Breaking News

When the past is present…


Culture of Abuse and Racism Revealed in Ferguson Police Department

By Charles F. Coleman Jr.,

The Department of Justice’s investigation into law-enforcement practices in Ferguson, Mo., is nearly complete, and the full findings could be released to the public as early as this week… Information that has leaked out… appears to confirm allegations of long-standing abuses by Ferguson police against the town’s residents. Specifically, the DOJ reportedly found evidence of excessive use of force, rampant racial profiling, as well as an undercurrent of racism that extended beyond the police force and to the local court system.

…The findings serve as validation for what many have been saying for decades. The frustrations we saw displayed by Ferguson residents were not simply about Michael Brown’s death, but also about decades of oppression and abuse at the hands of Ferguson police.

Ferguson police officers at an August 2014 rally.

Ferguson police officers at an August 2014 rally.

The DOJ reportedly found that Ferguson police officers routinely used excessive force when dealing with black suspects, even where those suspects ultimately were not guilty of any crime. Justice officials also found that black motorists in Ferguson were far more likely to be stopped and searched… The significance of this sort of racial profiling is multidimensional: Where the police made arrests—even for minor traffic violations—blacks were found to have been held in jail for longer periods than whites, and when tickets or summonses were issued that only furthered the vicious cycle of Ferguson’s municipality funding itself on the backs of its poorest citizens.

The DOJ could reach a settlement that would provide various forms of injunctive and possibly monetary relief. This would likely include completely revamped training for officers, a revised system and new measures for department oversight and possibly initiatives to increase the number of black officers on the police force.

The Justice Department could also decide to sue the Ferguson Police Department over its violations. In either case, the DOJ can afford to be fairly aggressive in the relief it demands because of the highly publicized nature of the investigation and the clear and indisputable nature of its findings…

If there is any bright spot to be gathered from this investigation, it is the sense that local police are now being policed…

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.


These Two Teens Aren’t Just Sisters — They’re Twins

By Cavan Sieczkowski, the Huffington Post

Twins Lucy (left) and Maria Aylmer pose in identical clothing.

Twins Lucy (left) and Maria Aylmer pose in identical clothing.

When Lucy and Maria Aylmer tell people they are twins, disbelief is one response.

The 18-year-olds from Gloucester, U.K. are two of the five children born to their Caucasian father and Jamaican mother. While their other siblings have a blend of features from their parents, Lucy and Maria are opposites: Lucy has fair skin and red hair, while Maria has caramel skin and dark hair.

No one ever believes we are twins because I am white and Maria is black,” Lucy said, according to World Wide Features. “Even when we dress alike, we still don’t even look like sisters, let alone twins.”

Fraternal twins develop from two eggs fertilized by separate sperm cells. The BBC reports that for a biracial couple expecting twins, there is about a 1 in 500 chance those twins will have different skin colors.

The Aylmers are proud of their uniqueness.

“Now we have grown older, even though we still look so different, the bond between us is much stronger,” Lucy said. “Now we are proud of the fact that we are each other’s twin sister.”

Read the full article here.

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Don’t fight with police, Detroit chief advises youth

By Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press

Terrence Sherrer was skeptical.

The 15-year-old from Canton had just watched a group role-play a traffic stop.

Teenagers role-play a traffic stop.

Teenagers role-play a traffic stop.

The Detroit officer seemed satisfied when he asked where the driver was headed. To the mall, he was told. Other questions got similar, brief responses, and the advice from the driver, retired Wayne County Sheriff’s Lt. Tyrone Carter, was that you have a right not to say a lot.

Terrence, who is black, said the encounter would probably be different if the officer was white and had stopped a car with three black people inside. In this case, the officer was black, too.

That conversation was part of a two-hour program organized by the B.A.L.L. (Bridging Athletic, Learning and Life Skills) Foundation held today in Detroit. It brought about 50 people, including officers from Detroit Police, parents and children to the East Campus of Triumph Church on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit.

Helping kids interact with police was the goal of the session. Don’t argue with the police, announce what you’re doing when you reach toward the glove compartment, or better yet, keep your license and registration in an overhead glasses compartment. Being able to tell your story if you are wronged during a traffic stop or any other interaction with the police is the key, according to Carter.

The event featured an address by Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who spoke about the journey that brought him to head the Detroit Police Department and the connection Detroit’s department has with the community.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Craig encouraged the audience not to paint all police with the same brush. He said police officers are like any other group of people — most good and some bad.

Craig also passed on the advice his own father had given him: “Do not argue with the police. Do not fight with the police. Bad things happen.”

If an officer mistreats you or engages in an unethical traffic stop, report it, because there’s a process to deal with those situations, Craig said.

Read the full article here.

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Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch Clears Senate Judiciary Committee

By Jennifer Bendery, the Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to confirm Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. attorney general, bringing her one step closer to becoming the first African-American woman to hold the post.

U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch

Senators in both parties have hailed Lynch’s qualifications. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) described her as “well-qualified,” and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Lynch has “the character, the determination and the experience to be a strong, independent attorney general.”

Lynch, a twice-confirmed U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, has waited months for a vote. She was nominated by Obama in November, but didn’t get a hearing until late January. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the committee, delayed her vote until Thursday.

“We’re going to be voting — finally, finally, finally — on the nomination for Loretta Lynch,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the committee’s ranking Democrat. “I’ve been here for 40 years, and no attorney general … has ever had to wait this long for a vote.”

Lynch’s nomination now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

Read the full article here.

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103-Year-Old Civil Rights Icon: ‘Thank God I Learned That Color Makes No Difference’

By Sasha Bronner, the Huffington Post

Amelia Boynton Robinson was nearly beaten to death in 1965 during the first march in Selma, Alabama, led by Martin Luther King Jr. She was 53 years old at the time. A graphic photo of Boynton Robinson, severely beaten and collapsed, spread around the world and became an iconic image of the civil rights era.

Amelia Boynton Robinson in Selma, 1965.

Amelia Boynton Robinson in Selma, 1965.

Boynton Robinson survived the brutality and chaos of the time and is alive today to talk about it, at 103 years old. One of the nation’s oldest civil rights activists, she remains an essential figure of the movement. She was the first woman and first African-American to ever run for Congress in Alabama.  Boynton Robinson is portrayed in the movie “Selma,”  which she calls “fantastic,” by actress Lorraine Toussaint.

“Thank god I learned that color makes no difference,” Boynton Robinson said Friday at an awards luncheon at the Soho House in West Hollywood, California. “My parents [were] an example for what they wanted their children to be.”

“I look back at the time that we fought and when those heads were beaten,” she said. “I look at what God brought to us. Dr. King cracked the door open. People rose up and felt that they were just as good as everybody else.”

Boynton Robinson wishes that after everything she fought for, the state of race relations were more positive. “People have hate within their souls and that’s what we have to get rid of,” she continued.

But Boynton Robinson is neither bitter nor disappointed. As she looks back on everything she has seen and experienced, her perspective is positive. “It makes me realize that this is where I belong,” she said.

“This is where God sees me — at this age, at 103 years old — in order that I might be able to reach out and pull [people] up.”

Amelia today, speaking at an awards luncheon.

Amelia today, speaking at an awards luncheon.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.



John Legend Uses ‘Glory’ Best Original Song Win To Discuss America’s Prison Problem

By Jessica Goodman, the Huffington Post

“Glory” from “Selma” won Best Original Song at the 2015 Oscars on Sunday night. John Legend and Common accepted the award after performing a moving rendition of the song to a tearful audience. “‘Selma’ is now because the struggle for justice is right now,” Legend said.

John Legend (L) and Common accept their Academy Award

John Legend (L) and Common accept their Academy Award

He continued with a politicized message and mentioned America’s staggering incarceration rate: “We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now, the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. We are with you, we see you, we love you and march on,” he concluded.

It was a huge win for “Selma,” which made waves when its director Ava DuVernay was snubbed for a Best Director nod. The film was also nominated for Best Picture.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.


Can Reforming Culture Save Black Youths?

By Greg Thomas,

In a new book, Harvard sociology professor Orlando Patterson explores the way in which culture can be used to understand and improve the lives of young African Americans.


Jamaican-born Orlando Patterson, a Harvard sociology professor since 1969, likes to tackle big issues. In the newly released The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth, Patterson and more than 20 other scholars focus on the contemporary state of young black people in the United States.

Considering recent tragedies and protests involving black youths, the police and the legal system—along with the centuries of devastation wrought by racial bias—a work exploring the impact of culture is both timely and welcome. Though we are far from achieving a post-racial society, whatRalph Ellison called conscious culture can point a way.

Patterson and his fellow contributors wrestle with hip-hop culture; the values of disconnected youths; continuity and change in neighborhood cultures; street violence and relations with city police; gender relations and class distinctions; barriers to entry in the workforce; religious and social organizations; and family programs. Patterson and his peers present a balanced, rigorous interpretation of culture, with ample empirical evidence, and include the actual voices and viewpoints of black youths.

Patterson dismisses the culture-of-poverty thesis as inaccurate and incomplete and makes a case that the retreat from cultural analysis by his fellow sociologists has been too extreme.Patterson offers sociology a way to re-enter a policy discourse with the lives of disconnected youths at the center.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.


A Kaffeeklatsch on Race

By Charles Blow, New York Times

Charles Blow writes a regular Op-Ed column for the New York Times. He authored a recent memoir, "Fire Locked Up in My Bones."

Charles Blow writes a regular Op-Ed column for the New York Times. He authored a recent memoir, “Fire Locked Up in My Bones.”

In our collective imaginations, we tend to conceive of the constantly called-for “national conversation on race” as having the formality of some grand conclave of consciousness — an American Truth and Reconciliation equivalent, a spiritual spectacle in which sins are confessed and blame taken and burdens lifted.

This may be ideal, but it is also exceedingly unlikely in this country, particularly in this political environment. There will be no great atoning. Reparations will not be paid. There will no sprawling absolution.

blk attitudes re policeYet we can still have a productive conversation. Indeed, I would argue that we are in the midst of a national conversation about race at this very moment. Its significance isn’t drawn from structure but from the freedom of its form.

Every discussion over a backyard fence or a cup of coffee is part of that conversation. It is the very continuity of its casualness that bolsters its profundity.

We need to stop calling for the conversation and realize that we are already having it.

Last week the F.B.I. director, James Comey, added his voice to that conversation, particularly as it relates to the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color. There were portions I found particularly potent coming from a man in his position.

He gave a list of “hard truths”…

For a video of James Comey’s speech, click here.

To read Charles Blow’s full analysis of Comey’s speech, click here.

For more Breaking News, click here.


1 Year Later: Student’s Vigil Over Ole Miss Noose Goes On

By Tyler Carter,

In 2014, three white students put a noose around the neck of a statue commemorating the first African-American student to attend the University of Mississippi. For almost a year, student Correl Hoyle has maintained a protest in front of the statue.

Correl Hoyle holds his vigil before the James Meredith statue at the University of Mississippi.

Correl Hoyle holds his vigil before the James Meredith statue at the University of Mississippi.

If you walk across the middle of the University of Mississippi’s campus on any given day, you’ll probably see sophomore Correl Hoyle sitting in front of the statue of James Meredith, the first African American to integrate the University of Mississippi, in 1962.

During Valentine’s Day weekend in 2014, three young white men hung a noose around the neck of the statue of Meredith and wrapped a Confederate flag around it. Shortly after, Hoyle, an English major at the university, began holding a vigil in front of the statue.

“A lot of people assumed I was angry after the incident, but I was more so shocked,” Hoyle said. “Never have I experienced something like this at my doorstep, and I was more shocked, but also disappointed because things like this are still happening here. People are still living with the ideology that one race is … superior to the other, or one class of people is better than the other.”

The South, especially Mississippi, has a complex racial narrative, and the University of Mississippi has seen its fair share. In 2012 a white student wrote “N–ger” across a black student’s dorm door. Later that same year a mini-riot erupted on campus after President Obama was re-elected. Just last year, the renaming of Confederate Drive to Chapel Lane spurred a lawsuit against the university by the Mississippi Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, who want to preserve their “history.”

“Simple things like this go unnoticed,” Hoyle said. “If it is not talked about, it will happen again.”

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.


Graphic Design Company Receives Backlash After Naming New Product ‘The Hanging Tree’ and Using Noose Imagery

By Yesha Callahan,

A new company has decided that naming its new graphic design set “The Hanging Tree” and using a noose in advertisements for its set of thematic photographic images isn’t offensive to anyone at all.

Advertisement for "The Hanging Tree" graphic design set.

Advertisement for “The Hanging Tree” graphic design set.

Jewelry designer and graphic artist Rachel Stewart confronted Seasalt & Co. on Facebook and Twitter. At first the company offered an explanation via Facebook, stating that it, too, had ancestors who were hanged and tortured and that the images represented any person who has been wronged.

As Stewart posted more information on Twitter about the company, it threatened her with a lawsuit.

As others have joined in on putting the company on notice that its imagery is offensive, Seasalt & Co. still doesn’t understand why people have an issue with it and has said that those questioning the company are being slanderous:

It’s amazing how oblivious people can be when they think it benefits them. Sure, Seasalt & Co. can use whatever type of imagery it wants, but as Stewart stated on Twitter, it probably wouldn’t use a swastika image for anything.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.