Race & Ethnicity

'All I Want For Christmas Is Justice!' A Protester's Dispatch

This is what the new civil rights movement looks like.

(AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)
(AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek) Angelica Simmons, center, holds her arms up in the air while participating in a demonstration at a tree lighting ceremony, Wednesday, December 3, 2014, in Philadelphia. The crowd, protesting the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of police, rallied at the train station and marched through downtown before disrupting a tree lighting ceremony at City Hall. A t the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, the president and his family sought a moment of lightness. It was not to be had. The street in front of the White House was filled with demonstrators, who had blocked off highly-trafficked thoroughfares after the justice system once again failed to call police to account for the killing of yet another unarmed black person: Eric Garner, who died when a New York City police officer pushed Garner to the ground, wrapped his hands around the black man’s neck, and held them there while the man gasped for air. As traditional Christmas songs blared from...

Quote of the Day: 'When Cops Are Scared'

(AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Laurie Skrivan)
"Cops can get into a state of mind where they're scared to death. When they're in that really, really frightened place they panic and they act out on that panic. I have known cops who haven't had a racist bone in their bodies and in fact had adopted black children, they went to black churches on the weekend; and these are white cops. They really weren't overtly racist. They weren't consciously racist. But you know what they had in their minds that made them act out and beat a black suspect unwarrantedly? They had fear. They were afraid of black men. I know a lot of white cops who have told me. And I interviewed over 900 police officers in 18 months and they started talking to me, it was almost like a therapy session for them I didn't realize that they needed an outlet to talk. "They would say things like, 'Ms. Rice I'm scared of black men. Black men terrify me. I'm really scared of them. Ms. Rice, you know black men who come out of prison, they've got great hulk strength and I'm...

#Blacklivesmatter Till They Don't: Slavery's Lasting Legacy

The historical value of black life and the casual killing of Eric Garner.

(AP Photo/Public Opinion, Ryan Blackwell)
(AP Photo/Public Opinion, Ryan Blackwell) Shippensburg University student Cory Layton, a junior from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, paints his face with the slogan "Black Lives Matter" at the 'Fight for Human Rights and Social Equity' rally at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, December 4, 2014. I n less than a month, our nation will commemorate the 150 th anniversary of the 13 th Amendment, which abolished slavery. This should be a time of celebratory reflection, yet Wednesday night, after another grand jury failed to see the value of African-American life, protesters took to the streets chanting, “Black lives matter!” As scholars of slavery writing books on the historical value(s) of black life, we are concerned with the long history of how black people are commodified by the state. Although we are saddened by the unprosecuted deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and countless others, we are not surprised. We live a nation that has yet to...

10 Ways the System Is Rigged Against Justice for People Wrongly Killed by Cops

Why is the legal system so biased against holding abusive officers accountable?

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez) A motorist, right, shows support for people marching during a protest after it was announced that the New York City police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner was not indicted, Wednesday, December 3, 2014, in New York. A grand jury cleared the New York City police officer Wednesday in the videotaped chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man, who had been stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a lawyer for the victim's family said. This article was orginally published by AlterNet . For more great reporting and analysis, subscribe here to AlterNet's newsletters. A s passions and protests flared on the streets of New York City following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision Wednesday not to indict the white NYC police officer whose chokehold and rough arrest killed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, a key question emerges: Why is the justice system so biased against holding abusive officers accountable? The answer is both simple...

Nationwide Ferguson Protests Don't Halt For the Holidays

(Mo. Die-In: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson; DC Die-In: Flickr/Joe Newman)
T hanksgiving in America is a hallowed tradition; Thursday is for eating the traditional dinner of turkey and mashed potatoes, and the next day is for the frenzy of commerce known as Black Friday. But this year, the holiday weekend looked a little bit different, as protesters across the nation leveraged the rituals that kick off the holiday season to call for racial justice. After St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch announced on Monday night that no charges would be filed against Darren Wilson—the white officer who shot and killed unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August—protests erupted in major cities throughout the United States. And the ever-vigilant protesters were not going to let Thanksgiving celebrations stop them from being heard. If anything, they used the holiday as an opportunity to call attention to their cause. On Tuesday, protests were organized in New York City, Washington D.C, Los Angeles, Nashville, Minneapolis, Atlanta,...

How Obama Boxed In Republicans With His Immigration Order

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) President Barack Obama shakes hands with people in the crowd following his remarks on immigration reform at Chamizal National Memorial Park in El Paso, Texas, May 10, 2011. I f there's an elected Republican who thinks it wasn't a bad idea for President Obama to take executive action on immigration, he or she has yet to make that opinion known. Not surprisingly, the 20 or 30 men (and one woman ) hoping to get the GOP nomination for president in 2016 have been particularly vocal on the topic. But while thunderous denunciations of the Constitution-shredding socialist dictator in the White House may seem to them today like exactly what the situation demands, before long they're going to be asked a simple yet dangerous question: If you become president, what are you going to do about it? Although they haven't actually answered that question yet, their feelings have been unambiguous. Ted Cruz said Obama has "gotten in the job of counterfeiting...

To Save the Right to Choose Nationwide, Reproductive Justice Advocates Need a Southern Strategy

A new amendment to Tennessee's Constitution lays a framework for ending abortion rights. If allowed to stand, women and girls in poor communities will suffer the most. 

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) Signs outside a polling place support different opinions on an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee. The amendment would expand the power of legislators to pass more abortion regulations. T his past Election Day, the people of Tennessee awoke to a state in which the right to an abortion is no longer secure. Amendment 1 to the state constitution could mean that politicians soon vote to take away the right within the state. The passage of Amendment 1 gives politicians far-reaching power to restrict many forms of birth control and abortion. Most ominously, if Roe v. Wade were ever overturned, the passage of Amendment 1 lays the groundwork to eliminate all abortion access in Tennessee. In the run-up to the election, anti-choice politicians in the state masked their strategy to eliminate abortion access by framing their position as an issue of free speech, saying the voters had been silenced by a decision by...

Cosby and Ferguson: Why Addressing Gender Violence and Racial Violence Is Not Either/Or Option

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Young women attend a candlelight vigil for victims of gun violence Friday, October 10, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. I 've never understood the "one or the other" mentality. Being a mother, I am in an ever present state of multi-tasking. So when a male acquaintance said that the Cosby scandal was a a distraction from the grand jury decision regarding Ferguson, I inquired, "How?" He asserted that if the lead news story becomes Cosby, then Ferguson and the protests in response to the police violence there become a footnote to the issue of racial violence in the town. He took the view that I've seen from a lot of men lately, which is that it is horrible "if" these alleged sexual assaults occurred, but we need to "wait until all of the evidence comes out" for us to fully understand what happened with these women and Bill Cosby. This is my issue: If you find it necessary to take a "wait and see" approach to the outcome of the allegations mounting against Bill...

Chaos or Community? Ferguson's Aftermath Calls the Question

This special brand of rage is omnipresent and, at times, all-consuming.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Protesters gather in front of the Ferguson Police Department before the announcement of the grand jury decision about whether to indict a Ferguson police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown, Monday, November 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. A Missouri grand jury heard evidence for months as it weighed whether to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the August 9 fatal shooting of Brown. A s I watched the images of burning stores and looting in Ferguson, Missouri, Monday night, I was reminded of the 1965 Watts riots and the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. These uprisings, or rebellions, as they are referred to in certain activist circles, reflected simmering and justified rage beneath the surface of so many blacks. This special brand of rage is omnipresent and, at times, all-consuming. It rarely goes completely away. It becomes muted over time, but is always a Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown incident away from becoming fully combustible. The...

Congresswoman-Elect Mia Love: Personification of GOP Hypocrisy on Immigration

Much is made of her status as the first black Republican woman elected to Congress. Less attention is given to her likely status as an "anchor baby."

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) Republican Mia Love, center left, celebrates with her father, Jean Maxime Bourdeau, after winning the race for Utah's 4th Congressional District during a GOP election night watch party, Tuesday, November 4, 2014, in Salt Lake City. O n November 4, 2014, the Republican Party made black history. Mia Love is the first Republican black woman elected to Congress. Black women aren’t exactly clamoring to join the Republican Party, so it’s obvious why this is an impressive feat. Love also became another "first" that night—the first Haitian-American elected to Congress. But, as a woman born to immigrants, a group Republicans have been hostile towards for decades, Mia Love’s membership in the Grand Old Party is downright hypocritical. Her parents, Marie and Jean Maxime Bourdeau, fled Haiti in the 1970s after Jean Maxime had been threatened by the Tonton Macoutes , the brutal police force of Francois Duvalier, the late dictator. According to Mother Jones , the immigration...

We Let Bill Cosby Into Our Homes, So He Owes Us an Explanation

America's once-favorite TV dad needs to take his own advice.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Entertainer and former classmate Bill Cosby speaks during a public memorial service for Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz Wednesday, June 4, 2014, at Temple University in Philadelphia. W hile the natural inclination is to separate Bill Cosby’s television character from his real life persona, the show we remember so fondly was not called The Huxtable Show . It was The Cosby Show . We did not really welcome Heathcliff into our homes. We welcomed Bill. It is Cosby, the accused serial rapist of 15 women from whom we await an explanation. He has the time: His planned NBC project was just pulled in the face of these resurfaced allegations. He won’t be cashing any residual checks from shows streamed on Netflix because like any contagion, everything Cosby is associated with is now contaminated. This reckoning particularly stings because of Cosby’s decades-long campaign of respectability politics within the black community. For years he has offered a socially...

Hillary Clinton's "Connection" to White Voters: What Could It Possibly Be?

One of these things is not like the other. (White House photo by Pete Souza)
In an interview published yesterday at Talking Points Memo, Mitch Stewart, an adviser to the nascent Hillary Clinton quasi-campaign, argued that Clinton could expand the map of states that Barack Obama won, putting more places in play. The reason, he said, that "Secretary Clinton has more appeal than any other Democrat looking at running is that with white working-class voters, she does have a connection." The idea of Clinton's "connection" to the white working class is something you hear now and again, and I think it's worth examining in some detail. Because it raises some uncomfortable questions that I doubt the Clinton campaign wants to confront. Something tells me she isn't going to be putting "Hillary Clinton: A Democrat, But White!" on her bumper stickers. But that's the essence of what we're talking about about here. It seems like a long time ago now, but during the 2008 primaries things got extremely racially charged for a while, at a time when the Clinton campaign was...

How Democrats Can Win Back the White Working Class and Increase Turnout Among Blacks and Latinos

(Photo: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr/Creative Commons License)
(Photo: CNV Sioux Falls, SD Action via Flickr) Demonstrators in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, urge fellow citizens to vote for the November 4 ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage. The demonstration took place on Saturday, September 27. T he voting turnout in this year's congressional and gubernatorial elections was the lowest since 1942. Much of the story was in young people, poor people, black and Hispanic citizens, who tend to support Democrats, voting in far lower numbers than in 2008 or 2012. The Democrats just weren't offering them very much. But the other part of the Election Day story was older voters and the white working class, especially men, deserting the Democrats in droves—again, because Democrats didn't seem to be offering much. Republicans, at least, were promising lower taxes. Turnout on average dropped from 2012 by a staggering 42 percent. But as Sam Wang reported in a post-election piece for The American Prospect , the drop-off was evidently worse for Democrats...

Event Livefeed: The Making of Ferguson with Sherrilyn Ifill and Richard Rothstein

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
On Thursday, November 13, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) host a forum to examine policies that led to the events in Ferguson. Richard Rothstein, contributing writer to The American Prospect and EPI Research Associate, and Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF Director-Counsel, discuss how a century's worth of government housing, zoning, and employment policies are at the root of the tension that erupted in Ferguson after Michael Brown's death. The discussion is not limited to Ferguson, however, as these policies were not unique to that St. Louis suburb; they were, in fact, implemented throughout the nation. Rothstein and Ifill discuss the comprehension and public policies that we need to erase the long, continuing shadow of government-promoted and enforced discrimination . Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect and co-founder of EPI, moderates. In a timely article for The American Prospect ’s Fall issue and in a report for EPI ,...

Election 2014: Surge or Theft?

How dark money and voter disenfranchisement combined in a toxic brew that resulted in the lowest voter turnout in more than 70 years, hampering whatever chance Democrats had to win.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) In this November 6, 2012 file photo, a voter holds their voting permit and ID card at the Washington Mill Elementary School near Mount Vernon, Virginia. Across the South, Republicans are working to take advantage of a new political landscape after a divided U.S. Supreme Court freed all or part of 15 states, many of them in the old Confederacy, from having to ask Washington's permission before changing election procedures in jurisdictions with histories of discrimination. L ast Tuesday’s election was, by any measure, a sweeping victory for the Republicans—their second consecutive midterm sweep since Barack Obama took office, by which they’ve now picked up a total 77 seats combined in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House they’ve not had a majority this size since Herbert Hoover occupied the White House—and they control more statehouses now than at any time in the nation’s history. But what does that mean—or more...

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