lin: don’t mention Linsanity. This week ESPN catches up with Lin, the short-lived NBA phenom, two years after his rocket to international stardom. 

He’s since struggled, been bounced around to different teams, and had to swallow the scoldings of professional grouch and Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant. His post-Linsanity journey has been a wearying one. Lin, writer Pablo Torre points out, ends up having a lot keeping him up on sleepless nights. Lin doesn’t shy away from discussing how his Asianness has affected his career:

“There’s this whole thing where it’s OK to make fun of certain guys more than it is other guys,” Lin tells me. “And Asians are very easy to make fun of. We’re the model minority. So everyone can joke about Asians: They’re nice people, respectful people; they won’t do anything.” He thinks about this dynamic often. “People look at me, and they’ve always jumped to conclusions. They don’t see toughness. But how do you define that?”

Lin knows that his story has so many different threads that, at this point, it’s an imprecise experiment for isolating the effect of race upon perceptions of manhood. Still, he’s been gathering evidence his whole life: on the kids who invariably demanded to guard “the Asian” on the playground; on the fans who yelled “sweet and sour pork” and “wonton soup” at Georgetown and UConn; on the Ivy League opponent who called him “Chink” on the court; on the basketball observers who argued that Golden State only wanted him as marketing stunt; on the racist comments at the bottom of any video or article about him. Lin doesn’t hear everything. But he can’t ignore everything. And to him, any imprecision in such an experiment fails to mask an even more troubling reality: In 2015, he remains the only such experiment.

That last line isn’t entirely true, depending on how you parse Asianness. The Lakers hailed their history-making move when Jeremy Lin and Lakers teammate Jordan Clarkson (who’s half-Filipino), formed the NBA’s first all-Asian backcourt this week, Yahoo’s The Post-Game reported.

Read ESPN’s profile of Lin for more. 

FBI to Track Hate Crimes Against Sikh, Hindu and Arab-Americans

FBI to Track Hate Crimes Against Sikh, Hindu and Arab-Americans

New this month, members of Sikh, Hindu and Arab-American communities can expect better tracking by the FBI of violence targeting their respective religious or ethnic group. Hate crimes towards Sikhs for example, activists say, have largely been obscured as many Americans mistake Sikh men wearing turbans for Muslims. That’s led to those acts of violence being classified as “anti-Muslim hate crimes.” Now, with the release this week of the FBI’s updated hate crime training manual, Sikh communities around the country can expect to be counted by law enforcement when hate crimes target one of their own.

“Accurate reporting of hate crimes [is] an important step that will ultimately aid the Sikh community as we continue to address the roots of anti-Sikh bias,” says Jasjit Singh, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) in a statement released this week.

Calls for better tracking by the FBI gained new urgency in 2012 following white supremacist Wade Michael Page’s attack on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc. That Sunday morning, Page killed six worshipers—Bhai Seeta Singh, Bhai Parkash Singh, Bhai Ranjit Singh, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Subegh Singh, and Parmjit Kaur Toor—and wounded three others.  

Underreporting bias crimes, in addition to misclassification, has also been a concern. In a 2013 Huffington Post article, Abed A. Ayoub, legal director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee says, “After 9/11 in the Arab-American community, the fact that hate crimes increased is no secret. But we were running into underreporting by community members. They wouldn’t come forward because they felt nobody would listen or count them.”

(h/t IBT)

Harry Reid Retiring from Senate, Manhattan Fire, Cutest Little Animal

Harry Reid Retiring from Senate, Manhattan Fire, Cutest Little Animal

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

  • Meet Ili pika, the cutest (and one of the most endangered) animals. 

What L.A. Groups Want in Their Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight

What L.A. Groups Want in Their Sheriff's Civilian Oversight

In December when the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a civilian oversight commission for the county’s embattled Sheriff’s Department, community and civil rights groups hailed the victory. This week, they’re inviting the public to help ensure that the board’s got some independent authority to enact changes over the institution, which runs the nation’s largest jail system.

As with other police accountability mechanisms, Los Angeles’ civilian oversight commission’s success will be heavily influenced by the finer policy language which dictates how the commission will operate.

In December, the Board of Supervisors called for the creation of an advisory board that would determine the “mission, authority, size, structure, relationship to the Office of the Sheriff and to the Office of the Inspector General and appointment options.” (PDFThe advisory board is made up of Interim Undersheriff Neal Tyler, Inspector General Max Huntsman, and one appointee from each of the county’s five supervisors, and has 90 days to deliver its recommendations. Enter Dignity and Power Now, the Los Angeles police accountability group headed by Patrisse Cullors, an activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter.

According to Dignity and Power Now, the board is made up entirely of men and predominantly with those who’ve got law enforcement affiliations. This week the police accountability group is calling on those in Los Angeles to mobilize to weigh in to influence the board’s formation.

Among their demands are calls for a nine-member commission with four who are appointed by “community members” and none with current or former ties to law enforcement. Dignity and Power Now’s also calling for a commission with subpoena power and the authority to guide the work of the county’s Inspector General, as well as other demands.

For more on the troubles facing the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, read Colorlines’ report on former Sheriff Lee Baca’s abrupt 2014 exit from his scandal-plagued department.

Germanwings Murder-Suicide, Rihanna’s New Single, NASA to Make a Moon for the Moon

Germanwings Murder-Suicide, Rihanna's New Single, NASA to Make a Moon for the Moon

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

  • Jesse Jackson Jr. leaves prison and heads to a D.C.-area halfway house. 
  • NASA will apparently launch a rocket to an asteroid, where robotic arms will rip a large boulder off of said asteroid, which will then be put into orbit on the moon. 

New Haven Police Chief Personally Apologizes to Teen

New Haven Police Chief Personally Apologizes to Teen

New Haven, Conn., hosts a massive parade on or near St. Patrick’s Day each year, when residents from the city’s largely segregated population come together—and when police presence is always high. This year was no different, but a brutal arrest following a fight at a fast food joint drew attention to New Haven in a new way. 

Fifteen-year-old Teandrea Cornelius, who is black, was handcuffed and pressed against a vehicle when New Haven police officer Joshua Smereczynsky, who is white, slammed her to the ground face first. The incident was caught on video:

Following protests, the city agreed to take Smereczynsky off street patrol. And, on Tuesday evening, Chief Dean Esserman personally apologized to Cornelius:

Smereczynsky is now under an internal investigation, but New Haven Register reports that Barbara Fair, who’s been leading protests, wants “a completely independent board” to get to the bottom of what happened at this year’s parade. 

h/t New Haven Independent 

‘Fresh Off the Boat’: What Are You If You’re Not the Best?

'Fresh Off the Boat': What Are You If You're Not the Best?

Welcome to “Fresh Off the Boat” episode 11. With just a few more weeks left this season, Eddie’s chasing the girl of his dreams, and Jessica’s facing the limits of her self confidence. Both story lines are, at their heart, about how much work we put in to maintain the fictions that keep us afloat. Sometimes, it turns out, that work isn’t worth it. 

Perhaps because Jessica Huang (played by Constance Wu) is the most charismatic character on “Fresh Off the Boat,” and perhaps because I’m a Chinese woman, too, the story lines involving her are invariably my favorites. (For the record, my favorite episode of this season continues to be “Success Perms,” where Jessica duked it out with her sister for their mom’s attentions. It’s the episode I suggest newcomers start with to ease into this show.)

This week, Eddie’s dad Louis gives him flirting advice built largely off of restaurant metaphors. Louis is, after all, the owner of the family’s faux-Western themed steakhouse. Eddie interprets the messages to mean that he ought to commit an offense at school—which, incidentally, is blaspheming Oprah—in order to follow his crush Nicole into detention. There, Nicole tells Eddie that she doesn’t need school anyway because she’s got beauty school dreams, and Eddie agrees to be her guinea pig. Anything to get close to this older, mysterious, often moody crush.

Jessica’s real estate dreams, meanwhile, stall after she gets spooked out of taking her licensing exam. As someone who doesn’t embark on something without the aim to be the absolute best, she can’t handle meeting Kim, a star real estate agent bigheaded enough to carry a laminated newspaper clipping hailing her. It’s frankly the kind of move Jessica would pull herself, if she had Kim’s 10 years of experience.

Instead, Jessica hightails it out of the testing center and lies to her family for days. It’s not until Louis catches her in the lie that she’s forced to sort through a deep fear: What does it mean if she’s not able to be the brightest star in her field?

It’s all played for laughs, but the internal pressure Jessica puts on herself rang true to me. Plenty of people (Asian and not, I want to stress) grow up internalizing ideas that if you’re not the best, you’re not worth anything. You either perch yourself at the top of the heap or, one step away, swim in the dregs of failure. Faced with those kinds of odds, why not just run away from the race altogether?

Eddie, meanwhile, submits himself to Nicole’s various beauty experiments—including an ear piercing—just to be in her company. Along the way he loses some self-respect, and it turns out that when he says he’s not going to be her test subject anymore, Nicole’s able to see him on his own terms.

At this point, I’m certain I’d be totally over this show if the same messages were packaged in a white family sitcom. But they’re not. The show’s richer for the layers that the Huangs’ immigrant background and Chinese-ness bring to it. And for this viewer, every week of “Fresh Off the Boat” turns out to be entertainment, and unexpectedly comforting catharsis.

A few of the other gems in this episode:

-the utterly ’90s appearance of Troll dolls.

-a man’s commitment to good hair.

-People blurting out “I love you,” in this show, is always a hint that something’s amiss.

-the ending sequence with Louis Huang’s starship fantasies. Can someone cast Randall Park in the next Star Trek sequel, please? Why should John Cho get to have all the fun? (Our movie theater film projectors won’t break if two Asian men appear on screen at the same time, promise.)

North Carolina Bill Criminalizes Drug-Addicted New Moms

North Carolina Bill Criminalizes Drug-Addicted New Moms

Following a path charted by Tennessee, Republicans in the North Carolina Senate have introduced a bill that would jail pregnant women who are addicted to drugs. The “Prenatal Narcotic Drug Use” bill also applies to mothers of newborns addicted to or harmed by illegal drug use. If passed, advocates are concerned that the law would disproportionately affect women of color and those who are poor. 

“It’s going to discourage women from seeking out prenatal care,” Lynn Shoemaker of Women AdvaNCe tells Public News Service. “If women are actually criminalized for this and they’re sitting in jail, how is that helpful? How are they going to provide for their families, for their children?” The new bill, S297, doesn’t address Shoemaker’s questions.

Taking a criminal rather than public health approach to drug-addicted pregnant women or new moms is nothing new, as Colorlines gender columnist Miriam Zoila Pérez pointed out last July. Punitive responses go back to the since-debunked “crack baby epidemic” of the late 80s-early 90s.

What’s different, today, however is that with bipartisan consensus that the War on Drugs is a failure, statehouse bills like S297 appear out of step with reform conversations happening, now, at the federal level. For example, conservatives Newt Gingrich and Pat Nolan have partnered with liberals, Van Jones and Donna Brazile on #Cut50, an initiative to halve the prison population over the next decade.

Oklahoma, which leads the country in female incarceration, is weighing similar punitive legislation to North Carolina’s.

(h/t Public News Service)

Germanwings Black Box, Amanda Knox Murder Case, Facebook Alert on Teleportation

Germanwings Black Box, Amanda Knox Murder Case, Facebook Alert on Teleportation

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

  • Kraft and Heinz are merging to create the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world. 

Growing Calls for Police Reform in Philadelphia and Chicago

Growing Calls for Police Reform in Philadelphia and Chicago

Two reports this week are kindling local calls for police accountability in Chicago and Philadelphia. The Chicago report focuses on stop-and-frisk and finds that residents were “stopped more than four times as often as New Yorkers at the height of New York City’s [stop-and-frisk] practice” and that black Chicago communities bear the brunt of these encounters. Calling them overused and unlawful, the ACLU report finds that last summer more than 250,000 stops did not lead to arrest.

In Philadelphia meanwhile, a federal team out of the Department of Justice’s COPs office has just released an advisory report on the police department’s use of deadly force. Between 2007 and 2013, officers opened fire nearly 400 times, shooting 59 unarmed people. Because there is no reliable national data on police shootings, however, it’s difficult to say whether those numbers are high or low. The report does conclude that officers, particularly those assigned to patrol, are poorly trained. About 80 percent of those shot were black; their average age was 20. Among officers involved in shootings—the vast majority of whom are men—59 percent were white and 34 percent, African-American.

Recommendations accompany both research reports, which can be read here and here. Police departments in both cities are under heavy scrutiny. In Chicago, which is in the middle of a mayoral race, a senior police commander recently resigned following a Guardian investigation into allegations of detention and abuse at the Homan Square warehouse.

In Philadelphia, a police officer was recently cleared in the shooting death of Brandon Tate-Brown, 26, and separately, an officer was shot and killed earlier this month during a robbery at a video game store. Police commissioner Charles Ramsey, a member of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, reportedly requested the federal review of police shootings in his department.

Milwaukee Panel Upholds Firing of Officer in Dontre Hamilton Shooting

Milwaukee Panel Upholds Firing of Officer in Dontre Hamilton Shooting

The police officer who last April shot and killed an unarmed and mentally ill African-American man—an incident that sparked months of protests—escaped criminal charges, but he will not regain his job. Last night, a three-member panel upheld the October decision amidst police union pushback and denied officer Christopher Manney’s appeal after hearing five days of testimony. Manney is likely the first Milwaukee officer fired in 45 years as a result of a fatal on-duty shooting, the Journal-Sentinel has reported.

Reacting to Monday night’s decision by Milwaukee Fire and Commission members, Hamilton’s brother, Nate said:

Dontre has no voice no more, but today he spoke. Dontre spoke. He continues to speak through us, through the community, through change. The police officers, we’re not saying that all of them are bad, but you have to remove those that are. You have to hold those accountable that aren’t doing and following the procedures of the Milwaukee Police Department.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn had fired Manney in October for not following department rules of engagement and creating, he said, “circumstances that place [officers] at a situation where they have no choice.” 

Hamilton, family members say, had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

(h/t Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

German Plane Crash, Israel Spied on U.S., Facebook to Host News Site Content

German Plane Crash, Israel Spied on U.S., Facebook to Host News Site Content

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

Jay Smooth’s Taking Some ‘Racial Me Time’

Jay Smooth's Taking Some 'Racial Me Time'

After having to assert his racial identity to a black woman in front of a national TV audience last week—“I’m actually black, but you assumed otherwise.”—hip-hop DJ and well-known vlogger, Jay Smooth is taking some much-deserved “racial me time.” The 30 seconds of awkward happened during an “All in With Chris Hayes” segment about Starbucks’ now slightly modified #RaceTogether campaign. After trending on Facebook, Smooth says, “I’m glad you all thought that was so hilarious but for me that was the longest 30 seconds of my life.”

Check out his re-cap above. Smooth is also a video producer for Race Forward, which publishes Colorlines.

TedCruz.com, Kerry Washington for the Win, Spring’s Getting Shorter

TedCruz.com, Kerry Washington for the Win, Spring's Getting Shorter

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

Record Number of New York City Children Face Homelessness

Record Number of New York City Children Face Homelessness

In 2014 New York City broke troubling records with its homeless population. Last year, on a typical night some 25,459 children stayed in city homeless shelters, a 12 percent jump over the prior year, according to Coalition for the Homeless’ State of the Homeless 2015 report.

The city broke records with its the broader homeless population, as well. In 2014, a record 116,459 people stayed a night in a city shelter, a five percent increase from the previous year. 

ChartA_Pg24.jpg(image via Coalition for the Homeless)

And while 2.3 percent (or 1 in 43) of the city’s children had to spend a night in a city shelter, 6 percent (or 1 in 17) black children were forced to do so last year. Meanwhile 2.9 percent, or 1 in 34, Latino children spent a night in a shelter. Black families were more than twice as likely as New York City families broadly to have to take shelter in city facilities, while white families were much less likely than the city population as a whole to have to turn to shelters.

The coalition attributes these jumps to preexisting racial inequity that’s been compounded by worsening economic inequity, alongside policy decisions made by the Bloomberg administration to slash programs that supported the homeless. 

Latinos in the Big Apple: Racism Is a Norm in Families and Community

Latinos in the Big Apple: Racism Is a Norm in Families and Community

Well worth your time this weekend is this terrific Latino-led discussion about racism within Spanish-speaking communities that happened in New York City this Wednesday during a 30-minute call-in radio show. It’s nuanced, family-oriented and infused with historical and cultural knowledge not just of the U.S. but the hemisphere. New York City is about one-third Latino and known for its many Spanish-speaking enclaves. Those of Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage predominate but Mexican immigrants (approximately 80 percent were born outside the U.S.) are the city’s third-largest and fastest-growing Latino group.

Journalist Juan Manuel Benítez, guest-hosting on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, welcomed author Sandra Guzmán and Marta Moreno Vega, founding president of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute. Listen above.

And ICYMI, check out Guzmán’s personal essay, “A Univision Host’s Comments, and My Own Painful Memories.” An excerpt:

One summer day, I was 14 and on top of the world. I’d just been accepted to represent my high school in a youth political convention at Rider University in my home state of New Jersey. My best friend and I were walking home, laughing and eating ice cream, when we came across my friend’s father, a black Ecuadorian immigrant. The dad sized me up and down and said that I would be a lot prettier if I didn’t have that “African” nose.

…My shock and hurt were physically palpable; my buddy stood up to his father and chastised his ignorance. I cried myself to sleep that night. At 18, I had saved enough money and at 19, I got a nose job.

Read more on NBC News.

 

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