A white woman called police on black people barbecuing. This is how the community responded

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Hundreds danced to hip-hop and ’80s soul music Sunday and listened to local African-American candidates make their pitches. But this cookout in Oakland, California, wasn’t just any spring festival.

The event, dubbed “BBQing While Black,” was one community’s powerful response to what many perceived as yet another example of everyday racism.

It all started on April 29, when a white woman reportedly called police on a few black people who, she said, were using a charcoal grill in an area where it was banned, according to CNN affiliate KRON. Oakland police arrived; no one was arrested. But the 25-minute episode was captured on video, then posted to YouTube and viewed more than 2 million times.

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Posted by Libergirl


Three black teens are finalists in a NASA competition. Hackers spewing racism tried to ruin their odds.

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From left, India Skinner, Mikayla Sharrieff and Bria Snell, 11th graders from Banneker High School in Washington, are finalists in a NASA youth science competition. (Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post)

The three D.C. students couldn’t believe the news. They’d developed a method to purify lead-contaminated water in school drinking fountains, and NASA announced last month that they were finalists in the agency’s prestigious high school competition — the only all-black, female team to make it that far.

“Hidden figures in the making,” one of the teens wrote in a celebratory text message to her teammates and coaches, a reference to the 2016 movie about the true story of three African American women who worked for NASA in the 1960s.

The next stage of the science competition included public voting, and the Banneker High School students — Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner and Bria Snell, all 17-year-old high school juniors — turned to social media to promote their project.

But while the teens were gaining traction on social media and racking up votes, users on 4chan — an anonymous Internet forum where users are known to push hoaxes and spew racist and homophobic comments — were trying to ensure the students wouldn’t win.

The anonymous posters used racial epithets, argued that the students’ project did not deserve to be a finalist and said that the black community was voting for the teens only because of their race. They urged people to vote against the Banneker trio, and one user offered to put the topic on an Internet thread about President Trump to garner more attention. They recommended computer programs that would hack the voting system to give a team of teenage boys a boost.

NASA said in a statement that voting was compromised, prompting it to shut down public voting earlier than expected. The federal space agency said it encourages the use of social media to build support for projects but wrote in a statement Tuesday that public voting was ended because people “attempted to change the vote totals.”

“Unfortunately, it was brought to NASA’s attention yesterday that some members of the public used social media, not to encourage students . . . but to attack a particular student team based on their race and encourage others to disrupt the contest and manipulate the vote, and the attempt to manipulate the vote occurred shortly after those posts,” the NASA statement read.

“NASA continues to support outreach and education for all Americans, and encourages all of our children to reach for the stars.”

The federal agency named eight finalists — including the Banneker group — and said it will announce the winners this month. In addition to the public voting, judges assess the projects to determine the winners, who are invited to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for two days of workshops, with the winning team receiving a $4,000 stipend to cover expenses.

Sharrieff, Skinner and Snell did not talk about the controversies tainting the voting but said in interviews Tuesday that they are excited about the positive attention their project has received from classmates, the D.C. community and even strangers on social media.

Prominent black activists and organizations, including one of the leaders of the Women’s March, helped spread the word about the competition, saying that black women are underrepresented in science and that the public should help propel the Banneker students to the top of the competition.

One of Sharrieff’s tweets urging her followers to vote for the project was retweeted more than 2,000 times. And someone even set up an online fundraiser for college scholarships for the teens.

“In the STEM field, we are underrepresented,” Sharrieff said, referring to the widely used acronym for the science, technology, engineering and math fields. “It’s important to be role models for a younger generation who want to be in the STEM field but don’t think they can.”

The NASA competition called on students to find creative ways to use space technology in their everyday lives. The teens said they considered dozens of ideas but settled on a water purification system because they noticed some water fountains in their school could not be used because of potential lead contamination.

They worked at the Inclusive Innovation Incubator — a technology lab focused on diversity and entrepreneurship near Howard University — where they volunteer, and their mentor at the incubator encouraged them to compete and supervised them on weekends as they built a prototype.

The teens purchased two jars, placing meters in each to test the purity of the water. In one jar, the teens place shards of copper in the water — with the copper acting as the experimental contaminant. An electric fan spins the water while filtering floss — a type of fiber — collects contaminated particles. Once clean, the water is transferred by a straw into the second jar. The meters verify that the water is clean, and the teens said they trust their system so much, they drank the water.

The filtration system is based on NASA technology used to develop automatic pool purifiers.

“Ours actually shows you that the water you are drinking is clean,” Snell said.

Sharrieff, Snell and Skinner, who are all on the cheerleading team, said they plan to go to college and pursue careers rooted in science.

Skinner wants to be a pediatric surgeon, Sharrieff aims to be a biomedical engineer, and Snell hopes to be an anesthesiologist.

“The popular norm is sports and modeling and advertising,” Skinner said. “And for people to see our faces, and see we’re just regular girls, and we want to be scientists.”

By Perry Stein/WashingtonPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Nashville T-shirt company releases design to benefit Waffle House victims

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Nashville T-shirt company releases design to benefit Waffle House victims

Image: Project 615 via WKRN


A Nashville T-shirt company known for its philanthropy has created a new design to honor and benefit the victim’s of the Waffle House shooting in Antioch.


Project 615’s latest shirt is a redesign of the Waffle House logo and reads “Spread Love.”

“Due to the recent tragedy at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee, we are reminded just how important it is to Spread Love,” said Project 615.

“With heavy hearts, we created this tee in hopes that in some small way we can create a ripple effect to spread love after such a tragedy and to bring any relief we can to the victims who were impacted.”

All profits from the shirt will be donated to the victims of the Waffle House shooting. It is priced at $29.99.

To order, click here.

Source: Nashville T-shirt company releases design to benefit Waffle House victims


Posted by Libergirl

Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear

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Billy Graham was a preacher man equally intent on saving souls and soliciting financial support for his ministry. His success at the former is not subject to proof and his success at the latter is unrivaled. He preached to millions on every ice-free continent and led many to his chosen messiah.

Graham also left behind a United States government in which religion plays a far greater role than before he intruded into politics in the 1950s. The shift from secular governance to “In God We Trust” can be laid squarely at this minister’s feet.

Graham’s message was principally one of fear…fear of a wrathful god…

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Posted by The NON-Conformist

Conservatives Just Don’t Understand That Racism Runs Deep in American Education Behind the push to roll back school discipline protections lies a dangerous dismissal of bias in classrooms.

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Betsy DeVos and company are at it again. The DeVos-led Department of Education is currently cooking up ways to get rid of the 2014 Obama-era guidelines for K-12 public school discipline, which was aimed at ameliorating discrepancies based on race, class and disability when it comes to how students are punished in school.
In November, conservative think tanks Center of the American Experiment and the Fordham Institute helped coordinate a meeting at the Department of Educationwherein teachers critical of the 2014 guidelines testified about their experiences with violent students in their schools. Such testimony is being collected by conservatives to argue that the guidelines represent not only a sort of governmental “PC police” but that they are also actively making U.S. schools more unsafe by muzzling how teachers are able to discipline their students.
“For a time, education reform used to be a bipartisan or nonpartisan enterprise for improving student achievement,” writeRobert Pondiscio and Max Eden of the Fordham and Manhattan Institutes, respectively, in an op-ed for the New York Daily News. “But much of the movement has morphed into an arm of the social-justice industrial complex, dedicated to causes du jour from the travel ban to transgender bathrooms.”
In addition to disparaging the humanity of immigrant families and transgender people as if their lives are no more than a liberal fad, Pondiscio and Eden go on to reference the school-to-prison pipelinein scare quotes, arguing that education reform activists’ concern about racism in schools is a “refus[al] to admit the possibility that differences in poverty and family structure play a role.” This type of argument is a shorthand for the “culture of poverty” argument expounded in the infamous Moynihan Report during the 1960s, which controversially explained black poverty and family instability as in large part a cultural defect of the black family structure, found in the figure of the overbearing black mother in particular.
Conservatives’ latching onto such an explanation allows them to gloss over black oppression as the logical historical outcome of being enslaved, denied intergenerational wealth-building opportunities through that enslavement (and on the contrary, growing the wealth of white families through forced and unpaid labor), disenfranchised from jobs and housing, and exposed to manifold other forms of violent anti-black terrorismthat have punctuated black life in America since black people were brought to this nation’s shores against their wills.
Pitting education reformers against teachers, Pondiscio and Eden claim in a false dichotomy that “[s]ocial justice reformers … limi[t] teachers’ subjective disciplinary judgment … blind[ing] themselves to reality as a school spirals dangerously out of control.”
In contrast, Dan Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA and a former teacher for a decade, tells AlterNet that the 2014 guidelines are crucial for addressing the implicit bias that exists in schools, even among well-meaning teachers, just as such bias exists throughout society.
“Stereotypes are in the air we breathe,” says Losen. “Not because we want [them] to [be], but because in every depiction [in media], we have not escaped the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, and after that, the criminalization of black youth and the negative characterization of black males.
“What we find from research is that these negative stereotypes permeate our thinking in ways we’re just not aware of. And that’s not to blame teachers or slander them… it’s to acknowledge that the playing field is not level.”
Derek Black, professor of law at the University of South Carolina, voices a similar position, saying, “School suspension rates have skyrocketed over the past four decades and the lion’s share of the increase has been on the backs of poor and minority children.
“In most districts across the nation,” explains Black, “African American students are suspended and expelled at anywhere from two to six times the rate of white students. And it is not because they misbehave so much more. Studies consistently show that even when engaging in the exact same type of misbehavior, minorities are more likely to punished, and punished more severely, than white students.”
These types of inequalities are what the Obama-era guidelines sought to remedy as a response to the reality of systemic racism, classism, and ableism, systems of oppression that conservative ideologues attempt to downplay or outright attack in their arguments against the guidelines.
Addressing the conservative claim that investigating the disproportionate punishment of students with disabilities and students of color will turn schools into dens of violence, Curtis L. Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, wrote recently, “[T]he [Obama-era] guidance … does not inform school districts that they must refrain from suspending students who behave in a dangerous manner toward students, staff, or themselves.” According to Decker, “It does not dictate to states or schools how they should structure their programming. Schools may choose to implement the recommendations found in the guidance or not.”

“What it does do,” argues Decker, “is support schools in their efforts to create and maintain safe and orderly educational environments that allow all our nation’s students to learn and thrive.”
Losen has come to a similar conclusion, saying that in Los Angeles, “teachers were not complaining [about] the change in policy; they were complaining that they weren’t getting enough training in restorative justice. They wanted more of the change, not less of the change.”
Such teachers, according to Losen, are more interested in shifting existing school resources, especially those related to professional development and classroom management.
Many conservative researchers’ refusal to recognize the reality of the unequal playing field for students of color, says Losen, “informs their take on any kind of research,” with the result being that they often rely on cherry-picked evidence to support their claims. The Obama-era guidelines are in fact supported by major research studies, such as a 2016 Yale study that found that black male children are more likely, as early as preschool, to be closely observed by teachers in the expectation they will misbehave.
Such constant and disproportionate monitoring from the beginning of one’s life, Losen says, “can erode trust in the institution if you’re a black male and you start to pick up on the fact that you’re being watched all the time and being profiled all the time.
“Eventually as you become a young adult you’ll become more aware [of the discrimination], and that will breed resentment and mistrust.”
The notion that schools are “spiraling out of control” due to dangerous students too often functions as part of the assumption of black male criminality, a pattern that has been documented in the field of education. Ann Arnett Ferguson, in her 2001 book Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity, refers to this process as “adultification,” whereby “black children’s … transgressions are made to take on a sinister, intentional, fully conscious tone that is stripped of any element of childish naïveté.
“The discourse of childhood as an unfolding developmental stage in the life cycle is displaced in this mode of framing school trouble,” Ferguson writes. In other words, young black students, especially boys, are seen as being on the same level as adult criminals. Ferguson gives as an example a white teacher who—shortly after the 1992 LA riots in response to the acquittal of the four LAPD officers who beat Rodney King—called black students “looters” after they failed to return books she loaned them and described the situation as “just like the looting in Los Angeles.”
History has shown time and time again, from Emmett Till to Tamir Rice, that this adultification of black boys can have fatal consequences. Yet black children—including girls, who, according to a 2017 study by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty, are perceived by adults as “less innocent and more adult-like” than white girls starting at age 5—deserve to learn, feel safe and thrive in educational environments where they won’t be punished at higher rates than their white peers due to racist assumptions about their lack of innocence and predilections for criminality.
At the core of conservative attacks on the 2014 guidelines is an attack on the reality of the implicit bias that continues to permeate classrooms across the country, and it must be vociferously challenged at every turn.
In the end, says Losen, “If you know there’s a better way to do something, and you know what you’re doing is fundamentally unsound, it behooves the district to change those policies.
“Anything else is immoral.”

By Shannon Weber/AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Reason as racism: An immigration debate gets derailed

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someone sounds like an “apologist” for theirs or others wrongdoing or wrong language…just saying

Calling someone a racist is the new McCarthyism. The charge is pernicious. The accuser doesn’t need to prove it. It simply hangs over the accused like a great human stain.

It has become not a descriptive term for a person who believes in the superiority of one race over another, but a term of malice and libel — almost beyond refutation, as the words “communist” or “communist sympathizer” were in the 1950s.

Moreover, the accuser somehow covers himself in an immunity of superiority. If I call you a racist, I probably will not be called one. And, finally, having chosen the ultimate epithet, I have dodged the obligation to converse or build.

If Donald Trump is called a racist for saying some nations are “shithole countries,” does that help pass a “Dreamers” bill to keep gifted young people in this nation — people who have something to give the United States and are undocumented only because they were brought here by their parents illegally?

That’s the goal, is it not? To save the Dreamers? That’s what the White House meeting last week was about. It’s what the whole week was about, until we went down the “racist” rabbit hole.

We were having an immigration debate. To the president, it is a reasonable goal, and one that most Americans would agree upon, to want to naturalize more people based on “merit.” We want more people who can contribute to our culture and economy, and they tend to come from stable nations.

If the president had used the world “hellhole” instead, would that have been racist?

If he had used the word “failed states,” would that have been racist?

But there are nations that are hellholes in this world. And there are failed states. It is not racist to say that this country cannot take only the worst people from the worst places and that we want some of the best people from the best places, many of which are inhabited by people of color. That’s not racism, it is reason.

Yes, we should take in unskilled refugees. We also want more Indian Ph.D.s and engineers.

If Sen. Dick Durbin wants to disagree about placing merit at the center of our immigration policies, if he wants to take an unlimited number of unemployed and unemployable people because, after all, that’s what most Poles and Irish were called in the 1900s, let him say that. And let Mr. Durbin and the president debate two concepts of American immigration policy honorably and finally find a middle ground where there is agreement and common purpose.

But, when we have a chance to reform the immigration system, and save the Dreamers, and find common ground, let us not get distracted by another cudgel to use against the president. Calling the president a racist helps no one — it is simply another way (the Russia and instability cards having been played unsuccessfully) to attempt to delegitimize a legitimately elected president.

Did the president use a crudity in a private meeting? He says he did not. No one who was there has said he did on the record. But if he did, so what? So what? America today is a sadly crass place where many of us use vulgar, corrosive language we ought not use in private and work conversations. How many of us would like to see and share a transcript of everything we have said in private conversations or at work?

And how many presidents have said crass things in the Oval Office in private meetings? Think of Kennedy, Clinton and Nixon, to name three.

If the president is wrong on immigration — on merit, on finding a balance between skilled and unskilled immigrants, on chain migration, on the lottery — let his opponents defeat him on these points, and not by calling him a racist. If he is to be removed from office, let the voters do it based on his total performance — temperament as well as accomplishment — in 2020. Simply calling him an agent of the Russians, a nutcase or a racist is a cowardly way to fight.

We need to confine the word “racist” to people like Bull Connor and Dylann Roof. For if every person who speaks inelegantly, or from a position of privilege, or ignorance, or expresses an idea we dislike, or happens to be a white male, is a racist, the term is devoid of meaning.

We have to stop calling each other names in this country and battle each other with ideas and issues, not slanders.

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Is the Women’s March more inclusive this year?

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This weekend is an important horizon on the U.S. landscape of women’s history: People across the nation will mark the anniversary of the historic Women’s March on Washington. But for some women, the anniversary is another reminder of the shortcomings of the 2017 Women’s March.

Critics said the march centered on cis white women at the expense of women of color and trans women, both groups who many felt had more to lose under a new administration many saw as hostile to human rights. At the start, organizers of the women’s march were almost all white, though they quickly course-corrected by bringing on Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour.

But some underrepresented women felt their issues — such as racism, discrimination, police brutality, LGBTQ inclusivity, and immigration — were relegated in favor of issues that matter most to straight, white, middle-class women.

“We have to decide: Do we want equality and justice for a select group, or do we want it for everyone, and we know all these issues are tied together,” said Ruth Hopkins, a Native American writer and activist. “Gender justice is related to economic justice and racial justice and we have to think about all these things.”

As the 2018 Women’s March and sister marches converge on Saturday and Sunday across the country, many women are asking: Has anything changed?

Women of color have a complicated history with feminism

Feminism’s long history of perceived racism, combined with what some women saw as a lack of intersectionality at last year’s march, resulted in many black women and women of color refusing to attend.

Intersectionality, coined by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, is the recognition of how different backgrounds and the racism, sexism and classism that come with those identities overlap and impact the ways people experience oppression and discrimination.

More from USA Today

Posted by Libergirl

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