A Reminder of Black Heroism

By Rhonesha Byng, HuffingtonPost.com

In a world where two men were insensitive enough to dress up as Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman for a Halloween party, and a black college student is arrested at a high-end luxury department store for buying a belt, this teen’s story will restore your faith in humanity. In a series on kindness, the BBC recounted the incredible moment in 1996 when Keshia Thomas, an 18-year-old at the time, protected a man believed to be a white supremacist affiliated with the KKK from an angry mob.

Keshia Thomas (1996)

Keshia Thomas (1996)

In June of that year, the Ku Klux Klan held a rally at the city hall building in Ann Arbor, Mich. The town, whose population is known to be home to mostly liberals, came out in large numbers to protest the presence of the notoriously racist group. According to reports 300 anti-clan protestors showed up, while just 17 Klansmen were present.

kkk supporter running from mob, ann arborThomas was in the crowd of anti-clan protesters, when someone spotted a man in the crowd amongst them with an SS tattoo and a confederate flag shirt. The group, including Thomas, immediately chased the man.

But, in a flash, the crowd went from controlled protestors to an angry mob, hitting the man with sticks and kicking him as he lay on the ground. In that moment, Thomas separated herself from the mob and threw herself on the man to protect him.imgres-10

“When they dropped him to the ground, it felt like two angels had lifted my body up and laid me down,” Thomas said. (. . .) “She put herself at physical risk to protect someone who, in my opinion, would not have done the same for her,” he said. “Who does that in this world?”

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A Disrespectful Halloween Costume is Causing Social Media Controversy

By Lily Worneh, TheGrio.com

An incendiary photo was posted to Facebook this Friday featuring two young Florida men dressed as George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, complete with blackface, a blood-stained hoodie and a shirt that reads, “Neighborhood Watch.” The image was reportedly uploaded by Caitlin Cimeno from Martha’s Vineyard who captioned the photo: “Happy Halloween from Zimmerman and Trayvon,” followed by a smiley face emoticon. Cimeno is pictured in the photo, posing in the middle between Greg Cimeno, 22, who dressed as Zimmerman, and William Filene, 25, who posed as Martin.

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In the photo, Greg Cimeno, of Cape Coral, Fl., points his hand like a gun and directs it at Filene’s head.

Meanwhile, Filene, who is white, painted his face black and is seen wearing a gray hoodie, which is marked by a single gunshot wound in the chest and surrounded by fake blood. (. . .)

Greg Cimeno reportedly wrote a comment below the photo saying, “Anything for the laugh,” which prompted one of Caitlin’s friends to write, “Not too funny.” In response, Greg said: “Not too funny. It’s f**king hilarious!!!” The photo also drew criticism from others who commented on the photo: “Anything for a laugh? so a kid gets murdered and its funny some people are beyond disgusting,” one person wrote.

Some took to Twitter to voice their disagreement over the photo: “That Trayvon Martin Halloween costume was just straight disrespect! There is NO EXCUSE for that,” one person said. “To take Trayvon Martin’s death and make a mockery out of it with a Halloween costume is sickening,” another tweeted.

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For Rent: Former Slave Quarters

by , Care2.com

A former slave cabin like this will be converted into an apartment in Anderson, S.C. (NBC News screenshot)

A former slave cabin like this will be converted into an apartment in Anderson, S.C. (NBC News screenshot)

Would you rent an apartment that, a century and a half ago, was once a slave cabin? Chuck Corley, a developer from Columbia, South Carolina, seems to think that someone will, says NBC News.

Corley, who has renovated other historic sites, including the Lemmon Hill Plantation and Corley Hall Plantation, is planning to turn the long-empty, boarded-up structures in Anderson, South Carolina into an apartment complex.

The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation purchased the structures in 2009 and prevented them from being destroyed; its director says that they are the “last-known slave cabins in the upstate.” Corley is now under contract to buy the buildings and turn them into rental units. Bobby Baxter, who has lived near the site of the slave cabins since the early 1960s and seen them deteriorate year after year, welcomes Corley’s plans. “It’s important to keep the squatters out of here,” he says.

Commenting on how “well-built” the slave cabins were, Corley says he hopes “to save [them] in as pure a form as we can save.” Renovating the cabins could cost from $50,000 to $100,000, he estimates.(…)

The "quarters" where slaves were housed on the plantation.

Spanish moss provides a romanticized setting for the tiny houses where too many captive humans lived packed together.

Angela da Silva of the National Black Tourism Network counters that converting former slave quarters into bed and breakfasts — into vacation lodgings — is “truly whitewashing slavery.” Turning former slave cabins into apartments that people would actually live in full-time raises a number of ethical issues. More than a few of us (I’ll include myself) would not care to sleep, much less live, in a place where people once lived as slaves.

Certainly it is important to preserve historic structures and learn the full story about this country’s past. In 2010, residents of Greenville, South Carolina rehabilitated a slave cabin from the 1840s. The cabin had been threatened with demolition in the face of a housing development; residents rallied to disassemble the structure and move it to the Living History Farm at Roper Mountain Science Center, which is owned by the Greenville County Schools. The reconstructed cabin now serves a valuable role, to teach children about the United State’s past and the importance of historic preservation.

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Only Blonde White Waitresses Are Allowed To Have Hair Highlights At Hooters?

By CBS Baltimore, baltimore.cbslocal.com

The popular restaurant chain Hooters is accused of racial discrimination by a former employee in Baltimore. And it all centers around her hair. (. . .)Hooters

Farryn Johnson’s blonde highlights are now at the center of a complaint filed with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. “My other co-workers, they all had different colors in their hair, like red and blonde highlights. I didn’t think it would be an issue,” she said. (. . .)

Johnson, 25, was fired from her job as a waitress at Baltimore’s Harborplace Hooters in August after she was told by managers her hair color violated employee image standards.imgres-7

“They gave me write-ups and they told me I need to take the color out of my hair. And they said I couldn’t have blonde in my hair because I’m black. They specifically said, ‘Black women don’t have blonde in their hair, so you need to take it out,’” said Johnson. (. . .)

“What’s wrong is that both federal and state law clearly say employers can’t impose two separate and distinct rules governing employee standards–one for African-American employees and one for everyone else. And that’s clearly what Hooters did here,” said attorney Weber, Brown Goldstein Levy. (. . .)

Delegate Washington agrees. Employers need to be able to define personal appearance and grooming standards, but she’s already drafting legislation that would prevent employers from requiring or prohibiting specific hairstyles.

She says Farryn Johnson is just one of many examples. (. . .)Hooters-1

Hooters of America declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. The case is now in the hands of the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, whose investigation could take months.

Washington expects her bill to be pre-filed for the next legislative session in Annapolis.

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New Statistics on African-American’s That Identify As LGBT

By HuffingtonPost.com

A new report is shedding light on the growing number of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in the black community.imgres-4 According to a recent study, there are more than one million African-American LGBT adults in the U.S. Of those individuals, 84,000 are in same-sex households with about 34 percent of couples raising children. These numbers come about a year after a Gallup report that found African-Americans make up the largest share of the LGBT community. (…)

men-holding-handsThe report finds overall higher unemployment rates and lower proportions with a college degree among LGBT African-Americans, when compared to their non-LGBT counterparts. However, these disadvantages are not present among African-Americans in same-sex couples, with 25 percent having completed a college degree, compared to 22 percent of African-Americans in heterosexual couples. In addition, 71 percent of African-Americans in same-sex couples are employed compared to 68 percent of their heterosexual counterparts.

The study also highlighted a prevalence of interracial relationships, a trend that is on the rise nationally for heterosexual couples. According to its findings, 47 percent of same sex couples with one African-American partner feature another partner of another race. (…)images-2

Nationally, how African-American same-sex couples fare compared to heterosexual couples varied significantly based on gender and whether or not the couple was raising children. For example, female African-American same-sex couples earn over $20,000 less than male African-American same-sex couples. Further, African-American same-sex couples raising children, report household median incomes $15,000 lower than comparable African-American different-sex couples.

Another significant finding was that many African-American LGBT individuals live in regions that have a high population of black residents but have yet to pass laws that protect the LGBT community, which co-author Angeliki Kastanis said could have a huge effect.

“LGBT African-American parents and their children evidence significant economic disadvantage and many live in states without LGBT anti-discrimination laws or marriage equality,” Kastanis said. “Establishing these important legal protections could really help these families.”

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Black History Document Found in Chicago Home Before Demolition

By Susanne M. Schafer, BigStory.Ap.Org

The first black man to become a University of South Carolina professor in 1873 was hailed Tuesday as a “man of courage,” who taught during the school’s fleeting era of post-Civil War desegregation and ended up inspiring the generations of scholars who followed.

Richard Theodore Greener, a promising intellectual who fought for racial equality, was invited to teach and live on the university’s Columbia campus during the tumultuous period known as Reconstruction.imgres-3

“We are all extremely proud of this path-breaker,” said Bobby Donaldson, a history and African-American studies professor.

“The hiring of an African-American professor and the admission of black students — less than a decade after the end of slavery — were part of an extraordinary and daring experiment,” Donaldson said.imgres-2

He spoke at a ceremony held to unveil Greener’s 1876 law diploma and law license. Those documents were recently acquired by the university and placed on display at the South Carolina Library, which is dedicated to the state’s history.

The diploma and license survived after being plucked from a Chicago home in 2009 just before it was to be demolished. (…)

It is a stroke of luck for the school to obtain Greener’s documents. Many originals were destroyed to eradicate the memory of blacks attending the school.

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Insight on Kilpatrick’s 28-year sentence

By Ashely Woods, HuffingtonPost.com

By the time 43-year-old Kwame Kilpatrick is released from prison, he’ll likely be eligible for Social Security.imgres

The former Detroit mayor was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds after being convicted of 24 counts of racketeering, bribery, extortion, mail fraud and other charges related to his corrupt activities while in office. Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson were accused of running a criminal enterprise out of Detroit’s City Hall, which prosecutors claimed resulted in at least $9.6 million in illegal profits to Ferguson’s company. Without a successful appeal, which experts told USA Today is unlikely, Kilpatrick, who has been imprisoned since his conviction in March, will spend decades behind bars.

Edmunds told the courtroom Thursday that federal sentencing guidelines recommended Kilpatrick receive a prison sentence ranging from 30 years to life behind bars, according to the Detroit Free Press. Lengthy sentences are a relatively new trend in the history of corrupt politicians, thanks to a 2004 amendment to sentencing guidelines that allowed for longer prison stints to be handed down to public officials caught bribing, extorting and committing fraud. The amendment text notes, “in general, public corruption offenses previously did not receive punishment commensurate with the gravity of the offense.” (…)

“They could either lower the drug and gun sentences, or raise the white collar sentences,” he remembered. “And it’s always easier for Congress to show how tough it is by raising sentences.”imgres-1

Since then, Henning has noticed an increase in the length of sentences for officials convicted of public corruption — with Kilpatrick’s being one of the most severe.

“He received the kind of sentence that’s normally given for homicides or very serious drug violations,” said Henning, who had expected Kilpatrick’s sentence to be around 20 years. The former mayor’s defense attorneys had asked Edmunds to sentence him to 15 years or less in prison. “Twenty-eight years is higher than I thought it would be — and maybe even higher than what’s appropriate — but not extreme.” (…)

“He probably cost himself a bunch of time by not accepting any responsibility,” Burdick said, adding that Kilpatrick could have received a sentence of 20 years or less.

“I think [Edmunds] gave him a break at 28 years after what he said,” he added. “I think he burned himself.” (…)

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’12 Years a Slave’ Director and Actress to Be Honored at Hollywood Film Awards

Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o to be recognized on Oct. 21 at the Beverly Hilton

By Scott Feinberg, the Hollywood Reporter

12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen and supporting actress Lupita Nyong’o will receive the Hollywood Breakout Director Award and New Hollywood Award, respectively, at the 17th annual Hollywood Film Awards, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.

Director Steve McQueen

Director Steve McQueen

The event, held on Oct. 21 at the Beverly Hilton, is the first awards show of the 2013 season. Previous recipients of the Hollywood Breakout Director Award include Ben Affleck,Paul HaggisJohn Patrick ShanleyLee Daniels,Michel Hazanavicius andDustin Hoffman. And previous recipients of the New Hollywood Award include Robert Pattinson,Gabourey SidibeJennifer LawrenceFelicity Jones and Quvenzhane Wallis.

FILM REVIEW: ’12 Years a Slave’

McQueen, 43, is a British filmmaker who has heretofore earned considerable critical acclaim for his first two feature films, Hunger (2008), a drama about an IRA hunger striker which won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and Shame (2011), a drama about a sex addict which won several prizes at the Venice Film Festival. (…)

Nyong’o, 30, is a Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised and Yale School of Drama-educated actress. (…S)he won the role of Patsey — a slave who receives particularly unkind attention from her master and his wife — in 12 Years a Slave shortly after her 2012 graduation from Yale.

12 Years a Slave is a drama based on the remarkable true story of a free black man from the north who was deceived and sold into slavery in the south in mid-19th century America. In addition to Nyong’o and Fassbender, its cast includes Chiwetel EjioforSarah Paulson,Benedict CumberbatchMichael Kenneth WilliamsPaul DanoPaul Giamatti,Alfre WoodardGarret DillahuntAdepero Oduye and Beasts of the Southern Wildstars Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry and Brad Pitt.

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Who Doesn’t Want a Barbie That Looks Like Them?

By Amanda Scherker, HuffingtonPost.com

If you’ve ever tried to find a black doll at your local toy store, you may have noticed they usually come with tamed, straightened hairstyles. But one California mom, fed-up with that status quo, started a business making dolls with a fabulously diverse spectrum of natural hairdos — and her products are proving to be pretty popular. imgres

Karen Byrd, founder of Natural Girls United, customizes dolls to give them natural hairstyles not typically seen on those sold in stores. As a child, Byrd remembers wondering why she didn’t resemble her straight-haired, white dolls.url

“I had dolls that were gorgeous, but they didn’t look like me. When I looked in the mirror, I would be confused — like, am I beautiful?” Byrd told The Huffington Post.

While toy shopping for two of her daughters, now 14 and 12, Byrd was stunned to discover the same lack of diversity in contemporary toy stores. It was time to do something about it; she started her own business in 2011. (…)

Many would argue these natural hair dolls provide a much-needed dose of diversity to an often homogenous doll selection — an issue recently described in a Collectors Weekly article.

“I’m emphatic about a black child having a doll that reflects who she is. When a young child is playing with a doll, she is mimicking being a mother, and in her young, impressionable years, I want that child to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being black,” Debbie Behan Garrett, the author of Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion, told Collector’s Weekly. (…)r-BROWN-SISTER-LOCS-large570

And while mainstream toy companies are producing more black dolls, the representation of natural hairstyles remains limited. Indeed, toy company Mattel’s Barbie brand generated controversy in 2009 when it launched a line of black Barbie dolls with straight hair. Even today, Barbie’s black dolls still typically sport sleek, straight hair or stylized ‘dos, such as those seen on Ballgown Barbie or Air Force Barbie.r-BIG-AFRO-DOLL-large570

Given this limited mainstream selection, smaller toy companies have found their niche marketing more diverse alternatives. The Pattycake Doll Company, for example, seeks to provide dolls generally not found at other stores, including black baby dolls with natural hairstyles, Hispanic dolls, Asian dolls, biracial dolls, and dolls for boys. (…)

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Black History: October 7th 1954

By HuffingtonPost.com

(October 7th) in 1954, the New York Metropolitan Opera hired Marian Anderson making her the first black singer that the famed opera house signed on. Anderson would make her debut performance with the company three months later, on January 7, 1955.

Before the big hire, Anderson made a name for herself performing at venues like Carnegie Hall. However, she did encounter barriers and discrimination because of her race. In 1939, the manager of Washington, D.C.’s Constitution Hall did not allow her to perform. When the public got word that this was due to Anderson’s race, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out against it. The Roosevelt’s later invited Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday of that year, in front of a crowd of 75,000.

Marian Anderson (was), the first African American soloist ever to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House, sings “Ave Maria” on the stage of Carnegie Hall, in what was billed as her farewell performance, April 18, 1965.

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