Archive for August, 2013

African Americans in Congress, by the numbers

Friday, August 30th, 2013

(Washington Post) Our friends over at the University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics team are out with somegreat new data on African-American representation in the United States House.

Here are some of the tidbits we found most interesting:

The total number of African Americans elected to the House: 127.

The number of states which have yet to elect an African American to the House: 25.

The percentage of elected African Americans that come from just five states: New York, California, Illinois, Michigan, and Georgia: 49 percent.

The percentage of representatives from Maryland who have been black since 1870 — the highest percentage of any state. (South Carolina is second at 7.1 percent.): 7.2 percent.

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Fifty years after March on Washington, economic gap between blacks, whites persists

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

(Washington Post) Even as racial barriers have tumbled and the nation has grown wealthier and better educated, the economic disparities separating blacks and whites remain as wide as they were when marchers assembled on the Mall in 1963.

When it comes to household income and wealth, the gaps between blacks and whites have widened. On other measures, the gaps are roughly the same as they were four decades ago. The poverty rate for blacks, for instance, continues to be about three times that of whites.

“The relative position of blacks has not changed economically since the march,” said William Darity Jr., a professor of public policy, economics and African American studies at Duke University. “Certainly, poverty has declined for everybody, but it has declined in a way that the proportion of blacks to whites who are poor is about the same as it was 50 years ago.”

That is hardly what labor leader A. Philip Randolph, the event’s visionary, had in mind when he called for a mass march for “Jobs and Freedom.” For decades, Randolph, founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly black labor union, had pushed for economic equality for black Americans.

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Pediatricians report that Hispanic children experience delayed autism diagnosis

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

( A study published Monday in the journal Pediatricsreports on a survey of pediatricians that indicates thatHispanics may experience delay in diagnosis of autismspectrum disorder (ASD). Doctors cited that while children of Hispanic descent are properly diagnosed, their diagnosis is often made years after most other children of non-Hispanic descent are diagnosed.

study published last year indicated that Latino children are diagnosed with ASD less often and later than white children.

A survey of 267 primary care pediatricians (PCPs) inCalifornia, the state with the highest Hispanic population, was conducted in order to determine how providers screened for autism. The survey found that 81% of PCPs offered some form of developmental screening, 29% of PCPs offered Spanish ASD screening per American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines and only 10% offered both Spanish general developmental and Spanish ASD screening per American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines.

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The Party of Old White Guys Changes Its Look

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

(Time) Nine months after Barack Obama’s edge with young people, minority groups and women carried him to re-election, the Republican National Committee is beginning a new campaign to showcase the diversity in the GOP ranks.

Launched last week, the RNC’s Rising Stars initiative highlights the next generation of the Republican Party, a group of activists, authors, elected officials and candidates that combats the GOP’s homogenous image. “The Republican Party has gotten a stereotype as being populated mostly with old white men,” New Hampshire state representative Marilinda Garcia, one of the RNC’s Rising Stars, tells TIME. “The point is to highlight people such as myself who are not old white men, along with other young people, and let us be the messengers.”

The initiative will tout about four new up-and-coming Republicans every three months. In addition to Garcia, the first batch of Rising Stars includes T.W. Shannon, Oklahoma’s first African-American speaker of the house and a protégé of former Representative J.C. Watts; conservative writer Scott Erickson; and Karin Agness, the founder of a group for conservative college women.

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Fox Won’t Take Racially Problematic Scenes Out Of Pilot For ‘Dads’ Sitcom

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

(Atlantic Wire) Despite the requests of an Asian American media watchdog group—plus bad press from all corners—Fox has no plans to replace offensive scenes in the pilot of the Seth MacFarlane-produced fall sitcom Dads.

The Hollywood Reporter reports today that Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly and COO Joe Earley have responded to complaints issued by the Media Action Network for Asian Americans' Guy Aoki about racist stereotypes in the show. In their letter, Reilly and Earley make no mention of reshoots and ask Aoki, whose organization contacted the network last week, to give the show a chance to develop, and explaining that actress Brenda Song's character—an Asian-American woman working at a video game company—"is a strong, intelligent, empowered young woman who basically runs the company, and who almost always gets the upper hand on the guys." (In the series pilot, the show's leads have Song's character dress up like a sexy school girl and giggle to woo Chinese investors.)

Other scenes in the pilot for the show, which centers on the relationship between two video game developers (Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi) and their socially awkward dads, contain offenses including a character's use of the word "Oriental" and a series of jokes about the size of a Chinese man's penis. In their letter, Reilly and Earley write that Dads "…is a show that will be evocative and will poke fun at stereotypes and bigotries – sometimes through over-the-top, ridiculous situations, adding that "…everyone involved with 'Dads' is striving to create a series with humor that works on multiple levels and 'earns' its audaciousness." (And, of course, earns money: The CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls, which was also slammed for its racist portrayal of Han Lee, a Korean-born owner of a Brooklyn diner, ended up being a ratings success for the network.)

Some people just aren't buying these sorts of defenses of the show or its humor. As Melissa Maerzexplained in an essay for Entertainment Weekly, the problem with the pilot is that it's not actually poking fun at stereotypes, it's asking the audience to laugh with and embrace them. Even Song's character doesn't seem to care about the way she is dehumanized. "This kind of silent compliance might be the most dangerous part of Dads," Maerz writes. "It’s not just that racist jokes go totally unchecked, it’s that the people who are the butt of those jokes end up playing along, just to show everyone that it’s okay." The show also, as other critics have pointed out, just isn't funny.

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Two Powerful Signals of a Major Shift on Crime

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

(NY Times) Two decisions Monday, one by a federal judge in New York and the other by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., were powerful signals that the pendulum has swung away from the tough-on-crime policies of a generation ago.

Critics have long contended that draconian mandatory minimum sentence laws for low-level drug offenses, as well as stop-and-frisk police policies that target higher-crime and minority neighborhoods, have a disproportionate impact on members of minority groups. On Monday, Mr. Holder announced that federal prosecutors would no longer invoke the sentencing laws, and a judge found that stop-and-frisk practices in New York were unconstitutional racial profiling.

While the timing was a coincidence, Barbara Arnwine, the president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said that the effect was “historic, groundbreaking, and potentially game-changing.”

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The Most Common Ethnicities In America

Friday, August 16th, 2013

(Business Insider) Ancestry is a broad concept. While we revise our feature on the most common ethnicities in America, presented below is the data we used to identify the dominant flavors in the great melting pot.

The tables come from Census data on generalAsian, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian populations.



Screen shot 2013 08 11 at 2.35.56 PM

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New York’s stop-and-frisk policy is unconstitutional, judge rules

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

(The Guardian) A New York judge ruled Monday that "stop-and-frisk" searches carried out by city police are unconstitutional – and ordered that a federal monitor be brought in to oversee their reform.

In a major victory for civil rights activists who have long contended that stop-and-frisk amounts to racial profiling, US district court judge Shira Scheindlin said the stops violated individuals' right to privacy and equal treatment under the law.

She added that testimony had led her to believe that the NYPD carries out more stops of black and Hispanic residents, "even when other relevant variables are held constant".

"This is so even in areas with low crime rates, racially heterogenous populations, or predominantly white populations," Scheindlin ruled.

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Oprah Winfrey’s brush with racism in Swiss boutique sparks international uproar after employee refused to show her $38K bag

Monday, August 12th, 2013

(NY Daily News) Switzerland is desperately trying to make peace with Oprah Winfrey.

A trip to a tony Zurich shop ended in a disturbing racial encounter for the billionaire media mogul — a national humiliation that forced the Swiss tourism board to issue a public apology.

Winfrey said she was in town for Tina Turner’s wedding last month and stopped in the posh Trois Pommes boutique where she asked a clerk to see a $38,000 Tom Ford bag behind a glass case.

“She says, ‘No, it’s too expensive,’” Winfrey, 59, recounted to Entertainment Tonight this week. 

“She said, ‘No, no, no you want to see this one because that one will cost too much. You won’t be able to afford that one.’”

“She refused to get it … she said, ‘I don’t want to hurt your feelings,’ and I said, ‘Okay, thank you so much, you’re probably right I can’t afford it.' Now why does she do that?”

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Dwyane Wade and his sons wear hoodies for Trayvon Martin on the cover of Ebony

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

(Yahoo) Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade has been an active presence in discussions surrounding the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin ever since the story gained national traction in March 2012. At the time, Wade posted a photo to Facebook of himself wearing a hooded sweatshirt (mimicking Martin's clothing on the night he was killed in a display of solidarity), took part in a photo featuring 13 members of the Miami Heat in the same outfit, wrote Martin-inspired messages on his in-game shoes, and spoke openly about why the event resonates with him and other black men. It's both a personal and public issue for Wade, something that speaks to both his experiences and those of others like him.

With George Zimmerman having been acquitted of murder charges for Martin's killing in July, the magazine Ebony has issued four special covers featuring the headline "We Are Trayvon" and feature stories on the verdict and surrounding subjects for its September issue. In addition to a cover featuring Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton, father Tracy Martin, and brother Jahvaris Fulton, three famous African-American men posed with their sons in hoodies. That group includes Wade, his 11-year-old son Zaire, and his six-year-old son Zion.

Full story…

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