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When the past is present…

 

Don’t Label Me Gay or African-American

By: Huffington Post

At 28 years old, Raven-Symoné has a very clear sense of who she is. The former “Cosby Show” actress and star of “That’s So Raven” recently sat down with Oprah and opened up about her strong sense of self, including her sexuality.

Raven has been relatively quiet about her personal life, but last year, when the Supreme Court ruled the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, Raven tweeted a status that many saw as her way of coming out…

Twitter post by Raven Symone

Twitter post by Raven Symone

“That was my way of saying I’m proud of the country,” she says. “But, I will say that I’m in an amazing, happy relationship with my partner. A woman.”

Raven’s reluctance to open up about her private life is something she has practiced since her early days as a young star, under her parents’ guidance. “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,” Raven says. “But I am proud to be who I am and what I am.”…

“I don’t want to be labeled ‘gay,'” Raven says. “I want to be labeled ‘a human who loves humans.'”

Raven Symone with AzMarie Livingston; Rick Diamond via Getty Images

Raven Symone with AzMarie Livingston; Rick Diamond via Getty Images

In fact, Raven tells Oprah that she rejects the notion of labels completely in all areas of her life. “I’m tired of being labeled,” she says. “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American.”…

“I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to,” Raven explains. “I don’t know how far back they go… I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person.”

“You’re going to get a lot of flak for saying you’re not African-American. You know that, right?” Oprah asks.

Raven puts her hands up. “I don’t label myself,” she reiterates. “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.”

 

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MO Governor Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Grand Jury Decision

By Ashley Alman, HuffingtonPost.com

Gov. Jay Nixon (D) issued an executive order on Monday declaring a state of emergency in Missouri as the nation awaits a grand jury decision in the case of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

People protest Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, for Michael Brown

People protest Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, for Michael Brown

Citing “periods of unrest” in the city of Ferguson and other places in the St. Louis area following Brown’s Aug. 9 death, Nixon announced the executive order as a measure to protect the citizens and businesses of Missouri from “violence and damage.”

“I further direct the Missouri State Highway Patrol together with the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to operate as a Unified Command to protect civil rights and ensure public safety in the City of Ferguson and the St. Louis region,” Nixon wrote in the order, noting that citizens reserve their right to assemble peacefully.

Protesters have already begun demonstrating throughout Ferguson, St. Louis and the surrounding areas, as the grand jury’s decision on whether to indict Wilson could come at any moment. On Monday, a group of protesters gathered in Clayton, where the grand jury is deliberating. Others staged a “die-in” in University City, lying down on the street and pretending to have been shot…

Read full article and executive order here.

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EBONY To Honor Top 100 Black Influencers Of 2014

By , thehuffingtonpost.com

Ebony Magazine has a history of celebrating influential African Americans.

As usual, the magazine’s annual ‘Power 100′ list of standout figures in the Black community does not disappoint. Fourteen categories from “Cultural Influencers” to “Community Crusaders,” list dynamite game changers who make it impossible to imagine 2014 without. Lupita Nyong’o, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Laverne Cox, Levar Burton, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche are just a few of the names included on Ebony’s knockout list.

Lupita Nyong’o

This year’s honorees will be celebrated at Ebony’s Power 100 Gala on Wednesday in Los Angeles, including music legend Quincy Jones, who is set to receive Ebony’s 2014 Achievement Award.

Marc Lamont Hill, a 2014 honoree, told HuffPost how he felt to have made the cut.

“I’m so honored to be listed among so many important and influential people. While we don’t do this work for accolades, it’s gratifying to be recognized by my community.”

The EBONY Power 100 issue will hit newsstands in December.

Read full article here.

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NFL Commissioner Suspends Adrian Peterson Without Pay for Remainder of the Season

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele, theRoot.com

Adrian Peterson

NFL running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings addresses the media after pleading no contest to a lesser misdemeanor charge of reckless assault Nov. 4, 2014, in Conroe, Texas. BOB LEVEY/GETTY IMAGES

The NFL sent Adrian Peterson a letter on Tuesday, notifying the Minnesota Vikings running back that he would be suspended for the remainder of the 2014-2015 season without pay, CNN is reporting.

“The timing of your potential reinstatement will be based on the results of the counseling and treatment program set forth in this decision,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the letter.

Peterson was charged with felony child abuse in September for disciplining his 4-year-old son with a switch. He was initially placed on the NFL’s exempt/commissioner’s permission list—an employment status that allowed him to get paid but that kept him off the playing field. He eventually pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanor reckless assault.

Now the NFL wants Peterson to complete a rehabilitation program that the league has constructed for him. “Under this two-step approach, the precise length of the suspension will depend on your actions. We are prepared to put in place a program that can help you to succeed, but no program can succeed without your genuine and continuing engagement,” Goodell said in the letter.

The National Football League Players Association, the labor union representing NFL players, has expressed reservations about the suspension and will work with Peterson in his appeal of the league’s decision. The NFLPA “will ‘demand that a neutral arbitrator oversee the appeal,’ ” CNN reports.

“A hearing will now be scheduled and Peterson—with the counsel of a lawyer and the NFL Players Association—can present evidence in support of his appeal. He will remain on the commissioner’s exempt list until the appeal has run its course,” the report explains.

See CNN video here.

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KKK Threatens ‘Lethal Force’ Against Ferguson Protesters

Letter obtained by Vice News

BY: , theroot.com

As a nation awaits a grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Mo., police shooting case that has divided some Americans along racial lines, members of a Missouri-based KKK chapter have been distributing fliers that promise to use “lethal force” against “terrorists masquerading as ‘peaceful protesters,’’’ Vice News reports.

The fliers, reportedly distributed by the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, began appearing recently in the St. Louis, Mo., area and on social media, after the group says protesters threatened the lives of police officers and their families, the site says

“You have been warned by the Ku Klux Klan!” states the flier obtained by Vice. “There will be consequences for your acts of violence against the peaceful, law-abiding citizens of Missouri.”

It’s the second time the Klan, “known as a hate group for its history of persecuting and abusing minorities,” has reared its head in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, after unarmed black teen Michael Brown was shot and killed this summer by white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. This case, which has sparked ongoing protests against law enforcement’s use of excessive force in the black community, has unmasked deep racial fissures not only in St. Louis, Mo.-area, but also across the nation. A grand jury is meeting now to decide whether to indict Wilson.

Last summer, a different KKK chapter declared that it was raising money for Wilson and his family. At the time, some members expressed skepticism about the fundraiser, noting that the group’s presence would only heighten tensions. But weeks of protests that also call for Wilson’s arrest have only served to boost recruitment numbers, leaders told the news site.

Read full article here.

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Why Do We Still Care About the Confederate Flag?

By Hanna Kozlowska, The New York Times

When and where is it OK to display the "Ole Stars and Bars"? (Courtesy of Sam Dean/The Roanoke Times, via AP)

When and where is it OK to display the “Ole Stars and Bars”? In public or private spaces? On government grounds? It is still a racist symbol that cannot be ignored or simply a harmless emblem of Southern pride? (Courtesy of Sam Dean/The Roanoke Times, via AP)

…Nearly 150 years after the Civil War ended, the Confederate flag is still one of the nation’s most divisive emblems. Many a Yankee will attest to the shock and horror they feel upon seeing the multitude of Confederate flags when they first arrive in the South. For them, it’s a symbol of slavery, of oppression and systemic racism. But many Southerners see it as a point of local pride and a celebration of their heritage, putting the flag on their bumper stickers and on their lawns.

But when that lawn belongs to a government institution, the flag becomes a political problem.

South Carolina’s Republican Gov. Nikki Haley recently got herself into hot water when she defended the flag standing on the grounds of the South Carolina State House. While she acknowledged that it was a sensitive issue, she also underlined that over the course of her term and many phone conversations with chief executives, she did not have “one conversation with a single C.E.O. about the Confederate flag.” She also said that South Carolina’s image problem was “fixed” with her election, as an Indian-American, and with the appointment of an African-American Senator, Tim Scott.

The MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry wrote a letter to Governor Haley, defining herself as a “Southern girl” who grew up surrounded by the Confederate flag. She says that black Americans are, by and large, Southerners, that their history is “deeply intertwined with Southern history,” that their experience includes slavery and Jim Crow but also “church picnics, HBCU football games and jazz music.” As black Southerners, Ms. Harris-Perry writes, “we have a complicated relationship to the ’ol stars and bars. We rarely paint it on our pick-ups but we do not automatically flinch and recoil when we see it.”

But, she says, Ms. Haley is not just a Southerner, she is “a duly elected governor in the United States of America.” Displaying the Confederate flag on state-owned grounds suggests “honor upon an act of treason,” she says. “To remember that we are one nation-indivisible — we fly the flag of our union.”…

Rapper Kanye West decided to "take back" the flag, wearing it on his clothing and selling it on merchandise.

Rapper Kanye West decided to “take back” the flag, wearing it on his clothing and selling it on merchandise.

Some say that the entire debate over the Confederate flag is pointless. Writing several weeks after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., John McWhorter said at The Daily Beastthat we should focus our energies elsewhere. “A serious approach to racism in this country will be about black men and the police,” Mr. McWhorter writes. The discussion is a “futile endeavor” because of the various meanings assigned to the flag and because of the fact that in the absence of the Confederate flag, the racist constituency would just choose a different symbol.

Read the full article here.

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It Looks Like the Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Will Be Announced Monday

BY: , theroot.com

According to sources familiar with a Wednesday conference call that included key elected officials, the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision in the case of Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson is expected to be announced publicly Monday. And sources close to the investigation state that they are not expecting Wilson to be indicted.

A number of key issues in the matter were yet to be fully resolved. Among them, the duty status of Wilson—who shot and killed teenager Michael Brown Aug. 9 after confronting him and another pedestrian for jaywalking—was an issue discussed on the conference call, along with that of Ferguson police Chief Thomas Jackson. News swirled recently that Jackson would resign after the controversy surrounding Brown’s death, but his future with the Ferguson Police Department has yet be confirmed.

Several elected officials on the call were said to be pushing for no punishment or career repercussions for Wilson or Jackson—meaning that they not be fired from their respective positions after the grand jury’s announcement. That sentiment did not go over well with other officials on the call, who, according to sources, were pushing for both to be fired before the grand jury announces its decision.

In a press release issued Wednesday, the Department of Justice outlined Attorney General Eric Holder’s role in the conversation, including his expectations for police conduct, and the conduct of citizen demonstrations, once the grand jury decision is announced: “The attorney general stressed that going forward, it will be more important than ever that the law-enforcement response to the demonstrations always seeks to deescalate tensions and respect the rights of protesters. At the same time, the attorney general said, it must be clearly communicated that any acts of violence by the demonstrators, or other attempts to provoke law enforcement, are unacceptable.”

Read full article here.

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Who Were the Great Black Historians?

BY: , theroot.com

Carter G. Woodson; John Hope Franklin

((Editor’s note: For those who are wondering about the retro title of this black-history series, please take a moment to learn about historian Joel A. Rogers, author of the 1934 book 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro With Complete Proof, to whom these “amazing facts” are an homage.))

Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 99: Who were the key scholars responsible for the discipline of black history?

The 500-year story of the African-American people, as we tried to show in our PBS documentary series Many Rivers to Cross, is inseparable from that of America as a whole. Not that long ago, lest we forget, the prevailing opinion in this country was that black people had no history—at least not one worth writing about or teaching. To refute that charge, it took generations of pioneering historians to recover the pieces of our buried and scattered past and to mend them into narratives as amazing as any the world has known. What to some was a joke—a futile effort in frivolity—was to these scholars a life’s calling. And in pursuing the black historical past so brilliantly and passionately, they succeeded in placing the American historical profession on much higher ground, and inspiring African Americans—and, over time, the country as a whole—to demand that the promise of citizenship and civil rights be fulfilled for a people who had waited for both so very long—too long, in fact.

As I prepare to conclude The Root’s 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro series with my 100th column next week—a retrospective on our old friend Joel A. Rogers—I’d like to honor a few of the great black historians whose diligent work and careful scholarship made it impossible for anyone to deny that African-American history was, and has always been, a fundamental part of American history. 

Two of those historians you’ve met in earlier columns: Carter G. Woodson, “the father of Black History Month,” and George Washington Williams, “black America’s first investigative journalist.” The great W.E.B. Du Bois—the first black person in the world to earn a Ph.D. in history—has hovered over this entire series—as he does over African-American history as a whole. Permit me then to introduce you to five more academically trained black historians, with doctorates from accredited institutions you should know, whose books you should read and upon whose shoulders all scholars of African-American studies stand: Rayford W. Logan, Charles H. Wesley, Dorothy Porter Wesley, John Hope Franklin and John W. Blassingame Sr.  

If ever a Mount Rushmore for black historians were to be carved on the face of a mountain, you can bet the eight faces I just mentioned would be on it.

Read full article here.

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The 5 Worst States for Black People

Surprisingly, most of the places on our list are not in the racially regressive South.

By Danielle C. Belton, theRoot.com

Progress, the story of black America.

We started from the most bottom of bottoms (not having personhood) and worked our way up to the age of Obama, where we are leaps and bounds better than we were (hey, we have personhood now!) but are still struggling to make it to the middle, let alone to the top, of society’s heap. A lot of things are working against us, and a lot of it boils down to where we live.

Let’s face it. Some places are worse to be black in than others, and I’m not just talking historically racial quagmires like Mississippi. Racism and a weakened social safety net know no region. Wisconsin, Ohio and others have their bad points, which go beyond their lack of NBA championships.

Taking into account stats on education, health, incarceration rate, economics and general misery, these are some of the worst states for black people.

Wisconsin

minority men jailed in WISo bad it should get ranked twice, the state of Wisconsin incarcerates black people at the highest rate in the country—13 percent. Within the state, 49 percent of black men under 30 have already been incarcerated, mostly because of its mandatory-minimum-sentencing drug laws, overall hostility toward drug users (prison is often preferred over treatment) and “driving while poor,” aka having a suspended license because of unpaid fines. Other problems with Wisconsin include its punitive voter-ID law, which disproportionately affects African Americans, and its education of black kids—boy, is it bad at education.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation put out a report this year ranking Wisconsin as the worst place to raise black children. (It beat out Mississippi, which was the second-worst place.) The foundation gave Wisconsin a score of 238 out of 1,000 for “its ability to prepare black children for educational and financial success.” The national average score was 345, with Hawaii receiving the highest score, 583. Adding insult to injury, Wisconsin was ranked 10th overall in preparing white children for success.

And its largest city, Milwaukee, is among the most segregated cities in the United States.

Ohio

A protest against voter suppression in Ohio.

A protest against voter suppression in Ohio.

Thank goodness they have LeBron, because Ohio is having a rough time otherwise. The Buckeye State is home to the second-highest infant mortality rate in the country. The median black household income is a horrid $26,039 (pdf), compared with $45,400 for white Ohioans. (The national median income for black households is not awesome but better than Ohio at $33,321.) Cleveland ranks in the top 10 most segregated cites. Ohio is also No. 6 on the list of worst places to raise black children. Oh, and the voter suppression: Ohio has run into myriad voting snafus affecting the black vote, going back to the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004.

Find out about the other worst states for black people in the full article here.

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The Birth Of ‘Dear White People’

By Justin Simien, huffingtonpost.com

Screen Shot from ‘Dear White People’

Perhaps it was being mistaken for the one other Black guy in my office by a colleague who had worked with him for years… Or perhaps it was being asked repeatedly by co-workers to teach them the Single Ladies Dance? Either way something provoked me to go on Twitter as @DearWhitePeople two years ago and start tweeting things like:

“Dear White People. The single ladies dance is dead. Please turn off your web cams and go on about your lives.”

Meant to articulate the sometimes funny, mostly harmless, but occasionally painful experience of being a Black face in a vastly white place (i.e. most Hollywood work environments) @DearWhitePeople also served an ulterior motive of mine.

I’d been working for some time on a satire about race identity. The feature script for Dear White People follows the events leading up to a race riot at a prestigious predominately white university through the perspectives of four very different Black students. While the script was culled from my own college experiences and those of others I knew, I wanted to test out the voice of my lead character, Sam White, whose radio show “Dear White People” gives the film its title.

Sam, a kind of amalgamation of Dap from School Daze and iconic activist Angela Davis had a lot to say and I wanted to know what resonated with people.

Tessa Thompson as Sam White

As I charged through several drafts of the script, feedback from the twitter account would make its way into the project. Tweets that asked how I would feel if there was a “Dear Black People” prompted responses such as:

“Dear White People, there’s no need for a Dear Black People. Reality shows on VH1 and Bravo let us know exactly how you feel about us.”

There are some defensive knee jerk reactions to the phrase “Dear White People” and I get it. No one wants to be called racist, and some folks are still waking up from the fantasy that having a Black president means America has somehow become “Post-Racial.” (By the way, if the “birther movement” and the tragedy involving Trayvon Martin hasn’t sobered you up yet, just check out the Youtube comments section for the Dear White People trailer).

Justin Simien is an American film director and writer. His first feature film, "Dear White People," won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Justin Simien is an American film director and writer. His first feature film, “Dear White People,” won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The truth is, my film really isn’t about “white racism” or racism at all. As I see it racism is systemic and is inherently reflected in any honest story about life as a minority in this country. What my film is about however is identity. It’s about the difference between how the mass culture responds to a person because of their race and who they understand themselves to truly be. …

These impressions easily turn into the way I’m treated, the level of respect I’m given, expectations placed on me and in some cases opportunities denied. (I could expound, but that’s probably better served in a different post. Or better yet just read the brilliant “Who’s Afraid of Post-Black America” by Touré).

Culture is ubiquitous. From the time a person is born, television, movies, cliques in school and Abercrombie and Fitch ads subtlety suggest to them on a subconscious level who they should and should not be due to their race, gender, looks and sexual orientation (just to name a few). Identity is a powerful concept. It can open up potential and it can severely limit it.

While there are countless cultural cues for white men in particular being constantly fed to the culture, being a minority with ambition often means being the only minority in the room. And sometimes in my case patiently explaining that while I am a filmmaker who happens to be Black I have absolutely no desire to be the “next Tyler Perry.”

With the continued support for Dear White People, I sincerely hope to feed at least one more complex and nuanced story to the culture. And while I am truly humbled and overwhelmed by support for the project we’ve got a long way to go. …

Read full article Here

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